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Blackbaud Data Security Incident

The information below relates to a data security incident involving Blackbaud, Inc., a service provider of the ESU Foundation.

The Incident

On July 16, 2020, we were contacted by Blackbaud, one of the world’s largest providers of customer relationship management systems for not-for-profit organizations and the higher education sector. Company representatives informed us that a Blackbaud service provider had been the victim of a ransomware attack that culminated in May 2020. The cybercriminal was unsuccessful in blocking access to the database involved in the attack. However, the cybercriminal was able to remove a copy of a subset of several of their clients’ data. This included a subset of ESU Foundation data.

What information was involved?

We would like to reassure our constituents that Blackbaud launched a detailed forensic investigation in partnership with law enforcement and third-party cyber security experts.

Blackbaud has confirmed that the investigation found that no encrypted information, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information or passwords, was accessible. Blackbaud also confirmed that no credit or debit card information was part of the data theft.

The ESU Foundation data accessed by the cybercriminal in the Blackbaud database may have contained some of the following information:

  • Identifying information such as name, title, date of birth, spouse
  • Addresses and contact details such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses
  • Philanthropic interests, giving capacity and giving history to ESU
  • Educational attainment

What actions were taken by Blackbaud?

We have been informed by Blackbaud that in order to protect constituents’ data and mitigate potential identity theft, it met the cybercriminal’s ransomware demand. Blackbaud has advised us that it has received assurances from the cybercriminal and third-party experts that the data was destroyed. Blackbaud has been monitoring the web in an effort to verify the data accessed by the cybercriminal has not been misused.

ESU Foundation response

ESU Foundation takes data protection seriously. We are staying in close communication with Blackbaud as they address this security breach and continue to monitor the web for any evidence of data misuse. We are also notifying affected constituents to make them aware of this breach of Blackbaud’s systems so they can remain vigilant.

We do not believe there is a need for our constituents to take any action at this time. As a best practice, we recommend people be attentive and promptly report any suspicious activity or suspected identity theft to the proper authorities.

For questions related to this security incident, contact us at or 620-341-5440. A member of the ESU Foundation team or the ESU IT Security Team will assist you as appropriate.

We will continue to work with Blackbaud regarding this incident. We very much regret the concern and inconvenience that this data breach may have caused. Please be assured that we take data protection very seriously and are grateful for the continued support of our alumni and friends.