The Evolving Cyber Threat – Plus the 7 Gov Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Twenty years ago the government created the role of the Chief Information Officer. But now, two decades later, there’s still a real disconnected between procurement and IT. So what can and should be done? Insights from the Public Spend Forums, Raj Sharma.

You can find all of our programs online: and GovLoop Insights at

But up front: The evolving cyber-threat

Cyber-security is evolving. And changing. And yet the data show that the bad guys evolve faster than the good guys do. That is one of the conclusions coming from Verizon’s latest annual Data Breach Investigations Report. This assessment coming from The Washington Post:

Hackers are getting better at offense: Companies aren’t getting better at defense: High-profile data breaches at retailers such as Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels brought the sorry state of corporate cybersecurity into sharp focus last year as millions of customers found the data they had entrusted to companies had fallen into the hands of cybercriminals. But are you ready for the bad news? It is likely to get worse in 2014. That’s the takeaway from a report from Verizon to be released Wednesday, which found that hackers are becoming more efficient and organized while many companies are struggling to get even fundamental cybersecurity measures into place. The number of data breaches is growing quickly, but corporations aren’t managing to keep up with the pace or scope of breaches, according to Verizon’s latest annual Data Breach Investigations Report.

If you don’t think that this matters to government, the Verizon assessment looked at more than 60,000 hacks and attacks. Of those, 47,000 of them were on public sector organizations. [And as a programming note, we will talk to one of the authors of that report Tuesday on GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER.]

GovLoop just published its latest guide looking at cyber-security: Innovations That Matter: Your Road Map to a Secure Future [New Cybersecurity Report]… and I will be the host of a GovLoop event on Wednesday looking at cyber-security.

And I am pondering guests for GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER LIVE — a live discussion on May 21 that will focus on cyber-security. Thoughts about how we can help you do your job better?

The seven stories that impact your life:

  1. NextGov: Coming Soon: Pentagon’s Multi-Billion Dollar Health Records Contract – “Sometime in the coming months, the Defense Department will bid out its Healthcare Management Systems Modernization contract, an effort so large in monetary size and game-changing scope that it could significantly influence the future of health care in the United States.”

  2. GovExec: The Federal Government is Giving Fewer People Security Clearances – “The number of new security clearances provided by the federal government — both initial clearances and renewals — has decreased by 9 percent since 2011, according to a new report.”

  3. USDOJ: Justice Department Announces Joseph F. Klimavicz as New Chief Information Officer – “Klimavicz will replace Luke McCormack, who left the department in November 2013. Kevin Deeley, deputy CIO, has served as acting CIO since McCormack’s departure. Deeley will continue to serve as deputy CIO.”

  4. National Journal: Why the U.S. Government is Extra Worried About the Huge Internet Explorer Bug – “Over the weekend, Microsoft announced a huge security flaw in its Internet Explorer Web browser (in versions IE6 through IE11). ‘An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user,’ Microsoft wrote in its advisory. In response, the Homeland Security Department issued its own memo, advising computer users within the federal government to ‘consider employing an alternative Web browser,’ seeing that the vulnerability ‘could lead to the complete compromise of an affected system,’ which is not desirable.”

  5. GovExec: How Exactly Will Agencies Erase Bias Against Unemployed Job Applicants? – “The federal government’s human resources agency told chief human capital officers across government they must submit reports by the end of April on what processes — intentionally or inadvertently — put unemployed applicants for a federal job at an ‘undue disadvantage.’”

  6. NextGov: GSA Wants Contractors to Sign on the Digital Line – “The General Services Administration is looking for an agencywide service that can obviate the need for pen-and-ink signatures and move the contracting process entirely online, according to documents posted on Monday.”

  7. Federal Computer Week: Brubaker Leaving DOD – “Paul Brubaker, the Defense Department’s director of planning and performance management in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, is returning to the private sector.”

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

  • Fixing the Federal Hiring Process: Deus ex Machina [Post by Jeff Neal, Senior Vice President for ICF International, and formerly served in the Obama Administration as Chief Human Capital Officer for the Department of Homeland Security and Chief Human Resources Officer for the Defense Logistics Agency] : We have gotten to the point where some agency HR folks think anything that comes out of the machine has to be sent to the hiring manager. Hence the “God from the machine.” We have taken tools that are designed to support a process and eliminate sorting through mounds of paper, and used them, at least in some agencies, to replace judgment with checkboxes. That is bad for the applicants, bad for the hiring managers, bad for the agencies and bad for the taxpayers. As we consider ways to reform the hiring process, we need to start by clarifying the roles of HR Specialists and the roles of the systems that are designed to support them. We also need to make certain HR offices have enough well-trained staffing experts to do the work. Maybe then we can get some real reform.

  • White House big data study raises discrimination concerns [AP via ABC News] A White House study of how the public and private sectors use big data found that the technology could be used to discriminate on issues such as housing and employment, the Associated Press reports. President Obama commissioned the study in January as he called for changes to some of the National Security Agency’s practices, and the review is expected to be released this week. White House counselor John Podesta declined to discuss all of the findings, but said discrimination risks merit attention.

  • RESIGNED. The fast fall of a Washington career [The Washington Post on Martha Johnson’s rise — and resignation from GSA]: At 61, it’s been difficult for her to figure out what to do next. She has done some contract work with Beltway consulting firms, like LMI, which provide management advice to federal agencies. Mostly, she has talked with them about how government operates and how you build networks. “I don’t want to turn into a lobbyist,” she says. She can’t expect to work in government again. Join a corporate board? Dave Barram, a former Apple executive who ran the GSA when Johnson was chief of staff during the Clinton administration, appealed to his Silicon Valley contacts and corporate recruiters. When he’d ask them, “They’d say, ‘No. She’s toxic.’ ” For months after her resignation, Johnson woke up every morning and looked for work. In time, she came to realize that she was the only person who might take a real bet on herself. So that’s what she did. She’s drawn from the savings she and Steve have to publish her book and to build a self-employed career as a management expert. She sees the irony, but being a manager is the only thing she knows. And as she says, she has nothing left to lose.

  • Related: On GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER: Hear our four part interview with Johnson about her tenure at GSA, and the challenges facing government.

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