Iowa Lottery exposed Social Security numbers of nearly 3,000 winners

Iowa Lottery exposed Social Security numbers of nearly three,00zero winners

The Iowa Lottery stated in a free up Tuesday that the group inadvertently launched the Social Security numbers of some of its prize winners from calendar 12 months 2011.

“This release of sensitive data was unintentional,” Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich stated. “On behalf of the entire lottery team, I apologize for this mistake. As we have said many times through the years, human involvement in any process means it will not be perfect. We are offering those impacted access to a credit-monitoring service and reviewing our procedures to identify improvements that can be made as we move ahead.”

According to lottery officers, the discharge befell because the lottery used to be responding to an open-records request from Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, an assistant professor of journalism at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. The journalism professor had asked an inventory of all Iowa Lottery winners of $600 or extra because the Iowa Lottery’s get started in 1985.

Lottery winner lists are open information below Iowa regulation. The lottery answered to the request on April 12 and the knowledge supplied used to be revealed in mid-September on a site. The knowledge used to be on that site for approximately 10 days till Sunday afternoon, when it used to be got rid of on the lottery’s request.

Lowenstein stated he used to be unaware that one of the fields of knowledge within the prizes database contained hidden Social Security numbers till Rob Porter, an lawyer for the Iowa Lottery, contacted him Sunday.

A reader of a site the place the ideas have been posted contacted the Iowa Lottery Friday after it seems that working out “unhide” the Social Security numbers within the knowledge, Porter stated.

The web page had 119 distinctive perspectives, however it used to be no longer in an instant identified what number of customers may have downloaded the ideas, Lowenstein stated.

“Quite honestly, I was stunned when I got the call. We deleted it immediately,” Lowenstein stated Tuesday.

In running to conform to the open information request for greater than 30 years’ price of knowledge associated with prize winners, the lottery had to get right of entry to knowledge in more than one databases on more than one platforms, then assemble the acceptable main points into one spreadsheet. In the method of doing that paintings, more information used to be inadvertently left within the ensuing spreadsheet just for the ones winners from calendar 12 months 2011. That knowledge integrated 2,967 distinctive Social Security numbers for the winners of Iowa Lottery prizes of $600 or extra in calendar 12 months 2011.

It used to be no longer in an instant transparent that Social Security numbers for some Iowa Lottery winners have been launched, as the main points didn’t seem in the primary textual content of the spreadsheet concerned. Further, within the tabs the place the ideas did seem, the knowledge used to be in unrecognizable abbreviations that required additional steps by means of the consumer to view the main points concerned.

Lottery officers stated a member of the general public spotted the Social Security numbers at the site and notified the lottery concerning the state of affairs Friday evening. Lottery group of workers then labored to spot the supply of the ideas and pinpointed the ones main points Saturday morning. The lottery then reached out to the reporters who had asked the ideas and requested them to take away it from the site, which they did on Sunday. On Monday, the lottery supplied the reporters with every other reproduction of the knowledge they’d asked that didn’t come with delicate knowledge with regards to its winners.

“As soon as the lottery realized that some of its winners’ Social Security numbers had been released, we began work to address the issue,” Rich stated. “This incident reminds us that we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect sensitive information. It is imperative that we continue to monitor and check any information we provide in our daily work as Iowa Lottery employees.”

Updated: September 27, 2017 — 7:03 pm

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