Database breach that could endanger lives

A database breach that could result in more than just identity theft is the result of a compromise of the online database of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department (Colorado) by yet unknown individuals.

According to Npr, the database includes – among other things – names of confidential drug informants and addresses, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers of people interviewed during criminal investigations – all in all, information pertaining to some 200,000 people.

Those confidential drug informants could be put in mortal danger if this information finds its way into the hands of the wrong people, so the sheriff’s deputies are running through the database and trying to gauge who might be in danger.

The FBI is also involved in the investigation, and has enlisted the help of Google in order to discover who breached and accessed the database. So far, they know that the information was first accessed in April, and that it was consequently accessed by persons both from the U.S. and outside it.

The breach was discovered at the end of November, when a Colorado newspaper received a disk containing the information from one of their sources. They immediately notified the authorities, and an investigation was mounted.

So far, it looks like the information contained in the database – in a single, large (seemingly unencrypted) text file – has not been posted online. That is the biggest concern of the authorities regarding this situation. “The truth is, once it’s been out there and on the Internet and copied, you’re never going to regain total control,” says Sheriff Stan Hilkey.


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