Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Urban Institute Hacked, Details Kept Under Wraps

Think tank spying and hacking is the new normal.

Here is more from The Hill newspaper about the latest attack on the world's top education policy and social policy think tank:
The TurboTax of the nonprofit world has been hacked.

The Urban Institute, a prominent think tank in Washington, D.C., alerted charitable organizations around the country Tuesday that its system for filing tax forms was breached.

Hackers were able to access usernames, passwords, IP addresses and other account data for nonprofits that use the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) to file their taxes.
An official with the Urban Institute estimated that between 600,000 and 700,000 organizations were affected by the breach. At this point, there is apparently no evidence that tax filings themselves were compromised. There were also no Social Security numbers or credit card information in the system, the official said. 
Hackers repeatedly target D.C. think tanks. Security analysts say there is virtually no major organization or agency in the city that has not faced a breach or hacking attempt of one kind or another, though almost none will confirm the details.

Urban Institute was recently ranked as the US's 20th best think tank by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the world's top education policy think tank and the world's top social policy think tank.

Here is what the Huffington Post had to say about the hack.  Here is what the Chronicle of Philanthropy says.

During the past few years, it has been publicly (and privately) disclosed that nearly every major US think tank has been hacked.  Think Tank Watch has documented hacks on think tanks such as the Aspen Institute, Brookings, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Center for American Progress (CAP), Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  Many others have been hit, including the Heritage Foundation.