HILLSBORO, Mo. (KMOV.com) - The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is trying to determine the full extent of a data breach at the Hillsboro R-3 School District, but believe there could end up being dozens of victims.
"We applied for search warrants on Friday, executed some search warrants and we were able to take into our custody a number of electronic devices," said sheriff's department spokesman Grant Bissell.
According to Bissell, the data breach began two to three months ago, but the sheriff's office wasn't aware of it until a student resource office was told of it on February 14. Bissell said the electronic intrusion allowed someone to get personal information that could be used for identity theft. Plus, personal photos of district employees were also accessed.
"To me that's pretty crazy," said Shawn Johnson, a 2019 graduate of Hillsboro High School, who hadn't heard about the data breach.
Superintendent Dr. Jon Isaacson told News 4 that the employee suspected of being responsible has been fired.
The district uses a collection of programs from Google called "G-Suite for Education." It includes Gmail but doesn't include complete privacy, according to Washington University adjunct professor Scott Granneman.
"Any administrator of a system like G-Suite can always see what's in every email that anybody has in there. So if you want to send personal emails, use a personal account, never use work," said Granneman.
Isaacson said it appears the Google program used by the district would automatically link to employees' personal photos if they'd backed up their pictures using Google Photos. And during the data breach, Isaacson said the person responsible was able to access personal photos, some of which could be embarrassing or put the employee in a bad light if the photos were made public.
No charges have been filed but the person responsible for the data breach could potentially be facing a charge of felony invasion of privacy.