Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

IRS security flaws expose taxpayer data to snooping

Filed under
Security

Security flaws in computer systems used by the Internal Revenue Service expose millions of taxpayers to potential identity theft or illegal police snooping, according to a congressional report released today.

The IRS also is unlikely to know if outsiders are browsing through citizens' tax returns because it doesn't effectively police its computer systems for unauthorized use, the Government Accountability Office found.

The report was released three days after the deadline for filing personal income tax returns, and at a time when concerns about identity theft and computer security are running high. "This lack of systems security at the IRS is completely unacceptable and needs to be corrected immediately," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The IRS promised to fix any problems and find out if tax returns had been exposed to outsiders.

Over the past several years, the agency has taken steps to protect the information it collects, the report found. The agency has fixed 32 of the 53 problems that turned up in a 2002 review. But the GAO found 39 new security problems on top of the 21 that remain unfixed.

Along with $2 trillion in tax receipts, the IRS also collects information on money laundering and other possible financial crimes for the government's financial-intelligence office. But barriers between tax returns and money-laundering reports don't exist, the GAO found. Thus, a police officer checking up on money-laundering reports can also read personal tax returns, in violation of federal law.

In all, 7,500 IRS employees, law enforcers and outside contractors can access and modify tax returns and financial-crime reports, the GAO found. A master list of passwords and usernames is also widely available, the report said.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Officially Released with Support for Linux Containers

Red Hat was proud to announce earlier today, March 5, the availability of the first maintenance release of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system for computers, used in numerous enterprises worldwide. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 contains a great amount of bug fixes and improvements over the previous release, as well as various new features. Read more Also: iSER target should work fine in RHEL 7.1

Help: Linux to the rescue of older operating systems

As you know, when someone offers free stuff, we give it a few weeks in order to give each group, organization or individual in need a chance to respond. That’s what we’ll do with Mary Greenfield’s generous offer to donate free fabric, so give it another week and then we’ll forward responses to her. One of the most rewarding aspects of writing this column is realizing that it generates discussion, and here’s a response to that question about updates for an older computer running Windows ME... Read more

Open source used to manage Figueres’ environment

The Spanish town of Figueres is relying on free and open source software to help manage its urban and natural environment. Fisersa Ecoserveis, an environmental company, is using a range of open source solutions to create, update and manage interactive geographic maps, used for monitoring and planning the city’s green spaces. Read more

I/O-rich SBC runs Linux on Cortex-A9 Sitara SoC

MYIR launched a “Rico” SBC for TI’s Cortex-A9 AM437x SoC, with an open Linux BSP, 4GB of eMMC flash, and coastline GbE, HDMI, and USB host and device ports. Read more