Aliya Sternstein reports:
The government has mailed out letters to AmeriCorps participants and applicants informing them that personal information may have been breached due to flaws in the program’s website, federal officials announced on Friday. The security weaknesses date back to 2006, they said.
Each year, the federal AmeriCorps program offers more than 70,000 citizens opportunities to volunteer at government agencies, nonprofits and other community organizations.
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The Corporation for National and Community Service has a statement posted on AmeriCorps’ website today:
Today, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced that is has discovered and corrected access vulnerabilities in the MyAmeriCorps portal website that may have created the potential for others to view personal information of program applicants and participants. The vulnerabilities, which date back to 2006, would not have caused personal information to be exposed in the normal operation of the portal.
To ensure the highest degree of care and caution, CNCS is notifying all AmeriCorps applicants and participants with records in the portal system and providing them a full range of support services, including membership in a credit monitoring and identity theft insurance program. Following is the letter of notification.
I am writing to inform you that the Corporation for National and Community Service has discovered and corrected access vulnerabilities in the MyAmeriCorps portal website that may have created the potential for others to view personal information of program applicants and participants. We value the privacy of your personal information and are implementing measures to ensure this does not happen again.
The vulnerabilities would not have caused your personal information to be exposed in the normal operation of the portal. Rather, someone would have had to manipulate the web URL, or know your unique log-in name and use a specific technique to bypass the required password. If this occurred, personal information that you entered into the system potentially could have been seen. For example, your name, address, and last four digits of your social security number, or full social security number if you received a W2 or 1099, may have been viewed. Please log into your MyAmeriCorps portal account if you want to review the information you previously provided.
The corporation did not indicate exactly how many people were being notified, nor how they first became aware of the problem.
Update: a copy of their notification to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office is available online.