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MA Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reports a virus infiltrated the computer systems of agencies tied to employers, unemployed claimants and Career Center customers

May 17, 2011 – The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) today reported that the Departments of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and Career Services (DCS) network, individual computer terminals as well as individual computers at the One Stop Career Centers were infected with the W32.QAKBOT virus, a new strain of a computer virus, beginning on April 20, 2011. Steps were taken immediately with the assistance of EOLWD’s security provider Symantec to eliminate the virus.

EOLWD learned yesterday that the computer virus (W32.QAKBOT) was not remediated as originally believed and that the persistence of the virus resulted in a data breach. Once it was discovered, the system was shut down and the breach is no longer active. W32.QAKBOT may have impacted as many as 1500 computers housed in DUA and DCS including the computers at the One-Stop Career Centers.

There is a possibility that as a result of the infection, the virus collected confidential claimant or employer information. This information may include names, Social Security Numbers, Employer Identification Numbers, email addresses and residential or business addresses. It is possible that bank information of employers was also transmitted through the virus. Only the 1200 employers that manually file could be impacted by the possible data breach.

“I apologize to our customers and recognize that this is an unwanted problem. We are hopeful that the actual impact on residents and businesses is minimal. The breach is no longer active. We are in the process of individually notifying all residents whom we think could be impacted and have advised all relevant and necessary state and federal agencies of the situation. We are doing everything possible to provide assistance in how to protect their identities and credit to those affected,” said Joanne F. Goldstein, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. “We take our customers privacy very seriously. Unfortunately, like many government and non-government organizations we were targeted by criminal hackers who penetrated our system with a new strain of a virus. All steps possible are being taken to avoid any future recurrence”

As a precaution and according to the state’s protocol, every relevant state and federal agency, the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit, the Office of Consumer Affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been involved in remediating this virus, and all possible actions have been taken to minimize the impact to the Commonwealth’s constituents. We are coordinating with the Attorney General to identify the perpetrators of this crime and to take the next steps to address their actions.

There is no mechanism available to EOLWD to assess the actual number of individuals affected but any claimant who had their UI file manually accessed by could be affected. Additionally, businesses that file their quarterly statements manually (about 1,200 of 180,000) may have had identifying information transmitted through the virus. For a claimant to have been impacted, a staff person would have had to key in sensitive information at an infected work station.

EOLWD advises that anyone who conducted business from April 19 – May 13 requiring that a staff person access your file on-line with DCS, DUA or at a One Stop Career Center should take the necessary precautions as outlined below. All claimants will receive letters advising them of the breach and the information on how they can further protect themselves. In addition, EOLWD has set up a hotline, 1-877-232-6200 that will be staffed starting today for the next two weeks. The extended hours are listed below.

Tuesday, May 17 – Friday, May 20: 7:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 21: 8:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Monday, May 23 – Thursday, May 26: 7:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 27: 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

EOLWD’s website will also include information to help individuals take any necessary further steps. Individuals are urged to put a fraud alert, also called a credit freeze, on their credit reports so that no credit can be issues without the express consent of the individual. Instructions on how to do this can be found at:
More information can be found at http://1.usa.gov/jcLaDY

EOLWD again apologies for this problem and wants to assure the public that it is available to help residents through this difficult situation. ­­­­­­­­