Auditors Find Security Problems with IRS Wireless Networks


According to, the IRS has put confidential taxpayer information at risk by leaving wireless networks unlocked, according to a recent audit report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Though an evaluation in 2003 advised the IRS to regulate and monitor their wireless technology use, a 2006 inspection of 20 IRS offices discovered at least one unauthorized wireless network.

Unauthorized networks make connected computers--and possibly the agency's entire network--vulnerable to hackers. The IRS' current technique of ad hoc scanning for unauthorized access points is not effective, claimed the report. Auditors urged the IRS to conduct comprehensive scans of the network and to provide employees with information on the risks of working with wireless networks; the IRS concurs with these suggestions. The IRS has fixed security configuration problems in one of its exposed networks in Illinois, though the organization has yet to follow up with the necessary software installation.

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