Tag Archives: government

[ISN] The Ambassador who worked from Nairobi bathroom to avoid State Dept. IT

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/03/the-ambassador-who-worked-from-nairobi-bathroom-to-avoid-state-dept-it/ By Sean Gallagher Ars Technica March 8, 2015 The current scandal roiling over the use of a private e-mail server by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is just the latest in a series of scandals surrounding government e-mails. And it’s not the first public airing of problems with the State Department’s IT operations—and executives’ efforts to bypass or work around them. At least she didn’t set up an office in a restroom just to bypass State Department network restrictions and do everything over Gmail. However, another Obama administration appointee—the former ambassador to Kenya—did do that, essentially refusing to use any of the Nairobi embassy’s internal IT. He worked out of a bathroom because it was the only place in the embassy where he could use an unsecured network and his personal computer, using Gmail to conduct official business. And he did all this during a time when Chinese hackers were penetrating the personal Gmail inboxes of a number of US diplomats. Why would such high-profile members of the administration’s foreign policy team so flagrantly bypass federal and agency regulations to use their own personal e-mail to conduct business? Was it that they had something they wanted to keep out of State’s servers and away from Congressional oversight? Was it that State’s IT was so bad that they needed to take matters into their own hands? Or was it because the department’s IT staff wasn’t responsive enough to what they saw as their personal needs, and they decided to show just how take-charge they were by ignoring all those stuffy policies? The answer is probably a little bit of all of the above. But in the case of former ambassador Scott Gration, the evidence points heavily toward someone who wanted to work outside the system because he just couldn’t stand it. […]


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[ISN] US watchdog: Anthem snubbed our security audits before and after enormous hack attack

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/03/05/us_watchdog_anthem_audits/ By Shaun Nichols The Register 5 Mar 2015 A year or so before American health insurer Anthem admitted it had been ruthlessly ransacked by hackers, a US federal watchdog had offered to audit the giant’s computer security – but was rebuffed. And, after miscreants looted Anthem’s servers and accessed up to 88.8 million private records, the watchdog again offered to audit the insurer’s systems, and was again turned away. “We do not know why Anthem refuses to cooperate,” government officials told The Register today. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) told us it wanted to audit Anthem’s information security protections back in 2013, but was snubbed by the insurer. According to the agency, Anthem participates in the US Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which requires regular audits from the OIG, audits that Anthem allegedly thwarted. Other health insurers submit to Uncle Sam’s audits “without incident,” we’re told. […]


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[ISN] Why Clinton’s Private Email Server Was Such a Security Fail

http://www.wired.com/2015/03/clintons-email-server-vulnerable/ By ANDY GREENBERG SECURITY Wired.com 03.04.15 FOR A SECRETARY of state, running your own email server might be a clever—if controversial—way to keep your conversations hidden from journalists and their pesky Freedom of Information Act requests. But ask a few security experts, and the consensus is that it’s not a very smart way to keep those conversations hidden from hackers. On Monday, the New York Times revealed that former secretary of state and future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used a private email account rather than her official State.gov email address while serving in the State Department. And this was no Gmail or Yahoo! Mail account: On Wednesday the AP reported that Clinton actually ran a private mail server in her home during her entire tenure leading the State Department, hosting her email at the domain Clintonemail.com. Much of the criticism of that in-house email strategy has centered on its violation of the federal government’s record-keeping and transparency rules. But as the controversy continues to swirl, the security community is focused on a different issue: the possibility that an unofficial, unprotected server held the communications of America’s top foreign affairs official for four years, leaving all of it potentially vulnerable to state-sponsored hackers. “Although the American people didn’t know about this, it’s almost certain that foreign intelligence agencies did, just as the NSA knows which Indian and Spanish officials use Gmail and Yahoo accounts,” says Chris Soghoian, the lead technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “She’s not the first official to use private email and not the last. But there are serious security issue associated with these kinds of services…When you build your house outside the security fence, you’re on your own, and that’s what seems to have happened here.” […]


