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IRS has left US taxpayers at risk of fraud

irs-us-taxpayers-fraud-risk_siThe US Internal Revenue Service has left American taxpayers at increased risk of identity fraud as the federal agency has consistently neglected to seek out and eliminate known flaws in its security system, according to an internal audit.

Russell George, the Treasury Department’s inspector general for  tax administration, determined that the federal government  revenue service has only partially completed 42 percent of the  corrective plans that were deemed necessary in recent  years.

When the right degree of security diligence is not applied to  systems, disgruntled insiders or malicious outsiders can exploit  security weaknesses and may gain unauthorized access,” he  wrote.

In the report, which was released to IRS officials in September  but released to the public Thursday, George went on to describe  how the IRS, through negligence, is at risk of “malicious  users exploiting accounts with default or blank passwords to  steal taxpayer identities and carry out fraud schemes.”

The IRS previously claimed that it had completed the prescribed  corrective actions (PCAs) recommended by previous auditors, but  George’s report found that eight of the 19 “had not been fully  implemented.”

The inspector general report is almost certain to raise concerns  over if the IRS is capable of storing personal data as it  prepares to accept an influx of information belonging to  Americans who enlist in the Affordable Care Act.

All eight PCAs involve systems containing taxpayer data,”   George said, indicating the service simply did not search its  servers for “critical and major vulnerabilities.” A number  of software updates had yet to be released, and some user  accounts were unnecessarily vulnerable.

“The IRS is also increasing its susceptibility to performance and  security weaknesses inherent in older software versions, its  exposure of taxpayer data to unauthorized disclosure, and its  exposure to disruptions of system operation,” the audit  continued.

Another factor contributing to the problem is “weakened  management controls,” George discovered. He advised officials  to take up six new training methods that would improve the  capabilities of employees charged with uploading data.

The IRS told the Washington Post it would issue a new manual in  response to the audit.




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