It doesn’t appear that a hacker or hackers was able to gain access to sensitive customer information in apparent cyber vandalism on WDFW’s public website earlier this week, but it will be down for at least 24 more hours as techies check for vulnerabilities.
The site, wdfw.wa.gov, was hit Monday when someone or a group gained access to it and briefly posted “really awful photos,” according to WDFW’s John Burrows, who within minutes was able to remove the material.
Spokesman Darren Friedel termed the content, uploaded to the hunting pages, “graphic violent images.”
However, probing continued through the day with repeated attempts to gain access to the site, with at least one more successful breach, before WDFW took the site down, Friedel says.
“There’s no indication that sensitive customer information such as social security numbers and credit cards were accessed,” he says.
Burrows says that that information does not sit on the agency’s site anyway.
“It appears the intent was to use our website to display a message,” says Friedel.
“We don’t know where they came from, who they are or what point they were trying to make,” he adds.
Friedel classified it as “vandalism” and not stealing information.
Burrows says that the attack was the first in the 20-year history of the website.
Meanwhile, specialists are investigating and going over the system and checking for vulnerabilities before bringing it online again.
“We’re hoping to get things back up in the next 24 hours,” Friedel says.
Burrows cautions that when that occurs, certain pages may still be down, but not major ones like home pages, etc.
Friedel says the incident hasn’t stopped WDFW from making any major announcements or regulation changes. The agency can still email out news and rule tweaks, he says.
In the meanwhile, a stripped down website has been put up with links to the fishing and hunting regulation pamphlets, the emergency rule-change page, online license sales and phone numbers for fishing updates.