Saturday, September 25, 2010

Iran's nuclear agency trying to stop computer worm

TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian media reports say the country's nuclear agency is trying to combat a complex computer worm that has affected industrial sites in Iran and is capable of taking over power plants.

The semi-official ISNA news agency says Iranian nuclear experts met this week to discuss how to remove the malicious computer code, dubbed Stuxnet, which can take over systems that control the inner workings of industrial plants.

Experts in Germany discovered the worm in July. It has since shown up in attacks in Iran, Indonesia, India and the U.S.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

IRS Letters to Citizens Still Ripe for Identity Theft

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has yet to comply with a May 2007 federal order to remove the unnecessary use of Social Security numbers from correspondence with citizens, which can lead to identity theft, according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

According to the report, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) gave federal agencies 120 days to develop a plan to eliminate the unnecessary collection and use of social security numbers and 18 months to implement the plan.

Although the IRS has a plan in place, it has yet to draft detailed implementation and compliance management milestones, and target dates have not yet been established to eliminate or reduce taxpayer Social Security numbers from its correspondence with the public, according to the Inspector General’s report.

“Taxpayers need to be assured that the IRS is taking every precaution to protect their private information from inadvertent disclosure,” according to the Inspector General.

The number one consumer complaint during 2009 was identity theft, which often requires identity thieves to use victims’ Social Security numbers, according to a 2010 Federal Trade Commission report.

In 2010, the IRS mailed more than 42 million notices and letters to individual taxpayers for various reasons, including balance due notices. Most of those notices and letters included taxpayers’ Social Security numbers because they required the taxpayers to respond to the IRS.

The IRS submitted the first release of its plan to reduce or eliminate the use of Social Security numbers to the Department of the Treasury in November 2007 and has provided three releases of its plan since then, the last in February 2009.

However, to date it has only redacted or shortened taxpayers’ Social Security

numbers from only a small number of systems, notices, and forms, and there are no target dates for decisions on whether taxpayers’ Social Security numbers can be removed from notices and letters, according to the Inspector General’s report.