News in Brief

Geodata brokers, spear-phishing feds, a Data Act playbook and more

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NGA opens geodata to app developers

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is making its unclassified geospatial data available to commercial application developers.

The new program, known as the Innovative GEOINT Application Provider Program (IGAPP), is meant to "bridge the gap between traditional government contracting procedures and non-traditional businesses," the agency said in a statement. The program is intended to serve as a "trusted broker" between vendors and the government by giving the former the infrastructure to build, test and launch apps using geospatial data from NGA and others, the agency added.

TASC, a security contractor owned by Engility, will run the program through a four-year, $25 million contract, the agency said.

Former NRC employee planned DOE spear-phishing attack

Federal prosecutors charged a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission employee with targeting Department of Energy staffers with emails that he thought would harm the agency's network and computers, as well as steal classified information.

On May 8, the FBI and Department of Justice charged Charles Harvey Eccleston with trying to launch a January spear-phishing attack on an email list of 80 DOE employees. The federal indictment against Eccleston alleges he wanted to use the list to help target those employees with a message disguised as a harmless announcement for nuclear training and education conferences titled "Conference Details and Registration."

Eccleston, a U.S. citizen, had been living in Davos City in the Philippines since 2011, after being terminated from his job at the NRC in 2010.

Prior to the alleged planned attack, the 62-year-old Eccleston had been talking with undercover FBI agents who were running a sting operation posing as representatives of the foreign country. The agents had promised to pay him for the attack, and offered to design and send the phishing emails. The FBI said no operational spyware or malware was actually unleashed in the fake attack. It did not name the foreign country the agents told Eccleston they worked for.

According to the FBI's affidavit, federal law enforcement got wise to Eccleston after he entered a foreign embassy and offered up classified information he said he had taken from the U.S. government. The FBI's undercover agents, posing as representatives of the foreign country, stepped in offering their help.

DOJ said Eccleston was detained by Philippine authorities in Manila in late March and deported to the U.S., where he is in jail, pending a May 20 hearing. If convicted on all charges, he could face up to 50 years in prison.

Administration rolls out Data Act playbook

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act set up an ambitious timeline for the federal government to adopt and implement standards for agency spending information and establishing financial data interoperability. So the White House is making sure agencies are on the same page.

Beth Cobert, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, issued a May 8 memorandum that outlines the responsibilities and requirements for agencies when developing plans to implement the Data Act. Changes to agency processes will need be done on the cheap, and the OMB guidance allows agencies to meet reporting requirements for agency-level financial data using current methods, while working to incorporate the "data-centric reporting" for the future. That approach, according to a Data Act playbook, "helps to minimize system changes across all agencies to collect information and instead focuses on managing data in a more streamlined way." The government also released a draft of a Data Exchange Standard via Github. It's a work in progress that gets deep into the weeds on how agencies should format and tag financial ledger information.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who pushed for final passage of the law in the Senate, was gratified by the push to meet the Data Act's implementation timeline. "I'm pleased that OMB and Treasury have issued, for the first time, requirements for all federal agencies to make spending data more accessible, searchable, and reliable," he said in a statement. "Streamlining this data will be no small task and I applaud them for putting forward a comprehensive and innovative plan to achieve these important goals."

NOAA expands flood-mapping tool to cover the Eastern Seaboard

Coastal communities in much of the eastern United States can now view maps and data related to coastal flooding thanks to an expansion to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper, GCN reports.

NOAA's flood exposure risk mapping tool that was originally developed for New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania has been expanded to cover coastal areas along the entire U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

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