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Police investigate ‘serious cyber attack’ at Brechin school

Brechin Community Campus.
Brechin Community Campus.

Police Scotland have launched an investigation after personal details of hundreds of Angus pupils were released during a cyber attack.

Exam results and “pupils profiles” outlining learning difficulties and mental health issues of Brechin High School students were released in the breach.

A spokeswoman for Angus Council described the incident as a “serious cyber attack” and police were contacted on Monday morning.

Documents containing 1,800 emergency contact details for pupils were also released, according to emails seen by The Courier.

A string of emails released by an apparent whistleblower appear to show communication between school employees, including senior IT staff, discussing security breaches.

One of the files which was released by the whistleblower.

Other attachments included Excel spreadsheets revealing estimated and awarded grades for exams, in a folder called “BHS SQA data with filters”.

An email with this document attached said “managed to backdoor my way into spreadsheet seeing as we weren’t given access to them”.

Second breach

This is the second IT scandal to rock the school after a data breach in 2019, when private health information was shared during a presentation.

A whistleblower supplied several email chains dating from 2018, until the present day.

Documents included pupils names and conditions they suffered with, including anxiety and ADHD.

Further damning allegations in the emails claimed non-teaching staff were “hacking” other teachers’ computers.

Pupils are also accused of being responsible for data breaches as an investigation was launched last month.

During an apparent conversation between a staff member at the school and an Angus Council colleague, it states: “Do we take the laddie out into the car park for a boot in the b…….?”

Conversations which allegedly took place between staff at Angus Council and Brechin High School.

‘It is time to speak out’

The whistleblower claimed there had been “several instances” of data breaches in recent years.

“Over the past few years, there have been several instances of data breaches
at Brechin High School in Angus,” he claimed.

“I have seen this happen again and again. It is time to speak out and expose this practice to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the public.

Concerns had been raised that staff accounts were being accessed by pupils.

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland added: “We have received a report and inquiries are ongoing.

“The incident was reported to police around 9.20am on Monday 7 June 2021.”

A spokeswoman for Angus Council said: “We can confirm that Brechin High School has been the subject of a serious cyberattack.

“This is now a matter for Police Scotland and as a result we cannot comment further.”

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