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[ISN] 6 Biggest Blunders in Government’s Annual Cyber Report Card

http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2015/03/6-biggest-blunders-governments-annual-cyber-report-card/106512/ By Aliya Sternstein Nextgov.com March 2, 2015 The White House has released its yearly assessment of agency compliance with the governmentwide cyber law known as the Federal Information Security Management Act. And given the spate of breaches and hacks that hit both government and the private sector, the results may not be all that surprising. Sensitive agency data is often not encrypted. Many departments do not use two-step verification for accessing government networks, despite post-Sept. 11 requirements that employees carry login smart cards. And cyber training is deficient in one of the most unlikely areas… 2014’s Biggest Federal Computer Security Blunders 1. Federal agencies reported 15 percent more information security incidents in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013, rising from 60,753 to nearly 70,000 events. These incidents included phishing attempts, malware infections and denial-of-service attacks, as well as leaks of paper records and sensitive emails sent without encryption. […]


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[ISN] FAA computers vulnerable to hackers, GAO report says

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/faa-computers-vulnerable-to-hackers-gao-report-says/2015/03/02/388219ac-c119-11e4-9271-610273846239_story.html By Ashley Halsey III The Washington Post March 2, 2015 The Federal Aviation Administration has fallen short in its efforts to protect the national air traffic control system from terrorists or others who might try to hack into the computers used to direct planes in flight, according to a government report released Monday. The Government Accountability Office report credited the FAA with taking steps to deter hackers but concluded that “significant security control weaknesses remain, threatening the agency’s ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace.” The FAA said it intends to implement the 14 changes recommended in the GAO report. In a written response to the GAO last month, Keith Washington, acting assistant secretary for administration at the Department of Transportation, said the FAA already had achieved six “major milestones” toward improving cybersecurity and agreed with the GAO recommendations for improvements. […]


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[ISN] Why Silicon Valley Hackers Still Won’t Work With the Military, and Vice Versa

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/why-silicon-valley-hackers-still-wont-work-with-the-military-and-vice-versa By Kari Paul Contributor Motherboard.vice.com February 26, 2015 In the fight to defend cyberspace from its enemies, the US military is rushing to hire as many skilled hackers as it can. But no one is really sure how to get the two cultures to coexist. Although the feds have implied they’re willing to loosen up some of their policies so that weed-smoking, basement-dwelling hacker stereotypes can work for government agencies, there are still some significant hurdles preventing the two industries from working together in earnest. At the first annual Future of War Conference on Wednesday, a panel of experts weighed in on the simmering Silicon Valley culture clash after an audience member asked why the US doesn’t just militarize Silicon Valley if private sector technology is so far ahead of the government’s own. “The real reason is DoD does not have a culture that would allow them in any way shape or form to manage a silicon valley operation,” said Brad Allenby, a faculty member at Arizona State University Center on the Future of War. “Someone high on coke, Skittles and slinging code is not a good candidate for basic training,” he later joked. Peter Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at the think tank New America Foundation, said the chasm between the private tech sector and the government is only widening—a trend that will have big implications for the “extraordinarily difficult” technological components of future war. […]


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[ISN] Australian politicians are reportedly using top-secret messaging app Wickr

http://mashable.com/2015/03/01/australia-politicians-wickr/ By Jenni Ryall mashable.com March 1, 2015 Australian politicians are reportedly using the secret messenging app Wickr to communicate with each other on the sly. According to The Australian, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Social Services Scott ­Morrison have been using the service to communicate about their dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the ongoing leadership crisis. It follows months of speculation regarding instability within the Liberal-National Coalition Government, which culminated in a vote on whether to declare Abbott’s position vacant. That motion was defeated, but it has not quelled the rumours that members of his government are secretly pushing for a change of leadership. Wickr has a secure file-shredding feature that destroys all communication on your device and claims it has “military-grade encryption.” On the app’s website, the company claims that no conversations can be tracked or monitored using the app, which may mean that The Australian received a tip regarding the top-secret communications between the two politicians. […]


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