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South Carolina officials recently revealed that a hacker had infiltrated computers at the state's Department of Revenue offices and got away with a mountain of personal taxpayer data. It is believed that as many as 3.6 million Social Security numbers and around 387,000 credit and debit card numbers were nabbed during the security breach.
During a press conference in the state capital of Columbia, Governor Nikki Haley said it was not a good day for South Carolina. "I want to get this person and make sure he can never do this to anybody or any state again," Haley said. "I want that man just brutalized."
State Law Enforcement spokesperson Thom Berry said the hacker used a foreign IP address to gain access to the computer systems. Most of the credit and debit card numbers were encrypted although about 16,000 were not, he said. Furthermore, none of the social security numbers were encrypted. No public funds were accessed, we're told.
Investigators found evidence of several attempts to hack into the Department of Revenue systems over the past few months. The first occurred in late August followed by multiple attempts in September. It is believed that data was obtained for the first time during one of the September attacks.
Officials pointed out that the vulnerability in the system was discovered and patched on October 20. The system is thought to be secure now but of course, the damage has already been done. South Carolina residents that have filed a tax return since 1998 are encouraged to check with the state to see if their data was compromised. Affected residents are being offered a year of credit monitoring and identity theft protection free of charge.