Army Research Lab Wants Companies for Cyber Defense




“The effort seeks to gauge industry interest and capabilities in advance of a planned research solicitation.

The Army Contracting Command on behalf of the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md., issued a sources-sought notice this week (W911QX-17-R-0006) for the Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO) research project.

This effort strives to improve the state of the art in cyber defense, which relies on raw data from real-world networks that contain vital evidence of the threats being perpetrated by hostiles against the network.

It involves analysis of the data and the ability to improve attack detection accuracy and timeliness, and development of new tools and techniques to combat adversaries.

The extensive network view is a key enabler to cyber research and technology, Army researchers say. This effort focuses on improving ways to combat sophisticated cyber adversaries as well as investigating the next generation of defensive cyber operational tools, techniques, and procedures;, tactical network security; exploring prospective sensor capabilities; executing components of information security continuous monitoring; risk measurement and monitoring; improving adversary attribution; and insider threat analysis.

The objective of this effort is to develop a fundamental understanding of the dynamic cyber domain while providing round-the-clock cyber defense of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).”





What is the best marketing technique to have somebody stay on your website?


My answer to What is the best marketing technique to have somebody stay on your website?

Answer by Ken Larson:

Establish a network like a wheel. The hub is core content (web site, blog, books, articles, useful materials). The spokes leading from the hub are the tools to network content that is linked to the hub.
 Contacts are the engines that power the wheel.
 Content is the fuel that feeds the social networking contacts and powers the wheel.
 As the wheel turns, the quality of the networking improves with feedback and the wheel climbs the optimization hill of the major search engines (SEO).
 Limiting factors are the quality of the core content and knowledge/persistence in networking.

What is the best marketing technique to have somebody stay on your website?

FDA and Patient Groups Are Addicted to Drug Industry




“The FDA owes much of its budget—almost $800 million in 2015—to “user fees” paid by the drug companies it is meant to regulate.

As Congress considers the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill that could speed new drugs to market by loosening standards for drug approval, a new investigation reveals that many of the so-called patient advocacy groups that are calling on Congress to pass the bill have strong ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

For example, National Health Council, which has organized support for the bill and says it provides “a united voice for people with chronic diseases and disabilities,” told POGO that more than three-quarters of its funding last year — 77 percent — came from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Moreover, the group’s board includes executives from drug companies and the heads of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the main pharmaceutical industry lobbying group, and Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the main lobbying group for biotech firms.

In a letter to Congressional leaders signed by National Health Council and more than 200 other groups, they describe themselves as representatives of a “widely diverse community of patients and family caregivers [emphasis added] . . . .”

These findings are part of a new POGO report documenting the extent to which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) depends upon funding from the pharmaceutical industry — money that comes with extraordinary strings attached.

Every five years, the legislation authorizing the FDA to collect the fees expires, and to keep the money coming, the FDA is required by law to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry. Industry has used the latest round of negotiations—which involved 70 closed-door meetings over a period of months—to advance some of the same objectives covered in the 21st Century Cures Act, such as getting drugs approved on the basis of new and potentially less rigorous types of evidence.

During these negotiations with industry, the FDA is also required by law to consult with patient and consumer advocacy groups — which could serve as a counterweight to industry influence. However, POGO has discovered that these groups are populated to a large extent by pharmaceutical executives and receive significant funding from drug companies.

In fact, more than 90 percent of the groups the FDA included in its latest meetings received funding from the pharmaceutical industry. And more than 35 percent of the groups had people from industry on their boards.

Danielle Brian, POGO Executive Director, says, “This makes a mockery of the drug approval process. The input by patient and advocacy groups should be a bulwark against excessive industry influence, but if they rely heavily on funding from drug companies and put industry executives on their boards, it’s a sham. There’s nobody truly advocating on behalf of public safety.

“In the meantime, I urge Members of Congress to vote against the 21st Century Cures Act. Instead, they should craft a bill that takes science and public health into account more than industry talking points.”


Part 1: FDA Depends on Industry Funding; Money Comes with “Strings Attached”

Part 2: In FDA Meetings, “Voice” of the Patient Often Funded by Drug Companie



Enhance US Cybersecurity Don’t Undermine It






“The Digital Age has changed the locus of crimes and made many criminal investigations more complex.

Today the U.S. uses a single warrant issued in the United States to hack into computers in over a hundred nations around the world. Does that legitimize Chinese hacking into the machines of protesters living in the U.S., the U.K., or elsewhere? Or of the Russian, the Iranians, or the North Koreans to do so?

