IRS Blames Taxpayer Data Breach On Russian "Crime Syndicates"

On Tuesday, we reported that the IRS has admitted that as many as 100,000 tax returns may have been compromised by “thieves” who gained “unauthorized access” to tax information on file with the government. 

Here’s what we said regarding who would likely be blamed: 

In an unprecedented move against a government agency, which we are just waiting to hear blamed on Russia, The IRS has admitted that its data has been compromised…

We said this because the US has recently embarked on a campaign to justify the use of “offensive” cyber attacks against a list of so-called “cyberadversaries” which, unsurprisingly, looks at lot like a list of Washington's regular “adversaries” and includes Russia, Iran, North Korea, and of course China, with the latter being recently blamed for the digital takeover of Penn State’s engineering department. 

If that accusation constituted a hilariously ridiculous step up the cyber attack accusation ladder compared to Washington’s 2014 attempt to blame North Korea for cyber-sabotaging James Franco and Seth Rogen, then the IRS ‘breach’ is set to mark yet another unprecedented escalation because as CNN reports, the hackers responsible for virtually infiltrating the IRS were apparently of Russian origin. 

Via CNN:

The IRS believes that a major cyber breach that allowed criminals to steal the tax returns of more than 100,000 people originated in Russia, two sources briefed on the data theft tell CNN.


On Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service announced that organized crime syndicates used personal data obtained from elsewhere to access tax information, which they then used to file $50 million in fraudulent returns.


The IRS said the agency's Criminal Investigation Unit and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration are investigating. The agency also alerted the Homeland Security Department of the breach, a DHS official confirmed.

Yes, Russian “organized crime syndicates.” 

This is certainly comparable — in terms of hyperbole level — to the suggestion by Bloomberg eleven days ago that in connection with a concerted effort to employ state-sponsored hacker spies to steal engineering blueprints for unmanned military vehicles, Beijing had enlisted “legions” of fake US graduate students in an effort to obtain military secrets that apparently reside in America’s ivory towers.

We'll leave you with the following statement from Defense Secretary Ash Carter who will ensure you that a Pentagon "crack team" will determine the appropriate response to this latest example of Russian aggression:
“The sensors that guard DoD’s unclassified networks detected Russian hackers accessing one of our networks [due to] an old vulnerability in one of our legacy networks that hadn’t been patched, [but a] crack team of incident responders quickly kicked them off the network.”