Saturday, July 31, 2010

Three Ways Virtual Reality Can Improve Military Training

Col. John Thompson is the Future Learning Advisor to the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Director of Plans, Programs, Requirements, and Assessments. He is responsible for facilitating innovation across AETC’s recruiting, training and education mission.

Efficiency of flight simulators has improved since they first appeared in the 1930s. My first flight as a commercial airline pilot was with a full passenger load because the fidelity of the flight simulator made the training so realistic that it didn’t require aircraft flight hours.

We now have a similar capability available for a far broader training and education spectrum. We can now use virtual environments to train more efficiently or in environments that are too dangerous to recreate.

The key to this training is a realistic immersion. You need to feel like you are present in the environment. The virtual environment provides the immersion and the scalability is drastically improved. An example of the scalability is a base exercise which is generally limited to a portion of the base. The reason for the limit is due to some portion of the mission needing to continue. However, if a weapon of mass destruction were to be used in a large city it would likely effect large portions of multiple bases (like Joint Base San Antonio). We can use a virtual environment to train such a cataclysmic event. AETC is testing large-scale exercise scenarios in a virtual environment by building the Joint Base San Antonio command post.

Another scenario AETC is exploring is mission rehearsal. Imagine a humanitarian effort using an international airport as a base somewhere in AFRICOM’s area of responsibility. In order to support the effort, we need to quickly expand the existing international airport infrastructure. To increase the productivity of the deploying Airmen, we expose you to the virtual environment in training for familiarization of the base, your work environment, and your fellow workers. AETC is testing this concept in a virtual environment by building a virtual Fort Sam Houston, using its existing infrastructure, and simulating plans for the BRAC related construction.

AETC’s final virtual environment projects are related to the classroom. Certain classes require an instructor to be present. It is not efficient to fly students from around the world to the course location, so we propose immersing the students in a virtual environment to save the travel cost.

Comms at Speed and Depth Program Completes Critical Design Review

By Steven Davis, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Submarine Integration Program Office (PMW 770) announced July 28 the successful completion of the critical design review phase for a key communications system that will give Navy submarines real-time, two-way communications without requiring platforms to proceed to periscope depth.

Currently, submarines must come to periscope depth to communicate with other ships, aircraft or shore facilities. This increases the submarine's detection vulnerability and may result in a delay in tactical communications. Communications at Speed and Depth, or CSD, is the near-term key to the Navy's envisioned undersea communications network. The system will allow strike group commanders to take full advantage of fast-attack and cruise missile submarine capabilities.

"Two-way connectivity allows submarines to be fully integrated into strike group operations and the Navy's networks to share situational awareness, plan collaboratively and execute missions with joint forces," said Brent Starr, PMW 770's CSD principal assistant program manager. "Successfully completing this review is the key indicator that we have designed a family of systems that is reliable, survivable and provides increased capability."

CSD Increment 1 consists of three types of two-way communications buoys and associated equipment that will be delivered for installation aboard submarines. Two fiber-optic tethered expendable communications buoy systems – for Iridium satellite and ultra high frequency satellite communications – will be launched from submarines. The third buoy is an untethered acoustic-to-radio-frequency gateway system that can be launched from submarines, aircraft or surface ships.

Passing critical design review is an indication of the program's increased probability of success and decreased technical risk. Initial test planning certification, known as the test readiness review, will take place in August. Formal testing and test results certification, known as the System Verification Review, will take place in October. If success is met with this testing, the program can go into the low rate initial production phase of acquisition.

Starr explained there are many challenging technical issues concerning communications in an undersea environment. "Deploying a relatively fragile optical fiber to the surface while the submarine continues to maneuver, meeting the tight volume and weight constraints for RF sections and other systems in buoys, battery technology, underwater acoustic communications integration, and cryptographic integration over unconventional links are just some of the technical challenges," he said.

Submarines have historically operated with a long "communications leash": communications windows that vary from six hours to 24 hours or even weeks, often with "passive reception only," or no acknowledgements or outgoing messages.

