Virginia Advises Insurance Agents of Security Breach

August 8, 2006

Virginia’s Bureau of Insurance is advising all insurance agents in the state that their social security number may have been accessible on the bureau’s website for a six-week period of time.

The social security numbers were not shown on any web page, but officials fear a savvy computer user could have found them using the source code tool of a web browser.

Although officials said the likelihood of finding an SSN was remote, access would have been possible from June 13 through July 31, 2006. The bureau said it immediately corrected the programming error the same day it was discovered.

The inadvertent access to an agent’s SSN was caused during an upgrade to the bureau’s web-site feature that allows the public to look up agency and agent information. This on-line feature is specifically designed to allow consumers to check whether an agency or individual is licensed in Virginia. It also shows the insurance companies to which an agent has been appointed to offer and sell their products.

The bureau recently converted to a new national numbering system to track agents. However, the new system was being tested against the old system which used social security numbers.

During the six-week period, the level of agent inquiries was not unusual and involved less than 15 percent of the more than 202,000 agents on the system, according to the state. Normal inquiries would not have provided access to the SSN unless the source code tool was used.

The bureau is advising agents as a precaution. Agents may wish to take steps to protect their personal privacy which include obtaining a copy of their credit report or checking for any unusual activity on their bank or other financial accounts.

Agents with questions about this matter may call (804) 726-2630.

Source: Virgina Bureau of Insurance

Topics Agencies Virginia

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