Hunting and fishing license sales resumed after hack attempt

By Gene Johnson

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Hunting and fishing licenses are on sale again in Washington state, after someone hacked or attempted to hack into an outside vendor’s system, exposing several million records containing the personal information of hunters and anglers throughout the Northwest.

Washington halted all license sales after the intrusion was discovered early last week, but resumed them Saturday through its network of 600 dealers across the state, after confirming those sales are secure. Online sales remain suspended because officials still can’t ensure the online system’s security, the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

“With many excellent late summer and fall hunting and fishing opportunities rapidly approaching, this is great news for hunters, anglers, and everyone who enjoys Washington’s outdoors,” department director Jim Unsworth said in an emailed statement. “I appreciate our customers’ patience this last week while license sales were unavailable.”

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating, but the extent of the hacking effort remained unclear Saturday. While Washington officials said they had confirmed that millions of records were “exposed,” the vendor, Dallas-based Active Network, said it didn’t receive reports or find evidence that personal information was compromised.

Rick Hargrave, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the state’s network security team similarly “didn’t find any evidence that personal data was taken or viewed,” the Statesman Journal in Salem reported.

Idaho and Oregon also halted online sales of fishing and hunting licenses, but they allowed in-person sales to continue at businesses and state offices. In the three states, about 80 percent of licenses are sold at those sites, which include sporting goods stores and tackle shops.

Active Network’s event and activity management software is used by tens of thousands of event organizers nationwide, including marathons and other races. The company said the potential threat was isolated to fishing and hunting licensing systems in the three states.

It didn’t say whether the hacking attempt was successful. The company released a software update to address the threat within 15 hours and hired a cybersecurity firm to conduct a review, it said.

It’s unclear when online sales might resume in the three states. Washington said it would allow sales by phone to resume on Monday. In accordance with its announcement last week, Washington is allowing fishing and shellfishing without a license through Tuesday.

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