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  • 08/31/2017 3:48 PM | Anonymous

    New e-Services platform launch next week

    Please don’t confuse this with the routine outage that takes place during the Labor Day holiday. Starting Thursday, September 7, will begin moving e-Services to a new platform that will complete a multi-year upgrade and some products will be unavailable.

    • 6 a.m. Eastern, Thursday, September 7: E-Services registration and the ability to apply for ACA, e-file, TIN Matching and IVES, will be unavailable. A redesigned e-Services landing page will launch. If you go to the old landing page, you will be automatically redirected to the new page.
    • 10 p.m. Eastern Friday, September 8: Transcript Delivery System and TIN Matching will go offline.
    • 6 a.m. Eastern Monday, September 11: Transcript Delivery System and TIN Matching will be back online.
    • 6 a.m. Eastern Tuesday, September 12: Applications for ACA, e-File, TIN Matching and IVES will be available, including ACA Information Return users filing applications for Transmitter Control Codes.
    • State users only will not be able to submit new or change existing e-File/TDS applications from September 7 through late October.

    New e-Services User Agreement

    In late October, we will roll out a new user agreement. All registered users must accept its terms to have access to e-Services and its products. Please read and sign it when it comes out.

    It also addresses an emerging industry we’re calling Intermediate Service Providers. Intermediate Service Providers are privately owned companies offering software and/or services to e-Services users, including helping users access taxpayer transcripts.

    The new user agreement requires tax professionals using Intermediate Services Providers to ensure that the company is not storing their username, password or PIN, and they must notify their clients that they are using an Intermediate Service Provider to access tax information.

    Registration through Secure Access

    Starting in late October, all e-Services users must register through Secure Access, a rigorous authentication process, to validate their identity and meet a new two-factor authentication requirement.

    It is called two-factor authentication because all returning users must first enter their credentials (username and password) and then enter a security code sent to the user. To assist users who either cannot use a cell or lack cell service, the IRS is adding a new feature to its IRS2Go app. This app can be used on many types of mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets.

    For existing e-Services users who cannot authenticate through Secure Access, we will have an exception process through our help desk. However, even if you validate your identity through the help desk, you will still need a mobile phone or the IRS2Go app to obtain a security code each time you login to e-Services.

    You can read more about these changes at Important Information about Your e-Services Account. Read about the current Secure Access process at www.irs.gov/secureaccess. This page will update with information about the IRS2Go app when it becomes available. 

    We also have FAQs about Secure Access and e-Services Users and Tips for Successfully Authenticating Your Identity through Secure Access.

    Additionally, we will be scheduling some webinars that will demonstrate the registration process for users and we will have experts on hand to answer technical questions. More to come on the Webinars and information about the IRS2Go app.

    We know this is a lot of information but we wanted to give you plenty of time to plan for the changes. We will keep you up-to-date as we move forward.

  • 08/28/2017 4:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Various rule changes are being advanced by the Accountancy Board, including:

    ·   making the CPE requirements the same for public and private CPAs, starting with the 3-year period that ends June 2022

    ·   including ethics content

    ·   allowing some level of work when in retired status, and specify an age of 60, and requiring use of the term “retired”

    ·   raising fee authorizations, but with no actual fee increases included

    Details about the rules, hearings, sharing comments, etc. are available at www.nd.gov/ndsba, or 800-532-5904.

    There are various steps in the rule change process, including the public hearings held in Grand Forks and Bismarck. Attendance was light at the hearings, but the Society submitted a letter addressing member sentiments.

    The next step in the process is approval by the Attorney General (AG), after which materials go to the Legislative Council. The Administrative Rules Committee will address the changes in a future meeting, at which the Board of Accountancy will be on hand to respond to inquiries, and the public may also share comments. The rules aren’t yet on an agenda, but the Rule Committee schedule is found at CLICK.  

  • 08/18/2017 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    The IRS today announced that a planned outage of all e-Services tools and applications has been postponed. The extended delay will allow for some additional improvements to take place in the final product.

