Tech News for May 13

California Regulators Approve Charter’s Takeover of Time Warner Cable

Charter Communications has cleared a final regulatory hurdle in its nearly year-long quest to clinch its $71 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. California Public Utilities Commission members on Thursday voted unanimously to approve the transfer of phone licenses, a blessing needed by Charter to complete the merger of three cable companies. Charter is expected to finalize the Time Warner Cable and Bright House transactions next week, and then work to consolidate its cable systems nationwide. The Federal Communications Commission approved the deal last week after attaching several conditions aimed at expanding the availability of broadband Internet to begin to close the so-called digital divide.

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Lawmakers Hesitant to Fund Cal-Access Project

Senate budget lawmakers favor upgrading California’s campaign and lobbying database, but they remain hesitant to fund the Secretary of State’s project after a string of high-profile IT project failures in recent years. At a recent budget subcommittee hearing, Democrats and Republicans expressed reservations about funding the project, in large part because Secretary of State Alex Padilla wants to expedite it and run it out of his office instead of the Department of Technology. “Our history in this state, that I’ve seen on these, is when the department runs itself in terms of IT and they don’t have the IT Department expertise on their side, I think we tend to do a little bit of harm to ourselves by accident,” Sen. Janet Nguyen, R-Santa Ana, said.

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OPM: A Year After The Breach

Earlier this year, red-team hackers at the Homeland Security Department, tasked with purposefully probing weak spots in agency security, ran into an unexpected problem at the Office of Personnel Management. The security of the notoriously hacked agency was actually too strong. The DHS team had set out to infiltrate OPM’s networks to execute a phishing attempt — that is, to entice employees into clicking on insecure links or downloading bogus attachments. “They really were having a problem doing phishing attacks on us,” said Clifton Triplett, OPM’s senior cybersecurity adviser and one of the new hires the agency brought on board last year to deal with the fallout of the massive security clearance hack. “They couldn’t get in the door.”

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New Calif. CIO should emphasize cyber, collaboration — state tech leaders

The hunt is on for a new California CIO after Carlos Ramos stepped down from the state’s top tech job this spring. Amy Tong, the state’s Health and Human Services Agency CIO, has temporarily filled the post, overseeing the state’s nearly $5 billion IT budget and managing technology security activities across state agencies. The governor’s office hasn’t been explicit about what it’s looking for — other than it aims to “select the best possible candidate from a broad and diverse pool of applicants” — but tech leaders throughout the state say the new candidate must place a premium on continuing some of Ramos’ current projects and boosting the state’s cybersecurity.


Governor To Release Updated Budget Proposal Friday

Gov. Jerry Brown will release an updated California budget proposal this morning – and he’s expected to issue a fresh call to limit new spending. “Because of the fact that revenues have come in lower than projected, there have been some alterations and changes that have been made to the governor’s proposal that he put forward to the Legislature in January,” says H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance. Personal income tax revenues last month came in roughly $1 billion below projections, a rare budget setback after years of economic recovery.

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IBM’s Watson Takes on Cybersecurity

Watson, the artificial intelligence platform from IBM, wears many hats. The cognitive computer has been a trivia master, physician’s assistant, financial analyst, cancer researcher, fitness coach, and customer service representative. Now, IBM is training the software to help protect companies from hackers and malware. IBM recently announced a cloud-based version of the cognitive computing software that will understand the language of cybersecurity, using it to identify digital threats that might elude human analysts. The company is taking the same big data approach it applied to other industries, feeding Watson reams of security research to guide its hunt for hackers.


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