Tucson data breach puts information of 123,500 people at risk

The city of Tucson reported a data breach that put the personal information of more than 123,500 people at risk of misuse.

Potentially stolen data includes individuals’ names, social security numbers, driver’s license or state ID numbers and passport numbers, according to the city.

Tucson sent letters to everyone whose data was made vulnerable by the breach and offered one year of credit monitoring services to help detect identity fraud and other harmful uses of personal information.

According to the city’s senior assistant prosecutor Roi Lusk, the city detected suspicious activity on May 29 when someone hacked into a user’s account and possibly copied data from the city’s network.

The city shut down its website and online services for two days after discovering the activity “to ensure no further information can be taken or further harm caused,” Lusk said. .

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The city brought in medical examiners to examine the nature of the breach in an investigation that lasted five weeks and revealed the sensitive nature of data potentially copied from the city’s network and whose information could have been leaked. Notices were sent to those affected on September 29.

There is no evidence that the leaked information was used fraudulently, according to Lusk, based on dark web analyzes in conjunction with forensic specialists and state and federal partners. For the majority of those notified, their information was left vulnerable in the breach, “we cannot determine with certainty that the information even left the network,” Lusk said.

Those whom the city has notified that their personal information was left vulnerable include current and former city employees, city licensees, and even those who have not done business in the city due to a verification process conducted by the Department of Revenue to ensure that people are not operating businesses in cities where they do not pay taxes, according to Lusk.

According to Jim Van Dyke, senior vice president of innovation at Sontiq, an identity security company, municipal data breaches are relatively common, but the nature of the Tucson data leak is “pretty bad” due to of the three potentially leaked government identifiers.

The combination of leaked social security, driver’s license and passport numbers increases the likelihood of an individual being fraudulently opened new credit or loan accounts in an individual’s name. Another risk posed by the city’s data breach is legal evasion, where someone may attempt to steal the identity of another with the intent to commit illegal activity and evade detection, according to Van Dyke.

“This is a particular breach where people need to take active steps to protect themselves,” he said. People who are raped “must not ignore it, and if they have this feeling of helplessness, realize that it’s common, and yet they don’t want to let themselves go into a state of inertia. … This is a good opportunity to revisit some standard procedures. And if so, walk or freeze your credit, notify law enforcement, and set fraud alerts on your credit report.

Van Dyke said anyone who has received a notice from the city should take advantage of free credit monitoring services.

To increase the city’s data security efforts, Lusk said Tucson is determining how the city can better protect user information in the future. The city has hired third-party forensic specialists to monitor more than 6,000 city servers, laptops and PCs used to conduct city business while enhancing monitoring systems that alert staff to security breaches.

“The problem is that these attacks happen all day, every day. For the most part, our IT department does a fantastic job of keeping us secure and protecting this data. But of course, it only takes one failure of any part of this system to cause problems,” Lusk said. “We’re scaling all departments, and we’re scaling leadership down to every employee in the city to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”

The data breach happened after former Tucson IT chief Colin Boyce resigned. Lusk said acting administrators took over handling the data breach and new chief information officer Christopher Mazzarella arrived early to help with the effort.

The city council approved the hiring of Mazzarella to lead the city’s IT efforts on Oct. 5. He previously led IT strategy development for Raytheon Missiles and Defence.

Contact journalist Nicole Ludden at [email protected]

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