World Wide Web of Trouble for Some Savannah Drivers

September 20, 2006

By Andrew Davis

More than 8,800 people have letters in their mailboxes from the City of Savannah saying their personal information may have been compromised.

With dozens of servers carrying millions of names and files, Savannah IT director Jerry Cornish says the city is very conscious of computer security. But it was a small mistake online that left a big security breach behind.

"We had poked a hole in the firewall to allow that access," said Cornish. "Those text files were exposed to the internet."

The pictures and video taken by the red light cameras were available for whoever committed the offense. Unfortunately, those pictures and video, along with personal information, was available to anyone who searched for them for a seven-month-long period.

That means, along with video of red light running, names, addresses, birth dates, and in some cases social security numbers were there for the taking. All available just by searching for someone's name through Google.

"As far as we know, there has not been any reported misuse of that information," said Cornish.

That information may have been open to everyone since February. But no one noticed until a regular citizen figured out the problem a few weeks ago, and called the Georgia Department of Revenue.

"When they contacted us, we took immediate action and removed that information within 30 minutes," Cornish told us.

Now the city is dealing with the aftermath. They just hope no one with bad intentions figured out what happened before they did.

"It's a learning experience for the city," said Cornish. "We've checked all our applications and are being much more careful about this type of information."

The city says no one's information has been compromised so far. They are recommending everyone who gets a letter get their credit checked right away. A copy of the letter is below, along with tips for contacting the credit agencies.

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