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09/15/2020
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WorkScoop

Election-planning during the pandemic

Secretaries of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver of New Mexico and Paul Pate of Iowa, have been planning for the 2020 presidential election for years. But despite all the investments in election security after 2016, they write in a new commentary for StateScoop, they didn't prepare for a pandemic. The pair, who lead the National Association of Secretaries of State cybersecurity committee, said this year has forced election officials across the country meet this unexpected challenge with increased levels of information sharing, virtual interactions across their staffs and more efforts to secure their systems. "The one thing you can always count on is for election officials to come together in a nonpartisan and bipartisan manner to secure elections, share practices and learn from each other," they write. Read their commentary.


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'A special place in hell'

Actors using the Maze ransomware are claiming credit for a recent string of attacks against large public school districts across the United States, just as students and teachers are returning to their mostly virtual learning environments. Last Friday, the school system in Fairfax County, Virginia, which enrolls nearly 200,000 students, reported that it had been compromised by Maze, which posted a file containing stolen data on a website it uses to extort its victims into paying. While Fairfax County Public Schools officials said the incident has not affected its remote learning services, it occurred days after similar attacks against the public school organizations in Toledo, Ohio, and Clark County, Nevada. Katie Nickels, the director of intelligence at the information security firm Red Canary, said there's a “special place in hell for ransomware operators who attack hospitals or schools.” Benjamin Freed has the story.


San Antonio spots survey bias

Officials in the San Antonio city government told StateScoop they expected to find biases in the results of surveys conducted in recent years to understand citizens' concerns — and they did. Now, a coalition of municipal agencies will produce an internal report next month with recommendations for the city to eliminate barriers that officials said prevent underserved communities from giving their input. “Not only is the digital divide a barrier to participation, but some of the categories we use for race, gender and ethnicity aren’t representative of how much of our public identifies,” said smart city coordinator Emily Royall. Ryan Johnston reports.


Virginia's CIO tries some new things

Officials at the Virginia Information Technologies Agency told StateScoop the state tech bureau has long been focused on maintaining infrastructure and not much else, but two recent additions to the team appear to be changing that. For both Jonathan Ozovek, chief operating officer, and Dan Wolf, chief administrative officer, last month marked one year of work in their new roles at VITA. Chief Information Officer Nelson Moe, who's argued the roles were needed to let him handle a new multi-vendor IT service model and to evangelize for his agency, said the last 12 months have gone well. “It has been extremely good for me and the agency and the commonwealth that we have this organizational architecture in place,” Moe said. Colin Wood has the full story.


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