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A ransomware attack on a third-party supplier for the California DMV may have also compromised customer data.
The breach hit a third-party supplier called Automatic Funds Transfer Services (AFTS), which verifies vehicle registration addresses for local DMV customers. The DMV is still investigating whether the hackers stole any information. But “out of an abundance of caution,” the agency is warning the attack may have compromised customer data going back the last 20 months.
The potentially compromised data includes “California vehicle registration records that contain names, addresses, license plate numbers, and vehicle identification numbers,” the DMV said in a statement on Wednesday.
The breach is especially bad since California’s DMV serves millions of residents. A DMV spokesperson said 38 million records involving vehicles, including boats, were sent to AFTS.
But there’s some good news: “AFTS does not have access to DMV customers’ Social Security numbers, birthdates, voter registration, immigration status or driver’s license information, therefore this data was not compromised,” the agency added. Hence, the hackers wouldn’t have enough information to commit the worst kinds of identity theft, like opening a credit card in your name. Still, any exposed personal information could give them a start.
It’s also important to note the primary purpose of a ransomware attack is to encrypt the victim’s computer database, and hold it for ransom. But in some cases, the hackers behind the assault will also steal a copy of the data.
After learning about the breach, California’s DMV said it stopped all data transfers to AFTS and notified law enforcement, including the FBI. The agency says its own database remains secure. Nevertheless, the DMV is reviewing the measures it can take to bolster its network security.
AFTS wasn’t available for immediate comment. The company’s website continues to be down. However, the ransomware attack has affected its other clients, including the city of Kirkland, Washington, which relied on the company to process utility billing. The city is also warning local residents that their name, address, and billing amounts may have compromised in the ransomware attack.
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