Via Press Release, May 9, 2013
OLYMPIA, WA -- The Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) announced today that a data breach occurred recently on its public website. No court records were altered and no financial data was maintained on the site. However, it has been confirmed that 94 social security numbers were obtained. There is also the potential that up to 160,000 social security numbers and 1 million driver license numbers may have been accessed as well.
Individuals meeting the following criteria could potentially be affected by the breach:
- Social security numbers:
- If you were booked into a city or county jail within the state of Washington between September 2011 through December 2012, you may have had your name and social security number accessed.
- Driver license numbers:
- If you received a DUI citation in Washington State between 1989 through 2011;
- If you had a traffic case in Washington State filed or resolved in a district or municipal court between 2011 through 2012;
- If you had a superior court criminal case in Washington State that was filed against you or resolved between 2011 through 2012, you may have had your name and driver license number accessed.
“We regret that this breach has occurred and we have taken immediate action to enhance the security of these sites,” said Washington State Court Administrator Callie T. Dietz.
The public should be aware that no one from the Administrative Office of the Courts, or any court in Washington State, will be asking for personal information over the phone or via e-mail regarding this incident.
The breach was discovered in February. While a large amount of data was downloaded from the Washington Courts website at www.courts.wa.gov, initial indications were that only non-confidential information was obtained.
Upon continued investigation, with the assistance of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (the key resource designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for cyber threat prevention response and recovery for state, local and tribal governments), AOC recently determined that 94 individual social security numbers were accessed, with a potential for up to 160,000 additional social security numbers and up to 1 million driver license numbers being accessed. For those 94 individuals that we know whose social security numbers were accessed, AOC is in the process of notifying them via letter.
In certain instances, driver license numbers are a part of court case record files and a part of the public record. Because they can be utilized as a personal identifier, however, precautions should be taken to monitor credit.
Editors note: The Washington State Courts should be congratulated on taking an aggressive approach and providing additional information to the public regarding this problem by posting two additional web pages to provide help. They are:
How to Protect Your Credit
Courts everywhere should note and learn from their efforts.