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What’s Missing in the Encryption, Privacy and Security Debate

By Darren Guccione // February 3, 2016

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Darren Guccione is CEO of Keeper Security.

Currently, there is a heated ongoing debate among politicians, government agencies and technology providers regarding the use of encryption and whether law enforcement agencies should have a so-called backdoor into encrypted devices in order to track down and prosecute criminals and terrorists.

This debate also opens up the topic of consumer privacy. U.S. citizens are concerned the government is spying on their activities if they do insert these backdoors into mobile devices. As individuals and employees increasingly use their phones to access data, visit websites, message their friends, conduct e-commerce transactions and much more, there is a rush to ensure data remains secure and encrypted so privacy can be maintained.

One question that has gone unaddressed, however, is why there are no established industry standards for securing mobile devices? We have industry standards for just about everything else -- why not in providing secure devices?

As we continues to grapple with these issues, there are four key considerations surrounding the secure design of mobile devices we should keep in mind in both a government and private sector context.

Security must be built into mobile devices from the outset. Ensuring a baseline level of...

7 Steps to Faster Transformation in Government

By Chris Steel // February 2, 2016

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Chris Steel is chief solutions architect for Software AG Government Solutions

The need for transformation in government is a constant. This year, the focus will be on finding the necessary IT capabilities for “faster” transformation, as agencies realize their existing IT models are not capable of fully supporting their mission.  

While government transformation can’t happen quickly enough for most, many agencies are still struggling with where to focus their efforts. For 2016, we are predicting seven key agency transformations:

Everything will be hybrid. The complexity of increasing cloud adoption and the need for increased innovation to build digital apps will force IT to explore different cloud options. Agencies will start adopting hybrid cloud, hybrid integration and even managed cloud solutions. Agencies will move away from pure public/private cloud solutions to true hybrid cloud solutions. Instead of trying to migrate to public and private cloud options, agency IT will increasingly explore other models for flexibility, security and control of their data.

APIs will get their SWAGGER back. The Swagger API framework is becoming the de facto standard and initiatives like Open API are further standardizing the role of Swagger in API development. We predict that Swagger will gain further...

So, You’re Starting Up a Tech Pilot Project? Follow These 5 Steps.

By Nolan Jones // January 27, 2016

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Nolan Jones is director of innovation at NIC Inc.

Government policies and ambiguity about value have tempered new technology adoption in federal agencies.

But while government unquestionably has security issues to contemplate and may be challenged both with staying abreast of technological innovations and with discerning the differences between competing technologies, the potential for new technologies to expand and streamline constituent services, reduce costs, and increase productivity and efficiency is becoming increasingly evident.

One of the best approaches for implementing new technologies is to start with a pilot, or proof-of-concept, project. Before commencing a pilot project intended to demonstrate the value of a new technology, federal agencies should consider these five best practices.

1. Keep it small and cheap.

Pilot projects shouldn’t be overloaded with too many requirements or weighed down by the need for a large investment in technology. The goal of the pilot is not necessarily to demonstrate exactly how a technology can be used in a full-blown project, but rather to identify that technology’s issues and potential opportunities.

For example, if an agency thinks 3-D printing could be useful, it is best served by starting with a small proof-of-concept project that leverages a cheaper, hobby-level...

Why Agencies Must Take a 'Security First' Approach in 2016

By Dave Egts // January 26, 2016

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Dave Egts is chief technologist in Red Hat's U.S. public sector. 

While cybersecurity has always been a hot-button issue for the government, certain events from last year promise that, in 2016, security concerns have the potential to skyrocket beyond anything we’ve seen before.

The questions, of course, are what is being done – and what else can be done?

In 2015, the Office of Personnel Management data breach moved security from a front-of-mind topic mainly for chief information security officers and security professionals to a front-of-mind issue for millions of government employees, contractors and their families.

Indeed, this time it was personal, not just a faceless attack on a government server. The OPM breach made it clear that security breaches can put individuals – not just agencies – at risk.

As the scope of the OPM breach became clear, the government moved to take action. In fact, we have already started to see changes in the government’s approach to cybersecurity, and those changes are impressive.

As Tony Scott, U.S. chief information officer, wrote on the White House blog, the Office of Management and Budget launched a 30-day Cybersecurity Sprint, building on the administration’s “whole-of-government” strategy, to assess...

Don’t Ask for Permission to Use Agile. Just Start Doing It.

By Robert Read // January 25, 2016

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Robert L. Read is a computer scientist, author, consultant and inventor, currently attempting to meld the Maker movement, open source and hardware invention into a movement for invention in the public interest called public invention. He was a Presidential Innovation Fellow in 2013 and co-­founded 18F and 18F Consulting. Twitter: @RobertLeeRead

Government program managers who want to pass on to the taxpayers the benefits of agile software development face some challenges that stem from noble intentions to avoid waste, fraud and abuse or the accusation thereof:

● To avoid waste, government workers tend to be very risk­ averse. This tends to favor “big design up front," which ironically leads to much greater risk.

● Government workers tend not to invite the customers to see the sausage being made, but wait until the silver platter is ready. All too often, that means the customer never gets to eat at all.

● To avoid the appearance of impartiality, governments workers tend to avoid informal interaction with their customers. These attitudes are specifically opposed to the agile manifesto.

Government workers are under some pressure to do the wrong thing. Such as:

● To value processes over individuals to be able to justify choices;

● To value comprehensive...