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Cool App-titude: Military Traveler

September 24, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

Do you need an all-in-one source for military base information? The free Military Traveler app for Android and iOS provides a portable directory with contact information for establishments on military installations across the United States.

The app includes phone numbers, hours of operations and website links for establishments at more than 250 bases, including the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy, and 29 USOs. Look up a base using the search feature to access its full directory. You also can browse through a world map or save a location to your favorites for easy access. Military Traveler includes banks and ATMs, child development centers, barber and beauty shops, gas stations, commissaries and more.

Download the app from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.
 

 

Want to know more? Watch the Military Traveler video below:

These sites are not affiliated with AFCEA or SIGNAL Magazine, and we are not responsible for the content or quality of the products offered. When visiting new Web sites, please use proper Internet security procedures.

Authenticating Who You are Online

September 18, 2013
By Rita Boland

Cyberspace has security problems, and the U.S. government is trying to do something about it. The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is promoting a plan and taking actions to move citizens beyond usernames and passwords to more powerful methods of authentication. In recent years, massive data theft has occurred in the cyber realm. Even strong passwords are vulnerable to hackers.

Identities are difficult to verify online, forcing many government and civilian transactions to occur in person to satisfy security needs. Furthermore, the complexity of having multiple passwords for myriad accounts means that many people abandon using certain Web services instead of going through the process to recover passwords they forget. Trusted identification could provide the foundation for a solution, explained Dr. Michael Garcia, deputy director, NSTIC National Program Office, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), at the Biometric Consortium Conference.

To illustrate his point, Garcia explained that the U.S. Defense Department’s intrusion rate dropped 46 percent after the organization banned passwords in favor of common access cards with public key infrastructure. Costs, policy and other barriers prevent certain groups from following this model, however. The NSTIC has within it the idea of an identity ecosystem that will improve online trust. Officials believe the marketplace exists for such technology. Industry will lead the way with government serving as a convener, facilitator and catalyst, Garcia said. The private sector must determine how to build an ecosystem in which it can swap out technologies for various reasons.

Calling All Rocket Scientists

September 18, 2013

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking ideas and technical proposals for how to best develop a fully reusable unmanned aircraft that would provide access to space faster, easier and at a lower cost than current satellite launch vehicles. According to Jess Sponable, manager of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, the agency aims to build on proven technologies to create a reliable, cost-effective space delivery system that can be used to launch payloads into space, return to Earth and repeat the process the next day. Technical goals include the ability to fly 10 times in 10 days achieving speeds of more than Mach 10.

Current concepts call for a reusable first stage that would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude then one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into low-Earth orbit. The aim is to achieve this at a cost of less than $5 million per flight for 3,000- to 5,000-pound payloads. “How it’s configured, how it gets up and how it gets back are pretty much all on the table. We’re looking for the most creative yet practical solutions possible,” Sponable states.

DARPA has scheduled an XS-1 Proposers Day for October 7 and plans to hold one-on-one discussions with potential proposers on October 8. Registration for the event must be received by noon on October 1. Additional information is available via email and on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Do You Control Your Identity?

September 18, 2013
By Rita Boland

 

“We are in an era where biometric data is proliferating,” Dr. Joseph Atick, chairman, Identity Council International, said today at the Biometric Consortium Conference. That expansion is taking place in the civilian world in addition to increases in the military and public safety sectors. “Biometrics in daily life has arrived,” Atick explained.

Societal changes regarding how people view privacy and how they use social media are helping to drive changes in the biometrics field. In fact, social changes are driving a revolution in the industry. Reputation of people is becoming pervasive, indelible and inescapable in large part because of the Internet. Data about individuals can be culled simply through performing a Google search and remains available indefinitely. As such, officials, or others, can link more and more pieces of information to individuals, including pieces not collected through a formal means. Atick used the example of two British citizens who were sent home after arriving in the United States and having their identities verified. They were linked to joking tweets saying they would destroy the United States and dig up Marilyn Monroe.

Social media has many implications with identity management. For one, it makes it dramatically easier to determine social identities. Through various platforms, people’s choices show their dynamic relationships, give context to parts of their lives and offer trust by affiliation. A person who has 1,000 highly respectable LinkedIn contacts, for example, should receive some weighting for trustworthiness from that, Atick said. Social media also allows for social résumés. Individuals can post whatever they want, but other people vet them. Atick explained that the upshot of what is happening in the world is that increasingly identification is being derived from data external to the biometrics enrollment process.

Cybersecurity Technologies Ready for Prime Time

September 18, 2013

Eight emerging cybersecurity technologies ready for transition into commercial products will be unveiled at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel on October 9. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate is hosting the event, which will feature intrusion detection, removable media protection, software assurance and malware forensics capabilities.

The Department of Energy’s national laboratories developed the technologies that the DHS’ Transition-to-Practice program will showcase during the Technology Demonstration for Investors, Integrators and IT Companies East event.

Cybersecurity professionals and technology investors from private industry will learn about these new technologies through presentations, demonstrations and discussions with the research teams that produced them. Attendees also will have an opportunity to schedule a private one-on-one discussions with the researchers to discuss opportunities for commercializing the technologies and areas of interest to drive further cybersecurity research.

Attendance is free, but registration must be received by October 7.

NATO Forwards Biometrics

September 17, 2013
By Rita Boland

NATO is investing time, talent and treasure into advancing biometrics, Col. Bernard Wulfse, Dutch Army, commander, Joint Task Force Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED), explained at the Biometric Consortium Conference. The alliance has named biometrics a critical capability shortfall to address. Key to achieving goals for biometrics is bringing all the partner nations together—not only the few currently supporting the efforts. Methods that proved useful against IEDs have applications in the biometrics realm, and lessons can be applied from the former to the latter.

