News Briefs

April 30, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

FirstNet, the independent authority tasked with building a first-ever, nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety, announced Wednesday a huge initiative toward realization of the network.

The agency finalized a yearlong process to establish mechanisms and relationships that will let it systematically collect critical information and input from all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia that will benefit from the network.

May 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

New York City wants to build a citywide network of Internet hotspots offering free Wi-Fi to replace the city’s aging network of payphones. The endeavor, led by the Department of Information and Telecommunications, will supply all five boroughs with free access and is predicted to create local jobs for the development, according to city officials.

“This administration has committed to making New York City work better for every community, and this [request for proposals] for free outdoor Wi-Fi is a downpayment on that promise,” Mayor Bill de Blasio says. “For years, the question was, ‘What to do with payphones?’ and now we have an answer.”

April 25, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

High school students from Hampton, Virginia, not only carried off top honors Friday in the Exploration Design Challenge but will work with the NASA and Lockheed Martin spacecraft integration team to have their anti-radiation concept approved to fly into space.

The students of Team ARES, from the Governor’s School for Science and Technology, will work to get their equipment approved and then installed onto Orion’s crew module, according to a press release.

April 23, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A high-tech workshop giving hobbyists and professionals alike access to millions of dollars of gadgetry, from computers to woodworking tools and other equipment they might otherwise not be able to afford, opened in Virginia and offers enthusiasts a place to literally build their dreams—or at least a cutting board for Mother’s Day. Membership for most who join TechShop comes with a cost but is free for military veterans, as TechShop has partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation.

April 17, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

The U.S. Defense Department will award $167 million in research funding to academic institutions as part of the department’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). During the next five years, 24 awards will be issued through the program to support multidisciplinary basic research, which will be conducted by teams of investigators that intersect more than one traditional science and engineering discipline. More than 60 academic institutions are expected to participate in the 24 research efforts.

April 14, 2014
By Rita Boland

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released guidance to help citizens protect themselves from the recent Heartbleed cyberthreat. This bug makes websites that use OpenSSL vulnerable to attacks that could be used to obtain names, passwords and credit card numbers. Steps the department recommends for the public are: change passwords every few weeks; set strong passwords, ideally with letter, number and symbol combinations; use different passwords for different websites; and never share a password.

April 15, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration has issued a request for proposals to further develop “extreme scale” supercomputer technology under the FastForward program. Contracts will total about $100 million and the funding period will be from July 2014 to November 2016. Proposals are due May 9.

April 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A China-based company has set up an OpenDaylight Lab in Shenzhen, China, joining an expanding global community effort aimed at creating open sources for companies to further software-defined networking (SDN). The industry is aiming to do this via more transparent approaches that reduce risk to unproven products. The Shenzhen lab from Huawei is the first of its kind in Asia, joining the approved OpenDaylight Community Labs list.

April 8, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

U.S. Army leaders of the Brigade Modernization Command (BMC) at Fort Bliss, Texas, supported middle and high school students vying for top spots in the fields of science and technology during a recent competition. Brig. Gen. John W. Charlton, USA, commanding general of the BMC, lent support by providing soldiers from his command to help judge the first 5-STAR Innovation Cup science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competition.

April 8, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy has successfully demonstrated the Autonomous Aerial Cargo and Utility System (AACUS), which allows current, full-size helicopters to be remotely controlled by a tablet device. Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, USN, chief of naval research, recently revealed that two young Marines at Quantico, Virginia, were able to land a full-size helicopter autonomously on an unprepared landing site with just one touch on a mini-tablet.

April 8, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Obama administration has announced a series of efforts to promote successful entrepreneurship in the United States and around the world. The steps include the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, a group of successful American businesspeople who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. The administration also intends to attract the best and the brightest by publishing proposed rules intended to make the United States more attractive to foreign entrepreneurs.

April 4, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) may ultimately eliminate the need for an information security classification process specific to the U.S. Defense Department, according to Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer. FedRAMP seeks to provide a governmentwide, standardized approach to security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. Takai voiced full support for the program on April 2 at the Security Through Innovation Summit, Washington, D.C., presented by Intel Security.

April 7, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Once the Joint Information Environment (JIE) is in place, the U.S. Defense Department may be able to deploy secure mobile apps much more quickly than it can with today’s cumbersome process, according to Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer.

April 2, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

A cybersecurity survey of federal information technology (IT) professionals revealed that 53 percent of the U.S. Defense Department IT professionals polled tagged careless and untrained insiders as their top cybersecurity threat source, a hazard that topped threats from foreign governments—with 48 percent of the vote—and terrorists—31 percent. Overall, federal government respondents said that attacks and threats by malicious intruders and careless and untrained insiders are the leading dangers to their agencies’ computers and networks, according to the industry-funded survey.

April 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) remains plagued by decades-old problems of unreliable and vulnerable networks and computer systems, putting the veterans they serve at risk, according to a recent government report. Despite years of documented weaknesses, the VA still has failed to shore up vulnerabilities, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

During the past six years alone, computer security incidents at the VA doubled, from 4,834 in 2007 to 11,382 in 2013, GAO investigators write. Incidents included unauthorized access, denial-of-service attacks, installation of malicious code and improper usage of computing resources, among others.

April 1, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

High school students from six schools across the nation will split $50,000 in scholarships after competing in the CyberPatriot VI competition, a culminating tournament in which participants tested strategies to defend computers and networks against cyber attacks. CyberPatriot kicked off in November, with roughly 1,600 students from all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada, and Defense Departments Dependents Schools in Europe and the Pacific vying for a chance to prove their concepts the best at the National Finals Competition, which wrapped up March 29, 2014.

The 2014 winning teams are:

Open Division:

March 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Marines speak with a potential employer a Hiring Our Heroes Veterans Event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the Pacific Views South Mesa Club at Camp Pendleton, Calif. in September 2012.

The unemployment rate for veterans of recent conflicts—that is, those who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts—dropped a bit last year, according to Labor Department statistics.

In 2013, the unemployment rate fell to 9 percent from 9.9 percent for post-2001 veterans. The corresponding rate for all veterans fell to 6.6 percent from 7 percent in 2012, according to Labor secretary Thomas E. Perez.

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden have focused their White House efforts on finding employment opportunities for veterans.

March 27, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Thales recently announced the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Qatar Armed Forces to assist in the development of an Optionally Piloted Vehicle-Aircraft (OPV-A), a high-performance intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance system. The OPV-A will be a hybrid between a conventional and unmanned aircraft capable of flying with or without a pilot on board. Unimpeded by a human’s physiological limitations, an OPV-A is able to operate under more adverse conditions and/or for greater endurance times. The airframe, to be selected by the Qatar Armed Forces, will be integrated with a mission systems capability to enable the optionally piloted capability.

March 26, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Defense industry leaders desire greater government involvement in the defense acquisition process, according to a recent survey released by the Government Business Council (GBC). Of the 340 survey participants, 85 percent of respondents noted positive outcome from more government involvement in the acquisition arena. Forty-three percent identified the disconnect between government and industry expectations as a “significant problem,” and 60 percent noted the same challenge in the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) community.

March 20, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Changes–if any–to the U.S. military retirement system will be a long time in the making if they come at all, a senior military leader told his sailors.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, USN, chief of naval operations, spoke with troops in Florida this month and shared cautionary words that might allay service members’ concerns following news media articles on a report presented by the Defense Department to a commission tasked with reviewing the military’s compensation and retirement systems.

Pages