Showing posts with label Blackstone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blackstone. Show all posts

Was MOSERS' Email System "Hacked" (regarding the Blackstone Issue)?

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Has the FBI been contacted concerning the breach of security by the union that hacked our email addresses? The vast majority of co-workers I have spoken with are more concerned about union hackers stealing their email than they are about the politics of investments.  Once again: Is law enforcement investigating?
No, we did not contact law enforcement because our security was not breached.  We do not know the source of the e-mail addresses used for the mass mailing by the union other than to know it was not acquired through the MOSERS system.  Our confidence regarding that is the result of the following:

  • Two years ago we had a comprehensive information technology (IT) intrusion audit conducted and, through that initiative, established a comprehensive monitoring process for identifying attempts to breach our security.  There have been no successful attempts to circumvent the IT security we have in place.
  • The addresses used by the union appear to have all been work e-mail addresses.  In many cases we do not have work addresses but rather only have personal addresses on file.  If our system had been breached as the source, they would have been using the addresses of record with us.  We know that there were many cases where the address they used was not what we have on file.
  • We know that there were MoDOT employees who received the message from the union.  Those employees are not covered by MOSERS and thus are not included in our database.  Thus, we could not possibly have been the source of those addresses.
  • Our email servers do not use the statewide address book.  You could not “hack” into our email system to obtain the addresses that were exploited in this campaign.
The Office of Administration (OA) is aware of this situation.  OA also monitors attempts to breach their system and did not find any successful attempts to circumvent their IT security. Therefore, what we do know is that neither MOSERS nor OA gave this organization the email addresses of state employees, and neither of our systems was “hacked” by this group.
It’s difficult to identify exactly where the addresses might have been obtained and in fact it could be from a consolidated list of multiple sources.  While the State no longer publishes email address, almost every state employee has access to them.
In addition, it’s not that hard to guess them.  Each agency uses email addresses based on a standard naming structure--for example, “first.last@agency.mo.gov.”  Given that the names of state employees are public information, once you figure out the template it’s not difficult to extrapolate the actual addresses.
Your concerns at this point are best addressed to the individual and/or the organization that sent you the email.  It may be effective for them to hear directly from state employees who received the email that this tactic created concerns and may not reflect positively on their organization.
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MOSERS' Relationship With Blackstone

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What is your response to the "Blackstone" issues?
We have recently been contacted by active MOSERS members who received an email from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (UNITE-HERE). At issue is an escalating labor dispute presently taking place between Hilton Hotels Worldwide, a company in which Blackstone owns a controlling interest, and UNITE-HERE union members. Negotiations between the union and Hilton have been going on for more than a year in various locations. 
The email from UNITE-HERE that was sent to Missouri state employees included a link for generating an e-mail form letter to MOSERS’ questioning the system’s relationship with Blackstone. Blackstone is a large investment company that has both publicly traded stock and private investment relationships. MOSERS does not own any of Blackstone’s publicly traded stock; we are, however, one of many investors in some of Blackstone’s private real estate funds. 
MOSERS has invested in Blackstone Real Estate Funds because of their track record of generating strong investment returns for their limited partners. Hilton is one of many real estate investments Blackstone has made on behalf of their limited partners over the years. Blackstone’s real estate funds have consistently outperformed the stock markets and are an important diversifier in the MOSERS portfolio. 
What is of paramount importance to MOSERS is the security of your retirement benefits. Strong investment results and sound business practices are critical elements in achieving this security. It has been our experience, since first partnering with Blackstone in 2002, that they possess both of the critical elements for a successful long-term relationship. Contract negotiations are never easy, yet ultimately it is our expectation that a compromise will be reached and all parties involved will be well served. 
Some of our members have asked us how UNITE-HERE acquired their email addresses and how UNITE-HERE is even aware they are members of MOSERS. At this point, we do not know. MOSERS did not provide member names or email addresses or any other contact information to UNITE-HERE.
We requested Blackstone’s perspective on the issues that were raised as concerns in the e-mail message MOSERS’ members received from UNITE-HERE. Those concerns and Blackstone’s response can be found here.
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