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US CIO Orders Federal Websites to Get More Secure
June 10, 2015
U.S. federal CIO Tony Scott on Monday sent a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies requiring that all publicly accessible federal websites and Web services use HTTPS -- "the strongest privacy and integrity protection currently available for public Web connections." Some federal websites currently use HTTPS, but there has not been a consistent policy across the federal government.
OPM Security Was a Data Breach Waiting to Happen
June 9, 2015
Things could get worse before they get better as the FBI, US-CERT and Office of Personnel Management investigate a data breach that may have compromised the personal information of some 4 million current and past federal employees. Additional exposures of personal identifying information could be discovered, officials have warned. The OPM made the breach public last week.
Robots Meet DARPA Challenge Despite Pratfalls
June 8, 2015
Robots from Korea and the U.S. staggered off with the top three prizes at the DARPA Robotics Challenge, held in California over the weekend. In all, robots from 23 teams participated in the challenge, which consisted of an obstacle course simulating conditions similar to those following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. DRC-Hubo, the entry from South Korea's Team Kaist, took first prize.
AT&T May Leave Anti-Net Neutrality Ranks
June 3, 2015
AT&T has just revealed what it would take for it to change its stance on Net neutrality: regulators' approval of its purchase of DirecTV. The company has offered to accept the rules adopted by the FCC early this year, according to reports. It was just last month that the FCC denied petitions from a slew of companies -- including AT&T -- to delay its implementation of the rules.
Feds' Photobucket Strategy Could Hobble White Hats
June 2, 2015
There's a new twist in the way feds are seeking to penalize bad actors for making and distributing software used in crimes, suggest recent arrests by Justice Department and FBI officials. "There's a more concerted campaign to go after go after those folks who are distributing in the underground," said Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer at Trend Micro.
Senate Ready to Rumble Over Freedom Act Amendments
June 2, 2015
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to close debate on the USA Freedom Act, a measure that would prohibit the NSA from the indiscriminate collection Americans' phone call data. The bill already has passed in the House. However, the brawling over the bill is not quite over. The Senate has yet to address several proposed amendments to the legislation before voting on it later on Tuesday.
FBI to Dig Into IRS Data Breach Debacle
May 29, 2015
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into a hack of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service that led to personal data being stolen from at least 100,000 taxpayers' accounts of the 200,000 that were hit. The hackers got the data by accessing the Get Transcript application, which lets taxpayers download data they filed with the service, the IRS announced Tuesday.
No Wrongdoing at NCIS, Says Defense Watchdog
May 28, 2015
The U.S. Department of Defense's Inspector General has rejected allegations that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service engaged in questionable domestic intelligence activity. The finding concluded a DoD IG probe spurred by allegations that NCIS was making available to military intelligence agencies its Law Enforcement Information Exchange, a database of 506.3 million law enforcement records.
Putting the EU's E-Commerce Puzzle Together
May 27, 2015
A substantial number of Europeans shop online, but few make purchases outside their own country. The European Commission aims to change that through a broad initiative to create a Digital Single Market for the European Union, announced earlier this month. One of the 16 steps the EC has taken toward achieving that goal is undertaking an antitrust investigation of the e-commerce sector.
Hush! Everybody's Listening!
May 27, 2015
Americans have been spied on by their own government for far longer than most realized, it turns out, and the United States National Security Agency's surveillance activities are just the tip of the iceberg. The FBI, which repeatedly has expressed dismay at Google and Apple securing their mobile OSes reportedly has become a major player in administering the NSA's warrantless surveillance program.
Are Feds Losing the Cybersecurity Fight?
May 27, 2015
U.S. government agencies have invested time, effort and significant funding in the last several years to meet the challenges of cybersecurity threats, but the payoff has been disappointing, according to a report from the ISC2 Foundation. As part of its seventh Global Information Security Workforce Study, the foundation included a section that involved a survey of 1,800 federal IT professionals.
Charter, TWC Merger Could Be Fine With Feds
May 26, 2015
Charter Communications on Tuesday announced a deal to acquire and merge with Time Warner Cable, and also reaffirmed its commitment to buy Bright House Networks. The $56 billion cash-and-stock acquisition, if regulators give it a nod, will result in a merger of Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable under a new parent company called "New Charter." The deal values TWC at $78.7 billion.
