America’s enemies could poison AI data, NIST warns

In today's Federal Newscast: A former federal cyber leader finds her next gig. NIST warns that American adversaries could poison AI data. And the Pentagon is or...

  • The Pentagon is ordering a 30-day review to look into why the White House, Congress and senior Defense officials weren’t notified about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s hospitalization last week. The review will be led by Jennifer Walsh, DoD’s director of administration and management. While that process is underway, the department is also adding some new temporary notification rules. Any time the Defense secretary is unable to carry out his duties, a chain of senior Pentagon officials and the White House Situation Room will be notified by email that the deputy secretary is temporarily in charge. That apparently didn’t happen during Austin’s health incident last week. The Pentagon still hasn’t made clear what that incident involved — saying only that Austin suffered complications from an elective medical procedure.
  • A former federal cyber leader has found her next gig. Kemba Walden is joining Paladin Capital Group as president of its new Paladin Global Institute. Walden served as the White House’s acting national cyber director for nine months before stepping down in November. She led the initial implementation of the Biden administration’s new national cyber strategy and also oversaw the roll out of a cyber workforce and education strategy. Harry Coker, a former intelligence community official, took over as national cyber director in December.
  • The data center optimization initiative has been given new life in the NDAA. One provision that you may not have noticed that made it into the 3,000-page 2024 defense authorization bill is the first major update to the federal data center optimization initiative in more than a decade. The House agreed to let the Federal Data Center Enhancement Act stay in the NDAA, which President Joe Biden signed into law on December 22. Among the requirements is one that tells agencies to rationalize their application portfolio. They must determine whether to establish or continue to operate an existing data center and ensure that each at-risk legacy application is updated, replaced or modernized by taking advantage of modern technologies.
  • The Biden administration is looking to make it easier for new families to receive federal benefits. The Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with a nonprofit organization to provide newborn supply kits to families in need. The kits include basic supplies such as diapers, wipes and other health and hygiene items. They also include bite-sized information on how families can enroll in federal benefits and services. So far, HHS has delivered 3,000 of these kits to families in Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico. These are all states with high maternal and infant mortality rates. HHS is looking at expanding the pilot program to other locations. It is also looking to partner with the Veterans Health Administration on outreach.
  • Computer scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology are warning about the potential for adversaries to poison artificial intelligence with bad data. In a new publication, NIST detailed the types of cyber attacks that can manipulate AI systems. In addition to introducing corrupt data, scientists said attackers could try to glean sensitive information from systems like chatbots, or even feed AI systems with incorrect information to alter their behavior. NIST also described several mitigations to those types of attacks, but added that there are no completely foolproof defenses.
  • The federal government spends billions of dollars a year to maintain roads, buildings and other structures on public lands. But a backlog of deferred projects is growing. The Government Accountability Office found that deferred maintenance on campgrounds, roads and other projects increased across all the agencies it studied, including the National Park Service, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The National Park Service alone reported a $22 billion backlog of unfunded upkeep projects.
  • The Space Force is days away from releasing its commercial strategy. The document will outline how the service plans to purchase commercial-space capabilities. It will focus on how the industry can fill capability gaps that the current systems don't meet. The strategy will also address the need for the service to purchase some technologies-as-a-service instead of buying a new space capability. The Space Force continues to have conversations with the industry about how to protect its assets in case of a space conflict.
  • After more than 18 months in an acting role, Jolene Lauria is now the permanent assistant attorney general for administration and CFO of the Justice Department. Lauria replaced Lee Lofthus in June 2022 on an acting basis. Lofthus retired from federal service after more than 40 years with DoJ, including the last 16 as assistant attorney general for administration. Lauria has been with DoJ since 2006, serving as the agency's controller for 16 years. Along with being CFO, Lauria oversees facilities, procurement, human resources, information resources, policy, strategic planning and other administrative functions.
  • The Defense Department is seeking certification, training, courses or formal education providers to submit applications for accreditation. The Cyber Workforce Management Board has established an open and continuous process for education providers interested in supporting the DoD cyber workforce. The online application process consists of four parts. Once the application is submitted, the DoD CIO will issue a decision and inform applicants about the next steps. Interested providers include colleges, universities, private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal and state organizations, and military schools.
    (DoD seeks education providers to boost cyber workforce - DoD Emerging Technologies Talent Marketplace)


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