Wednesday, May 24, 2017


By Juan Montoya

Despite the efforts by Cameron County officials to minimize the potential damage caused by their auctioning of computers and servers still containing sensitive personal information, KRGV 5's report on the issue points to a larger problem.

County officials – from County Judge Eddie TreviƱo to Elections Office Administrator Remi Garza – tended to downplay the gravity of the matter insisting that polices were in place requiring the county's IT Department to wipe clean or remove the hard drives from these machines to ensure the privacy of residents who use the diverse county offices.

In the Channel 5 segment titled "Your Life For Sale" by reporter Christian Von Preysing showed how the auctioning of computers and servers to the highest bidder – in this case a shopkeeper at a Brownsville flea market – resulted in the personal information of tens of thousands of Rio Grande Valley residents placed at risk to potential identity thieves.

Von Preysing  showed how tens of thousands of names, addresses and Social Security numbers were contained on files accessed without the need of a password from a server bought there that once belonged to Cameron County. The broadcaster said it obtained the server from an anonymous source, who described himself as a hacker. He told the station he found the trove of information at the 77 Flea Market in Brownsville.

“I knew exactly what it was… I knew exactly what I had from the moment I saw it,” he said. “I saw this and I thought, you know, ‘This is a major security flaw.’”
The man said he knew the server was still accessible, because all six of its hard drives were still installed. However, he didn’t know at that point what was in it or how easy it would be to break into it.

And despite protests from county officials that the IT Department had a policy of wiping the hard drives clean before auctioning them, the reporter interviewed the flea market salesman who said he had purchased computers with the hard drives still in them as recently as "last year."

The station said that they had also discovered a law enforcement database that contained hundreds, if not thousands, of case files. The database contained case numbers, vehicle VIN numbers and even Social Security numbers,” he said.

Within the case files, the Texas Application for Vehicle Title documents showed names, addresses, VIN numbers and Social Security numbers. A Social Security number is sufficient to file a tax return, open up credit card accounts, and get medical treatment, if necessary, said a state official interviewed on the segment. Trevino said the responsibility of destroying county information from hard drives falls on the county’s IT department. Elections Administrator Remi Garza said the PDF was created in 2007 as a cross-reference of who’s eligible to vote.

“Based on the size and description of what you’ve given us, it’s actually a listing out of all the registered voters of Cameron County for that time,” he said.

To make matters worse, Channel 5 said it had purchased 22 more computers marked with Cameron County labels with their hard drives intact.Trevino told the station he plans to bring up what happened to the commissioner’s court. He said he may recommend some changes, including putting an end to auctioning county hard drives.

That may equate to closing the barn door after the cows have gone.


Anonymous said...

So what?!!!!! What does this mean to me?!!!! TELL ME!

Anonymous said...

It means you're an idiot that doesn't comprehend much. Fuck off, Frank Mar!

Anonymous said...

I noticed that one of the computer hard drive came from within the Tax office auto task force, A law enforcement component. If the exposer of personal social securitys numbers isnt bad enough The possible exposer of law enforcement sensitive information is very serious. This can not be allowed or tolarated And our elected officials mainly the commissioner court to include the county judge need to take and deman disciplinary action at the highest level of the chain of command. The judge mentioned policy in place well obviously policy was violated.

Anonymous said...

To May 24th @11:52 am
What it means to you is, that if you had any dealings with the county offices that have been identified in the news breaking report your personal information could be in the hands of the wrong people and hence subject you harm, especially if your were a documented confidential informant. Thats what it means to you.

Anonymous said...

ala. mo.

Anonymous said...

Heads must roll!!

Anonymous said...

Don't humor him, please . He posts the same juvenile comment on every story.

AT said...

Frank Mar, you think you are funny but you damn well know you are not even from Brownsville anymore

Anonymous said...

Confidential informants in Brownsville give me a fucking break!! Cameron County where incompetence reigns!! Hahahaha!!
I adore Frank Mar!!

Anonymous said...

@ May 24, 2017 at 11:52 AM

Seriously dude, why not take some remedial reading comprehension courses at the Brownsville Literacy Center? Seems you want other people to read the story and spoon feed it to you. Neither Montoya or we are your dad, mom or tutor to have to explain anything to you.

Get help, take your meds.

Anonymous said...

It means that everyone will know you were picked up for solicitation and to avoid prosecution you turned into a sniveling conniving little snitch bitch.

Anonymous said...

The county judge will not do a damm thing

Anonymous said...

There you go the county judge is an idiot each elected official is supposed to secure its data from beginning to end , The administration should have a checks and balance system in place however since there is pure animosity between department heads nothing gets done the right way how long would it take to make a phone call to the IT department requesting the inspection of the hard drive to make sure the data was erased before auction ! This is incompetence all the way around someone needs to be accountable but like all the wrongdoings they get covered up this is business as usual

Anonymous said...

The salvage of these computers surely took place before Eddie Trevino was in office. So, is the failure of leadership and oversight going to fall on Sepulveda or Cascos?????? This lack or failure of oversight is totally unacceptable and the hammer should fall on all the decision makers who failed to insure information was cleaned off those hard drives. The buck should stop with whomever was sitting in the County Judge seat.

Anonymous said...

What ever becane of the lost 6000 rounds of ammunition? Abel....? You're right tip of the ice berg!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Pinches ratas de mierda cria cuevos y te sacaran los ojos.Para que se hacen pendejos .Tengan huevos si no yo les prest0 que son muchos en esto. Pero no van a decir porque saltan cascaras desde condado asta ciudad.