Computer Crime Research Center


Cybercrime and protection

Date: November 13, 2007

Beginning in March, 102 employees of the IRS received phone calls, purportedly from the computer help desk, requesting their user names and suggesting they adopt a new password.

The callers were actually U.S. Treasury auditors testing how easily hackers could access Americans' personal financial information.

The result: Too easily. Sixty-one tax workers complied.

The auditors, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, conducted similar exams in 2001 and 2004, recording failure rates of 71 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Both times, the IRS took "corrective actions" to raise awareness about data protection among agency staffers.
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