The Missouri governor is pursuing a reporter who discovered that teachers’ Social Security numbers were at risk.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson went after a reporter who revealed that teachers and school officials’ Social Security numbers were at risk of being disclosed on a state agency website.
According to the St. Louis-Dispatch, the “vulnerability was discovered in a web application that allowed the public to look for teacher qualifications and credentials.”
Before publishing the report, the newspaper contacted the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education about the problem, and the impacted pages were deleted from the website.
According to the St. Louis-Dispatch, “more than 100,000 Social Security numbers were vulnerable based on state pay records and other data.”
According to the publication, the private information wasn’t prominently displayed or searchable on the site, but Social Security numbers were in the HTML source code of the web sites. The vulnerability was confirmed by three instructors and a cybersecurity expert, according to the St. Louis-Dispatch.
Parson, a Republican, addressed the matter in a press conference on Thursday, calling the reporter a “hacker” and the newspaper’s actions “pathetic.”
The governor indicated that he has submitted the case to the Cole County Prosecutor and has requested an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. According to Parson, the investigation might cost taxpayers up to $50 million.
“Any and all culprits who attempt to steal personal information and hurt Missourians will be met with this administration’s wrath,” the governor stated. “It is illegal to gain access to encoded data and systems in order to study the personal information of others.” On the state website, Parson says nothing about granting the reporter access to teacher data.
“This person is not a victim,” Parson stated emphatically. “They were acting against the state agency in an attempt to disgrace the state and sell stories for their news source by compromising teachers.” The governor also promised to pursue anybody who “aided and abetted” the reporter and the news organization for which they work.
The reporter “done the responsible thing by submitting his findings to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) so that the state might act to prevent exposure and misuse,” according to Joe Martineau, an attorney for the publication.
A hacker is someone who uses harmful or illegal intent to circumvent computer security. There was none here. This is a condensed version of the information.