On Tuesday, May 26th, the IRS indicated some of their servers had been compromised in an attack by cyber criminals. “We’re confident that these are not amateurs,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “These actually are organized crime syndicates that not only we but everybody in the financial industry are dealing with.“
Koskinen stated the culprits hacked a system called “Get Transcript” – a portal where taxpayers can claim filings and tax returns from previous years. They had to clear a security screen that required a Social Security number, street address, tax filing status and other personal information. Koskinen declined to answer questions about where the thieves obtained this information.
Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, criticized the IRS for having inadequate security. “That the IRS — home to highly sensitive information on every single American and every single company doing business here at home — was vulnerable to this attack is simply unacceptable,” he said. “What’s more, this agency has been repeatedly warned by top government watchdogs that its data security systems are inadequate against the growing threat of international hackers and data thieves.“
“In all, about 200,000 attempts were made from questionable email domains, with more than 100,000 of those attempts successfully clearing authentication hurdles,” an IRS spokesperson said. “During this filing season, taxpayers successfully and safely downloaded a total of approximately 23 million transcripts.”
The IRS maintains its main computer system is secure, and have implemented several additional security measures as organized identity theft grows.