The man in charge of South Carolina’s tax collection agency now plans to resign, roughly two months after a hacker got access to his agency’s databases and stole millions of Social Security numbers.
South Carolina Department of Revenue director James Etter was appointed to the post by Governor Nikki Haley when she first took office in January 2011. He had previously served as Chief Financial Officer of a forestry equipment supplier before that.
Haley said she did not blame Etter for the shortfalls that allowed a hacker to get into the system. “This could’ve happened in 2002. This could’ve happened in 2004. This could’ve happened two years from now,” she told reporters in a Tuesday press conference. “Let’s keep in mind that you’ve got old equipment and compliance that’s old. You put those together and it would’ve happened (at some point).”
Etter plans to stay in office through December 31. After that, he will be replaced by retired tax attorney Bill Blume, who currently acts as the executive director of the state Public Employee Benefits Authority.
The announcement of Etter’s resignation came the same day that the Governor’s Office released a report written by a cyber security firm investigating the attack. The report found that the hacker tricked a Department of Revenue employee into opening a malicious email which gave the hacker the ability to remotely access the agency’s database. Over the next three weeks, the hacker was able to peruse nearly two dozen servers and eventually compromise roughly 3.8 million tax filings.