Le Manh, an admissions officer for a university, said he was offered money to sell data of students who had applied to the school for VND10,000 (42 cents) each.
After last year’s university entrance examination, Manh says he received a phone call from a person who wished to buy a list of students whose scores were not high enough to enter the school. The person said for each contact offered, Manh would receive VND10,000, but that he would need to provide at least 1,000 contacts for the deal.
After Manh refused the offer, the caller continued to contact other people at the school offering to buy the data at a higher price, but failed.
The student data was contained in an Excel file, including names, phone numbers, email addresses and even their family members’ phone numbers.
Manh said the blatant sales pitch for student data might be the reason why some received entrance offers from schools they have never even heard of, before they even knew that they failed to get into their school of choice.
Schools and language centers in Vietnam have been resort to buying data of students from bigger institutions to build their potential client base.
Hoai Thuong, who works at a kindergarten, said she frequently receives calls that offer to buy lists of data regarding her students.
“They said they were from language centers that wanted to admit more students,” she said, adding that someone had offered VND3.5 million for a data file for students aged 3-4 .
Vu Ngoc Son, technical director of Vietnam Cybersecurity Technology, said several schools are still not aware of the importance of information security.
“Some schools publish student and parent data in detail right on the school’s website,” he said, adding that data sale on the Internet is something that has been around for years. However, this data has been used lately for scams, which is dangerous, Ngoc noted.
“People are often less vigilant when a scammer tells them their and their children’s information accurately,” said.
Around 14 parents in HCMC have been scammed out of VND825 million this month by scammers who claimed the parents children were involved in accidents and required surgery, according to the Ministry of Education and Training. At least two parents in Hanoi were scammed VND240 million by the same trick.
The Ministry of Public Security last year said the data of over two-thirds of Vietnamese were being collected and shared online, partially due to incomplete cybersecurity legal rules.
The illegal trade of telecom users’ personal data may result in fines of up to VND200 million and prison sentences of up to three years, in accordance with Vietnamese law.
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