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Government 2.0

There is no question that technology has changed how Government is done. With the integration of social networking, blogs, RSS feeds, and wikis, Government is better able to serve individuals, businesses and employees alike.

Here is a forum to share your experience with technology use in Government.

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admin2  
#1 Posted : Thursday, December 3, 2009 10:46:13 PM(UTC)

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GCN, a sister site to FederalSoup, just reviewed the Verizon Droid -- the iPhone competitor -- and thought it was not only a good phone, but a good tool for feds because it's easy to write apps for it. Here's the link for the review: http://gcn.com/Articles/2009/12/03/A-Droid-for-every-fed.aspx?s=soup.
 
--> DISCUSSION: Tell FederalSoup.com what you think. Do you love your iPhone? Or are you eyeing the Droid? I know I am. Post your reply to this message.
mallen  
#2 Posted : Sunday, January 17, 2010 2:11:21 PM(UTC)

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How does easy to write apps for affect security? One advantage of a closed system is that it makes it more difficult for an end use to go out and download their favorite minesweeper clone,which could contain a Trojan. The more open the phone is,the more end users will download their favorite apps and customize it to their liking. I use a windows mobile phone (my personal device) and I have all sorts of programs and apps on it from games,to messaging to productivity programs. I have not heard of it happening,but there is a very real possibility,especially in a setting where a particular organization decides to standardize on a particular device,that someone could target a useful program to those people and compromise their phones. 
frankgonzalez  
#3 Posted : Monday, January 18, 2010 1:40:39 AM(UTC)
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Mallen...a "closed" system is one the OS is secured via obscurity (see MS Windows).  Does not protect you much if the bad guys find an exploit to use.  An "open" system is one which is secured by lots of people looking at the code and being able to fix any problems they find without having to go through the originator (see Linux, BSD). 
Linux and BSD are easier to secure than Windows is.  The security of the device is handled via permissions, so for government purposes you can lock down the Android OS  to only allow admins to install apps, but it also allows the government to write their own applications for it for specific needs.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
mallen  
#4 Posted : Monday, January 18, 2010 3:34:19 PM(UTC)

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I fully agree in that context. I perhaps misused the term closed. What I meant to say was a system that allows anyone to install anything they want and makes it easy to do so. Some phone operating systems can lock things down and make it very hard to install unauthorized apps. Some do not,and some do it better than others. 
 If you can lock Android down,and its reasonably difficult for people to get around it,then Im sold as far as that goes. From your post,I'm sure your aware that the easiest way to screw up any computer is to let an end user actually use it.
 The open vs closed software debate is one that Ive never quite accepted at face value though. While it is generally true,especially with OS software like Linux or Windows,I dont think it is necessarily true as the unequivocal statement its usually made as. It really depends on how many people look at the source code. Lets say I write an open source app for a Windows Mobile phone. Its a very specialized app that only people working with fissionable materials would be interested in. The app is not very popular and the only people that download it are physics and engineering students that are interested in it,potential terrorists that quickly find it useless for their purposes and delete it,and people working at government labs and nuclear reactors that love it. Because so few people download it,you expect that even fewer actually bother downloading the source code. Those that do if they actually use it at all, make small tweaks for their own purposes and never bother looking too deeply for security issues. In this case,the open source software will be no better than closed source software. Regardless of whether I release the source code or not,I'm really the only one who ever looked for flaws in it.

 In other words,the strength of open source software's security is only valid when many people actually are looking for security flaws. If a you download a web browser that virtually no one uses or is interested in,written by a single person,it may well be that internet explorer,for all its well known security flaws,is intrinsically more secure. Its true that all the common exploits are WRITTEN for IE,but its like saying an old fashioned warded lock is more secure than a modern high security lock because most thieves dont carry a skeleton key. It may well be that most thieves wont know how to open it,but if a thief knows you have one,and wants in,then its going to be easy for him come prepared. IF the web browser were popular,then many people would look for flaws,and it could be more secure than IE,but since its not popular,its going to be riddled with bugs and flaws and the open source software only makes it require LESS skill to exploit.  The lesson of course is to not trust the software that is open source because its open source,but because it may be better vetted for errors. That being said,make sure that it is,or your just hoping the thief does not come with a skeleton key.


frankgonzalez  
#5 Posted : Monday, January 18, 2010 8:32:19 PM(UTC)
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mallen...my experience has usually been if I really want to screw up a computer is to let our COMM folks touch it!

