Search Results : MCCCD

May 082018
 

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that although a breach may be in the headlines for the proverbial 15 minutes, the impact of some breaches and resulting litigation may go on for years.

Maricopa Community Colleges

Back in 2011 and and 2013, DataBreaches.net reported on breaches involving the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD).  The earlier breach appeared to be a relatively small one that I had learned about through a paste showing multiple entities’ data for sale. But the second breach, the one disclosed in 2013, was big. In fact, it appeared to be the largest breach ever reported by a post-secondary educational institution in this country, and I think it probably still holds that unfortunate record. But the proverbial dung hit the fan when it came out that the second breach might have been totally avoidable had MCCCD properly remediated the first breach.

Eventually, this blogger  filed an FTC complaint against MCCCD under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, asking the FTC to investigate the college’s security failures (as revealed by documentation this site had obtained from a variety of sources). EPIC also filed a complaint asking the FTC to investigate MCCCD’s alleged data security failures under its GLBA authority. As far as I know, the FTC never investigated. Whether they declined to investigate due to lack of resources or for some other reason is unknown to me.

I recently learned, however, that a former employee of MCCCD, Miguel Corzo, is still tied up in litigation against MCCCD. MCCCD had appeared to have pretty much thrown him under the bus, trying to blame the 2013 breach on him.

Screenshot from Oracle report that MCCCD would later claim they never received.

And I suppose that I shouldn’t be so surprised, but it sounds like the college is still claiming ignorance of a number of reports and warnings they had allegedly been given before the 2013 breach.

Back in 2014, as part of DataBreaches.net’s investigation into the MCCCD breach, this blogger interviewed or exchanged email communications with a number of then-current and former MCCCD employees and contractors. This site also obtained state audits from public records searches as well as copies of reports prepared by external contractors and/or employees.

Screenshot from file allegedly handed to Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor’s group in January, 2013.

Among the files and reports  this site obtained were some very bluntly written reports warning MCCCD of what would likely happen if they didn’t take certain actions.  Some of those reports were sent to me with a statement that the reports  had been handed directly to the then-Chancellor and “all members of his Vice Chancellor group” at the beginning of 2013.

The reports obtained by this site included four Word files named, “OnGoing Risks,” “Risks_Associated_With_No_Action,” “Key Transformation Success Factors,” and “Transformation Readiness Questions,” as well as other files titled, “MCCCD – Incident Response Consulting 2011 – Tactical Project Recommendations” (a consulting report from Stach & Liu), “Maricopa_Risk_Assessment_v3 (a PowerPoint file prepared by Oracle), “Maricopa – Security insight Slides2 (a PowerPoint slide), and “First Draft – Information Security Program – 06012011” (a Word file).

Screenshot of file allegedly handed to MCCCD Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor’s group, January, 2013.

Other relevant reports are mentioned in a partial chronology published in this post and in this post.

For the most part, DataBreaches.net did not publish the reports this site obtained, for fear that publication at that time  might provide criminals with a roadmap for how to successfully attack MCCCD (again) if MCCCD still had not remediated certain vulnerabilities. But the fact that this site didn’t publish all the reports or name the former employees or contractors who provided this site with reports and statements doesn’t mean that the reports do not exist or that they were never given to MCCCD prior to the large 2013 breach.

It’s time for any cover-up to stop.

Oct 142014
 

A former Maricopa County Community College District employee alleges executive leadership closed their eyes to a report on their database security conducted after their massive data breach in 2013 so they would have plausible deniability in any litigation. As a result, the employee alleges, the findings were never shared with those tasked with securing MCCCD’s data assets. 

In November 2013, Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) disclosed that they had been informed by the FBI that 14 databases with personal information had been found up for sale on the Internet. The potential compromise of 2.5 million students’, employees’ and vendors’ personal and financial information currently stands as the largest breach ever in the education sector.

As part of its continuing investigation into that breach, DataBreaches.net recently disclosed parts of a report issued by Stach & Liu in 2011 after an earlier hacking incident. Failure to properly remediate that breach had been cited as a factor in the 2013 breach. Of special relevance now, MCCCD’s external counsel had asserted that MCCCD administration at the highest levels never even knew of the report’s existence until after the 2013 breach. Their claim was disputed by former employee Earl Monsour, who stated he had delivered the report to the Vice Chancellor for ITS.

Today, DataBreaches.net can reveal that following the massive 2013 breach, there was a database security assessment that MCCCD has not shared with its own personnel nor the public.  Will MCCCD leadership claim they have never seen this report, too?  According to a former employee, if the Chancellor and executive leadership do claim they never saw this report, it is because MCCCD did not want to see it for fear it could hurt them in litigation.

According to the former employee who spoke with DataBreaches.net, Oracle had been brought in to assess database security following the 2013 breach, but  MCCCD subsequently tried to stop Oracle from delivering their report to MCCCD:

(MCCCD) made it clear that if they did not see it (the report), they could deny it… they then put Oracle on notice they were going to go after them as this was going to cause harm to their case.

