The online activities of civil servants at the Canada Revenue Agency are going to watched more closely after the government chose an Israeli software surveillance solution to ensure staff don’t improperly access income tax and other files, part of a policy of toughening up procedures after embarrassing revelations of staff violating privacy procedures.
Intellinx Ltd. said Wednesday it has won a three year contract to supply its Enterprise Fraud Protection suite with the internal fraud module to the CRA. In an email a department spokesperson said the vendor was chosen after competitive bidding. A project team is now working on configuring the solution for the department.
Intellinx is an agent-less solution which essentially acts as a network sniffer, company CTO and co-founder Boaz Krelbaum said in an interview, that can record or reconstruct what people are doing online. Usually it is configured to only look at who is accessing core applications, he said.
Asked in an email why the department felt a need for such a solution, department spokesperson Jennifer McCabe said CRA already has an audit trail system. The new suite will “proactively verify that transactions carried out on taxpayer information are performed in accordance with applicable regulations and policies. This will further protect taxpayer information by reducing the risk of security and privacy breaches.”
A recently introduced Audit Trail Record Analysis Tool (ATRAT),randomly selects employees for review, flags accesses that may be of concern, summarizes audit trail records to help in a manager’s analysis, and provides an automated report on the results, she added.
Asked if the agency has had problems, she said that “in an organization of over 40,000 employees, the CRA must be prepared to address rare instances of misconduct so that we can preserve the integrity of the tax system and remain accountable to the ethics and values that form the heart of our mandate.”
She didn’t mention that last fall the federal privacy commissioner found managers were unaware that some CRA employees had been inappropriately accessing records from thousands of taxpayers for year. CRA told a Parliamentary committee in April that it fired 14 employees and suspended another 18 over the past year for unauthorized access of computer files.
The privacy commission report noted that from a list of internal investigations conducted by the CRA during 2011 and 2012 it identified more than 50 that involved inappropriate access to taxpayer information. “Our review of a sample of those investigations indicated that many also involved inappropriate disclosure of taxpayer information. Some files involved employee access to thousands of taxpayer files over an extended period of time during which they went undetected. The Agency’s records about access and disclosure breaches indicate that employee motivation varied from curiosity, to personal gain, preferential treatment and fraud.”
Krelbaum said the Enterprise Fraud Protection suite runs on Windows, Linux or Unix. The win is the company’s first in Canada. Customers include governments, financial institutions and health care institutions. There are various modules including a case manager, forensics, data leakage protection and anti-money laundering.
In addition to non-invasively monitor user activity, an analytics engine spots suspicious activity in real time.