Agencies get advice on securing their social media accounts

In today's Federal Newscast, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has new guidance for how to secure agencies' Twitter, Instagram and other soci...

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  • More federal employees are getting vaccinated and complying with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. 92.5% of employees are at least partially vaccinated. That’s slightly more than the 92% of federal employees who reported having at least one vaccine dose two weeks ago. A little over 97% of employees are either partially vaccinated or have a medical or religious exception request pending or approved. That’s better than 96.5% of employees who had complied two weeks ago. The U.S. Agency for International Development has the highest vaccination rate. The Agriculture Department has the lowest. (Federal News Network)
  • The Biden administration won’t enforce the federal contractor vaccine mandate while a nationwide injunction is in place. Agencies should make clear they won’t take action to enforce the mandate on existing contracts, or new ones. The new guidance comes from the Office of Management and Budget. It comes after a federal court in southern Georgia blocked the administration from enforcing the mandate and issued a nationwide preliminary injunction. The Biden administration is appealing the decision. (Federal News Network)
  • Auditors reveal cybersecurity shortcomings at the nation’s top medical research agency. The National Institutes of Health has numerous cybersecurity deficiencies. That’s according to a Government Accountability Office report from June, just released publicly this week. NIH’s IT systems contain plenty of sensitive data, such as infectious disease research. But GAO found shortfalls in the agency’s ability to identify and protect against cyber risks. NIH also came up short in detection, response and recovery capabilities. Since June, the health agency had addressed about a quarter of GAO’s 153 security control recommendations and 25 of 66 information security program recommendations.
  • Agencies have some new advice for how to secure their Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released the guidance yesterday. It warns that malicious actors could compromise government accounts to spread false and misleading information. CISA recommends using multi-factor authentication and managing privacy settings, among other protective measures. The U.S. Digital Registry shows agencies collectively operate more than 6,000 active social media accounts across multiple platforms.
  • New cybersecurity guidance from NIST aims to make systems more resilient against attacks. As agencies continue to face an ever-changing cyber threat, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is trying to help agencies stop attackers in their tracks. Ron Ross, a fellow at NIST, said the new version of Special Publication 800-160 aims to help protect both IT and operational technology. “How do we take 95% of our systems that are legacy and do certain things that can make those systems stronger, more penetration resistant and more cyber resilient? That’s really the focus of all those techniques and approaches in that publication.”
  • The Army is launching a new study on workplace and gender relations. The Undersecretary of the Army is encouraging soldiers to complete the voluntary survey. The survey is critical in estimating the number of sexual assaults and harassments in the service. It also notes workplace discrimination in the Army components. The results of the survey will be released in the summer of 2022.
  • The Air Force is putting out a new set of modernization priorities. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has outlined what he calls seven operational imperatives the service must work on to counter China and Russia. The imperatives range from defining how the Air and Space Forces address space issues to virtually connecting battle management systems. Other priorities include the creating resilient air bases that can withstand attacks and achieving next generation air dominance. The Army previously released a set of modernization priorities. Those include efforts like soldier lethality and precision fires. (Federal News Network)
  • Top House and Senate congressional leaders worry the Department of Veterans Affairs is spending too much money on underutilized medical supply warehouses. VA established regional readiness centers in the early months of the pandemic to store an extra supply of personal protective equipment. VA is managing four warehouses now. But the top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate VA Committees say the department is holding on to tens of thousands of unused square footage. They want VA to reevaluate its needs and develop a strategy that matches the department’s actual demands for medical supplies.
  • The head of the Postal Regulatory Commission is back after a temporary absence. Chairman Michael Kubayanda will serve on the commission through November 2026, after receiving Senate confirmation for a second term. Kubayanda served in the board since August 2019, but his term lapsed last month, requiring him to step away from the commission for a few weeks. During that time, Vice Chairwoman Ashley Poling handled the administrative work of leading the commission.
  • The Senate has confirmed a new CEO for AmericaCorps. Michael Smith got the nod from the White House back in June, and the Senate confirmed him Wednesday evening. Smith was the executive director of a pair of youth-oriented social programs, including My Brother’s Keeper, housed by the Obama Foundation. AmericaCorps, an independent agency, matches volunteers with projects to help with disaster response, care of public lands, and aiding veterans and the elderly.
  • The Small Business Administration is making the Office of Women’s Business Ownership more prominent and potentially effective. SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said the OWBO is now a direct report to her office. Previously, the office reported to Office of Entrepreneurial Development. The SBA said the reorganization will not be final for another 10 months, but assistant administrator Madeira Cofield will begin reporting to Guzman immediately. There are more than 140 women’s business centers across the country providing assistance to women-owned businesses to take advantage of government resources. SBA’s decision to elevate the Office of Women’s Business Ownership is part of the Biden administration’s broader effort to make federal procurement more equitable.
  • The‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌administration‌ ‌isn’t‌ ‌waiting‌ ‌for‌ ‌Congress‌ ‌to‌ ‌pass‌ ‌the‌ ‌Build‌ ‌Back‌ ‌Better‌ ‌Act‌ ‌to‌ ‌reduce‌ ‌greenhouse‌ ‌gas‌ ‌emissions‌ ‌from‌ ‌federal‌ ‌buildings.‌ It’s‌ ‌spending‌ ‌$13‌ ‌million‌ ‌on‌ ‌17‌ ‌projects‌ ‌to‌ ‌upgrade‌ ‌the‌ ‌sustainability‌ ‌of‌ ‌federal‌ ‌buildings.‌ ‌It‌ ‌expects‌ ‌these‌ ‌upgrades‌ ‌will‌ ‌generate‌ ‌an‌ ‌additional‌ ‌$700‌ ‌million‌ worth‌ ‌of‌ ‌investments‌ ‌for‌ ‌technologies‌ ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌reduce‌ ‌greenhouse‌ ‌gas‌ ‌emissions.‌ ‌The‌ ‌General‌ ‌Services‌ ‌Administration‌ ‌announced‌ ‌these‌ ‌projects‌ ‌before‌ ‌President‌ ‌Joe‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌signed‌ ‌an‌ ‌executive‌ ‌order‌ ‌Wednesday‌ ‌setting‌ ‌zero-emission‌ ‌goals‌ ‌for‌ ‌federal‌ ‌buildings‌ ‌and‌ ‌vehicles.‌ ‌GSA‌ ‌Administrator‌ ‌Robin‌ ‌Carnahan‌ ‌said ‌the‌ ‌White‌ ‌House‌ ‌will‌ ‌roll‌ ‌out‌ ‌more‌ ‌of‌ ‌these‌ projects‌ ‌once‌ ‌Congress‌ ‌passes‌ ‌the‌ ‌Build‌ ‌Back‌ ‌Better‌ ‌Act.‌ (Federal News Network)

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