Detroit computer security breach affects 1,700 employees

Mar 3, 2014

Credit Morguefile

Detroit officials revealed today a computer security breach of files containing personal information of 1,700 past and current firefighters and EMS workers.

Beth Niblock is Detroit's Chief Information Officer. She said the breach was caused by malware that froze access to the files.

Niblock said it does not appear that the employees' personal information is at risk. 

"To the best of our knowledge, no personal data has actually been disclosed. But we obviously take any kind of malware, phishing, trojan, worms, viruses, security, very seriously," she said.

Niblock said the city wants to make sure employees feel safe. "So we're offering to the affected employees at no cost to them a service to monitor their credit information and also identity theft insurance," she said.

Niblock said Detroit is hiring cybersecurity experts to make sure the city's data security systems are up to date.

She said Detroit will also increase employee training on best data security practices. 

Niblock said  employees can unwittingly unleash malware by clicking on an unsafe link in an email or website.

She believes in this case the breached files were made vulnerable by downloading secure data to "local" files. "This was an incident where a department had created a file to keep information rather than using the bigger systems of record that have security built into them," she said.

Virginia B. Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom