by Sam Spence
During a press conference on Tuesday, state officials provided little new information on the nature of the cyber attacks that exposed more than 3.6 million taxpayer Social Security numbers and 387,000 credit card numbers. However, officials revealed that the breach will likely cost taxpayers at least $12 million.
In an agreement with credit-monitoring company Experian, taxpayers who sign up before the end of January 2013 will receive one year of day-to-day credit report monitoring and lifetime assistance in the event they are a victim of identity theft or fraud. Regardless of the number of sign-ups, Experian will not charge the state more $12 million.
When asked about other costs associated with the response, such as services provided by Nelson Mullins, the law firm retained to assist the state in covering its liability, S.C. Dept. of Revenue Director James Etter said he was unsure. The state has also hired Alexandria, Va.-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant to assist in the investigation.
Gov. Nikki Haley reported that so far that the Experian call center has fielded more than 530,000 calls, with nearly 290,000 signing up for credit protection. Haley blamed a media-created frenzy for clogged phone lines and long wait times, which had decreased from 12 minutes over the weekend to less than 10 as of Monday night.
Though Haley, Etter, and SLED Chief Mark Keel admitted they do not have the technical background needed to know the full details of the incident, the governor called the incident "absolutely bizarre," and "the work of a sophisticated hacker," insisting that no Dept. of Revenue employee could be held at fault for the breach. Keel said that they were unsure about how many times the intruder had compromised the agency's system,and that it could be weeks before the state learns exactly what was taken and how the hack was accomplished. Haley hopes the investigation will net those responsible and send a message to other potential hackers, "Don't mess with South Carolina."
To apply for credit protection, visit protectmyid.com/scdor and use the code scdor123, or call 866-578-5422.