There is no mention of retaining Oracle in MCCCD board minutes following the 2013 breach and no mention of Oracle conducting any security assessment in the timeline of steps Wilson Elser stated the District took following the breach. Wilson Elser’s timeline, submitted in November 2013, names Stach & Liu and Kroll Advisory Services and describes their roles, but never mentions Oracle.

The former employee claims that to MCCCD’s great upset, the Oracle report was delivered, but MCCCD leadership did not look at it:

To be clear – no one at MCCCD leadership saw this… did not want to see it… did not want it on their servers…  they were pissed to the max that this document was sent to MCCCD. The legal teams did everything in their power to never let this see the light of day… and it has not.  Therefore, nothing that was recommended by Oracle was done as part of the official MCCCD remediation plan.

It is one thing for lawyers to claim a report is privileged or work product and exempt from public disclosure or disclosure to any adversary in litigation. It is quite another thing for those responsible for securing tons of personal information to intentionally not read a report they presumably paid for and that might contain important vulnerabilities or problems that should be addressed to prevent future breaches. Should there be another massive data breach, and should it be determined that the vulnerabilities had been identified in Oracle’s 2013 report, the consequences to the District and taxpayers could be significant.

So what was in Oracle’s June 2013 “Database Security Healthcheck”  that MCCCD’s leadership allegedly did not even look at?

Because this blog does not want to provide hackers with a roadmap to attack MCCCD if MCCCD still has not adequately secured its network and systems, the full report will not be published here at this time. DataBreaches.net will, however, note just some of the problems the report identified (without the elaboration or recommendations that were provided in the report). The categorization as “severe,” “significant,” and “moderate” are Oracle’s labels:

    • “Network Not Secure” (Severe Risk category)
    • “Default Application Accounts PW Not Changed” (Severe Risk category)
    • “Unsecured Access to Servers” (Significant Risk category)
    • “No Tool SQL Injection Prevention” (Moderate Risk category)

As noted above, the preceding are just some of Oracle’s findings included in their report. In many cases, Oracle’s report described MCCCD’s then-current security for an identified issue as “none.”

Lack of Transparency a Long-Standing Problem at MCCCD?

Some of the issues raised in Oracle’s June 2013 report are the same issues Oracle raised in its April 2008 “Insights” report. To be fair to MCCCD, many of the issues raised in the 2008 report required vendor solutions or solutions were not even available at the time. The April 2008 report was submitted to MCCCD one month before MCCCD experienced an unrelated data leak in Peoplesoft due to a programming error that allowed any user to query the database for any of millions of users. Although MCCCD claimed that the exposure only affected people with the last name of “Gilford,”  former employees tell DataBreaches.net that they believe that the entire database could have been queried during the few weeks before the error was detected.

In 2011, MCCCD experienced a breach involving a MySQL database on public-facing web servers controlled by the Marketing Department.  While that breach was relatively small as such breaches go, sources tell DataBreaches.net that they felt “lucky” it wasn’t worse, and knew that if they did not secure the web servers, the next breach could be much worse. And it did get worse, they say, because MCCCD administrators ignored or rejected the advice of employees who tried to secure the system and who repeatedly urged MCCCD to quickly replace the badly compromised web servers. Yet, despite the fact that it had still had not replaced the compromised web server that had been brought back online, and despite the fact that its monitoring system was in shambles, the Vice-Chancellor of ITS gave a report to the Governing Board in March 2012 where the Board minutes reflect he asserted that the District was “very consistent” with the industry and things were “very good about where we are but we have a lot of work to do.” Nowhere in his presentation did he reveal how serious the situation actually was.

But it was not just the Governing Board who were being misled or given incomplete information by leadership about security concerns. In the process of investigating the 2013 breach, DataBreaches.net heard from several employees who said that MCCCD never shared Oracle’s 2008 report with them or Stach and Liu’s 2011 report after the 2011 breach. Why did MCCCD never share the Oracle 2008 with its ITS personnel at the time? Why didn’t leadership share the Stach & Liu 2011 report with those attempting to remediate the 2011 breach? [CORRECTION: The S&L report was reportedly shared with  the two ITS leaders of the Systems and Networking departments (who were responsible for the compromised server) as well as with the Vice Chancellor of ITS.]

As one of the former employees who quit in frustration put it:

I have to ask what motivation could they have to withhold information which could have been used to make the environment more secure?  We are not security experts, and designing and maintaining a secure environment costs money – not just applications but FTE’s.  We could not even get an upgrade done…any change associated with expenditure was vetoed almost immediately dating from 2010.

Truth is not really a part of the equation at MCCCD and I doubt it ever will be…

So despite Stach & Liu’s post-2011-incident report, despite state audits that repeatedly raised concerns about security controls that MCCCD had not addressed satisfactorily, despite internal reports and emails from ITS personnel urging MCCCD to deal with the problems more urgently, despite repeated requests for an external audit of the ITS department and the deteriorating work environment that resulted in MCCCD losing approximately 50% of its ITS personnel, and despite briefings of Chancellor Glasper and all members of his Vice-Chancellor group, MCCCD leadership did not ensure that the security issues were effectively addressed, all to the detriment of the millions of people whose personal information the District stored, and to the detriment of students and taxpayers.

