News in Brief

New role for CIA's ex-CIO, Tor's secret bug-fixers and more

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Former CIA CTO joins Stateless Networks advisory board

Gus Hunt, former technology head at the CIA, has been named to Stateless Networks' board of advisors.

As CTO, Hunt was instrumental in the CIA's move to Amazon's AWS cloud platform, as well as piloting network virtualization and software-defined networking products, according to a statement by Stateless Networks.

"Gus played a key role in bringing the most innovative technologies, including Amazon's public cloud deployment, to the CIA," Stateless Networks CEO Kelly Wanser, said. "He understands first-hand how the cloud has evolved and is shaping the future of networking."

Stateless Networks is planning to leverage Hunt's expertise in cloud networking on its Stateless Network Director product, among others.

"He's a valuable add to our team as we work to help companies automate their networks and integrate network capabilities into the cloud to provide on-demand operations, eliminate outages and reduce operating costs," Wanser said.

Hunt spent 28 years at the CIA, joining the agency first as an analyst. Prior to the CIA, Hunt worked as an aerospace engineer for seven years, designing advanced manned flight systems and satellite orbital transfer vehicles.

NSA, DHS name cyber centers of excellence

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security jointly announced the first 44 institutions to be designated as NSA/DHS National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense.

The list of schools includes George Mason University in Virginia and George Washington University in the District of Columbia.

The new designation, according to a joint NSA/DHS statement on Aug. 20, is based on updated academic criteria for cybersecurity education and gives each institution the opportunity to use its strengths in specific focus areas.

Tor developer says U.S., U.K. spies are filing bug reports

Rogue spies are trying to preserve the anonymity and security of the Tor browser, a developer says, by filing bug reports disclosing potential flaws in the software. Andrew Lehman, who heads operations on the Tor Project, told the BBC he believes operatives at the National Security Agency and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are sharing the results of their probes into Tor's security, in order to guard against infiltration or hacks that could render Tor's encryption vulnerable to exploitation by spy agencies or others.

Because Tor bugs are filed anonymously, Lehman said his belief that NSA and GCHQ operatives are contributing reports is just a "hunch." But he told the BBC that "you have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source code from scratch for hours, for weeks, for months, and find and elucidate these super-subtle bugs or other things that they probably don't get to see in most commercial software."

Tor allows users to browse the Internet and communicate anonymously. It can be the gateway to what is called the "dark web," where money is laundered, malware is distributed, and drugs and child pornography are bought and sold, out of view of the authorities. At the same time, it is also a refuge for civil society groups and activists to communicate out of view of repressive regimes. Potentially, it provides a secure path for foreign agents of western intelligence services to communicate anonymously and undetectably with their controllers. Tor has its roots in a U.S. Navy research lab, and according to the BBC article, it continues to be funded by the U.S. government.

"So you can imagine one part of GCHQ is trying to break Tor, the other part is trying to make sure it's not broken because they're relying on it to do their work," Lehman said in the BBC interview. NSA and GCHQ declined to comment on the report.

DISA awards $450M deal for top-secret systems upkeep

The Defense Information Systems Agency has awarded a contract worth up to $450 million to Harris IT Service Corp. for the maintenance of the Crisis Management System, Defense Systems reports.

The 10-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity hybrid contract includes services for program management support, engineering and maintenance of the system.

Benchmark compares Hadoop systems

GCN reports that government IT managers looking for performance metrics on Hadoop-based systems can now use the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TPCx-HS benchmark.

TPC is a non-profit corporation founded to define transaction processing and database benchmarks and to disseminate verifiable TPC performance data. TPCx-HS provides objective measures of hardware, operating system, commercial Apache Hadoop File System API-compatible systems and MapReduce layers.

DHS gets good grade from SBA

DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in an Aug. 22 blog post that he was "pleased to report" his agency had earned its fifth grade "A" rating on the Small Business Administration's Annual Small Business Procurement Scorecard released earlier this month.

The scorecard measures how well 24 federal agencies meet their small business contracting goals. The SBA report said federal agencies hit the government's small-business contracting goal for the first time in eight years in fiscal 2013. Of the seven agencies that spend the most in contracting dollars, Mayorkas said DHS was the only one to get an "A" five years in a row.

He attributed the strong marks to the department's Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization and contracting professionals and small business advocates the agency's components. He said in a given year, OSDBU personnel help about 20,000 small businesses through conferences, vendor outreach sessions, meetings, phone calls and emails. In fiscal 2013, he said, more than 1,700 small businesses received their first DHS contract.

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