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CIOs stepped up in the pandemic

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made state chief information officers as prominent as they've ever been in their governments, according to an annual survey being released Tuesday by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. The seven-month-long health crisis, CIOs said, has exposed cracks in government services and continuity of business operations that have required IT agencies to address many challenges. To NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson, the degree to which the group's members have been relied upon this year is a strong reinforcement of CIOs' years-long trajectory away from merely being back-office tech support to officials who keep the business of government running. "It’s really the elevation, the recognition," he told StateScoop. "What we’ve been talking about for years is getting beyond that infrastructure role to business leader." Benjamin Freed has more on the NASCIO survey.

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Knock, knock

Foreign government-linked hackers have been exploiting old software vulnerabilities in an effort to access federal, state and local computer networks in ongoing activity, the FBI and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned Friday, CyberScoop reports. The federal advisory did not point the finger at a particular foreign government, but it said that the malicious cyber activity had in some cases “resulted in unauthorized access to elections support systems." That's a reference to traditional IT infrastructure like email servers that local governments use for a range of business functions, not the processing or tallying of votes. Sean Lyngaas reports for CyberScoop.

Maze ransomware leaks school district data

Hackers using the Maze ransomware last Friday published information stolen in a recent hack of the public school system in Fairfax County, Virginia, including personal information of some students and employees, the district’s superintendent said. In an email to staff and students’ families, Scott Brabrand wrote that the attackers “posted the information that they stole on the dark web.” School officials are identifying and notifying affected individuals, but the incident makes Fairfax County Public Schools — the nation's 10th-biggest K-12 district — the latest victim of ransomware actors using embarrassing extortion tactics in an effort to elicit a payment. Ben has more.

New York City graduates first class of pandemic innovation fellows

New York City officials on Friday celebrated the completion of three technology-focused initiatives conceived during the coronavirus pandemic, including a broadband mapping initiative, a machine learning-powered translation service and a data-driven dashboard that tracks hate crimes across the city. The city worked with the U.S. Digital Response, a nonprofit founded by former federal IT officials, to hire 14 technologists with a background in civic engagement as “fellows” to conduct an eight-week “sprint” of work starting on August 10 to finish the initiatives, which were designed to address inequitable access to resources in communities that suffered the most from the coronavirus. Ryan Johnston has the story.

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