News Briefs

May 20, 2014
By George I. Seffers

People with access to privileged data—such as health care records, sensitive company information, intellectual property or personal records—frequently put their organization’s sensitive information at risk, according to a new report by Raytheon Company. The survey report, “Privileged User Abuse & The Insider Threat,” finds that many individuals often are granted access to data and areas of the network not necessary for their roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, 65 percent of survey respondents indicated that curiosity—not job necessity—drives them to access sensitive or confidential data.

Key findings include:

May 15, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Researchers are working on a computer that just could soon do the thinking for humans. Computers today, while advanced, still mostly perform calculating functions using a central processing unit and memory that stores both a program and data, taking direction from the program and data from memory to function. Sandia National Laboratories researchers are developing “neuro-inspired” computing systems to work basically like human brains. They could detect patterns and anomalies to computing solutions.

May 9, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy has evaluated color-coded chemical detection technology known as colorimetric explosive detection kits, the service recently announced. Colorimetric detection technology is based upon a series of chemical reactions that produce a visual response, most often in the form of a color change dependent upon the molecular structure of the compounds being tested. 

May 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Scientists will use the new capability to study the formation of interstellar grains in the outflow of carbon stars.

NASA scientists at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, reproduced the processes that occur in the atmosphere of a red giant star and lead to the formation of planet-forming interstellar dust.


At Ames, scientists use a specialized facility called the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC) to recreate and study dust grains similar to those that form in the outer layers of dying stars. The research can help them understand the composition and evolution of the universe and creation of planets, to include Earth-like planets, according to a news statement.

May 5, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

Sandia National Laboratories' Predicting Performance Margins (PPM) project is working on improving the understanding of material science. The long-term, multidisciplinary program aims at identifying how material variability affects performance margins for an engineering component or machine part. The goal is to determine a science-based foundation for materials design and analysis to help predict how they will perform in specific applications. The research could lead to safer and more reliable spacecraft, bridges, power grids, cars, nuclear power plants and other complex engineered systems.

May 2, 2014
George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) will open spaces on its campus for local researchers from academia, industry and other government agencies to foster in-person interactions for deeper insight into the service’s technological challenges.

May 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

High school students and teachers get to learn about the world of cybersecurity through Sandia National Laboratories' Cyber Technologies Academy (CTA), which offers free classes for those interested in computer science and cybersecurity.

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.

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