    When a new date is set, we will issue a follow up Quick Alert.  Until further notice, all e-Services tools and applications are available to registered users, except for AIR users. The Affordable Care Act Information Return (AIR) participants will be unable to submit new or change existing Transmitter Control Code applications until this platform upgrade takes place.

    The planned outage, when it occurs, will allow for the e-Services suite of tools to be transferred to a new digital platform. The new platform will conclude a years-long effort to upgrade the technology for e-Services tools.

  • 08/16/2017 4:27 PM | Anonymous

    There will be a planned outage of all e-Services tools from 6 p.m. Thursday, August 17 through 6 a.m. Monday August 21. During this period, users will be unable to access the Transcript Delivery System (TDS) and Secure Object Repository (SOR), Registration and TIN Matching. All applications also will be offline until August 22.

    Affordable Care Act Information Return (AIR) filers may resume submission of applications for Transmitter Control Codes starting on August 22. The application process for AIR users has been offline since July because of the e-Services platform transition.

    Also on August 21, a redesigned landing page for e-Services will launch with a new look and feel.

    The scheduled outage will allow us to complete the transition of e-Services to a new platform that will improve the look and feel of applications and complete a multi-year technological upgrade. We will also perform testing during that four-day period.

    We apologize for the inconvenience but we wanted to give you early notice so you could plan accordingly. A Quick Alert will be sent shortly, and we’ll keep you informed as we move forward. 

  • 08/16/2017 4:26 PM | Anonymous

    IR-2017-125, Aug. 1, 2017                                                             

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals that ransomware attacks are on the rise worldwide as bad actors here and abroad infiltrate computer systems and hold sensitive data hostage.

    The IRS is aware of a handful of tax practitioners who have been victimized by ransomware attacks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently cautioned that ransomware attacks are a growing and evolving crime threatening the private and public sectors as well as individuals.

    The “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign, a 10-week security awareness campaign aimed at tax professionals, hopes to increase awareness about these attacks. The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, working together as the Security Summit, urge practitioners to learn to protect themselves. This is part of the ongoing Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself effort.

    “Tax professionals face an array of security issues that could threaten their clients and their business,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We urge people to take the time to understand these threats and take the steps to protect themselves. Don’t just assume your computers and systems are safe.”

    Ransomware is a type of malware that infects computers, networks and servers and encrypts (locks) data. Cybercriminals then demand a ransom to release the data. Users generally are unaware that malware has infected their systems until they receive the ransom request.

    The 2017 Phishing Trends and Intelligence Report issued annually by Phishlabs named ransomware one of two transformative events of 2016 and called its rapid rise a public epidemic.

    In May 2017, a ransomware attack dubbed “WannaCry” targeted users who failed to install a critical update to their Microsoft Windows operating system or who were using pirated versions of the operating system. Within a day, criminals held data on 230,000 computers in 150 countries for ransom.

    The most common delivery method of this malware is through phishing emails. The emails lure unsuspecting users to either open a link or an attachment. However, the FBI also has warned that ransomware is evolving and cybercriminals can infect computers by other methods, such as a link that redirects users to a website that infects their computer.

    Victims should not pay a ransom. Paying it further encourages the criminals. Often the scammers won’t provide the decryption key even after a ransom is paid.

    Tips to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

    Tax practitioners – as well as businesses, payroll departments, human resource organizations and taxpayers – should talk to an IT security expert and consider these steps to help prepare for and protect against ransomware attacks:

    ·         Make sure employees are aware of ransomware and of their critical roles in protecting the organization’s data.

    ·         For digital devices, ensure that security patches are installed on operating systems, software and firmware. This step may be made easier through a centralized patch management system.

    ·         Ensure that antivirus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and conduct regular scans.

    ·         Manage the use of privileged accounts — no users should be assigned administrative access unless necessary, and only use administrator accounts when needed.

    ·         Configure computer access controls, including file, directory and network share permissions, appropriately. If users require read-only information, do not provide them with write-access to those files or directories.

    ·         Disable macro scripts from office files transmitted over e-mail.

    ·         Implement software restriction policies or other controls to prevent programs from executing from common ransomware locations, such as temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers, compression/decompression programs.

