Countdown: Issa's crackdown on waste, fake White House holiday e-card

Friday - 1/7/2011, 1:24pm EST

Federal News Countdown

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On this week's Federal News Countdown:
--Larry Allen, Founder, Allen Federal Business Partners
--Kim Peretti, Director in the Forensic Services practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Larry's Allen's stories
#3 Google wins: Interior forbidden to award noncompetitive contract to Microsoft
From Federal Computer Week:

The Interior Department can't award a noncompetitive contract to Microsoft, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Susan Braden ruled on Jan. 3 that negotiations for a sole source contract with Microsoft "commenced many months prior to July 15, 2010," when department officials decided Microsoft's software was their standard for e-mail and computer operating systems. Meanwhile, Google had been trying to get considered for the work as well.

The contract is a first step in establishing a framework that could result in the department adding more than 80,000 e-mail mailboxes as well as other messaging and collaboration services.

#2 G.O.P. Sets Up Huge Target for Budget Ax
From New York Times:

The incoming Republican majority in the House is moving to make good on its promise to cut $100 billion from domestic spending this year, a goal eagerly backed by conservatives but one carrying substantial political and economic risks.

House Republican leaders are so far not specifying which programs would bear the brunt of budget cutting, only what would escape it: spending for the military, domestic security and veterans.

The reductions that would be required in the remaining federal programs, including education and transportation, would be so deep roughly 20 percent on average that Senate Republicans have not joined the $100 billion pledge that House Republicans, led by the incoming speaker, Representative John A. Boehner, made to voters before November's midterm elections.

#1 Incoming House Oversight chair pledges hard line on waste
From Government Executive:

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued yet another warning to the White House on Sunday that he will launch in depth investigations into wasteful government spending when he takes the gavel this week.

And Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who will be the Democrats' ranking member on the committee, indicated Sunday that he may be on board with some of Issa's investigations.

Issa has been very critical of the Obama administration, particularly for its nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package. He has said that he will investigate abuse in the dispersement of those funds.

Kim Peretti's stories
#3 University of Wisconsin Warns of Major Data Breach
From eSecurity Planet:

Tens of thousands of former University of Wisconsin students and staff members this week continued to receive advisory letters from the University, warning them that hackers managed to break into a database containing their social security numbers and other sensitive information.

Worse, according to the letter, it appears the hackers had unbridled access to the database for more than two years, putting at least 60,000 former students and employees at risk. School officials first began notifying affected individuals on Nov. 30, almost a month after the breach was first detected.

#2 Beware Online Banking Thieves
From Treasury & Risk:

An executive at a 120-employee company receives a call at 10:50 a.m. from a representative at his bank, who asks him if the firm has made any recent wire transfers. The executive says no. In fact, 47 transfers have been made over the previous three hours, to accounts in far-flung places such as Russia, Scotland, Finland and China. The executive tells the bank rep not to honor any additional transfer requests, but over the next three hours, 38 more fraudulent wires are sent from the company's accounts, resulting in a loss of $560,000 for the company.

This is just one instance of the growing trend of online fraud perpetrated against business bank accounts. In the case above, an employee of Experi-Metal Inc. (EMI), a manufacturer of specialty metal products in Sterling Heights, Mich., opened an e-mail that appeared to be from Comerica, its bank for over a decade. The e-mail said Comerica needed to perform maintenance work on its banking software and instructed EMI to log in to a linked Web site.

#1 Fake White House holiday e-mail is cyber attack
From Associated Press:

- A malware-laden e-mail masquerading as a White House Christmas card was a sinister move by hackers to steal sensitive documents from U.S. law enforcement and military officials, according to cybersecurity analysts.

The bright red and green holiday greeting, with the decorated Christmas tree, was sent out in late December and claimed to be from the "Executive Office of the President." Cyber threat analysts said it was targeted at government officials, particularly those who are involved in computer crime investigations.

While it is not clear yet how many people got the malicious e-mail or how many documents were siphoned from their infected computers, analysts said there has so far been no evidence that any classified data was taken.