Posted on: Oct 28, 2012 at 01:10
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3.6 million Social Security numbers hacked in S.C.

Tax returns, personal data compromised in ‘massive’ breach


The U.S. Secret Service detected a security breach at the S.C. Department of Revenue on Oct. 10, but it took state officials 10 days to close the attacker’s access and another six days to inform the public that 3.6 million Social Security numbers had been compromised.

The attack also exposed 387,000 credit and debit card numbers. The stolen data included other information people file with their tax returns such as names and addresses. Businesses’ taxpayer identification numbers also potentially have been comprised in the attack that is being described as one of the nation’s largest against a state agency.

The attack affects tax returns as far back as 1998, the Revenue Department said. But not all of the department’s data " so not every taxpayer " was affected, it said.

Most of the data had not been encrypted, meaning the hacker would not need a key to a secret code to read the stolen data Revenue director James Etter said none of the Social Security numbers were encrypted and about 16,000 credit card numbers were not encrypted. That was not part of the system at that point,” Etter said during Gov. Nikki Haley’s press conference Friday to announce the breach. “That’s something we’ll be looking into.”

Officials, including State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, said the millions of affected S.C. taxpayers had not been notified sooner because agents needed to reach “certain benchmarks in their investigation.”

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