This week’s Federal News Countdown includes the story selections of two great guests who are on the Countdown for the first time:
–Kim Peretti, director in PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Forensic Technology Solutions practice, and former senior counselor at the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section –Tom Shoop, Editor in Chief of Government Executive and GovExec.com
“There appears to be little relief in sight from the relentless onslaught of spam that continues to deliver malicious code and phishing lures to our inboxes day in and day out. According to Symantec’s “State of Spam and Phishing Report” for August, spam made up more than 92 percent of e-mail last month. The percentage of spam has fluctuated from a low of about 79 percent in November to more than 95 percent, but it has held pretty steady around 90 percent for most of the past year.
“But there might be a small patch of light on the horizon, coming from – of all places – the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where a judge has recommended that ownership of 276 Internet domains used by the Waledac botnet be turned over to Microsoft. If the judgment comes down from the court, it would effectively cut off the botnet’s command and control network.”
“Organized cyber thieves stole more than $600,000 from the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa earlier this month. The funds were spirited away with the help of dozens of unwitting co-conspirators hired through work-at-home job scams, at least one of whom was told the money was being distributed to victims of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals, KrebsOnSecurity.com has learned.
“In a statement released last week, the diocese said the fraud occurred between Aug. 13 and Aug. 16, apparently after criminals had stolen the diocese’s online banking credentials. The Diocese it was alerted to the fraud on Aug. 17 by its financial institution, Bankers Trust of Des Moines.
“The diocese also said the FBI and U.S. Treasury Department were notified, and that the FBI had taken possession of several diocesan computers. To date, roughly $180,000 has been recovered.”
“Federal authorities in New Jersey say they’ve broken up a large-scale identity theft and fraud ring that stretches from the insular Korean enclaves of northern New Jersey to U.S. territories in the Pacific.
“Fifty-three people, many of them Korean immigrants living in New York and New Jersey, are charged with helping people fraudulently obtain credit cards, bank accounts and loans using illegally obtained Social Security numbers.
“Authorities say the ringleaders operated a scheme to buy Social Security cards from brokers who fraudulently obtained them from Asian immigrants – mostly Chinese nationals – working in American territories, including Guam, American Samoa and Saipan.”
“President Obama is sending a direct message to top federal executives, emphasizing the importance of government reform efforts.
“The Obama administration will use a new website to track the progress and performance of federal agencies in six key areas, according to an Office of Management and Budget memorandum issued on Tuesday to the more than 7,000 members of the SES, elaborating on the president’s message.
“Senior government officials will be held accountable for meeting data-driven goals through Performance.gov, a site already used by federal managers and scheduled for public unveiling later this fall, stated the 13-page review and update of the administration’s top government reform priorities.”
“Federal agencies are on track to roll out a new resume-based hiring system by November, government managers said on Tuesday.
“During a meeting of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, agency officials told Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry they are making progress implementing reform mandates, such as increasing manager participation in the hiring process and reducing the average time to hire candidates to 80 days.
“President Obama in May issued a memorandum requiring changes to the federal hiring system, including eliminating knowledge, skills and abilities statements and giving hiring managers more responsibility. Agencies must fill positions more quickly and update candidates on the status of their application, and managers must be more involved in workforce planning and recruiting and interviewing candidates.
“In an attempt to reap substantial savings by making the acquisition process more efficient, Defense Department officials on Tuesday announced far-reaching changes to how the department will buy weapons and services.
“The announcement is part of a broader efficiency initiative begun last June to find $100 billion in overhead savings that instead can be spent on troops and weapons.
“The 23 principal actions contained in the guidance fall under five broad categories: target affordability; incentivize productivity and innovation in industry; promote real competition; improve tradecraft in services acquisition; and reduce bureaucracy.
“The guidance will apply to all new weapons purchases, officials said. The emphasis on affordability already is being applied to the next-generation ballistic missile submarine the Navy seeks. Estimated costs for a single sub had risen as high as $7 billion, but after applying new standards, the costs are now roughly $5 billion — a reduction of 27 percent in a program expected to cost more than $100 billion.”