Sierra College Files Notice of Data Breach Following Ransomware Attack

Console and Associates, P.C.

On November 9, 2022, Sierra College reported a data breach with the Montana Attorney General after the school was the recent target of a ransomware attack. According to Sierra College, the breach resulted in the names, addresses, passport numbers, driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, financial account information, and medical information of certain students and employees being compromised. Recently, Sierra College sent out data breach letters to all affected parties, informing them of the incident and what they can do to protect themselves from identity theft and other frauds.

While hackers have many tools at their disposal when it comes to orchestrating a cyberattack. However, as we’ve previously discussed, recently, ransomware attacks have been one of their favorites. In fact, according to some sources, 37 percent of all businesses and other organizations were hit by a ransomware attack in 2021. However, many ransomware attacks can be prevented—provided an organization takes its data security obligations seriously. Indeed, it is in any organization’s best interest to thwart these attacks because, otherwise, they may be liable to victims of the breach through a data breach lawsuit

Additional Details About the Sierra College Data Breach

The available information regarding the Sierra College breach comes from the school’s official data breach filing with the Attorney General of Montana. According to this source, on August 20, 2022, Sierra College was the target of a ransomware attack, which encrypted a portion of the school’s computer network. In response, Sierra College took the necessary steps to secure its network and protect student and employee data. Then, the school enlisted the assistance of a third-party forensic firm to investigate the incident and determine what, if any, student or employee data was leaked as a result.

On October 19, 2022, the school’s investigation confirmed that an unauthorized party had gained access to its network. The investigation also revealed that some of the files that were accessible to the hackers contained sensitive information belonging to certain students and employees of Sierra College.

Upon discovering that sensitive consumer data was made available to an unauthorized party, Sierra College began to review the affected files to determine what information was compromised and which students and employees were impacted. While the breached information varies depending on the individual, it may include your name, address, passport number, driver’s license number, Social Security number, financial account information, and medical information.

On November 9, 2022, Sierra College sent out data breach letters to all individuals whose information was compromised as a result of the recent data security incident. In this letter, Sierra College explains that the school will be offering 12 months of credit protection to those who were impacted by the breach.

Founded in 1936, Sierra College is a public community college located in Rocklin, California. Sierra College offers approximately 125 degree and certificate programs and is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The school has a current enrollment of approximately 25,000 and employs a faculty of roughly 900. Sierra College is part of the Sierra Joint Community College District, which covers over 3,200 square miles across El Dorado and Sacramento counties, as well as parts of Nevada. Sierra College employs more than 1,249 people and generates approximately $148 million in annual revenue.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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