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FCW Insider: Sept. 19

A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Department of Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud. Derek B. Johnson takes a look at some of the issues complicating plans for IT modernization at DHS.

Auditors want artificial intelligence and robotics process automation tools to monitor fraud and abuse and assist in compliance activities, but the new tech is slow to penetrate agencies so far. Lia Russell has more.

Almost a decade in the making, a frequency-sharing program involving Defense Department spectrum and commercial users is open for business. Mark Rockwell reports from the ribbon cutting.

The Air Force Reserve is looking to boost its cyber capacity looking ahead to election season, when operators may be needed for special assignments. Lauren C. Williams explains.

Quick Hits

*** A bipartisan group of lawmakers launched a new push to revive the Office of Technology Assessment – the long-shuttered congressional agency that gave advice to members and committees on technology issues. In 2018, an appropriations report urged a study to evaluate unbiased scientific and technical advice available to Congress. On Sept. 19, Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are introducing the Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act. This bill, supported by Appropriations language funding the OTA, will extend assessment services to all members, support the public release of reports and require the coordination of activities with existing efforts at the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service.

"An improved OTA -- the Congressional Office of Technology -- would provide Members of Congress with the support they need to be effective legislators; especially as emerging technologies are affecting every aspect of our daily lives," Takano said in a statement.

*** House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wants new choice for National Security Advisor to bring back a high-level White House position to coordinate cyber policy across the federal government. President Trump tapped Robert O'Brien, who was serving as Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the Department of State, to the post. O'Brien's predecessor John Bolton last year eliminated the cyber coordinator post.

"Despite concerns raised when the position was eliminated last year, the White House has done little to address the vacuum left behind," Thompson said in a statement. "With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and growing by the day, including the persistent threat to our election systems, there is no reason the White House should have allowed this position to be eliminated.

*** The Department of Homeland Security's top cyber official said he was "sick" of the narrative that information sharing between the federal government and state and private stakeholders is enough to turn the tide against malicious hackers.

"I don't know about you, but I'm sick of hearing about information sharing and how that's going to solve our problems. It's not," said Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. "We have to get beyond information sharing, we have to work together to understand what our respective advantages are, protect the American people, our networks and counter the adversary. We don't do it by sharing [Indicators of Compromise]."

Krebs point was not that information sharing is pointless; it remains a key pillar of CISA's strategy to foster better cooperation between American sectors against cyber threats. Rather, he argued that information sharing alone is not a panacea and must be accompanied by more direct action from organizations to share resources and tools outside of their own immediate interest.

"We need to take those capabilities we have and extend those outside of our workplace," Krebs said.

Posted on Sep 19, 2019 at 3:33 AM


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