S.C. agency website defaced; personal information OK

  • Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012 11:45 p.m.

COLUMBIA — Authorities late Saturday were investigating what they said was the defacement of a South Carolina state agency website, but they stressed that the site was not hacked.

WLTX-TV reported that an image appeared on the Department of Employment and Workforce website on Saturday evening claiming, “This site was hacked.”

Agency spokeswoman Adrienne Fairwell told The Associated Press that officials believe it was a “website defacement.” She said the image was taken down after a little more than an hour.

She added that “no confidential or sensitive or personal identifying information was lost or stolen.”

“Website defacement is an attack on a website that changes the visual appearance of the site or a webpage,” the agency said in a news release late Saturday. “This can be compared to graffiti on a wall.”

Fairwell said the defacement also occurred at about 12 other websites nationwide.

Information technology specialists were working on the issue late Saturday, she said.

“We take this and any attempts to obtain personal identifying information and sensitive data very seriously,” said DEW Executive Director Abraham J. Turner. “Due to multiple levels of security the agency has in place, a more serious event was averted. We will continue to monitor, identify and eliminate vulnerabilities.”

According to the agency, “a malicious user defaced the agency’s website” at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

“There was no personal identifying information compromised,” the news release said. “The DEW.SC.GOV website contains public information about the agency and the federal programs that it administers. Simply put, the user replaced one DEW website, the main page, with a message.”

In mid-September, a computer hacker stole the tax filings of 3.8 million adults and 700,000 businesses as part of a massive security breach at the state Revenue Department. The state is paying Experian $12 million for one year of credit monitoring and dedicated call center operators. Nearly 1 million people have signed up so far. Notices to affected taxpayers began going out earlier this month.

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