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F12 isn’t hacking: Missouri governor threatens to prosecute local journalist for finding exposed state data


Missouri governor Mike Parson is facing a monumental backlash after threatening to prosecute a journalist for responsibly reporting a serious security lapse in the state’s website.

Earlier this week, St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist Josh Renaud reported that the website for the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) was exposing over 100,000 teachers’ Social Security numbers. These SSNs were discovered by viewing the HTML source code of the site’s web pages, allowing anyone with an internet connection to find the sensitive information by right-clicking the page and hitting “view page source.” For many, viewing a web page’s source code is as simple as hitting F12 on your keyboard.

The Post-Dispatch reported the vulnerability to state authorities to patch the website, and delayed publishing a story

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