Cybersecurity

Naval Research Lab seeks cyber help via GSA

Naval Research Laboratory

The Naval Research Laboratory has followed up on a June notice seeking information on cybersecurity services by telling vendors it plans to use a governmentwide acquisition contract instead.

The lab initially sent out a sources-sought notice for small companies classified as disadvantaged under the Small Business Administration's 8(a) designation. On Aug. 5, the lab said it will buy its cybersecurity risk management support services through the General Services Administration's Stars II GWAC, which taps 8(a) vendors.

NRL conducts scientific research and development activity for the Navy on new materials, techniques, equipment and systems for ocean, atmospheric and space-related technologies.

In 2015, the lab was hit by a cyberattack that exploited a previously unknown software vulnerability. Capt. Mark Bruington, NRL's commanding officer, said it was a rude reminder that no one, even quasi-academic research facilities, is exempt from cyberattack.

The zero-day attack on NRL's unclassified network "became almost a science experiment unto itself" because it was a teachable moment for network defenders, he added.

Last December, Bruington told FCW that NRL had cleared the vulnerability from its network, but he would not say how long it took or when the breach occurred, only that it was recent. He added that NRL did not receive help from industry to diagnose and resolve the breach.

Its June notice to vendors states that the lab does not have the internal capability to perform required cybersecurity assessments and certifications. Officials said they wanted an ongoing contract for those services because of the constant development of new systems and threats.

In other news, the NRL has a new commanding officer. Rear Adm. David Hahn has been assigned to serve as chief of the Office of Naval Research, which includes the NRL. Hahn currently serves as special assistant to the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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