Missouri governor continues attack on reporter who found security flaw on state website • Missouri Independent - Market News
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Missouri governor continues attack on reporter who found security flaw on state website • Missouri Independent

Missouri governor continues attack on reporter who found security flaw on state website • Missouri Independent

Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Sunday again targeted a reporter who informed the state of a security flaw in one of his websites, questioning the journalist’s motives and noting that he would support the prosecution of any state employee the reporter found. would have helped.

In a TV interview with Scott Faughn, a longtime supporter of Parson, the governor said the criminal investigation he ordered by the Missouri State Highway Patrol is still ongoing.

When asked if he would support the prosecution of a state employee discovered to have helped expose the security flaw, Parson quickly replied, “Sure.”

Last month, reporter Josh Renaud of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch warned the state that: Social Security Numbers of school teachers and administrators were vulnerable to public exposure due to errors on a website maintained by the Missouri Education Department.

The Social Security numbers were included in the HTML source code of publicly available pages – information that could be easily discovered by anyone who knows how to access the standard web browser function to display a page’s HTML code.

Emails obtained by The Independent show Renaud the status of the issue and promised to publish any story about it until the issue was resolved and Social Security numbers were no longer visible.

He also explained in an email to state officials the steps he had taken to find and fix the vulnerability. That included contacting three teachers to verify that the information in the HTML code was their Social Security Number.

Parson responded to the revelation by: Labeling Renaud as a “hacker” and vow to seek criminal charges. Shortly thereafter, a political action committee backing Parson began raise money for his attacks.

During his interview on Sunday, Parson said he couldn’t understand why Renaud was even looking for the vulnerability. And while the reporter briefed the state of the issue and delayed publishing a story about it, Parson asked, “Why not just say, ‘Hey, you’ve got a problem here. You have to fix it.’”

At one point in the interview, Faughn suggested the criticism Parson has received over his attacks — from cybersecurity experts, the media, First Amendment proponents and even some of his fellow Republicans – can be attributed to elitism.

“The people who overwhelmingly chose you about a year ago, I don’t think they chose you because of your IT skills. It just feels like there’s a touch of elitism in some of these things,” Faughn said, adding later, “It just feels a little hint, in some of those pompous ivory towers in St. Louis, a touch of elitism about how they talk about this .”

Parson said he’s “not a computer expert. I’ll be the first to admit that.”

But if Renaud and the Post-Dispatch haven’t done anything wrong, Parson reasoned, they shouldn’t fear a criminal investigation.

“Why wouldn’t they want an investigation?” said Parson.

He then accused the media of misrepresenting the situation.

“They told the story pretty well from day one that it was a right click,” he said. “Believe me, it’s much more than a right click. Because then you’re talking about decoders and all those kinds of things that were used.”