Year in Review 2015: Hefty IT Investments; Fighting (and Succumbing to) Cyber Threats
From smart city investments and use of Bitcoin technology in government to the Ashley Madison and U.S. Office of Personnel Management hacks, news during the third quarter of 2015 didn't disappoint.
A new partnership between the National Fusion Center Association and FireEye is providing new insights into cybersecurity threats, informed by the company’s intelligence on international hackers and politically motivated groups like Anonymous bent on attacking IT assets. Part of a growing attempt to share cyberthreat information across sectors, the company will also partner with six regional intelligence centers in California to share information and streamline operations using technology.
The Dallas Fusion Center. Photo courtesy of Christie Digital Systems
After hackers stole more than 25 million Social Security numbers from the databases of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the office shut down its background check operations for the U.S. Navy. OPM closed the system, called Electronic Questionnaires for Investigative Processing, to beef up the program’s security. Stakeholders in the system said it might mean disruption of an already-backlogged maintenance system. OPM got the program up and running again in about a month.
Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute is looking to first outfit its campus with sensors, then the rest of Pittsburgh. The researchers want to see the resulting Internet of Things not only offer convenience — coffee beginning to brew as a driver parks, for instance — but also collaboration to encourage innovative uses. Eventually they want to see millions of sensors installed around Pittsburgh.
Looking to bring an innovative spirit to government and a public service mindset to entrepreneurs, President Obama solidified the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program on Aug. 17. The program, which began as a yearlong process, will now continue indefinitely as a partnership where private-sector tech entrepreneurs are paired with federal employees to work on public projects. In its first year, the partnership created open data portals to release information on adverse medical events, medication error reports, officer-involved shootings and more.
Building on the experiments of private-sector companies like Zappos, a group of 10 employees in the Washington Technology Solutions office began working in a non-managerial system in February. The holacracy pilot project involves people essentially managing themselves by choosing workflows and sharing responsibilities. So far, one participant says, it’s going well: Employees seem to be enjoying the work. The office started expanding the system to include 100 employees this summer.
Image via Shutterstock
The Iowa Department of Transportation began testing the first digital driver’s license in the country. The app, mDL by MorphoTrust, was used by about 100 employees during a 90-day pilot that the company will use to assess different scenarios that may arise during adoption of the tech. Possible benefits include the ability to instantly update a person’s information and two-way communication between a transportation department and its customers.
Michigan announced Sept. 18 that it’s suing HP for the company’s alleged failure to meet the contract requirements of a $49 million IT modernization project. Michigan issued a termination letter to HP on Aug. 28, stopping work on an endeavor to replace the secretary of state’s mainframe systems. The state claims that HP failed to meet its deadlines and that the department must continue to rely on its mainframe systems, built in the late 1960s.
There are three ways to deal with impersonation accounts on social media: ignore them, embrace them or go on the offense. Peoria, Ill., Mayor Jim Ardis took serious issue with a parody Twitter account, having the account creator arrested and his computer systems seized. A lawsuit claimed the account creator’s First and Fourth Amendment rights had been violated, and the city eventually settled the case for $125,000. Media attorneys say sometimes the best response is no response; Ardis turned a forgettable situation into a firestorm.