The IRS was hit by a malware attack that allowed hackers to access the electronic tax return credentials of roughly 101,000 social security numbers.

In a recent statement published on the IRS website, the IRS stated that they identified and stopped an attack on its Electronic Filing PIN Application on the IRS.gov website. Hackers using personal information stolen elsewhere outside the IRS used malware to generate e-File PINs for stolen social security credentials.

The IRS has claimed that no personal taxpayer information was compromised and that those impacted will be notified by mail that their personal information as used in an attempt to access the IRS Application. Based on their current research, they’ve identified unauthorized attempts involving precisely 464,000 social security numbers, of which 101,000 social security numbers were used to successfully access an e-File PIN.

According to Mark Bower, Global Director of Product Management for HPE Security- Data Security:

“Attackers are very capable of taking data stolen from other sites and using it for secondary attacks to more lucrative systems, as in this case. Hackers are always looking for a way to exploit a system in a way that they can then turn stolen data into cold, hard cash. As this attack points out, there is a clear need to protect personal information like name, full address, phone number and email address so that criminals can’t use the information to open bogus accounts, sell it for use in more targeted larger scale spear phishing, steal identities, or as in this case to obtain tax identification information.   

Cyber-attacks against government agencies are growing at an unprecedented rate, and it’s time for all government agencies dealing with sensitive data like social security numbers to implement best in class cyber security solutions that will secure their digital doors from hackers. 

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