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NBEO reaches settlement following alleged data breach

The American Optometry Association (AOA) has reported that the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) will allot a cash settlement fund of US$3.25 million (AU$4.66 m) as compensation to the approximately 61,000 people affected by an alleged 2016 data breach.

This followed the preliminary approval issued by chief US District Judge James Bredar of Maryland for the class action settlement, which not only established the reimbursement and credit monitoring services for those affected, but also outlined the steps for NBEO to upgrade its data security processes.

The class action settlement, according to AOA, stemmed from a suspected NBEO data breach affecting optometry students and practitioners who complained about identity theft, particularly stolen Social Security numbers which were used to apply for credit cards.

Optometrists sought legal action against NBEO, claiming that the organisation stored and maintained this information as standard requirements for credentials and professional certification exams.

The NBEO continues to dispute it was the source of the breach.

The fund will be used as reimbursement for documented, traceable out-of-pocket losses of up to US$7,500 (AU$10,753), reimbursement for time spent to remedy issues related to the breach of up to US$1,000 (AU$1,433), free credit monitoring services and dentity restoration.

The NBEO also agreed to cover additional administrative costs, fees, and service awards related to the settlement.

The AOA added that the NBEO planned to employ “an independent security firm to conduct a written risk assessment of the board’s data security, encrypt exam-takers’ personal information, and discontinue storage of nine-digit SSNs in its electronic databases.”

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