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Health agencies need to tighten up email security

Research published yesterday by email security company Proofpoint found that nearly half of states’ health departments have not said if they’re using a critical protocol designed to prevent criminal activity like spoofing and phishing, a disturbing finding at a time when the internet is rife with scams attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Proofpoint said that 44% of state health departments do not have a published record of using Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance, or DMARC, on their email servers, which could make it easier for actors to impersonate those agencies and commit email fraud on unwitting victims. Proofpoint said it has identified at least 300 different coronavirus-themed email scams since the health crisis started, responsible for more than 500,000 fraudulent messages full of malicious links and attachments. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Washington state recovers fraudulent jobless payouts

As a wave of unemployment fraud slows the ability of states to deliver funds to legitimate applicants, Washington state officials said yesterday that recent tweaks to the unemployment benefits system are helping the state reclaim $300 million in phony payments and process legitimate claims faster. Washington was the epicenter of an email fraud ring, believed to be based in West Africa, that's exploited the surge in unemployment claims created by the COVID-19 pandemic. And while Washington appears to have addressed its problems, many other states are still encountering fraudulent applications. Colin Wood has more.

Texas city forms team of 'citizen developers'

With limited IT resources inside city government, municipal employees in Garland, Texas, have started recruiting “citizen developers” to collaborate on the rapid development of digital services. More than 30 employees from across the city government serving the Dallas suburb of about 240,000 have joined the team, which is made up of workers who don't specialize in technology, but who were willing to learn how to build and share their own digital tools. “It’s kind of a group where we can help each other get things done instead of having to reinvent the wheel and bring IT into everything,” said Debbie Watson, a senior analyst for the Garland Fire Department and one of the team's founding members. Ryan Johnston reports.

State GIS community strives for greater diversity

Geospatial information systems teams in and around state governments are working to improve their diversity, two GIS leaders said in the latest episode of StateScoop’s GIS Addressed podcast. One effort underway at the National States Geographic Information Council aims to increase the diversity of voices in GIS, specifically to encourage and promote women into GIS leadership roles in state governments. “It’s imperative that we understand what workforce diversity means,” says Kimberley Denney, an executive vice president at the remote sensing firm Atlantic. Listen to the podcast.

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