State security breach put public assistance info at risk - Must Read Alaska
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Monday, September 23, 2019
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State security breach put public assistance info at risk

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced today that another Russia-originating breach had taken place on a state computer that has likely revealed personal information of more than 500 Alaskans who interacted with the Division of Public Assistance in the Northern region.

The department last year announced it had been hacked; that particular break-in was on a computer in the Western region.

“Due to the potential for stolen personal information, DHSS urges Alaskans who have been involved with the DPA Northern region offices to take actions to protect themselves from identity theft,” the department announced today.

The incident occurred on or about April 26, when a computer was infected with a the Zeus/Zbot Trojan virus.

The department’s security team conducted an investigation which revealed the infected computer accessed sites in Russia, had unauthorized software installed, and other suspicious computer behavior that provided strong indications of a computer infection.

The data stolen may include pregnancy, death, and incarceration status, Medicaid/Medicare billing codes, criminal justice, health billing, social security numbers, drivers license numbers, first and last names, birthdates, phone numbers, and other confidential data. In other words, everything one would need to establish a fake identity.

The department says it took immediate action to lessen the spread of the virus. The security team is planning to provide information to the Alaskans whose information may have been compromised.

Individuals who have had contact with the Division of Public Assistance Northern region before April should call 888-484-9355 to see if their personal information may have been included in this breach.

From Wikipedia: The Zeus, ZeuS or Zbot is typically malware that runs on Microsoft Windows and can carry out many malicious attacks or steal banking information, through keystroke tracking and form-grabbing. It is also used to install ransomware. The program has been around since 2007 when it was used against the U.S. Department of Transportation. It has compromised companies such as Bank of America, Monster, ABC, Oracle, Amazon and others. Often it will show up as a pop-up message that claims the user has a virus in their computer. Those clicking on such pop-ups can actually introduce a virus or malware.

[Learn more at Wikipedia]

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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