Posts

Showing posts with the label Nextgov

Federal Blockchain Projects Face a Familiar Talent Problem

Image
Federal agencies are experimenting with blockchain technology—the tracking system that keeps bitcoin exchanges from being adjusted—but they might not have the talent to implement it.At the General Services Administration, where a blockchain proof-of-concept is currently under way, “we lack the personnel that have any type of technical training in this particular technology,”  Michelle White, GSA’s director of shared services and IT products for contract operations, told an audience at an ACT-IAC event.GSA has been investigating how, or whether, to use the ledger system to track steps in the procurement process. Procurement officials at GSA are trying to automate the process by which contract proposals are evaluated for its Multiple Award Schedules FASt Lane program, which intends to speed up the amount of time it takes to get on a GSA purchasing schedule.There are some efforts to increase blockchain technical expertise in government, White said. For instance, GSA’s Technology Transfor…

Judge Tosses OPM Breach Lawsuits, Plaintiffs Appeal

Image
A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit Tuesday from a group of federal employees who say gross negligence by the Office of Personnel Management contributed to the office’s 2015 data breach that exposed sensitive security clearance information about more than 20 million people.The lawsuit filed by the National Treasury Employees Union can’t go forward because the employees can’t prove they were actually harmed by the breach, Judge Amy Jackson said.The personnel office breach is widely believed to have been a Chinese intelligence operation aimed at identifying high-placed government employees who might be vulnerable to bribes or blackmail. The breach focused on SF-86 forms, highly sensitive security clearance documents where prospective employees describe troubles with money, romantic relationships and substance abuse among other topics. The breach also included a smaller number of fingerprints.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox.Sign up here.As …

Symantec CEO: Get Commercial Software Off National Security Systems

Image
The biggest security vulnerability in U.S. national security computer systems may be the commercial software they’re built on, Symantec’s CEO Greg Clark said Wednesday.The inner workings of Tomahawk missiles aren’t publicly available and the computer systems that store sensitive national security data shouldn’t be either, the leader of the anti-virus firm said during an address at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.Under the current system, U.S. cyber adversaries can find out which software systems the U.S. military is most reliant on simply by searching federal contracting databases, Clark said. Then they can set about searching for vulnerabilities in those systems.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox.Sign up here.“We are handing our adversaries the key…the map to how to beat us,” he said.The comments echoed an op-ed, Clark publishes in The Hill newspaper earlier Wednesday.Clark’s argument runs counter to th…

Is Trump's 'Wiretap' Claim Vindicated?

Lockheed Martin Tops Federal IT Rankings

Image
Lockheed Martin. Northrop Grumman. Leidos. IBM. Dell.These companies are among the most well-known suppliers of hardware, software and IT services, and not surprisingly, they top IDC Government Insights latest Federal IT Rankings.Released today, the rankings evaluate vendors based on total government IT sales over the past calendar year and funnel companies into two categories: Those that derive more than one-third of their revenue from government and enterprise companies that do not.  Despite selling off its IT business to Leidos last year for $5 billion, Lockheed Martin took the top spot among companies that sell primarily to the government. Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin was followed by Northrop Grumman System, Leidos, Battelle Memorial Institute, Raytheon, DynCorp International, CACI, CSRA, L-3 National Security Systems and General Dynamics.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox.Sign up here.These rankings could shift due to recent mergers a…

The Smartphone App That Tells You An Earthquake Is About to Hit

It's Time Agencies Rethink the Citizen

Image
Andrew H. LaVanway has been active at the intersection of government, technology, and citizen engagement for nearly 20 years. He currently leads ICF’s public sector marketing practice.Federal agencies are spending a lot of time these days thinking about digital and technology and the citizen engagement. But as we watched heroic volunteers and the “Cajun Navy” pluck person after person from the rising floodwaters in Houston—not at government direction, but on their own initiative—we have to openly wonder if we’re really thinking about engagement in the right way. Perhaps agencies should spend less time reaching citizens and more time unleashing them as a force of positive change. It is time to rethink the citizen.Fundamentally, citizens are different today than they were even a decade ago. They have different expectations for their experiences sure, but also new ways of adding or destroying value, rapidly advancing technical skills, vast untapped insight and local understanding, sizeab…

Experts Warn Congress Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill Could Backfire

Image
Internet law experts, human rights advocates and lawmakers warned Congress that a controversial anti-sex trafficking bill may allow human traffickers to increase their online presence, not eliminate it.The current version of Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act may reduce web services’ incentive to moderate content on their sites, experts told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing Tuesday.Supporters praise SESTA as a much-needed weapon to take down online forums that enable sex trafficking. Opponents argue the bill could stifle innovation and open the door for frivolous lawsuits against tech companies.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox.Sign up here.While all parties agreed the government should go to great lengths to fight sex trafficking, they butted heads over whether SESTA is the best fix for the problem.The bill would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a piece of legislation that prevent…

