Security Experts:

Oregon Employment Department Closes Security Hole, Begins Investigation

The Oregon Employment Department (OED) is working with law enforcement to investigate an incident that caused the department to temporarily shut down a service used by job seekers.

According to the department, an anonymous tip alerted OED to a security vulnerability affecting the WorkSource Oregon Management Information System (WOMIS), an application used by customers to register for job search help and other services.

On Oct. 6, the department responded to the tip and began coordinating with the state's Chief Information Office to validate it. Once that was done, WOMIS was shut down while the security vulnerability was patched to eliminate the possibility of hackers stealing social security information.

The system was brought back online with additional security that afternoon, and the site is now up and running, according to the department.

"The second priority is to determine exactly whose information has been compromised and to initiate a criminal investigation," the department said in a statement. "We do not know if criminal activity has taken place. At the direction of Governor Kitzhaber, law enforcement has been contacted. OED will directly notify all customers who are WOMIS participants. OED has engaged with law enforcement to determine whether criminal activity has occurred. We will keep the public and media informed as new information becomes available."

The WOMIS system does not affect the filing of unemployment insurance claims. The incident only impacts people who registered with WorkSource Oregon to look for a job, according to the department.

According to a report in the Statesman Journal, the information that could have been stolen includes addresses, social security numbers, birth dates and other data likely to be found on job applications.

"What we've been working on is to understand the scope and number of individuals, and once we identify those individuals and the customers, we can notify them," public affairs manager Andrea Fogue was quoted as telling the Statesman Journal. "But we're trying to get the word out that we have no reason to believe, at this point, that any of the information was used in a way that would compromise someone's personal information. And we want to reach people as soon as possible to give them the option for the identity theft protection."

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