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3/17/2005
12:30 PM
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Giving Aid To The Enemy

Cybercrooks don't need any extra help, but they're getting it from their victims. Look what happened at the Internal Revenue Service.

Cybercrooks don't need any extra help, but they're getting it from their victims. Look what happened at the Internal Revenue Service.More than one-third of IRS workers and their bosses freely gave up their computer logins to callers who identified themselves as computer technicians trying to fix a network problem. In reality, they were inspectors from the Office of the Inspector General for Tax Administration at the Treasury Department.

Auditors recently contacted 100 IRS employees, asking them to provide their network logins and temporarily changed their passwords. Thirty-five workers and managers gave them up. That's still better than the 71 IRS staffers who volunteered their passwords during a similar test four years ago.

According to an AP report, some agency employees said they weren't aware of the hacking technique and never suspected foul play. They just wanted to help a computer technician. A few workers were suspicious because they couldn't find the caller's name in the IRS global employ directory, but they surrendered their passwords anyway. Others wavered, but got a say-so from their bosses to cooperate.

Two days after the test, the IRS issued an E-mail alert about the hacking technique and commanded workers to notify security officials if they get such calls.

Now, if only those IRS employees can be as trusting with my tax return as they were with the faux technicians when they gave up their passwords.

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