COLUMBIA (WACH) - Gov. Nikki Haley announced Friday that South Carolina has come under an international attack.
"This is not a good day for South Carolina," said Haley.
Haley along with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, an official from the United States Secret Service, Jim Etter, Director of the South Carolina Department of Revenue and Inspector General Patrick Maley gathered for a news conference at SLED headquarters Friday at 1:30 p.m. to announce that millions of South Carolinians have had their personal information stolen.
Haley continues to stress that this is an international attack. The person responsible was not from the United States.
Authorities say 3.6 million Social Security numbers have been compromised and information for 387,000 credit and debit cards have been exposed. Approximately 16,000 are unencrypted.
"On October 10, the S.C. Division of Information Technology informed the S.C. Department of Revenue of a potential cyber attack involving the personal information of taxpayers," said DOR Director Jim Etter.
Authorities say further investigation after October 10 uncovered multiple attempts to hack the DOR system occurred from late August to mid-September. On October 20, the vulnerability in the system was closed and, to the best of the department's knowledge, secured.
Haley says Friday was the earliest they could announce the breach to allow law enforcement personnel to do their jobs and keep the chance of catching the hacker.
"I want this person slammed against the wall," said Haley.
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 then visit www.protectmyid.com/scdor with the activation code they receive from calling the phone number.
The service allows callers to set up a year of free credit monitoring through Experian's PotectMyID Alert. Each person must call the number before they can use the website. 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.
"We are going to pay for the fact that we have to give everyone credit protection. We're going to cover the cost behind that," said Haley. "This is the responsibility of the state to protect the tax payers."
To minimize the risk of future cyber-attacks, Haley signed an Executive Order Friday to improve information security policies and procedures in our state agencies.
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