Spy Agencies Planned to Corrupt Google Play
May 22, 2015
The United States and its leading Western allies, known as the "Five Eyes," reportedly planned to hack into smartphones through their links to Google and Samsung's app stores. They wanted to infect apps with spyware and find ways to send misinformation to targets, according to documents released to the media by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Americans Hate Surveillance, Love Privacy: Report
May 21, 2015
Americans are deeply troubled by surveillance, data collection and the security of their data that's held by government agencies and private companies. The combined results of two Pew surveys suggest that the vast majority consider it important to be in control of their information. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents didn't want someone to watch or listen to them without their permission.
Russia Aims to Build US-Free Mobile OS
May 20, 2015
Russia wants to develop alternatives to proprietary or partly closed mobile operating systems by using open source tools as a foundation, Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Nikolay Nikiforov said last week. "Success would make a fairly significant impact on the go-to market plans of numerous IT vendors," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
DoJ Calls On Private Sector to Strengthen Cybersecurity
May 20, 2015
The Justice Department is stepping up its program to engage more actively with the private sector on dealing with cybercrime and cybersecurity breaches. "We in government know that we cannot go it alone in fighting cybercrime. We need a strong partnership with you in the private sector," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said at a recent Cybersecurity Industry Roundtable.
Researcher's Airplane-Hacking Claims May Not Fly
May 19, 2015
A security researcher who last month bragged he'd hacked into a passenger jet's internal computer systems while in flight appears to have performed the act more than a dozen times over a three-year period. Chris Roberts, founder and CTO of One World Labs, told FBI investigators earlier this year that he'd hacked into the flight systems of commercial passenger aircraft from 15-20 times.
Feds Value - but Don't Always Use - Big Data Tools for Cybersecurity
May 13, 2015
U.S. government agencies can significantly improve their ability to deal with cybersecurity problems by utilizing big data analytics. However, agencies are finding it difficult to fully benefit from these advanced analytical tools for a variety of reasons -- including dealing with the sheer volume of data. Cyberthreats hide in plain sight, suggests a recent report from MeriTalk.
The US Government vs. E-Commerce
May 12, 2015
"The chief business of the American people is business," President Calvin Coolidge said. Although that has become the country's rubric, lawmakers in the United States aren't inclined to give business free rein. The Justice Department last month trumpeted its first online marketing prosecution: the leveling of felony charges against David Topkins, a former executive of Art.com, for alleged price-fixing.
FAA's Next-Generation Air Transportation System Falters
May 11, 2015
The United States Federal Aviation Administration last week came under fire once again for problems with the implementation of its troubled Next Generation Air Transportation System. The NextGen program to overhaul the U.S. national air traffic control system, estimated to cost $29 billion between 2013 and 2030, long has been the target of congressional wrath.
Federal Appeals Court Rules NSA's Phone Data-Vacuuming Illegal
May 7, 2015
A U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled, in essence, that the NSA's collection of metadata concerning Americans' communications is illegal. The court vacated U.S. District Judge William Pauley's December 2013 ruling in ACLU v. Clapper, and remanded the case to the lower court. "The Second Circuit found the government incorrect in many of its arguments," said ACLU Staff Attorney Patrick Toomey.
Supreme Court to Hear 'Non-Injury' Privacy Class Action
May 6, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court last month granted a request from Spokeo, a data aggregator, to consider whether the legal basis litigants must meet to file a claim in federal court should be broadly or narrowly defined. In the case, Spokeo, Inc. v. Thomas Robins, Thomas Robins is a resident of Virginia acting individually and as representative of a class.
Feds Get Forward-Looking IT Procurement Advice
May 1, 2015
Federal agencies need to change course in handling IT spending quickly, particularly in reversing the inertia behind longstanding conflicts between CIOs and CFOs over the procurement of IT resources, according to IDC Government Insights Research Director Shawn McCarthy. Government IT managers need to focus on the advantages of newer technologies, suggested Gartner Research Director Rick Howard.
Other Shoe Drops in White House Security Breach
April 28, 2015
Last year's breach of unclassified White House computer systems reportedly was far more intrusive than initially thought and included the theft of some presidential correspondence. No classified systems were compromised, including the servers that control message traffic from the president's BlackBerry. However, much of the information the unclassified servers handle is considered sensitive.

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