Florida Cyber Crime News: Lessons from Utah’s Massive Data Breach

July 4, 2012 by David S. Seltzer

If you’ve been accused of committing a cyber crime in Florida, odds are that what you did pales in comparison to what some Romanian hackers recently did to the entire State of Utah.

In case you haven’t been tracking the big news… computer criminals from Eastern Europe hacked into Utah’s Department of Health website on March 30 and stole massive amounts of personal data, including many people’s Social Security Numbers. The Utah Department of Technology Services was relatively slow to identify the extent of the problem. On April 4, the Department told the Salt Lake City Tribune that “a few” SSNs had been accessed and 24,000 Medicaid claims stolen. Five days later, after getting clearer on the scope of the problem, Utah’s technology gurus figured out that 780,000 people (!) had had their Medicaid claims accessed – and 280,000 Utahans had had their Social Security Numbers compromised.

This massive act of hacktivism was ultimately traced back to a single default password. Utah's total population is only 2.8 million people; that means that 1 in every 10 Utah residents had their Social Security Number compromised by this breach.

Very serious stuff.

In the wake of all the drama, Utah’s Governor, Gary Herbert, announced the resignation of the Director of the State’s Department of Technology Services on May 15. Utah has also now instituted a draconian new anti-identity theft system called The Identity Theft Reporting Information System (IRIS).

Implications for Your Florida Computer Crime Defense

Perhaps you got arrested after hacking into a Florida government or corporate website and causing havoc. Or maybe you’re being investigated for committing bank fraud or online identity theft in conjunction with a ring of people from Miami and around the globe.

No matter what you did, the Utah situation can be instructive for you.

The big takeaway is this: seemingly small computer crimes can easily spiral out of control and cause way more damage than you intended. For instance, perhaps you broke into some online accounts to siphon money to pay for a vacation in the Cayman Islands or something. You wanted the situation to be contained. But perhaps one of your associates got a little “creative” and engaged in other illegal acts while working under your aegis. And perhaps those acts involved drug crimes or even violent crimes. As a result of your association with that person, you now might face hugely escalated charges, such as multiple felony counts, which could land you in jail for years.

Alternatively, perhaps you intended to do minor damage to a corporation that you didn’t like – an act of “hacktivism,” if you will – but your cyber vandalism got out of control, and you ended up costing the company tens of millions of dollars by accident.

What Should You Do Now?

It’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle. But you still can take effective defensive action. Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a Miami cyber crime defendant here at the Seltzer Law, PA website, or call us any time of day or night for an immediate, free and confidential consultation at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-453-3333).