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Breach puts information in peril

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By Josh Rabe Modified: August 25, 2007 at 11:59 am •  Published: August 25, 2007
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Someone hacked into computers at three Oklahoma law enforcement agencies and may have stolen private information meant only for police use, the state Department of Public Safety announced Friday.

Details of the extent of the security compromise remained sketchy Friday, but officials said only the Elk City and Eufaula police departments and the Kiowa County Sheriff Department were affected.

The Department of Public Safety is urging anyone who has had contact with those agencies to check for any suspicious charges on credit cards or to obtain a credit report as soon as possible. Even people pulled over for a traffic stop but not given a ticket could be at risk.

"Because this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to release a lot of information,” said Capt. Chris West, spokesman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

West said he could not elaborate on how long security had been compromised at those locations or how many people may be affected by the security breach.

"We believe it is a small number of individuals,” West said. "Those individuals will be contacted by the involved law enforcement agency.”

What was affected
The breach involved information used by the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, a statewide computer network used by dispatchers to obtain instant access to all types of local, state and federal law enforcement databases.

Police dispatchers typically use the system to verify the status of driver licenses, vehicle registration and to check for outstanding warrants and criminal history.

Gene Thaxton, telecommunications director for the Department of Public Safety, said central files for the system are stored at his agency and were not affected by the breach. The system is accessible at roughly 380 terminals statewide at law enforcement agencies.

Any information accessed by dispatchers that was displayed on their computer screen may have been sent to a third party by a computer virus found on the three affected computers.

Both driver license numbers and Social Security numbers are listed in the database along with names and addresses, Thaxton said. Dept. of Public Safety

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