Hackers have ‘gone phishing’ at State, targeting paychecks and pensions

Scammers are impersonating financial offices within the State Department in phishing emails.

  • Scammers are targeting the payroll and retirement accounts of current and former State Department employees. The department's inspector general office warns that fraudsters are sending phishing emails to individuals, impersonating financial offices within the State Department. The hackers then use the stolen credentials to log into an employee’s online account and redirect the payroll and pension payments to their own bank accounts. The IG’s office is telling employees to immediately report any suspicious emails to its hotline.
  • One key lawmaker wants to see agencies act in the wake of a major healthcare cybersecurity incident. Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to increase its oversight of cybersecurity in the healthcare sector. In a new letter, Peters said HHS and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency need to increase their coordination after a ransomware attack on United Health subsidiary Change Healthcare. Peters and other lawmakers are calling for new cybersecurity rules for the health sector after the attack disrupted many hospitals and healthcare systems.
  • More Defense Department organizations are entering the Thunderdome. DoD has rolled out its zero trust capabilities under the Thunderdome initiative to 15 sites so far and dozens more are scheduled for 2024. John Sherman, the DoD chief information officer, told House lawmakers last week that the Defense Information Systems Agency will accelerate the implementation of Thunderdome capabilities to another 60 sites this year. He said DISA is also working with the Coast Guard and U.S. Southern Command to bring these organizations the zero trust tools. DISA awarded Booz Allen Hamilton a $1.9 billion production other transaction agreement in August to implement Thunderdome across the DoD as part of the Pentagon's three-year journey to reach initial capabilities under zero trust.
  • The Pentagon is bringing in a relative outsider to lead its policy team. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he is appointing Amanda Dory as the next acting under secretary of Defense for policy, effective at the end of April. Dory is currently the director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at National Defense University. She will replace Sasha Baker, who is departing next month. DoD has not had a Senate-confirmed under secretary for policy since last July, when Colin Kahl left the position. His nominated replacement, Derek Chollet, has been held up amid concerns by Senate Republicans.
  • Terry Gerton, who has led the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) since 2017, is stepping down from that role at the end of 2024. Gerton is the longest tenured president and CEO in the good-government organization's 57-year history. NAPA said that during her tenure, Gerton put the organization on solid financial footing, growing NAPA's annual revenue by more than 50% and net assets by nearly 300%. She also led the establishment of the Agile Government Center and the Center for Intergovernmental Partnerships to expand and deepen the academy’s integration into the public administration community. NAPA is working with an executive search firm to hire the next president before Gerton leaves in December.
  • The State Department sees artificial intelligence as an increasingly valuable tool to meet its mission. The department is looking at generative AI to help its employees chart the next step in their careers. Don Bauer, the chief technology officer of the State Department’s Bureau of Global Talent Management said that AI can help explain what opportunities are out there. “If I identify a career path for you, then I’m using publicly available position descriptions, extracting those out, and then building up the ability for you to recognize skills you need. Then we’re going to tie that with our learning management system, so we can actually say, ‘If you want to be this person, here’s the skills you need and here’s how you can go get trained,'” Bauer said.
  • A familiar face takes over at a key laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Kevin Stine has been named director of NIST’s Information Technology Lab. Since 2015, Stine has served as chief of the lab’s applied cybersecurity division, where he oversaw the roll out of the Cybersecurity Framework. The IT Laboratory is home to several other priority NIST initiatives, including efforts to advance the safety and trustworthiness of artificial intelligence.

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