With remote work (and frankly, remote living) becoming a reality the need for digital forms has never been more acutely felt. No longer is it an option to walk a form down the hall or drop it off at an office to conduct routine business. Organizations have had to quickly shift to digitally enabling methods for processing forms, including the capture and acceptance of electronic signatures.
The discussion of digitizing forms did not start with the pandemic. It's long been a focus of modernization teams that realize there are over 10,000 forms available for download on government websites. This online availability of forms goes back to the 1995 Paperwork Reduction Act. It was a great first step, but as with anything that started in 1995 it is in serious need of advancement and updating.
The Census Bureau's mission is "to serve as the nation's leading provider of quality data about its people and economy." 2020 is a decennial census year where the government is required by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution to collect data on the population of the country. This data is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and inform the distribution of billions in federal funds to local communities. The 2020 questionnaires will begin arriving to homes mid-March. All households receiving a questionnaire are required to fill it out and return it. Those that have not responded will be visited by census takers beginning in May.
The first census took place in 1790, one year after George Washington took office. For this initial census, marshals visited every house and collected data. The process took months and the end results were questioned for accuracy and completeness. Since then, the process by which census data is collected continues to evolve.
In 1890, a punch card system was used for the census. This automation was developed specifically to meet the growing amount of data that needed to be processed. The company that developed this technology went on to become IBM. Moving ahead 130 years, this year's census marks the first time people will be able to submit their responses online.
The delays and confusion over the Iowa Caucus results has once again brought election security into the national spotlight. Voting has increasingly moved to electronic means following the 2000 elections that put the fate of the election in the "hanging chads" of Florida. Electronic voting machines seek to remove human-error in the actual voting process as well as vote tallying. However, many voting precincts are using technology that is 10-20 years old, introducing problems around maintaining and securing the systems for today's use.
One surprising conclusion around election security is the critical role of a paper trail. Having a paper back-up to electronic voting proved to be important in Iowa and is making counties nationwide re-examine the role of paper in modern elections with the end goal of accuracy being more important than speed.
To modernize voting procedures, systems, and products, Congress has earmarked over $700 million to replace paperless voting machines with more secure digital options that offer a paper trail. While voting is handled at the state and local level, more support from the federal level comes with a new policy that ensures the FBI brief state election officials when local election infrastructure has been compromised. However, many argue this does not go far enough and that the FBI should loop in election officials if they discover breaches of private sector companies involved in providing election technology and support. Continue reading
The digitization of records and processes across government increases the need for sound digital investigation tools and processes. Whether it is looking into a data breach or gathering information for litigation, organizations are spending a lot of time culling through this data to get answers to pressing issues. An IDG survey found that a vast majority of organizations conduct digital investigations on a weekly basis. These investigations range from proving regulatory compliance, security incident response (including post-event analysis), and stopping high risk employee behavior (acceptable use violations).[Tweet "A look at digital investigations with Tod Ewasko, Director of Product Mgmt. at AccessData. #GovEventsBlog"]
We sat down with Tod Ewasko, Director of Product Management at AccessData to learn more about the role of digital investigations as a part of everyday IT efforts.
Q: Who "owns" forensics? IT? Legal? HR?
A: The answer is kind of all three. Many people lump forensics in with cybersecurity, but it's really a separate entity. Yes, forensics tools are used to investigate cyber incidents, but they are not preventative. That is what you have the "hunting" tools out there for - watching firewalls and logs for anomalous behavior or activity. Once that is stopped, then the forensics tools come in to make sense of it - to see how it happened and drive the plans to make sure it does not happen again. Forensic tools look beyond the event and gather all data relevant to the systems in question.
Q: Is forensics all reactive then? Continue reading