The former employee writes:

“The question I have is this, what did they do in response to this ‘in your face’ information? The short answer was not much… if anything… They …. chose to move forward in a normal business fashion… no fire alarm, no urgency, nothing.”

And then, after the largest hack ever in the education sector, MCCCD’s Chancellor and high-level administrators allegedly tried to avoid acknowledging and disclosing Oracle’s  security assessment of their database security – to protect themselves?  Why wasn’t this report shared with everyone involved in trying to secure personally identifiable information in the wake of the 2013 breach?

DataBreaches.net reached out to MCCCD and asked them to respond to allegations that MCCCD tried to evade Oracle’s June 2013 report for litigation reasons.  They were also asked whether Chancellor Glasper and high-level administrators and the Governing Board ever read the Oracle 2013 report, and if so, when. After two requests, MCCCD’s District Director of Marketing and Communications responded that he was having trouble helping people identify the report in question, and could DataBreaches.net provide more details about the report. DataBreaches.net provided a few additional details, but never heard back from MCCCD after that correspondence last night. If a response or statement is received, this post will be updated.

Related:

Jul 232014
 

The Maricopa Administration is accusing me of not doing a job that wasn’t mine to do, being responsible for systems that I wasn’t responsible for, knowing about a security document that was never shared with me, not communicating upwards when I repeatedly did so, not protecting Maricopa data when the data that was stolen was not my responsibility to protect, being the database administrator for databases I had no control over, being responsible for compromised systems that were not under my supervision, performing below standards when my supervisor evaluations pointed to the contrary, not doing enough during an incident in 2011 when I was onsite, working with my staff and others to help Maricopa address a small security breach. Why is the Administration turning a blind eye on all these facts? Why did the hearing committee ignore all these when making their recommendation?
— Miguel Corzo, appealing to the Governing Board of MCCCD

Well, I expected this, but am still sad to hear that MCCCD fired an employee who maintains his lack of responsibility for the security failures at Maricopa County Community College District that resulted in the theft of 2.5 million people’s personal and/or financial information. Jared Dillingham reports:

Read more on AZFamily.com.

Why did the board – with the exception of one board member – deny him the chance to plead his case?

This case is not over. In a statement to DataBreaches.net, Corzo writes:

I am more than ever determined to see this through. I expected this outcome so I am not surprised. It is now time to bring the Federal Government or higher public body into the picture.

Here is the text of Corzo’s statement to the governing board last night (pdf).

Jul 222014
 

It appears that Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is doubling down on trying to throw employees under the bus in the wake of its 2013 breach affecting 2.5 million. According to a web site created by the attorney for the employees:

The MCCCD Administration is accusing Mr. Corzo of not doing a job that wasn’t his to do, being responsible for systems he wasn’t supposed to be responsible for, knowing about a document that was never shared with him, not communicating upwards when he repeatedly did so, and not doing enough during an incident in 2011 when he was onsite, working with his staff and others to help MCCCD address a small security breach.  In 2013 when the second and larger breach took place, Mr. Corzo was no longer assigned to any supervisory or database duties. The ERPs at MCCCD that Mr. Corzo was responsible for were never compromised in 2011. A small database residing on the main maricopa webservers was compromised. This database was the responsibility of the marketing department and the network and server team at MCCCD not Mr. Corzo’s team.

Read more on  Maricopa Security Breach.

The residents, taxpayers, and governing board of MCCCD should not allow this travesty to continue. Documentation provided by Mr.Corzo and others raises serious questions about both due process and the accuracy of the administration’s accusations.

As I’ve said before, this case calls for an independent investigation – by Arizona’s state legislature, the state attorney general, Congress, and the Federal Trade Commission. The 2.5 million who have been at risk of identity theft deserve no less. The employees who claim they have been scapegoated and falsely accused deserve no less. And the taxpayers and students of Maricopa County who are now paying more tuition because of the breach costs deserve no less.

Will the MCCCD governing board agree with the chancellor’s recommendation to terminate Mr. Corzo’s employment when the board meets tonight, or will they actually read his lengthy annotated response to the charges and give him an opportunity to testify to them and to call the witnesses he has always sought to call?  For the sake of MCCCD and fairness, I hope it’s the latter.

Update: See coverage by Mary Beth Faller in today’s Arizona Republic.

May 202014
 

Mary Beth Faller reports that breach costs for the Maricopa County Community College District (“MCCCD”) breach continue to rise:

The Maricopa County Community College District governing board has approved an additional $2.3 million in lawyers’ fees to deal with the computer-security breach that occurred last year.

The board also approved spending $300,000 to deal with records management, pushing the total amount authorized for the breach to nearly $20 million.

Read more on AZCentral.

Previous coverage of the MCCCD breaches can be found by searching this site for “MCCCD.”