Education Dept. ripe for breach more devastating than OPM's

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said failing grades, an abundance of data and a patchwork of systems make the Education Department a prime target for a breach.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said failing grades, an abundance of data and a patchwork of systems make the Education Department a prime target for a breach.

The Department of Education is primed for a large data breach that could eclipse the one experienced by the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM), House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said last week at a Brookings Institute function.

With its rich set of data, including 139 million Social Security numbers and information on 40 million students who've taken out federal loans, and an “F” rating by the Inspector General based on the criteria established under the Federal Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), a breach at the agency could be more devastating than OPM's. “We've been talking a lot about the breach at the Office of the Personnel Management, where we lost data on 22 million people,” the Hill reported Chaffetz as saying. “Here, we're talking about more than $1 trillion in student loans and data on more than 100 million Americans, and it's not secure by any definition.”

The Education Department uses 184 systems to collect data and much of that through contractors. “Almost half of America's records are sitting at the Department of Education,” Chaffetz said, according to the Hill. “I think ultimately that's going to be the largest data breach that we've ever seen in the history of our nation.”

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