Carrier strike groups, using networked forces over a widely dispersed area, can fight optimally if the commander can see all of the available sensor data and provide near-instantaneous tasking to available units. Submarines, with their sensor's unique capabilities and their large inventory of anti-submarine weapons and cruise missiles, are a critical part of the commander's arsenal.

By establishing enhanced capability for submarines and commanders to pass time-sensitive information, the Navy will have further closed the information gap that traditionally distanced submarines from a strike group.

United States Files Complaint Against Oracle Alleging Contract Fraud

WASHINGTON – The United States has intervened and filed a complaint under the False Claims Act against Oracle Corporation and Oracle America Inc. The government alleges that Oracle defrauded the United States on a General Services Administration (GSA) software contract that was in effect from 1998 to 2006 and involved hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.

Under the contract, GSA used Oracle’s disclosures about its commercial sales practices to negotiate the minimum discounts for government agencies who bought Oracle software. The contract required Oracle to update GSA when commercial discounts improved and extend the same improved discounts to government customers. The suit contends that Oracle misrepresented its true commercial sales practices, ultimately leading to government customers receiving deals far inferior to those Oracle gave commercial customers.

"We take seriously allegations that a government contractor has dealt dishonestly with the United States," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "When contractors misrepresent their business practices to the government, taxpayers suffer."

The suit was originally filed on by Paul Frascella, Senior Director of Contract Services at Oracle. The False Claims Act allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud to file whistleblower suits on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. If the United States intervenes in the action and proves that a defendant has knowingly submitted false claims, it is entitled to recover three times the damage that resulted and a penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 per claim.

Assistant Attorney General West acknowledged the investigative efforts of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the General Services Administration’s Office of Inspector General. The Civil Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia will litigate this matter on the government’s behalf. The suit is United States ex rel. Frascella v. Oracle Corp. et al., No. 1:07cv:529 (E.D. Va.).

This case was investigated as part of a National Procurement Fraud Initiative. In October 2006, the Deputy Attorney General announced the formation of a National Procurement Fraud Task Force designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The Procurement Fraud Task Force is chaired by the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and includes the Civil Division, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community and a number of other federal law enforcement agencies. This case, as well as others brought by members of the task force, demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to helping ensure the integrity of the government procurement process.

Metals technology Airmen provide precision for unique challenges

by Staff Sgt. Phillip Butterfield
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

7/29/2010 - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (AFNS) -- When an aircraft comes back from a sortie broken, and the part to repair it doesn't exist in the supply chain, all hope for repair might feel lost. However, in the distance, an Airman wields a glimmering, 35,000 degree Fahrenheit light of hope.

The 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron's metals technology flight uses a lathe, drill press, torch and imagination to repair, and at times create, parts that are no longer available.

"If it's made of metal, and it's on this base, or you have a schematic of it, we can fix it or make it," said Senior Airman Lloyd Davis, a 332 EMXS metals technology journeyman.

When a flightline maintainer notices a structural issue with an aircraft, metals tech Airmen go to the aircraft and evaluate the problem. If a part needs repairs or replacement, it's brought to their shop where it's fixed or another is made.

Some military equipment is no longer supplied by the manufacturer, nor are there any substitutes. Occasionally, parts are received that don't work correctly with current aircraft modifications and need to be adjusted.

"We also support the Army and Navy when they do not have the capabilities to manufacture a part," said Staff Sgt. Bradley White, a 332nd EMXS metals technology craftsman.

However, making an aircraft part isn't as simple as grinding away at a piece of metal until the desired product is achieved. When working with metal, precision is more important than speed.

"We use schematics or blueprints to ensure correct measurements," Airman Davis said. "We work on parts that have tolerances of up to 1,000th of an inch, and if you are off, you need to start all over again."

With precision work like this, it may be said that enjoyment in your work is a prerequisite.

"I like doing what I do; if I had to choose one job in maintenance this would be it," Airman Davis said. "We get to work on many of-one-of a kind items that require us to be imaginative and creative."

Innovative training aids support EOD mission

by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Cunningham
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

7/29/2010 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Explosive ordnance disposal technicians are trained to apply classified techniques and special procedures to lessen or remove hazards created by the presence of unexploded military, criminal, biological, nuclear or terrorist homemade ordnance.

