NIKKI HALEY’S SCANDAL-PLAGUED WORKFORCE AGENCY VICTIMIZED BY WEBSITE ATTACK
The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) – one of Gov. Nikki Haley’s most corrupt, incompetent and inefficient cabinet agencies – was hacked this weekend, its website hijacked by as-yet-unidentified vandals.
“This site was hacked,” a message left by the hackers on the agency’s website read.
First reported at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, the intrusion knocked the SCDEW website offline until Sunday morning. Sources at the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) say that the agency has launched an investigation into the hack – the third cyber security breach to hit one of Haley’s cabinet agencies in the last eight months.
News of the SCDEW hacking was first reported by WLTX TV 19 (CBS – Columbia, S.C.), which posted the following image of the hacked website along with its report …
It remains to be seen whether the hackers attempted to infiltrate the agency’s computer network – or made off with any of its confidential records.
According to Haley’s administration, “no personally identifiable information was compromised” during the breach, which it says took place at 6:30 p.m.
SCDEW is the agency responsible for administering unemployment benefits to out-of-work South Carolinians – a job it has proven utterly incompetent at performing. According to federal statistics, one out of every five dollars in unemployment benefits doled out by the agency is awarded erroneously – the eighth-highest percentage in the nation. Not only that, South Carolinians who use the agency’s reemployment services take an average of 26.5 weeks to get off of the public dole. Those who do not use SCDEW took only 22.3 weeks to find gainful employment.
Just last month, the agency acknowledged an accounting error that will cost South Carolina businesses $9 million in additional taxes in 2013 – money on top of the millions they’re already paying to reduce the agency’s massive debt with the federal government. Three of the agencies top leaders – including its chief of staff – have stepped down in the past nine months as a result of various scandals.
The hacking scare at SCDEW comes less than two months after another one of Haley’s cabinet agencies – the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) – suffered the worst stave level security breach in history. From August to October, as-yet-unidentified hackers made off with 3.8 million Social Security numbers, 3.3 million bank account numbers, tax info for more than 650,000 businesses and nearly 400,000 credit and debit card numbers.
Haley initially claimed that “there wasn’t anything where anyone in state government could have done anything” to stop the breach – and that the Palmetto State used “industry standard” data security methods. Both of those claims turned out to be completely false – as a simple $25,000 expense could have prevented the breach (which will wind up costing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars).
As for taxpayer costs, Haley’s administration has already blown through $20 million on its ill-conceived knee jerk reaction to the SCDOR heist – with additional costs sure to come.
Prior to that breach, in mid-April Haley’s Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) coughed up personal information for 228,435 Medicaid beneficiaries. At the time, that was the fourth-biggest state government data breach in history.