The Obama administration has been downplaying cyber breaches at the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service this week, but lawmakers are complaining that the intrusions show how weak the government's defense are against such crimes.
"[President Barack Obama] has neglected to take tangible steps to address these persistent cyberinfrastructure challenges," Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines said in a statement this week, reports The Hill
, that claimed the government has tried to hide the IRS breach.
In the Department of Justice cyber-attack, a hacker says he was able to steal and dump databases for thousands of FBI and Department of Homeland Security personnel by using a stolen email address and getting a support employee to give him login credentials.
The DOJ and DHS both said that there was no indication that "sensitive or personally identifiable information" had been breached.
And on Tuesday, the IRS announced that identity thieves
used an automated bot that allowed about a half-million stolen Social Security numbers to be used to create 101,000 PINs used for filing refunds.
Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin told The Hill that the attacks don't "appear to fit in the rubric of what we generally think of as a cyber-attack," but critics still said they are concerned about the incidents.
"These weren't incredibly sophisticated attacks. If you don't have incredibly sophisticated attacks, then that means your defenses weren't sophisticated," Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) said.
And California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu said if the Department of Justice can't keep its records secret, "then there is no reason we should have any confidence that the FBI could hold a secret encryption backdoor key because it would be stolen by hackers."
However, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Senate Finance Committee that the attempt that was made was caught and shut down quickly, and no personal taxpayer information was exposed.
Such attempts are inevitable, though, said Koskinen, and the IRS servers are "attacked or pinged over a million times every day" as people try to get into its database.
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