Breach, Data Security

Unauthorized access gained to Montana DPHHS server for nearly a year


The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is notifying clients and employees that unauthorized access was gained to a server that stored their personal data, including Social Security numbers and payroll information.

How many victims? Not yet determined, a spokesperson told on Tuesday. 

What type of personal information? Names, addresses, dates of birth, dates of service, Social Security numbers and clinical information may have been compromised for clients. Names, Social Security numbers and bank account information may have been compromised for employees.

What happened? Unauthorized access was gained to a server that stored the personal information.

What was the response? Upon discovery of suspicious activity, DPHHS shut down the impacted server and contacted law enforcement. A new server containing backup files is being brought online. DPHHS has purchased additional software to better protect sensitive information. DPHHS policies and procedures are being reviewed. All impacted individuals are being notified and offered a free year of credit monitoring and insurance offered by the state.

Details: A forensic investigation revealed that access was likely gained in July 2013. DPHHS observed suspicious activity on May 15 and confirmed on May 22 that unauthorized access was gained to the server.

Quote: “Officials with the [DPHHS] said today that hackers gained entry to an agency computer server, though officials said there is no knowledge that information on the server was used inappropriately, or was even accessed,” according to the notification posted on the website.

Source:, “DPHHS computer server inappropriately accessed,” May 29, 2014.

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