News in Brief

NIST demystifies whitelisting, Pelosi leads trip to China and more

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NIST demystifies automated whitelisting

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a new guide aimed at helping managers use application whitelisting to block malicious software from getting into their networks.

The guide provides step-by-step instructions and recommends a phased approach to implementing the technology.

After IT managers choose a set of trusted software programs that are allowed to run on their organizations' computer systems -- a "whitelist" -- they can then automate the process of blocking unapproved software from being loaded onto the network.

Whitelisting prevents employees from downloading buggy or malware-laced software in a new app or upgrade that has not been vetted for security issues.

NIST said modern whitelisting programs, also known as application control programs, can block cyberthreats and can be written so that they do not interfere with antivirus and intrusion-detection systems. The agency also said application whitelisting is especially appropriate for larger organizations that have strict centralized control over desktops and laptops connected to their networks.

USDA's fresh take on New Farmers website

The Agriculture Department has put a modern spin on its New Farmers website as part of a larger effort to give a leg-up to beginning farmers.

USDA announced it would prioritize $5.6 billion over the next two years to programs and services that help new farmers and ranchers. The program's website relaunched last week with a new design that makes it easier for beginning farmers and ranchers to find the online tools they need.

It offers guidance on creating business plans, filing taxes, and obtaining loans and health care coverage. The site features information targeted to women, young people and veterans interested in farming. Through its Discovery Tool, farmers can answer a series of questions to get personalized advice on USDA programs that would be useful to them.

USDA used feedback from new farmers and ranchers nationwide to revamp the site, which launched in 2014. In that feedback, farmers said unfamiliarity with programs and resources presented challenges, according to a blog post by Peter Rhee, USDA's director of digital communications.

Pelosi, other senior Democrats head to China for cyber talks

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is leading a seven-person congressional delegation trip to China to discuss cybersecurity and national security, among other issues, with Chinese government officials, students and others.

The trip follows Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit in September, during which he and President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. and China had come to a "common understanding" on the state-sponsored hacking of companies.

Some security researchers, however, accused China of breaking the agreement shortly thereafter. China is also suspected of perpetrating the hacks at the Office of Personnel Management, which exposed the data of more than 20 million government employees.

"Our delegation travels to China to expand cooperation between our nations," Pelosi said in a statement.

The other representatives in the delegation are Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Timothy Walz (D-Minn.), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).

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