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The National Security Agency wants you to be more careful about how you login to telework at your local coffee shop. In a new advisory, the NSA laid out best practices for securing wireless devices in public settings. The agency advises against connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, as they are often unsecured. Bad actors can also scan for active Bluetooth signals to access information on devices. The NSA said federal employees and contractors should know how to properly secure their data in public as teleworking becomes more common.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency just launched a major public-private partnership. CISA’s new Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative brings government and industry into one office to do cyber planning, threat analysis and defensive operations. CISA Director Jen Easterly said the team will help the United States develop a better picture of the cyber threats it faces. Major cloud providers, telecommunications companies and cybersecurity firms are already signed up to participate in the office. The collaborative’s initial efforts include combating ransomware and coming up with an incident response plan for cloud providers. (Federal News Network)
CISA also released a new training guide Thursday to help federal employees looking to improve their cybersecurity skills. The guide aims to help the workforce expand on their cyber career options with over 100 training resources and certification prep courses. The training guide is yet another measure in a bigger effort within the Department of Homeland Security and government overall to strengthen the cyber workforce.
A bill giving the federal acquisition workforce a crash course in artificial intelligence is headed for a Senate floor vote. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passes the AI Training for the Acquisition Workforce Act. It directs the Office of Management and Budget to create and regularly update an AI acquisition training program for federal employees. The bill specifies the training should highlight the ethical and national security risks posed by AI technology. Sens. Gary Peters and Rob Portman said their bill addresses the National Security Commission on AI’s recommendation to improve the federal workforce’s understanding of AI.
The Department of Veterans Affairs kicks off a new approach to modernizing its technology infrastructure. You’ve probably heard of infrastructure-as-a-service and probably something called managed services, now VA is introducing infrastructure-as-a-managed service or IaaMS. VA awarded Peraton a $497 million contract to provide this new service, which will integrate its on-premise infrastructure with its enterprise cloud. Under the seven year deal, Peraton will transition VA’s mission-critical workloads, including VistA imaging, from legacy infrastructure to IaaMS. VA hopes this approach will create a standardized service delivery model and eliminate application-specific infrastructure silos. Through this approach, VA will replace existing storage and compute platforms as they become obsolete.
Veterans who reported sexual trauma may not be receiving the benefits they deserve. VA’s Office of Inspector General found through a data sampling that the Veterans Benefits Administration has not improved the rate of incorrectly processed sexual trauma claims in nearly four years. It jumped from 49% in 2017 to 57% in 2019. The report also revealed that VBA did not implement the IG’s recommendations from 2018. Auditors suggested in its new report that VBA develop a formal procedure to address all processing errors for sexual trauma claims.
The Department of Health and Human Services got mixed reviews on its COVID-19 dashboard. HHS said the data platform it stood up early in the COVID-19 pandemic helped the agency address critical staff and supply shortages in 40 states. But the Government Accountability Office said HHS changed the way it gathers data throughout the pandemic, making it harder for hospitals to submit data on the beds and supplies they had available. Public health and state officials told GAO they relied on state and local health data, rather than rely on data from the HHS Protect platform.
The Defense Department is planning to launch a new pilot program to determine whether it needs new ways to measure the value of intellectual property. But before the Pentagon can meet the requirements of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, it is asking for help from experts. DoD released a request for information to obtain input on IP valuation and evaluation strategies and recommendations. In the RFI, DoD outlines six areas for feedback, including how to develop cost-effective IP strategies and how to assess IP evaluation processes. DoD recently pushed back the response deadline to Sept. 17 from early August.
Congress is wondering where the benefits of the new Space Force are. One top official said the service may need to reevaluate its priorities. One of the highest-ranking researchers on military space issues said the Space Force needs a more hybrid portfolio to deliver quick results and focus on long-term threats happens. Col. Eric Felt at Air Force Research Laboratory said the United States needs to show it is moving toward a more resilient space structure before a devastating attack. Congress has been critical of the Space Force’s progress. It was hoping that the new branch would speed up the process of procuring space weapons. (Federal News Network)
The Air Force is set to introduce a new deployment rotation model. The Air Force Force Generation model, or AFFORGEN, will consist of a 24-month cycle composed of four, six-month phases. Under this model, airmen will be deployed, reintegrated with family, go through training and prepare again for deployment. It’s designed to provide a more sustainable cycle for airmen, and balance the trade-offs between short and long-term readiness. The service expects to launch the new model in fiscal 2023.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approves a new strategy to keep the United States’ freedom of action within the electromagnetic spectrum. The Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy Implementation Plan focuses military attention of developing superior capabilities, pursuing total force readiness and establishing effective electromagnetic spectrum governance. The Defense Department’s chief information officer will take the lead on the issue.