Tag Archives | Government

US Army Servers May Have Been Hacked

An Anti-US hacking group known as “m0sted” has apparently hacked into at least two sensitive Army servers, InformationWeek claims, citing “exclusive” information. The breaches are being investigated by the US Army, although they have not been publicly disclosed.

The two servers known to be hacked were one at the McAlester Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Okla. on January 26, and another U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Transatlantic Center in Winchester, Va which occurred on September 19, 2007.

In the earlier case, the divisions webpage was hacked redirecting to the group’s own site. That site hosts anti-US and anti-Israeli messages. It is not known whether the group was able to access or download any sensitive data.

Both hacking attempts took advantage of SQL injection vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s server software. Even though the Defense Department has put in place tools to prevent such attacks, the hackers have apparently found a way to bypass those measures.

As part of the investigation, search warrants against Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have been executed in an effort to reveal the hacker’s identities. The Defense Department is not commenting on the report.


Obama Administration Appoints Top CIO

The White House press office announced today that Vivek Kundra, the current chief technology officer of Washington DC, will be assuming the position of Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the White House.

U.S. President Barack Obama rode into office backed by an unprecedentedly sophisticated grassroots campaign that leveraged Web 2.0 technologies to rally and organize his supporters. Kundra’s appointment fulfills a campaign promise to appoint a so-called technology czar to make the federal government operate more effectively.

The appointment of a top CIO is another first: the position did not exist in any previous administrations. Kundra will also have final say on government technology purchases , and will have the authority to overrule his peers at subordinate agencies.

He will likewise have responsibilities for making government information systems more interoperable to share information, while preserving (and in many cases establishing) security and privacy standards. The Washington Post has reported that Mundra will have a CTO to assist his efforts.

The impact all of this has on government contractors–as well as commercial software vendors–could be huge. Imagine if Kundra decides that the federal government should embrace open source software, for instance.

All I can say is “wow.” Government agencies have enjoyed incredible autonomy; getting CIOs to fall in line is an immense task and will require skillful political maneuvering. But it is an undertaking that may be long overdue.

Salon.com founder Scott Rosenberg’s book Dreaming in Code (a great read, btw) details how the Internal Revenue Service’s tax system modernization cost taxpayers billions of dollars, and ultimately failed.

The notion that someone could pull the plug on such bloated efforts offers taxpayers a measure of accountability, and in my opinion, that’s a very positive happening.

When President Obama took office, his staffers entered a White House that was years behind the technology curve –old, outdated equipment stymied staffers that were accustomed to the bleeding edge. Reports about security breaches persist to this day.

Kundra’s job will be a great experiment in streamlining bureaucracy, and is perhaps the most difficult a CIO has ever taken. Is a Federal CIO is a good idea, or will the position be relegated to failure?


Whitehouse.gov Gets a Makeover

At 12:01pm, the official website of the White House changed hands, and with it came quite a sea change as far as the openness of the executive branch. The website has a definite Web 2.0 feel to it — from the blogs, to the dynamic headers and whatnot.

But what’s really exciting to me is the transparency. All of Obama’s executive orders and proclamations will be posted on the site for all to see. The president’s agenda is also laid out on the website, and the Administration is soliciting readers to join the mailing list to stay abreast of current government happenings.

This is really smart. Keeping the citizenry up-to-date on your actions, as well as inviting them in, will go a long way in getting what you want done. Too often lately in politics, things are done in the so-called “smoke-filled room,” with little input from the people they are supposed to represent.

Ever wanted to have the President’s ear on a specific bill? You will. Non-emergency legislation will have a seven-day comment period before Obama decides to sign it: those will also be posted on whitehouse.gov.

The Adminstration says it has more in the works, but I’m certainly excited about what I’ve seen so far.

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