Apple Is Releasing New iPhone Software Today: Here’s How to Find Out if Your Apps Will Still Work

Trump's Tech Team Wants to ‘Wow’ Public

Image
The White House Office of American Innovation views the federal government’s reliance on old technology and track record of providing poor customer service to citizens as a bipartisan opportunity to earn back the trust of millions of Americans.Led by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the office is making use of the White House’s convening power, bringing top private-sector tech chiefs to Washington to share knowledge, best practices and ideas with administration officials.The goal is an efficient government that serves citizens as satisfactorily as leading online retailers while upgrading its IT systems to keep pace with emerging technologies, according to Matt Lira, special assistant to the president for innovation, policy and initiatives.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.“Each of these [government] institutions and the people that comprise them have in their hands the hopes and dreams of millions of people …

The Team-Building Rituals that Companies Love Can Actually Tear Workers Apart

Image
If you’ve ever lost a glove somewhere on the streets of New York City, there’s a chance it’s found an unusual second life at the New York headquarters of OXO—the global housewares manufacturer. Enter the company’s open loft-style dining hall, and you’ll see a large white wall featuring hundreds of gloves, neatly organized in rows. Pinned beneath each glove (or pair) is a tag that tells the story of when and where the glove was found, and who did the finding.As part of a unique company ritual, OXO employees are encouraged to collect the misplaced and forgotten gloves of New Yorkers and add them to the wall. OXO says that focusing on the “meaning of gloves” serves as a symbolic reminder of the company’s most important value principle: The universal design of their products fitting comfortably in the hands of all their customers.Research suggests that these sorts of quirky company traditions really can help affirm a company’s core values and promote a sense of collective workplace cultur…

Meet the Woman Who Warned About Russian Election Meddling Years Ago—and Got Death Threats

Image
Calls for more transparency and regulation governing the content and advertising on Facebook are suddenly coming from both the right and the left in Washington, and are likely to increase as more information emerges about how the company earns nearly all of its almost $30 billion in annual revenue.The attention has intensified since Facebook recently admitted that Russian buyers were able to purchase thousands of ads on its platform on hot-button issues like immigration and gay rights in the run-up to the US election. It’s also been revealed that its policing of ads is so lax that it was possible to buy ads targeting users interested in topics like “Jew hater” and “how to burn Jews,” ProPublica reported. (The topics have been removed since). Facebook isn’t alone—until recently, on Google, it was possible to target messages to people who search for phrases like “blacks destroy everything,” BuzzFeed reported.Long before Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election, and before law…

An Anti-Virus Company Accidentally Distributed a PC Virus, And Maybe Let’s Just Cancel the Internet

Image
If you downloaded and installed a copy of Avast’s CCleaner between August 15 and September 12, your computer may very well be infected with malware.The malicious software was somehow injected into a downloadable copy of CCleaner, which is a desktop maintenance app, and distributed to more than 2 million users over that time period. The malware appeared to do little more than send information about the computers it infected back to a server, according to an analysis by security researchers at Cisco, but also has the potential to run harmful code.Installing the latest version of CCleaner should remove the malware from infected computers, according to Piriform, the firm that originally developed the app and was acquired by the anti-virus company Avast in July.Given the level of access required to inject the malware into the download, the Cisco researchers believe the intruder likely had high-level access to CCleaner development environment, and said it is currently unclear whether the op…

Energy Department's Random Number Generator Could Make for Stronger Encryption

Image
The Energy Department has technology that can generate random number sequences, and now it wants to commercialize it.It’s incredibly difficult to create a truly random sequence of numbers—often devices actually seed the sequence with the time or some other predictable number, according to the Energy Department. But a newly developed system that relies on energized particles helped scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory do so, and the lab is looking for a partner to license out and commercialize that device.Quantum-based systems use the energy properties of particles to store information. In quantum computing, particles known as qubits can be in multiple energized stages at once, so scientists can use them to represent more complex problems than the ones they can with a classical system using ones and zeroes.  In theory, quantum mechanics are “truly random [in] nature,” according to the solicitation.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox…

