Following a House hearing on the cyber workforce shortage, the Department of Homeland Security released information about cyber training programs.






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The Department of Transportation announced the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program on Oct. 25, which is an initiative to safely test and validate advanced operations for drones in partnership with state and local governments.






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Cybersecurity experts offered solutions to protect the U.S. electric grid, including moving the grid off of the public Internet, and using quantum encryption capabilities. “The nation’s electrical grid is a vital resource upon which our economy and our citizens’ daily lives depend,” said Richard Raines, director of the Electrical and Electronics Systems Research Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “It is also a system that is highly vulnerable to cyber intrusions as more and more utility controls and ‘smart’ technologies rely on public Internet connections.”






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Product managers at the U.S. Digital Service said that policy and operations teams should work together at Federal agencies to ensure that new technologies affect users in the way that policies intend. Natalie Kates, product manager at USDS, is working with Health and Human Service’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on building the Quality Payment Program website.






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The White House announced that John Zangardi will serve as the new chief information officer for the Department of Homeland Security. Zangardi is currently serving as the acting CIO at the Department of Defense. He is leaving the DoD to replace Richard Staropoli, who unexpectedly resigned as DHS CIO in August.






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Agencies are looking at ways to secure the edge of their systems in order to support a more mobile workforce. “The edge is where the mission happens,” said Max Everett, CIO of the Department of Energy. “We’re in the midst of a transformation. It’s modernization with a plan.”






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FirstNet released its Tribal Consultation Policy, which outlines the consultation process FirstNet will use with tribal nations regarding the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network. The new policy will give tribes an avenue to express their public safety needs through a nation-to-nation relationship between FirstNet and the 567 Federally recognized tribes, according to a FirstNet release.






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The Department of Homeland Security’s deputy chief technology officer, Robert Palmer, announced plans to leave the agency, DHS confirmed.






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The Department of Homeland Security published tips on Staying Safe in a ‘Smart’ World, which tells citizens how to navigate an environment full of the Internet of Things.






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Jeff T.H. Pon, the nominee for director of the Office of Personnel Management, said that his top priority for the agency will be IT modernization. “Outside of work, Federal employees are able to access nearly any piece of information they need, from their bank accounts to student loans to car insurance, all on their phone,” he said. “We need to work toward providing the employees of the Federal government with the same conveniences with regards to their employment within the Federal government, with appropriate attention to information security.”






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The Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate is standing up shared Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation cloud security resources for small agencies. “That’s a rock star idea that’s coming to a government near you,” said Jeffrey Eisensmith, chief information security officer for DHS.






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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., told Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Oct. 18 that he has found it impossible to talk to anyone from the Department of Justice about cybersecurity legislation. Whitehouse said during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee that intelligence officials have told the committee that the election systems could be hacked by foreign actors. Whitehouse is interested in working with different agencies to develop legislation on cybersecurity.






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The Department of Homeland Security met with the Election Infrastructure Coordinating Council to discuss risk management tactics for election cybersecurity. The council is working to build partnerships to keep election systems secure.






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The new administration has left little doubt that consolidation is a top priority. The first budget calls for deep cuts across most agencies. If achieved, these reductions are likely to put the squeeze on already stressed IT budgets. The search for creative solutions can and must intensify. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is pursuing a hybrid cloud model that will simultaneously address optimization, security and budget priorities—blazing a trail for other Federal agencies to follow.






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The FBI needs access to encrypted files in order to protect the nation against cyber crime, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “Encryption is essential,” Rosenstein said “It is a foundational element of data security and authentication. It is central to the growth and flourishing of the digital economy. We in law enforcement have no desire to undermine encryption. But ‘warrant-proof’ encryption poses a serious problem.”






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