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Aliya Sternstein

Senior Correspondent

Aliya Sternstein reports on cybersecurity and homeland security systems. She’s covered technology for more than a decade at such publications as National Journal's Technology Daily, Federal Computer Week and Forbes. Before joining Government Executive, Sternstein covered agriculture and derivatives trading for Congressional Quarterly. She’s been a guest commentator on C-SPAN, MSNBC, WAMU and Federal News Radio. Sternstein is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Most Federal Agencies Wouldn’t Be Able to Bounce Back from a Sony Hack

December 18, 2014 A file-wiping attack such as the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack could bring major federal departments to their knees, because most have no data-loss contingency plans, according to the latest figures on compliance with government cybersecurity laws. Further, unplugging systems to contain damage, as Sony did, would impair an agency’s ability ...

Why the US Doesn't Immediately Halt Hackers During an Attack

December 17, 2014 Some recently hacked agencies let attackers stay inside their networks for a bit before booting them out. Likely, there was a method to this madness – and it's called the “honeypot” trap. While no agency wants to be breached, in some cases, intrusions provide rare glimpses into an adversary's modus ...

Should Agencies Ever Let Hackers Rummage through Government Networks?

December 16, 2014 Some recently hacked agencies let attackers stay inside their networks for a bit before booting them out. Likely, there was a method to this madness – and it's called the “honeypot” trap. While no agency wants to be breached, in some cases, intrusions provide rare glimpses into an adversary's modus ...

Agencies Mold Regulations around ‘Voluntary’ Cyber Standards

December 15, 2014 Federal regulators are adapting voluntary cybersecurity standards to suit industries they oversee, for what could pan out to be requirements. Boat owners became the latest "critical infrastructure" industry that might be obliged to follow certain steps for identifying, thwarting and recovering from a network breach. The voluntary "Framework for Improving ...

Congress Strengthens Homeland Security's Cyber Role with FISMA Reform, Other Bills

December 11, 2014 Lawmakers have sent a raft of cyber legislation to President Barack Obama's desk, breaking through a six-year logjam. No doubt congressional action was spurred on by escalating intrusions into government and contractor networks. In a move backed by the White House, but not necessarily all Pentagon hawks, each of the ...

Real-Life ‘Criminal Minds’ Team Tries to Root Out Rogue Federal Employees

December 10, 2014 The term “insider threat” describes everything from government employees who snap on the job and commit violence to those who leak national secrets. But researchers say using technology to detect otherwise hidden behavioral patterns could help federal managers screen out mischief-makers of all stripes. Moreover, they could do so within ...

Torture Report: Seized Computers, Not Waterboarding, Thwarted Would-be Bomber

December 9, 2014 A British terror plotter whom the CIA used as a poster child for the effectiveness of torture, actually was thwarted by foreign authorities and confiscated computers, according to revelations in a Senate report on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. The report asserts the information that brought down Dhiren Barot, alias "Issa ...

DHS Cyber Program Repels Threats in Real Time

December 9, 2014 CenturyLink has begun automatically blocking malicious operations on federal networks, under a controversial Department of Homeland Security program that monitors Internet traffic governmentwide. The progress comes after delays due to contract negotiations. DHS in 2013 tapped five telecommunications companies to computerize threat deflection, including major players AT&T and Verizon. CenturyLink ...

Hackers Game Stocks, Target Hollywood Union and Pocket Medical Data

December 7, 2014 In case you missed our coverage this week in ThreatWatch, Nextgov’s regularly updated index of cyber breaches: Before Intruders Ransacked Sony Pictures, Some Hackers Went After Hollywood’s Biggest Union ART Payroll, a company that handles residual payments for actors and others who belong to SAG-AFTRA, notified clients last week of ...

No More FOUO: Government Plans to Simplify Labeling of Sensitive Information

December 5, 2014 The Obama administration is expected to issue a proposed rule to require agencies to stop labeling sensitive data with dozens of classification markings -- and to call it all by one name, federal officials say. Right now, there are around 120 different designations for information that does not reach the ...