News in Brief

GPO designs Commerce website, coalition battles botnets and more

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Commerce unveils GPO-designed website

The Department of Commerce rolled out a spiffy new website on April 8, thanks in part to a collaboration with the newly renamed Government Publishing Office.

The GPO contributed design services for the new website, which uses a responsive design approach to scale content to any screen size. A GPO release credits GPO designer Jon Raedeke and the CIO team at Commerce with the look and feel of the new site.

"We look forward to continued collaboration with the GPO team as we build out an improved customer experience based upon our analytics and customer feedback," said Mike Kruger, director of digital engagement for the Department of Commerce.

The site features news and activities from Commerce headquarters. The separate divisions of the large federated agency, including the Bureau of the Census and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, maintain their existing sites.

National lab creates largest dataset of inorganic compounds

The Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has made the world's largest dataset on the "complete elastic properties of inorganic compounds" available publicly for use in commercial development.

According to research published in March in the open-access Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Data, the effort harnessed a Google-like database of material properties called The Materials Project to accelerate technical innovation.

The lab said the new dataset is expected to be a boon to scientists working to develop new materials where mechanical properties are important, such as for hard coatings or stiff materials for cars and airplanes.

While there is previously published experimental data for a few hundred inorganic compounds, Berkeley Lab said its scientists, using the infrastructure of the Materials Project, have calculated the complete elastic properties for 1,181 inorganic compounds, with dozens more being added every week.

International coalition battles botnet

The Homeland Security Department, the FBI and the Department of Justice helped an international cybercrime-fighting coalition take down a pernicious botnet that has infected thousands of computers worldwide.

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) joined forces with Dutch authorities, the FBI, U.S.-based representatives at the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force- International Cyber Crime Coordination Cell, and private-sector partners to target the Beebone (also known as AAEH) botnet, a polymorphic downloader bot that installs various forms of malware -- password stealers, rootkits, fake antivirus and ransomware, among others -- on victims' computers.

J-CAT was formed last September by the FBI, Britain's National Crime Agency, Europol and other international law enforcement agencies to combat international cybercriminals.

A Europol statement on April 8 said although Beebone isn't the most widespread botnet, it is a very sophisticated one, allowing multiple forms of malware to compromise security on victims' computers.

DHS, the FBI, DOJ and Interpol also released an alert on April 9 providing more information about the AAEH botnet, along with prevention and mitigation recommendations.

Army to create a marketplace for Manpack Radios

The Army is looking to create a "radio marketplace" for the full rate production of Manpack Radios, in which multiple vendors will compete for orders in the coming years, Defense Systems reports.

The service has released a draft request for proposals for the two-channel, software-defined radios, saying it plans to award spots to multiple vendors under a contract that will have a five-year base period with a five-year option.

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