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TAX PREP SITE TEMPORARILY EXPOSES CLIENTS' RETURN INFO

Source: Security Wire Digest

Posted on February 15, 2001

      Tax preparation Web site e1040.com was shut down this week after its encryption software was accidentally switched off, leaving customers' Social Security numbers and passwords exposed on the Internet.

      The site was offline Monday after company officials discovered the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) software used to secure data transmissions over the Internet had been turned off the previous day by technicians working on the site. It was back up by Tuesday. SSL-encoded information is scrambled in transit between the client browser and merchant server; without the software, passwords, identification numbers and other sensitive information appear in plaintext.

      The security glitch at e1040.com, owned by the New York-based accounting firm Gilman & Ciocia, comes just as the tax season is taking off and more people contemplate filing forms electronically via the Web. Last year, tax preparation company H&R Block accidentally switched some filers' records, allowing some registered users signed on to the service to receive someone else's filing information -- including a Social Security number, home address, annual income and other sensitive information.




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