Last week, the Washington State Department of Licensing announced a cyber incident that exposed the personal information of over 250,000 professionals in the state. According to a statement, the agency “became aware of suspicious activity involving professional and occupational license data” during the week of January 24.
The impacted system – Professional Online Licensing and Regulatory Information System (POLARIS) – holds social security numbers, dates of birth, driving license numbers, and other personally identifying information.
“We immediately began investigating with the assistance of the Washington Office of Cybersecurity. As a precaution, DOL also shut down the Professional Online Licensing and Regulatory Information System (POLARIS) to protect the personal information of professional licensees. At this time, we have no indication that any other DOL data was affected, such as driver and vehicle licensing information. All other DOL systems are operating normally,” as said by the agency.
If their investigation indicates that your personal information has been accessed, DOL will notify you and offer additional help.
State Sen. Reuven Carlyle revealed to The Seattle Times that he had been informed on the matter. He was told that the Office of Cybersecurity got worried when someone on the dark web claimed to have obtained the data. The agency stated that it is collaborating with the state’s Office of Cybersecurity to secure the licensing data and restore POLARIS. Cosmetology, real estate agents, bail bondsmen, architects, and other companies and professions are among the 39 categories of businesses and occupations licensed by the department. POLARIS is where licenses are handled, granted, and renewed.
Businesses attempting to renew their licenses can phone a call center, and the government has stated that companies renewing their licenses during the outage will not be fined. The state Attorney General’s Office keeps track of data breaches that expose the personal information of state residents. According to the website, more than 21,500 Washingtonians were harmed by the attacks in 2022.