Municipal information of 200 towns divulged, thanks to outdated software
- New England Municipal Resource Center (NEMRC), the software used by Vermont municipalities as well as the state’s tax department is reportedly outdated.
- NEMRC is used to manage utility bills, tax bills, land records etc. of the municipal workers.
Municipal workers of Vermont are in for a nasty surprise as their local municipalities exposed their personal information, thanks to an outdated software used in their system.
NEMRC, the software used by the state municipalities, has several flaws that leave sensitive information such as Social Security numbers (SSN) exposed. According to IT consultant Brett Johnson who discovered these flaws, most of the information pertaining to the workers were available on city and town websites since 2006. In fact, Johnson compiled an extensive report regarding three flaws present in municipal systems.
“At the time of publication, each of these vulnerabilities has been patched. Users not current on the software at risk of the deficiencies noted in this report. Two of the patched vulnerabilities may have resulted in scenarios that would allow unintended exposure of municipal employees’ social security numbers (SSNs) in addition to municipal taxpayer banking information including routing and bank numbers,” reads the report abstract.
Johnson stressed that the information was available to anyone who accessed the town computer system having the outdated software.
The outdated software
Started in 1984, NEMRC used a Microsoft program called Visual FoxPro which was discontinued in 2007. In fact, Microsoft stopped providing support to Visual FoxPro in 2015.
On top of this, the municipalities granted town staff access to NEMRC share mainly due to their lack of knowledge on data security controls. So, sharing permissions were not restricted in these systems and hence attackers might have easily accessed private information.