Data Breach Infects Mass. Unemployment Office

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An estimated 225,000 Massachusetts residents could become fraud victims as a result of a computer data breach in the state unemployment system. State labor officials have disclosed that a computer virus compromised their computer system, and that's making some unemployment recipients vulnerable.

On April 20, one person at one computer in the state system visiting an infected website. A virus, called the QAKBOT virus, spread from there to other computers on the network.

Since then, a new mutated variation of a computer virus infected the Labor Department's network. When the department discovered the breach, they put up a firewall to try to keep it from sending out information, according to state Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein.

"As soon as we were aware that the virus had struck, we took every action we could ... to remediate it," Goldstein said. "Unfortunately the virus took some different paths. And once we became aware that one of those paths exported information, we took even further action."

Potentially anyone in the state employment system — including the 210,000 people currently receiving jobless benefits and the state employees who've used career center computers — are at risk of having their address, phone number, social security number or password stolen.

State officials are recommending that anyone who could be affected institute a fraud alert on their credit.
The state has set-up a toll-free hotline for more information, at 877-232-6200. For more information about institutin a credit freeze, vist the Labor and Workforce Development website.

For more on how the virus attack unfolded, click here.

This program aired on May 17, 2011.

Curt Nickisch Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.



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