Death, Taxes, and Cyberattacks

Tax Day may have come and gone, but one thing may still be causing taxpayers stress: hackers targeting personal information. An article in Fortune by Robert Hackett covered our government efforts to secure taxpayer data, and how more than a million cyberattacks occur per day, according to John Koskinen, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

Hackett details previous breaches: “In February the agency said that hackers looking to fraudulently claim tax refunds had stolen 724,000 people’s data—double the number it estimated last summer. It hasn’t helped that the IRS has debuted faulty transcript tools, nor that the agency has had at least one identity thief within its own ranks,” writes Hackett, who argues that previous efforts to secure IRS data are not enough. “Say what you will about the federal government’s ability to spend smartly: Cybersecurity is worth paying for,” he writes.

Hackett’s article comes out as a report from security monitoring firm SecurityScorecard ranks federal, state and local government agencies as last in terms of cybersecurity protocols as compared to 17 private industries, including transportation and retail. An article in Security, Sales & Integration refers to the report, which “measured the security of government and private industries across 10 categories, including vulnerability to malware infections, exposure rates of passwords, and susceptibility to social engineering.”

According to Security, Sales & Integration, “federal agencies had the lowest score on network security, software patching flaws and malware. NASA came in last place. The report found that the space exploration agency was vulnerable to E-mail scams and malware intrusions.”