Senator blasts Obama for sweeping IRS hack 'under the rug'

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Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is slamming President Obama for not alerting Congress to a recent breach of the Internal Revenue Service.

“The President has a duty to inform Congress of cyber attacks on federal infrastructure, yet once again has tried to sweep this under the rug,” Daines said in a statement.

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The IRS announced Tuesday that identity thieves had used an automated bot in an attempt to generate phony login information, using almost half a million stolen Social Security numbers to create 101,000 successful PINs.

The breach occurred in December. According to a Tuesday statement revealing the incident, the attack has been halted and no personal taxpayer information was exposed during the attempted hack.

“It’s no coincidence that on President Obama’s watch, two federal agencies within the past year have suffered large-scale and inexcusable breaches in security,” Daines said, an apparent reference to an earlier breach at the IRS and the massive hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

In August, the IRS revealed that hackers had been able to swipe sensitive information about more than 300,000 taxpayers.

Last summer, the OPM uncovered the digital theft of the personal information of over 22 million former and current federal employees, contractors and others.

Both incidents have sparked lawmaker outrage over the endemic use of outdated and insecure software at many federal agencies.

Daines’s critique comes the day after the White House unveiled sweeping cybersecurity provisions in its 2017 budget request, including a 35 percent increase in funding.

The document would also establish a new senior federal cyber official and create a presidential commission on cyber that will establish a long-term road map.

Daines on Wednesday hit the president for what he characterized as a persistent neglect of growing cyber threats.

“He has failed to demonstrate needed leadership and has neglected to take tangible steps to address these persistent cyberinfrastructure challenges,” Daines said.