Computer Crime Research Center


Online Tax Hacker And Phishing Attacks

Date: April 07, 2007
Source: InformationWeek
By: Sharon Gaudin

As tax season moves into high gear, an increasing number of people are filing their returns online, giving hackers and phishers the perfect opportunity to steal users' identities and every cent they have.

The Internal Revenue Service reported that 73 million tax returns were filed online in 2006, up 6.9% from 2005. Twenty million Americans filed their returns from home computers. This year the IRS is expecting a 6.9% increase in electronic filing and the agency also is expecting more e-file returns to be sent in from home.

Now, add to that the fact that security company Webroot Software Inc. reported that last year there was a 260% increase in system monitoring, largely via keystroke loggers and spyware. And much of that activity came specifically at tax time, said Mike Irwin, chief operating officer, in an interview with InformationWeek.

"There's a lot of nefarious activity that goes on throughout the year but there are certain times when that activity peaks, and tax season is one of those times," said Irwin. "If people are doing taxes on their computers, a hacker installing a keystroke logger or a backdoor could steal identities and access personal accounts pretty easily."
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