Hackers Breach U.S. Marshals System With Sensitive Personal Data

Glenn Thrush
Chris Cameron

By Glenn Thrush and Chris Cameron

Feb. 27, 2023

The U.S. Marshals Service suffered a major security breach this month when hackers broke into and stole data from a computer system that included a trove of personal information about investigative targets and agency employees, a spokesman for the service said on Monday.

The service, a division of the Justice Department, is responsible for the protection of judges, the transportation of federal prisoners and the operation of the federal witness protection program. The witness protection database was not breached, but hackers did gain access to information about some fugitives sought by federal authorities, according to a senior law enforcement official.

Justice Department officials have determined that the breach, which was carried out through ransomware on Feb. 17, was “a major incident,” said Drew J. Wade, the Marshals Service spokesman. It was yet another in a series of breaches that have underscored the government’s struggles to protect sensitive information as the frequency, scale and sophistication of ransomware attacks have surged in recent years.

The affected system “contains law enforcement sensitive information, including returns from legal process, administrative information and personally identifiable information pertaining to subjects of U.S.M.S. investigations, third parties and certain U.S.M.S. employees,” Mr. Wade said in an email. Officials with the Marshals Service disconnected the system after discovering the attack, he said.

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