Death, taxes, and hacks: How to prevent cyberattacks during tax season - Help Net Security

Death, taxes, and hacks: How to prevent cyberattacks during tax season - Help Net Security

Remember how folks did taxes in the olden days? They’d collect large piles of paper documents, fill out endless pages of forms, stuff a bunch of receipts in a shoebox and – after filing to the IRS – cross their fingers hoping they didn’t forget something that would hold up the processing of the return. (If you’re too young to recall any of this, just trust us – this happened regularly.)

Filing tax returns electronically

Fortunately, times have changed. There’s no need for massive roundups of hardcopies anymore, not when filers fill out and submit everything online. If they want to have copies for their personal record-keeping, they can print or save the filled-in forms (W-2s, 1099s, 1040s, mortgage interest/taxes paid statements, and so on).

Nearly 92 percent of U.S. taxpayers are now opting to electronically file returns. So what could possibly go wrong?

Well, just like death and, of course, taxes, we must accept another certainty in life: if online data or money can be stolen, cybercriminals are going to come up with ways to do it.

After all, as Americans prepare to file, they’re inputting countless lines of highly sensitive data – Social Security numbers, wage statements, IRA earnings, property addresses and bank account information, and so on. Because they do this on browsers, they place themselves at the risk of client-side attacks that inject malicious JavaScript code into websites to skim data and steal information.

Don’t assume you are safe

Neither individual citizen filers or IT decision makers and security professionals at tax preparers and other financial industry businesses can assume that everything is “ ..