Fears for 30,000 users' data after INTO online learning portal hit by hackers

Peter Mullan

Allison Bray

One of the country's largest teachers' unions moved last night to reassure up to 30,000 people that their credit card information is safe despite a breach of its online learning portal by hackers last week.

Peter Mullan, assistant general secretary of the Irish National Teachers Union (INTO), said the details of thousands of users accessing the union's online learning website - INTO Learning - might have been breached.

But he stressed that "there was no financial information" compromised in the breach.

"All credit card payments went to a secure site," he told the Irish Independent.

However, the names, gender, email addresses and city and county details as well as course information was potentially stolen.

In a small number of cases, the users' mobile phone numbers as well as school role number, job title and union membership numbers may have been compromised.

Those potentially affected include teachers who completed online courses in the past, as well as teachers who booked retirement planning and other courses.

Anyone who has been affected has been notified, Mr Mullan added.

While there is no evidence to prove that the personal data was stolen, Mr Mullan said that the motivation of the breach appeared to be in order to send spam to the affected emails. The spam can then be used by scammers who will try to elicit more personal or financial information through phishing.

The website has been taken down as a precaution, and gardaí and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner have been notified.

However, Mr Mullan said users who were affected needn't be overly alarmed.

"We have no proof the information was stolen or moved," he said.

"But we do know that there was an intention to send spam."