News

Federal IT legislation included in compromised Defense bill

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA, will be rolled in to the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, according to a Dec. 3 statement from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The legislation would give federal chief information officers more acquisition oversight.

'Cyber Pearl Harbor' plausible, says cyber military expert

The threat of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" – a hotly debated term after then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta used the phrase in a 2012 address – isn't just an idea used for shock value; a cyber attack with catastrophic effects on the United States is very possible, according to an expert on cyber military operations.

USASpending.gov performance thus far a cautionary tale for DATA Act implementation, says GAO

Try as it might, the federal government doesn't have the best track record on publicly reporting spending data, Gene Dodaro, comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, told lawmakers Dec. 3. USASpending.gov's success thus far could serve as a cautionary tale for the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, said Dodaro during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Treasury IG issues report outlining shortcomings in IRS computer systems, other problems

A recent annual audit of the Internal Revenue Service's computer systems summarized several security weaknesses across the agency that could compromise sensitive information and potentially result in taxpayer data being stolen, improperly disclosed or misused.

NSTIC pilot uses biometrics to bring identity management to seniors

Members of AARP, a nonprofit group that serves adults 50 years or older, are testing technology to help them better manage their digital identities in a simple, but more secure way using biometrics. It's just one of 15 federally funded pilots that was recently highlighted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Federal health data releases need to be more usable and accurate, Brookings panelists say

As the federal government increasingly releases more health data to help patients, physicians, hospitals and others better understand treatments, outcomes and costs, panelists at a Brookings Institution discussion Dec. 1 said that data need to be more usable and accurate.

UPDATED - Navy seeks to better use its networks as warfighting platforms, top commander says

The Navy's information networks must be available, secure and capable of serving as warfighting platforms, said the head of Navy Cyber Command during a Dec. 2 event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

DoD needs to complete transition to IPv6 on enterprise network, IG says

The IG said IPv6 hasn't been made a priority by the chief information officer and U.S. Cyber Command. Additionally, DoD's CIO, CYBERCOM and the Defense Information Systems Agency didn't have an effective and coordinated effort nor did it use available resources toward transition to the higher protocol.

Los Alamos lab updates software capable of rapidly identifying diseases

Los Alamos National Laboratory has updated bioinformatics software that's now capable of identifying DNA from viruses – enabling healthcare professionals, researchers and others to better identify diseases and choose therapies for cancer treatment.

New federal search tool helps US companies comply with export laws

Using an application programming interface, the Commerce, State and Treasury departments have created the searchable Consolidated Screening List that contains names of more than 8,000 company and individual names – and their aliases – restricted from conducting business with American companies as a result of U.S. export regulations, sanctions or other conditions.

HHS says more than 1 million apply through HealthCare.gov

More than 1 million people submitted applications to get insurance through HealthCare.gov after the first week of open enrollment, the Health and Human Services Department said Nov. 26.

NSA touts internal oversight mechanisms in Tumblr Q&A session

A National Security Agency official sought to emphasize the importance of its internal oversight and compliance framework for ensuring the protection of Americans' civil liberties and privacy, during a recent live question and answer session on Tumblr.

Air Force maps cyber warfighter career path to help defend nation

The cyber warfare operations career field education and training plan, which was posted publicly Nov. 28 by the open information website Public Intelligence, identifies life cycle education and training requirements, training support resources and minimum core task requirements.

GSA provides useful tips for creating good government URLs

Easy-to-share web addresses – sometimes called shortcut, vanity or marketing URLs – should be created by agency web managers in a specific format for very specific purposes, according to a Nov. 28 post on the General Services Administration's DigitalGov Blog.

DARPA working to reduce IT vulnerabilities in complex military systems

The massive, monolithic technology platforms upon which U.S. defense systems rely are inflexible, increasingly difficult to manage and hostile to advances in technology, said the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They're also vulnerable to malicious actors, said DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar during a Nov. 12 event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Complex, sophisticated malware 'Regin' used for espionage since at least 2008, Symantec says

Cybersecurity company Symantec says it has discovered a highly complex, advanced malware that has been developed and used – likely by a nation state – to systematically spy on governments, individuals and other international targets since at least 2008.

VA fails annual cybersecurity audit for 16th straight year, says it will invest more resources

For the 16th straight year, the Veterans Affairs Department will fail its annual cyberseurity audit, the VA's deputy assistant inspector general said at a recent congressional hearing. Most of the IT security recommendations issued in their reports persist year after year.

Ex-Navy serviceman sentenced to 2 years in prison for hacking, stealing personal records

A former Navy nuclear systems administrator and co-founder of a computer hacking group was sentenced to two years in prison for hacking into the Navy and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, among others, and stealing and releasing thousands of personal records, a U.S. attorney announced Nov. 21.

European Commission views sought on whether US can compel provider to disclose data stored abroad

The Center for Democracy and Technology says it would be beneficial for the European Commission to provide its views on a case in which a U.S. federal court has ordered Microsoft to produce a customer's information that's stored in a data center in Ireland – an order the company has refused to comply with.

NSA director: "Totally defensive" a losing strategy

Although there are no established principles for norms in cyberspace, such as what qualifies as an "act of war," the idea that nations should refrain from offensive action and operate day-to-day completely on the defensive is not acceptable to the U.S. military, said Vice Adm. Mike Rogers, the dual-hatted head of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command.