Maricopa County Community College security breach update: Workers told to turn over documents

PHOENIX - The events surrounding last year’s security breach within the Maricopa County Community College District, and the debate about what led up to it, continues to rage on.

MCCCD and some of its employees are at odds about who knew what and when they knew it.

The district says that employees withheld important information about an earlier security breach that could have prevented the 2013 incident.

While employees say they repeatedly told the district about security risks , and that they have the documents to prove it.

It’s those documents that are at issue now.

Miguel Corzo and Earl Monsour are Information Technology employees with MCCCD.

When I spoke with them last week, they said that they believed the district was setting them up to take the fall for the breach, and have indeed been pursuing disciplinary action against them since November 2013.

Within the past few days, they say the district sent them a letter demanding that they turn over any “highly sensitive and confidential information and documents,” that they have in their possession.

The letter also cites various state statutes about restrictions on the uses of sensitive documents saying repeatedly, “Violation of one or more of these policies can provide the basis for disciplinary action up to and including termination of your employment.”

But the men say none of the information they have is any more sensitive than what the district itself has made public—in a letter to the New Hampshire Attorney General .

“The AG (Attorney General) letter tells you what type of firewall Maricopa has," said Corzo. “They also talk about the type of compromise and the kind of remediation they are doing and that also points hackers to potential opportunities to do more damage.”

They also say the documents are proof that they warned the district’s upper management about network security problems long before the April 2013 breach.

Corzo and Monsour say they believe the letter is a tool the district is using to intimidate them.

MCCCD spokes Tom Gariepy denies that accusation.

“This isn’t retaliatory,” said Gariepy.

He went on to say, the men were asked to return the documents back to the district because it is believed that they contain sensitive information about the district’s network that if made public “could do a lot of harm.”

The men were given a 5 p.m. deadline, and say that they did respond to the district through their attorney. But did not return the documents.

I’ll let you know what happens next.

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