Tag Archives: journal sentinel

UWM computers hacked; data on 75,000 exposed

Stanley A Miller II
August 10, 2011
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A computer system at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was hacked and bugged with malicious software, potentially exposing the names and Social Security numbers of about 75,000 students, faculty and staff, the school announced Wednesday.

UWM officials said, however, that investigators have no evidence that data was viewed or stolen, and the school is sending letters Wednesday to those potentially affected by the security breach.

“Talking to the forensic experts, we don’t believe the motive was identity theft,” said Tom Luljak, UWM’s vice chancellor for university relations. “We are a research institution with a significant number of projects under way. It is theorized that this may have been an attempt to look at work being done.”

The school’s technology staff discovered on May 25 that software allowing backdoor access into a UWM database was lurking on a system used for scanning and viewing documents. That system, Luljak said, is an image bank used by several departments for managing a variety of documents, including applications processing.

Luljak said the school isn’t sure how long the malicious software sat on the system before being discovered, but officials think it was for a “short period of time.” The malicious software was installed remotely, Luljack said, and the infected server was immediately shut down.

“We don’t believe anyone got access to the image bank,” Luljak said. “There is no evidence that the hackers actually looked at or retrieved any information.”

The school contacted local and federal law enforcement authorities soon afterward and discovered June 30 that a database had been exposed. Luljak said that although the data included names and Social Security numbers, it didn’t contain any financial data or academic information such as student grades.

“Because of the nature of the malware, our concern was it would provide access to other servers,” Luljak said. “We think it might have been more of a fishing operation.”

Luljak said it took time to determine the specifics of the security breach, noting the school’s experts worked “virtually around the clock.”

“Our responsibility, we believe, is to be completely transparent to those affected,” Luljack said.

The school has set up a website at www.computersecurity.uwm.edu with information about the security breach, as well as a hotline at (800) 349-8518.

Lawmakers find time to tackle economic growth

By Tom Still
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 7, 2011
http://www.jsonline.com/business/121425468.html

A bill that would modernize Wisconsin’s telecommunications laws and open the door for investment in improved broadband and wireless networks was the topic of public hearings last week before Assembly and Senate committees. While some details remain to be worked out, lawmakers appear on their way to embracing a plan that would spur economic growth – particularly in rural areas where e-commerce, telemedicine and distance learning are more concepts than reality.

Traditional phone companies are regulated under rules that stem from an era when telecommunications was defined as two-way, voice-grade, analog wireline service. In short, telecom was a plain black telephone hanging on the wall.

Today, telecom is defined broadly to reflect a tidal wave of change in the age of digital computing and the Internet. The early 21st century meaning of telecom is the transmission and distribution of multiple forms of data – voice, text, video, images, music and more – through a variety of means.

Rethinking regulatory barriers tied to the landline era is part of Wisconsin’s effort to ensure that its telecom systems are world-class and that all regions of Wisconsin, from its major cities to its rural areas, have a chance to compete in the global marketplace.

If the reform package passes, Wisconsin could see job growth across a number of business sectors due to opportunities created by better telecom connections.

To read the entire article, click here.

Walker signs bill rolling back auto insurance minimums

By Jason Stein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
April 12,2011
http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/119695019.html

Madison — Mandated increases in auto insurance coverage will be rolled back under legislation signed by Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday.

The measure rolls back coverage minimums passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2009 but would still require motorists to have coverage.

“This is one more step toward empowering consumers across the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said at a Capitol bill-signing.

Republicans, who now control state government, argue that the higher coverage requirements enacted as part of then-Gov. Jim Doyle’s 2009-’11 budget are raising insurance costs for consumers, especially hurting those least able to pay premiums. Drivers should have the option of purchasing the lower coverage levels, they say. Some Democrats also supported the repeal legislation.

Supporters of the higher coverage amounts say the lower minimums were outdated and overdue for an increase because they were set in the 1980s. Since then, health care costs for accident victims have skyrocketed, they say.

The group Citizen Action of Wisconsin has released a report that questions insurance industry claims that changes made by Democrats caused an increase in insurance costs of at least 33%.

Wisconsin historically has had some of the lowest car insurance rates in the country.

The website carinsurance.com lists Wisconsin car insurance rates as of March as being 40% below the national average – similar to the rates in the surrounding states except for Michigan, where rates are slightly higher than the national average.

Andy Franken, president of the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, pointed out that even though rates may be low, the actual cost to consumers could be higher simply because they’re required to buy more coverage.

Under the old law, drivers with insurance were required to carry minimum liability coverage of $25,000 for the injury or death of a person; $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person; and $10,000 for property damage.

The Republicans restored those limits from the current $50,000, $100,000 and $15,000 limits, respectively.

Among other provisions, the legislation would reduce minimums for underinsured motorist coverage to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, from $100,000 and $300,000. The repeal measure would ban “stacking” of coverage, in which drivers could use coverage from up to three of their vehicles to help pay costs from an accident involving just one of the vehicles.

To read more click here.

Assembly passes bill to lower car insurance minimums

By Patrick Marley
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 8,2011
http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/117617998.html

Madison — The Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that would repeal many of the increases in auto insurance coverage mandated by the Legislature in 2009.

