The Tech Loop: Cannon Ball!

The Tech Loop is a weekly compilation of the latest happenings in government technology gathered from around the web. This week’s topics include cloud, IoT, cybersecurity, and big data  & analytics.


My understanding is a little foggy. Having trouble separating cloud fact from fiction? This resource should help. Lack of understanding may be a major reason that gov and other orgs are holding back on cloud adoption.

Once you have a solid foundation, getting these cloud certifications would definitely boost your IT skills.

Beyond understanding, however, cloud security is always a big risk. Here’s how the NSA is using cloud to thwart the next Snowden.

Internet of Things

“Thingstitute” is apparently a thing. Yeah, Montgomery County’s Thingstitute is hosting an Internet of Things (IoT) hackathon today and tomorrow. The focus will be on building prototype IoT and data analytics tools for emergency and medical training.

IoT could also help you live healthier by monitoring your sleep. You know what will also help you sleep? The fact that NIST fellow Ron Ross said that IoT leaves public and private computer systems essentially indefensible, and no amount of security guidance can provide salvation. Sweet dreams!


Cannon ball! Ahh, reminds me of summers as a kid, jumping into the pool trying to get loungers wet. Too bad it’s not that type of cannon. Attacks have revealed China’s “Great Cannon,” a powerful new cyber weapon capable of extending its censorship efforts, along with targeted cyberattacks, around the world, researchers say. Another report found that critical infrastructure cyberattacks have increased across the Americas. Plus, airplanes may now be susceptible to cyberthreats. Happy Friday!

But have no fear. Govies are on it. The Pentagon has a U.S. cyber reserves in the works. “Up to 2,000 Reserve and National Guard personnel will also support the Cyber Mission Force,” Defense Principal Cyber Adviser Eric Rosenbach said in remarks.

The DoD will also release a cyber strategy next week. Development of the cyber workforce “can be a model for other things we do in the department,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said. “The freshness of approach — the constant effort to stay up [and] reinvent that your field demands — is actually something we can use everywhere in the department.”

Even international bodies are responding. This week, the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on “Development in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security” – seriously? – met in New York to discuss cyberthreats. If they’re smart enough to memorize the name of their group, they’re probably our best bet against cyber adversaries.

Despite the technical nature of cybersecurity, staying secure is all about the people – and it’s pretty clear that cyber professionals are in high-demand. But a new Partnership for Public Service report found that the federal cyber workforce is not even close to where it needs to be. Even the National Security Agency (NSA) – one of the best-equipped agencies in terms of recruiting, training, and staffing an elite cyber team – is facing significant challenges, especially from private sector recruitment.

“We’re throwing the kitchen sink at them from our standpoint,” said NSA’s human resources technical director, John Yelnosky. “And they’re writing in to us, as they leave NSA, in their exit interviews, ‘I’m leaving to double my salary.’”

However, this challenge is not unique to government. Organizations across the globe are struggling to find cyber talent, according to a new report.

But practice makes perfect, right? The 15th Annual Cyber Defense Exercise launched this week. Or, you could just browse a cyber social network to hone skills.

Big Data & Analytics

Big data. Little data. No data. In her new book, Christine L. Borgman argues that data have no value or meaning in isolation. Instead, they exist within a knowledge infrastructure. This data mix of people, tech, institutions, and relationships also make it viable to predict the next U.S. president. Through data analytics, presidential campaign teams will know if you’re a soccer mom or a college student and what you buy, read, share online, your favorite brand of soda…you name it. Analysts can predict who you are going to vote for – often before you, yourself, have made up your mind.

That sounds a little creepy, but data analytics can also help save lives, drive workforce diversity, and help organizations better understand those cyberattacks I just freaked you out about earlier. And DARPA is spending big on big data, so it must be important.

Quick Hits

Think first, Tweet later. Here’s the new federal-workforce guidance on social media.

The federal gov’s analytics dashboard was live blogging on tax day. It was pretty awesome.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is encouraging residents to vote with open data.


Did I miss something big from this week? Let me know below!


Image credit: Roberto Condado, Flickr Creative Commons.

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