Interior Department watchdog ‘highly successful’ at hacking agency’s networks

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said Wednesday that it has been “highly successful” at accessing the agency’s networks as part of a security audit due to cybersecurity shortcomings. 

As part of a security audit, OIG employees conducted penetration testing on the Interior Department’s networks, and were successfully able to break into networks and access sensitive information, including intercepting and decrypting network traffic, accessing internal networks at two Interior Department bureaus, and stealing the credentials of an agency IT employee. 

The OIG accessed the networks through simulating previous attacks by malicious hackers to target federal agencies, including using portable testing units concealed in backpacks and operated by smartphones to test the networks while the OIG employees were positioned in publicly accessible areas of Interior Department buildings.

The OIG noted that the penetration testing went “undetected” by both IT personnel and security guards. 

“We used the same tools, techniques, and practices that malicious actors use to eavesdrop on communications and gain unauthorized access,” the OIG wrote in a report detailing the security audit results. “Many of the attacks we conducted were previously used by Russian intelligence agents around the world.”

Based on findings from the audit, the OIG accused the agency’s Office of the Chief Information Officer of failing to “establish and enforce wireless security practices,” and concluded that the Interior Department did not carry out regular tests of its network security, maintain inventories of its wireless networks, and published inadequate security guidance. 

“Without operating secure wireless networks that include boundary controls between networks and active monitoring, the Department is vulnerable to the breach of a high-value IT asset, which could cripple Department operations and result in the loss of highly sensitive data,” the OIG wrote.

In order to prevent successful cyberattacks, the OIG recommended the Interior Department take over a dozen steps to increase security, and noted in the audit that 13 of the recommendations had already been resolved by the agency. 

Interior Department Chief Information Officer William Vajda responded to each of the OIG’s recommendations in a letter attached to the report, writing that his office “appreciated working” with the OIG. 

“I am pleased to report that the Department not only concurs with all of the Office of the Inspector General’s recommendations, but also have substantially complied with all of them, with just a few remaining tasks to be accomplished with respect to a few of the recommendations,” Vajda wrote to Interior Department Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt. 

The OIG noted in the report that despite these strides forward, the agency can still do more to shore up cybersecurity.

“Until the Department improves its cyber risk management practices, its computer networks and high-value IT assets will be at risk of compromise, the results of which could have serious or severe adverse effects on Department operations, assets, or individuals,” the OIG wrote. “The Department has begun taking significant steps to mitigate these weaknesses, but more remains to be done.”

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New York Homeowners: Tips For A Successful Kitchen Renovation

This post is sponsored and contributed by a Patch Brand Partner. The views expressed in this post are the author’s own.

Getting your kitchen ready for your contractor will make the project run smoother.
Getting your kitchen ready for your contractor will make the project run smoother. (Shutterstock)

Fall is on its way here in New York state, and it’s time to put away the lawn mower and gardening tools and turn your eye to indoor projects. Why not start with a kitchen renovation and give the most popular room in the house a new look? No matter what your budget, kitchen remodels are a great way to update your home.

Make it easy for your contractor to work by clearing out your kitchen ahead of time. One week before work is scheduled to begin you can start packing up those items you won’t be using again until after the renovation. This includes dry foods, such as canned goods and spices. Pack these items in labeled boxes and store in another room.

For your fragile dishware, pack carefully and cushion with newspaper to avoid breakage. Alternatively, you can place dishes on the bed or floor of a spare bedroom.

The day the project starts, your kitchen cabinets and pantry should be completely bare. Not only will your contractor be able to work without anything getting in the way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that all your kitchen items are safely stored where they won’t be damaged.

2. Cover and Protect Flooring

For all types of flooring, including hardwood and tile, you’ll need to be sure it’s covered and protected before the renovation begins. No matter how careful your contractor is there’s always the risk of damage to flooring throughout every phase of the remodel.

A good option is to purchase scraps of carpet and secure them to the floor with duct tape. Be cautious with hardwood floors as the adhesive may cause damage to the finish.

For added protection for hardwood and tile, place a carpet pad between the floor and carpet scraps. This extra precaution is ideal for existing or new floors, guarding them against costly repairs.


Ready to remodel your kitchen? Contact a HomeAdvisor contractor in New York state.


