ID thieves poke through court system site to retrieve up to 160,000 SSNs

Government (U.S.) // Washington, United States

Hackers might have accessed Social Security numbers and 1 million driver's license numbers during a breach of a public website maintained by the Washington state Administrative Office of the Courts.

The internal data was retrievable because it was located on the same server as the public site.

“When court officials were first alerted to the breach, they believed all of the information accessed was public record, and didn't think confidential information was taken, but following an investigation by the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the broader breach was confirmed in April, said courts spokeswoman Wendy Ferrell.”

The breach happened due to a flaw in Adobe software program ColdFusion.

It is not believed the courts were a specific target. The hackers were probably opportunistic and just fishing for data, officials said. Officials have only confirmed that 94 Social Security numbers were obtained.

“Once the breach was confirmed, it took additional time to go through the files and increase security to the website, which is why there was a lag in notifying the public. The 94 known names breached are being contacted by letter.”

Officials acknowledged that confidential information should have been kept in a different area.

Michael Cockrill, the state's chief information officer, stated the “data breach is a sobering reminder for every branch and every level of government that protection of personal and confidential data entrusted to government is a paramount responsibility."