BOZEMAN (AP) - The database maintained by the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently was broken into by a computer hacker but no data was stolen, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.
The database is loaded with personal information from hunters.
Spokesman Ron Aasheim told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Tuesday that the database was hacked last month, and that the hacker made it onto the server containing the state's hunter-harvest survey, personal information including Social Security numbers of hunters, and information about where they hunted and what wildlife they killed.
Once the incident was discovered, the agency contacted the state data security specialist, and Sam Mason determined the hacker didn't download any information, Aasheim told the newspaper.
''He told us there's no reason for concern here with identity fraud or stealing of information,'' Aasheim said. ''If there had been, we would have taken other actions and certainly contacting the public was one of them.''
The database, which was collected and maintained by FWP's Region 3 staff in Bozeman, was stored on a Montana State University computer system that lacked several security measures, including a ''firewall,'' Aasheim said. That's the fault of the state agency, not MSU, he said.
''There were a couple of steps that we didn't take, just because of a lack of communication,'' he said. ''We take full responsibility.''
Mason said it appeared the hacker was looking for file storage space. He said hackers often use such databases as a temporary location for storing pirated software so it can be downloaded by others without leaving a trail.
Had any personal information been downloaded, the computer would have created a log of the transfer, but none was created, Mason told the Chronicle.
FWP has learned from the incident and is taking steps to prevent someone from hacking into other databases, Aasheim said. It is moving all of its databases to a state system that has multiple security steps built in.
The agency also is hiring computer specialists to work at each of its seven regional headquarters, Aasheim said.
''We've dodged a bullet,'' he said. ''That's the good news. Now we've taken the steps to correct it.''