The Buzz On Business

WEAK SPOTS FOUND IN IRS RECORDS SECURITY: Internal Revenue Service records, including taxpayer information, are vulnerable to tampering or disclosure because the IRS has not fixed dozens of information security weaknesses, according to a government report issued Tuesday. The problems, the congressional Government Accountability Office said, included giving too many people access to sensitive material, failure to encrypt all sensitive data and weak physical security controls. One data center allowed at least 17 individuals access to sensitive areas without justifying a need based on their job duties. The IRS also continues to use passwords that are not complex, and it installs patches in an untimely manner. One reason for the weaknesses, the GAO said, is that the IRS has not fully implemented an agencywide information security program. "Until these weaknesses are corrected, the agency remains particularly vulnerable to insider threats," including unauthorized access to taxpayer information; disclosure, modification or destruction of that information; and disruption of operations and services.

THIRD MAN DIES FROM BACTERIA LINKED TO DAIRY: A third man who consumed products from a central Massachusetts dairy that were tainted with bacteria has died, the state health department said Monday. The 87-year-old man fell ill in November and died Thursday, said Donna Rheaume, spokeswoman for the department. The number of people sickened by listeria bacteria also rose to five after health officials linked a 31-year-old woman's listeriosis, diagnosed in September, to products from the dairy. Health officials say the bacteria entered Whittier Farms' milk supply after it was pasteurized. Two of those victims, a 78-year-old man and a 75-year-old man, died in June and October. Another elderly man and a pregnant woman survived, though the woman miscarried. The Shrewsbury dairy remains shuttered, and its owners are cooperating with officials trying to determine the source of contamination, Rheaume said. The farm delivered milk mostly to homes in the Worcester area. Listeriosis can kill babies and people with weakened immune systems and cause miscarriages.

ROYAL MAIL SPIES BOND, JAMES BOND, STAMPS: James Bond is on Her Majesty's Postal Service. Britain's Royal Mail on Tuesday issued a set of stamps commemorating the fictional spy to mark 100 years since the birth of his creator, Ian Fleming. The six stamps feature the original cover artwork of Bond thrillers including "Dr. No," "Goldfinger," "Diamonds Are Forever" and "From Russia With Love." They come in a variety of denominations for domestic and overseas use. Aptly named actress Samantha Bond, who played secretary Miss Moneypenny in Pierce Brosnan's four Bond films, launched the stamps by posing for photographers beside an Aston Martin DB6, the suave secret agent's favorite car. Several events are lined up to mark the centenary of Fleming, a former journalist and wartime intelligence officer who introduced James Bond in the 1953 book "Casino Royale."

SHOP AT HOME WILL STOP BROADCASTING IN MARCH: Home-shopping TV network Shop at Home has announced it will cease broadcasting on March 7. Jewelry Television, which bought the network in June 2006, says about 200 people will lose their jobs at Shop at Home's offices in south Nashville, Tenn. Knoxville-based Jewelry Television bought Shop at Home for about $17 million from The E.W. Scripps Company. The company struggled for years to make a profit from the No. 4 ranked home-shopping network, behind QVC, HSN and ShopNBC. Joe Fields, chief executive of Shop at Home, said in a statement that it would continue to operate its successful Shop at Home Web site and call center.


Figuratively Speaking

60: Percentage of Americans who think the tax system is skewed to benefit the rich, according to the results of a Bankrate poll.

28: Percentage of Americans who disclosed that they feel clueless about tax preparation and planning.

53: Percentage of U.S. chief financial officers who said they would be willing to hire someone with fewer technical skills if the candidate had stronger soft skills, such as communication and interpersonal abilities, according to Robert Half Management Resources.

39: Percentage of CFOs who disagreed.

8: Percentage who don't know or declined to answer.