FACED WITH ANOTHER SECURITY BREACH, GOV. NIKKI HALEY SAYS SHE WANTS PERPETRATOR “BRUTALIZED”
Computer systems at the S.C. Department of Revenue were hacked on repeated occasions beginning two months ago – coughing up as many as 3.6 million Social Security numbers and nearly 400,000 credit and debit card numbers.
Individual tax returns may have also been accessed by the assailant – identified only as an “international hacker.”
“This is not a good day for South Carolina,” S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley said, adding that she wanted the person responsible for the cyber attack found and “brutalized.”
Astoundingly, SCDOR didn’t even know it had been hacked until October 10 when it was informed of the breach by state information technology officials. The “vulnerability in the system” was not resolved until October 20 – two months after the hacking attempts first began.
Unreal … it took these people two months to secure our data?
How broad is the damage from this unprecedented breach?
Well, anyone who has filed a tax return in South Carolina since 1998 has been asked to call 1-866-578-5422 and then visit this website, where they are to enter the activation code they received during the toll free phone call.
Of course the line was totally unaccessible, with recorded messages referring to “higher than normal calls.”
And assuming you get through … why would you ever trust these people with your personal information again?
This is the second scandal involving the unauthorized release of confidential information to befall Haley’s administration this year. Back in April, nearly a quarter of a million confidential Medicare and Medicaid records were improperly released to a private email address by an employee at the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS).
An angry Haley told reporters on Friday that “I want this person slammed against the wall.”
The person who needs to be “slammed against the wall” in this case is Haley. After all, it’s her administration that dropped the ball on securing this information … mere months after a major lapse at another one of her cabinet agencies.
The worst part of all this? We’re all on the hook for her administration’s incompetence.
“We are going to pay for the fact that we have to give everyone credit protection,” Haley told reporters. “We’re going to cover the cost behind that. This is the responsibility of the state to protect the taxpayers.”
Actually the state is the taxpayers … which means Haley’s not paying for this, we are. Oh … and if it was the state’s responsibility to protect its taxpayers, then why in the hell did it take two friggin’ months to close this security breach?
Depending on how much this winds up costing the state we could be looking at the biggest disaster of the Haley administration – bigger than even the “Savannah River Sellout.”
Haley wasn’t ready to provide a damage estimate on Friday, but acknowledged that “this is not going to be inexpensive.”
Meanwhile Democrats assailed the governor for her ongoing lack of focus on state issues.
“Maybe if she spent more time doing her job in South Carolina rather than traveling around the country raising money and playing politics, someone would have been paying attention and not let more than a third of our state’s personal information be compromised,” S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian said. “If she were the CEO of a company that had a third of its data hacked especially after all the public warnings of the danger of hackers, she would be fired. Too bad she has two more years on her contract.”
S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) said that Haley’s delay in informing the public about the breach – and the exposure of their personal data – was inexcusable.
“For Governor Haley and her administration to withhold news from us for sixteen days that our personal identity information has been stolen from state computers is completely unacceptable,” Sheheen said. “And to wait until a Friday afternoon to release this information is nothing more than a slick public relations trick trying to minimize political damage.”
UPDATE: Here’s more info on the hack straight from the SCDOR website.
UPDATE II: Haley has a conference call scheduled for Monday morning with state lawmakers to discuss the situation.