Taxpayers at Risk After IRS Ignores Recommendations
After a breach compromising hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ personal information, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) put out a report in March raising serious security issues. Consequently, with tax day around the corner, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was called in front of the Senate Finance Committee to address issues relating to cyber security.
The GAO made dozens of recommendations and raised several concerns for IRS, but said the agency had failed to implement them. Among the list of issues were easily guessed passwords, employees having access above what they needed to, and a lack of encryption for sensitive information.
According to the IRS, a group of Russian hackers were behind the February breach of taxpayer data. Information on 300,000 taxpayers were compromised with another 295,000 targeted but ultimately unsuccessful. Discovered in May 2015, the criminals were able to hack into the “Get Transcripts” portion of the system where users request returns and prior-year filings.
The Treasure inspector general, J. Russel George, admitted that there was still much that needed to be done and that many of the security measures were not up to governmental standards. He also requested additional funding above what has already been granted in order to fight cybercrime and identity theft, and for the reauthorization of streamlined critical pay authority in order for the IRS to be competitive in hiring skilled online security personnel.