Hundreds of Social Security numbers on the website for the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation website could have been compromised while victims' homestead tax rebate applications were transfered to a secure server.

How many victims? About 900.

What happened? The application system lacked a necessary security certificate used to ensure a secure, encrypted connection.

Details: Officials doubt anyone gained access to the sensitive information because the data was left exposed for only a short period of time, and hackers would have had to target the site. The site was shut down for about two days last week.

Quote: "While it is technically possible there was some sort of compromise, it is logistically unfeasible." - Tim Brooks, associate director in charge of software development at Towson University's Regional Economic Studies Institute, which manages the state's web-based tax-application system.

Source:, The Washington Times, "Taxpayer data exposed online," Jan. 4.