Can AI help Government Win the Cybersecurity Wars

With state governments receiving hundreds of thousands of cybersecuity alerts daily, a need is created to develop a new plan to fight threats and attacks. Each alert may or may not represent a relevant threat and determining even one suspicious event consumes significant staff time and resources. Government must develop more efficient methods for identifying critical indicators from the multitude of events.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are options for solving this problem. One version of AI maps events to machine learning data models that execute an algorithm built from past samples to classify an event as benign or a threat.

  • AI strengthens cybersecurtity defense by:
  • Scanning large volumes of events from multiple sources
  • Identifying variations from typical network traffic patterns
  • Grouping related security events and notifying security personnel about potential threats
  • Watching IoT (Internet of Things) network entry points

Cybersecurity is full of grey-area challenges but by incorporating deep learning principles with state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms cybersecurity will continue to improve. The perfect AI does not yet exist but it remains an effective security tool.


Summarized from Government Technology

Why Local Governments Aren’t All Aboard the Blockchain Train

Tech Blockchain

Most local governments are not racing to adopt blockchain technology, currently in its early stages of development.

Blockchain functions as a transaction ledger that can only have “blocks” of information added but not altered. Cryptography ties new blocks to preceding blocks in a chain by having hundreds of computers and servers in the network solve the same mathematical proof (mining) in order to validate the transaction.

Reports of people investing in cryptocurrency scams (ex. 51 percent attack) where hackers accumulate 51 percent of a central processing unit power in order to rewrite a transaction history, has raised concerns about blockchain.

Local governments have expressed interest in private blockchains like the IBM Hyperledger because it is a permissioned network where participants agree on the party doing the mining. In addition, local governments have used blockchain with smart contracts where the terms of the agreement are coded into a blockchain and self-executed.

An additional concern is that a single transaction uses as much energy as the average U.S. household uses in a day.

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One year after Atlanta’s ransomware attack, the city says it is transforming its technology

Atlanta suffered one of the highest profile cyberattacks against a U.S, target when the ransomeware virus SamSam wreaked havoc on nearly every part of the city government.

The virus infected financial systems, court systems, customer relationship systems, and service desk systems, resulting in a massive loss of data that needed to be recovered. When logging on to these systems, employees were greeted with an anonymous request for a bitcoin payment amounting to $51,000.

A system audit prior to the attack showed that nearly 100 government servers were running a version of Windows that Microsoft stopped supporting years earlier and as many as 2,000 other vulnerabilities turned up, making Atlanta a prime target.

The initial recovery steps were to implement fundamental practices including better password management and greater restrictions on access to sensitive systems. In addition, the city migrated many critical applications to a hybrid cloud service to improve security.

State and local governments need to develop a collaborative action plan ahead of time in order to effectively respond to ransomware and similar cyberattacks.

Summarized from StateScoop

Exploring the Impacts of AI on Public Administration

One of the challenges to implementing artificial intelligence (AI) is trying to understand its impacts on government.

The Artificial Intelligence Working Group, formed in 2018 by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), was tasked with determining the implications of AI on public administration.

NAPA Standing Panel on Technology Leadership’s Working Group on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and the Impact on Public Administration released its findings entitled “AI and Its Impact on Public Administration” (

The results address the impact of AI on the workforce; the convergence of AI, ethics, and public administration; and how AI and information technologies are being integrated into public administration curricula.

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As Local Governments Tap Into Tech, Privacy Becomes A Concern

Local government officials are now using technology to gather information that helps them do their jobs, an issue that opens new doors for innovation. Drones, Bluetooth sensors, license plate readers, and traffic cameras are just a sampling of the available technology.

Advancement in technology can create concerns that should be considered regarding individual’s privacy and security. As drones are used for assessing new properties, making damage assessments, and assuring that development follows construction plans, liability issues arise including the use and storage of photos of people.

Additional concerns relate to the use of mobile parking apps that store personal credit card information and license plate readers that use data from the national crime database. Liability is minimized through adherence to protecting credit card data standards and limited personal information that is provided by the national crime database.

