Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

2/17/2009
11:06 AM
50%
50%

Busted: 3 Myths About Stealing Identify From Electronic Tax Returns

No one (accountants excepted) looks forward to the quarterly and annual scrambles to pay taxes. And though electronic filing has made the process easier, it creates an opening for identify theft that could put you and your business at risk.

No one (accountants excepted) looks forward to the quarterly and annual scrambles to pay taxes. And though electronic filing has made the process easier, it creates an opening for identify theft that could put you and your business at risk.Identity theft is on the rise -- the number of victims was up 22% in 2008 to almost 10 million according to an annual study from Javelin Strategy & Research. Electronic tax filing creates an opportunity for identity thieves to grab identity data -- which puts sole proprietors filing pass-through taxes at particular risk to have both personal and business data compromised.

Todd Feinman, CEO of Identity Finder, a privacy and security application vendor, set out to bust 3 myths related to tax returns and offer tips about how to protect your confidential information when filing taxes electronically.

Myth #1 -- Documents, PDFs and personal information used in the creation of your tax returns are safe just sitting on your computer. Truth -- Hackers may access your computer in various ways at ANY time via viruses, Trojans, and Botnets. Confidential information on PDFs is NOT safe.

  • Password-protect all tax returns that you print to PDF from your tax software so that Social Security Numbers are secure. Permanently shred unsecured documents on your computer that contain personal information used to prepare your tax return.
  • Configure all peer-to-peer file-sharing programs to disable the sharing of your personal folders so identity thieves can't download your tax return.
  • Install the latest updates to your operating system to prevent known Windows or Mac vulnerabilities from being exploited by hackers.
  • Don't save your password in your Web browser when accessing payroll services, employers, banks, and other institutions that keep your personal information because it could easily be stolen.
Myth #2 -- It's safe to electronically transmit confidential data to an accountant, employer, or the IRS. Truth -- Your personal information is at the greatest risk when it is en route from one location to another. Hackers and thieves have the ability to eavesdrop or spy on it when it is unprotected.
  • Encrypt supporting tax documents you plan to email to your accountant to prevent anyone from snooping on your network and gaining access to your financial information.
  • Create strong passwords when registering to download your IRS W2 forms, 1099s, and other personal tax documents from your employer so that they are not easily guessed by strangers.
Myth #3 -- Paper copies of your important tax documentation are always safe since they are in your control and are not accessible to electronic hackers. Truth -- Identity thieves are incredibly creative and will attempt to access your confidential information for their own personal gain however and wherever possible, especially when you least expect it.
  • When you postal mail your tax return to the IRS, send it from a secured location, like the post office or an official USPS collection box; do not let it sit in a box overnight as it could be stolen. For added security use certified mail.
  • If making photocopies of your financial documents, make sure the photocopier does not store images of them in memory.
  • Using a traditional paper shredder, destroy the printed documents used during tax preparation that you no longer need.

More From bMighty: Q&A With Kevin Reeth Of Outright: Using SaaS For Bookkeeping And Tracking Tax Deductions

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Firms Improve Threat Detection but Face Increasingly Disruptive Attacks
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/20/2020
Ransomware Damage Hit $11.5B in 2019
Dark Reading Staff 2/20/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-18238
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-26
Moxa ioLogik 2542-HSPA Series Controllers and IOs, and IOxpress Configuration Utility ioLogik 2500 series firmware, Version 3.0 or lower IOxpress configuration utility, Version 2.3.0 or lower. Sensitive information is stored in configuration files without encryption, which may allow an attacker to a...
CVE-2019-17274
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-26
NetApp FAS 8300/8700 and AFF A400 Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) firmware versions 13.x prior to 13.1P1 were shipped with a default account enabled that could allow unauthorized arbitrary command execution via local access.
CVE-2019-17275
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-26
OnCommand Cloud Manager versions prior to 3.8.0 are susceptible to arbitrary code execution by remote attackers.
CVE-2020-3169
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-26
A vulnerability in the CLI of Cisco FXOS Software could allow an authenticated, local attacker to execute arbitrary commands on the underlying Linux operating system with a privilege level of root on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to insufficient validation of arguments passed to a spe...
CVE-2020-3170
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-26
A vulnerability in the NX-API feature of Cisco NX-OS Software could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to cause an NX-API system process to unexpectedly restart. The vulnerability is due to incorrect validation of the HTTP header of a request that is sent to the NX-API. An attacker could expl...