Airmen here help provide this training by fabricating EOD training aids for military customers.

The devices that are replicated at the 982nd Maintenance Squadron represent a considerable cost savings to the customer, said Roberto Huezo, the 982nd MXS trainer development flight chief.

"To duplicate a spin rocket for EOD training, even if a private sector were to build it for the Air Force, it would cost around $1,960," Mr. Huezo said. "We can build the same spin rocket out of plastic and steel for $365.

"We built 210 different units for the Air Force Reserve Command this fiscal year. The savings total to approximately $72,000."

Last fiscal year, more than 800 EOD students trained with ordnance devices that were replicated by the 982nd MXS at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

Mr. Huezo said their main customers are Kirtland AFB, N.M, and the Air Force Reserve Command.

"For Kirtland Air Force Base, there are a large number of devices we have built for them, from a thermal battery pack to containment trainer," Mr. Huezo said. "As for the AFRC ordnance, we have approximately 40 different items in our inventory which we provide. Currently, we are preparing 12 different types of projectiles, bombs and (improvised explosive devices) to send to them."

The EOD training ordnance and equipment is not only shipped to Kirtland AFB and the AFRC, but is often distributed across the country and the world.

"The Kirtland EOD trainers have gone across the (world) to different bases, such as Germany and Turkey," Mr. Huezo said. "The same goes for all ordnance we give the Air Force Reserve Command. We have shipped items to North Carolina and Florida. We are preparing a shipment to Indiana. From Indiana, it will be dispersed across the country and maybe overseas."

When EOD technicians pick up a piece of ordnance in the field, they bring it to Sheppard AFB, and members of the 982nd MXS duplicate it out of plastic and metal, said Carl Cummings, a 982nd MXS engineering technician.

The trainer development flight tries to duplicate the ordnance as close as possible, Mr. Huezo said.

He said they look and feel like the real thing, except they are made out of plastic, with some metal parts.

"Adding the detail is very important in the training devices we provide," Mr. Cummings said.

"We put as much detail into it as possible so students at EOD training centers can notice these things right off the bat," he said. "We make everything from (rocket propelled grenades) to bombs and mines. Some of these components have springs, three or four parts, internal pieces, or (they) may have parts bolted together. We go all the way down to writing marking on ordnance as if it was the real thing lying on the ground. We also make them so they can be dismantled or the fuses taken off of the bomb."

"Right now we are looking into adding wiring," Mr. Cummings said.

Mr. Huezo said the 982nd MXS has provided this service since 2006, and any military base with a training requirement can request a supply of these innovative training aids.

"Customers can call and ask for a particular ordnance, send pictures with dimensions, provide a catalog that shows the item's specifications or choose from one of the devices we have built in the past," Mr. Huezo said. "Another option is to completely reengineer the item."

To reengineer a new training aid, the customer sends as much information as possible to the training development flight. The project is then assigned to an engineering technician. The technician engages the customer for as much info as possible, sometimes going TDY for more measurements or photos. The engineering technician then designs the product and creates a drawing on their computer using Inventor software.

The engineer then produces a list of materials needed to produce the item, and a cost estimate. The drawing goes to the fabrication shop and the model makers, technicians who do the actual fabrication of the product, begin reproducing the item.

Mr. Huezo said a person from the new EOD school that is coming to Sheppard AFB has already contacted the 982nd MXS with a request to replicate a bomb that will be used in training.

"I can safely say that the customer is happy," he said. "We keep getting requests to deliver our items to repeat customers. Not only for more of the same items, but for quantities of newer items as well. Both our fabrication and engineering departments are being well utilized."

NAVSEA Warfare Centers Scientist, Engineers Mentor Students

From Naval Surface Warfare Center Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA) warfare center scientists and engineers are hosting three STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) events July 26-30.

Naval Surface Warfare Centers, field activities of NAVSEA, participate and fund programs that encourage students of all ages to pursue careers and education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) technical fields.

