Tag Archives: Government

UNH InterOperability Lab expands IPv6 testing amid SDN growth

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab updated its IPv6 testing program to comply with new government requirements specified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. UNH-IOL, a technology testing facility in Durham, N.H., also added support for SDN protocols in its updated program.

The testing program applies specifically to U.S. government agencies, such as NASA, that procure networking equipment and need independent certification that the products meet regulation, according to Timothy Winters, senior IP manager at UNH-IOL. The new requirements come as IPv6 adoption continues to grow globally, as indicated by Google, which said over 20% of its users now have IPv6 addresses, Winters added.

Agencies and product vendors that are UNH-IOL members send devices that need certification to the lab, where UNH students and staff test the products for a month to ensure they support IPv6 and comply.

UNH-IOL tests a range of products, including routers, switches, phones, printers and security cameras. Increasingly, however, agencies and service providers have requested UNH-IOL’s help with SDN and IoT devices, Winters said.

“We’re encountering more devices we haven’t seen,” he said. “Some of this is because of IoT, where things are actually being networked and put on a network. They’re not sitting on a proprietary link anymore.”

IPv6 testing ramps up

Timothy Winters, UNH-IOL senior IP managerTimothy Winters

As operators and service providers realize IPv4 address space is decreasing, they’ve started moving to IPv6-only networks, Winters said. This transition caused UNH-IOL to update its IPv6 testing program accordingly.

“UNH-IOL is trying to push that support, so people building applications and services — or even routers and switches — can know which things work or don’t work in an IPv6-only network,” he said. These changes look at the requirements for building, installing and updating applications — processes that sometimes sound simple, but can actually be quite complicated, he added.

UNH-IOL also patched security loopholes in the IPv6 testing program and made the overall testing more generic, so governments outside the U.S. and other user groups could adopt it, Winters said.

Equipment suppliers have two years to comply with the new IPv6 testing specification. As a result, UNH-IOL will likely see 200 to 300 devices return to the lab to undergo the updated testing, according to Winters.

“I’m sure there are companies that have made some products legacy or don’t sell them anymore, so those won’t come back in,” Winters said. “But that’s a challenge: We have to get everybody back through the program.”

USGv6 testing program flow chart
This flow chart relays the process vendors undergo for IPv6 testing on their products.

IPv6 complements SDN

For us, the exciting part is getting students involved in learning a technology like this. It gives students the ability to build tools, see devices and test them.
Timothy Winterssenior IP manager, UNH-IOL

Additionally, he said the lab now regularly receives routers without a command-line interface to test. This change comes as more service providers and equipment providers find value in SDN — and discover how IPv6 complements SDN deployments, Winters said.

“For SDN, the ability to address multiple services is helpful when you’re trying to get into networks that are so complex they have to be programmed,” he said. Service providers, for example, can use IPv6, along with disaggregation, network slicing and segment routing. The IPv6 address helps identify to which service any particular packet is going.

Along with the other testing updates, UNH-IOL added support for SDN protocols, such as NETCONF and YANG, as well as specs for IoT capabilities. By doing so, Winters said he hopes the lab will help push IPv6 deployments. And, as another plus, UNH-IOL students tackle “the latest and greatest stuff” in networking.

“For us, the exciting part is getting students involved in learning a technology like this,” he said. “It gives students the ability to build tools, see devices and test them.”

Accused CIA leaker charged with stealing government property

The Department of Justice has formally charged the suspected CIA leaker with stealing government property and more in connection with the theft and transmission of national defense information.

The accused CIA leaker, Joshua Adam Schulte, has been in the custody of law enforcement since August 2017 when he was charged with possessing child pornography; the FBI reportedly thought it had enough evidence to charge him with stealing and leaking the Vault 7 files to WikiLeaks as early as January. Government prosecutors said in mid-May that there was a new indictment set to be filed and that superseding indictment was filed on Monday, June 18, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The new indictment lists 13 charges against Schulte, including charges of illegally gathering and transmitting national defense information, theft of government property, unauthorized access of a computer to obtain information from a government agency and obstruction of justice, in addition to three charges related to child pornography.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman wrote in a public statement that the accused CIA leaker, Schulte, was a former employee of the CIA and “allegedly used his access at the agency to transmit classified material to an outside organization.”

“We and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting national security information and ensuring that those trusted to handle it honor their important responsibilities,” Berman wrote. “Unlawful disclosure of classified intelligence can pose a grave threat to our national security, potentially endangering the safety of Americans.”