The default on using a vulnerability should be to report it. One can have exceptions just as the intelligence community does, but these should be rare and only when the potential damage to innocent people is minimal.

As we know from the Apple iPhone case, the FBI does not appear to be following such rules. Nor has it made public what its vulnerabilities equities process is. So what we have now is failure. The FBI did not report the vulnerability it used to hack into a Tor-protected child pornography site, which has now been used by nefarious sorts to deanonymize Tor communications.

This news comes out similtaneously with the changes in Rule 41, allowing the FBI to use a single warrant to hack into victims’ machines no matter where they may be. We know that a single warrant was used to hack into machines in 120 nations. This was in a case investigating child pornography, one of the ugliest forms of crime.

But one has to ask: what was the FBI thinking?

The FBI must learn how to conduct computer investigations without weakening the security of U.S. citizens or undermining the rule of law. We have now seen evidence of both. Both these terrible policies are the result of misunderstanding how law and technology interact. They should be rolled back immediately for our safety and security.”


What are some inspiring and successful business models of startups?


My answer to What are some inspiring and successful business models of startups?

Answer by Ken Larson:

Can a small business become a Govt contractor?

Trends on the horizon point to a bright future for small business in federal government contracting. The federal government is meeting small business contracting goals. In 2014, for the first time, the feds exceeded the legal requirement of 23% with a 24.9% achievement or $91.7B in contracts to small business.

The 23% goal mandated by Congress had not been met at the total government level for years.

Times are Good for Small Business Contractors

The feds are also moving to lowest priced, technically acceptable contracting, driven by budgetary pressures.

Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA)

Small business is uniquely qualified for this type of work, particularly in the services sector, due to lower overhead and G&A rates, as well as agility in work force development.

New industries like Robotics, 3D Printing, Energy, Environmental Protection, Security IT and Geo-spatial IT are creating fields for small enterprises to compete against bigger firms or lead teams involving larger businesses on large scale projects.

Government small business set-aside procurement is on the rise and becoming recognized by many agencies as a way to remove stodgy, entrenched companies when long term contracts come up for renewal. These agencies look to smaller firms for cost effective, vibrant management, while inheriting an existing, trained, incumbent work force available to the winner.

The process can dramatically grow smaller firms.

Managing Incumbent Work Forces


A small business anticipating participation in the federal contracting market must make pursuing it part of a long term strategy. Success in government contracting does not happen overnight.Like any other market venue, a niche must be located, market research must confirm the need for products and/or services and the competition; the customer and the potential sales must assessed. Unlike many other fields, success relies on early requirements identification and strong marketing.

7 Tips for Lean Federal Budget TimesMarketing to Achieve a Small Business Set-aside Contract
 5 Factors in Forming a Small Business Contracting Company

The government contracting market allows a small business to pass on the costs of operations at a project level as well as write off company-wide expenses if allocated in a defined manner to single government cost objectives (contracts).Small business can also operate in a lower risk environment with contract types suited to the challenges involved. The trade-offs to these features are requirements for audits and job cost accounting that require verified consistency from cost estimating to billing and contract closeout. This does not occur without preparation.

Small Business Sytems Development
Entering the market requires carefully sculpting commercial past performance into prospective government contract performance and accumulating strong customer satisfaction ratings. The feds talk to each other.

Meeting the Past Performance Challenge

Business Ethics and Past Performance


With the right combination of planning, preparation and opportunity, a small enterprise can seize the moment with:Identification of specific opportunities that fit company capabilities

Small Business and FEDBIZZOPS

Astute bid/no bid decisions

Making an Astute Bid/No Bid Decision

A solid team of resources both internal and external

Vital Tips for Project Management
 Managing Industry Teaming Relationships

A Winning proposal, effective project start-up/execution and quality products and services

Government Contract Proposal Preparation


The small business segment of the huge federal government contacting market is poised to grow exponentially due to advances in technology and the need for flexibility, mobility, agility and economic performance.Rule changes are being considered to enhance entrance of commercial enterprises into the government contacting venue. Congress and the federal agencies are looking hard at constructive changes to make the challenges we have discussed here easier to meet for the small enterprise. But the rules change slowly.

The Government and Innovative Technology
Seize the small business contracting moment by being diligent in learning about the market and pursuing it. Make your company well equipped to succeed:

  • Define your niche
  • Learn the rules
  • Plan
  • Prepare
  • Execute

What are some inspiring and successful business models of startups?

First Ever U.S. Comprehensive Electronic Warfare (EW) Plan For All Services




“With Russian jammers blasting Ukrainian radios off the air, the US Defense Department’s racing to regain its edge in electronic warfare.

