StateTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Government en Keep Wi-Fi 6 in Mind When Planning Network Upgrades <p>The next generation of Wi-Fi is on the horizon. It’s designed for the type of high-density environments found in large office buildings or government complexes, which can put on a strain on networks. Here’s what to know.</p> <h2 id="toc_0">1. What Is Wi-Fi 6?</h2> <p>The goal is to boost performance in densely populated areas — when both clients and access points play by Wi-Fi 6 rules. Each new Wi-Fi number builds on the one before: Wi-Fi 6 (based on IEEE 802.11ax) focuses on environments such as corporate campuses and stadiums. Wi-Fi 5, the IEEE 802.11ac standard, is now widely deployed and should coexist well as Wi-Fi 6 debuts.</p> <h2 id="toc_1">2. When Can My Agency Get Acces to Wi-Fi 6?</h2> <p>The standard still isn’t fully approved, but every major Wi-Fi infrastructure vendor has already announced products. On the client side, the <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">Samsung’s Galaxy S10</a> cellphone and <a href="" target="_blank">Apple’s iPhone 1</a> family of devices are the first to support it.</p> Joel Snyder Blockchain and Identity Management for State Governments <p>North Carolina is working to use blockchain technology to update its identity management solutions so residents can more easily get access to government services with a single ID. </p> <p>“How can blockchain play a part of our identity, and how can we push our identity out to the citizen, so they have the option of choosing and selecting when they are a part of a program and when they’re not?” former North Carolina CIO Eric Boyette <a href="">told </a><a href=""><em>StateTech</em></a> in October at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers 2019 conference. </p> <p>“If you’re a citizen, you live in a municipality, you live in a county and you live in a state. So why should you have three different IDs to transact?” Boyette added. “The citizen doesn’t care which piece of government they’re dealing with. They have a service they need and they want to apply that service and they’re trying to figure out how to get there. And we’re trying to make that easier. So, we’re partnering, we’re trying to do some pilots with our counties and municipalities on how to create one ID for our citizens.” Boyette, who now serves as the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, neatly encapsulates the promise of blockchain for identity management in state and local government. </p> <p>“Blockchain technologies look to be very promising for enabling identity and access management in the digital age,” says Eric Sweden, program director of enterprise architecture and governance at NASCIO.</p> Phil Goldstein How to Get Ahead of Election 2020 Security Threats <p>With the first waves of 2020 election primaries behind us, state officials continue to face the question of whether their election systems are <a href="">prepared for looming cybersecurity threats</a>.</p> <p>Foreign threat actors have shown again and again their interest in undermining one of the most sacred rights Americans hold: the vote. In Florida, it’s been <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a>, Russian interference in voter roll systems had the potential to alter results during the 2016 midterm elections. In Illinois, <a href="" target="_blank">media reports show</a>,  there’s evidence that hackers working for Russian military intelligence installed malware on the network of a voter registration technology vendor that year. In fact, all 50 states’ election systems were targeted by Russia in 2016, according to <a href="" target="_blank">a July 2019 report from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence</a>.</p> <p>Security experts have seen a number of potential threats to the 2020 elections, namely <a href="" target="_blank">a significant increase</a> in ransomware attacks, continued disinformation campaigns and more aggressive nation-state attacks within regions outside the United States.</p> Tom Guarente Good Cyberhygiene Remains Critical to Thwarting Ransomware <p>Over the past several years, ransomware has proved <a href="" target="_blank">particularly daunting for state and local government agencies</a>, and it’s not going away. Attackers encrypt files, then demand a ransom — with no guarantee the files will be unlocked.</p> <p>At least 70 such attacks <a href="" target="_blank">hit U.S. state and local governments in 2019</a>, with <a href="">at least 23 Texas municipalities</a> infiltrated in one attack during the month of August. <a href="" target="_blank">A recent IBM survey</a> showed nearly 80 percent of taxpayers are worried about ransomware attacks on local government. Ransomware can render emergency serv-ices or online payment systems inoperable, expose confidential and personal information, and grind services to a halt.</p> <p>As Texas CIO Todd Kimbriel said during the 2019 annual conference of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, to avoid a ransomware attack, “it is crucial that any service provider has good cyberhygiene practices in place.” </p> Tanya Candia How Public Agencies Can Guard Against a New Wave of Phishing Attacks <p>In addition to keeping vital citizen services running and ensuring employees can safely and productively work remotely, state and local CIOs and CISOs have another IT concern to deal with amid the coronavirus pandemic: cybercriminals. </p> <p>The flood of information in the news media and from government officials about the response to the coronavirus is opening up opportunities for malicious actors to target public sector agencies with phishing and ransomware attacks. </p> <p><a target="_blank">As <em>Wired</em> reports</a>, “coronavirus phishing scams started circulating in January, preying on fear and confusion about the virus — and they’ve only proliferated since.”