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Contractors looking for coronavirus direction

Contractors want the government to grant them the same telework flexibilities federal employees have been given in its coronavirus response. Agencies have begun sending contract employees home without the authority to telework, and those responsible for nonessential functions may soon be furloughed. DHS has identified critical infrastructure sectors that will need to continue operating during the coronavirus pandemic. That list includes essential companies and workforces in health care, law enforcement, food and safety, energy, communications and IT, and the defense industrial base, among others. But for those people or companies that don’t fit the list or that provide services that can wait, they, for now, appear to be largely left in the dark. Dave Nyczepir has more.

A Message From AWS Educate

With over 1,500 institutions and hundreds of thousands of students who use AWS Educate, we wanted to take you on a trip around the world and highlight how students are learning and innovating with the cloud. Learn more.

Pentagon shifting plans

The Pentagon’s health restriction level is now HPCON-C — the facility’s second-highest level — as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spread through the Washington, D.C., region, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced during a press conference Monday. The restriction means more civilians, military officers and contractors will be barred from accessing the building and forced to telework to the degree they can. It is unclear exactly how many more people will be forced to telework, but the DOD’s networks already faced “unprecedented” demand under previous restrictions, an IT official said. The decision comes after a DOD contractor died over the weekend after contracting the virus. Before Monday’s announcement, the Pentagon’s workforce size already was “down considerably” with about 60 percent fewer people in the building, Esper said. Jackson Barnett has more.

Waiting to pounce

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is advising agencies to ensure the cybersecurity of any internal resources they make available to teleworkers through remote access during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote access technologies are, by nature, exposed to more external threats, notes the NIST Information Technology Laboratory bulletin issued Thursday. The advisory follows a separate guidance Wednesday by the Office of Management and Budget for agencies minimize face-to-face interactions as the coronavirus spreads. The lab’s Computer Security Division suggested limiting remote access to as few teleworkers as possible to decrease the risk of compromise. Dave has more.

Free cybersecurity courses for kids

Coronavirus-related school closures are skyrocketing, leaving parents scrambling to educate their children while still juggling their jobs. It’s a challenging and confusing time — and Jonathan Slater and Lorna Armitage think they something that will hold kids' interest: a free online learning platform that teaches them about cybersecurity. The virtual “Cyber School,” slated to launch next Monday, plans to host daily 45-minute livestreams focused on topics including an introduction to coding and algorithms, online safety, ethical hacking, and social engineering. Shannon Vavra has more.

More free learning portals

The Rice University-based publisher OpenStax announced Thursday that it will provide free teaching resources through the end of the spring semester to support faculty transitioning to online course delivery in response to the coronavirus pandemic. With over 300 universities transitioning to online learning to limit the spread of COVID-19, educators are relying on digital resources to keep teaching their home-bound students, and many edtech companies, including OpenStax, have made hundreds of online resources free to support online education. Betsy Foresman has more.

Job of the Day

Chief Data Officer | Department of Defense

The Chief Data Officer serves as the principal adviser to the DoD CIO for data management and governance within the DoD. The CDO performs a central organizing function in defining and shaping a DoD data culture that makes all DoD data discoverable, accessible, and usable through secure, modernized systems and standards. See this job and more.

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