American Science and Engineering Incorporated, Ballerica, Mass., recently announced that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) awarded the company an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with a ceiling value of $245 million for its SmartCheck Personnel Screening System with next generation advanced imaging technology. The IDIQ contract also includes service, maintenance, and training for the SmartCheck systems. As part of this contract, AS&E received its first delivery order for three SmartCheck systems to be tested at TSA facilities.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded Thales Communications Incorporated, of Clarksburg, Maryland, a contract to provide public safety and tactical communications products to DHS under its new Tactical Communications (TacCom) program. Through this multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) program, DHS will quickly procure vital tactical radio equipment and other products and services. The agency will use the equipment to support reliable and interoperable public safety communications for its missions to keep the homeland safe, including border protection, customs enforcement, drug interdiction, and emergency response to natural and man-made disasters.
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems has been awarded a $14 million task order by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to support the National Communications System (NCS). General Dynamics will provide around-the-clock watch operations for critical communications infrastructure through support of the NCS's National Coordinating Center (NCC) for Communications. The company will provide emergency response support and liaison to communications partners to identify the possible impacts of potentially disruptive events and coordinate the restoration and repair of the infrastructure when outages occur.
BioFlow, a handheld biological threat detection system under development at The Mitre Corporation's Bio-Nano Laboratory could one day help emergency response teams identify biological threats on site, saving time, money and possibly lives. Mitre engineers have demonstrated the concept for several government sponsors, including the Defense and Homeland Security departments. BioFlow combines existing technology and sampling techniques to identify a variety of threats, including bacterial agents that cause anthrax, viruses and clinical markers such as thyroid stimulating hormone.
Government may have been in the slow lane to accept social media as a viable conduit for sharing information, but agencies are now coordinating their efforts to ensure messages going out to the public can be trusted. Members of a panel discussing its uses at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference said the technologies that facilitate ubiquitous communications among the public are merely another change in generations of changes. The key is that the same principles that govern reliable news reports and privacy and civil liberties protections apply whether the public is depending on newspapers, broadcast, Facebook, Skype or Twitter, they agreed.
Recent legislation is opening the doors for public safety organizations to do more in the wireless broadband realm. Experts in the field discussed the ramifications of H.R. 3630 Title VI, which the president signed into law last month, during the first Thursday panel at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference. The benefits include improved collaboration among emergency service organizations and additional dollars that will be spent to improve communication capabilities. The FCC currently is putting together the Public Safety Interoperability Advisory Board.
Paul A. Schneider, former deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), kicked off the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference this morning by stating that not enough revenue has been allocated in the U.S. budget to fight all the cyberthreats, which are some of the most critical dangers facing the nation today. The U.S. currently is as unprepared to protect its cybernetworks as it was to protect New York and Washington, D.C., on 9/11, Schneider said. Shortfalls exist in protecting physical infrastructure such as power and water facilities. "When all is said and done, this is just crime using the Internet," he added.
In a time when government agencies and industry must tighten their belts, it may be a cloak that saves the security day. While discussing best practices in securing the cloud at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference, panelist Tim Kelleher, vice president of professional services, BlackRidge Technology, shared details about his company's approach to stopping cybermarauders in their recon tracks. The technique is called cloaking, and Kelleher used caller ID to describe how his company's solution could improve cybersecurity not only in future environments but in current networks as well.
Amazing anecdotes kept the audience entertained during the lunch session at the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference. The experts spoke about a serious subject: cyberwar. But the stories about their hands-on experiences in learning how to fight cyberwars, how they've fought cyberthreats and what they believe is needed to prepare future cyberwarriors kept conference attendees enthralled. Among the panelists was Maj. T.J. O'Connor, USA, 10th Special Forces Group (A), S-6. While attending the U.S. Military Academy, Maj. O'Connor had some time on his hands that led him to learn how best to defeat cyberattacks.
Although not claiming victory, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made some serious headway in improving cybersecurity, according to panelists discussing the topic at the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day in Washington, D.C. Experts said the threats have not disappeared but rather have changed, and various DHS agencies have been learning how to better handle them. Alma Cole, chief systems security officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, described today's cyberthreats in a way the other panelists agreed with.
