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Aliya Sternstein

Senior Correspondent Aliya Sternstein reports on cybersecurity and homeland security systems. She’s covered technology for more than a decade at such publications as National Journal's Technology Daily, Federal Computer Week and Forbes. Before joining Government Executive, Sternstein covered agriculture and derivatives trading for Congressional Quarterly. She’s been a guest commentator on C-SPAN, MSNBC, WAMU and Federal News Radio. Sternstein is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
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The CIA Has a Problem with Biometric Surveillance

7:02 PM ET FROM NEXTGOV arrow Some tactics that CIA operatives use to avoid blowing their cover at airports could be foiled by one of the spy agency’s best surveillance tools: biometric identification. The growing use of digital fingerprint matching at European airports troubles Langley, according to January 2012 CIA guidelines for using fake IDs that ...

Hackers Wreck Iron Plant Machinery, Spear ICANN Systems and Channel M.C. Hammer

9:39 AM ET FROM NEXTGOV arrow In case you missed our coverage this week in ThreatWatch, Nextgov’s regularly updated index of cyber breaches: Cyberattack Physically Damages Iron Plant in Germany A German government agency says a computer intrusion destroyed parts of control systems at a steelworks facility. UC Berkeley Waits Three Months to Inform Hack Victims ...

Obama Administration Aims to Create ‘Insider Threat’ Job Specialty to Plug Leaks

8:55 AM ET FROM NEXTGOV arrow A New Year’s goal of the federal office responsible for averting employee leaks is to make a career out of catching so-called insider threats. It is a delicate task to simultaneously guard hard-working federal personnel and expose the bad apples. And it takes different talents than those one would find ...

Most Federal Agencies Wouldn’t Be Able to Bounce Back from a Sony Hack

December 18, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A file-wiping attack such as the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack could bring major federal departments to their knees, because most have no data-loss contingency plans, according to the latest figures on compliance with government cybersecurity laws. Further, unplugging systems to contain damage, as Sony did, would impair an agency’s ability ...

Why the US Doesn't Immediately Halt Hackers During an Attack

December 17, 2014 Some recently hacked agencies let attackers stay inside their networks for a bit before booting them out. Likely, there was a method to this madness – and it's called the “honeypot” trap. While no agency wants to be breached, in some cases, intrusions provide rare glimpses into an adversary's modus ...

Should Agencies Ever Let Hackers Rummage through Government Networks?

December 16, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Some recently hacked agencies let attackers stay inside their networks for a bit before booting them out. Likely, there was a method to this madness – and it's called the “honeypot” trap. While no agency wants to be breached, in some cases, intrusions provide rare glimpses into an adversary's modus ...

Agencies Mold Regulations around ‘Voluntary’ Cyber Standards

December 15, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Federal regulators are adapting voluntary cybersecurity standards to suit industries they oversee, for what could pan out to be requirements. Boat owners became the latest "critical infrastructure" industry that might be obliged to follow certain steps for identifying, thwarting and recovering from a network breach. The voluntary "Framework for Improving ...

Congress Strengthens Homeland Security's Cyber Role with FISMA Reform, Other Bills

December 11, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Lawmakers have sent a raft of cyber legislation to President Barack Obama's desk, breaking through a six-year logjam. No doubt congressional action was spurred on by escalating intrusions into government and contractor networks. In a move backed by the White House, but not necessarily all Pentagon hawks, each of the ...

Real-Life ‘Criminal Minds’ Team Tries to Root Out Rogue Federal Employees

December 10, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The term “insider threat” describes everything from government employees who snap on the job and commit violence to those who leak national secrets. But researchers say using technology to detect otherwise hidden behavioral patterns could help federal managers screen out mischief-makers of all stripes. Moreover, they could do so within ...

Torture Report: Seized Computers, Not Waterboarding, Thwarted Would-be Bomber

December 9, 2014 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A British terror plotter whom the CIA used as a poster child for the effectiveness of torture, actually was thwarted by foreign authorities and confiscated computers, according to revelations in a Senate report on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. The report asserts the information that brought down Dhiren Barot, alias "Issa ...