The bill next will go to the Senate, which is expected to pass it and send it onto Gov. Scott Walker. The Senate passed a virtually identical version of the bill last month, but both houses must pass the same bill to put it on the governor’s desk.

The Republican-run Assembly passed the bill 61-34 on a mostly party-line vote.

The bill would still require motorists to have coverage but would lower most coverage minimums to their previous levels – which lead sponsor Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said would make insurance more affordable.

Republicans, who now control the Legislature, argue the higher coverage requirements enacted as part of then-Gov. Jim Doyle’s 2009-’11 budget are raising insurance costs for consumers, especially hurting those least able to pay premiums. Drivers should have the option of purchasing the lower rates, they say.

“It’s about consumer choice,” Nygren said.

Supporters of the current, higher coverage amounts say the lower minimums were outdated and overdue for an increase because they were set in the 1980s. Since then, health-care costs for accident victims have skyrocketed, they say.

The group Citizen Action of Wisconsin has released a report that questions insurance industry claims that changes made by Democrats would cause an increase in insurance rates of at least 33%.

Under the old law, drivers with insurance were required to carry minimum liability coverage of $25,000 for the injury or death of a person; $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one person; and $10,000 for property damage. The Republicans want to restore those limits from the current $50,000, $100,000 and $15,000 limits, respectively.

Among other provisions, the bill would reduce minimums for underinsured motorist coverage to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, from $100,000 and $300,000. The repeal bill would ban “stacking” of coverage, in which drivers could use coverage from up to three of their vehicles to help pay costs from an accident involving just one of the vehicles.

The bill also would allow insurers to put drivers buying insurance for the first time into a high-risk category, allowing them to charge higher premiums.

Joining Republicans in voting for the bill was Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer (I-Manitowoc) and four Democrats – Reps. Chris Danou of Trempealeau, Jason Fields of Milwaukee, Mark Radcliffe of Black River Falls and Louis Molepske Jr. of Stevens Point.

Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Payday loan limits still undefined

By Patrick Marley
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 19, 2011
http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/114252139.html

Eight months after the Legislature restricted payday loans, state officials have yet to agree who is covered by the law, a situation that critics say could lead to loopholes allowing lenders to escape the regulations.

A legislative committee on Wednesday told the Department of Financial Institutions to rewrite proposed administrative rules governing the new law over concerns the standards include lenders that weren’t meant to fall under the law. Lawmakers said those that make installment loans and some other types of short-term loans were not intended to be subjected to the law governing payday loans.

The new law limits payday loans to a maximum of $1,500; prevents loans from being renewed more than once; bans loans secured by vehicle titles; and restricts where payday lenders can locate. Until the new law, Wisconsin was the only state that did not regulate the loans, which are typically good for two to four weeks with 500% or more in annualized interest charges.

The new restrictions took effect Jan. 1, but the law can’t be fully implemented until administrative rules are adopted.

Opponents of the industry say the rules are crucial because loopholes could be inserted that would allow lenders to continue practices they say trap poor people in debt.

“It doesn’t do us any good if we outlaw or restrict one type of loan only to see it morph into some other product with no restrictions,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), one of the authors of the payday loan law.

Peter Koneazny, litigation director for the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, said he feared the rewritten rules could allow lenders to make auto title loans despite the ban, which was put into place last year when then-Gov. Jim Doyle toughened the law with his partial veto powers.

But Republicans said Democrats should have written a bill with clearer restrictions and questioned how much resolve they had to rein in such lending.

“If this is such an easy fix that could have been done, why wasn’t it done in the beginning? That’s the nagging question,” said Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), co-chairwoman of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules.

Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon), the other co-chairman, said he wanted to see the intended regulations put in place.

“I voted for the bill,” he said. “I don’t want to see it gutted.”

The committee asked the administration to limit the changes it makes to the proposed rules, but the Department of Financial Institutions can make any changes it wants.

The proposed rules were written last year by Doyle’s administration. The department now is controlled by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has said the new law goes too far.

Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), an opponent of payday loans, voted in committee to send the rules back to the department but said he is concerned that they could be watered down because of pressure from lobbyists who tried to stop the bill in the last session.

“I don’t think the new people themselves (at the Department of Financial Institutions) know exactly what they want to happen, but the people in the room know what they want to happen,” Grothman said, referring to the lobbyists who packed a Capitol hearing room.

The committee is expected to take up the reworked rules by the end of February.

With Republicans controlling both houses of the Legislature, the industry has indicated it wants to loosen the regulations.

Democrats ran the Legislature when the law was passed, but they had a tough time reaching consensus and were unable to approve a tougher bill that would have capped interest rates at 36% a year.

Democrats could have finalized the rules late last year, but instead left them for Republicans to handle.

The new law limits loans to $1,500 or 35% of monthly income, whichever is less. Lenders can charge any amount in interest, but interest stops accruing once the loans come due.

Borrowers can renew their loans just once – a change that supporters said was crucial to stopping people from repeatedly rolling over their loans and getting trapped in debt.

The law also bars stores from locating within 1,500 feet of one another and 150 feet of residential areas.

Raw milk issue could resurface in Legislature

By Rick Barrett
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 6, 2011
http://www.jsonline.com/business/113015619.html

Fingerprinting children at child care centers downright criminal

By Eugene Kane
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
December 19, 2010
http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/112136374.html