Current conflicts generate from within states, not between them, so identifying enemies is difficult. More investment in rooting out the bad guys is necessary, Col. Wulfse explained. This anonymity in the physical and cyber realms makes it impossible for traditional forces to deploy their best capabilities. “Asymmetric threats … have rendered our strengths ineffective,” Col. Wulfse said.

Identity management of friend and foe can help mitigate the threats of these types of adversaries and not only in the military context. Other applications include C-IED, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, access control and more. Unlike in times past, biometrics efforts now truly have support from the highest headquarters, the colonel stated.

Despite this support, the basic challenges remain the same. The potential of biometrics for military use is not fully understood. NATO lacks harmonization in guidance, procedures and standards. Capabilities among the various armed forces are unbalanced. There is a lack of knowledge and trust in the biometrics arena, and many of the troops collecting biometric information today will not see the benefits from their work because it often takes years for the data to become a usable resource.

Biometrics: Changing the Game and Facing Challenges

September 17, 2013
By Rita Boland

Biometrics has advanced significantly over the past decade, altering the lives of people across the globe, especially in developing countries. But the field faces many concerns as it looks toward the future.

Ken Gantt, acting deputy director, Office of Biometric Identity Management, outlined the challenges he sees at the Biometric Consortium Conference Tuesday in Tampa, Florida. The first is direction. Members of the biometrics community need to determine where they want to be in 2025. The second challenge is a combination of policy, privacy and perception. “What is right to share and with whom?,” Gantt asked. Third is operations in terms of improving the employment of biometrics. Fourth is technology. “We can’t do what we do without technology,” Gantt says. However, this comes with problems because of resource constraints. Developers have to make technology affordable.

The fifth and final challenge is identity, or rather, the definition of identity. Gantt explained that the term has different meanings for different people. The lack of uniformity presents challenges when groups try to work together. Gantt made several recommendations to resolve the issues he presented. One basic measure calls for a standardization of definitions and vocabulary to decrease confusion. Most of the other solutions revolve around increasing communications within and outside of the biometric community. Sharing ideas, insights and the benefits of adopting biometrics will advance the field internally as well as encouraging its acceptance by the general populace.

Cool App-titude: Call Dibs

September 17, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

In the military community, moving is often a part of life, and that includes buying and selling items along the way. The free Call Dibs app makes that process easier by providing a convenient space for active duty, Reserve, Guard, veterans, U.S. Defense Department civilians and their families to offload or find goods.

An alternative to sites like Craigslist, Call Dibs focuses exclusively on the military community to add a layer of trust and a sense of security to the process.

Use the app to post items quickly from your phone, browse listings by others, and send and receive messages. You must have a .mil email address to be validated as a military user.

Download the app from the iTunes App Store or participate through the Call Dibs website.

These sites are not affiliated with AFCEA or SIGNAL Magazine, and we are not responsible for the content or quality of the products offered. When visiting new Web sites, please use proper Internet security procedures.

Modularity on the Move

September 16, 2013

The U.S. Army is replacing the swivel-chair approach to viewing situational awareness information in combat and tactical vehicles with a standardized family of build-your-own tactical computers. In addition to enabling tactical computers to interoperate, the family of systems reduces the basic configuration computer cost by as much as 36 percent while increasing performance by more than 350 percent.

Based on modularity, the Mounted Family of Computer Systems (MFoCS) includes three models that are interchangeable so it can be customized for specific missions. A tablet computer is the basic building block of the MFoCS. The intermediate model adds a processing unit with a 12-, 15- or 17-inch display, and the advanced configuration includes the tablet plus two intermediate units for a total of three workstations.

The MFoCS is designed to work with Joint Battle Command–Platform (JBC-P), which includes hardware, software, communication equipment and network management infrastructure. However, it also will support other command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications.

DRS Technologies is developing and producing the MFoCS, which also will support the JBC-P’s Mounted Computing Environment, one of six computing environments that are part of the Army’s common operating environment.

AFCEA Answers: The Five "Vs" of Big Data

September 13, 2013
By Max Cacas

In considering how best to manage the challenges and opportunities presented by big data in the U.S. Defense Department, Dan Doney, chief innovation officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), says the current best thinking on the topic centers around what he calls, “the five Vs”.

Appearing on a recent episode of the AFCEA Answers radio program, Doney says it’s important to always consider “volume, velocity, variety, veracity and value” when trying to manage and take advantage of big data.

“Volume gets the most attention,” he says, noting that most people focus on datasets measured in terabytes and petabytes. “In fact, though, that’s the one in which we’ve made the most progress. When it comes to “velocity,” or the rate at which large datasets often pour into servers, Doney notes that many algorithms originally designed for static databases now are being redesigned to handle datasets that require disparate types of data to be interconnected with metadata to be useful.

Doney goes on to say that “variety” remains one of the last three challenges when it comes to big data for his agency because of the DIA’s mandate to create a “big picture” that emerges from all that information. And he says that solutions have so far not caught up with the DIA’s needs.

Doney says “veracity,” or the “ability to put faith behind that data,” becomes a challenge when one needs to put equivalent amounts of context to disparate data types to add important detail to that “big picture.”
 

Brian Weiss, vice president, Autonomy/HP, says that when it comes to “value” in consideration of big data, some of the most exciting innovation is coming in terms of how to distinguish and sort out important information from the huge datasets.

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