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Grant available for correctional executive training curriculum development

The academy division of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) expects to award a single grant for the development of a “competency based, blended modality training curriculum” for correctional executives.

The curriculum NIC is seeking for correctional executives will imbue them with the “knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to become more self-aware, ethical and value based.”

Additionally, the curriculum will teach the execs to become a “strategic thinker, more organizationally influential, collaborative, team oriented, capable of setting effective organizational priorities, identifying a strategic vision and mission, and creating collaborative partnerships in the external environment.”

Applications for the grant are due by March 25 at 4 PM and should be sent to: Director, National Institute of Corrections, 320 First Street, NW, Room 5007, Washington, DC, 20534.

No dollar amount for the grant was specified in the original solicitation, though NIC does note that applications should include “costs for achieving the goals of this solicitation.”

Vircom offers new e-mail security virtual machine

Montreal-based Vircom Inc., an e-mail security specialist, has unveiled its modusGate VM e-mail security software, an anti-spam virtualization platform.

The company calls e-mail security products a “perfect target for virtualization.”

Vircom also notes that  an e-mail security virtual machine can grow at the same rate as an organization’s mailbox count and e-mail volume, “thus maximizing the host server’s utilization and reducing costs associated with power and cooling, rack and floor space, and
maintenance and upgrades.”

Backups and recovery also can be achieved at lower costs than with physical systems, the company adds.

Optimized for small and medium-sized corporate and service-provider environments, modusGate VM runs on Windows 2003 and 2008 guest OS, and performs spam filtering for virtual and physical e-mail servers, including Exchange 2003, 2007 and 2010.

SkyTerra adds data capability to its MSAT-G2 mobile satellite radio equipment

Reston, VA-based SkyTerra has rolled out new radio software, developed by Hughes, that enables data capability on its MSAT-G2 mobile satellite radio equipment.

The MSAT-G2 radio currently supports push-to-talk, push-to-track and voice communications throughout North America. In addition to these current features, the new software enables users of the MSAT-G2 radio to perform a variety of data applications, including e-mail and text messaging, file transfer, remote monitoring, fleet dispatch and secure voice communications, according to SkyTerra.

MSAT-G2 radio equipment already in the field can be upgraded with the new data software through authorized Skyterra service providers or dealers, the company notes.

“For more than 15 years, SkyTerra has and continues to provide government and enterprise customers with reliable, interoperable satellite services,” Bryan Hartin, vice president of sales, marketing and customer support for SkyTerra, said in a statement.  “We’ve long been the only North American satellite provider offering push-to-talk capability. Now we’re excited to also offer our customers the ability to send crucial data via satellite over our versatile MSAT-G2 radio. Later in 2010, SkyTerra plans to launch the first of two of the most powerful commercial satellites ever built. These new satellites will enable the SkyTerra network to continue to support communications in a variety of market segments including public safety, homeland security, transportation and entertainment, by providing a platform for interoperable, user-friendly and feature-rich voice and high-speed data services.”

Recent rise in TLS spam, MessageLabs reports

MessageLabs Intelligence has tracked a recent rise in spam using TLS (transport layer security), a technique for sending e-mail through an encrypted channel.

In a recent report, MessageLabs noted that spam using TLS accounted for approximately 20 percent of all spam, though it rose to approximately 35 percent on a single day.

The increase in TLS spam has been accompanied by a “large increase in the volume of outbound traffic” as well because TLS also requires a “large amount of outbound traffic to negotiate encryption protocols,” said MessageLabs.
As much as 70 percent of spam from the Rustock botnet uses TLS currently, according to MessageLabs.

“Should the volume of spam from botnets that use TLS increase over the coming weeks and months,” according to MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst, Paul Wood, “businesses will need to evaluate the resources needed to handle this type of spam. With corporate servers under pressure to handle these expensive but necessary TLS connections, it becomes death by a thousand cuts. The overhead of processing a single spam received with TLS alone may appear insignificant, but in large volumes the impact can become enormous.”

