Hacked tax info likely sold on Internet black market

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WACH/AP) -- One of the world's leading cyber security experts says information from a hacking incident like the one in South Carolina is usually sold quickly on the Internet black market.

Michael DuBose says hackers sell Social Security and credit card information in batches of thousands on the Internet black market and the chances of finding and prosecuting the hacker are generally slim.

DuBose is former chief of the U.S. Justice Department's computer crime section and now works for international cyber security company Kroll.

Authorities are investigating the hacking of 3.6 million South Carolina tax returns.

They say the hacking came from an international IP computer address. But DuBose says it's easy for hackers to remain anonymous and the portal could have been a proxy for a site anywhere in the world.

Yesterday an Upstate lawyer filed a lawsuit against Gov. Nikki Haley and the South Carolina Department of Revenue after the announcement of the international hacking incident that is believed to have compromised more than 3.6 million Social Security numbers as well as other personal information.

Former state senator and state representative John D. Hawkins is seeking class-action status in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Richland County. He hopes to represent all taxpayers whose Social Security numbers and credit card information was compromised.

"The hacker is only one part of the story. The bigger story is how the hacker got in," said Hawkins. "We believe the governor and state officials were grossly negligent."

According to a press release from the Hawkins Law Firm, the lawsuit, which was filed in Richland County, alleges that Gov. Haley and other state officials violated state law that requires prompt disclosure of breaches like this one.

Governor Haley says the most important thing for South Carolinians to do is be overly cautious. She recommends everyone who has filed a tax return in South Carolina since 1998 to call 1-866-578-5422 or visit with the activation code SCDOR123.

The service allows callers to set up a year of free credit monitoring through Experian's PotectMyID Alert. The service includes daily monitoring of all three credit bureaus.

"[The phone number and website] is how you can find out if you are one of the individuals whose information has been breached," said Haley.

Haley says those who have had their identity stolen will receive help from the state.

To minimize the risk of future cyber-attacks, Haley signed an Executive Order last Friday to improve information security policies and procedures in our state agencies.

Chronology of events

Consumer Safety Solutions

In addition to calling the number listed above, state officials urge individuals to take additional steps to protect their identity and financial information by:

- Regularly reviewing credit reports

- Placing fraud alerts with the three credit bureaus

- Place a security freeze on financial and credit information with the three credit bureaus