Breach, Threat Management, Data Security, Network Security, Vulnerability Management

Eight cities’ payment records impacted in Click2Gov portal breach

For the second time since 2017, the third-party government bill-payment portal Click2Gov has experienced a significant data breach affecting thousands of individuals in multiple cities across the U.S.

Government entities use the Click2Gov portal to accept payments for permits, licenses, fines and utilities. Discovered by fraud intelligence experts at Gemini Advisory, this latest attack compromised more than 20,000 payment card records collected by eight cities: Deerfield Beach, Palm Bay, Milton and Coral Springs in Florida; Bakersfield, California; Pocatello; Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and Ames, Iowa.

The previous attack took place in 2017 and 2018 and was a considerably larger one that affected 300,000 payment records from dozens of cities. The second breach occurred beginning just last August.

Notably, six of the eight cities affected in the latter breach were also impacted by the original incident, Gemini Advisory reported late last week in a blog post. However, Gemini analysts confirmed that "many" of these cities were operating fully patched and updated versions of the portal. This strongly suggests that the attackers have found a new way to target past victims.

"The second wave of Click2Gov breaches indicates that despite patched systems, the portal remains vulnerable," states the Gemini blog post, authored by Stas Alforov, director of research and development, and Christopher Thomas, intelligence production analyst. "It demonstrates cybercriminals' willingness to repeatedly target the same victims and underscores that while responsible security habits are constructive, there is no perfectly secure system. It is thus incumbent upon organizations to regularly monitor their systems for breaches in addition to keeping up to date on patches.

CentralSquare Technologies, which acquired Click2Gov from software company Superion, acknowledged the breach to in a statement. "We have recently received reports that some consumer credit card data may have been accessed by unauthorized or malicious actors on our customers' servers. It is important to note that these security issues have taken place only in certain towns and cities," the statement read. A spokesman later added that the company's investigation turned up a vulnerability in the portal that "existed for a limited number of Click2Gov customers, and has been closed. At this time, only a small number of customers have reported unauthorized access."

Back in January 2019, Hanover County, Virginia, officials disclosed that an unauthorized party stole credit card information processed by the Click2Gov payment portal between Aug. 1, 2018 and Jan. 9, 2019, in a more limited incident that was also uncovered by Gemini Advisory.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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