DARPA seeks biomimetic sensors that employ quantum effects

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting grants proposals in the research area of quantum effects in a biological environment.

Proposed research should establish beyond any doubt that “manifestly quantum effects occur in biology,” according to DARPA’s solicitation.

The proposals also should demonstrate through simulation proof-of concept experiments that devices that exploit these effects could be developed into biomimetic sensors.

"Biomimetics," according to one online dictionary, is the "study of the structure and function of biological systems as models for the design and engineering of materials and machines."

“Quantum mechanics” is the established physics theory that explains behavior in the atomic and subatomics realm of molecules, atoms and subatomic particles, where the “common sense” laws of the larger physical world do not obtain. For example, in quantum states, particles can be in two physical states (i.e., particle and wave) at the same time, and are even said to be capable of being in two places at the same time.

Speaking of quantum theory, Albert Einstein once famously described the effects the theory predicted as “spooky.”

Recently, according to reports in the journal Nature and elsewhere, scientists for the first time have produced a quantum state visible to the naked eye in the physical world.

DARPA intends to award 25 grants. The grants opportunity announcement, number DARPA-BAA-10-40, did not specify a dollar amount for individual grants.

Application deadline is May 3, 2010.

For additional information, contact the DARPA Defense Sciences Office.

CDC grant available for antimicrobial-resistant pathogens surveillance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be awarding $300,000 this year to a single applicant who will develop “novel diagnostic tests to improve surveillance for antimicrobial resistant pathogens.”

According to the grants notice for funding opportunity number RFA-CI-10-002, the test is meant to work with “current antimicrobial surveillance efforts to improve local or regional surveillance for antimicrobial resistant pathogens.”

The test also could be used to “identify patients colonized or infected with transmissible antimicrobial resistant pathogens for implementation of infection control precautions.”

There is no restriction on applicants and application deadline is April 19, 2010.

Additional information is available from CDC’s Procurement and Grants Office, Technical and Information Management Section, at 770-488-2700.

Cell phone ‘silent panic button’ available at is now offering Silent Bodyguard, a new cell phone application, that the organization calls a “silent panic button.”

The app sends an SOS distress signal with GPS coordinates without alerting any onlookers.  That signal is transmitted to potential rescuers whom the phone owner has pre-programmed into the phone.

While currently available just for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the new iPad, the app also will be available for Blackberry within a few months, according to Livesecure.

It can be downloaded through for $3.99. was founded by criminal profiler Dr. Clinton R. Van Zandt and, according to its Web site, “provides the public with vital security information and products to protect their homes and businesses as well as the very latest crime news.

EODT appoints director of business development for security services

Lenoir City, TN-based EOD Technology, Inc. has named Robert J. Franks its director of business development for security services.

Franks is a former principal advisor at U.S. Mission to the United Nations and assistant director of the Diplomatic Security Service.

At EODT, he will be responsible for capturing new business opportunities aligned with the company's growth strategy, actively engaging in government and client relationship development, and supporting capture / proposal efforts.

The company reports that Franks has more than 25 years of experience in security-related management at the executive level, in the private sector and at the senior-most levels of the U.S. Government.  

Most recently, he served as U.S. Mission's principal security advisor on all matters relating to the security of the United Nations. Prior to that, Franks served as director of corporate security for Time, Inc.

ATF's bomb arson tracking system endorsed by IAAI and IABTI

The bomb arson tracking system (BATS) employed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been endorsed by the International Association of Arson Investigators, Inc. (IAAI) and the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI) to document and report arson and explosives-related incidents.

Both organizations recently notified ATF of their unanimous decisions to endorse the use of BATS by all of their members, the agency reports.

"BATS is the sole database for reporting and documenting explosives incidents, as recognized by the Department of Justice," ATF Deputy Director Kenneth E. Melson said in a statement.  "In partnership with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, this case management system strengthens our ability to identify investigative leads in real-time and allows law enforcement to share information and to track and bring criminals to justice."

According to ATF, BATS users can input and access information during the course of an investigation, and they can conduct trend analysis and compare incidents to identify potential perpetrators.  

