The County of Humboldt announced today that five computer terminals used by the public in an office on the fifth floor of the county courthouse were misconfigured by a third-party software provider, potentially allowing access to limited confidential information.
On April 4, 2016, the county learned that individuals accessing parcel information in the fifth floor office may have been able to access certain information typically accessible only to county staff. Upon learning this, the county immediately launched an internal investigation and worked with its third-party software provider who maintains the software used on the terminals. The investigation determined that when the county upgraded its property assessment software last year, five computer terminals on the fifth floor of the county courthouse were misconfigured by a third-party software provider to allow access to additional non-public information.
Individuals who viewed parcel information from one of the misconfigured computer terminals may have been able to access confidential information, including the parcel owner’s name and Social Security number. However, access to these computers is monitored by staff and, to date, the county has no evidence that any information has been used improperly or even accessed as a result of this incident. Moreover, the affected computers are not permitted to access the internet and the USB ports are disabled, further limiting the ability for someone to download or email information externally. Still, as precaution, we are posting a website notification with more information. The website notice includes a number to call if an individual believes they may be affected by this incident or if they have any questions.
“Even though there was probably pretty limited exposure here, we take these issues very seriously because we’re dealing with people and their personal information,” said Rex Bohn, First District Supervisor. “Regardless of how few computers could access the information or how likely it was that people even noticed it, the bottom line is this information needs to be protected. That’s our top priority.”
To help prevent a similar incident from reoccurring, we have already taken steps to enhance the security of our public terminals and correct the misconfiguration by our third-party provider. Going forward, we are running checks of our existing publicly accessible software and instituting additional measures to ensure security concerns are addressed on any new or upgraded programs.