State Auditor's Office announces security breach
From Acting Commissioner Cami Feek
Feb. 1, 2021
The Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) today announced that criminals breached the computer systems of their third-party vendor, Accellion. This vendor was storing data the SAO required ESD to provide in 2020.
This is deeply worrying news. My own concern went immediately to the potential impacts on our claimants, on you, your family and friends. There are few people in our state who do not know someone who applied for unemployment last year – including many furloughed state workers.
For those of you who did apply for unemployment last year, you will have received an email from State Auditor Pat McCarthy this morning. Please read it carefully and follow any instructions in the letter.
The State Auditor has made it clear that ESD is in no way responsible for this incident and our systems have not been breached or hacked. However, this attack may have exposed personal information of approximately 1 million people* who filed for unemployment in 2020.
The most important resource right now is the SAO’s new response page: www.sao.wa.gov/breach2021. Because the criminals didn’t steal this data from ESD, it’s critical we direct claimants to this webpage.
This is an evolving situation and we continue to learn more about the full scale and scope of this attack from the SAO. The entire leadership team and I are committed to keeping you informed and prepared to help our customers. Please take a moment to review the vital information below.
Thank you for your dedication, hard work and compassion – I see this every day. And while responding to this outside incident isn’t how I expected to spend my first week as your acting commissioner, I wouldn’t want to face this with any other team.
CamiResponse information and resources
Because the information wasn’t stolen from ESD, we will support the SAO’s efforts to address this theft. That means it’s critical we direct claimants to the State Auditor’s Office resources for more info and next steps:
- Website: www.sao.wa.gov/breach2021
- Call center phone number – The SAO has not yet set up this line. We will share this number as soon as we get it.
- SAO Press Release – This is being sent later this morning by the SAO. We will share the link on InsideESD later today.
- Most important: Direct anyone with questions to www.sao.wa.gov/breach2021. There are also key talking points below to use when speaking to claimants.
- The communications team will share an alert on our public website and add phone messages directing claimants to the SAO page.
- The communications team will be posting this information on InsideESD as soon as possible.
What to tell claimants:
- Go to the SAO's response page: www.sao.wa.gov/breach2021.
- Continue to submit weekly claims as usual.
- Watch for more communication from us.
- ESD is in no way responsible for this incident. ESD's systems have not been breached or hacked.
- The State Auditor’s Office, not ESD, will have the most up-to-date information about what data was compromised and what to do next.
- We do not yet know if the SAO data breach will affect benefit payments.
- We treat claimant data with the utmost protection. When the nationwide imposter fraud attack occurred last year, we not only checked for breaches of our system but also hired an outside consulting firm to verify that in fact our system had not been hacked.
- The SAO will be setting up a call center soon.