A new phishing scheme claiming to provide software updates is targeting tax professionals.
Fraudulent emails are being sent to tax preparers with “bogus links” asking recipients upgrade their software, according to the IRS. The link redirects to a website where users are prompted to download an update that uses the name of their software with an .exe extension, according to the IRS.
Tax professionals may believe they have downloaded a software update, but they have installed a program that will track their key strokes, which can be used to steal login information, passwords and other sensitive data.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen stressed the importance of remaining wary of cybercriminals.
“We have more than 700,000 tax preparers in this country, with many of those taking good security precautions,” Koskinen said in a recent statement. “But cybercriminals are continuing to evolve, using new technology, ruses and scams. The tax community handles large volumes of sensitive personal and financial information. We need every tax professional to stay on top of their security to protect taxpayers as well as their businesses.”
Posted on Aug 16, 2016 at 7:22 AM0 comments
Forty Washington, D.C. area high-school and middle school students spent part of their summer vacation at Open Data Summer Camp, learning how to apply data science to food safety and agricultural issues.
Working with the Department of Agriculture, New York University’s Governance Lab designed a curriculum to help students understand the fundamentals of data science and how it can be used to study agricultural issues such as the monetary costs of foodborne illness.
Using data supplied by USDA, the students worked with tools and data science methodologies to get experience gathering and cleaning data, analysis, visualization and presentation. They created blog posts, spreadsheets and surveys, and learned to use Photoshop, Illustrator, Tableau and CartoDB.
“As more government data becomes available for re-use and redistribution… we need more people to be able to use that data to solve hard problems,” GovLab’s Director Beth Noveck said. “The Open Data Summer Camp aims to get kids excited about data and about public service and, hopefully, inspire a next generation of more data-literate public servants.”
Posted on Aug 05, 2016 at 1:02 PM0 comments
The Pentagon’s Defense to Response Technology Program (D2R) is working with Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) to identify and commercialize Department of Defense-funded technologies that can be used to enhance public safety and homeland security.
The D2R technology transfer program will identify three technologies a year and provide up to $110,000 in services from TEEX’s Product Development Center to bring promising technologies to market.
The 2016-2017 D2R program is focusing on four technology areas:
Responder health and safety: Risk-informed countermeasures and policies protecting people, borders, structures, materials, products and systems associated with key operational activities and critical infrastructure.
Enhanced communications operability: Capacity for timely communications for security, situational awareness and operations for communities and response forces in impact areas.
Situational awareness and detection: Decision-relevant information regarding the nature and extent of hazards, cascading effects and the status of the response as well as the identification and discovery of hazards through active and passive surveillance and search procedures.
Virtual training tools: Systems to train first responders, incident commanders and emergency managers in an interactive or virtual environment.
D2R is also looking for any cutting-edge, dual-use technology that can provide a solution to a first responder that does not fit one of the focus areas listed above
Applications are due Aug. 31, 2016. Visit https://teex.org/Pages/events/defense-to-response-technology-showcase.aspx to apply.
Posted on Aug 04, 2016 at 10:02 AM0 comments
The Fish and Wildlife Service could soon be using drones to drop vaccine-coated food pellets to black-footed ferrets in Montana.
Listed as an endangered species since 1967, the black-footed ferret is and considered one of North America’s rarest mammals, and the Fish and Wildlife Service has been working to help the population recover.
After considering various methods of distributing a vaccine to the sylvatic plague, which affects the ferrets and prairie dogs, the ferrets’ primary food, FWS biologist Randy Machett realized that an unmanned aerial system dropping vaccine-laced bait could treat an acre in less than a minute. Drones offer “potentially the most efficient, effective, cost-conscious and environmentally friendly method of application,” according to the environmental assessment.
Machett told The Guardian that a “glorified gumball machine” could be attached to a drone, which would use GPS to shoot out vaccines at 30-ft intervals, potentially treating 200 acres in an hour.
Most of the feedback during a public comment period was “highly supportive” of the plan, Manchett said. He hopes the drone-delivered vaccine plan will be approved by FWS and be operational by September, he added.
Posted on Jul 14, 2016 at 8:53 AM0 comments
The General Services Administration’s analytics-as-a-service program was recently recognized at Red Hat’s annual innovation awards.
The Data to Decisions platform collects, manages and analyzes data for internal and external agency stakeholders. D2D can process operational reporting data on past events and perform predictive and diagnostic analytics, according to GSA.
The platform collects data from multiple sources and in different formats and organizes it into physical and virtual data marts. It provides a single source for enterprise information management, data visualization tools and dashboards and a repository accessible through the customer’s site, cloud or hybrid solution. It also offers a suite of analytics tools so customers can use data to make executive-level decisions.
GSA said D2D enables agencies to better use data resources to lower costs, address security requirements, improve analytical accuracy and encourage open source technologies.
Thus far, available datasets on D2D include federal mail expenditures and training certificates, GSA building vacancy, buildings and leases. A number of governmentwide reports and dashboards are also already accessible.
Posted on Jul 13, 2016 at 3:06 PM0 comments