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Online Tax Filers Cautioned to Protect Information Against Potential Cyberattacks

Cenzic, Leader in Web Application Security, Offers Top Five Electronic Tax Filing Concerns for Consumers

SANTA CLARA, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 04/02/09 -- With the tax deadline looming, Cenzic Inc., the leading provider of application security vulnerability assessment and risk management solutions, today alerted consumers of the top five security related issues they face when filing taxes online. According to the IRS, this past tax season there were 88 million individual and more than 7 million business tax returns filed electronically. With e-filing at an all time high, consumers need to know what's at stake and what they can do to protect themselves.

"With the amount of sensitive personal information contained in a tax return -- names, addresses, social security numbers, bank account numbers -- online tax sites are the perfect prey for hackers," said John Weinschenk, CEO and president of Cenzic. "Consumers can invest hundreds in protecting data on their home computer, but once it's transmitted to online tax sites, the information is at the mercy of the website's security. Surprisingly however, most of these sites are not held liable for data loss as the result of a cyberattack. While large companies have taken significant measures to secure their sites, the fact remains that there are a number of lesser known sites that have a lot of holes hackers can exploit and personal information will be compromised unless proactive measures are taken."

According to Cenzic, the top five security issues online tax providers don't want consumers to know are:

# 1 - Online tax providers are not liable for anything

Read the fine print in the terms. Almost all of these providers, including the big ones, have a disclaimer for security, which is limited to the amount paid for their software or services -- in the case of online tax providers, this could be as little as $14.95 or $29.95. There is no liability for personal information that's stolen and used to create fake identities or hack into your bank accounts.

# 2 - Security seals provide a false sense of security

Most of the seals on Web sites provide a false sense of security. These seals do not certify the application as secure, they authenticate the server it's connecting to. For example, a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) function certifies that the server the browser is talking to is the genuine site and provides encryption of data being transmitted. These seals have a valid purpose and do provide some level of security. However, hackers still come through forms and fields that consumers use, to exploit the applications underneath.

# 3 - Privacy policy doesn't imply security

Although privacy policy is important to ensure companies don't share personal information with third parties or send spam emails, it does not provide security for information stored in databases and applications. Most consumers assume that by having a privacy policy, companies are guaranteeing that their information will be secure from hackers.

# 4 - Servers in a locked facility doesn't stop hackers

Many online tax service providers tout their physical security, stating that servers are secured in a locked facility. While important, this doesn't prevent hackers from accessing servers via the Web site, getting into the database, and stealing information.

# 5 - Sessions don't always expire

Many online tax filers mistakenly believe that after they access a Web site, enter their user ID and password, and complete their return, they are done. But, if they didn't log out of the site, that session might still be active and its contents easily be stolen by hackers. Although more and more sites are cognizant of this issue and are making sure that sessions expire, some sites may still be vulnerable. Consumers need to be sure they log out of the site and close the browser.

What Businesses Can Do To Protect Consumers' Personal Information

Online tax providers can take proactive steps to ensure their customers are protected. Providers should do a thorough test of Web applications and find the vulnerabilities before they are exploited. Automated solutions are available, as both software and as Software as a Service (SaaS), that can quickly identify a site's major security holes.

"Online tax filing has proven to been a convenient way for millions to get their taxes done," said Weinschenk. "Until consumers start researching the security policies and demanding better protection for their sensitive personal data on these sites however, there will always be a risk that their next e-file could end in disaster. The good news is that some of the leading providers in this area have done an excellent job of securing their Web sites. It drops off quickly as you get to the smaller players."

Cenzic provides next-generation vulnerability assessment and risk management solutions to enable organizations to stay on top of security threats while providing the most effective way to find the most "real," threats fast across all Web applications. Cenzic solutions include:

Cenzic Hailstorm - A suite of software solutions used by enterprises of all sizes throughout their software development life cycle (SDLC) -- from development to production stages -- to test for vulnerabilities in their Web applications.

Cenzic ClickToSecure - A managed service (SaaS) with a remote assessment of customers' Web applications.

Assessment Methodology - Consulting service for business process re-engineering of customers' application security processes

For more information, please contact Cenzic at www.cenzic.com.

About Cenzic

Cenzic is the next-generation Web application security assessment and risk management solutions leader. The Cenzic suite of application security solutions fits the need of any company from remote, Software as a Service (ClickToSecure®), for testing one or more applications, to a full enterprise-wide solution (Cenzic Hailstorm® Enterprise ARC) for effectively managing application security risks across an enterprise. Always an innovator, Cenzic has integrated Hailstorm with VMware to enable testing of production Web applications through virtualization -- making Cenzic the only company in the industry with a complete solution for assessing Web applications in all stages from development to production. In addition, Cenzic solutions, targeted at financial services, e-retail, high-tech, energy, healthcare and government sectors, are the most accurate, comprehensive and extensible in the industry, empowering organizations to stay on top of unrelenting application security threats.

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Contact Information:
Tami Casey
Kulesa Faul for Cenzic
(650) 340-1984
Email Contact

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