recommended reading

Postal Service Prepares to Sell Email Encryption

Robert Ray/AP file photo

As reports of mail workers monitoring letters surfaced this summer, the U.S. Postal Service was applying to trademark merchandise aimed at preventing snoops -- outside the government -- from hacking online communications. The potential product line underscores the struggle agencies face in balancing privacy and national security -- all while trying to keep the government funded.

One brand name filed Sept. 6, "United States Postal Service Digital Services,” would consist of, among other things, “tamper-detection capabilities" for safeguarding electronic documents, audio and videos.

A more generic "United States Digital Services” trademark, submitted for consideration on Aug. 16, would include fax transmissions "featuring encryption and decryption."

The name also would cover "electronic mail services in the field of financial transactions,” which presumably could generate Wall Street sales for an agency that has lost $3.9 billion so far this fiscal year.

The filing proposes verifying the identities of people transmitting information -- and, vice versa, confirming intended recipients have received unadulterated information -- through a practice called "security printing.” The technique codes identification information on valuable documents and products. 

These privacy services could potentially make it harder for the Postal Service to fulfill another of its missions -- to fight mail fraud.

The New York Times in July reported: "Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States.” USPS personnel log the items so they can "retrace the path of mail" at the request of the FBI, according to the newspaper. 

As paper mail goes the way of the Pony Express, the Postal Service is looking to enter more digital media markets, including the ID industry. The agency, for example, is managing a governmentwide trial to see if citizens can securely access online services at multiple agencies without having to re-enter personal information or remember multiple passwords. 

In August, USPS officials awarded Canada-based SecureKey Technologies Inc. a $15 million one-year contract to build the "Federal Cloud Credentialing Exchange."

The network is part of a larger White House privacy initiative, called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, that is planning a worldwide online login network, where computer users can access any number of accounts using the same credentials. 

Join us at Nextgov Prime Oct. 15-16 in Washington for indepth discussions about cloud computing, data security and much more. Registration is free for federal employees.

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion / Software vulnerability

Hundreds of Thousands of Job Seekers' Information May Have Been Compromised by Hackers

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.