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Tackling cybersecurity issues plus your Weekend Reads!

Welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

DorobekINSIDER’s Top Posts from the Week!

  • What would you do if you were in charge of RFP-EZ — Insights from our expert panel and fellow Clay Johnson: On the Panel: RFP-EZ Presidential Innovation Fellow, Clay Johnson. Allan Burman is President of Jefferson Solutions and the former administrator of the Office of the Federal Procurement Policy. Dave Drabkin is the Corporate Director of Acquisition Policy for Northrop Grumman. We discovered some major and minor fixes for the RFP-EZ program.
  • Sequestration 101 — Do you actually know how it would work? – Be honest, you have heard us all talking/worrying/complaining about the potential for sequestration since August of 2011, but do you actually know how it would work? Todd Harrison does. He is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. In an extended 30 minute interview he broke down sequestration.
  • Ten Steps To Creating Insanely Great Mobile Apps: The government is going mobile. But making mobile apps for the government space isn’t as easy as you might think. “People get confused because they see 15 year old kids writing codes for an app. and selling them on iTunes for 99 cents. This has set a precedent that its very simple to start an app. in government too. But those apps. are very different from the apps. that need to securely access federal information and databases. Federal apps. need to be distributed to hundreds of thousands of employees securely and in a controlled manner,” said Tim Hoechst.

Our issue of the week looks at cybersecurity. Rarely a day goes by when a cyber attack isn’t in the headlines. Over the last few years, it seems like the pace has quickened, and the results — exposure of sensitive data and risk to economic security — can rapidly be impacted.

Congress has tried and failed to pass any extensive cyber legislation. And, now the President is considering issuing an Executive Order to help get a handle on the situation.

And the problem might only get worse as agencies are forced to cut back on security budgets.

Marc van Zadelhoff is IBM’s VP of Strategy and Product Management. He sat down with Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program for an extended conversation about the state of federal cybersecurity.

“IBM’s X-Force security research team declared 2011 the year of the breach. There was more malware and exploits that occurred than ever before. The threats are also expanding into other areas like mobile devices,” said van Zadelhoff.

Four Mega Security Trends

  1. Advanced Threats
  2. Cloud
  3. Mobility
  4. Compliance

“For government compliance is of particular importance. It certainly is not what you would rely on to stop the most advanced and sophisticated hack from occurring. But they are necessary. Compliance is very good at creating awareness around the topic of security,” said van Zadelhoff.


“There has been a rise in exploits on mobile devices but I think the real problem right now with mobility is not hacking but a management issue. What are an agencies mobile policies? What happens if you lose your phone?” said van Zadelhoff.


“BYOD is a serious trend right now because it can cost the government millions to deploy blackberries to employees. If employees want to buy their own devices it could mean a major savings for agencies. Security departments can not be the departments of no. You have to learn to deal with the risks. IBM is rolling out a bunch of technologies for large customers that help them manage that risk,” said van Zadelhoff.

Biggest Challenge

“Security always comes down to being able to assess and prioritize the risks they face. Often agencies don’t know what their main risks are. Risk assessment is not hard in and of itself. What makes it hard is developing a team and the process to take the time to actually look at the risks. Not just go from one hack to another,” said van Zadelhoff.

What’s happening with Cloud?

1. A lot of security is being delivered from the cloud.
2. Focus on the adoption of public clouds.
3. Focus on the adoption of private clouds.
“You can’t assume cloud computing is less secure than traditional platforms,” said van Zadelhoff.

What Should Agencies Do to Prep?

“Analytics or security big data is the next big thing. You monitor everything, collect all data that is relative to security, not just structured data. Once you have all that data you can organize it to find security intelligence,” said van Zadelhoff.

Weekend reads

  • Big data comes to hiring: At more and more companies, the hiring boss is an algorithm, as jobs that were once filled on the basis of work history and interviews are left to personality tests and data analysis. The factors they consider are different than what applicants have come to expect. Jobs that were once filled on the basis of work history and interviews are left to personality tests and data analysis, as employers aim for more than just a hunch that a person will do the job well. Under pressure to cut costs and boost productivity, employers are trying to predict specific outcomes, such as whether a prospective hire will quit too soon, file disability claims or steal.
  • Forbes: Oracle’s Bob Evans: The Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues For 2013 –Dumping the 80/20 rule. CIOs should be disrupters and business-driven, rather than IT-driven executives, writes former InformationWeek editor and current Oracle SVP Bob Evans in Forbes. We don’t usually give vendors a voice in the Download, but we’re making an exception here because Evans has some interesting points to make, notably that CIOs should start shifting some of the 80% of their budgets dedicated to maintenance to more innovation-focused efforts. It’s easier said than done (although easier if Oracle and its ilk ratcheted down their maintenance fees), but Evans suggests shifting the ratio incrementally, by five percentage points per year. It’s important, he says, because IT policies of the past are sucking up “vast percentages of the IT budget and make it almost impossible for CIOs to fund essential new efforts in analytics or cloud or mobile or social.” And speaking of social, Evans argues that CIOs should drive social adoption within their organizations — or run the risk of being pushed aside by marketing and line-of-business heads who get it.
  • NYTimes article on life in cubicles. Quote: “Headphones are the new wall.” Cubicle culture is already something of a punch line — how many ways can we find to annoy one another all day? — but lately the complaints are being heard by the right people, including managers and social scientists. Companies are redesigning offices, piping in special background noise to improve the acoustics and bringing in engineers to solve volume issues. “Sound masking” has become a buzz phrase.
  • WSJ salary survey: In Shaky Job Market, Employees Boost Focus on Base Salary: Base salary has become the number one tool for recruiting and retaining employees as concerns about the global economic recovery lingers, according to a survey from benefits firm Towers Watson . “It’s a manifestation of the uncertainty in the minds of a lot of employees about their financial security,” said Laury Sejen, global leader of rewards consulting at Towers Watson. “Benefits have been trimmed back and bonus pools may not have been fully funded so employees look to that base pay that comes in once or twice a month as their fundamental reward.” While employee base salary has been among the top 5 ways to attract employees for the past 5 years, it jumped firmly into the top spot this year, according to the annual survey of more than 1,600 employers. In shaky job market, employees focus on base salary. Base salary has become the No. 1 tool for recruiting and retaining employees as uncertainty about the global economic recovery lingers, writes Emily Chasan. While employee base salary has been among the top five ways to attract employees for the past five years, it jumped firmly into the top spot this year, according to a new Towers Watson survey. Companies have been seeing a tighter job market for skilled workers so they need to offer a strong mix of salary and benefits..
  • Reading FCW oped: Paul Brubaker: 5 keys to rekindling government innovation: Many of us assume that some approximation of today’s legislative and regulatory framework, at least in terms of structure and complexity, has always existed. Not so. For example, most of the cumbersome and bureaucratic structures governing federal procurement evolved in the 1970s, largely as a result of Congress and the executive branch trying to bring some governmentwide uniformity to procurement rules that had until then been an agency-by-agency affair. … Today, it is clear that the ability of our federal government to effectively plan and execute any major technological advance or bold initiative, let alone achieve something of the magnitude of America’s manned space program, has all but disappeared.

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