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Gov. Parson promises ‘swift justice’ to person he says hacked Mo. Dept. of Education website

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 9:31 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 12:23 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - Governor Mike Parson promised “swift justice” to the person who he says hacked into the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

During a news conference on Thursday, October 14, the governor indicated that the hacker is connected to a news outlet.

However, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch claimed they are the ones who found the security flaw, and they say once they confirmed with a cyber expert that the information was social security numbers, they informed the state of the problem.

An attorney for the Post-Dispatch released a statement saying, “For DESE to deflect its failures by referring to this as ‘hacking’ is unfounded. Thankfully, these failures were discovered.”

According to Parson, the hacking took place on Oct. 12, and was a multi-step process in which an individual took the records of at least three educators, decoded the HTML source code, and viewed the social security number of those educators.

Parson noted that the portal to access the records was intended to only be accessible on an individual basis, and there was no option to decode social security numbers for all educators in the system at once.

Upon receiving the notice that their website had been infiltrated, DESE contacted the Missouri Office of Administration ITSD, who is in charge of removing public access to the website’s portal and rewriting the website’s code.

“We’re working to identify the teachers whose information was compromised,” Parson said.

“Let me be clear, this administration is standing up against any and all perpetrators who attempt to steal personal information and harm Missourians.”

Parson’s administration has notified the Cole County prosecutors as well as the Missouri State Highway Patrol Digital Forensics Unit to aid in the investigation.

According to Parson, this incident could cost Missouri taxpayers as much as $50 million.

“The state is committing to bring to justice anyone who hacked our system, and anyone who aided or encouraged them.”

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