Foreign hackers helping DoD find cyber vulnerabilities

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  • The Defense Department said foreign hackers from dozens of countries have assisted it in finding and eliminating flaws in its cybersecurity systems.  DoD said most of the problems were reported through its year-old vulnerability disclosure program.  The Pentagon said more than 2,800 security problems have been fixed in response to tips from 650 hackers in 50 countries. The program came on the heels of last year’s “Hack the Pentagon” program, which offered cash rewards for anyone who reported a valid security problem. (HackerOne)


  • The Senate Armed Services Committee has balked at the White House’s nomination of Dean Winslow as assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. Winslow, a Stanford University medical professor, criticized U.S. gun laws as “insane” during his confirmation hearing last week. His comment came in response to a question about how he would have handled the case of the gunman who killed 25 people in a Texas church earlier this month. Devin Patrick Kelly served at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico before his discharge on assault and firearms charges. (Washington Examiner)


  • The RAND Corporation said the Defense Department’s non-medical counseling services has a solid rate of success.  A study by RAND determined more than 65 percent of people reported experiencing a reduction in issue severity after beginning non-medical counseling. Counseling for a non-medical issue typically includes stress management for such day-to-day issues as parent-child relationships, spousal relationships and deployments. (RAND Corp.)


  • Open season begins today for participants in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. About 6 percent of participants make any changes to their health plans during open season, but experts say as many as 20-30 percent of enrollees could benefit from switching plans.  Non-postal employees and annuitants enrolled in the FEHB program can expect to pay, on average, 6.1 percent more for their health care premiums in 2018. (Federal News Radio)


  • The Department of Homeland Security said it had tentatively offered jobs to 207 veterans from the hiring fair it held over the summer. It also identified 381 candidates to move on to the next hiring phase for law enforcement positions at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. About 2,500 people went to the job fair. DHS said it will use the applications and resumes it got at the event to fill future positions. (DHS)


  • Senior executives from the Internal Revenue Service and the Government Accountability Office have earned honors for their management skills.  IRS lawyer  Frances Regan and  GAO Chief Operating Officer Patricia Dalton were named this year’s Roger W. Jones award winners by American University’s School of Public Affairs.  The annual awards are given to two senior leaders who demonstrate leadership and commitment to effective government.  (Federal News Radio)


  • The Senate has passed legislation that would make it easier for federal agencies to gather public feedback about their customer service.  The Federal Agency Customer Experience Act, introduced in May by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) would roll back lengthy approval processes agencies have to go through to collect voluntary feedback from customers and citizens. It would also create a new layer of oversight — both from Congress and the executive branch — over how agencies deliver services. (Congress)


  • The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has detailed in a redacted report how the Internal Revenue Service used inappropriate criteria to select tax-exempt applications for further review.  Among the groups selected was the now-defunct,  liberal-leaning  Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).  ACORN once was the nation’s largest organization working for social justice and stronger communities. TIGTA said IRS examiners looked for words like “occupy” and “progressive” in making their determinations. It found they took up to twice as long as average to process the successor groups’  applications. (Treasury Department)


  • The National Institutes of Health have established a private, secure portal to collect information directly from pregnant women.  NIH said PregSource will explore physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy, labor and delivery and will identify distinct challenges faced by subgroups of women, such as those with physical disabilities. NIH said it hoped the data will inform strategies for improving maternal care in the United States. PregSource will let women use online surveys to share what they are experiencing and compare these experiences to those of other participants.  (NIH)