Driver's license numbers for nearly 500,000 people may have been exposed in Suffolk cyberattack
Personal information of potentially hundreds of thousands of drivers may have been exposed in the massive cyberattack that has impacted Suffolk County services for nearly three months.
Suffolk County announced Wednesday that about 470,000 driver's license numbers may have been accessed by those responsible for the cyberattack.
The license numbers belong to those who were issued moving violations within the Suffolk County Police Department between 2013 and Sept. 8, 2022.
In addition, identification numbers on driver's licenses or passports presented at Suffolk's TPVA in Hauppauge when paying traffic tickets by credit card could have been accessed by the criminals. Anyone who meets either of the criteria is eligible for complimentary identify theft protection. The county launched an identity theft protection webpage in partnership with Kroll, a cybersecurity and identity theft protection firm.
The breach only applies to towns west of Riverhead where Suffolk police patrol.
"We want to cast a wide net," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in a phone interview with News 12 Long Island. He said the announcement was made out of an abundance of caution.
Bellone also said the county knew two traffic tickets were in the hands of hackers months ago.
"Early on, we had indications that the traffic violations agency server was accessed," he explained.
Legislative Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey said those two tickets were posted to the dark web in September shortly after the cyberattack happened, revealing people's personal information.
He said the county waited two months to tell the public because they first had to figure out if there might have been a larger breach.
"We had identified which server it came from. You have to go through each server and each file to find those tickets. Once we did, we looked at it and said it could be possible that there could be others out there," McCaffrey said. The damage, however, could already be done, according to cyber security expert Adam Schwam, of Sandwire Technology Group.
"Now your driver's license number is out there. It can be used for a variety of things. It's your identifier," Schwam said.
News 12 Long Island also spoke with Suffolk Legislator Anthony Picorillo who said this information should have been made public much earlier. He said he only found out how big this could be when he saw it reported in the news on Wednesday.
Drivers who received a red-light camera ticket were not part of the breach. However, if they paid with a credit card at traffic court, their driver's license number might have been leaked.
Through Kroll, Suffolk is offering a year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to potentially impacted individuals, which includes triple bureau credit monitoring, identity theft restoration services and identity fraud loss reimbursement.
Anyone who fits into the two categories announced today can click here to sign up for the services. They can also call Suffolk 311 for assistance if needed.