State-Federal collaboration is going to be essential in combating state and local cyber threats, according to witnesses at a cybersecurity congressional hearing. “States have constantly ranked their cyber capabilities among the lowest capabilities,” said Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y. “What is preventing us from reaching an appropriate level of cybersecurity?” […]

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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NASA’s progress meeting the requirements of FITARA has been anything but out of this world. Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voiced disappointment at the mediocre progress made by most agency chief information officers, but NASA, arguably the most high-tech of all Federal agencies, was the only one to receive an F.






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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.






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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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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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There are wide discrepancies in satisfaction among Federal employees at various agencies, and Congress wants to know why. “We don’t have a culture of performance recognition in government,” Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, told the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Hearing.






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Dave Powner, director of IT issues at the Government Accountability Office, profiled the upcoming agency scorecard on FITARA and discussed the Federal government’s continuing difficulties with data center consolidation and legacy IT modernization.






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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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Cyber Command’s influence may not be as expansive as some think, according to its commander, Adm. Michael Rogers. “The Department of Defense is not resourced, nor is it tasked with defending every single computer structure in the U.S.,” he said.






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The Federal government is looking for ways to put the hammer down on health care data blockers and data hackers. As voluntary compliance isn’t working, Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, told a congressional hearing that she has called for funding to “put some teeth around” going after data blockers.






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The fledgling cyber insurance industry may hold the key to improving cybersecurity practices across the nation, according to a panel of experts who testified Tuesday before a House subcommittee. “The expansion of cyber risks and the growth of the cyber insurance market are a tremendous opportunity for the insurance sector to lead in the development […] […]

HealthCare.gov had a rocky rollout, but future Federal tech projects could learn a lot from its trials and successes, according to Erin Bliss at the HHS Office of Inspector General. She testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee alongside Seto Bagdoyan, the director of forensic audits at GAO.






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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a Senate committee that the agency plans to use the final months of the Obama administration and the fiscal 2017 budget request to kick-start and expand a new operational focus on data and cybersecurity.






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FBI Director James Comey endured tough questioning by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on whether the FBI had pursued every alternative to accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s phone before going to Apple, which has challenged a Federal court order that would force the company to unlock the phone.






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In a national security hearing on worldwide threats, FBI Director James Comey defended the FBI’s demands that Apple provide access to the phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.






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Encryption was a hot issue this week. FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee about the struggle of both counter-terrorism and law enforcement efforts in accessing information on encrypted devices, such as cellphones. And Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, introduced the ENCRYPT Act as a means of combating the push for decryption.






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