The best of the federal blogosphere

Don't get hijacked
Utah's Dave Fletcher
Jan. 25

The news that a hacker was offering to sell administrative control to a number of government websites, including Utah.gov, got Utah's CIO — and blogger — Dave Fletcher wondering how that would work.

"Problem is, Utah.gov is not a simple construct with an administrative console that controls it all so what exactly is this hacker selling for $99?" he writes. "The Utah.gov domain consists of about 6 million pages, over 950 services, dynamic feeds, all somewhat linked together with a central portal, which itself is an entire suite of applications built to support the complex array of interactions between citizens and government. It appears that the hacker gained access to a lightly used subdomain that is not even managed by the state's central IT so this was reviewed, patched, etc."

Although the risk of some anonymous buyer getting control of the state's website appears remote, the incident highlights a vulnerability that Web administrators need to be vigilant about, Fletcher writes. It's possible for hackers to gain access to parts of sites through such weak points and use them to post ads for erectile dysfunction drugs or other items commonly sold through spam ads. The goal is to increase the number of links from external pages back to the disreputable merchant's site so that it rises in search engine rankings.

"Even organizations with well-structure[d] standards and deployment policies and procedures fall prey to this," Fletcher writes. "With government being as diverse as it is, someone in each organization needs to remain vigilant and aware of these kinds of activities."

The speed of the crowd
Federal Communications Commission
Jan. 25

The Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Broadband Test tool, which launched in spring 2010, has been gathering data on the Internet connection speeds of more than a million users. Now FCC has released an application programming interface to the developer community to enable others to use the data.

There's already enough information to demonstrate some practical uses, writes Michael Byrne, FCC’s geographic information officer, in recounting an FCC presentation at the ESRI Federal User Conference in January.

"The particularly exciting part of this presentation was the ability to display projected speeds at different geographies within standard error, all extrapolated out from the speed test data points that were input by users," he writes. "By using the 1 million-plus records submitted by users, we were able to display a map that shows the probability of a certain level of mobile broadband speed at any given spot in the U.S." 

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto
General Services Administration
Jan. 12

General Services Administration CIO Casey Coleman recently got a demonstration of Anybots’ robot, which can stand in for a person who controls it remotely via the Web.

"You can be home and view activity in your office or warehouse as well as talk to employees and visitors,” she writes. “You can see and be seen! Anybot was very cool!"

The demonstration was part of a larger presentation on emerging technologies. Although Coleman does not identify the event, robotic technology was apparently a major aspect of it. She also writes about robots that can protect soldiers or increase mobility for elderly people and those with disabilities.

"I was surprised to see that Microsoft even has robotics developer software," Coleman writes. "Who knew?"

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group