Friday, October 15, 2021

MO Gov Wants Journalist Prosecuted for Finding State Website Bug

Missouri Republican Governor Mike Parson called Thursday for a criminal investigation of a St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist who found a vulnerability on a state website that left the Social Security numbers of thousands of public school teachers publicly exposed. 

Reporter Josh Renaud discovered that looking at the HTML source code of Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website revealed teachers' names and Social Security numbers. 

He wrote a story about it Wednesday, but only after website administrators were able to fix it so the Social Security numbers were no longer able to be seen. Parson contended that Renaud's research and reporting amounted to criminal hacking, charging, "They were acting against a state agency to compromise teachers' personal information in an attempt to embarrass the state and sell headlines for their news outlet." He also accused the Post-Dispatch of having a "political vendetta." 

NBC News cited a Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesperson as saying it was investigating the, quote, "potential unauthorized access" to the website. 

Post-Dispatch attorney Joe Martineau said in a statement, "[T]here was no breach of any firewall or security and certainly no malicious intent. Thankfully, these failures were discovered." He also said Renaud, quote, "did the responsible thing" by telling the state what he found

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