IT head fired, ombudsman hired in wake of Utah breach

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The governor of Utah has fired the head of the state's Department of Technology Services (DTS) following a Medicaid breach announced last month that quickly grew into a public relations disaster.

During a public announcement on Tuesday in which he apologized to residents, Governor Gary Herbert said Stephen Fletcher would be replaced by Mark VanOrden as DTS' acting director. VanOrden previously served as the IT director of the state's Department of Workforce Services since 2006.

Fletcher, who was executive director, was asked to resign, and he agreed to step down.

Herbert also hired Sheila Walsh-McDonald to serve as the state's first health data security ombudsman. She will provide case management, credit counseling and outreach services to breach victims.

"The people of Utah rightly believe that their government will protect them, their families and their personal data," Herbert said. "As a state government, we failed to honor that commitment. For that, as your governor and as a Utahn, I am deeply sorry."

On two occasions, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) was forced to revise the number of people victimized by a March 30 attack on its server. The adversaries were believed to be operating out of Eastern Europe.

The attack initially was believed to have compromised 24,000 individual Medicaid claims, but three days later, officials said the breach actually impacted that many records. Contained in those records was the personal information of 181,604 people, including 25,000 who had their Social Security numbers exposed.

Then, a day later, the number of victims rose even higher. UDOH published a new update, saying that an additional 255,000 people had their Social Security numbers stolen in the heist.The update also stated that another 350,000 people listed in the eligibility inquiries may have had other sensitive data lifted.

That brought the tally to 280,000 people whose Social Security numbers were involved in the breach, and another 500,000 who also lost personal information, such as names, birth dates and addresses.

In response, the state also has enlisted an audit of its IT systems, to be conducted by Deloitte.


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