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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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NSA Critic Named No. 2 White House Tech Official

May 11, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A highly regarded information security researcher and outspoken critic of National Security Agency activities has been named a White House deputy chief technology officer, the Obama administration announced Monday. At first blush, Ed Felten might seem a surprising choice. Just two months ago, the current Princeton University computer science professor ...

Federal Employee Retirement Plan Struggles with Cyber Conflict of Interest

May 11, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The board of a hacked federal employee retirement plan is struggling to comply with government cybersecurity rules, because of concerns the requirements infringe on the organization's independence, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board says. The admission comes as the agency faces a grilling from senators over a Labor Department review ...

Third-Party Software Was Entry Point for Background-Check System Hack

May 10, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Hackers broke into third-party software in 2013 to open personal records on federal employees and contractors with access to classified intelligence, according to the government's largest private employee investigation provider. That software apparently was an SAP enterprise resource planning application. It’s unclear if there was a fix available for the ...

Hackers Rig Ratings of Pro-Putin Videos and Spy on Iranian Expat Living in the US

May 8, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In case you missed our coverage this week in ThreatWatch, Nextgov’s regularly updated index of cyber breaches: Canadian Woman Allegedly Harassed Kids through Hacked Webcams, Showed Victims ‘Extreme Porn’ Valérie Gignac, of Quebec, apparently took control of people's computers remotely, to peer at and bully them. The 27-year-old is believed ...

Apple to DoD: Here’s What To Do If Terrorists Take Down the Cell Network

May 8, 2015 Correction: In an earlier version of this article statements made by Apple’s Bud Tribble were incorrectly attributed to Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen. The plan to use cellphones in a national emergency was a suggestion made to the Pentagon not a plan the department is currently undertaking. Let's ...

White House Dispatches Digital Squad to Salvage Electronic Immigration System

May 7, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A White House rescue team for months has been working behind the scenes to recode an IT project originally intended to computerize the immigration system by 2013. Had the first try worked, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration and Services caseworkers would be interacting online with each other and the country's roughly ...

Homeland Security Committee Considers Turning Nation’s Cellphones into Walkie-Talkies During Emergencies

May 7, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Correction: In an earlier version of this article, statements made by Apple’s Bud Tribble were incorrectly attributed to Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen. The plan to use cellphones in a national emergency was a suggestion made to the Pentagon, not a plan the department is currently undertaking. Let's ...

Mapping Threats

May 6, 2015 Around the time the computer game “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” was teaching Generation Y about geography, grown-up versions of geography software had analysts at spy agencies a little concerned about job security. Back then, Defense Intelligence Agency imagery analyst Robert Cardillo and his colleagues thought visualization technology ...

DHS Scales Back License Plate-Tracking Surveillance

May 4, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow This story was updated May 4 at 4:35 p.m. to include comment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security has scaled back the scope of contractor requirements for what would have been a nationwide license plate-scanning effort, amid continued uproar over the on-again-off-again project. The new system, ...

CYBERCOM To Outsource $475 Million of Work To Stand Up Command

May 3, 2015 The emerging Pentagon division that coordinates military cybersecurity and cyberattacks is asking private contractors to help finish standing up the Cyber Command. Among the tasks to be assigned under a request for proposals issued Thursday are support for eavesdropping to detect threats and assistance with repelling hacks equivalent to an ...