An unauthorized individual recently gained access to a Louisiana state licensing database that contained the  personal information of tens of thousands of emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

How many victims? 56,000.

What type of personal information? Names and Social Security numbers.

What happened? It is believed that on Sept. 17 hackers gained access to a state Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) database that contained information about individuals who have applied for classes or who are certified as first responders or EMTs in Louisiana. The list includes high school seniors who are in EMS-related programs through the Education Department.

The breach was discovered by personnel with the state's Bureau of Emergency Medical Services. A computer screen displayed the message: “You have been hacked.”

Details: The portal is internet accessible because instructors and other authorized individuals throughout the state use the database.

Quote: “Although we have no indication that information was actually released, we know that it was accessed,” said Tony Keck, deputy secretary at the DHH.

What was the response? The DHH has sent letters to affected individuals. In addition, the agency has taken steps to prevent a future breach, such as strengthening password requirements. Local law enforcement and the Louisiana attorney general's office are investigating.

Source:, The Adovcate, “Hacker may have accessed DHH database,” Oct. 28, 2010.