News in Brief

Insider threats, dashboard light, drone traffic control and more

Shutterstock image: shadowed hacker.

GAO: DOD lagging on insider threats

The Defense Department has not taken sufficient steps to combat "insider threats," or potential leakers of sensitive information, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Only three of six DOD components examined by GAO had developed a baseline of normal computer user activity, which the watchdog's report said is "a key element that could mitigate insider threats."

While DOD officials believe that the department's assessments of insider-threat programs, as well as those of the National Insider Threat Task Force, are statutorily compliant, that is not the case, according to GAO. "DOD has not evaluated and documented the extent to which the current assessments describe existing insider-threat program capabilities, as is required by the law," the report said.

GAO's recommendations included that the department put out guidance for expanding insider-threat programs and identify an office to oversee the programs.

The report is the unclassified version of a classified report GAO issued in April.

Federal domains, tracked

The General Services Administration's 18F team is trumpeting a new dashboard called Pulse, aimed at monitoring the health of government websites.

Pulse answers two key questions about federal domains: Are they plugged in to the GSA's Digital Analytics Program, which underpins analytics.usa.gov, and have they deployed HTTPS protocol for secure communication?

As of June 3, less than half of federal domains were participating in the analytics program and a mere 31 percent had deployed HTTPS.

The dashboard is fairly limited at the moment. It tracks only parent domains, not subdomains, and updates have not been automated (GSA staffers plan to update the static site every quarter or so).

But 18F says it plans to continue working on updates to improve the site, and for now it offers an important look at the state of federal domains.

Cell towers, but for air traffic control

NASA is investigating the use of cell towers as UAS (drone) traffic management tools, and Verizon is on board, the Guardian reported.

In a $500,000 project being conducted at NASA's Ames Research Center, the agency is slated to test a UAS air traffic control system this summer, while Verizon is planning to produce a concept for drone surveillance and tracking using cell towers by 2017, with the technology hopefully finalized by 2019, according to an agreement between the public and private organizations. The use of cell towers is meant to alleviate the potential strain of UAS on a taxed national air traffic control system, the Guardian noted.

Code for America launches police open data census

Code for America has launched the Police Open Data Census, a collection of the police interaction datasets available online, GCN reports.

The survey includes use of force incidents, officer-involved shootings and complaints against police as well as response times and citations. It also indicates whether the data is online, machine readable, up to date and available in bulk, and notes whether context is provided and whether incident-level data is available as opposed to aggregated numbers.

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