A dubious honor for IRS.gov, cyber-training priorities, worldwide warrants and more

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

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Survey: IRS has worst government website

The Internal Revenue Service has made it to the top of the list -- the list of worst websites, that is.

According to a Nov. 7 AnswerDash survey, IRS.gov, Comcast.com and CenturyLink.com were this year's most frustrating websites for consumers. Across government websites, respondents said the IRS's website was the most frustrating while the once-troubled HealthCare.gov site earned a surprising rating as the easiest to use.

Other findings include Apple ousting Microsoft's website in usability, and Comcast taking home the trophy for the most frustrating website with 59 percent of the vote.

"We conducted this survey to provide companies with actionable insights around website usability, and the results are telling," AnswerDash CEO Jake Wobbrock said. "Companies face a huge opportunity to provide an intuitive online experience by including website support tools, such as Contextual FAQs, that reduce abandonment through improved user experience."

Norse and FireEye team up on DOE cyber program

Cyber intelligence firm Norse will provide the Energy Department with threat detection, mitigation and reporting services in a contract worth $1.9 million, the firm announced Nov. 6.

The work will be for DOE's Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program for electricity-sector firms, which the department introduced last year.

Network security firm FireEye will also be in on the Norse project, providing hardware to support Norse's detection, mitigation and reporting services. Norse will give DOE access to its cloud-based cyber intelligence services as part of the contract, the firm said.

IT poll: Cyber training a priority

Investing in training to prevent cyber security threats is a priority for more than 60 percent of federal civilian and defense/military organizations, according to a new poll of federal IT professionals.

A survey released by the Fort Meade Alliance in late October said almost 70 percent of government IT decision-makers polled in the study agreed end users are aware of agency security policies, but a third of those surveyed said they considered a lack of training an obstacle to preventing cyber threats.

The study also found that employee training to detect insider threats is among the top investment priorities for those it questioned, and training is a significantly higher investment priority for defense agencies, compared with civilian agencies.

The Fort Meade Alliance is a 501(c)4 non-profit independent community organization created to promote and support the Maryland installation, related organizations and surrounding areas. The Army installation is home to the Defense Information School, the Defense Media Activity, and is the headquarters of U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, the Defense Courier Service, and Defense Information Systems Agency.

Privacy groups blast DOJ proposal on computer searches

Privacy groups are criticizing a Justice Department proposal to make it easier to remotely search computers.

The proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure would allow a judge to issue a warrant for the FBI to hack into computers regardless of where the computer is located, critics say. A regulatory body known as the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules heard testimony from technology experts on the potential rule change on Nov. 5.

The proposed amendment "would have the effect of making it easier for law enforcement to remotely break into and search computers worldwide when the computer's location is concealed," Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, wrote in a blog post. Rather than changing criminal procedure in an "obscure forum," Congress should debate the issue, argues Hall, who was a witness at the Nov. 5 hearing.