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State Server Under Hackers’ Grip

Hackers planted an automated program on a Vermont state computer in December last year. As a result there could be a breach into the personal and financial information such as names, Social Security numbers and bank account details of nearly 70,000 current and former residents of Vermont, reported officials on January 29, 2007.

There might have been a security violation leaking financial information of 58,800 account holders belonging to the New England Federal Credit Union. There is also a possibility of hackers accessing a server holding the names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and financial records of 12,000 inhabitants of Green Mountain State, Vermont, USA.

Chances are that miscreants used the stolen information for illicit purposes though indications for it do not exist, said Cynthia LaWare, Human Services Secretary in news of The Associated Press.

The hacked computer is connected to nine banks and credit unions. So far, none of these institutions has reported any activity different from the usual. Even then the state has started off an investigation. State police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the attorney general's office are searching the source of the virus.

According to officials, while there were no signs of theft of sensitive personal data from the state computer, there was also no evidence that the incident did not occur.

The state is distributing letters asking people to carefully study their bank statements and contact with the bank in case they suspect any entry. The state is also providing free credit monitoring service for any affected person.

There have been previous instances as well of exposure of state records to identity thieves. A computer was stolen from Vermont State Colleges that stored numerous social security numbers of current and ex-students. In another case, a human resources bid inadvertently posted social security numbers of health care agencies. And in January 2007 again, social security numbers were posted on the Web site of the secretary of state.

The hacked computer has been disconnected from the Internet. After conducting an audit the agency found no other system similarly affected. The state is updating older computers to avoid further attacks.

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