3. Contractor Access

Give your contractor easy access to your home. Plan ahead of time with the work crew, letting them know that you’ve provided them with a clear and unobstructed path from their truck to your home. This may mean parking your own vehicle elsewhere for the duration of the project, but it’s a small thing to do to let your contractor know you’re making it as easy as possible for them to do their job.

4. Put Away Valued Items

Take a last look around before your kitchen remodel kicks off. Make sure you’ve removed valued items such as plants from the windowsill

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Massachusetts Homeowners: Guide To A Successful Kitchen Remodel

This post is sponsored and contributed by a Patch Brand Partner. The views expressed in this post are the author’s own.

Make it easy for your contractor to remodel your kitchen with these 4 tips.
Make it easy for your contractor to remodel your kitchen with these 4 tips. (Shutterstock)

Is this the year you finally get around to that kitchen remodel you’ve always wanted? Fall is almost here and it’s time to start planning a kitchen makeover in your Massachusetts home.

Make it easy for your contractor to work by clearing out your kitchen ahead of time. One week before work is scheduled to begin you can start packing up those items you won’t be using again until after the renovation. This includes dry foods, such as canned goods and spices. Pack these items in labeled boxes and store in another room.

For your fragile dishware, pack carefully and cushion with newspaper to avoid breakage. Alternatively, you can place dishes on the bed or floor of a spare bedroom.

The day the project starts, your kitchen cabinets and pantry should be completely bare. Not only will your contractor be able to work without anything getting in the way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that all your kitchen items are safely stored where they won’t be damaged.

2. Cover and Protect Flooring

For all types of flooring, including hardwood and tile, you’ll need to be sure it’s covered and protected before the renovation begins. No matter how careful your contractor is there’s always the risk of damage to flooring throughout every phase of the remodel.

A good option is to purchase scraps of carpet and secure them to the floor with duct tape. Be cautious with hardwood floors as the adhesive may cause damage to the finish.

For added protection for hardwood and tile, place a carpet pad between the floor and carpet scraps. This extra precaution is ideal for existing or new floors, guarding them against costly repairs.


Ready to remodel your kitchen? Contact a HomeAdvisor contractor in Massachusetts.


3. Contractor Access

Give your contractor easy access to your home. Plan ahead of time with the work crew, letting them know that you’ve provided them with a clear and unobstructed path from their truck to your home. This may mean parking your own vehicle elsewhere for the duration of the project, but it’s a small thing to do to let your contractor know you’re making it easier for them to do their job.

4. Put Away Valued Items

Take a last look around before your kitchen remodel kicks off. Make sure you’ve removed valued items such as plants from the windowsill and trinkets from the countertops. Don’t forget to pack away those photos and postcards you’ve got pinned to the fridge. Even if your contractor will be moving the refrigerator to another room while the work

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Idaho Botanical Garden to keep gates open after successful fundraiser

The nonprofit launched a membership and donation campaign to raise $150,000 to keep the garden operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Botanical Garden will get to keep its gates open after exceeding its fundraising goal.

On August 1st, the nonprofit launched a membership and donation campaign to raise money to keep the garden operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their goal was to raise $150,000, and as of September 1st, the garden raised $182,485.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we have been awestruck by support from our community,” said Executive Director Erin Anderson. “Garden memberships are on the rise, donations large and small have been coming in daily, and our Garden community has gone out of their way to get the word out! Thank you, Treasure Valley!”

The pandemic impacted every one of the garden’s programs including admissions, memberships, weddings, field trips, concerts, and education programs that make up their annual revenue. 

With the 2020 Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series canceled, the garden has significantly decreased the capacity of remaining education programs and signature events. Without local tourism, the admissions are at a 13-year low.

You can still support the Idaho Botanical Garden by donating, becoming a member or visiting the garden.

Source Article

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5 Key Steps To A More Effective, Successful, Open House

Although, some believe, holding an Open House, is key to the sale of a house, in reality, it is, just, one, component, in an overall marketing/ selling plan and system. While, nearly every real estate agent conducts these events, the value of them, often, substantially differs, dependent upon, how they are used, and conducted. With that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, 5 extremely important, key steps, to make them, as successful, as they might be. Unless/ until, these are done, effectively, and efficiently, there is the risk, they are wasted, in terms of time, money, effort, energy, and potential results.

