DHS threat assessment anticipates ‘likely’ cyber attacks on 2024 elections

In today's Federal Newscast: After three crashes, two of them deadly, the Marines halt aviation for two days. A DHS threat assessment warns of "likely" cyber-at...

  • A federal agency warned that hackers are exploring how to use artificial intelligence to pull off damaging cyber attacks. Cyber threat groups are testing the ability of AI-powered malware to hack into pipelines, railways and other critical infrastructure. That is according to the Department of Homeland Security’s latest Homeland Threat Assessment released last week. In addition to AI, DHS said the rise of "Smart City" technologies creates new opportunities for malicious cyber attacks. The threat assessment also warns that threat actors are likely to converge to target the 2024 elections.
  • The National Treasury Employees Union is thinking about the long-term for federal employees. Telework and Schedule F will remain two of the top priorities for NTEU in the coming months. It all comes back to listening to frontline federal workers, according to Doreen Greenwald, the union's newly elected national president. "There are considerations in play about what does it look like to have meaningful interactions in the office. Every agency has different goals, policies and things they'd like to accomplish. Frontline employees know best how to get their job done and where it's best to do that." Greenwald plans to work with Congress on federal telework policy, anti-Schedule F legislation and much more.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has exceeded its year-end hiring goals for health care workers. VA’s Veterans Health Administration hired more than 54,000 in fiscal 2023. That amounts to over a 6% increase to its total workforce, more than double its year-end goal. Undersecretary for Health Shereef Elnahal said higher employee retention helped the agency meet its targets. But there is still room for improvement. Elnahal said VHA, on average, took about 160 days to fill its positions. “This is going to be a particular effort that I ask every leader to focus on in the coming year,” Elnahal said.
    ( - Federal News Network)
  • The Marine Corps is ordering its aviation units to take a pause and refocus on safety. The instructions came yesterday after the Marines suffered a third serious aircraft incident in six weeks. An F-35 pilot ejected from a flight on Sunday, and the corps was not able to immediately find the aircraft. Last month, a pilot died when his F-18 crashed near San Diego, and three Marines were killed in Australia when their Osprey helicopter crashed. During the two-day stand down, commanders are being told to lead discussions on the fundamentals of safe flight, maintenance and combat readiness.
  • A congressional watchdog has agreed to new workplace flexibilities for its employees. The Government Accountability Office has signed off on giving staff several hybrid and remote work options, as well as a more streamlined way for staff to transfer to other GAO offices. The agency struck that deal with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, a union that represents 2,500 of its employees. GAO earned the top spot on the Partnership for Public Service’s most recent Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is updating its Scientific Integrity Directive. DHS released a draft version of the document on Monday, that pledged that DHS will promote a culture of discovery and integrity, support the involvement of scientists in policy issues and protect scientists from retribution and reprisal. DHS said the policy complies with the White House framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice. Comments on DHS’s draft policy are due by October 20.
  • If you have ideas for how the Army can shore up its software supply chain, now is your chance to weigh in. The service is casting a wide net and is asking vendors for their views on how to improve the security of its thousands of software components and third-party libraries. Insisting on Software Bills of Material is one idea, but there are several other alternatives in the works – and the Army wants to know how they would work in the real world.
  • Applications are now open for the newest cohort of Presidential Management Fellows. The PMF program brings in college graduate students to work for agencies for a few years at a time. The goal is to turn them into long-term federal employees while bringing in early-career talent. The openings come as the Biden administration is also looking at ways to diversify the applicant pool for PMF and other programs to hire younger feds. The application window for 2024 Presidential Management Fellows closes on Sept. 25.
    (Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program - Office of Personnel Management)

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