Office of Hearings and Appeals Issues Update on January 2021 Data Breach

Last edited 12/21/2021

Date: Tuesday, December 21, 2021


WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) issued an update today on the data breach of its Search Decisions website that supports historical searches on publicly available decisions, discovered on January 14, 2021. The incident was determined to be the result of a misconfiguration and involved an undetected software misconfiguration that allowed a limited number of records related to Indian probate hearings and appeals proceedings to be disclosed when searches were conducted on the site.

In an April announcement, the Department identified steps it had taken following notification of the breach as well as outreach efforts it would undergo, including via engagement with Tribal leaders and potentially affected individuals.

OHA also contracted with an outside specialist to conduct an independent investigation and technical analysis of the breach to ensure all potentially affected individuals were identified and appropriate measures were implemented to safeguard privacy. As a result of this further investigation, OHA has identified an additional 295 cases with 2,122 potentially affected individuals who will also receive notification letters with an offer of identity protection services at no cost to the individual. 

Significant safeguards have been added to OHA’s Search Decisions website to protect internal information from being accessed from the website. On July 15, 2021, public access to the website was restored with these safeguards in place.


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