Senators request IRS briefing on SolarWinds hack

Senators request IRS briefing on SolarWinds hack
© Bonnie Cash

The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday asked the IRS for a briefing about whether sensitive taxpayer information was stolen as part of the SolarWinds hack.

"Given the extreme sensitivity of personal taxpayer information entrusted to the IRS, and the harm both to Americans’ privacy and our national security that could result from the theft and exploitation of this data by our adversaries, it is imperative that we understand the extent to which the IRS may have been compromised," Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision Best shot at narrowing racial homeownership gap at risk, progressives say MORE (D-Ore.) wrote in a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

"It is also critical that we understand what actions the IRS is taking to mitigate any potential damage, ensure that hackers do not still have access to internal IRS systems, and prevent future hacks of taxpayer data," the senators added.

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Media outlets have reported that several federal agencies had been breached earlier this year as part of a massive cyberattack on the IT company SolarWinds. The Treasury Department, which the IRS is a bureau of, is one of the departments that has been reportedly impacted.

The Washington Post has reported that a Russian military intelligence group known as "Cozy Bear" was behind the attack. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Sunday issued an emergency directive for federal agencies to immediately power down SolarWinds products. 

Grassley and Wyden said that the IRS "appears to have been a customer of SolarWinds as recently as 2017." The lawmakers asked the IRS to inform them about its efforts to discover whether it has been breached, and whether any sensitive taxpayer data was compromised if there was a breach to its systems.

The letter from Grassley and Wyden is the latest effort from lawmakers to press federal agencies for more information about the cyberattack. Earlier this week, Wyden and Senate Banking Committee ranking member Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBuilding back better by investing in workers and communities US on track to miss debt payments as soon as Oct. 19: analysis On The Money — Presented by NRHC — Democrats cross the debt ceiling Rubicon MORE (D-Ohio) asked Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report Menendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS MORE for information about the impact of the attack on the department. Also, a bipartisan group of senators asked CISA and the FBI for more information about the scope and details of the attack's impact on the federal government.