The issue is that people who may have a concern about the security of your code CAN look at it, vs the MS method of hiding it and pretending a problem does not exist (see recent 0-day exploit against IE and MS' response or rather, lack thereof).  So if some government nuke types wanted to use it, they could have their security types look at it vs relying on the the corporation's claims it is secure.

There are other reasons to use a *nix over MS, though.  Easier to lock down and harder to exploit at root level.  Not so true for MS Windows.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
Serenity81  
#6 Posted : Saturday, January 23, 2010 12:22:49 AM(UTC)
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Hey, I don't want a work blackberry or a droid.  I just want Uncle Sam to keep up the pace of the software on my gov computer.  How about Windows 7?  I just upped from Windows 2000 a few months ago to WindowsXP and we are still behind.  Adobe 8?  Come on there are newer versions.  And no one is allowed the full Adobe without climbing Mt. Paper Tiger.  IE, I have 6 or 7.....I know it's higher than that now.  Still running on Office 2003. 
 
Some of my coworkers are crying because they want a blackberry work phone and instead have a regular Motorolla.  I said, "thank your lucky stars"...........because Uncle Sam is not going to keep up with technology anyway.
 
Has your organization tried to purchase software for NON NMCI computers?  A nightmare.
 
If your organization is non classified, you should be able to get blackberry's, droids and software without so much red tape.
 
Sorry, just had to rant.  Droids sound great, love to have it..........but.........not worth the effort.
frankgonzalez  
#7 Posted : Saturday, January 23, 2010 3:04:43 AM(UTC)
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MT...I'm AF, and in my office we are still running XP (because Vista is a steaming pile of crap) and they (our IT "gurus") are testing Win7 right now.  We have Office 2007 (which is the most current), and Adobe Pro 9.0 (This is the latest version- there is a Navy BPA you can purchase licenses from at about $200 a seat for Pro), 24" LCD panels, laptops in docking stations (we travel a fair amount so this is cheaper than laptops and desktops), external portable drives (which because they are not "flash" are allowed to be used)...MS Project, Visio and a few other software programs that are not part of the standard image.

Of course, with 22 years of military service before I retired and crossed over to the dark side and became CS, I learned the tricks in getting what my office needs and wants! 
You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
Serenity81  
#8 Posted : Saturday, January 23, 2010 5:38:54 AM(UTC)
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frank, lucky you.  It a known fact that the AF doesn't suffer much.  We cannot "purchase" any software without going through G6 and NMCI.  There are steps you have to go through so by the time you start the process and see it through (provided it gets approved) it takes 2-4 months....yes, months to finally get it.  We are not allowed to "download" anything, such as updates for software on the NMCI network.  Money may not be as tight in the AF, but here it is, and external hard drives are "a nice to have" vs. a necessity.  I know Vista is crap.  So I doubt we will go through that.  I don't believe our installation has even started testing Windows 7. 
24" flat screen monitors!!  Lucky you, we still have the 17" dinosaurs that weigh half a ton that come with the NMCI seat.  Most of our "senior" workforce have to raise the zoom on the monitor or squint.  Our tenant command is Navy and they have no trouble getting the IT they need.
 
Count your lucky stars you all made it into this century.Big smile
frankgonzalez  
#9 Posted : Sunday, January 24, 2010 2:51:42 AM(UTC)
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You must be working for the Marines..

Adobe Acrobat Pro is on an NMCI BPA, so that should be easy(easier) for you to justify as NMCI already has blessed it. 

My office annual budget is about $20k and that includes paying for required annual professional training for a staff of 7, plus supplies, etc.  That said...having learned the tricks of the trade, I always plan my wants and prep my unfunded requests at the beginning of the fiscal year, so I can slip in my request early and often.  And when they are less than $10k, they often get approved.  So...I have several floating at all times through the system for the "we have some extra money, who can use it?" moments that crop up.

That said, we still have a few folks who are using 17" monitors at my base (as were we about 3 years ago when I took over the money part)...but like everything in life, it is a game and knowing the rules really helps you to "win" (if you can ever win in the endless upgrade cycle that M$ requires!).
You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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