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Blockchain Taskforce Bill Passes in New Jersey Senate

The NJ Legislature has passed S-2297, a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean (R-21) and Sen. James Beach (D-6), that launched the” NJ Blockchain Initiative Task Force” to study whether state, county, and municipal governments can benefit from a transition to a blockchain-based system for record keeping and service delivery. Simply stated, blockchain is digital information (the block) stored in a public database (the chain).

According to the legislation, blockchain will allow the state to reduce the prevalence of disparate computer systems, databases, and custom-built software interfaces, reducing costs associated with maintenance and implementation, streamlining the sharing of information, and allowing more regions of the state to participate in electronic government services.

The task force will study opportunities and risks associated with using the technology, different types of blockchains, and different consensus algorithms, projects and use cases currently under development in other states and nations, and how the legislature can modify current state laws to support secure, paperless recordkeeping.

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U.S. State & Local Government IT Leaders Say Burdensome Regulations Limit Use of Digital Tools Necessary for Protecting Data

U.S. state and local government IT decision makers are limited in their ability to deliver certain online services due to regulations that hinder the use of digital tools needed to protect citizen data.

A survey of 200 state and local IT officials found that two-thirds of the respondents view digital transformation projects as critical for offering citizens a single platform for finding information about public services and applying for benefits and permits. Nearly three out of four said that current statutes, regulations, and standards represent a barrier to doing so.

There is a need to look beyond current requirements so that governments can take advantage of tools to reduce costs, limit risk, and better support agency and citizen needs. It is imperative that state and local agencies recognize the impact that technology has on transforming the way people live and work. More than 80 percent of respondents said that they have, or are planning to have mobile apps to provide access to government agencies.

Summarized from Unisys Corporation/PR Newswire

Tech Companies, States Spar with Government Over Net Neutrality

Tech companies and nearly two dozen states clashed with the government in federal court over the repeal of net neutrality, the Obama-era rules preventing big Internet providers from discriminating against certain technology and services.

Lawyers for the states and the companies argued to restore net neutrality, repealed in December 2017 by the Trump administration.

The net neutrality rules had banned cable, wireless, and other broadband providers from arbitrarily blocking or slowing down websites and apps, the process referred to as “throttling.”

Because the FCC classified the Internet as an information service rather than a telecom service, it was determined that the agency was justified in not addressing misconduct by the large Internet providers. The government lawyers and the large providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast argued to keep neutrality repealed, allowing them to continue under current regulations. The FCC requirement of Internet providers to disclose practices and operations is a sufficient safeguard.

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Where is Blockchain in Government Headed?

Simply stated, blockchain is digital information (the block) stored in a public database (the chain). While its popularity has grown in recent years, government agencies are fine-tuning their use cases and picking their blockchain projects wisely.

When looking for a blockchain project it is necessary to evaluate certain factors to determine appropriateness. 1) Would the project work in a business environment? 2) Is the information appropriate to be shared? 3) How will success be measured? 4) Will the project overcome funding and regulatory issues? 5) How will success be measured?

For the right project there are significant benefits to blockchain technology when solving tactical issues but an agency must be certain of the value before embarking on the project development.

Summarized from MeriTalk

Government Websites Are Going Interactive With Budget Details. But Will Citizens Know What They’re Seeing?

When the Radnor Township, Pennsylvania Commissioners discovered that the Township Manager had given himself nearly $130,000 in unauthorized bonuses, they began an initiative to become more transparent about Township funds.

The “Open Finance” website was launched as an interactive tool to let residents, investors, business owners, government employees, and others explore the township’s budget through charts and graphs. The site allows users to look at broad data or drill deep into funds, reaching individual check amounts if desired.

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has determined that current technology enables smaller governments to offer the same types of online tools that larger governments are providing their constituents. The GFOA is working on best practices for online budget tools.

(summarized from The Inquirer)