Business information

State database breach can expose personal information

The Washington State Licensing Department said the personal information of millions of licensed professionals may have been exposed after it detected suspicious activity on its online licensing system.

The agency licenses about 40 categories of businesses and professionals, from auctioneers to real estate agents, and it temporarily shut down its online platform after learning of the activity in January, the spokeswoman said on Friday. of the agency, Christine Anthony. Data stored on the system, called POLARIS, can include social security numbers, dates of birth and driver’s licenses.

The agency does not yet know if this data was actually accessed or how many people may have been involved, Anthony said.

Anthony said the agency was working with the state’s Office of Cybersecurity, the state Attorney General’s office and a third-party cybersecurity firm to understand the extent of the incident, the Seattle Times reported on Friday. .

Meanwhile, the shutdown of the POLARIS system is causing problems for some professionals and companies who must apply for, renew or modify their license.

The disruption comes at a busy time for realtors, appraisers and home inspectors as the state’s real estate market begins to recover from its typical winter downturn.

The size of the breach remains uncertain. Data for 23 state-licensed occupations and business types are processed through POLARIS, Anthony said.

Within those 23 categories, which also include bail bondsmen, funeral directors, building inspectors and notaries, the agency has approximately 257,000 active licenses in its system, Anthony said, adding that “there are probably has more records that can be identified when conducting our investigation. .”