1. Marketing/ promoting: The best results come from, determining the best approach/ way, to market and promote them. Which advertising media, might make the most sense, for this particular property? Why do you believe so? How will you achieve, the most, bang – for – the – buck? Start by identifying, the niche, if any, this house and property, fits, best, in, and, then, investigate the best options, to attract, the right, qualified, potential buyers. While everyone wants a big crowd, to be attracted to their Open House, unless/ until, it is, predominantly, real buyers, rather than house – hunters, you will probably not achieve the most desirable objective!

2. Greeting/ welcoming: You only get one chance, to make a first impression. This adage, is true, for, both, the house/ property, itself, in terms of curb appeal, staging, eliminating odors/ clutter, and other negatives. It is also true, of the agent conducting it, and how he greets, and meets, people, at the door, whether they feel welcome, and appreciated, and, directs them, forward.

3. Sign – in: You won’t be able to follow – through, effectively, until/ unless, you get, as much information, as possible, about everyone who attends. While I prefer to get them to, sign – in, via a digital tablet, at least, it’s very important to. at least, get them to do it manually. How can you follow – up, if you don’t have this? When you use a digital program/ application, you can stream – line the process, by automatically, transmitting follow – up, emails, immediately.

4. Show/ Questions and Answers: How well you show the house, often, depends on, how comfortably, you welcome and encourage questions, with genuine empathy, and the thoroughness of your answers/ responses!

5. Follow – up: A real estate agent should consider an Open House, both, as marketing for the subject house, as well as, for you, as an agent. Will you stand – out from the crowd, by being proactive, etc? Use the opportunity to, both, follow – up, for selling this property, as well as making appointments, to show other houses, to those, who aren’t that interested in this one.

Open – houses require much care, attention, time, effort, and expenditures. Doesn’t it make sense, to get them, to get, the most, bang – for – the – buck?…

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A 4-Phase Plan to a Successful Designer Kitchen Remodeling Project

Have you heard of the nightmare stories people share about their designer kitchen remodeling experiences? There are quite a lot of things that can go wrong with such a project, as it is complex and requires some professional assistance.

However, upon the start of any such renovation, you must know that it is totally worth it. The kitchen is undoubtedly the most important room of every home. People call it the 'social hub of the family' for a good reason – everyone visits it on a daily basis. As for seeing the successful completion of a kitchen renovation project, you need to follow a strict 4-phase plan:

Find the right contractors – if kitchen remodeling is on top of your wish list, you may want to hire the best pros for the job. Probably the best place to start your search for a contractor to carry out the job is personal recommendation. Ask your friends and relatives if they know of such person who they have hired in the past. Don't forget to check contractor credibility and reputation, because in the end of the day they are only as good as the last project they have worked on. Check out their work with previous clients and make sure you discuss every little detail with them before giving them the green light – it is your bespoke kitchen after all.

Planning the layout – if you are working with an experienced planner, they will let you in on all the secrets about maximizing storage space, high-end materials and needed features. However, you must ensure that you provide the contractor with an accurate rendering of your current kitchen. Also, you need to make a detailed wish list, indicating your needs for storage, style and must-haves. Whatever you do, don't forget to consider the utility of your kitchen triangle – the connection established between the refrigerator, sink and stove.

Cut costs – it is easy to get carried away with your bespoke kitchen design and end up spending a third of you property's value on this project alone. Before you begin your project, you can think whether what you've got at the moment is good enough, ie it doesn't really need total renovation. In terms of appliances, you should mostly pay attention to your stove's burner heat output, energy efficiency, ease of operation, safety and ease of cleaning.

Avoiding mistakes – just like any grand project, kitchen renovation can take a wrong turn here and there. That is especially the case if you decide to be your own general contractor or hiring the wrong person for the job. Make sure you have the specifications of the project listed before you hand the project. It does good to nobody if you start changing your mind halfway through the project. Surely you must devote some time and attention to the project so that it doesn't turn into a disaster.
Getting a designer kitchen surely is wonderful, but you must follow these steps to ensure that …

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