The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it has been hacked, and that the hackers used stolen social security numbers to gain access to PINs used to file electronic tax returns.
The attack reportedly occurred last month and specifically targeted an IRS website that is used to obtain the electronic PINs. To do this, users need to enter things like their Social Security number, date of birth, address and name.
According to the IRS, the attackers tried to gain access to PIN numbers that corresponded to 464,000 SSNs, however, they only managed to gain access to 101,000 PINs before they were blocked by the IRS.
Those affected by the breach will get an email from the IRS explaining the situation. While the attackers only accessed the PIN numbers and not other taxpayer data, they did somehow gain access to taxpayer data elsewhere, as they used it to gain access to the PINs in the first place. Of course, it's important to note that the IRS suffered another breach last year that resulted in Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses belonging to more than 300,000 people being stolen.
Of course, the attack comes at just about the worst time, as many people are gearing up to file their tax returns in coming weeks. Obtaining the PINS would essentially allow the attackers to file bogus tax returns, potentially enabling them to collect any refunds.
In recent times, there have been plenty of hacks that included the theft of things like Social Security numbers, with one of the largest being a hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which ended up affecting as many as 21.5 million people.