Hackers Steal Romney's Tax Returns?
An anonymous hacking group claims to have stolen Mitt Romney's tax returns from financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). PWC denies that there has been any unauthorized access to Mitt Romney or wife Ann's tax information and that any of their systems have been breached.
The hacking group sent thumb drives that supposedly contained copies of the returns to the Democratic and Republican county offices in Nashville Tennessee, as well as PWC. The Nashville city paper was among the first to report on the hacking incident.
The group announced their demands on Pastebin, a tool that is used by coders to share code, and has been used by hacking groups in the past to announce hacking "projects." The group demanded one million dollars in Bitcoins, a digital currency that has little government oversight and allows for some level of anonymity.
Both PWC and the Republican county office say they are working with the Secret Service to discover who is behind the extortion attempt. The Secret Service has not commented on whether the tax return documents are legitimate. PWC did prepare Romney's taxes in 2010, but there is no indication of whether they had prepared previous years returns, or whether those returns would be vulnerable to a remote computer attack.
Romney has released his 2010 and 2011 tax returns. It is possible that this is an attempt at what is known as "predictable response" - the attackers are hoping the recipients of the thumb drive will plug the drive into their computer to see if the files are legitimate. A trojan is then downloaded, giving the attackers full access to the recipients hard drive. Both the Republican and Democratic county offices claim they did not open the files.
image: Gage Skidmore