VMail Extra  (11/4) reported that the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) announced in a statement that it will no longer use the full social security numbers of “students taking optometric board exams following an optometry-wide data breach earlier this year” and will instead use an “OE Tracker number system.” The article points out that this change comes after the AOA Board of Trustees “passed a motion on Oct. 8 encouraging both state boards of optometry and optometric testing organizations to put into effect recognized standards for data security due to the wide-ranging data breach affecting optometry.”

HERE IS VMail Extra  (11/4) report :

ST. LOUIS—Full social security numbers (SSNs) are no longer being used to identify students taking optometric board exams following an optometry-wide data breach earlier this year. 

The National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) posted a statement online explaining its decision to discontinue the use of nine-digit SSNs, instead opting for a new “OE Tracker number system.” With this system, the number along with registrants’ last four SSN digits will serve as the primary identifier for doctors and optometry students. Full SSNs of existing registrants were changed to the last four digits to match this new system. 

According to the NBEO, this new “OE Tracker number system” uses five identifiers including optometrist, first name, last name, last four digits of SSN and graduation year, that have a "very low" probability of duplication between two registrants. According to NBEO's TestPoints® newsletter, the updates took effect Oct. 20 and were due to "contemporary global concerns about the challenges in protecting personal identifiers within all databases."

These changes came after the AOA  board of Trustees passed a motion on Oct. 8 encouraging both state boards of optometry and optometric testing organizations to put into effect recognized standards for data security due to the wide-ranging data breach affecting optometry. 

The resolution asked for the AOA, affiliates and others to petition the optometric organizations to eliminate the use of SSNs as personal identifiers and instead use a unique set of numbers unrelated to SSNs and other sensitive information. 

"This data breach has impacted doctors and students of optometry across the country, and the AOA is pleased that NBEO has agreed to take this action to alleviate concerns and prevent future identity thefts," said AOA president Andrea P. Thau, OD. "We will continue to press for action, including federal investigation into the breach, to provide peace of mind for our members and colleagues."

The AOA has also drafted a letter to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, calling for a further investigation into the breach by the Department of Justice in identifying those responsible.