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USPS OIG — Management of Cloud Computing Contracts and Environment

September 10, 2014 Comments off

Management of Cloud Computing Contracts and Environment (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Background
The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency asked inspectors general in the federal community to participate in an audit of cloud computing contracts. Cloud computing provides on-demand network access to shared resources that can be rapidly released and allows customers to take advantage of cutting edge technologies at a reduced cost. Hosted services are offered by providers that host physical servers in a different location. The audit was designed to provide insight on how well the federal government is protecting data and its progress in moving towards cloud computing.

As a participant in this audit, our objectives were to determine if the U.S. Postal Service’s cloud service contracts comply with applicable standards and evaluate management’s efforts to adopt cloud computing technologies.

What the OIG Found
The Postal Service’s cloud computing contracts did not comply with all applicable Postal Service’s standards. Specifically, the Postal Service has not defined “cloud computing” and “hosted services,” established an enterprise-wide inventory of cloud computing services, required suppliers and their employees to sign non-disclosure agreements, or included all required information security clauses in its contracts.

In addition, management did not appropriately monitor applications to ensure system availability. Management also did not complete the required security analysis process for three cloud services reviewed and did not follow Postal Service policy requiring cloud service providers to meet federal government guidelines. This occurred because no group is responsible for managing cloud services, and personnel were not aware of all policy and contractual obligations.

Without proper knowledge of and control over applications in the cloud environment, the Postal Service cannot properly secure cloud computing technologies and is at increased risk of unauthorized access and disclosure of sensitive data. We claimed $33,517,151 in contractual costs for the Postal Service not following their policy and contract requirements.

What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management define “cloud computing” and “hosted services,” develop an inventory of cloud services, monitor suppliers and require them to be certified, and revise contracts to include security clauses. We also recommended management evaluate best practices for cloud computing contracts, complete the security analysis process, and ensure compliance with non-disclosure clauses.

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Big data (lost) in the cloud

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Big data (lost) in the cloud
Source: International Journal of Big Data Intelligence

The big data era poses a critically difficult challenge and striking development opportunities to high performance computing (HPC). The major problem is an efficient transformation of the massive data of various types into valuable information and meaningful knowledge. Computationally-effective HPC is required in a fast-increasing number of data-intensive domains. With its special features of self-service and pay-as-you-use, cloud computing (CC) offers suitable abstractions to manage the complexity of the analysis of large data in various scientific and engineering domains. This paper surveys briefly the most recent developments on CC support for solving the big data problems. It presents a comprehensive critical analysis of the existing solutions and shows the further possible directions of the research in this domain including new generation multi-datacentre cloud architectures for the storage and management of the huge big data streams.

An Overview of 60 Contracts That Contributed to the Development and Operation of the Federal Marketplace

August 27, 2014 Comments off

An Overview of 60 Contracts That Contributed to the Development and Operation of the Federal Marketplace
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

Summary

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required the establishment of a health insurance exchange (marketplace) in each State. For States that elect not to establish their own marketplaces, the Federal Government is required to operate a marketplace on behalf of the State. A marketplace is designed to serve as a one-stop shop where individuals can obtain information about their health insurance options, determine eligibility for insurance affordability programs, and select the plan of their choice. CMS operates the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (Federal Marketplace). CMS relied-and continues to rely extensively-on contractors to operate the Federal Marketplace. This report is the first in a series that will address the planning, acquisition, management, and performance oversight of Federal Marketplace contracts, as well as various aspects of Federal Marketplace operations. This report provides descriptive and financial data on 60 contracts related to the development of the Federal Marketplace at HealthCare.gov.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
CMS identified 60 contracts (“the contracts”) related to the development and operation of the Federal Marketplace. Not all of these contracts were awarded solely for the purpose of the Federal Marketplace. To determine the estimated value of the contracts and the amount obligated for the contracts as of February 2014, OIG analyzed contract, order, and modification documentation provided by CMS for the 60 contracts. We calculated the total obligation and expenditure amounts related to the Federal Marketplace portions of each contract by summarizing the financial accounting transactions that CMS identified as related to the Federal Marketplace for each contract. These financial accounting transactions (obligations and expenditures) include all transactions that CMS processed through its Healthcare Integrated General Ledger Accounting System (HIGLAS) as of February 28, 2014, that CMS had provided to us as of June 18, 2014.

SUMMARY
The 60 contracts related to the development and operation of the Federal Marketplace started between January 2009 and January 2014. The purpose of the 60 contracts ranged from health benefit data collection and consumer research to cloud computing and Web site development. The original estimated values of these contracts totaled $1.7 billion; the contract values ranged from $69,195 to over $200 million. Across the 60 contracts, nearly $800 million has been obligated for the development of the Federal Marketplace as of February 2014. As of that date, CMS had paid nearly $500 million for the development of the Federal Marketplace to the contractors awarded these contracts.

EU — Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Security of the Internet, including e-Government, cloud computing and social networks
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

As we become increasingly dependent on the internet for all aspects of our lives, how can Europe on the web work best while ensuring that everyone can trust online services?

STOA has examined the latest technological advances with regard to the internet and information technologies in Europe. STOA is the Science and Technology Options Assessment body,which provides independent scientific advice to the European Parliament.

Technology could help foster a European civil society and political sphere, particularly if the European institutions widened their e-participation efforts. This was the conclusion of the 2011 STOA study on ‘E-public, e-participation and e-voting in Europe’. The study did not currently recommend e-voting. However, technology could start addressing the perceived ‘democratic deficit’ in the European Union. The European institutions could broaden e-participation, involving citizens more in the legislative process and creating an ‘e-public’, a European political sphere, perhaps a basis for a shared sense of European citizenship.

The Path to Value in the Cloud

August 13, 2014 Comments off

The Path to Value in the Cloud
Source: Oxford Economics

Cloud computing is fundamentally altering business processes and changing the way organizations interact with customers, partners, and employees. Yet for all the enthusiasm, many companies lack a clear strategy for migration to the cloud and cannot measure their progress. This briefing paper, built on a national survey of 350 business and technology executives, explores how far along companies are in migrating to the cloud—and the challenges they face along the way.

See also: Cloud: The New Engine of Business

Digital Forensics in the Mobile, BYOD, and Cloud Era

August 1, 2014 Comments off

Digital Forensics in the Mobile, BYOD, and Cloud Era
Source: Deloitte

Quick, decisive action is often crucial to determining the facts and protecting an organization’s interests, whether the impetus is suspected fraud, a whistleblower claim, a lawsuit, or a regulatory inquiry.

Organizations can strengthen their ability to address this diverse array of risks by establishing digital forensics as a standard procedure very early in internal investigations and making sure investigations encompass all possible data sources, while avoiding some potential pitfalls in forensics application.

“Digital forensics in the mobile, bring-your-own-device and cloud era” talks about the 3 potential pitfalls in digital forensics and how important it is to regard digital forensics as a standard procedure, and scope it in as early as possible in an internal investigation.

New York Times — Special Section — Cloud Computing

June 13, 2014 Comments off

Special Section — Cloud Computing
Source: New York Times

An inside look at how technology is remaking an industry, lowering costs for some and handing even more influence to a handful of powerful companies.

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