- The IRS said Friday that during last year's cyberattack, hackers stole the personal information of about 724,000 individuals – a number that is six times larger than its original estimate.
- In the past six months, the agency has increased its projection of the number of victims twice.
- The hackers also unsuccessfully attempted to steal more than 570,000 additional records, according to the IRS.
High-profile hacks at federal government agencies have put citizens and the federal government on edge. Earlier this month, the Obama administration called for $19 billion to support a "broad-based cybersecurity strategy" to help secure the government, critical infrastructure and "important technologies." The administration wants to fund a long-term cybersecurity strategy to protect American's privacy, help ensure public safety and sustain economic and national security efforts.
Hackers infiltrated an application called “Get Transcript” that the IRS launched in January 2014. The service allows taxpayers to check their tax history online. But hackers quickly figured out how to circumvent security by assuming the identities of others and were able to download the tax histories of numerous individuals. The hackers then filed about $50 million in fraudulent tax returns, according to the IRS.
The IRS said in late May that tax return information of about 114,000 U.S. taxpayers had been illegally breached by cybercriminals over the prior four months, while another 111,000 attempts were unsuccessful. In August, the agency said it identified 220,000 additional incidents. The IRS is not the first agency to struggle with discovering the full scope of a cyberattacks. Last year, the Office of Personnel Management took months to fully discover how many individuals were impacted.