Ransomware targeting tax professionals on the rise, IRS says

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The IRS is warning professional tax preparers to be aware of hackers using cyberattacks to extort money to keep sensitive information private. The Internal Revenue Service Friday reported that a handful of tax practitioners have been victimized.

SALT LAKE CITY — The IRS is warning professional tax preparers to be aware of hackers using cyberattacks to extort money to keep sensitive information private after announcing that a handful of tax practitioners have been victimized by ransomware.

The warning aimed at tax professionals stated that ransomware attacks are on the rise globally as criminals in the U.S. and abroad hack computer systems and hold sensitive data hostage using sophisticated infiltration schemes.

The FBI recently noted that ransomware attacks are becoming more pervasive as an evolving crime threat to the private and public sectors as well as individuals. In response, a new effort called the “Don’t Take the Bait” — a 10-week security awareness campaign for tax professionals — aims to heighten awareness about these harmful attacks, explained IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

“Tax professionals face an array of security issues that could threaten their clients and their business,” he said. “We urge people to take the time to understand these threats and take the steps to protect themselves. Don’t just assume your computers and systems are safe.”

The IRS described ransomware as malware that infects computers, networks or servers and encrypts data. Cybercriminals then demand a ransom to release the data, a release stated. Users generally are unaware that malware has infected their systems until they receive the ransom request.

“Don’t click on suspicious links or open attachments contained in unsolicited e-mails,” warned Special Agent Mark Roberts of the FBI’s Salt Lake City field office.

The FBI also recommends implementing prevention and continuity measures to reduce the risk of a successful ransomware attack.

In Utah, the issue of ransomware among tax professionals has been a matter of concern for some time,…

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