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Here’s Why ‘Disrupting’ Government Is Such Hard Work

By Winston Chang // August 27, 2015

Photobank gallery/Shutterstock.com

Winston Chang is a director at The Ambit Group.

Government agencies can learn from leading commercial companies that have embraced a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship to transform their industries and ignite employee passion. These companies have proven that harnessing the innovation and passion cultivated by a startup culture can produce extraordinary effects.  

In startup cultures, developing and implementing innovative ideas are a badge of honor. Take Uber and Lyft. Their revolutionary service has disrupted the organizational, technological and process models embraced by the rigid taxi industry. Similar disruptive innovations have reshaped entire industries, from music distribution to energy production.

The government, however, cannot simply “disrupt” at will. Dramatic change may negatively affect many stakeholders, both in the public and private sector, producing unwanted repercussions.

Still, a balance is possible, where creativity and innovation can thrive alongside stability. The government can start to shift its workplace culture toward this balance by focusing on two key areas of entrepreneurial culture: embracing risk and igniting passion.

Entrepreneurs have a reputation for taking bold risks. A more accurate representation recognizes that entrepreneurs are experienced in managing and leveraging risk. They learn to fail quick and fail cheap. This strategy enables them to test...

Cracking Open Windows 10: Can Windows 10 Serve and Protect Government Users?

By John Breeden II // August 25, 2015

The Windows 10 start screen
The Windows 10 start screen // Microsoft

John Breeden II is an award-winning journalist and reviewer with over 20 years of experience covering technology and government. He is currently the CEO of the Tech Writers Bureau, a group that creates technological thought leadership content for organizations of all sizes. Twitter: @LabGuys

New operating systems are always a cause for concern among government users, especially because with most agencies, fancy new features and usability improvements take a back seat to simply getting the job done. This is especially true when those new features -- often embraced by consumers -- end up making government’s job more difficult or less secure. Such was the case with Windows 8 at a lot of agencies, and why Windows 10 has so many people worried.

I’ve been working with Windows 10 in my test lab as it developed, and am using it every day on a variety of platforms from a desktop to a notebook to a tablet. So I can tell you that moving from Windows 7, the last “traditional” operating system from Microsoft, to Windows 10 is not going to be as traumatic as when jumping from 7 to 8. Not by a long shot. And current Windows 8 users might...

With a Major Cybersecurity Job Shortage, We Must Act Like We Are at War

By Darren Guccione // August 24, 2015

Sangoiri/Shutterstock.com

Darren Guccione is CEO of Keeper Security.

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service revealed the data breach that happened in May via the agency’s “Get Transcript” program affected three times as many users as originally reported -- 334,000 accounts in all. The new information was discovered in a deeper analysis over a wider time period, and taxpayers who were potentially exposed will get letters from the IRS over the coming days.

This announcement comes on the heels of the massive OPM breach, shining a spotlight on the government’s failure to protect its networks. While the quantity of records hacked in the IRS breach pales in comparison to OPM, the type of information exposed is potentially just as damaging -- Social Security numbers, taxpayer ID numbers, work history, income sources -- all of these are available on IRS tax forms.

In both the OPM and IRS breaches, the government’s “lag-time” in fully discovering the impact was extremely drawn-out. The extent of the IRS data breach is just now becoming clear three months after it happened, while the OPM breach took the government four months to detect any hint of malicious activity. While thinking about these breaches, it’s important to look...

US Effort to Grab Data from Microsoft in Ireland Should Frighten All Firms Using the Cloud Overseas

By Jeff Gould // August 20, 2015

Jeff Gould is president of SafeGov.org and CEO and director of research at Peerstone Research.

Does your company have staff or facilities overseas? Do you use cloud services from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, DropBox and other leading providers? Then, in all likelihood some of your data is stored overseas, because in order to reduce network latency most of the big cloud providers now operate data centers in Europe and Asia in addition to the U.S.

In the wake of the Snowden revelations, many analysts predicted overseas customers would become hesitant to use cloud providers subject to U.S. jurisdiction. But these predictions have not come true.

According to recent financial results, the largest cloud providers – Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce in particular – are seeing surging growth in their cloud revenues. Amazon’s AWS alone will reap more than $8 billion this year, and is now growing at an 81 percent annual clip. Much of this growth is coming from abroad.

It appears then that Snowden’s impact on U.S. cloud providers may not be as big as feared – at least not yet. But many CIOs may not realize that other actions by the U.S. government could pose...

Two-Factor Is Better Than One: Celebrating Progressive Government IT

By Tony Busseri // August 4, 2015

kpatyhka/Shutterstock.com

Tony Busseri is CEO of Route1 Inc.

Sometimes, the darkest clouds produce the shiniest of silver linings. The data breach at the Office of Personnel Management announced in June was a terrible event, but it has been a major catalyst for positive change in regards to government cybersecurity practice.  

Federal officials have seized the opportunity to critically examine security standards, identify weak points and aggressively address them. The government is now leading the charge for secure mobility, especially with its planned rollout of mandatory two-factor authentication for all agencies.

A number of directives have been established that provide crystal clear guidelines for implementing a secure federal cyber strategy. The Office of Management and Budget, along with U.S. CIO Tony Scott, initiated a 30-day “cyber sprint” June 12, and a number of working groups are providing agencies with the requisite technical assistance to update security methodologies. There can no longer be any excuse for not keeping mobile data secure, and the government is taking the lead on patching critical vulnerabilities.  

Among those initiatives included in the cyber sprint was the mandatory implementation of smart card-based two-factor authentication across the federal workforce. This rollout stems from Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12...