The Vault 7 data provided to WikiLeaks by a CIA leaker included close to 9,000 documents, including hacking tools and zero-day exploits for iOS, Android, Windows and more. The CIA has never admitted that the Vault 7 data was its own and the indictment itself does not refer to the stolen data being from the CIA.

However, the press release from the DOJ did write: “On March 7, 2017, Organization-1 released on the Internet classified national defense material belonging to the CIA (the “Classified Information”). In 2016, SCHULTE, who was then employed by the CIA, stole the Classified Information from a computer network at the CIA and later transmitted it to Organization-1. SCHULTE also intentionally caused damage without authorization to a CIA computer system by granting himself unauthorized access to the system, deleting records of his activities, and denying others access to the system. SCHULTE subsequently made material false statements to FBI agents concerning his conduct at the CIA.”

Not a cliché: When being ‘out and proud’ is a call to action – Microsoft Life

One of Microsoft’s directors of government affairs kept his authentic self quiet and closed off for too long. Now, he’s working to make that path easier and safer for fellow LGBTQ+ people.

By Candace Whitney-Morris

John Galligan spent half of his adult life as a closeted gay man, a time he describes as not truly living. In fact, he said he didn’t start to live his life until his early thirties.

“I was trying to be something I wasn’t,” he said. “And that slow release of power and energy, it’s exhausting and was always affecting my work. Being very good at acting like something I wasn’t . . . it’s the art that I’d perfected.”

That all changed when Galligan met his partner, now husband, 20 years ago, who helped him accept who he was, to live as a gay man proudly, and to even confront some of his own prejudices about what he assumed people could or couldn’t handle. “I thought I was protecting people by not confronting them with who I was,” he said. “I was wrong.”

The past two decades with his husband have been a journey not only of love and fun, he said, but also in helping Galligan be more accepting of his own sexuality, who he is, and who he could become.

Galligan is now out and active in his community. He’s also a senior director for Microsoft’s global government affairs team, working to protect and advance the rights of all people, including those who are LGBTQ+ and who don’t feel safe or welcome.

Across the globe, the cultural views and tolerance around being gay still vary widely. Galligan’s team focuses in part on making sure LGBTQ+ employees are safe and supported within the walls of their workplace wherever they live.

“Microsoft can be a safe place for people to bring their authentic self, even if the outside world is hostile to them, even if their friends and family might not accept them,” he said. “They can come to a place that will accept them not just for who they are but also for who they can be.”

“I thought I was protecting people by not confronting them with who I was. I was wrong.”

Because Galligan knows what it’s like to not live his truth at work, he’s determined to help Microsoft support the rights of its employees and live up to its values of empowering every person on the planet—even when the outside culture is slow to adapt and when equality for LGBTQ+ people is lacking.

Before moving to Seattle, Galligan and his partner lived in Singapore, where there are still laws criminalizing homosexuality. And while these laws are rarely enforced, he did feel the discomfort of living in ambiguity. “The middle path is in some ways the most uncomfortable because it doesn’t challenge you to actually go out and confront systemic intolerance.”

That’s why it’s important to him that he doesn’t get too comfortable—that he remembers what some LGBTQ+ people and employees face and does what he can to help. Working in a company where the culture is attuned to human rights near and far reminds him of what inclusion feels like and what to strive for in his advocacy.

“Microsoft can be a safe place for people to bring their authentic self. They can come to a place that will accept them not just for who they are but also for who they can be.”

“I’ve never felt, in any way, excluded [at Microsoft]. I think that’s a tribute to the company, but I also think that’s a tribute to the tens of thousands of people who continue to move the company increasingly toward a diverse and inclusive environment.”

Galligan reminds himself all the time that there’s still so much to fight against. But when feelings of powerlessness threaten to steal momentum, he focuses on the power of individual contribution.

“I think the most weak and ineffectual thing we can do is to not think about what can be done on an individual level. I may not be able to change laws, but I can be proud of who I am and show others to be proud of who they are.”

He hopes that being a visible, comfortable, and confident gay man will inspire others to also be themselves and to take up the fight, because “being out and proud is not a cliché,” he said. “It’s a call to action.”

“Everyone can make a contribution, even if that contribution is to be yourself and use whatever influence you have to make the world and workplace more inclusive, more diverse, and more welcoming for everyone.”

Meet more Microsoft employees who are changing hearts and minds and advancing human rights.
https://news.microsoft.com/life/topic/pride/

See how Microsoft is celebrating Pride 2018 and how you an be an ally.
https://www.microsoft.com/pride

Learn how Microsoft and its LGBTQ+ employees push for change across borders.
https://news.microsoft.com/life/pride/

Not a cliché: When being ‘out and proud’ is a call to action – Microsoft Life

One of Microsoft’s directors of government affairs kept his authentic self quiet and closed off for too long. Now, he’s working to make that path easier and safer for fellow LGBTQ+ people.

By Candace Whitney-Morris

John Galligan spent half of his adult life as a closeted gay man, a time he describes as not truly living. In fact, he said he didn’t start to live his life until his early thirties.

“I was trying to be something I wasn’t,” he said. “And that slow release of power and energy, it’s exhausting and was always affecting my work. Being very good at acting like something I wasn’t . . . it’s the art that I’d perfected.”

That all changed when Galligan met his partner, now husband, 20 years ago, who helped him accept who he was, to live as a gay man proudly, and to even confront some of his own prejudices about what he assumed people could or couldn’t handle. “I thought I was protecting people by not confronting them with who I was,” he said. “I was wrong.”

The past two decades with his husband have been a journey not only of love and fun, he said, but also in helping Galligan be more accepting of his own sexuality, who he is, and who he could become.

Galligan is now out and active in his community. He’s also a senior director for Microsoft’s global government affairs team, working to protect and advance the rights of all people, including those who are LGBTQ+ and who don’t feel safe or welcome.

Across the globe, the cultural views and tolerance around being gay still vary widely. Galligan’s team focuses in part on making sure LGBTQ+ employees are safe and supported within the walls of their workplace wherever they live.

“Microsoft can be a safe place for people to bring their authentic self, even if the outside world is hostile to them, even if their friends and family might not accept them,” he said. “They can come to a place that will accept them not just for who they are but also for who they can be.”

“I thought I was protecting people by not confronting them with who I was. I was wrong.”

Because Galligan knows what it’s like to not live his truth at work, he’s determined to help Microsoft support the rights of its employees and live up to its values of empowering every person on the planet—even when the outside culture is slow to adapt and when equality for LGBTQ+ people is lacking.

Before moving to Seattle, Galligan and his partner lived in Singapore, where there are still laws criminalizing homosexuality. And while these laws are rarely enforced, he did feel the discomfort of living in ambiguity. “The middle path is in some ways the most uncomfortable because it doesn’t challenge you to actually go out and confront systemic intolerance.”

That’s why it’s important to him that he doesn’t get too comfortable—that he remembers what some LGBTQ+ people and employees face and does what he can to help. Working in a company where the culture is attuned to human rights near and far reminds him of what inclusion feels like and what to strive for in his advocacy.

“Microsoft can be a safe place for people to bring their authentic self. They can come to a place that will accept them not just for who they are but also for who they can be.”

“I’ve never felt, in any way, excluded [at Microsoft]. I think that’s a tribute to the company, but I also think that’s a tribute to the tens of thousands of people who continue to move the company increasingly toward a diverse and inclusive environment.”

Galligan reminds himself all the time that there’s still so much to fight against. But when feelings of powerlessness threaten to steal momentum, he focuses on the power of individual contribution.

“I think the most weak and ineffectual thing we can do is to not think about what can be done on an individual level. I may not be able to change laws, but I can be proud of who I am and show others to be proud of who they are.”

He hopes that being a visible, comfortable, and confident gay man will inspire others to also be themselves and to take up the fight, because “being out and proud is not a cliché,” he said. “It’s a call to action.”

“Everyone can make a contribution, even if that contribution is to be yourself and use whatever influence you have to make the world and workplace more inclusive, more diverse, and more welcoming for everyone.”

Meet more Microsoft employees who are changing hearts and minds and advancing human rights.
https://news.microsoft.com/life/topic/pride/

See how Microsoft is celebrating Pride 2018 and how you an be an ally.
https://www.microsoft.com/pride

Learn how Microsoft and its LGBTQ+ employees push for change across borders.
https://news.microsoft.com/life/pride/

ONC unveils plan for health information sharing framework

If you want a say in how the government deals with health data interoperability, now’s your chance.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has released draft rules for a health information sharing plan, called the Trusted Exchange Framework, and the public has until Feb. 18 to comment.

The framework stems from the interoperability provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, a wide-ranging law that includes many aspects of healthcare and health IT, of which the health information sharing plan is only one part.

In a conference call with reporters, ONC National Coordinator Donald Rucker, M.D., called the framework concept a “network of networks,” and he noted that Congress explicitly called for a way to link disparate existing health information networks.

“How do these networks, which are typically moving very similar sets of information, how do we get them connected?” Rucker said.

Donald Rucker, M.D., ONC National CoordinatorDonald Rucker

The framework, Rucker said, is a response to what he called the “national challenge” of interoperability.

“It hasn’t been easy. Folks have made some great progress, but obviously there’s a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Among the existing networks that ONC officials are looking to link within the health information sharing framework are the many health information exchanges that have sprung up since the HITECH Act of 2009 spurred data sharing with the meaningful use program.

Other such networks include vendor-driven interoperability environments, such as the one overseen by the CommonWell Health Alliance.

CommonWell’s director, Jitin Asnaani, told Politico that he thinks the ONC model is a “path to scalable nationwide interoperability.”

Mariann Yeager, CEO of another vendor network, the Sequoia Project, was quoted by Politico expressing a somewhat more neutral assessment: “Overall, the approach seems reasonable,” but “we need to better understand the details.”

ONC envisions the Trusted Exchange Network — expected to be started by the end of 2018 and fully built out by 2021 — as being used by federal agencies, individuals, healthcare providers, public and private health organizations, insurance payers and health IT developers.

[The Trusted Exchange Framework is a] network of networks. How do these networks, which are typically moving very similar sets of information, how do we get them connected?
Donald RuckerONC national coordinator

The agency conceives of the network as a technical and governance infrastructure that connects health information networks around a core of “qualified health information networks” (Qualified HIN) overseen by a single, “recognized coordinating entity” to be chosen by ONC in a competitive bid process.

According to ONC, among other things, Qualified HINs must be able to locate and transmit electronic protected health information between multiple organizations and individuals; have mechanisms to audit participants’ compliance with certain core obligations; use a connectivity broker; and be neutral as to which participants are allowed to use the network.

A connectivity broker is a service provided by a Qualified HIN that provides the following:

  • A master patient index to accurately identify and match patients with their health information;
  • A health records locator service;
  • Both widely broadcast and specifically directed queries for health information; and
  • Guaranteed return of electronic health information to an authorized Qualified HIN that requests it.

Governance for the proposed framework consists of two parts. Part A is a set of “guardrails” and principles that health information networks should adopt to support interoperability; part B is a set of minimum required legal terms and conditions detailing how network participation agreements should be constructed to ensure health information networks can communicate with each other.

Genevieve Morris, ONC’s principal deputy national coordinator, specifically acknowledged the efforts of private sector organizations in laying groundwork for health data interoperability and noted that another private organization will coordinate the health information sharing framework.

“We at ONC recognize that our role is to make sure there is equity, scalability, integrity and sustainability in health information sharing,” Morris said.

AI for Earth can be a game-changer for our planet – Microsoft on the Issues

On the two-year anniversary of the Paris climate accord, the world’s government, civic and business leaders are coming together in Paris to discuss one of the most important issues and opportunities of our time, climate change. I’m excited to lead the Microsoft delegation at these meetings. While the experts’ warnings are dire, at Microsoft we believe technology advances can help us better understand and address the environmental issues facing our planet. That’s why we’re announcing in Paris that we are broadening our AI for Earth program with an expanded strategic plan and committing $50 million over the next five years to put artificial intelligence technology in the hands of individuals and organizations around the world who are working to protect our planet.

At Microsoft, we believe artificial intelligence is a game changer. Our approach as a company is focused on democratizing AI so its features and capabilities can be put to use by individuals and organizations around the world to improve real-world outcomes. There are few societal areas where AI can be more impactful than in helping address the urgent work needed to monitor, model and manage the earth’s natural systems.

Data can help tell us about the health of our planet, including the conditions of our air, water, land and the well-being of our wildlife. But we need technology’s help to capture this vast amount of data and convert it into actionable intelligence. AI can be trained to classify raw data from sensors on the ground, in the sky or in space into categories that both humans and computers understand. Fundamentally, AI can accelerate our ability to observe environmental systems and how they are changing at a global scale, convert the data into useful information and apply that information to take concrete steps to better manage our natural resources.

