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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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5th OPM Hack Hearing Presents Yet Another Unanswered Question

July 9, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow By the fifth congressional hearing on a wide breach of U.S. personnel information disclosed in early June, some of the usual witnesses were running out of new things to say, while some just plain didn't show up. Office of Personnel Management Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour, who has made two...

Employee Union Deems OPM Breaches ‘Unconstitutional’ -- And Sues

July 8, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A second lawsuit has been filed against Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta for failing to protect federal employees' personal information. The National Treasury Employees Union alleges breaches of its members’ personnel records and potentially background investigations are unconstitutional. The legal tactic differs from that of the largest federal...

Post-Breach, Interior Has Mandated Computer Users Sign On with Smart Cards

July 7, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The Interior Department last week mandated that offices block individuals from logging into the agency's network unless they enter both a password and government-issued smart card, according to Interior IT officials. The decision was made after hackers stole an Office of Personnel Management contractor’s credential to pull out records on...

OPM Hiring IT Staff to Work on Cyber Upgrades

July 6, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The Office of Personnel Management needs at least four more senior IT project managers, with salaries totaling up to $680,000, to move forward with a controversial computing upgrade, agency officials say. The new hires will be responsible for transporting the agency's decades-old computer systems to a new network, dubbed "the...

Home Depot Has Better Cyber Security Than 25 US Defense Contractors

July 6, 2015 After revelations that a compromised contractor login abetted a grandiose breach of federal employees' background investigations, now comes word that Defense Department suppliers score below hacked retailers when it comes to cyber defense. The new industry-developed cyber rankings -- and the recent Office of Personnel Management hack -- raise questions...

Hackers Spy on Federal Investigator, Get Into Harvard Illegally and Email Themselves School Secrets

July 6, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In case you missed our coverage this week in ThreatWatch, Nextgov’s regularly updated index of cyber breaches: Contractors Hacked Other Contractors and Agencies for Financial Gain Twins Muneeb and Sohaib Akhter, 23, admitted breaking into a slate of systems, including State Department networks, while working as government contractors. They infiltrated...

Pentagon Contractors Rank Below Retailers and Banks When it Comes to Cybersecurity

July 5, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Updated July 7: The post below has been updated to further clarify that BitSight’s security rating of the defense contracting sector does not apply to specific companies but reflects a median score of the top 25 defense contractors. Some companies’ individual scores were higher than the median, BitSight notes. After...

DHS Alerts Public to OPM-Related Phishing Scams

July 1, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow This story was updated July 2 to include details from DHS. A Department of Homeland Security crisis response squad is cautioning about deceitful emails that claim to come from either the Office of Personnel Management or the fraud-prevention firm hired to protect identities netted in the gargantuan hack at OPM....

Why the Lawsuit Against OPM over the Massive Data Breach Faces an Uphill Battle

July 1, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A class action lawsuit against the Office of Personnel Management over a massive breach of federal employees’ data faces an uphill battle, privacy law experts say. The American Federation of Government Employees says OPM and a contractor violated the 1974 Privacy Act by neglecting to secure employees' personal data, which...

Pentagon, OPM Shut Down Background Check Systems

June 30, 2015 A Defense Department Web system that tracks employee background investigations will be offline for an unspecified amount of time, while officials fix security holes in a civilian agency database connected to the tool, according to department officials. A vulnerability in an Office of Personnel Management tool that links to the...