There’s been no comprehensive strategy to guide all the armed services’ efforts — until now.

The first Defense Department-wide electronic warfare strategy is “basically finished” and headed to Secretary Ashton Carter’s desk for his signature, along with major plus-ups to EW spending for 2018, Pentagon official Bill Conley said Thursday afternoon. What’s more, defense contractors, foreign allies, and perhaps even the press are going to get to see it. While the sensitive specifics will be in two secret annexes — an implementation plan and a “roadmap” of desired future capabilities — the broad strategy itself will be unclassified.

“The base strategy document is very deliberately an unclassified document,” Conley told the Association of Old Crows EW conference, “and the reason for that is it allows us to share it broadly on the industry side, with our partners, with our allies, and say this, no kidding, (is) where we are going with our investments into electronic warfare.”

“It’s way too easy to write these beautiful classified documents which somebody can show you for about three minutes in their office — and then they take it back and you never see it again,” continued Conley, who’s deputy director for electronic warfare in the Pentagon’s acquisition office. Such a sneak peek “doesn’t do you a whole lot of good” if you’re trying to ensure your country’s or your company’s own investments align well with the US military’s.

Besides the unclassified high-level strategy, Conley is considering industry day-type events to bring in defense contractors with appropriate clearances for classified, detailed briefings, such as the latest intelligence on threats.

While Conley couldn’t provide many details yet on the strategy, he did hit some high notes. As might be expected from its unclassified nature, the document puts a high value on sharing information with industry and allies: If industry develops the wrong technologies, or allies rely on frequencies we plan to jam, the Pentagon’s EW plans won’t get very far.

The strategy also emphasizes proactively seeking new technologies and the new tactical opportunities they create, rather than just reacting to whatever the latest threat is. (The roadmap specifying what future capabilities are desired will be highly classified). It also emphasizes “cost imposition” approaches that are relatively cheap for the US to implement but expensive for adversaries to counter. It calls for better modeling and simulation of the complex effects of electronic warfare, which are nowhere near as well understand as the blast effects of missiles and bombs; predicting how signals propagate or get blocked indense urban areas is a particularly tricky problem. The improved models would underlie both new visualization tools for commanders and their planning staffs, who often struggle to communicate what EW can actually do, and improved simulations for training.

The strategy does not settle the debate over whether the electromagnetic spectrum should be considered a “domain” of military operations alongside land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, Conley said, though intensive study of that question is underway.

The strategy has been prepared in parallel to significant increases for EW programs in the 2018 budget request, Conley said. (Those figures won’t be released until February at the earliest). Admittedly, these increases don’t add to the $2 billion a yearplus-up the Defense Science Board said was necessary in a landmark 2014 report on EW shortfalls. But the Department’s electronic warfare community just isn’t big enough to absorb that kind of increase all at once, said Conley — “everything in EW (put together) is a smaller program than F-35” — so Pentagon leaders are aiming for “five to 10 percent growth, year in, year out.”

Both the money and the strategy are the handiwork of the Electronic Warfare Executive Committee. The EW EXCOM was created in March 2015 by Deputy Secretary Bob Work, the Pentagon’s leading patron of EW. It’s co-chaired by the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, Frank Kendal, and the tech-savvy Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva.Conley himself co-chairs the EXCOM’s secretariat.

Breaking Defense has covered the EXCOM since it was announced, and we even ended up being a small part of the story. “Sydney, a year ago, you posed the question (at the AOC conference): ‘CSBA said you guys needed a department-wide EW strategy…What’s going on with that?’” Conley recounted. “I said, ‘we’re working on it, we (had) agreed a week earlier in the EW EXCOM that we need to do that.’”

“That (news) actually made it all the way up to DepSecDef (Work), who said, ‘I want to know about this strategy,’” Conley said, “which means the deputy was arguably informed well before he otherwise would have been.”



How can we bring manufacturing jobs back to America?


My answer to How can we bring manufacturing jobs back to America?

Answer by Ken Larson:

“Bringing jobs back to America” is an antiquated phrase.

We must bring America to the jobs and we are doing so with our unmatched technology and internationally wired economy. There simply is no other way forward.

Companies like IBM and GE are camped out in China, relocating high tech and aircraft manufacturing personnel from the US to where the demand is greatest.

IBM To Build Massive China Cloud Data Centers – InformationWeek

GE jet engine joint venture to power China's new plane

Supply and demand has always prevailed throughout human history. America needs to elevate education and industrial cooperative programs to bring our work force up to where the bulk of our labor force can lead the world anywhere in the world.

