News in Brief

More SEWP V vendors, DOD cloud pilots, NSF data projects and more

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Next batch of SEWP V vendors to be announced next week

The winners in the two remaining vendor groups under the next iteration of NASA's massive $10 billion Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement multi-award Government-Wide Acquisition Contract have been informed of their status by the agency, but won't be formally announced until next week.

NASA announced contract awardees for SEWP V's Group A and Group D on Oct. 1. Group A covers value-added resellers and computer system manufacturers, while Group D covers only value-added resellers.

Program Manager Joanne Woytek said Group B includes service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses and historically underutilized business zones vendors. Group C is a small business set-aside. While an initial set of notifications has gone out to awardees and non-awardees in all four groups, and a handful of individual firms have begun talking about their awards, NASA is still processing some of the associated paperwork for Groups B and C. "The set-aside groups have to go through several extra steps related to small businesses," Woytek said. "The list will not be announced nor official until those steps are completed. We anticipate announcing the Group B and C awardees later next week."

DOD cloud pilots focus on security

The Department of Defense is conducting five pilot projects that put sensitive data in commercial cloud environments as part of a process to accelerate cloud adoption, according to the Air Force's Frank Konieczny.

The object of the pilots is testing the security model, Konieczny said, testing spillage within data centers in real-life situations. The security concerns of DoD give rise to a host of contractual hurdles for the department to address, as it goes through the process of giving individual military services more authority to procure their own cloud services.

Konieczny, who is chief technology officer in the Office of Information Dominance and CIO, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, and was speaking at a Oct. 2 Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group meeting on Capitol Hill, warned that service level agreements might have to cover some unusual contingencies. While sensitive, unclassified data requires its own dedicated hardware, there could be issues arising from co-locating DOD applications with commercial applications. What happens, for example, when CyberCom comes in and shuts down a data center because of a breach? What happens when a mission critical data center is subjected to a cyber or physical attack that requires moving the application to another hosting site? What are the obligations of the vendor, Konieczny asked, in an instance when "things are going to fall out of the sky" if a system isn't brought back online?

IC3 catches bad guys; it doesn’t offer spyware advice

In the wake of the first-ever prosecution of the makers and marketers of a smart phone spyware app, federal law enforcement's Internet crime center is telling the public that it can't be of much help in determining if spyware has infected their iPhone and Android devices.

In a Sept. 30 public alert on the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) website, the center said it had been receiving public complaints about an infamous mobile app called StealthGenie that can monitor phone calls, messaging, voice mail, address book, calendar, photos and videos without being detected. As it began prosecution of StealthGenie's creators in September, IC3 said smartphone users who suspect they had spyware on their phones are mostly on their own in finding it.

"Federal law enforcement is not in position to determine the effectiveness of products and services from individual private vendors or entities" aimed at detecting the malware, the alert stated. IC3 recommended a "factory reset" to remove a suspected app, but warned the reset would wipe all other apps and stored data from their devices.

NSF funds data infrastructure projects

The National Science Foundation unveiled $31 million in funding to support 17 projects under the Data Infrastructure Building Blocks program, which supports research in nearly every field of science supported by NSF.

"This vision requires a collaborative national data infrastructure that is aligned to research priorities and that is efficient, highly interoperable and anticipates emerging data policies," Irene Qualters, division director for Advanced Cyber infrastructure at NSF, said in a statement.

One of the 17 awards will support a research team led by Geoffrey Fox, a computer science and informatics professor at Indiana University, who plans to create middleware and analytics libraries that will enable data science to work at scale on super computers.

"Our innovative architecture integrates key features of open source cloud computing software with supercomputing technology," Fox said in the NSF statement. "And our outreach involves 'data analytics as a service' with training and curricula set up in a Massive Open Online Course or MOOC."

Fox and his team will be testing their platform with several types of applications, including those used in remote sensing, geospatial information systems and biomedicine.

The Data Infrastructure Building Blocks program is in its second year and supports research in 22 states.

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