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The Real State of Cybersecurity: DorobekINSIDER 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Two years ago the Knight Foundation launched their Tech for Engagement Initiative. The idea was simple, they wanted to answer the question, can technology accelerate the capacity of citizens within a community to engage in their civic life in an easier and more effective way? Click here for the full recap.
  • If “government procurement” at first glance doesn’t strike you as the most alluring field, maybe you should take a second look. In procurement, you essentially are paid to spend large amounts of other people’s money, not a bad deal, huh? This field requires both technical expertise and the savvy to make important financial decisions for the government. Click here for the full recap.

But up front: Cyber-security
The Department of Defense is getting worried about national cybersecurity. The New York Times reports:

”American intelligence officials are increasingly convinced that Iran was the origin of a serious wave of network attacks that crippled computers across the Saudi oil industry and breached financial institutions in the United States, episodes that contributed to a warning last week from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta that the United States was at risk of a ‘cyber Pearl Harbor.’…After Mr. Panetta’s remarks on Thursday night, American officials described an emerging shadow war of attacks and counterattacks already under way between the United States and Iran in cyberspace.”

Cyber Resources:
BloombergView: A Terrifying Threat Obama and Romney Aren’t Talking About: Cybersecurity
Defense.gov News Transcript: Remarks by Secretary Panetta on Cybersecurity to the Business Executives for National Security, New York City
– Intelligence Squared: The Cyber War Threat Has Been Grossly Exaggerated

DorobekINSIDER: Is cybersecurity over-hyped?

Feds Doing Remarkable Work in Film
Chris Dorobek saw Argo over the weekend. (Apparently he was not alone — it did fairly well in the box office).

To be honest, I went into the theater knowing almost nothing about the movie other then the fact it was directed by Ben Afflect — I loved his earlier movies, the Town and Gone Baby Gone both of which I thought were exceptional. And I knew Argo was getting critical praise.

The story is remarkable — as the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA ‘exfiltration’ specialist comes up with a plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador by creating a fake movie. (The movie is largely based on a April 2007 Wired magazine piece by Joshuah Bearman that is remarkable.
How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran | Wired Magazine | Wired.com –

Affleck manages to create a smart thriller, one where there are real challenges and no easy solutions. One where there are good people working to do their best in a bad… terrible situation.

But, of course, the part that I love the most: How it portrays government workers. The movie portrays dedicated people making difficult choices in less than ideal situations. It shows public servants being honorable and brave. And all of that is powerful.

All of that being said, there are questions about how much of Argo is accurate:

Slate: How Accurate Is Argo? –

NPR: ‘Argo’: Too Good To Be True, Because It Isn’t : NPR

In the end, I’m not sure it really matters — this is a movie, after all… and a good one at that.

AND… a reminder that Tuesday evening is the second of three debates for the presidential candidates. As with the previous debates, we will be live tweeting the event using the hashtag #DebateGov.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Agriculture is now offering buyouts for CIO staff. Federal Computer Week reports, the CIO’s office offered a voluntary separation incentive program opportunity. There are 230 eligible CIO employees, based on their age and years of federal service. They have been able to apply since Oct. 5 and they have until Oct. 15 to decide. USDA has been hit hard by budget cuts.
  2. Homeland Security Department officials are continuing to revise their acquisition rules. Federal Computer Week says the new rules are for dealing with cost reimbursement contracts, a type of procurement the Obama administration considers precarious. The IG recommended officials provide documented information supporting the reason for going with a cost-reimbursement contract.
  3. San Francisco is hiring a Chief Data Officer. Government Technology says the CDO will be complemented by departmental-level Open Data Coordinators throughout the city. Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath told Government Technology that the new CDO will be a member of the mayor’s staff, operating out of the budget office.
  4. The military’s research arm DARPA is taking the long view once again now that the United States is withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan. The agency’s new director Arati Prabhakar said it will push “radical transformations” in defense technology. She made her first public speech since becoming DARPA’s leader at a breakfast of defense industry executives Friday. NextGov reports Prabhakar is pushing DARPA to focus on cybersecurity, data analysis and biological research. Prabhakar said the United States has lost some of its edge in tech innovations and has to reckon with the fact that some of the best technology is globally availabl
  5. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is demanding answers about a deal between the Obama administration and contractors. At issue is a plan to compensate defense contractors if they end up laying off workers because of program cuts after sequestration. Federal News Radio says in turn, the contractors have agreed not to warn employees of impending layoffs, as they are normally required to do by federal law. Issa has asked contractors if they’ve consulted counsel. He has asked the White House whether the whole thing is legal in the first place. Sequestration budget cuts are scheduled for Jan. 2.
  6. The Merit Systems Protection Board has completed the first major rewrite of its regulations in more than 30 years. The board’s goal was to incorporate experience and case law occurring since Congress created the board in 1978. Chairwoman Susan Grundmann told Federal News Radio constant tweaking over the years created consistency and workability problems. The rewrite has taken two years. New rules take effect Nov.13. One rule, though, is still to get its overhaul. That’s the one dealing with burden of proof establishing the board’s jurisdiction in a given case.
  7. And on GovLoop, are you looking to be a Presidential Management Fellow? It’s one of the easiest ways to break into the federal government. But it’s a hard lengthy process. We’ve compiled a must-see research guide. Check it out here.

A few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • Fix The Fear Factor In Government Innovation: Jonathan Feldman writes in Information Week, “open government data was everyone’s responsibility. You, me, not for profits, private sector, everybody. We, the people. But last week’s Code for America Summit raised another government innovation takeaway: Government employees need to start thinking outside of their comfort zones, and, specifically, CIOs must help to bridge what I would call the gap of fear between the duties of “building data and apps,” and “fixing culture and citizen engagement.” In sum: fear of failure breeds failure, and that’s not OK.”
  • CIOs Flock to Social Media: Public CIO reports, In late 2011, social networking surpassed online gaming as the most popular online activity — globally, nearly one in every five minutes online that year was spent on social networking sites, according to digital business analyst firm comScore. Smartphone users now spend an average of 24 minutes each day using social networking apps, according to app services company Flurry. There are more than 1.2 billion active social media users worldwide.

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