Asking industry to invest in this concept is a great way to fill open labor requisitions in the top firms with experienced people.

IBM Defends the Radical 6-Year High School It Founded To Get Young Minorities Into Tech

How can we bring manufacturing jobs back to America?

‘Gamified’ Military Training Offers Familiar Tools for Millennial Recruits



Photo: Boeing’s Advanced Deployable Accelerated Personalized Training program (ADAPT) 


“The military is moving away from the “traditional 500-page PDF manual” to train its soldiers.

The high-fidelity, immersive training simulations more closely resemble a Call of Duty video game than an educational tool, paired with Xbox 360 controllers and compatible on smartphones and tablets. These advanced technologies allow trainees born in the millennial generation to train more quickly on familiar devices.

The services are taking note of how their newest recruits take in information. Rear Adm. Michael White, commander of the Naval Education and Training Command, said in a Navy panel Nov. 30 that new sailors are “managing information that they want to be useful,” multi-tasking over diverse devices.

“As I look at this mobile generation … the training needs to be engaging,” he said, noting that the push toward live, virtual, constructive technology is a step in that direction.

New training also needs to provide reference points that allow trainees to quickly recall what they’ve learned, rather than attempt to remember what was said in a notebook or in a PowerPoint presentation in a schoolhouse, he said.

Delivery of the information is also key, White noted. “It has got to be delivered in a way … that we can quickly turn and match to systems that we see in the ship.”

Millennial recruitment and engagement are recurring problems being voiced across the services, he noted. Training systems that employ cloud-based technologies, such as Cubic’s game-based littoral combat ship courseware — called the Immersive Combat Ship Environment — or augmented/virtual reality can boost trainee interest and increase information retention while saving money, he said.

“We all have a little bit of [attention deficit disorder] nowadays, so if I can keep your attention on something for an hour, that’s a huge win for us,” he said.

Raytheon displayed its new Army training program — called the multi-player scenario — at the conference. Developed over the past two years, it employs augmented reality headsets, like the Microsoft Hololens, and game controllers to train recruits how to perform tasks, such as fixing a flat tire in the middle of the desert.

Many of the program’s engineers are in their mid-to-late 20s, and these are the technologies they’re interested in working with, said Roy Portillo, a software engineer at Raytheon.

“Since most of us are relatively young, this is what we were into,” he said. “Of course the soldiers are young, so they like it. When they come back from being out in the field, they’re going to be … playing a PlayStation.”

The program has been fielded at school houses at Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma, Portillo said.

It’s not just the military that is trying to attract the newest college graduates. Boeing is using its own recruitment experiences to inform its development of military training solutions, said Tim Noonan, vice president of training systems and government services.

“We hire thousands and thousands of college graduates every year, and we’re adapting the way that we onboard those employees to the company,” pulling some of those ideas into the company’s services, he said. The company’s new advanced deployable accelerated personalized training (ADAPT) system is one such program, he said. It uses augmented and virtual reality headsets and game controllers, and can be linked up to a virtual P-8 Poseidon maritime aircraft maintenance training system to enhance the learning experience.

“That does start to get at the promise of how do we bring tools and engage and gamify training in a new way,” he said.

Nugent said that Intific and Cubic employs former game designers, and works to recruit high-level developers who want to use their skills to benefit the military.

“It’s exciting to them, because they immediately see the payoff,” he said.

Still, simulations cannot completely replace the benefits of having real tools in hand, White noted in the panel.  “If we’re going to train someone to maintain the jet engine or a diesel or something like that, I’ve got to give them those hands-on skills first,” he said.”



Secrecy Language Dropped from National Defense Authorization Act


Image:  “The Disorder of Things”


“After a big push from a broad group of nonprofit organizations, journalists, and individuals, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees removed a secrecy provision. 

The language could have been used to conceal information about the military’s interrogation and treatment of prisoners, handling of sexual assault complaints, oversight of contractors, drone program, and other matters of compelling public interest.

Notably DoD had asked for a special exemption separate from government-wide reforms in the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, recently passed and signed into law this July.

The provision included in the Senate’s version of the bill in a closed markup, Section 1054, largely mirrored language proposed by the Defense Department and would allow the DoD to withhold unclassified information related to its operations.

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led efforts to remove the provision in the Senate, arguing that such a broad exemption to FOIA should go through the committee of jurisdiction over the law.

While the provision was included in the Senate’s final version of the NDAA, it was removed in conference with the House, as reported by Bloomberg. This was thanks in large part to Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

As some question the future of public and press access to information, this is an important stand by Congress to defend the public’s right to know about the spending and operations of the Pentagon.”