Missouri Governor Wants to Prosecute Journalist for Warning That State Left Teachers’ Data Exposed

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Missouri Governor Wants to Prosecute Journalist for Warning That State Left Teachers’ Data Exposed

 

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The Missouri government is threatening legal action against a newspaper reporter that pointed out a glaring cybersecurity hole in one of its websites. Instead of thanking the journalist, Gov. Mike Parson has accused him of “hacking” and claims he wants to see him criminally prosecuted.

The reporter, Josh Renaud of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, recently discovered that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website had left some 100,000 social security numbers belonging to public school teachers, administrators, and other education officials exposed to the internet.

How did that happen? Renaud reports that the website had apparently had the personal information embedded into the HTML source code of the website—a fairly grievous coding bungle. The newspaper subsequently verified its findings with a cybersecurity professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who called the flub “mind boggling.” The paper then responsibly disclosed the vulnerability to the government, giving officials time to take down the affected pages. Finally, on Thursday, the paper published its findings.