Massive Data Breach Hits Helsinki Personnel, Students, and Guardians

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Massive Data Breach Hits Helsinki Personnel, Students, and Guardians

The city of Helsinki suffered a massive data breach that affected students, personnel, guardians, and other citizens.

Police are investigating the incident that occurred roughly two weeks ago, overnight on April 30. During the breach, threat actors compromised Helsinki’s Education Division network and gained access to a trove of sensitive data belonging to its citizens.

Breach Scope Not Yet Assessed

Authorities have yet to determine the scope of the breach but said a significant volume of data needs to be assessed.

“Unfortunately, we are currently unable to provide an accurate assessment of what data the perpetrator may have accessed,” according to Executive Director of the Education Division Satu Järvenkallas. ”What we can tell you about at this time are the possible risks, so that personnel and customers of the Education Division can prepare for them. This procedure is in line with data protection law.”

Unpatched Network Server Flaw Led to the Breach

Reportedly, threat actors breached the Education Division network by exploiting a flaw on one of its servers. To add insult to injury, the breach could’ve been prevented by simply installing a patch; this security measure, however, was overlooked, leaving the server vulnerable to the attack.

Although the incident exposed millions of files with personal data of numerous citizens, the City is confident that the potential for abuse of the files remains minimal.

Data of Students, Personnel, and Guardians Exposed

According to Helsinki’s Chief Digital Officer Hannu Heikkinen, “the perpetrator has gained access to the usernames and email addresses of all city personnel, as well as the personal IDs and addresses of students, guardians and personnel from the Education Division. Additionally, the perpetrator has also gained access to content on network drives belonging to the Education Division.”

Despite the City’s doubts the exposed files will be abused, the incident placed a considerable amount of sensitive data into the wrong hands.

For instance, perpetrators gained access to information including early childhood education and care fees, children status, student welfare, special support and medical certificates, and sick leave records of Education Division personnel.

Files Dating Several Years Back Exposed in the Incident

To make matters worse, the exposed data trove encompasses information dating back several years, covering citizens who were not Education Division customers or employees.

“Reaction to the data breach has been quick and all the necessary resources are being and will be used on protective measures,” says City Manager Jukka-Pekka Ujula. “This is the highest priority for the city’s senior management.”

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Dedicated software like Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection offers a detailed overview of your online presence, including traces of data from no-longer-used services, notifies you of breaches affecting your data in real time, and lets you patch weak points in your digital footprint without significant effort.




Vlad's love for technology and writing created rich soil for his interest in cybersecurity to sprout into a full-on passion. Before becoming a Security Analyst, he covered tech and security topics.

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