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Broadband DATA Act: Take two

The House of Representatives this week passed a revised version of a bill intended to address the federal government’s methods of mapping broadband coverage in the United States, which have been found to be inaccurate. It's the second time lawmakers have advanced the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability — or Broadband DATA — Act, one of several recent pieces of legislation introduced as part of efforts to get the Federal Communications Commission to improve its broadband mapping strategy, which has been widely criticized for misrepresenting the actual levels of broadband coverage by allowing telecommunications firms to self-report their service areas. The bill, which is expected to clear the Senate, would require the FCC to develop a more granular method of collecting broadband coverage data than the current model, which allows telecom firms to declare an entire census block as "covered" even if just a single address is served, a methodology that has been found to undercut rural areas. Ryan Johnston reports.

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Counties need cyber disaster plans, too

State governments have steadily revised their disaster response plans to include contingencies for cyberattacks, a policy shift that’s helped places like Colorado, Louisiana and Texas work through ransomware incidents. But as attacks like ransomware continue to hone in on local governments — with more than 120 known cases last year — it’s incumbent upon county governments to add cyberattacks to their own disaster playbooks, speakers said Monday at National Association of Counties conference in Washington. “A cyber disaster is just like a physical disaster,” said Phil Bertolini, a co-director of the Center for Digital Government and former chief information officer of Oakland County, Michigan. “The same planning steps that go into a physical emergency have to go into your digital emergency." Benjamin Freed has more.

Of course there are coronavirus phishing attempts

As coronavirus infections surge globally, hackers and nation-state actors are weaponizing information about the COVID-19 virus to spread malware and disinformation, according to security researchers and the U.S. State Department, CyberScoop's Shannon Vavra reports. While the number of reported phishing attempts has surged in Italy, where COVID-19 infections have surged, researchers say threat actors are likely to target other countries where the novel coronavirus is a growing concern, including the United States. “Whenever there is a topic of public interest like COVID-19 … we see cybercriminals try to manipulate our concern into an opportunity,” said Chet Wisniewski of the security firm Sophos. Read more on CyberScoop.

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