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House finally passes state and local cyber grants

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed legislation sought by state IT leaders that would create a new federal grant program supporting state and local government cybersecurity efforts. The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which was introduced in February, would direct the Department of Homeland Security to distribute $400 million annually to states — which could then redistribute their awards to localities — in hopes of helping public-sector entities defend themselves from an ever-growing landscape of online threats. While NASCIO said it "is pleased that this legislation that we support has passed the House," its chances in the Senate are uncertain at best. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Iowa's got a VDP

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced Thursday that his office is launching a new program allowing outside security experts to find and patch weaknesses in its election-related and other websites. With the new vulnerability disclosure program, Iowa will give legal liability protections to researchers hunting for bugs that could leave its networks susceptible to attacks if left unaddressed. Pate's office is partnering with ethical-hacking firm Bugcrowd on the new program. “We were confident we were at a maturity level to engage the [security researcher] community,” said Jeff Franklin, the chief cybersecurity officer in Pate's office. “It taps into a community that wants to help and make things better.”   Ben has more.

Big day for data in Miami

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought businesses, schools and much of the tourism to a standstill in Miami, but the city’s technology leaders told StateScoop that data-driven recovery programs have sparked a new culture of data analysis across agencies. Last week, city and Google developers finished a 16-day "sprint" developing a data warehouse, complete with visualization tools, that will serve as the key component to helping the city’s pandemic-recovery groups plan out the reopening of Miami’s economy. It’s the first such data analysis tool that Miami has had, citywide Chief Information Officer Michael Sarasti said. Ryan Johnston has details.


Agencies rethinking cloud security amid COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the federal government’s workforce to cloud-based telework, agency leaders were obligated to address security concerns and access risks to sensitive information. According to Google Cloud executive Dan Prieto, public sector organizations will need to evolve both policies and practices to mitigate these risks. He delves into the expanded perimeter with remote workers and the limitations of VPNs in a new podcast. Hear more from Prieto.


How to strengthen security concerns despite budget constraints

Agencies are increasingly handicapped as they try to keep up with growing security threats. And now, agency leaders are also facing looming budget pressures for the coming year. The skills gap is a twofold problem for state agencies, say IT experts in a new podcast. Retirements are taking institutional knowledge out the door and there is a competitive landscape around modern IT skills. Leaning on managed security or professional services can help augment security and minimize expenses. Listen to the discussion.

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