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NEWS Improving and Protecting the Health, Well-Being
and Self-Reliance of All Montanans.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2014

Contact:   

Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

DPHHS computer server inappropriately accessed

Agency will offer free credit monitoring and insurance;
DPHHS establishes Help Line for Montanans to ask questions at 800-809-2956

HELENA - Officials with the Department of Public Health and Human Services (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.

The server contained personal client information that may have included names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, dates of service, as well as clinical information.

DPHHS employee payroll information was also on the affected server and the information included names, Social Security numbers, and bank account information.

On May 22nd, an independent forensic investigation determined that the server had been hacked. The forensic investigation was ordered on May 15th when suspicious activity was first detected by DPHHS officials.  When the suspicious activity was discovered, agency officials also immediately shut down the server and contacted law enforcement. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are taking the necessary steps to reach out to those whose information may have been stored on the server,” Opper said. “We apologize for the stress this announcement is going to cause. DPHHS is committed to answering questions clients and employees may have and to help them to take advantage of the services we are offering.”

Today, DPHHS released this information:

  • A toll-free DPHHS Help Line to allow people the opportunity to ask questions. The number is 800-809-2956.
  • In addition, the investigation also revealed that the server was likely first accessed in July 2013. However, DPHHS only became aware of a potential issue in May 2014.
  • The server that was hacked into has been shut down and is now off the state computer system. A new server containing backup files from the old server has been scanned and is safely being brought online.
  • DPHHS has purchased additional security software to better protect sensitive information on existing servers.
  • As part of an internal investigation, DPHHS is reviewing existing policies and procedures to determine how to prevent this from happening again in the future.

DPHHS is in the process of mailing letters to those clients and agency employees whose personal information could have been in the server. The letter will include instructions about how to sign up for free credit monitoring and insurance offered by the state.

However, until letters are sent, DPHHS understands that Montanans will have questions now about this unfortunate situation. To help address those questions, a toll free DPHHS Help Line has set up specifically dedicated to the agency response. Additional information is also available on the DPHHS website.

If anyone believes they were affected, but have not received a letter by the end of June, they are advised to call 800-809-2956.

Page last updated 05/29/2014