SS Numbers Accessed

March 27, 2007

By Randy Louis, The Daily Iberian

Rosters containing information, including Social Security numbers, of about 380 St. Mary Parish public school employees were accessed March 19 by a Yahoo! Web page search engine crawler.

St. Mary Parish schools Superintendent Donald Aguillard said the crawler violated the school district Web page by accessing a database that stored 2002 through 2004 staff development rosters.

"These files were previously secure," Aguillard said. "Yahoo!'s new aggressive Web crawler infiltrated the public server and our technology department responded immediately to the breach in security by addressing the following: Contacting Yahoo! and demanding that our information be stricken from cached files, notified all workshop participants of the possibility that their personal information was revealed, while also contacting the Web page archiving services and demanding the removal of our cached pages." Aguillard said the school system had a file that had been unreadable over the Internet until the Yahoo! search engine got to the public server.

"The St. Mary Parish School Board also provided information to employees on establishing a permanent freeze on credit histories, which will be reimbursed by the school district," Aguillard said. "This freeze prohibits a credit-reporting agency from releasing the consumer's credit report without the express authorization of the consumer."

The superintendent said that he is confident that student data were not accessed by Yahoo!.

"Financial, human resources and student data are stored on separate protected databases that are not accessible from the Internet," he said. "We have taken the necessary steps to make sure this won't happen again."

Some of the steps Aguillard said the technology department did to secure the system was to protect all public files from current archiving engines and secure the school system Web site from robot crawlers.

He said employees who were affected are encouraged to reference online the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Web site at

Aguillard said the situation is regrettable and unacceptable.

"The St. Mary Parish School Board is committed to continuing efforts to purge the cached files and safeguard personal data," he said.

Yahoo! was emailed by The Daily Iberian about the incident, but did not respond.

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