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GCN : April 2014
MTN Government, a subsidiary of satellite communications provider MTN, recently unveiled a managed service and platform to help federal agencies identify threats arising from social networking sites. The Leesburg, Va.,-based company has partnered with cybersecurity rm ZeroFOX, which developed analytics software to identify threats that use social media sites and the source of such at- tacks. Peg Grayson, president of MTN Gov- ernment, said organizations traditionally focus their cybersecurity defenses on rewalls and other points on the network perimeter. But as government agencies expand the use of social media -- especially through mobile devices -- they're see- ing new threats from hackers who are increasingly using sites like Facebook and Twitter to launch cyberattacks. The trend follows a MacAfee Labs 2014 Threats Predictions report released late last year that predicted "social attacks will be ubiquitous" by the end of this year. Grayson said such attacks typically target an individual. For example, hackers could create a "mirror image evil twin" of a high-ranking military of cer's social pro le and personal information to dis- seminate compromising information. Through a series of mathematical tools and other algorithms, the ZeroFOX plat- form program looks beyond the network rewall to evaluate information directed through the social media site. Essentially, it can separate true signatures from false ones. The platform ags a fraudulent pro le (or even a valid account that has been compromised) and through a Web-based portal alerts an agency's information security team. An agency itself or MTN Government, which provides a hosted service, would then work with the social networking company to remove the pro le. If the pro le distributed malware, then technical threat details would be integrated into an agency's existing rewall or Web lter to block further attacks. The ZeroFOX platform can also identify a malware phishing campaign that targets a large number of employees within an agency, according to MTN. In that case, an agency is alerted to the attack and given relevant data needed to prevent a system-level infection. Since cyberattackers often mask where their information is coming from, the platform can rapidly sift through multiple layers of IP addresses and different serv- ers to identify the original source of an attack, Grayson said. The platform would provide technical details that could be integrated into existing security technolo- gies to defend against the attack. Grayson said larger agencies typically already have the hardware needed for running such programs and therefore can just license the software while MTN trains staff on the analytical tools. This includes identifying signatures, reading and analyz- ing threats and using search capabilities to identify a source of an attack. It takes about an hour to get an agency up and running with the software, she added. But MTN also provides a managed service, which monitors an organization's network through its own data center and then pro- vides information about potential social media threats.• Agencies can get relief from social-launched attacks BY DIBYA SARKAR GCN APRIL 2014 • GCN.COM 7 With tax day just around the corner, the IRS has added new features to its IRS- 2Go mobile application, which provides users with tax tips and tools to navigate key IRS services. Taxpayers can now check the status of their federal income tax refund using their Apple or Android mobile device. They can access the information by entering their Social Security number, ling status and the amount of their anticipated refund from their 2013 tax return. Users who led a return electronically can check their refund status within 24 hours after the return is received. The update also allows users to request their tax return or account transcript, which they will receive in the mail. In addition to IRS2Go, the IRS is mov- ing rapidly to adopt electronic and social media services to assist taxpayers and lower the cost overhead of traditional customer services. Currently, the IRS has channels up and going for taxpayer tips and information on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. The federal government has been successful in getting a return on these investments in IRS electronic services, according to a recent report by Accen- ture. Of 147.6 million tax returns that were led in September 2012, 113.8 million (77 percent) were done online, it said. The IRS2Go smartphone app in par- ticular was a key reason for the agency's success with e-services, according to Ac- centure, which put the value of potentially fraudulent refunds avoided by using the app at $4.2 billion. The IRS rst launched IRS2Go in Janu- ary 2011. Within two months, 110,000 iPhone users and 135,000 Android users had downloaded the app. Total cost of the in-house development: $50,000, spent mostly for security features. • IRS adds new features to mobile tax filing app, sees ROI BY MIKE CIPRIANO