Editorial | Ack! It’s another SC hack

January 24, 2014 

The following editorial appeared Jan. 17 in the Florence Morning News:

The modern world and its computerized record keeping are quite convenient … and quite problematic, too.

We’d venture to say that most folks probably are not aware of how exposed they are to the tentacles of deceit and theft online.

It’s the world we live in, and we all have to cede a bit of faith that those who hold our interests at heart (and in computer files) are prepared to battle today’s legion of super-sophisticated hackers.

But that wasn’t what ran off with personal South Carolina files – again – late last year. It was an employee with a run-of-the-mill flash drive taking his or her mouse and dragging and dropping more than 4,000 files on current and former employees of South Carolina’s unemployment agency before security software detected the unauthorized download.

The downloaded data included names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and bank account information. It took four weeks for the state to let anybody know.

Really?

The massive hack of 2012, which exposed the accounts of 6.4 million South Carolina people or businesses to possible fraud, never seemed to receive the full attention of the government or the governor until too late. Even then the response was muddled, and the culpable parties were indignant to a degree. It was a colossal foul-up, and one we’d hope would result in better-managed and better-resourced measures being put into place to protect the personal information of state citizens.

All it’s really seemed to lead to are millions of dollars in contracts to credit monitoring services that taxpayers are paying for to clean up the debacle.

The unemployment agency hacker has been caught and fired, and the files have been retrieved. So unlike that first fiasco, at least the state knows who has been hacked and the information is in safe – we use that word extremely liberally – hands, although there are no guarantees the bank routing and Social Security numbers obtained haven’t already been compromised.

We do not pretend to know what’s in the mind of a cyber thief. We don’t know the capabilities they have at their disposal. As more and more breaches such as the recent Target hack come to light, we as a society might have to resign to the fact that there is no such thing as hacker-proof protection online.

But protection against a wayward flash drive? Grandma Pearl could probably figure that one out.

It’s about time South Carolina did so, too.

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