FDIC IT security, coastal resilience and the Great Cannon

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

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Revealed: China's Cyberwar 'Cannon'

Computer security researchers have discovered an offensive device, dubbed the "Great Cannon," being used by China's Internet censors to launch attacks on websites and inject malicious viruses on computers almost anywhere, the Daily Beast reports.

The new tool can commandeer a computer into a network of machines used to flood websites with traffic and force them to shut down.

FDIC making headway on information security

Although the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has made substantial progress in implementing improvements to its IT systems recommended by the Government Accountability Office in 2010, it still needs to button up access to some of its physical locations and data, a new GAO report asserts.

FDIC's IT systems, the GAO's April 9 report states, must protect critical financial functions such as enforcing banking laws, regulating financial institutions, and shielding depositors. Although the agency has implemented numerous information security controls to protect those operations, GAO said weaknesses remain that could endanger the confidentiality, integrity and availability of financial systems and information at risk. FDIC has implemented 27 of the GAO's 36 recommendations made since 2010, with work on the remaining nine recommendations in progress.

The weaknesses, GAO found, did not add up to a significant deficiency in protections to the systems, however.

GAO recommended FDIC's CIO consider a policy to control physical access to its primary data center, as well as a consistent response to remedy agency-identified weaknesses in a timely manner.

DHS expands coastal resilience program

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will host another location for the Department of Homeland Security's Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence, funded with an initial $3 million grant from S&T.

The Science and Technology Directorate's Coastal Resilience COE will bring together students and professors, DHS and other federal agencies, private-sector partners, first responders and other COEs to address the challenges facing communities that are vulnerable to coastal hazards, including hurricanes and flooding.

The new center expands an existing DHS COE effort, co-led by Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., and UNC-Chapel Hill, that dates to 2008.

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