Wolters Kluwer takes services offline after malware attack

By Ken Tysiac

Cloud tax and accounting services provider Wolters Kluwer took a number of its platforms and applications offline this week after identifying technical anomalies related to malware.

Wolters Kluwer, which provides the CCH Axcess cloud-based tax solution used by many CPA firms, said in a media statement posted on its website that the company started seeing technical anomalies in some of its platforms and applications on Monday. After immediately starting an investigation and discovering the installation of malware, the company took the precaution of taking a broader range of platforms and applications offline.

“We have seen no evidence that customer data was taken or that there was a breach of confidentiality of that data,” the company said in a statement. “Also, there is no reason to believe that our customers have been infected through our platforms and applications.”

With its precautionary step of taking a broad range of services offline, Wolters Kluwer hoped to quickly limit the malware’s impact. The company sought assistance from third-party forensic consultants to investigate the issue and work on a solution.

In the meantime, though, taking services offline affected the company’s communication channels and limited its ability to share updates.

The company was able to restore service to a number of applications and platforms Tuesday, but some of its systems remained offline, and the company’s investigation is ongoing.

In an email update sent to customers Thursday morning, Wolters Kluwer said it is in the process of scanning, testing, and restoring each service and application.

“Because they are distinct, they must be brought back online sequentially,” the email stated.

The company is restoring applications and platforms in the following order:

  • CCH SureTax (online).
  • CCH Axcess (online).
  • CCH AnswerConnect (online).
  • CCH Intelliconnect (online).
  • CCH Account Research Manager (online).

As of Thursday morning, the company said it had brought CCH Axcess, CCH SureTax, CCH AnswerConnect, and CCH Intelliconnect back online. Wolters Kluwer said the following systems are still in process:

  • Electronic Filing System (ELF for medium and large firm customers).
  • CCH Global fx.
  • ATX and TaxWise electronic filing.
  • TaxWise Online.

“The service interruptions you have experienced are primarily the result of our aggressive, precautionary efforts to ensure the safety of your data,” the company said. “This is why at this time we are confident that we see no indication of data loss or other effects, nor any potential risk to our customers’ data.”

Wolters Kluwer provides information, software, and services around the world for clinicians, nurses, accountants, and lawyers, and the tax, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and regulatory sectors. CPA firms use its CCH software and cloud solutions to perform services for clients, and the outage left them without access to tools they use for their work.

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editorial director.

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