21 May 2011

Computer virus hits Massachusetts labor department

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development recently announced that its computer network for its unemployment system was struck by a computer virus.

The W32.QAKBOT virus was originally discovered on April 20, when proper measures were taken by the department’s internet security vendor. However, the department recently discovered the virus was not completely eradicated.

As a result, the labor department said as many as 210,000 unemployed workers may have had data compromised, including names, Social Security numbers, employer identification numbers, business and residential addresses and email addresses.

"We take our customers’ privacy very seriously,” said Joanne Goldstein, secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. “Unfortunately, like many government and non-government organizations we were targeted by criminal hackers who penetrated our system with a new strain of a virus. All steps possible are being taken to avoid any future recurrence."

Earlier this month, the Detroit News reported a virus was circulating in several forms, making it difficult to track. According to the report, the virus has several names - MS Removal Tool, Antivirus 2011 or System Tool 2011 - and is immune to certain antivirus removal tools.