From the pages of Government Computer News

NOAA to track GPS satellites
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced it will lead an international effort to pinpoint the locations of more than 40 Global Positioning System satellites orbiting the Earth. The project is aimed at ensuring the accuracy of GPS data used by the public and private sectors.

Staff members at NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS) will use data collected at 10 analysis centers worldwide to analyze satellite orbit data during the next four years.

NGS will coordinate information provided by the International Global Navigation Satellite Systems Service, a voluntary federation of more than 200 organizations that provide continuous satellite-tracking data. The organization includes the U.S.-based Global Positioning System, the Russian GLONASS and the upcoming European Galileo system.

Army aims at VOIP
The Army plans to migrate all of its circuit-switched voice communications to packet-switched voice-over-IP technology, said Col. Scot Miller, project manager at Defense Communications and Army Switched Systems, the organization that builds and runs the Army’s global telecommunications network.

The transition to VOIP, implementation of a unified communications architecture and the movement to centralize information technology applications in area processing centers are the three primary initiatives that will dominate the agenda of the Army’s networking group for the foreseeable future, Miller said.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is evaluating VOIP to assess whether it meets the strict availability and operational standards that are necessary before it can be used to carry command-and-control voice calls for the military. DISA likely won’t approve the use of end-to-end VOIP technology until 2009 or 2010, Miller added.

In the meantime, the Army is preparing for its transition to VOIP with a test of the technology and has started, on a small scale, to install VOIP-enabled circuit switches at network hubs.

A DHS-funded program scans open source
Eleven open-source programs have passed a major milestone in a vulnerability remediation program funded by the Homeland Security Department.

Under DHS’ Open Source Code Hardening Project, widely used open-source programs are scanned for bugs and potential vulnerabilities. The results are then given to the volunteer developers who maintain these programs. Applications that have been fixed are moving to the next level of testing.

The programs scanned are:

  • Amanda, a backup and recovery program.

  • Network Time Protocol, a protocol for synchronizing time over the Internet.

  • OpenPAM, a set of pluggable authentication modules.

  • OpenVPN, virtual private networking software.

  • Overdose, an instant-messaging client.

  • Perl, a programming language.

  • PHP, a Web programming language.

  • Postfix, an e-mail administration program.

  • Python, a scripting language.

  • Samba, network file-sharing software for Microsoft Windows networks.

  • TCL, a scripting language.

The scanning is part of a $1.2 million three-year DHS program, which also involves Stanford University and security vendors Coverity and Symantec.

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