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Is Local Taypayer Data In Jeopardy?
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Story By: Brian Skowronski



  Originally Published on: 5/24/2013

Last Thursday cyber hackers from Turkey hacked into the city of Akron's website and stole nearly 8,000 taxpayers personal information, including names, adresses and social security numbers. The recent attack brought up questions about data security all over the country, so WMFD took a look into local security measures.

The general consensus amungst Mansfield city and Richland County elected officials and personnel about a potential breach of taxpayers data when interviewed on Thursday was that they are confident in the current systems in place, but can't be 100% sure about their security measures.

Mansfield finance director Linn Steward says hacker attempts are simply a part of the 21st century and that data can never be fully protected despite the stingiest of security efforts. Mansfield I.T. manager James Dougherty agrees, saying that hackers try to breach the system on a daily basis but the through many layers of encrypted data and tiers of security, the city is able to defend against the attacks. Dougherty added that data for income tax for the city is stored and monitored by a third party that he considers to be well secured.

Rick Gulley is the direcor of the income tax department in Mansfield and says in his 30 years of working in the department that a security breach has never occured. Gulley says that physical data is sorted by code and kept under lock and key, so it would be difficult to access a taxpayers information.

At the local county level, Richland County auditor Pat Dropsey says that little needs to be done to protect the real estate information that flows through his office because an estimated 95% of that data is public information. Dropsey says his department no longer deals with sensitive taxpayer data outside of employees information and that the county website contains most of the info dealt with in the auditors office.

So is local taxpayer data safe? It's certainly secure, in some cases, even beyond industry standards. But as Akron found out the hard way last week, security does not always offer a guarentee.

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