    ·         Back up data regularly and verify the integrity of those backups.

    ·         Secure backup data. Make sure the backup device isn’t constantly connected to the computers and networks they are backing up. This will ensure the backup data remains unaffected by ransomware attempts.

    Victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.IC3.gov. Tax practitioners who fall victim to a ransomware attack also should contact their local IRS stakeholder liaison.

  • 08/16/2017 4:24 PM | Anonymous

    IR-2017-126, Aug. 4, 2017

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals to be alert to a new phishing email scam impersonating tax software providers and attempting to steal usernames and passwords.

    This sophisticated scam yet again displays cybercriminals’ tax savvy and underscores the need for tax professionals to take strong security measures to protect their clients and protect their business. This is the time of year when many software providers issue software upgrades and when tax professionals are working to meet the Oct. 15 deadline for extension filers.

    These types of phishing scams are why the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, acting as the Security Summit, launched the 10-week Don’t Take the Bait campaign currently underway. This awareness effort highlights the many tactics of cybercriminals as well as the steps tax professionals can take to protect their clients and themselves.

    This latest scam email variation comes with a subject line of “Software Support Update” and highlights an “Important Software System Upgrade.” It thanks recipients for continuing to trust the software provider to serve their tax preparation needs and mimics the software providers’ email templates.

    The e-mail informs the recipients that due to a recent software upgrade, the preparer must revalidate their login credentials. It provides a link to a fictitious website that mirrors the software provider’s actual login page.

    Instead of upgrading software, the tax professionals are providing their information to cybercriminals who use the stolen credentials to access the preparers’ accounts and to steal client information.

    The Security Summit reminds tax professionals that software providers do not embed links into emails asking them to validate passwords. Also, tax professionals and taxpayers should never open a link or an attachment from a suspicious email.

    Tax professionals can review additional tips to protect clients and themselves at Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself on IRS.gov.

    Tax professionals who receive emails purportedly from their tax software providers seeking login credentials should send those scam emails to their tax software provider. 

    For Windows users, follow this process to help the investigation of these scam emails:

    1. Use “Save As” to save the scam. Under “save as type” in the drop-down menu, select “plain text” and save to the desktop. Do not click on any links.
    2. Open a new email and attach this saved email as a file.
    3. Send a new email containing the attachment to the tax software provider, as well as a copy to Phishing@IRS.gov.
  • 08/08/2017 1:59 PM | Anonymous

    Think a data breach can’t happen to you? Think again… “Don’t Take the Bait.”

    Tax professionals increasingly are targets of national and international cybercriminal syndicates that are well funded, digitally adept and tax savvy. Each week the IRS receives three to five reports of data breaches at tax professionals’ offices. That rate is not sustainable.

    To assist tax practitioners to better protect themselves, the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, partnering as the Security Summit, have launched a 10-week “Don’t take the Bait” campaign detailing specific scam tactics and how to counter them.  These news items are being issued each Tuesday.

    Here are the first three news releases plus an associated fact sheet.

    IRS Newswire

    Don’t Take the Bait, Step 1: Avoid Spear Phishing Emails (IR-17-119)
    Don’t Take the Bait, Step 2: Be Alert to Account Takeover Tactics (IR-17-120)
    Don’t Take the Bait, Step 3: Security Summit Safeguards Help Protect Individuals; Renew Focus on Curbing Data Breaches and Business Identity Theft (IR-17-123)

    IRS Fact Sheet

    Information on Identity Theft for Business, Partnerships and Estate and Trusts (FS-17-10) *

    *If you prepare 1120, 1120S, 1041s or K1s, please read.

    I’ll be sharing these news releases each Tuesday. You can also view them at: https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/dont-take-the-bait-series.

    This series is available in Spanish, too.

    Please share this with your members, staff, colleagues and anyone who may benefit from this information.

    Alan Gregerson

    IRS/Senior Stakeholder Liaison

    Bloomington, MN 55425

    E-mail Alan.J.Gregerson@irs.gov, Phone 763-347-735 

    Subscribe to IRS Newswire 


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