Pearson hack exposes student data connected to 13,000 accounts

Limited information — including names, birthdays and email addresses — has been compromised for an unknown number of school and university students.

Pearson, the world’s largest education publisher, has notified its customers of a data breach that has affected approximately 13,000 school and university accounts, exposing the personal information of an unknown number of students.

The breach, which exposed names, birthdays and email addresses of students, primarily in the U.S., was brought to the attention of Pearson administrators by the Federal Bureau of Investigation back in March 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

However, the publisher has since been informed that none of the compromised data has been misused, Scott Overland, Pearson’s director of media relations, told EdScoop.

“Pearson was not the primary or intended target of this data breach,” Overland said.


In addition, the accessed data was very limited in nature.

“The exposed data was isolated to first name, last name, and in some instances may include the date of birth and/or email address,” Overland said. Because this, Pearson has been unable to estimate the number of students affected by the incident, he said.

According to Overland, the breach exploited a vulnerability in Pearson’s AIMSweb 1.0 system, which monitors and evaluates student performance. Although this service has been scheduled by the publisher to be phased out — in a decision unrelated to the breach — the vulnerability is now fixed.

“Protecting our customers’ information is of critical importance to us,” Overland said. “While we have no evidence that this information has been misused, we have notified the affected customers as a precaution.”

Complimentary credit monitoring is available as a precautionary and proactive measure for those affected by the breach.

Betsy Foresman

Written by Betsy Foresman

Betsy Foresman was an education reporter for EdScoop from 2018 through early 2021, where she wrote about the virtues and challenges of innovative technology solutions used in higher education and K-12 spaces. Foresman also covered local government IT for StateScoop, on occasion. Foresman graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 — go Frogs! — with a BA in journalism and psychology. During her senior year, she worked as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and moved back to the capital after completing her degree because, like Shrek, she feels most at home in the swamp. Foresman previously worked at Scoop News Group as an editorial fellow.

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