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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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The Cell Phone-Monitoring Agency You’ve Never Heard Of

April 21, 2016 A federal agency dedicated to monitoring cellular network traffic was watching last December as calls flooded San Bernardino 911 dispatchers. Nope, not the National Security Agency or the Federal Communications Commission. It was the National Coordinating Center for Communications, an obscure part of the Homeland Security Department. NCC “had a...

Juniper Code Hack Remains a Whodunit

April 20, 2016 The coding hack in Juniper communications technology popular within the federal government is still a whodunit after two hours of congressional testimony. We do not know where the unauthorized code found in the company's IT firewalls and virtual private networks came from. We do not know if bad guys squeezed...

How Far Did the Juniper Hack Go? ‘Some of That Gear Was in Place for Years,’ DHS Official Says

April 19, 2016 Within a month of the discovery of a potential spying hole in widely used Juniper networking tools, federal agencies identified which of their critical operations were affected. But the possibility remains that hackers tapped U.S. government communications before that scavenger hunt, a top Homeland Security Department official said Tuesday. Tomorrow,...

Do Americans Support Weakening Encryption? It Might Depend When You Ask.

April 18, 2016 After the Paris terrorist attacks, most Americans sided with the feds in a push to require that companies provide the U.S. government access to the contents of people's encrypted data for national security purposes, according to the Centre for International Governance Innovation. Yet, at the same time, U.S. citizens voiced...

Hackers Attack Baltimore Personnel & Turner Construction Workers; FDIC Worker Accidentally Walks Out With Data

April 18, 2016 In case you missed our coverage this week in ThreatWatch, Nextgov’s regularly updated index of cyber breaches Fraudsters Stole Data on Baltimore City Employees The security breach was detected when a "few dozen" city employees attempted to file tax returns and were rejected, according to officials. Every employee, retiree and...

New US Cyber Commission Tries to Find a Seat for Government at the Table

April 15, 2016 At the first assembly of a shiny new U.S. commission on cybersecurity, members were already debating how to thaw the relationship between the federal government and the best minds in data protection. Silicon Valley firms "think government is the enemy,” said Commissioner Herb Lin, a senior cybersecurity researcher at Stanford...

If You Are in Debt, the IRS Might Have Leaked Your Social Security Number

April 13, 2016 Updated: On April 14, the IRS provided an explanation for the problem. The story has been updated to reflect the agency's comment. Over the past year, the Internal Revenue Service has tangled with crafty thieves who fooled its systems into spitting out valuable data. Now, the tax agency faces another...

GSA Quizzes Companies on Cyber Capabilities

April 12, 2016 The government's federal buying arm is quizzing industry about its cybersecurity offerings to give federal agencies more insight into the types of tools and technologies currently on the market that could help quash common cyberthreats. Feedback from contractors and information security experts to the General Services Administration "will help GSA...

Postal Service Agents Will Trawl Facebook, Dating Sites to Root Out Fraud

April 11, 2016 A dishonest Postal Service employee, citing a bad back, says she can’t lift a thing, files for workers’ compensation, collects a paycheck and stays home from work. A simple visit to her Facebook page, however, shows the purportedly injured employee lifting weights at a bodybuilding competition. That hypothetical situation comes...

'Hey Siri, Fire For Effect': US Army Seeks Voice-Controlled Gear

April 11, 2016 A soldier in a Humvee who needs access to a map of land mines does not have time to type in a 10-character password and insert a smartcard to prove to a device he is not a hacker. But increasingly, this is the upshot as the military tightens cybersecurity to...