FLORENCE, S.C. – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection vendor was compromised as part of a "malicious cyberattack," that could expose pictures of people's faces and their license plates, according to a statement made Monday by officials with the agency.
The agency uses cameras to capture images at airports and border crossings.
Airport operations were not affected by the breach, though border operations were, according to published reports.
Pee Dee residents who have not crossed a land border into the U.S. may have nothing to fear as the license plate readers used by several Pee Dee agencies operate through the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), according to a city official and a SLED spokesman.
Florence police Lt. Mike Brandt said the city uses the SLED system and Florence County Sheriff's Office Maj. Mike Nunn said his agency doesn't use automatic license plate readers.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said the state system is secure and that strict protocols are in place that govern the use of such images contained in the agency's database.
Those images, he said, are limited to license plates and do not include "personally identifying information."
"The database does not identify the owner of the vehicle or who is driving," according to information provided by Berry. "If the vehicle and/or the tag has been stolen or suspended, an alert will be displayed. At that time, the officer must confirm through their dispatch/NCIC (National Crime Information Center) if it is still a current alert and then look up the information pertaining to that tag in a separate database."
"The Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) system is restricted to public safety-related missions only. There must be a legitimate law enforcement purpose," according to the information provided by Berry.
The images are retained for three years and then destroyed, Berry said.