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It’s Time for America to Protect its Cyber Borders

By Rick Orloff // March 15, 2017

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Rick Orloff is vice president, chief security officer and chief privacy officer at Code42.

On the heels of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the U.S. intelligence community released a report detailing the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election. While the report carried a lot of shock value, it wasn’t surprising. Governments have tried to alter elections outside their borders for hundreds of years, long before the internet existed. What’s new are the hacking techniques used to access the data, platforms such as WikiLeaks used to leak it, and the way we consume media in this digital age.

In a time where a major cyberattack or political leak is just part of the daily mainstream news, it’s more important than ever the U.S. is able to properly protect its “cyber borders,” government resources and critical infrastructure supporting more than 325 million Americans. There are measures in place, but the U.S. government needs sweeping changes to properly shore up its defenses.

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Currently, the Marine Corps has a cyberwarfare unit, but only a few mission teams...

Want to Keep More Women on the Path Toward IT Leadership? Here’s How.

By Kris van Riper and Kathryn Stewart // March 10, 2017

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Kris van Riper is a practice leader at CEB and Kathryn Stewart is a senior analyst at CEB.

Compared to other functions within the federal government, women are vastly underrepresented in IT leadership positions. According to the Office of Personnel Management, women currently represent 38 percent of all federal leaders. However, they represent just 28 percent of IT leaders at the GS-15 level and 23 percent of federal CIOs in Office of Management and Budget’s CIO Council.

This imbalance is problematic not only because of the internal signals it sends on federal diversity and inclusion priorities, but because it also creates a challenge in delivering externally on citizen services. As IT shifts from serving as builders of internal IT products toward builders of citizen-facing digital service experiences, it’s critical to have IT leaders reflect the citizens they serve.

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Through our research we have found challenges with retention significantly contribute to IT’s gender imbalance. Keeping women in technology fields is difficult. According to a study in Harvard Business Review, 56 percent of women in technology roles leave their employer mid-career. The most...

Redefining the Role of Federal CIO: The Enabler-in-Chief

By Jerad Speigel // March 9, 2017

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Jerad Speigel is CEO of Phase One.

As President Donald Trump formalizes his tech team and the administration’s tech agenda, one of the most pressing questions within federal IT circles has come to a close center on modernization—will federal technology continue down the path to transformation? Early indications from the new Trump administration are positive, ranging from a series of remarks made by the president’s senior advisers, as well as early drafts of tech-related executive orders.

The Trump administration has a “once in a generation” opportunity to launch a radical transformation of IT systems. The forces of technology, political will, mission needs and cyber woes have led to this moment when IT transformation has its best chance to succeed in decades. Previous administrations had the will, but not the technology availability. Furthermore, today’s cyber and cost challenges force all our hands to move swiftly to a newly designed era of federal IT.

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The key is that transformation of systems will not be done in the same architectural model of the past. Today’s expensive, outdated IT systems were built in...

Some Alleged CIA Hacking Tools—Like Apps That Turn Smart TVs into Spies—Do Exist

By John Breeden II // March 8, 2017

REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock.com

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

There is still a lot we don’t know regarding the WikiLeaks exposure of CIA cybersecurity documents this week. Many have suggested the documents may not be true or may have been tampered with before posting. And of course, everyone is wondering what the ramifications of such a revelation will be in terms of the CIA’s ability conduct its spycraft in the future. Some of the spying methods described in the documents may seem impossible, but I can attest that at least on that point, many of the tools described by the 8,000 documents do in fact exist.

According to what has been released so far, the CIA, through its Remote Devices Branch called UMBRAGE, maintains a library of hacking tools it has “stolen” from other groups. It goes on to explain the CIA can use the tools to compromise iOS and Android phones, and smart TVs, turning them into listening devices. It’s...

When Can Your Tweet, Text or Calls Cost You Your Job?

By Sarah McKinin // March 8, 2017

Castleski/Shutterstock.com

Sarah McKinin is a senior associate at the Federal Practice Group.

In an era of unprecedented crackdown on government “leaks,” it is important to be cognizant of both your rights and obligations as a federal employee. Recently, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer gave the green light on random phone searches, leaving many government employees to question the legality of such a directive and wonder whether they would need to comply if faced with a similar order at their own agencies.

The short answer is that, regardless of the legality of the directive you should comply first, and then exercise your rights.

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As a federal employee, you are under an obligation to comply with the lawful directives, orders and/or instructions of those within your chain of command. Even if you have reason to believe a phone search directive, order or instruction violates your rights in some way, the safest approach is to first comply, and then complain about the matter after the fact.

The Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent quasi-judicial agency that regularly reviews disciplinary actions against federal employees, has historically lacked...

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