November 26, 2015

Man who revamped Dept. of Revenue after 2012 hacking to retire

Bill Blume during a 2013 press conference

Bill Blume during a 2013 press conference

The man who led South Carolina’s tax collection agency in the aftermath of the October 2012 hacking that compromised over 3.8 million Social Security numbers says he will retire next month.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Department of Revenue (SCDOR) director Bill Blume’s resignation takes effect on July 18. He has led the agency since previous director Jim Etter resigned in January 2013. Blume, a retired tax attorney, said he was only planning to stay in the job for a short time. He told the AP that it was time to begin his real retirement.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s staffers said on Monday she will nominate Blume’s chief of staff Rick Reames as the new director.

Blume’s hiring signified new leadership at SCDOR a few months after state officials revealed the largest-ever hacking of a state agency. Forensic investigators found that a hacker sent a malicious email to some Department of Revenue employees in August. When one employee clicked on the link, it allowed the hacker to steal that person’s username and password. The investigators say the hacker then used that employee’s credentials to remotely access the Revenue Department’s servers. The forensic report said the hacker then copied backup files off the database and sent the data to another online system elsewhere on the Internet.

Several changes were implemented under Blume’s watch, such as encrypting sensitive information on the agency’s servers, frequently changing the database passwords, and no longer allowing employees to access the system off-site from their personal computers.

Blume came out of retirement to briefly lead the South Carolina Retirement Systems in 2011. After lawmakers reformed the pension system in 2012, they appointed Blume as the first director of the Public Employee Benefits Authority.

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