John Koskinen, Commissioner of the IRS, announced yesterday in a press conference that his agency is making plans to join forces with states and the entire private tax industry to combat cyber tax criminals like the ones who recently accessed taxpayer data through the “Get Transcript” application of the IRS website. It’s the whole “it takes a village” concept applied to the ongoing battle to protect sensitive information on the internet. Government and industry plan to share information in ways they have never done before.
As a tax relief attorney, I don’t know a lot about computers and information technology. If the top level guys at the IRS are IT ninjas, I’m probably a yellow belt noodle maker. But commingling of IRS and private sector data makes me nervous, if that’s what they’re talking about doing. I understand the desire to cooperate on this monumental task of stopping international cyber-criminal syndicates, but I feel like a little separation between public and private sector computer systems is healthy. It seems to my naive mind that the more connected they are, in the event of a large-scale hack, the more likely we all go down together.
Here are a few nice words from Koskinen’s press conference:
[A]ny organization in the public or private sectors with IT systems and sensitive data faces a battle that seems to grow every day. The nation’s tax system is no different….No single organization can go it alone….None of us has a silver bullet to defeat this enemy….Working together we can achieve results that none of us, working alone, could accomplish.
Such an American thing to do, don’t you think? Everyone joining forces and working together to defeat a common enemy and prevent a crisis. I hope this is a step in the right direction and not just the IRS telling us what we want to hear. The upside to all this for the IRS is that the next time their systems are compromised, maybe they can share the blame with businesses and states.