Suspicious activity was noticed no more than two weeks ago on a computer server at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Turns out, the server had been hacked for nearly a year. Richard Opper with DPHHS said one of three primary web-based servers was the lone victim to the hacking:

"It was detected and suspected by some monitoring that had taken place by one of our contractors," Opper said. "As soon as we suspected that Malware had entered our system software program that didn't belong there, we shut down the use of the server and we sent the information off for a complete analysis."

Even though DPHHS doesn’t have any indication that the hackers stole personal data of clients and employees, Opper said it is good news that the hackers weren’t interested enough in the files to download them. But nevertheless, the hackers still had access.

"We have to act as if those files were read or accessed," Opper said. "The information on those files—personal information, medical information, and more limited cases, banking information—for people that were stored on those servers. So we have to act as if those files were read and offer those maximum protections."

Here's what DPHHS knows so far:

·       A toll-free DPHHS Help Line to allow people the opportunity to ask questions. The number is 800-809-2956

·       In addition, the investigation also revealed that the server was likely first accessed in July 2013. However, DPHHS only became aware of a potential issue in May 2014.

·       The server that was hacked into has been shut down and is now off the state computer system. A new server containing backup files from the old server has been scanned and is safely being brought online.

·       DPHHS has purchased additional security software to better protect sensitive information on existing servers.

·       As part of an internal investigation, DPHHS is reviewing existing policies and procedures to determine how to prevent this from happening again in the future.

Opper said as soon as the department gets the information that the server is clean, people whose information was accessed will get a letter advising them in a number of steps to ensure their information is secure.

Richard Opper: