SIGNALScape

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.

Two Firms to Support Airborne Sensors in Afghanistan

September 18, 2013
George I. Seffers
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Science Applications International Corporation, McLean, Va., was awarded a $179,585,058 firm-fixed-price, non-option-eligible, non-multi-year contract in support of the Saturn Arch program and provides continued operations, sustainment and integration of aircraft platforms configured to host a suite of sensors deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (W58RGZ-13-C-0134). SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif., was awarded a $62,337,287 firm-fixed-price, non-option-eligible, non-multi-year contract in support of the Desert Owl program and provides continued operations, sustainment and integration of aircraft platforms configured to host a suite of sensors deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (W58RGZ-13-C-0135). These are hybrid contracts containing both fixed-price and cost-reimbursement line items. The U.S. Army Contracting Command - Redstone Arsenal (Aviation), Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Corps of Engineers Awards $7 Billion Geothermal Energy Contract

September 18, 2013
George I. Seffers
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New Generation Power Inc., Chicago, Ill., was awarded potential vendor indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price, non-option, non-multi-year contract with a cumulative maximum value of $7 billion. The government is awarding this contract for use in competing and awarding power purchase agreement (PPA) task orders. These PPAs will provide for the purchase of energy from renewable and alternative energy production facilities that are designed, financed, constructed, operated and maintained by private sector entities on private land or on installations under jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. These contracts are for the use of geothermal technology. All awarded technologies will share a total estimated value of $7 billion. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Engineer Support Center, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity (W912DY-13-D-0113).

Hydroid to Provide Unmanned Underwater Vehicles

September 18, 2013
George I. Seffers
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Hydroid Inc, Pocasset, Mass., is being awarded a $36,323,734 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement of unmanned underwater vehicles. The unmanned underwater vehicles provide the military force with very shallow water and shallow water mine countermeasures as well as underwater object localization tools. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity (N00174-13-D-0005).

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