Federal Drive interviews - Oct. 4, 2012

Thursday - 10/4/2012, 10:17am EDT

(Photo:NASA.gov)

Rick HiebVice President of Exploration & Mission Support, Lockheed Martin

One group of federal workers and contractors woke up to their third month of dark, sub-zero temperatures. They live and do research in Antarctica. Someone's got to make sure people get in and out of this remote outpost. This week is one of the windows of opportunity to land a plane with supplies and people. That job falls to Lockheed Martin. Hieb details the tough logistics challenge.

Watch a live video feed of the McMurdo Station in Antartica.


(Photo:Stratfor)

Fred BurtonVice President of Intelligence, STRATFOR Global Intellegence

The State Department has asked an outside board to investigate what went wrong in Libya on Sept. 11. That's when protesters attacked the U.S. consulate and a safe house in Benghazi. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died. Meanwhile. GOP House members have called a hearing. They want to know why the consulate did not have tighter security. To take a closer look at the security situation and the questions it raises, we turn to former State Department counterterrorism expert Fred Burton.


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Cybersecurity Reports

It's been a banner week for cyber cops at the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is cracking down on a global tech-support scam. It says the scam artists called people. They said they represented well-known companies like Dell and Microsoft. The scammers promised to fix computers on the spot. The commission names 17 people in the scheme. It has shut down 80 internet domains. Meanwhile, a federal judge this week upheld the FTC's $163 million fine on a woman it says masterminded a criminal cyber enterprise. The FTC says Kristy Ross oversaw a firm that sold a fake antivirus program. It placed pop-up ads on websites. The ads looked like they were scanning the computer systems and finding dangerous files. They urged users to buy the software for 40 to 60 bucks. The FTC has spent four years building the case against Ross and six others. Ross was the lone holdout; the others have settled. (Information Week)

Agencies using cloud computing should be prepared to get tough with contractors on cybersecurity. That's from Chris Carpenter, the chief information security officer of the U. S. Mint. He uses a cloud-hosted system for electronic commerce in a software-as-a-service model. Carpenter says the cloud provider was reluctant to provide details on how it was securing the Mint's software. But he insisted on information about system architecture, firewalls, and how it vets employees. After what Carpenter calls tap dances and delays, the contractor agreed to add certain security requirements into its agreement with the Mint. That includes access to server logs. (SearchCloudSecurity)

These stories are part of Federal News Radio's daily Cybersecurity Update. For more cybersecurity news, click here.


DoD Updates

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain is warning defense contractors to ignore Obama administration advice on layoff notices. McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he'll try to block funding for companies who fail to warn their workers of possible reductions caused by sequestration. Federal law requires companies to warn employees of impending mass layoffs. The administration has been telling contractors not to issue the warnings. It promises sequestration budget cuts, scheduled for January 2, would not cause immediate cutbacks in contracting. The White House says if layoffs do occur because of the sequester, then it will compensate contractors for costs. McCain says he won't let that happen. (John McCain website)

The Pentagon is trying to repair a fractured relationship with its biggest contractor over a costly fighter plane. Reuters reports that senior officials at DoD and Lockheed Martin are discussing a fifth order of F-35 jets. The negotiations began 10 months ago. Recently they seemed close to collapsing. A top Pentagon official said the relationship between the government and Lockheed was the worst he'd ever seen. The dispute centers on $100 million in disputed costs. The Pentagon moved last week to open operations and maintenance of the jets to competition. (Reuters)

These stories are part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.