What’s New This Week:
Suspicious Activity Detected
As the Pentagon’s Cyber Command began its first operation to prevent Russian election meddling, the U.S. was also dealing with an outbreak of security threats close to home. Law enforcement was on high alert after numerous suspicious packages were sent to prominent liberals, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Robert De Niro.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department and its digital team, the Defense Digital Service, has been busy addressing data security with a $34 million expansion of the Hack the Pentagon bug bounty program. The agencies awarded additional contracts to cybersecurity firms HackerOne, Synack, and Bugcrowd. The initial program challenged hackers to find vulnerabilities in the Pentagon’s public-facing websites. Now with additional support from cybersecurity firms, hackers will search for vulnerabilities in the Pentagon’s hardware and physical systems.
The Defense Digital Service is also actively recruiting cybersecurity professionals. The agency just opened a new office in Augusta, Georgia, at the Georgia Cyber Center—in close proximity to the Army Cyber Command and Georgia’s top universities. The new office was dubbed “Tatooine” after the desert planet in Star Wars—which is seemingly a regular source of inspiration for federal agencies (JEDI comes to mind). Tatooine could become a “beacon for technical talent across the military,” according to the agency. BGOV’s Chris Cornillie explains more in this week’s exclusive story.
Since data security and privacy go hand in hand, here are some other developments from the past week…
Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered a fervent speech at a conference in Brussels, calling for better digital privacy laws in the U.S. Cook warned that basic information is now being “weaponized against us with military efficiency.” Cook, who sees a need for stronger federal regulation, also praised the EU’s success with the General Data Protection Regulation in safeguarding personal information collected by companies.
Congress is sifting through at least three bills that deal with data privacy at the moment, and lawmakers expect the issue to continue being the focus of policy discussions. At the same time, the Federal Trade Commission is under scrutiny for not being able to deal with new problems related to online privacy. Critics believe the FTC needs to come up with new ways of policing the tech industry and other data collectors.
There’s more where that came from, so keep reading.
“We are setting our best technical warfighters against our toughest problems with support and training from our Defense Digital Service software engineers and experts.”
—Chris Lynch, director of the Defense Digital Service
Read more in this week’s exclusive from Bloomberg Government.
In the Cloud
Lawmakers Call for JEDI Investigation
After all the controversy surrounding the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud contract, JEDI has now crossed over to the dark side with lawmakers. Two officials have voiced their concern that the government’s requirements for JEDI seem to favor one specific contractor. Read more.
Homeland Security Rethinks Cyber Threat Detection
Homeland Security has tapped cloud companies to develop a new sensor concept that can recognize cyber threats without “relying on a series of chokepoints,” according to Jeanette Manfra, who leads the agency’s cybersecurity division. Read more.
GSA Turns to AI for Contract Solicitations
The General Services Administration will deploy an artificial intelligence tool to ensure that publicly posted contract solicitations comply with federal disability rules. The new AI tool will use a predictive data engine to detect compliance language on solicitations. Read more.
How Federal Procurement Is Evolving
The government’s IT modernization efforts are starting to affect federal procurement. Major changes are taking place and automation is happening faster. Here’s how different agencies are handling those changes governmentwide. Read more.
Strategy & Leadership
U.S. Digital Service Appoints Permanent Execs
Matt Cutts no longer has an acting role at the U.S. Digital Service. The former head of Google’s anti-spam team will become the agency’s director, a role with a two-year term limit. And the current deputy administrator, Eddie Hartwig, will take over as deputy director. Read more.
White House Pitches Civic Service to Tech Leaders
Civic leave for technologists could become reality in the near future. The White House just hosted some of the biggest tech companies and digital shops at an event that explored the benefits of allowing “patriotic citizens with technical expertise” to serve in government. Read more.
GSA Failed to Notify Breach Victims on Time
The General Services Administration’s data breach notification policy is the focus of an inspector general’s report that claims that it took the agency more than 800 days to inform some of its employees that their personal information was compromised back in 2015. Read more.
Government Lacks Warning System for Cyberattacks
The federal government doesn’t have a standard warning system for impending cyberattacks. In addition to the government’s disorganized approach to cybersecurity intelligence, there isn’t even a standard characterization of what a cyberattack is, a new report found. Read more.
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of Bloomberg Government’s Technocrat!