"The outreach that the warfare centers are doing is critical to increasing K-12 student's interest in pursuing education in the STEM fields across the nation," said Stephen Mitchell, NSWC technical director.

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Division Indian Head (NSWC IHD) and Naval Air Warfare Center Patuxent River partnered in Leonardtown, Md. to host a week-long STEM summer camp. More than 70 elementary and middle school students participated in activities like building electronic alarm systems, solar-powered cars and water balloon cannons.

This week, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport in Newport, RI, also sponsored a Lego Robotics camp for 25 local middle school students where they worked in teams to build robots. The week concluded with the campers competing in a challenge with the robots they built.

Additionally, NSWC Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) teamed with Florida State University, Panama City, to lead a science camp for 20 high school juniors and seniors. Students gained experience in civil engineering by building and using cranes. The rest of their time was spent participating in the SeaPerch program where campers tested their basic skills in ship and submarine design and also explored naval architecture and marine and ocean engineering concepts.

"The expectation is that the teachers will become practitioners of inquiry-based learning and move students toward effective application of concepts in STEM," said NSWC PCD Scientist and Florida STEM Coordinator Ed Linsenmeyer.

The United States is facing a crisis in the area of science and engineering with fewer and fewer American children choosing to enter into STEM fields of study. NAVSEA warfare centers provide critical outreach to foster K-12 student's interest in the STEM fields though various efforts including in-classroom mentoring, camps, science fairs and career days.

"We have an in-school program and a lot of the students come to summer camp because they have a lot of fun during the school year," said NSWC IHD STEM Coordinator Thomas Palathra.

Little Flower School 7th grader Patrick Bouchard enjoyed the robotics team work challenges. "This is my second year [at the camp] and I would like to do it again next year," said Bouchard.

NAVSEA warfare centers are the Navy's principal research, development, test and evaluation, analysis and assessment activities for ship and submarine platform and machinery technology for surface combat systems, ordnance, mines, and strategic systems products and support. First established in 1992, eight NSWC divisions and two Naval Undersea Warfare Center divisions comprised of approximately 19,000 scientists, engineers, technician and support personnel provide full spectrum fleet support to the Navy and Marine Corps warfighters.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tech Tuesday: Inside the Pentagon Technology Expo
Petty Officer 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio

The Pentagon held its Technology Expo on Tuesday, with more than 40 companies displaying the latest in defense hardware and software.

For this week’s Tech Tuesday, I navigated my way through an ocean of business cards and free pens to highlight a few of the expo’s more interesting exhibits.

Just to get this out of the way, all of the booths were thrilling (especially the caterer’s booth with the chicken wings). These three represent the ones I personally thought were the most interesting and in no way reflects an official ranking system or a lack of quality in another exhibit. No angry letters please.

X-treme Protection Series (XPS) Shield Line

Patriot 3, a tactical ops company, has recently begun marketing their new X-treme Protection Series XPS Shield Line to police agencies and the military, and it definitely has the elite Special Forces look. The XPS-G2 is a rolling bunker, so whether clearing a building or working a security checkpoint, this foldable ballistic shield can provide an ideal source of cover.

It’s made up of six panels, each able to withstand high-powered rifle rounds. The four side panels can be removed and used as individual bullet-proof shields. Fully assembled, it forms a three-person-wide wall on wheels. The side panels can fold like wings, enabling the unit to move through all commercial doorways. It’s topped off with three ballistic viewing ports and a small gun port in the center from which to shoot, so there’s no reason to leave the safety of this mobile barricade.

“You can actually do offenses with this, as opposed to just being in a defensive position. You’ve got a rolling bunker you can move forward as you advance,” said Brook Thomas, Patriot 3 Inc., Ballistics Division.

Let’s imagine being on wrong side of that. Instead of having a Special Forces team advancing on your position, you’ve got the walls literally closing in on you—one bullet-proof wall specifically, with guns poking out. Unless you’re Neo from The Matrix, that’s game over.

XD-2i Explosives Trace Detector

“Locating IEDs [improvised explosive devices] is very important to saving lives on the battlefield, but how many more lives could you save if you could find the source?,” asked Chris Boylan from American Innovations Inc.

