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State unemployment insurance programs have become a target for hackers, and a potential source of data breaches, as the COVID-19 crisis drags on.

cyber 4084714 640 smallOhio seems to have come out on the better side of a cyber attack. The state said it has thwarted hackers’ efforts to overwhelm a system that could lead to workers losing unemployment benefits if they refuse to go back to work, as the Toledo Blade reports. Kim Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, told the Blade that the attack was aimed at “clogging up traffic” but did not ultimately affect anyone’s ability to file reports. Hall said the state managed to shore up security quickly.

Illinois may have been less fortunate. Personal details for up to thousands of people were compromised in a breach of a filing system for the state’s new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, as CBS Chicago reports. But the Illinois Department of Employment Security said that one person was able to access information for “a limited number of claimants,” adding that the problem was fixed within an hour.

More than 50,000 people have filed claims through the website since its recent launch, according to the state. Illinois also offers Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to contractors, gig workers and others who don’t typically qualify for unemployment benefits. A southern Illinois business owner told Chicago’s WBEZ that she stumbled on the Social Security numbers and other personal data for “thousands and thousands” of benefit applicants.

In Arkansas, a data breach exposed the personal information of 30,000 applicants for the state’s pandemic unemployment insurance benefits, as Memphis’s WMC TV reports. The FBI is investigating the breach and the site has been shut down for security improvements, Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a press conference. A computer breached the site after reportedly trying to warn state officials about the security flaw.

The Secret Service has warned that a Nigerian crime organization is committing “massive fraud” against various states’ unemployment insurance programs amid the pandemic, according to a report by Krebs on Security. The Nigerian crime ring has reportedly been using Social Security numbers and other personal information obtained through identity theft to file fraudulent unemployment claims in Washington state.

North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida have also possibly been affected.

Last modified on Friday, 22 May 2020
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