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Is the IRS "giving it away?"
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Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 05 April 2007 10:31
Audit Uncovers IRS Security Flaws
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APRIL 4, 2007 | This tax season, the Internal Revenue Service is looking for something besides mistakes in your returns. It's looking for some missing laptops.

The IRS is not doing enough to protect taxpayer data on portable PCs and other mobile devices, according to a new report from the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration. Over the past three years, the tax agency has lost nearly 500 laptops containing personal information on at least 2,300 taxpayers, and probably more, the report says.


Between 2003 and 2006, the IRS has reported the loss or theft of some 490 laptops in 387 separate incidents, the TIGTA says. Some 176 of the incidents probably involved no taxpayer data.

"For the remaining 211 incidents, we analyzed the incident writeups as of June 2006 and found 126 contained sufficient details to show that personal information for at least 2,359 individuals was involved," the report says. "We were unable to identify the nature of the data loss and the identities of taxpayers whose information may have been lost for the other 85 of 211 incidents due to lack of details in the incident writeups."

To get an idea of what the lost laptops might have contained, the TIGTA took a random sample of 100 laptops at the IRS and examined them for sensitive data and security policy violations.

"We determined 44 laptop computers contained unencrypted sensitive data, including taxpayer data and employee personnel data," the report says. "As a result, we believe it is very likely a large number of the lost or stolen IRS computers contained similar unencrypted data." Fifteen of the 44 machines were also found to have weak or inadequate password protection... More

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