May 29, 2024


Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 2011, nine laptops were stolen from the Waterloo Region District School Board’s education centre in Kitchener.

These laptops contained files with students’ personal information.

Details about the break-in were not released to the public until Jan. 6.

The personal information of the students was not the target of the theft; it was the laptops themselves.

But it is the information on them that is making people uneasy.

Exactly what kind of personal information was on the computers hasn’t been disclosed, nor how many students were affected.

Individuals and families affected by the theft were to be notified, the board said.

Other than the students’ grades, personal information should not be recorded on laptops.

These are often the target of thieves because they are so portable. Instead, important information on students should be kept on a mainframe with adequate security measures to prevent hacking.

Certain information on each student is needed in any school, such as emergency contact numbers and allergies.

However, only vital, personal information should be recorded.

We don’t know what the education centre had in terms of a security system, because the police haven’t released this information.

However, being a facility with computers, televisions and other expensive electronics, it should have the best available security.

The one piece of good news is highly specialized knowledge would be needed to bypass the security on the laptops.

In any situation where personal information is involved, people trust that their privacy will be protected. Conestoga College and all other educational institutions should take note, and ensure the same security failure doesn’t happen here.