Less than three months after a wave of negative feedback from industry forced the General Services Administration to revamp the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, a new MeriTalk survey shows for the first time that many government IT officials doubt the value of the program in its current form.

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Ransomware attacks, which the FBI estimated could cost the United States $1 billion this year, have “become a real plague on the Internet,” according to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. As these attacks are becoming more sophisticated and destructive, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary addressed whether law enforcement has the right tools to foil them.

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The sun could pose the largest digital security risk to U.S. critical infrastructure, according to witnesses at a House Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee. “All critical infrastructure sectors are at risk from EMP [electromagnetic pulse],” said Brandon Wales at DHS. […]

Applicants for Federal security clearances may want to double check their Twitter feeds, as agencies could soon be moving forward with investigations into applicants’ social media accounts. The biggest obstacle to these investigations, however, is not privacy concerns, but rather data security.

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A cyber vulnerability known to have existed as far back as October 2015 has led to a data breach at the General Services Administration’s 18F digital services organization, the GSA’s inspector general announced today.

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced a significant expansion of the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley-based experimental technology unit, including dedicated funding pipelines, a new partnership leadership structure, and plans to stand up a second unit in Boston.

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The General Services Administration will be partnering with the City Innovate Foundation, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and the U.S. Department of Commerce to create a 5,000-square-foot lab to foster technological collaboration between public and private entities. Called the Superpublic innovation lab, the project is designed to improve technological capabilities for city and state programs. […]

Many Americans’ electronically stored medical data is likely unsecured and inaccurate, according to panelists at the Health Datapalooza. “There are real-world consequences to medical data sharing,” said privacy and medical attorney Neal Eggeson.

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Analysis of big data is having a noticeable impact on reducing the opioid addiction epidemic in the U.S., according to panelists at the Health Datapalooza. “Having good surveillance has allowed us to stay ahead of what’s coming into our communities,” said Dana Quesinberry of Kentucky. […]

The 2016 Symantec Government Symposium is coming up on Aug. 30, and its Cyber Awards deadline is June 1. The Cyber Awards recognize individuals who show excellence and leadership in government cybersecurity through individual contributions to programs that protect critical data and systems. […]

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will be offering two awards with a total of $1.5 million in funding opportunities for projects that advance common standards designed to improve health information for both consumers and providers.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has contracted software company Ad Hoc to provide support for its Vets.gov site, which is designed to consolidate all of VA’s services in one area.

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The General Services Administration has announced the establishment of a third service branch, known as the Technology Transformation Service, that will be centered around GSA’s 18F digital service organization and will actively provide technology services to other government agencies.

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Department of Veterans Affairs Chief Information Officer LaVerne Council announced that Susan McHugh-Polley, the official who led the development of the VA’s enterprise cybersecurity strategy, is now the permanent deputy assistant secretary for Service, Delivery, and Engineering.

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cyber threat

Cyber criminal attack groups have increased their skills, staff, and resources in the past year, making their capabilities close to those of nation-state attackers, according to Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report . It provides an overview and analysis of the past year in global threat activity, including emerging trends in attacks, malicious code activity, phishing, and spam. […]

Internal Revenue Service cybersecurity is woefully inadequate, and Congress is to blame, according to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. “Congress has sat back and watched while criminals have come in and preyed on taxpayers,” Wyden said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

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The General Services Administration is pushing Congress to get behind a plan to establish a third service branch, known as the Technology Transformation Service, that would be centered around GSA’s 18F digital service organization and would actively help manage the $3.1 billion IT modernization fund proposed by the White House, MeriTalk has learned.

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If you are wondering what it’s going to take to get your agency in line with the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, known as FITARA, look no further. Joyce Hunter, the deputy chief information officer for policy and planning at the Department of Agriculture, has been there and has done that.

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The Federal Communications Commission announced new consumer broadband labels designed to give consumers better information about the price, service, and terms of different broadband services. The FCC receives more than 2,000 complaints a year about surprise Internet fees.

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The Agriculture Department’s Flip Anderson is the only known agency-level FITARA director–an indicator of both the level of importance USDA has assigned to the new law and the resources necessary to manage the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act compliance correctly.

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For FITARA to reach its full potential, Federal agencies must dissect the real problems and attract stronger CIOs, Dave Powner, Director of IT Issues at the Government Accountability Office, told MeriTalk’s FITARA Forum in Washington, D.C.

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Just 11 percent of Federal IT managers say their data centers are fully equipped to meet their agency’s current mission demands, according to a report by MeriTalk. The report, titled “Flash Forward–The Future of the Federal Data Center” and underwritten by Pure Storage, asked 150 Federal IT/data center professionals to predict and examine the future […]

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