</p> <p>The fraudsters are using phishing attacks tied to language around the pandemic to entice users to click on malicious links. Washington State CISO Vinod Brahmapuram <a href="" target="_blank">said in a recent blog post</a> that the pandemic “is being used by bad actors to play on our underlying fears, including using phishing emails that claim to have information about virus infections in our surrounding area — if users click on a link or an attachment.” </p> <p>During this time, state CIOs and CISOs are on high alert for such attacks and are warning their staff and the general public to be vigilant. It is also a prime opportunity to have all users brush up on cyberhygiene best practices, because the temptation will be out there for users to click. </p> <p>“It is the most clickable lure that an attacker can send out. Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon,” Ryan Kalember, executive vice president of cybersecurity strategy at <a href="" target="_blank">Proofpoint</a>, which is monitoring the phishing activity, <a href="" target="_blank">tells <em>Stateline</em></a>. “Their success depends on getting people to click. Coronavirus drives clicks like nothing else right now.”</p> <p>There are also heightened worries about cyberattacks launching against the public sector and critical infrastructure targets from nation-state sponsored attackers. Sen. Angus King, who co-chaired the recent <a href=";tid=a_inl_manual" target="_blank">Cyber Solarium Commission</a> on the future of U.S. cybersecurity, warned that the coronavirus “underlines our overall vulnerabilities [to cyberattacks] and the absolute unscrupulousness of our adversaries,” <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>The Washington Post</em></a>.</p> Phil Goldstein Why Cities Should Apply Data Analysis to Transportation Systems <p>Being able to accurately assess public transportation ridership and vehicular traffic is more important to cities now than ever in the recent past as transit volumes in cities plummet due to social distancing. </p> <p>New York City’s public transportation system, the largest in North America, <a href="" target="_blank">reported last week</a> that ridership dropped 60 percent on the subway and 49 percent on buses on March 16 compared with the same day last year. The Metro public transportation system in Washington, D.C., <a href="" target="_blank">has seen its ridership plunge by 85 percent</a>. And <a href="" target="_blank">in Boston</a>, only 22 percent of the average weekday riders took that city’s subway system, known as the T, on March 17. These declines could have profound and long-term implications for public transit and city life more broadly, <a href="" target="_blank">as CityLab reports</a>. </p> <p>Using data analytics tools to assess public transit usage is critical as cities strive to determine adequate service levels and how much they may need to cut back. However, such tools are always incredibly useful to improve transportation systems and the quality of services as well as reduce traffic. </p> <p>“Intelligent transportation systems will produce a large amount of data,” <a href="" target="_blank">an IEEE white paper notes</a>. “The produced big data will have profound impacts on the design and application of intelligent transportation systems, which makes ITS safer, more efficient, and profitable.”</p> <p>Big data analytics, IEE adds, can be used for a variety of smart city transportation projects, including but not limited to “road traffic accidents analysis, road traffic flow prediction, public transportation service plan, personal travel route plan, rail transportation management and control, and assets maintenance.”</p> Phil Goldstein Ransomware Awareness Is Up, But Training Still Lags, Study Finds <p>Ransomware attacks are increasing in both prevalence and cost. According to a recent report from Kaspersky Lab, <a href="" target="_blank">“Story of the year 2019: Cities under ransomware siege</a>,” 174 municipal organizations were infected with ransomware last year, roughly a 60 percent increase from the number of cities and towns that reported falling victim to attacks one year earlier. </p> <p>So far, total damage from ransomware in 2019 amounts to $11.5 billion, and the tally is still being counted, <a href="" target="_blank">according to a report from cybersecurity firm Deep Instinct</a>. </p> <p>Despite increased awareness of ransomware and the threat such attacks pose to state and local government agencies, there is still a disconnect on the amount of training and preparation agencies are taking part in to guard against attacks. </p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">a February Harris Poll</a> sponsored by <a href="" target="_blank">IBM</a> Security, 73 percent of government employees surveyed are concerned about ransomware threats to cities across the country, and more employees fear cyberattacks to their communities than natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The poll found that one in six respondents said their department was impacted by a ransomware attack. </p> <p>Despite the growth of these attacks, half of the employees surveyed have not seen any change in preparedness from their employers, with only 38 percent receiving general ransomware prevention training. Further, budgets for managing cyberattacks have remained stagnant, according to 52 percent of state and local government IT and security professionals polled.