Already, we are seeing the transformative potential of AI. In the energy sector, companies like Agder Energi, a utility in Norway that produces renewable energy, are using Microsoft’s cloud and AI to better capture, analyze and act on the intelligence gathered across its electrical grid. Through these technologies, Agder is now able to predict and prepare for vacillating energy needs in response to changes in demand as electric vehicles increasingly tax Norway’s grid; data and AI have enhanced the performance of existing infrastructure, reducing the need for expensive new projects. AI is helping create a more effective, reliable and autonomous grid, while enabling customers and the country to consume more renewable energy as it transitions to a more electricity-based future.

In a similar way, we’re seeing new AI and cloud technologies being used to improve the electrical efficiency of buildings. In Singapore, JTC, responsible for the development of the nation’s industrial infrastructure, has centralized its operations on the Microsoft Cloud to monitor, analyze and optimize 39 of its buildings. Using sensor data and analytics, JTC can now identity and rectify faults before breakdowns occur, resulting in a 15 percent drop in energy cost avoidance in the first three buildings.

It’s worth imagining what these types of steps can mean if we can help bring them to scale globally. Estimates suggest that in the United States, buildings are responsible for about 40 percent of total energy consumption. That means an efficiency improvement of even 15 percent in buildings globally would translate into a 6 percent reduction in global energy consumption. And as AI continues to advance, we have the opportunity to learn more and aim even higher.

We’re seeing a similar cause for optimism when we see how AI is being used in agriculture. In Australia, high labor and import costs, dry weather and the highest variability in climate of any country in the world make farming increasingly challenging. The Yield, a Tasmanian ag-tech company, has created a solution that uses sensors, analytics and apps to produce real-time weather data, right down to field level, helping growers make smarter decisions that can reduce their use of water and other inputs while also increasing their yield. In the sea, the Yield is working with local oyster farmers to create the first product to increase aquaculture production using machine learning. The solution already has reduced harvest closures caused by rain by 30 percent, giving growers back four weeks a year of harvest time.

It’s these kind of results that motivated us to step up our ambition when it comes to AI for Earth. As we look to the future, we’re committed to working with farmers around the world. We envision a future with broadband connectivity for every farm and internet sensors for every acre of land. Building on cutting edge-work in Microsoft Research, we’ll help farmers put AI to work not only to better analyze soil and rainfall conditions, but also to use predictive analytics to improve agricultural yields and reduce adverse environmental impacts. With the world’s population continuing to grow, these changes cannot come fast enough.

At Microsoft, we believe AI for Earth will be a force multiplier for groups and individuals like these who are creating sustainable solutions. That’s why we’re not just putting more resources into this effort, but also coupling this with a long-term commitment to applying AI to grow and scale in four key areas – climate, water, agriculture and biodiversity.

We’ll do this in three ways. First, we’ll expand seed grants around the world to create and test new AI applications. Since our launch of AI for Earth six months ago, Microsoft has awarded over 35 grants in more than 10 countries for access to Microsoft Azure and AI technology. We will also provide universities, nongovernmental organizations and others with advanced training to put AI to its best use. Already, we’re seeing success around the world in projects that are putting AI to work on climate, water, agriculture and biodiversity.

Next, as these projects and our work in this area matures, we will identify the projects that show the most promise and make larger investments to help bring them to scale. We’ll do this not only by providing greater resources for these projects, but also by partnering closely and working in depth with a new multi-disciplinary team at Microsoft that will bring together AI and sustainability subject matter experts. As we help groups scale promising AI technology solutions, we’ll help them commercialize these services, so they can have a global impact as quickly and broadly as possible. These will be in addition to our existing efforts: enabling real-time precision conservation and improving land cover mapping, precision agriculture to increase yield with fewer resources with FarmBeats and more efficient, effective biodiversity tracking and protection approaches through Project Premonition.

Finally, as these projects advance, we’ll identify and pursue opportunities to incorporate new AI advances into platform-level services so that others can use them for their own sustainability initiatives. Some of this will involve platform services that will be offered by others. In other instances, these may be incorporated into Microsoft’s own platform services.

We face a collective need for urgent action to address global climate issues. When we think about the environmental issues we face today, science tells us that many are the product of previous Industrial Revolutions. As we enter the world’s Fourth Industrial Revolution, a technology-fueled transformation, we must not only move technology forward, but also use this era’s technology to clean up the past and create a better future.

Tags: artificial intelligence,