Questar confirms ‘Cyber Attack’ on New York student Test


Questar Assessment Inc, a vendor who operates students tests in digital format has confirmed that it became a victim of data breach early this week. New York happens to be one among the 7 states whose student tests were hit by what was reported as a deliberate attack. South Dakota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee happen to few others.

Tennessee education commissioner has confirmed this news and said that attack took place on systems which were offering a questionnaire to students in grades 3-8.

Candice McQueen, State Education Commissioner of Tennessee confirmed that the data center of Questar did experience a digital invasion as it was reflecting on the way the traffic was being presented.

Questar, the Minneapolis based company said that the incident is being investigated by law enforcement and a third party cyber security company and details of the impact and who was behind the attack will be released shortly.

However, a spokesperson confirmed in the evening yesterday that the origin of the issue was external to its servers and could be the work of some mischievous hacking group operating from East of North America.

In the meantime, the teacher’s union of New York have urged the State’s education department to end the system of conducting computerized tests until the problem gets fully resolved. They are also insisting on re-introducing the old manual paper tests which were conducted until 2015 across 700 school districts in 7 states.

Note- In the year 2015, Questar received a 5-year, $44 million contracts from New York to develop and administer state testing. The company also received similar contracts from the education departments of 6 other states in the same year.

Brad Baumgartner, the Chief Operating Officer of Questar said that there is no reason to believe the student info was compromised. The guy also added that the problem doesn’t seem to be a cyber attack and seems more like a technical glitch as of now.

Despite the disruption, Questar succeeded in holding 196,700 testing sessions by computer on Wednesday and Thursday.

Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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