Columbia, SC (WLTX) - It seems like just about every day we tell you about another store getting hacked. But what if we told you that sites that you use every month to pay your water bill or file your taxes on could be the next victim.
"It's like somebody showing you an expired driver's license," said Dr. Csilla Farkas, professor at the University of South Carolina.
We checked several websites in the Midlands that you use to pay your taxes, water bill or other services and checked those sites with the Qualys SSL Lab that grades websites based on vulnerability.
Here is what we discovered; Richland County, Sumter County, Manning, West Columbia, Kershaw County, Camden and the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities and they all received an "F."
The test shows that the website does not support most up to date protocols.
"This is talking about the communication with the site. So what you are asking is how easy it is to compromise the site? It means that the communication can be compromised."
"These protocols provide authentication which is based on the digital certificate for the server. As well as agreeing on a cyber suite that can be used to protect the communication, provide confidentiality and integrity."
Site after site, after site that we ran through the test received "F's"
Farkas says it's a matter of keeping up with the latest security and technology.
"It's really not a fair game between the offense and the defense because the offense only has to find a single vulnerability and the defense we really have to address every aspect of security."
The City of Cayce and Sumter received an "A-"and Lexington County received a "B."
What you can do to protect yourself is never use the same user name and password because if hackers get it for one, they can use it for all of your other sites.
Farkas says more and more hackers aren't just looking at your financial info but following your data with health and other patterns.
"They might realize, Steven goes on vacation in the second week of June every year and your water usage is going to drop. I know it's sort of a futuristic attack but it is coming in our life that they may use this data to target other households for more traditional criminal activity. "
We contacted all of the IT managers for each city and county that had a failing grade; only the City of West Columbia answered our call.
The city IT manager says that they are in the process of getting a new site and that customers are taken to another site when they enter private information that is not run by the city.