Well, he also may have the answer: the XD-2i Explosives Trace Detector. This device helps locate IEDs and the people making them by allowing troops to test any surface for trace amounts of the compounds used in commercial, military, or homemade explosives. It can detect even invisible residue of explosive elements like nitrates, peroxides, gun powder, chlorates, and plastic explosives like C-4 — to name a few.

One of the coolest things about this device is how easy it is to use. That and the fact that it weighs about as much as a bottle of water. You start by swiping a testing pad on a surface and placing it in the detector. From there, color-coded lights guide you through the entire process, blinking to indicate which step is next. Consult the chart for any color change. I tested my co-worker in about three minutes with no prior training; so, if Kathryn Bigelow is reading, let’s talk “Hurt Locker 2.”

These devices are already in use in Afghanistan and Iraq helping troops track down the sources of IEDs.

“If someone’s coming through a checkpoint, and I find traces of plastic explosives on your hands, we’re going to have a conversation,” Boylan said.

New Common Access Cards

Do you have one of the new ID cards? You know, the one with a wavy “US Department of Defense” all over the background?

If you do, you may not be aware that you could be transmitting sensitive information while your card sits innocently in your wallet. In addition to being a Common Access Card, the new cards contain a second integrated chip, which enables contactless interface with physical access control systems.

Huh? OK, basically this second chip can transmit the codes embedded in your card that give you access to certain buildings and areas, and the technology for someone to scan your card is out there.

“A couple of years ago when the new passports came out, people were sitting at terminals scanning people’s passports for information,” said Jesse Juarez, Air Force Public Key Infrastructure. “There are devices out there right now that can scan smart cards.”

So what do we do? The card needs to be placed in an electromagnetically opaque sleeve. This protects it against unauthorized contactless access. This isn’t just a smart practice, it’s a regulation—Federal Processing Standard (FOPS) 201-1. This is a regulation I only learned about today at this expo.

Before coming to the expo, I had no idea that I would need to check myself before I wrecked myself. Thankfully, the Air Force let me off with a warning and gave me a free protective case too. There were many other great and interesting exhibits at the expo, but I’m not writing a novel here. Keep checking out Armed With Science and our Tech Tuesday blog series for the latest.

FBI, Slovenian and Spanish Police Arrests Mariposa Botnet Creator, Operators

The FBI, in partnership with the Slovenian Criminal Police and the Spanish Guardia Civil, announced today significant developments in a two-year investigation of the creator and operators of the Mariposa Botnet. A botnet is a network of remote-controlled compromised computers.

The Mariposa Botnet was built with a computer virus known as “Butterfly Bot” and was used to steal passwords for websites and financial institutions. It stole computer users’ credit card and bank account information, launched denial of service attacks, and spread viruses. Industry experts estimated the Mariposa Botnet may have infected as many as 8 million to 12 million computers.

“In the last two years, the software used to create the Mariposa botnet was sold to hundreds of other criminals, making it one of the most notorious in the world,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III. “These cyber intrusions, thefts, and frauds undermine the integrity of the Internet and the businesses that rely on it; they also threaten the privacy and pocketbooks of all who use the Internet.”

In February, the Spanish Guardia Civil arrested three suspected Mariposa Botnet operators: “Netkairo,” “Jonyloleante,” and “Ostiator,” aka Florencio Carro Ruiz, Jonathan Pazos Rivera, and Juan Jose Bellido Rios. These individuals are being prosecuted in Spain for computer crimes.

Last week, the Slovenian Criminal Police identified and arrested the Mariposa Botnet’s suspected creator, a 23-year-old Slovenian citizen known as “Iserdo.” The work of the Slovenian and Spanish authorities was integral to this investigation.

FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Gordon M. Snow said: “This case shows the value of strong partnerships among law enforcement agencies worldwide in the fight against cyber criminals. Cyber crime knows no boundaries, and without international collaboration, our efforts to dismantle these operations would be impossible. The FBI praises the work of our Slovenian and Spanish partners who worked closely with our agents in this case.”

