A St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist accidentally came across the source HTML of a Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website and is now being charged because of computer tampering according to Missouri Governor Mike Parson, reported the Union–Bulletin.
It began when the reporter went to the “view source” menu item that lets you see the HTML code of the web page and discovered that the source code contained the Social Security numbers of educators. Since he believed it was his duty to protect the State from any such loopholes, he reported this glitch to the government.
Once the private numbers were removed from the web page, the Post-Dispatch wrote an expose on the incident. This led to Governor Parson announcing a criminal investigation into the reporter and the Post-Dispatch.
“If somebody picks your lock on your house — for whatever reason, it’s not a good lock, it’s a cheap lock or whatever problem you might have — they do not have the right to go into your house and take anything that belongs to you,” Parson said in a clearly very misguided statement.
It is being said that this statement did not sit quite well with what happened. This is because the journalist was the reason why the issue was identified and resolved in the first place. He handled the issue as responsible disclosure. The news outlet referenced an FBI agent that stated that the incident “is not an actual network intrusion.”
Instead, the state’s database was “misconfigured,” which “allowed open-source tools to be used to query data that should not be public.” This feeling was echoed by Post-Dispatch President and Publisher Ian Caso who clearly stated that no network intrusion had occurred and that the outlet’s reporter should have been thanked for the discovery rather than treated as a hacker.
Update: The title of the article has been updated to reflect the fact that the journalist is currently under criminal investigation and has not been actually put under trial