The United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed today (Monday, August 17) that they had been hit by a series of cyberattacks as criminals attempted to steal the private information of thousands of tax payers. Approximately 114,000 tax payers reportedly had their information compromised by IRS cyberattacks, with another 110,000 failed attempts recorded.
But now the IRS is saying the attacks were actually much worse.
According to Reuters, these IRS cyberattacks were much more extensive, with three times as many tax payers losing their information to hackers than the IRS first reported. Another 220,000 incidents of successful IRS cyberattacks were identified, and another 170,000 failed attempts.
The collections agency released a statement regarding the security breach, revealing that hackers used an online application called “Get Transcript” to exploit vulnerabilities.
“The IRS believes some of this information may have been gathered for potentially filing fraudulent tax returns during the upcoming 2016 filing season… The IRS takes the security of taxpayer data extremely seriously, and we are working to continue to strengthen security for ‘Get Transcript,’ including by enhancing taxpayer-identity authentication protocols.”
Compared to the total number of tax payer information that the IRS safeguards, the 300,000 is a relatively small number. But this isn’t a typical cyberattack on businesses like Target and Anthem. The IRS is a notoriously stringent government agency that essentially keeps tabs on the finances of every citizen of America. A cyberattack on an organization as advanced as the IRS is a disturbing landmark for online hackers looking to steal information.
The IRS reported that they will begin mailing letters to inform the tax payers whose information may have been taken in the cyberattacks, as well as offering free credit monitoring and a brand new personal identification number to ensure the safety of their finances.
Among the tax payer information that the IRS protects is addresses, dates of birth, tax filing status, and Social Security numbers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the IRS cyberattacks were most likely attempted to facilitate tax fraud in the 2016 season. Several months ago, the IRS revealed that security breaches resulted in roughly 15,000 fraudulent tax returns from 2015.
Does it seem like cyberattacks are getting more frequent to you? Are you concerned about these IRS attacks?
For a more harmless hack, read about the hacker who found a way to use the YouTube app to play emulated games on the Nintendo 3DS.