February 8, 2024 | Industry News

Cyberattacks: A Growing Threat to the Background Screening Industry

The background screening industry faces a growing threat - cyberattacks targeting court systems and jeopardizing crucial data, halting criminal background check investigations. These attacks disrupt access to vital public records, leaving background checks in limbo and potentially exposing sensitive information.

Recent Incidents

Georgia’s Fulton County’s government systems became the latest cyberattack victim on January 29th, 2024. While the details of the attack remain unclear, the event has had a major impact, with several of the county’s major technology systems remaining unavailable. The incident is taking a toll on the background screening industry, as the county's primary index has been knocked offline. The primary index is the crucial database that stores personal information (PII) and criminal case data, essential for conducting criminal background checks. The inaccessibility of the online index and Public Access Terminals (PATs) has left Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs), businesses, and individuals alike facing delays and uncertainties.

InformData is actively tracking the situation with our boots-on-the-ground team in Fulton. They visit the courthouse daily to monitor the functionality of the PATs and check for updates with the clerks. We are prepared to continue performing background checks as soon as the system is restored.

The Fulton incident comes on the heels of the cyberattack that occurred in Kansas back on October 13th, 2023, which our industry is still dealing with today. Since the attack, Kansas background check turnaround times have skyrocketed, with large backlogs growing and clients becoming impatient. The Kansas court system is still working to get fully restored in all counties, which shows just how long-lasting and devastating these events can be.

Protecting Your Business and Data

While you can’t control the attacks on court systems, you do control your business and the data you’re trusted to handle. As cyber threats escalate, it becomes increasingly important to focus on strengthening and fine-tuning your cybersecurity and data security protocols. Here are a few key steps you can implement to safeguard your business:

  • Fortify Your Defenses: Implement robust security protocols, including firewalls, data encryption, and multi-factor authentication (MFA). Regularly update software and conduct vulnerability assessments.
  • Minimize Data Collection and Storage: Only collect and store data necessary for legitimate business purposes. Securely dispose of outdated information.
  • Educate Employees: Train employees on cybersecurity best practices, such as phishing awareness and password security.
  • Stay Informed: Stay current on the latest cyber threats and adapt security measures accordingly.

The cyberattacks on court systems are a wake-up call for the background screening industry. By prioritizing data security and implementing strong cybersecurity measures, CRAs and background screening companies can protect themselves and their clients from the growing threat of cyberattacks. Additionally, advocating for improved cybersecurity measures in court systems is essential to ensure the continued integrity of background checks and protect sensitive personal information.

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