A Chippewa County government office is notifying residents of a data breach

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 5:24 PM CDT
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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - Officials with the Chippewa County Human Resources Division said staff are notifying hundreds of people impacted by a data breach within the department.

County Administrator Randy Scholz said the breach became known on March 1st when an employee noticed something strange on their work laptop.

“We’re not 100% sure, I think. We just know they got access to the computer somehow. My understanding is that they saw someone moving their mouse around. So that’s how they identify that something is going on,” said Scholz.

He said it has caused a HIPAA violation with a hacker having swiped a spreadsheet with people’s medical related information.

He said it has impacted close to 850 people with staff notifying over half of them so far.

UW-Eau Claire IT specialist Steve Ranis said hacking incidents are on the rise.

“Every system is vulnerable. And the way hackers get into systems is by exploiting the device itself, the process it’s used, or the individual,” said Ranis.

Hackers are using methods that make it easier to obtain information from just about anyone.

“With the use of new technology we have the ability to create better phishing emails. Phishing emails are messages sent to someone to either get them to click on a link or do some other activity,” said Ranis.

“They’re getting a lot more sophisticated. They’re going into social media, seeing personal information about either me or someone else on the staff,” said Scholz.

Ranis said this should not scare anyone from the digital world, just to proceed with caution.

“Learn why they want to get to you, and what your value is,” said Ranis.

Scholz said this incident is just another lesson learned.

“It can happen to any one of us. It just so happen to this one individual,” said Scholz.

The rule of thumb? Ranis said to always ask questions and make sure to get the answers before clicking on anything.

The director of the human resources division said the spreadsheet the hacker ran off with did not contain any Social Security Numbers, addresses or financial information.