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DOD bans media streaming on its telework networks

The Department of Defense has banned personnel from using media streaming websites like YouTube, Pandora, Netflix and others while teleworking as network strain has slowed access to critical enterprise services, such as email. The Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Networks — the organization that secures, operates, and defends the Department of Defense‘s networks — may soon also block social media websites to “maximize operational bandwidth available for COVID-19 response,” according to a memo obtained by FedScoop. The moves come at a time when the military services are struggling with the impact of large portions of their workforces being asked to telework to fight the spread of coronavirus. Jackson Barnett has more on the ban.

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With over 1,500 institutions and hundreds of thousands of students who use AWS Educate, we wanted to take you on a trip around the world and highlight how students are learning and innovating with the cloud. Learn more.

Census: Do your 2020 form online if you can

The spread of the coronavirus has caused the Census Bureau to suspend in-person operations of the 2020 count by two weeks. Luckily, the bureau has a shiny new online self-response portal that Americans can go to in the meantime. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham “strongly” encourages Americans to respond online “using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet,” or by phone or mail if they prefer, during this lapse in field response operations. As of March 15, more than 5 million Americans have already responded to the census online. The online self-response portal officially went online March 12. In total, the survey has received more than 11 million responses. Billy Mitchell has the story.

Hackers like it when you telework, NIST warns

The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued a bulletin advising agencies to ensure the cybersecurity of any internal resources they make available to teleworkers through remote access during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote access technologies are, by nature, exposed to more external threats, says the advisory, which follows a separate guidance Wednesday by the Office of Management and Budget for agencies minimize face-to-face interactions as the coronavirus spreads. “An organization should assume that external facilities, networks, and devices contain hostile threats that will attempt to gain access to the organization’s data and resources,” reads the bulletin. “Organizations should assume that malicious parties will gain control of telework client devices and attempt to recover sensitive data from them or leverage the devices to gain access to the enterprise network.” Dave Nyczepir has more from the bulletin.

Messaging apps ramp up to handle federal traffic

Messaging and communications platforms are seeing a spike in interest for their use as federal workers are asked to telework during the pandemic. Connecting federal employees for meetings is an important slice of the IT capacity that the government now needs as it races to replace person-to-person interactions with online communications. Google G Suite, Slack, Zoom and Cisco’s Webex Meetings and its Secure Cloud for Defense are some of the software-as-a-service applications approved by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and for agency use. FedScoop spoke to some of the companies to learn about the surge in usage. Jackson has more.

Emergency funding needed for IT, telework

Several federal agencies are in need of emergency funding to, in part, boost their ability to telework and expand IT operations during the coronavirus pandemic. The $45.8 billion in supplementary requests come in a new letter from the Office of Management and Budget sent to congressional leaders Wednesday. Tens of millions of dollars in the request would go directly to boosting IT services that would ease the strain on federal networks as agencies have moved to maximum telework capacity in recent days. On top of the telework support, some agencies need resources to scale IT operations in response to the pandemic. The Department of Veterans Affairs, for instance, has requested $1.2 billion to support expanded telehealth as the virus spreads. Also, the Treasury Department wants more funding to "enhance IRS information technology capacity to respond and interact with taxpayers." See what agencies are asking for.

Improve security practices with better data insights

As state and local agencies look to improve cyberdefense plans, the data they choose to collect and analyze can play a pivotal role in determining the ultimate impact of an attack. That’s why agency leaders should consider investing in a platform that’s able collect, leverage and understand enterprise data, according to a new Splunk report. The report details how modern platform solutions, capable of operating as a “security nerve center,” are better suited than many specialized tools at identifying gaps in network defenses. Read more here.

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