Additionally, ATF says, investigators can use BATS to find similarities in motives, device components, suspects and crime methodologies for possible investigative leads. Images of arson scenes, improvised explosive devices and crime scenes can be shared through the BATS secure Web connection.  


Investigators are able to capture details of bomb and arson cases, casualties, dollar losses, fire descriptors, collateral crimes and device components. BATS also allows investigators to use the program as a case management system; they can build their investigations in BATS while maintaining operational security.

FBI’s Chabinsky outlines the Bureau’s uphill battle against cyber-crime

Steven Chabinsky

The “bad guys” perpetrating cyber-crimes around the world are taking their activities deeper underground, typically are becoming specialists in one specific aspect of their trade, and are making so much money they are giving up their day jobs.

Those were a few of the observations that Steven Chabinsky, the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, shared in his keynote address at the GovSec and FOSE trade shows in Washington, DC, on March 23.

Where once hackers would congregate – and share professional secrets and personal gossip – with their fellow hackers in public Internet chat rooms, Chabinsky noted that cyber-criminals are more and more frequently taking their conversations to “encrypted private chat services, by invitation only,” where they can exercise far greater control over who participates in the discussions.

Also, just as the medical profession saw the general physician give way to a multitude of specialists, the field of cyber-crime is witnessing a profusion of players who have chosen to specialize in one cyber-niche or another. In fact, Chabinsky, rattled off a list of 10 emerging specialists:

Coders and programmers who write the malware;

Distributors and vendors who sell the stolen personal data;

Techies who maintain servers, firewalls and other parts of the criminal infrastructure;

Hackers who gain entrance to and exploit vulnerable networks;

Fraudsters who launch phishing, spamming and other cyber-attacks;

Hosters who maintain safe hosting sites for the “bad guys”;

Cashers who control the flow of ill-gotten funds;

Money mules who move around and help launder the illicit money;
Tellers who keep track of the illegal loot; and,

Leaders, “many of whom don’t have any technical skills at all,” said Chabinsky, but who organize their colleagues into nefarious enterprises.

Money mules, many of whom operate inside the U.S., come in three flavors, said Chabinsky. There are the “amateurs,” who are just getting started; the “career mules,” who have considerable experience, and the “premier mules,” who are often dispatched from foreign countries to the U.S., on work or student visas.

Some mules have been known to establish elaborate international “franchises” to carry out their thievery, said Chabinsky. He cited, for example, a “global ATM fraud scheme” in which numerous cohorts used about 400 fake ATM cards in 280 cities around the world – along with stolen bank account and PIN numbers – to conduct 14,000 bogus ATM transactions in a single 24-hour period, netting themselves about $10 million in stolen funds.

Cyber-criminals no longer have to go through the trouble of organizing their own “botnets” (typically thousands of personal computers that have been captured and managed by a bot herder) because they can lease out an entire botnet – or a portion of a botnet – to conduct a specific cyber-attack, explained Chabinsky.

In fact, hackers are becoming so bold and audacious that they are breaking into a victim’s computer network, creating their own phony new accounts so they can return to that specific network whenever they please, and then patching that network with the latest remedial software, so that other hackers cannot exploit the same vulnerability and break into their “own” site.

To add insult to injury, hackers have also figured out ways to steal more money from an account than actually exists in that account, said Chabinsky. He noted that there are not actually dollar bills to back up all of the money in the U.S. monetary system. “Ultimately, our financial transactions rely on the integrity of our accounting procedures.” By subverting those very accounting procedures, hackers can change the dollar amounts in various accounts, and then withdraw those imaginary dollars.

All is not hopeless, said Chabinsky. The FBI made more than 230 cyber-arrests in the past year alone, he declared. The FBI is working actively with police departments in Eastern Europe, one location from which many hacking exploits are said to originate. And various public-private partnerships – at home and throughout the world – are beginning to blossom.

The bad guys may have the upper hand at the moment, but Steven Chabinsky and the FBI are not giving up just yet.



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