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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Sales of Washington fishing licenses to resume gradually

OLYMPIA – Some systems for selling Washington fishing licenses are expected to be operating by Wednesday, although state officials said they may not know for sure until Monday.

In the meantime, fishing remains free in Washington through Tuesday because of a breach in the security of a computer system operated by a private company that handles online hunting and fishing license sales in three Northwest states.

A spokesman for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday the agency expects to bring its license sales up in phases as computer experts continue to investigate the breach of systems operated by Texas-based Active Network.

“We need to make sure that the pieces we bring back up are secure,” Bruce Botka said.

Washington sells its hunting and fishing licenses three ways: phone sales to people who call a department office, through about 600 dealers around the state and online through Active Network.

Phone sales will be the first to be restored, but they usually account for between 5 percent and 10 percent of sales. Dealer sales, which account for about 80 percent of sales, will be restored next, and the online sales, which usually account for between 10 percent and 15 percent of sales, will be restored last.

At this time of year, the department typically has about 5,000 transactions per day, although that’s not 5,000 individual customers, Botka said. Some people have multiple purchases, such as a license and an endorsement for salmon on a particular waterway.

The state Office of Cyber Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are among agencies investigating the computer breach. They have not yet determined the time frame for the information that was exposed, but say it includes names, dates of birth, addresses, driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.

Investigators believe more than 2 million records were exposed, but aren’t sure yet how many individuals that represents.

People who have had their information compromised will be notified “as soon as we are able,” Botka said.

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