</p> <p>Why is there such a seeming disconnect between the level of awareness around the threat ransomware poses and the level of preparation needed to defend against it? </p> Phil Goldstein How Public Sector Agencies Can Manage Cloud Consumption for Optimal Results <p>The public cloud can simplify IT environments. But what happens when an enterprise’s cloud environment itself becomes maddeningly complex?</p> <p>As organizations across industries have increased their cloud spending and made the public cloud a more integral part of their operations, a number of inefficiencies have cropped up. The sources of these complications range from poor design to a lack of governance, and these inefficiencies can lead to negative outcomes that include cost overruns, lack of visibility into the environment and security vulnerabilities.</p> <p>An effective cloud management strategy can help organizations to manage their environments more efficiently. Such a strategy should include plans to control costs and optimize application performance, as well as to detail who is responsible for which aspects of cloud security.</p> <p>A variety of solutions and services can help organizations to implement and manage this strategy over time. These solutions include cloud management platforms, application and performance monitoring, backup and recovery, and other tools. Many organizations find it helpful to work closely with a third-party cloud management partner with broad and deep expertise managing cloud environments.</p> <p><strong>Learn more by downloading our white paper: "Managing Cloud Consumption for Optimal Results."</strong></p> Review: Toughbook 55 Offers Specialized Support for First Responders <p><a href="" target="_blank">Panasonic</a> has always created rugged equipment for state and local government employees such as first responders, who are tasked with lending aid in adverse conditions. <a href="" target="_blank">The Toughbook 55</a> is the natural evolution of that line, doubling down on everything making those systems reliable regardless of the circumstances.</p> <p>Nearly every kind of condition that might negatively affect a computer’s ability to operate has been anticipated in the 55 model. It has a solid-state hard drive, so there are no moving parts to jostle if it’s operating inside a moving vehicle. The drive is equipped with an onboard heater, keeping it toasty and within temperature tolerance levels even if left alone in freezing conditions. </p> <h2 id="toc_0">Toughbook 55 Designed for First Responders in Arduous Conditions </h2> <p>The 14-inch touch screen is designed to work with first responders who might be wearing gloves, either as protection from the cold or from hazardous conditions. A stylus or touchpad can be used as additional inputs. It even features a volume upgrade, so it’s easier to hear the 55’s speakers through protective headgear. The entire system is encased in a magnesium alloy shell that resists damage when dropped, and it is also sealed against water.</p> <p>One of the newest innovations involves the way the Toughbook 55 can communicate with the world, even during a tragedy when cellular phone networks might be jammed up. It comes equipped with a radio operating on the Band 14 spectrum reserved for the nationwide <a href="">First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)</a>. Managed by FirstNet, the network was created to allow first responders to communicate with each other at any time, in any situation. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>READ MORE: </strong>Find out how tough laptops help police with data collection and retention.</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_1">A Laptop Designed for Maximum Flexibility</h2> <p>A brand-new modular design rounds out the impressive features of the 55. It’s built so expansion modules can easily be added, including adding extra I/O ports, a fingerprint reader, a second storage drive or an extra battery pack for extremely long life between charges. </p> <p>The Toughbook 55 is a fast computer, with a powerful <a href="" target="_blank">Intel</a> Core i7 processor supported by 16 gigabytes of DDR4 RAM running <a href="" target="_blank">Windows 10 Pro</a>. For first responders and other government employees working in rough conditions, the Toughbook 55 can handle almost any computing task and survive in the face of the toughest mission. </p> John Breeden II 3 Tips to Get Organized with Tags in Microsoft Azure <p>Government agencies collect a lot of data, and storing data in the cloud is a quick and easy way to access that data on demand. <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft Azure</a> provides a way to find the right data quickly through its support for tags.</p> <p>Azure tags are name-value pairs used to organize resources in the Azure environment. Azure tags are generally used for resource management, automation and accounting. An effective tagging strategy makes resource administration within the Azure environment much easier.</p> <p>What are best practices for tagging within an Azure portal? It is important to understand that there are a few limitations to using Azure tags. A particular resource can have a maximum of 15 tags associated with it. Tags are not hierarchical, which means tags cannot be nested. Though tags can be up to 512 characters (or 128 characters for storage accounts), tags should be focused and to the point.</p> Adam Bertram