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Missouri Governor Wants To Prosecute Reporter Over Security Flaw In State Website

A reporter warned the Missouri government that its website had security flaws. The problem was fixed and now the state governor wants to prosecute the reporter. 

Missouri governor, Mike Parson, announced on Thursday that he intends to prosecute the reporter who alerted the government about a state agency website that was exposing the Social Security numbers of school teachers and administrators. 

“The state does not take this matter lightly,” Parson said at a press conference. “This administration is standing up against any and all perpetrators who attempt to steal personal information and harm Missourians.” 

Josh Renaud reported for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday that the SSN’s were simply visible by viewing the HTML source code of the vulnerable pages; meaning that two clicks on any modern browser could show you this information. 

He had also alerted the state government and waited for them to fix the problem on Tuesday, so that his story could be published on Wednesday without risking the exposure of SSN’s from any school staff. 

The St. Louis-Post Dispatch released a statement saying that Renaud did the responsible thing by reporting his findings to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education so the state could take action to prevent any misuse. 

“A hacker is someone who subverts computer security with malicious or criminal intent,” the statement read. “Here, there was no breach of any firewall or security and certainly no malicious intent.”

It is unclear how long the SSN’s were exposed for on the state website.

Parson asked the Missouri State Highway Patrol to help with the investigation and referred the case to the Cole County Prosecutor. He believes that the incident was created by the reporter as a political game to embarrass the state and sell headlines.

“That’s not a crime for the journalists discovering it,” said Chris Vickery, a California-based data security expert during an interview with The Independent. “Putting Social Security numbers within HTML, even if it’s ‘non-display rendering’ HTML, is a stupid thing for the Missouri website to do and is a type of boneheaded mistake that has been around since day one of the Internet.”

NYC, NYCTastemakers, missouri, mikeparson, stlouispostdispatch, joshrenaud, hackers,

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