Tech News for May 11

Inside the New Web Portal

California has redesigned its homepage so that it’s a dynamic portal instead of a static website.

The new look and new features include geospatial capabilities that tailor imagery and content based on the user’s location, reorganized presentation emphasizing access to e-government services, and a full-service content management system on the back end.

“It’s maybe not a one-stop shop yet, but that’s our ultimate goal as we move forward ­— to get to a place where California citizens can get the services they need from their state easily,” said Lynda Gledhill, deputy secretary for communications for the Government Operations Agency.

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DGS Plans Website Redesign and Content Management System Upgrade

The Department of General Services this week released an RFI seeking input to identify a new content management system and a suggested redesign of its external website,

The RFI issued May 9 summarizes the project’s intent:• Identify a Content Management System (CMS) that will meet all of the department’s functional and technical requirements; and•

Redesign/rebuild the CMS-supported external website in the domain; the website shall be redesigned with a focus on improvements to the core site’s visual design, structure, navigation, content, administration and workflow.

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May 13: Agile Development Vendor Pool Web Conference

The Office of Systems Integration is hosting a Web conference on Friday at 10:30 a.m. about a new effort to create a prequalified pool of vendors that provide agile development services.

The Child Welfare Services – New System (CWS-NS) project is the first that will draw from the pool. The CWS-NS Project will introduce the new process and open the conference for questions and answers. To be considered for qualification, vendors must submit a working prototype of software demonstrating agile development. Final submissions are due June 9.

The conference will be presented as a Web conference through this link:

For more information on the conference or to submit questions in advance, please call 916-263-3264 or email

The California Health and Human Services Agency said it hopes the pool of prequalified vendors will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a solicitation and reduce cost.

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Telecoms Fight California to Guard Their Data

Major telephone companies sued the California Public Utilities Commission in Federal Court, claiming it’s trying to make them cough up sensitive information that, if disclosed, could affect their ability to compete.     Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Comcast and others sued the commission on May 5, claiming it’s demanding “competitively sensitive data” that could be disclosed to third parties.     The telecoms say the Commission’s demand violates Federal Communications Commission rules and the Constitution.

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Tech Upgrade Targets Overpayment of California Unemployment Benefits

California’s Employment Development Department will soon begin work on an IT modernization project that will integrate the collections and accounting systems the department uses to ensure that recipients of unemployment and disability insurance pay the state back if they receive overpayments. The $15 million Benefit Overpayment Collection Automation (BOCA) project is one of the newest initiatives under the Department of Technology’s oversight. A project feasibility study was submitted for BOCA in February, and the department has requested about $8.7 million in funding during the next three fiscal years for state staff positions, contracts, hardware, software and ongoing support.

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What Does a Corporation Owe You After a Data Breach?

It’s a question that grows in importance with each new report of a data breach: How much responsibility should companies take for protecting people’s privacy?

The most common response when a corporate database gets hacked is for the business to offer a year of free credit monitoring — a better-than-nothing measure that will alert people to suspicious activity involving their credit files but will do nothing to prevent fraud, identity theft or other mischief.

West Los Angeles resident Jairo Angulo and his wife were among nearly 80 million current and former Anthem health insurance policyholders whose personal information was reported hacked last February.

Names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, email addresses and employment information, including income data, were accessed by digital thieves in what the company described as a “highly sophisticated cyberattack.”

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Rancho Santa Fe Internet Could Go from ‘Worst to First’

Rancho Santa Fe could go from worst to first with its proposed fiber-optic network, putting an end to the community’s lack of reliable connectivity that has been described by residents as both “debilitating” and “embarrassing.”

At its May 5 meeting, the Rancho Santa Fe Association approved a letter of intent with Hotwire Communications to build out a one-gigabit to 10-gigabit speed fiber-optic network to every home in the Covenant. The 10-gigabit speed will make Rancho Santa Fe the most connected community in the country.

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First responders: Agencies need national standards, private sector partnerships to build mobile apps

Public safety agencies at all levels need to standardize their IT practices and work closely with the private sector to develop mobile apps for emergency communication, according to a panel of first responders.

In a discussion at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Bethesda Chapter’s Law Enforcement and Public Safety Technology Forum Tuesday, federal and local officials called on the tech industry for more help in developing tools to speed secure communication in the field. However, all of the panelists also acknowledged that the thousands of disparate systems employed by public safety agencies can make it difficult for companies working to design apps that will appeal to departments nationwide.

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DHS will beef up law enforcement IT network, using cloud savings

The Department of Homeland Security is planning substantial upgrades to its information-sharing network to the meet the demands of state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, Chief Information Officer Luke McCormack said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Law Enforcement and Public Safety Technology Forum, McCormack assured departments of all shapes and sizes that DHS is working to expand the functionalities of its Homeland Security Information Network, also known as HSIN.

McCormack estimated that roughly 60,000 law enforcement agents, first responders and critical infrastructure managers currently use the network to collaborate with each other and the federal government in emergency situations. However, he noted that he’s heard from many of the network’s users that they were hoping for a “federated search function” that would give high-level officials access to information across a whole host of agencies.

