Experts: SC hacking largest against state tax agency - FOX Carolina 21

Experts: SC hacking largest against state tax agency

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COLUMBIA, SC (AP/FOX Carolina) -

Experts say that the hacking of 3.6 million South Carolina tax returns is the largest cyber-attack against a state tax agency in the nation.

Paul Stephens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in California said there have been larger attacks against both private companies and the federal government that revealed information that could lead to identity fraud.

State officials said the attack was mounted from a computer with an international IP address. They said the attack was found earlier this month but they have not given many details because of the ongoing investigation.

The Revenue Department said Social Security numbers, credit card information and information from businesses may have been compromised in the attack. Tax returns as far back as 1998 were in the files that were hacked.

Beyond individual tax payers, Department of Revenue director Jim Etter told South Carolina senators Tuesday that companies' state identification numbers were in the file accessed by an international hacker. He said he doesn't know how many were breached.

During Tuesday's press conference, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the hacker did not breach the revenue department's system via the Internet. Etter said that the hacker had to have certain credentials to get into the agency's computer system, which 250 employees have those codes.

Haley has scheduled another press conference in Columbia for 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, making it the fourth in less than a week when news of the breach was made public. She has defended state employees, saying no one was to blame at the Department of Revenue, but the breach was the work of a "terribly sophisticated" hacker.

Those affected can set up their free year of identity monitoring offered by Experian by visiting protectmyid.com/scdor and enter code SCDOR123 or call 1-866-578-5422 to determine if their Social Security number was accessed.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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