Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


PIN and chip card

Air Force to issue smart travel cards

Like most businesses, the federal government has been concerned about combating fraud and identity theft among its employees. President Obama issued an executive order in October mandating federal agencies make upgrades to their payment and travel systems to increase the security of financial transactions. 

Keeping in line with the president’s vision, the Air Force announced it will begin to issue chip and personal identification number-enabled government travel cards this month to those applying for new cards, those who need replacements or those whose cards will expire this year.  

The new cards from Citibank are embedded with a microchip that provides for transaction encryption and an elevated level of authentication. Chip and PIN technology strengthens data security, better protecting cardholders’ personally identifiable information, as well as the government’s sensitive transaction and payment data.

Furthermore, Citi’s chip and PIN cards do not use RFID and so are not susceptible to “skimming issues,” in which hackers remotely read information from RFID cards. Citi’s cards will include both chip technology and magnetic stripe technology, commonly found in ATM cards. 

More primitive cards that merely feature magnetic stripes and PINs are less secure as they are incapable of dynamic authentication, a process that generates a different transaction code at every transaction ensuring greater data protection.      

“Starting in January 2015, only Chip and PIN travel charge cards will be issued to DOD personnel,” according to a fact sheet by the Defense Travel Management Office.  

Posted on Jan 12, 2015 at 11:31 AM0 comments


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for Government now available

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for Government is now generally available to all U.S. government customers and partners.

First announced in December, CRM Online for Government is based on the Microsoft Dynamics’ public cloud offering, designed for FedRAMP compliance and operated by cleared personnel in the continental United States.

Featuring core case management functionality, Dynamics CRM Online Government lets agencies modernize business applications quickly and inexpensively, Microsoft said. The tool connects departments, teams and data, “making it ideal for an expansive variety of use cases, including field inspections, constituent service and task management,” the company added.

Microsoft said that Dynamics customers will be able to use existing on-premises investments and benefit from integration with Azure and Office 365 government community clouds to help ensure secure access to public sector applications and workflows.

CRM Online is already used in King County, Wash., which is migrating a number of citizen service solutions and correspondence tracking workloads to Dynamics CRM Online for Government.

The company also announced partners who have developed CRM Online-based solutions for government, such as Investigative Management from Planet Technologies, Public Records Tracker from Webfortis and Event Permitting from Tribridge.

Posted on Jan 07, 2015 at 10:34 AM0 comments


Mobile apps promise time savings for citizens, caseworkers

Mobile apps promise time savings for citizens, caseworkers

While agencies build out their mobile services delivery, a recent survey suggests citizens are ready to use their smartphones to connect with government. 

Nearly half (46 percent) of the recipients of assistance from human services agencies surveyed by Accenture say they would likely download and use a mobile application for obtaining services. That number jumped to 64 percent when survey respondents were asked if they would be interested in mobile access to such day-to-day activities as checking their benefits, applying for assistance or submitting questions to caseworkers.

According to the survey, the most common means of citizen interaction with social services agencies currently is via telephone (32 percent), followed by in-person office visits (23 percent).  Only 9 percent of respondents, on average, say they now make use of websites for dealing with their human services-related activities. 

Human services apps can deliver significant benefits to citizens by eliminating visits to the human services office. Because apps lower call volume and in-person visits and automate basic services, caseworkers can work more efficiently. In fact, Accenture estimates that the broad use of mobile apps among citizens could save caseworkers and their agencies 62 days worth of time per year.

“The benefits of convenience and time savings associated with mobile applications address the biggest pain points people associate with visiting human services offices,” said Debora Morris, managing director, for Accenture Integrated Social Services. “Mobile applications also can provide potential benefits to agencies to reduce costs to serve citizens while freeing up caseworkers for higher value-added activities. We estimate that an average-sized U.S. state human services agency could save around $14 million annually by deploying mobile apps for citizens.”

Posted on Jan 05, 2015 at 9:04 AM0 comments


NIST revises guidance on security, privacy assessments

NIST revises guidance on security, privacy assessments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has revised Special Publication 800-53A, Assessing Security and Privacy Controls in Federal Information Systems and Organizations: Building Effective Assessment Plans. This fourth revision contains significant changes to the 2010 version of the publication in content and format, according to NIST.

The publication is intended to provide guidelines for building security and privacy assessment plans as well as a comprehensive set of procedures for assessing security and privacy controls used in information systems and organizations.

The guidelines have been developed to help achieve more secure information systems within the federal government by:

  • Enabling more consistent, comparable and repeatable assessments.
  • Promoting a better understanding of risks resulting from the operation and use of federal information systems.
  • Facilitating more cost-effective assessments of security and privacy controls.
  • Creating more complete, reliable, and trustworthy information to support risk management decisions, reciprocity of assessment results, information sharing, and compliance to federal laws and policies.

Based on feedback from federal agencies that have conducted actual assessments as part of the risk management framework process, NIST made improvements in current security assessment procedures, including:

  • Clarification of terminology.
  • Expansion of the number of potential assessment methods and objects on a per-control basis.
  • A simpler decomposition of assessment objects to align more closely with security control statements.

The changes should result in significant improvements in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of control assessments for federal agencies, which NIST said will give senior leaders the information they need to understand the security and privacy of their organizations and to be able to make credible, risk-based information security and privacy decisions.

Posted on Dec 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM0 comments


Army to build drone base in Texas

Army to build drone airport in Texas

The Army’s Corps of Engineers has awarded a $33 million contract to SGS to build an airport for the Gray Eagle and Shadow UAVs at Fort Bliss in Texas.

The Gray Eagle, the Army’s largest unmanned aerial vehicle, is a long-range, medium altitude system used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, attack, air support, IED detection and destruction, and as a communications hub.

The catapult-launched Shadow is used for ISR, targeting and assessment. It’s just over 11 feet in length, and can fly for up to six hours at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet.

The complex will include a 50,000-square-foot unmanned aircraft maintenance hangar and more than a mile of runways, aprons, and taxiways, according to an announcement from the company.

The airport will be fenced and secured, and the Army said all operations will take place in restricted airspace.

A longer version of this article originally appeared on Defense Systems, a sister site to GCN.

Posted on Dec 12, 2014 at 11:45 AM0 comments