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More than half of IT projects still failing

In 2013, a survey from cloud portfolio management provider Innotas revealed that 50 percent of businesses surveyed hadexperienced an IT project failure within the previous 12 months. Now, three years later, not much has changed. According to the most recent Innotas annual Project and Portfolio Management Survey, in fact, the numbers have increased: 55 percent of the 126 IT professionals surveyed between January and March 2015 reported they had a project fail, up from 32 percent in 2014.

The problem isn’t necessarily that there’s a shortage of project managers or technology tools to help organizations address these issues, says Tushar Patel, senior vice president of marketing, Innotas. It’s a problem with resource allocation and aligning those resources with business goals.

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Why banks are finally cashing in on the public cloud

The financial services industry has avoided entrusting its data to public cloud vendors, even as Amazon Web Services quietly acquired thousands of business users. Banks and insurance firms feared rigorous regulatory scrutiny should their data become compromised in a breach at one of their cloud vendors.

Not anymore. More banks are coming around to the public cloud even if they’re not shouting the fact from the rooftops, says Jim O’Neill, senior analyst with Celent’s banking practice.

“It’s the worst kept secret in banking that everybody is experimenting with cloud,” O’Neill says. “It’s just that no one wants to be the first one to get a full proctology exam from the regulators as to how they planned out their cloud environment.”

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HP Launches Investment Arm for Tech Ventures

U.S. technology and printing giant HP is launching HP Tech Ventures, a corporate investment arm that will develop cooperation and investments in early stage technology companies.

The business of HP Tech Ventures, which will be conducted by a team located in Palo Alto and Tel Aviv, will focus on strategic investments and cooperation in areas such as 3-D printing, virtual reality, hypermobility, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and smart machines. Irit Hillel, who will manage the HP Tech Ventures office in Israel, has 18 years of experience as an entrepreneur and senior manager in investment, technology, and digital media companies. “The technology trends are moving towards fields and markets in which HP is strong,” HP CTO and HP Labs director Shane Wall said in an announcement.”

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Enterprise networkers have organized: Here are their demands

A user group for enterprise IT managers is taking on software-defined networking, calling for new technologies they say would better serve enterprise needs.

On Tuesday, the Open Networking User Group (ONUG) announced initiatives behind four technologies that it says would help enterprises build and run their networks better.

There’s no shortage of platforms and protocols for software-defined infrastructure, including things like OpenFlow, OpenStack and ONOS (Open Network Operating System). But they were developed around the needs of vendors and service providers more than of enterprises, ONUG founder Nick Lippis said. His group wants to push along a few more pieces that aren’t there yet.

The four initiatives, announced at ONUG’s semi-annual conference in Mountain View, California, are the first such efforts from the three-year-old organization.

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Microsoft fixes actively attacked IE flaw and 50 other vulnerabilities

Microsoft released patches for 51 vulnerabilities Tuesday, including one affecting Internet Explorer that hackers have exploited in targeted attacks against organizations in South Korea.

The Microsoft patches were covered in 16 security bulletins, eight rated critical and eight important. The affected products include Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Office and Microsoft .NET Framework.

The patches included in the IE and Edge security bulletins, MS16-051 and MS16-052, are among the most important ones and should be prioritized because they can be exploited to compromise computers when users visit specially crafted Web pages.

The actively exploited IE vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2016-0189 and was reported to Microsoft by security researchers from Symantec. According to them, an exploit for it was found on a website in South Korea that was likely used in spear-phishing or watering-hole attacks.

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Fixing The Technology Skills Gap

There’s a stark gap between the number of open tech positions and qualified candidates to fill them. Even if it’s not a traditional “tech company,” these days, every company needs a technical hire or two.

So how are technology executives working to fix this? Below, a group of technology leaders from Forbes Technology Council offer their best advice — from grassroots investment ideas to specific organizations working in this arena — of ways to close this gap.

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8 File Types, Databases and Platforms You May Not Know Can Be Rescued

Compromised files and data is something we don’t tend to worry about much these days. Backup to the cloud and other forms of remote digital information storage have us accustomed to the data always being there, somewhere.

Sometimes, however, this isn’t the case. Plenty of critical, crucial data for individuals and businesses wind up existing solely on local drives and unremarkable servers. When damage strikes it can seem as though decades of family pictures and videos, or thousands of client records, are gone forever.

Fortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, software exists solely for the purpose of coming to the rescue in the salvaging of seemingly lost file types and databases. Here are eight examples of what can potentially be rescued in the event of a local drive error…

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4 Things to do to Reduce your Risk of Server Failure

I can’t stress enough the importance of treating your technology and equipment properly. While we recommend that our clients always have equipment that’s within warranty, when you aren’t taking proper care of it or are neglecting it in certain ways, it can absolutely fail sooner.

Your server is your lifeline. It’s where you store all your important documents and data. All of the stuff that you work so hard on is stored on your server. It’s the center of your network. When your server fails, work comes to a halt.

Server failures are one of the worst things that can happen to your network and can not only result in some downtime, but depending on the state of your backups, can also cause you to lose data.

Here are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of server failure…

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