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Social Security and Tax Payer Information in South Carolina Stolen by Hackers

Social Security Information was stolen from a database in South Carolina
Social Security Information was stolen from a database in South Carolina

Breach in Security Could Cause Social Security Problems in South Carolina

On October 26th, officials from the state government of South Carolina, including Governor Nikki Haley, revealed that foreign hackers broke into the Department of Revenue’s computers and stole 3.6 million social security numbers — from a state with 4.7 million residents.  Essentially, anyone who has paid taxes in the state of South Carolina since 1998 has had their information compromised. This could cause problems down the road, including SSDI and social security problems.

The hackers also stole hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers.

The state of SC is providing one year free credit monitoring and ID protection through Experian for everyone who may have been breached.  They will be mailing out access codes to the “protectmyid” website, or residents can sign up on the phone through the 866-578-5422 number.  While reports came in that phone lines were busy by about 3:30 PM, and that some people had to wait 15 minutes or more on hold, the process is simple and can help protect residents’ information from further attacks.

Governor Haley’s office explained the timeline of the attacks to WMBF News Online:

Timeline of Hacked Social Security Information

October 10:

  • The SC Dept. of Revenue was informed by the SC Division of Information Technology (DSIT) of a potential cyber attack involving the personal information of taxpayers.
  • DOR worked with DSIT throughout the day to determine what may have happened and what steps needed to be taken immediately to deal with the situation.
  • DOR consulted with state and federal law enforcement agencies for guidance. Law enforcement recommended several steps to be taken, including consulting the nation’s top cyber security firms.
  • DOR assessed the top 3 recommendations from law enforcement and contacted Mandiant of Alexandria, VA.
  • DOR contacted the Governor’s office. SLED Chief Keel briefed Governor Haley.

October 11:

  • DOR met with the Governor’s office in the morning to give her a full briefing, including laying out our 4-pronged approach:
  • Contract with Mandiant, which we signed on October 12 with the approval of the Governor, to find and fix the leak;
  • Conduct an internal investigation of all outside contractors and certain employees to see if they have been involved with any security breaches;
  • Develop of a public notification plan; Institute additional protection tools on our system.
  • DSIT began monitoring DOR and its main servers to detect any unauthorized intrusions.
  • DOR made the decision that if DSIT or DOR identified any unusual exfiltrations of data, the system impacted would be shut down immediately.

October 12:

  • DOR signed a contract with Mandiant. Mandiant began working on plans to send surveillance and monitoring tools to be installed at DOR in SC.

October 15:

  • DOR worked with Mandiant to begin installing surveillance and monitoring equipment which was completely in place within 48 hours.
  • DOR began daily status update calls with complete team, including representatives from law enforcement, DSIT, DOR, Mandiant- the first call was planning session.

October 16:

  • Mandiant began deploying a monitoring agent on every computer workstation throughout DOR, a process was completed by October 20.
  • By the daily status call on Oct. 16, Mandiant was able to confirm that an unknown hacker or hackers probed the system in early September. We also learned that in mid-September, two other intrusions occurred, and to the best of our knowledge, the hacker obtained data for the first time.

October 18:

  • Daily team status meetings were held and systems were continuously monitored.

October 19:

  • Mandiant sent a four member team to begin the on-site investigation at DOR.
  • DOR is still managing day-to-day business of state of SC while managing this major issue.
  • DOR contacted South Carolina law firm, Nelson Mullins, about getting assistance with breach management.

October 20:

  • The “hole” was closed and system was secured, to the best of our current knowledge.

October 21-25:

  • We continued to monitor the system to make sure no more data was compromised.
  • The number of records breached requires an unprecedented, large-scale response by the Department of Revenue, the State of South Carolina and all our citizens.
  • We confirmed that NO public funds were accessed or put at risk as those servers are completely separate from those that were breached.
  • However, approximately 3.6 million Social Security numbers may be affected. Approximately 387,000 credit card numbers were in the materials that were taken, but approximately 371,000 are protected by strong encryption deemed sufficient under the demanding credit card industry standards to protect the data and cardholders, and the others are dated from before 2003.

“Whatever it takes to do this, we are going to do,” said Haley on potential costs for protecting residents. “This is not going to be inexpensive.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help With Social Security Problems in South Carolina

The Strom Law Firm can help you with social security questions
The Strom Law Firm can help you with social security questions

If past problems with your records affect your ability to apply for Social Security or Social Security Disability in the state of South Carolina, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. No two Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income claims are the same, but the application and decision process remain the same.  That is why if you are facing problems with Social Security, you should contact the experienced attorneys at the Strom Law Firm.  Our attorneys have been dealing with these kinds of claims for years, and although your claim is sure to differ slightly from all others, we understand the underlying process, allowing us to effectively assist you in handling your claim.

Social Security can be complex.  Not understanding the basics and not having counsel can leave you in a bind.  We understand that you need your benefits.  We will put our years of experience to work for you to ensure that you have the representation necessary to actively pursue your claim.  Call the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today to discuss your Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income case today.  We will be glad to discuss any questions you may have during our free, confidential consultation.  Call the experienced attorneys at the Strom Law Firm at (803)252-4800.



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