In a statement, Slovenian Minister of the Interior Katarina Kresal and Director General Janko Gorsek, Slovenian Criminal Police, said: “We are glad to cooperate with the United States; the FBI’s assistance is invaluable and represents professional affirmation of our force. This case shows that cyber crime issues call for international police cooperation that shouldn’t be hindered by geographical borders. The FBI has demonstrated a high level of collaboration in which our countries were equal partners, which was crucial for the success of the investigation and reducing the threat on a global level. This partnership serves as a solid basis for future cooperation.”

Maj. Juan Salom, commander of the Guardia Civil’s Cyber Crime Division, noted: “The Mariposa case showed how the coordinated and joint actions of different international police forces, along with the efforts of the Internet security industry, have been able to face the global threat of cyber crime,” he said. “The cyber kingpins know that they are not invincible anymore because the global efforts of the FBI, Slovenian Criminal Police, and Spanish Guardia Civil have shown that it doesn’t matter where or how they try to hide, they will be located and prosecuted.”

From 2008 to 2010, the Slovenian citizen created “Butterfly Bot” and sold it to other criminals worldwide. In turn, these criminals developed networks of infected computers—botnets—and the Mariposa variety from Spain was the most notorious and largest. In addition to selling the Butterfly Bot program, the Slovenian citizen developed customized versions for certain customers and created and sold plug-ins (add-ons) to augment the botnet’s features and functionality.

This case is significant because it targeted not only the operators of the botnet but also the creator of the malicious software that was used to build and operate it. The success of this investigation was made possible because of the skill, professionalism, and commitment of the Slovenian Criminal Police’s Cyber Crime Division and the Spanish Guardia Civil’s Computer Crimes Group.

The FBI conducted this investigation with the assistance of the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Hawaii, and the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Office of International Affairs, and the Botnet Threat Focus Cell. The FBI also received invaluable assistance from the Mariposa Working Group.

Cyber Crime

Gordon M. Snow, Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Statement before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security

July 28, 2010

Good morning, Chairman Scott, Ranking Member Gohmert and Members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today regarding the FBI’s efforts to combat cyber crime as it relates to social networking sites.

Let me begin by acknowledging that the rapid expansion of the Internet has allowed us to learn, to communicate, and to conduct business in ways that were unimaginable 20 years ago. Still, the same technology, to include the surge in the use of social networking sites over the past two years, has given cyber thieves and child predators new, highly effective avenues to take advantage of unsuspecting users. These cyber criminals are using a variety of schemes to defraud or victimize innocent social networking site users, some of which I would like to highlight today.

Social Engineering

Regardless of the social networking site, users continue to be fooled online by persons claiming to be somebody else. Unlike the physical world, individuals can misrepresent everything about themselves while they communicate online, ranging not only from their names and business affiliations (something that is fairly easy to do in-person as well), but extending as well to their gender, age, and location (identifiers that are far more difficult to fake in-person). Years ago, we called these types of people confidence or “con”-men. Perhaps as a result of today’s hi-tech times, con artists are now referred to as being engaged in social engineering. It should come as no surprise to learn that the FBI is investigating classic investment fraud schemes, such as Ponzi schemes, that are now being carried out in virtual worlds. Other con artists are able to conduct Identity Theft crimes by misidentifying themselves on social networking sites and then tricking their victims into giving them their account names and passwords as well as other personally identifiable information.

In addition to Identity Theft crimes, child predators routinely use social networking sites to locate and communicate with future victims and other pedophiles. In at least one publicized case from last year, an individual attempted to extort nude photos of teenage girls after he gained control of their email and social networking accounts. That particular FBI investigation led to an 18 year federal sentence for the offender, reflecting that these crimes are serious and will not be tolerated.

Fraud Schemes

There are a variety of Internet fraud schemes being used by cyber criminals at any given time. By way of example, a recent fraud scheme involves a cyber criminal gaining access to an unsuspecting user’s email account or social networking site. The fraudster, who claims to be the account holder, then sends messages to the user’s friends. In the message, the fraudster states that he is on travel and has been robbed of his credit cards, passport, money, and cell phone; and is in need of money immediately. Without realizing that the message is from a criminal, the friends wire money to an overseas account without validating the claim.