What Government Buyers Need to Know About Rugged Devices

Image
John Breeden II is an award-winning journalist and reviewer with over 20 years of experience covering technology. He is the CEO of the Tech Writers Bureau, a group that creates technological thought leadership content for organizations of all sizes. Twitter: @LabGuysI was watching some of the post-Hurricane Irma coverage and saw an aid worker with a standard iPhone, which they had protected with a rugged case. She was using an app to track the inventory of supplies her organization was distributing, so it would be safe to classify the phone as mission critical in that instance. Now, I have nothing against OtterBox or other protective cases and have used many in the past. If you have a non-rugged device, adding a case that can serve to protect it against the shock of a sudden drop, or depending on the model, against water ingress or immersion, is a smart move. But that does not make a phone rugged.Government buyers, or anyone who needs to face a challenging environment, should take ste…

IT Modernization Bill Clears Senate as Part of Defense Authorization Bill

Image
The Modernizing Government Technology Act—and several other tech amendments—passed the Senate as part of the annual defense appropriations bill.The $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which sets defense personnel, policy and spending, passed by a vote of 89 to 8 Monday evening.Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., introduced the MGT Act as amendment 1006—one of hundreds lawmakers parsed through. MGT Act creates a $500 million central modernization fund over two years agencies can borrow against to update aging, unsecure systems. It also creates working IT capital funds that agencies can stash savings from other modernization projects—like migrating to cloud computing—to use for future projects.“Senate passage of the Modernizing Government Technology Act is a major step forward in our goal of creating a more cost-efficient and digitally secure federal government,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement. “By leveraging new technologi…

GSA Shakes Up Federal Acquisition Leadership

Image
The General Service Administration announced multiple Federal Acquisition Service leadership changes today, including making long-time IT and acquisition leader Mary Davie the permanent deputy assistant FAS commissioner and shifting some 18F staff.FAS Commissioner Alan Thomas told GSA staff today the agency was dropping the “acting” from Davie’s position and Kay Ely’s role as assistant commissioner for the FAS Office of Information Technology Category.“Mary and Kay are no strangers to high-impact leadership roles and they bring impressive experience to their new positions,” Thomas said in a staff email.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.Bob Noonan will shift from FAS Office of Systems Management assistant commissioner to FAS Office of General Supplies and Services acting assistant commissioner.Some of GSA’s regions will also be affected. Erv Koehler will move from FAS regional commissioner for the Southeast Sunbelt Region to as…

Equifax Breach Prompts Renewed Calls for National Breach Notification Standard

Image
Cyber-focused lawmakers are taking advantage of the public outcry over the massive Equifax breach to renew calls for a nationwide standard for when companies must disclose a data breach.Cybersecurity Caucus Co-founder Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., reintroduced the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act with co-sponsor Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Monday. The bill would replace a patchwork of 48 different state breach notification standards with a single federal one.Rep. Shea Porter, D-N.H., also signed on as a co-sponsor Monday and Langevin is seeking more co-sponsors, a spokeswoman said.» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.Langevin slammed Equifax in a statement announcing the bill’s introduction, saying the credit rating agency had “done a terrible job communicating about the breach” and left many citizens unsure about whether or not their personal information was compromised.“This legislation will ensure that any future such b…

Ignore the Haters, Federal Social Media Gurus Say

Image
The CIA has a lot of haters, and some of the most vociferous make themselves heard in response to each post and tweet from the agency’s relatively new social media accounts.Yet according to CIA social media lead Carolyn Reams, the spy agency’s approach to dealing with social media naysayers and trolls is similar to the popular online expression “haters gonna hate,” whereby the agency won’t respond to even the harshest critics and instead takes pride that those ardent haters still follow them.“We get followers who love us, and some who hate us,” Reams said Thursday at SMWiFairfax, an event celebrating social media week, held in Fairfax County, Virginia. “Even if you hate, hopefully, you’ll still follow us.”» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.Reams helped launch the CIA’s Twitter presence in June 2014 with the line, “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet,” a humorous take on the agency’s frequent inability t…

Ignores the Haters, Federal Social Media Gurus Say

Image
The CIA has a lot of haters, and some of the most vociferous make themselves heard in response to each post and tweet from the agency’s relatively new social media accounts.Yet according to CIA social media lead Carolyn Reams, the spy agency’s approach to dealing with social media naysayers and trolls is similar to the popular online expression “haters gonna hate,” whereby the agency won’t respond to even the harshest critics and instead takes pride that those ardent haters still follow them.“We get followers who love us, and some who hate us,” Reams said Thursday at SMWiFairfax, an event celebrating social media week, held in Fairfax County, Virginia. “Even if you hate, hopefully, you’ll still follow us.”» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.Reams helped launch the CIA’s Twitter presence in June 2014 with the line, “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet,” a humorous take on the agency’s frequent inability t…