The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will send 1.3 million people notifications as a precaution to what officials believe could be a case of unauthorized access, according to department staff.
It hasn't yet been confirmed whether any unlawful activity took place during the May 15 incident but after detecting traces of suspicious activity, staff promptly shut down the department's server as a safety measure. Officials notified authorities upon detecting questionable actions that took place prior to a private forensic investigation.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we are notifying those whose personal information could have been on the server," said Richard Opper, DPHHS director. "Again, we have no reports, nor do we have any evidence that anyone's information was used in any way, or even accessed."
Current and former Montana residents, including those of deceased individuals with estates and personal information in the department's system, were reportedly notified. These individuals will also receive free monitoring on their credit reports, as well as identity protection insurance to keep them safe from possible theft of their names, addresses, dates of birth, and social security numbers in the future.
"I encourage Montanans who are notified to sign up for the free credit monitoring and insurance that is being provided," added Opper. Staff is sending out a letter with personal activation codes to customers who qualify and sign-up for the extra protection services.
To offset the possibility of future incidents, the department has restored the systems in question, since the hack could have also affected the client's information including health assessments, diagnoses, treatments, prescriptions and insurance, according to company officials. This information, different for each consumer, was not lost, however. Department officials said they'd backed up of all of the data.
The department is taking questions on its toll-free help line at 800-809-2956, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Users can also access the health department's website found here.