News in Brief

DHS cyber appointments, email hacking, NSF grants and more


Andy Ozment will be running DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. (Credit: Andy Ozment: LinkedIn)

Ozment to head NCCIC

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson tapped the assistant secretary of DHS's cybersecurity and communications office, Andy Ozment, to head up the department's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.

Johnson also named John Felker to run day-to-day operations for NCCIC, which is the hub of DHS cybersecurity operations.

"Given the central importance of the NCCIC to the DHS cybersecurity mission, I have determined that we must elevate the NCCIC within our department's structure, with an incident reporting line directly to me as secretary," Johnson said in Aug. 10 statement. "Equally as important, I have also directed the National Protection and Programs Directorate to develop a reorganization plan that will ensure the NCCIC is focused on strengthening our operational capabilities for mitigating and responding to cyber incidents."

Ozment, in his role as assistant secretary of cybersecurity and communications, oversees a budget of almost $930 million. He had served at the White House as the president's senior director for cybersecurity, and before that led an operational security group at DHS overseeing compliance, metrics, and security authorization for the department's chief information security officer. Ozment has also served in cybersecurity roles with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, National Security Agency, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Merrill Lynch and Nortel Networks.

Felker most recently hails from the private sector, having served as director of cyber and intelligence strategy for HP Enterprise Services. He also put in 30 years in the Coast Guard in a variety of cyber and cryptographic roles, including deputy commander of Coast Guard Cyber Command and the Coast Guard Cryptologic Group.

Report: China reading U.S. officials' private email

"China's cyber spies" have accessed the personal email accounts of several top Obama administration officials, NBC News reported, citing an intelligence official and a 2014 top-secret National Security Agency document.

The email infiltration was discovered in April 2010 and remains an ongoing issue, according to the report, which did not disclose the names of the officials whose email accounts were compromised. Government email accounts were not compromised in the intrusion, according to the report. reported:

NSF funds three university-led research centers

The National Science Foundation is dedicating $55.5 million to a trio of university-backed engineering research centers, the agency announced August 10.

The first center, for Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS), will explore ever-more-compact power storage models and will be led by the University of Illinois, with Howard University, Stanford University and the University of Arkansas cooperating.

Rice University will lead the second center, for Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment Systems (NEWT), in the pursuit of easy-to-deploy, energy-efficient systems to render wastewater and seawater drinkable. Arizona State University, the University of Texas at El Paso and Yale University will collaborate on the second center.

The third center, for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG), will be led by Arizona State University, partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology, New Mexico State University and the University of California, Davis.

Each grant is for five years.

Former NGA official pleads guilty in tech commercialization case

A former National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency official pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his involvement in a private company that was commercializing automated detection technology while he was employed at the agency.

Brian Hearing, 43, of Falls Church, Va., pleaded guilty in a federal court to charges of making material false statements to federal investigators about his financial interest in a company he co-founded, the Justice Department said in a statement.

According to court documents filed along with the plea agreement, Hearing worked at NGA from 2011 to 2015 in its Innovision Directorate, an applied science and technology research group. Hearing admitted that while he was employed there, he also co-founded a private company to develop and commercialize an automated detection system.

The Justice Department also said Hearing admitted that he inappropriately used his position with the NGA to promote the company and lied to federal agents about his involvement with it, claiming another person was the only corporate founder, as well as denying any legal or financial connections. The Justice Department said he co-founded the company and shared equal ownership of it.

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