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What a Former NSA Deputy Director Thinks of the Snowden Movie

By John Breeden II // 11:59 AM ET

Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the National Security Agency
Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the National Security Agency // Charles Dharapak/AP File Photo

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

The new Oliver Stone film, "Snowden," promises to tell the true story of contractor Edward Snowden in his quest to expose a National Security Agency program that could allegedly track all forms of digital communication. Even with my limited perspective as a journalist who covered that event, I knew enough to spot dozens of historical and technical inaccuracies while watching the film. But I wanted to see just how badly the facts were mangled, so I sat down with Chris Inglis, who was the deputy director of the NSA during the incident.

“The film was grossly incorrect technically, but that was not the most egregious thing about the movie,” Inglis said. “It’s that it was spiritually incorrect. It was well wide of conveying a true sense of how the NSA purports itself, on what its role was and on what Snowden’s role was.”

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The Government Technology Pitch

By Luke Fretwell // September 20, 2016

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Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity and advises civic leaders and businesses on how to best leverage digital strategies to create more effective, collaborative governments. 

Crisis has a history of dictating government technology disruption. We’ve seen this with the anticipation of Soviet Union aerospace and military dominance that sparked the emergence of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as with the response to 9/11 and subsequent establishment of the Homeland Security Department.

And, of course, there’s the ongoing, seemingly invisible crisis around security expediting an infusion of public-sector funding, particularly in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management breach that exposed the personal records of millions of federal employees and government contractors.

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The HealthCare.gov launch debacle is the most recent and referenced example of crisis spawning government technology progress. The federal government woke to the issues surrounding outdated digital practices—from procurement to technical—and quickly launched two startups of its own: 18F and the U.S. Digital Service.

The failings of HealthCare.gov and subsequent creation of 18F...

The Inside Job: How to Stop Attacks from Within

By Mari Frank // September 19, 2016

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Mari Frank is an attorney and certified privacy expert and the author of the “Identity Theft Survival Kit,” “Safe Guard Your Identity,” “From Victim to Victor,” and “The Guide to Recovering from Identify Theft.” This column has been written on the behalf of the Visual Privacy Advisory Council.

A stable employee base has become a thing of the past for many companies as workforces undergo dramatic changes:

  • Many jobs today are filled by contract or temporary workers. Nearly 26 percent of the average company’s workforce is now contingent in some sense, according to Aberdeen Group.
  • A steady and significant workforce exodus is underway, with roughly 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day from 2011 to 2030, according to Pew Research Center. 
  • The younger workers taking the place of retiring workers are less likely to be long-term employees. The median tenure of workers aged 25 to 34 is three years, significantly down from 10.4 years for workers aged 55 to 64, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

These factors, combined with increased globalization, have led to workforces less familiar with each other and less loyal to their companies. And while this shouldn’t provide cause for companies...

Alexa, How Can Government Adopt Artificial Intelligence Faster?

By Dave Egts // September 16, 2016

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Dave Egts is chief technologist, North America public sector at Red Hat.

Artificial intelligence showed a lot of promise decades ago when many thought expert systems and fuzzy logic would be used everywhere. Unfortunately, that didn't quite come to fruition, largely because the concepts were ahead of their time.

Today, AI is a reality. We use it at home (the aforementioned Alexa, or Apple’s Siri) and at work (so-called smart machines that do everything from monitoring social media traffic to providing second opinions for cancer treatments).

This proliferation is thanks to complementary enabling big data analysis, exa-scale storage, and cloud technologies that cost effectively assist AI algorithms with highly scalable methods to quickly access and analyze massive data sets.

As AI technologies become more and more popular, startups are getting acquired and integrated as software-as-a-service offerings from a small number of large companies like Google, Salesforce, IBM and others.

And as AI moves to SaaS, some government agencies and workloads may miss out on the benefits because of security and privacy requirements, which may put the government at a disadvantage compared to commercial counterparts and consumers.

For instance, many commercial and government IT enterprises take advantage of predictive...

Combating Hackers with Multimodal Biometrics

By J. Kevin Reid // September 15, 2016

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J. Kevin Reid is vice president of national security and CIO at KeyLogic Systems, Inc.

Even the most tech savvy individuals aren’t immune to hackers.

As we become more and more reliant on mobile devices and applications to store sensitive data, the possibility of cyberattacks is always present. This concern is amplified for the federal government, as federal agencies are constantly tasked with combating insider threats and breaches by foreign adversaries.

To mitigate the risk of these threats, whether it’s on soil or in the cyberspace, governments around the world are using multimodal biometrics as a common mode of identification tracking. Here in the United States, the federal government has furthered this initiative by investing heavily in high-quality capture devices for everything from fingerprints to voice recognition to iris scans.

This investment is not unique to this country, as a recent study found the global biometrics market is projected to become a $21.9 billion industry by 2020. While federal agencies have been able to use biometrics to protect its board and networks, the continued growth of the technology presents a new set of challenges. As anyone involved with cybersecurity can attest, adversaries are always hunting for ways...