The state of Washington’s Department of Labor (DoL) confirmed that it detected “suspicious activity” during the week of Jan. 24 indicating a cyberattack targeting the state’s professional and occupational license data.
In a Feb. 3 press release, the DoL said it “immediately began investigating with the assistance of the Washington Office of Cybersecurity.” As a precaution, DoL said it shut down the Professional Online Licensing and Regulatory Information System (POLARIS) to protect the personal information of professional licensees.
In terms of what info may have been compromised, the DoL said the POLARIS system stores information about its license holders and applicants. The types of information varies for different licenses and may include social security numbers, dates of birth, driver license numbers, and other personally-identifying information.
The DoL said as of Feb. 3 it has no indication that any other DoL data was affected, such as driver and vehicle licensing information, and that all other DoL systems are operating normally.
Currently, the DoL is working with the state’s Office of Cybersecurity to protect the licensing data and bring POLARIS back online as soon as possible.
The DoL added that “with the support and assistance of nationally recognized cybersecurity experts, we are investigating what happened and what data and people may be affected.” If the investigation concludes that personal information has been accessed, DOL will notify individuals to provide further assistance.
While POLARIS is down, the DoL has created an Intent to Renew form. Once submitted, the DoL confirmed that will not take action against an individual’s license based on its expiration date while POLARIS is down. Additionally, the DoL has launched a call center for individuals who have questions about the incident.
For individuals who are concerned their data may have been compromised, the DoL suggested they take the following proactive steps while the investigation is ongoing:
- “Remain vigilant – We encourage you to remain vigilant by reviewing your account statements and free credit reports.
- Consider placing a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit file – Credit bureaus have tools you can use to protect your credit, including fraud alerts and security freezes.
- Report suspicious activity – If you believe you are the victim of fraud or identity theft, file a police report and get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of a crime to clear up your records. The report may also provide you with access to services that are free to identity theft victims.”