Tech Tidbits: Cybersecurity failings & spectrum shortages

To catch up on a few things I didn't have time to flag over the past two days, here are a few interesting snippets.

The Government Accountability Office came out with a cybersecurity report yesterday that found "pervasive vulnerabilities" to cyber attacks of the critical infrastructure of most federal agencies. GAO identified weaknesses in all major categories of information security controls. The report said agencies do not consistently authenticate users to prevent unathorized access to systems, do not encrypt sensitive data, and do not audit or monitor security-related events. The report also gives recommendations.

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra made a surprise appearance via Web-cam at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. He joined Microsoft executive Ray Ozzie in unveiling new features of Azure, Microsoft's clould computing services platform. As blogger Mark Drapeau writes, "This would seem to strategically position Microsoft as a cloud provider for the public sector."

In today's K Street Insiders column, Jeff Mascott of the Adfero Group says "social media has quietly become a powerful diplomacy tool in the United States’ arsenal. For the State Department, social media is the message of American diplomacy." He describes some of the "cutting-edge initiatives" the State Department has rolled out, such as the Democracy Video Challenge, which invited people from around the world to submit videos finishing the thought "Democracy is..."

Finally, an interesting admission made by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski after the agency's open meeting today. He said he is "not confident we'll find the spectrum we need to reach our goal" of universal broadband. The impending spectrum shortage has brought up questions about where the spectrum needed to build ubiquitous wireless networks capable of broadband service will come from. He said the FCC will have to identify untapped sources of airwaves, as well as come up with more efficient ways of using the airwaves already allocated. It's a long process: it takes between six and 13 years to reallocate spectrum to a new use.