Responding to an emergency is just as crucial-and as technically complicated as-preventing one. Members of the final panel for the DHS 2012 Information Technology Industry Day discussed the importance of communications capabilities to mitigate the effects of a manmade or natural disaster and restore normalcy to an area. Damon Penn, assistant administrator, National Continuity Programs Directorate , FEMA, related that restoring communications so that disaster victims can contact their families can help in two ways. First, family members can pick up victims and take them to a safer location.
Much like the three propeller blades on a wind turbine, three U.S. government agencies are spinning together a program to produce a microgrid that will provide power that is independent of external sources. The departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security want to enable military bases and other installations to continue operations in the event of power failure due to enemy actions or other events. A key element of this microgrid is network security, and it must be able to continue functions even in the face of cybermarauders, who could bring down an entire system.
Protecting any nation's citizens and institutions is difficult under any circumstances, but today's economic limitations make this task even more challenging. Government and business leaders will meet at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center February 28 to March 1 to tackle this topic during AFCEA International's 11th annual Homeland Security conference. Conference discussion topics include cloud computing, cyberwar, procurement, wireless broadband and social media. Small businesses' interaction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also will be explored.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have called upon industry to develop a low-cost and secure communications, network management and situational awareness system for the U.S. military, public safety agencies and commercial clients. The solution must enable remote and secure mission-based communications with or without cloud connectivity. The goal is to design a technology with both military and security applications that offers real-time information regardless of the infrastructure and equipment first responders or military members use.
Gnostech Incorporated, Warminster, Pennsylvania, is being awarded a $13,512,796 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide information assurance-related services in support of Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security programs. Support will include certification and accreditation documentation, security and certification test and evaluation, security control compliance evaluation, data recovery/prevention services, network security services, and information assurance planning and coordination. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, San Diego, California, is the contracting activity.
Tasked with patrolling millions of square miles of water over vast ocean distances, the U.S. Coast Guard is looking to augment its surveillance forces with unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). These craft would serve to alert cutters to what lies over the distant ocean horizon. Rear Adm. Charles W. Ray, USCG, the commander of the 14th Coast Guard District, told the final breakfast audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 how the vast area of responsibility across the Pacific Ocean tasks Coast Guard operations. Many isolated islands and atolls are U.S. territory, and their fish-rich waters constitute more than a million square miles of U.S. exclusive economic zones.
The new technologies that are enabling elements of the critical infrastructure to operate more efficiently also are making them more vulnerable to devastating cyberattacks. Advanced mobile connectivity and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems have created fertile ground for cybermarauders to target key aspects of the infrastructure a number of ways. These were the findings of a panel comprising a number of experts from Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 in Honolulu. Rear Adm. Paul Becker, USN, the PACOM J-2, described how the use of SCADA industrial control systems was a primary threat to the infrastructure.
Situational awareness that borders on command and control (C2) may be necessary to protect vulnerable networks in the nation's critical infrastructure. The threat to these increasingly complex industrial control systems will require more than just commercial off-the-shelf security solutions, according to a panel of experts at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 in Honolulu. Rear Adm. Paul Becker, USN, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) J-2, warned that the proliferation of control systems, coupled with a lack of network situational awareness, are prime opportunities for cybermarauders.
Cybercrime legislation should be technology agnostic to ensure technological advances do not make the laws obsolete, says James A. Baker, deputy attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department. Baker testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a September 7 hearing on updating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to combat emerging cyberthreats.
A science-based software tool for the iPad allows first responders to learn from models of building damage and other conditions that occur after a disaster. Developed by Sandia National Laboratories, the Standard Unified Modeling, Mapping and Integration Toolkit (SUMMIT) enables firefighters, medics and police officers to visualize damaged buildings. The tool will allow them to tap into existing models that feature details of buildings, infrastructure and casualties. During exercises, it will visualize an integrated scenario and make it available to all participants in a master control cell.