Phishing Scams

Phishing schemes attempt to make Internet users believe that they are receiving e-mail from a trusted source when that is not the case. Phishing attacks on social networking site users come in various formats, including: messages within the social networking site either from strangers or compromised friend accounts; links or videos within a social networking site profile claiming to lead to something harmless that turns out to be harmful; or e-mails sent to users claiming to be from the social networking site itself. Social networking site users fall victim to the schemes due to the higher level of trust typically displayed while using social networking sites. Users often accept into their private sites people that they do not actually know, or sometimes fail altogether to pproperly set privacy settings on their profile. This gives cyber thieves an advantage when trying to trick their victims through various phishing schemes.

Social networking sites, as well as corporate websites in general, provide criminals with enormous amounts of information to send official looking documents and send them to individual targets who have shown interest in specific subjects. The personal and detailed nature of the information erodes the victim’s sense of caution, leading them to open the malicious email. Such email contains an attachment that contains malicious software designed to provide the email’s sender with control over the victim’s entire computer. Once the malware infection is discovered, it is often too late to protect the data from compromise.

Cyber criminals design advanced malware to act with precision to infect, conceal access, steal or modify data without detection. Coders of advanced malware are patient and have been known to test a network and its users to evaluate defensive responses. Advanced malware may use a "layered" approach to infect and gain elevated privileges on a system. Usually, these types of attacks are bundled with an additional cyber crime tactic, such as social engineering or zero day exploits. In the first phase of a malware infection, a user might receive a spear phishing email that obtains access to the user's information or gains entry into the system under the user's credentials. Once the cyber criminal initiates a connection to the user or system, they can further exploit it using other vectors that may give them deeper access to system resources. In the second phase, the hacker might install a backdoor to establish a persistent presence on the network that can no longer be discovered through the use of anti-virus software or firewalls.

Data Mining

Cyber thieves use data mining on social networking sites as a way to extract sensitive information about their victims. This can be done by criminal actors on either a large or small scale. For example, in a large-scale data mining scheme, a cyber criminal may send out a “getting to know you quiz” to a large list of social networking site users. While the answers to these questions do not appear to be malicious on the surface, they often mimic the same questions that are asked by financial institutions or e-mail account providers when an individual has forgotten their password. Thus, an e-mail address and the answers to the quiz questions can provide the cyber criminal with the tools to enter your bank account, e-mail account, or credit card in order to transfer money or siphon your account. Small-scale data mining may also be easy for cyber criminals if social networking site users have not properly guarded their profile or access to sensitive information. Indeed, some networking applications encourage users to post whether or not they are on vacation, simultaneously letting burglars know when nobody is home.

The Cyber Underground

The impact of cyber crime on individuals and commerce can be substantial, with the consequences ranging from a mere inconvenience to financial ruin. The potential for considerable profits is enticing to young criminals, and has resulted in the creation of a large underground economy known as the cyber underground. The cyber underground is a pervasive market governed by rules and logic that closely mimic those of the legitimate business world, including a unique language, a set of expectations about its members’ conduct, and a system of stratification based on knowledge and skill, activities, and reputation.

One of the ways that cyber criminals communicate within the cyber underground is on website forums. It is on these forums that cyber criminals buy and sell login credentials (such as those for e-mail, social networking sites, or financial accounts); where they buy and sell phishing kits, malicious software, access to botnets; and victim social security numbers, credit cards, and other sensitive information. These criminals are increasingly professionalized, organized, and have unique or specialized skills. In addition, cyber crime is increasingly transnational in nature, with individuals living in different countries around the world working together on the same schemes. In late 2008, an international hacking ring carried out one of the most complicated and organized computer fraud attacks ever conducted. The crime group used sophisticated hacking techniques to compromise the encryption used to protect data on 44 payroll debit cards, and then provided a network of “cashers” to withdraw more than $9 million from over 2,100 ATMs in at least 280 cities worldwide, including cities in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada. The $9 million loss occurred within a span of less than 12 hours. The cyber underground facilitates the exchange of cyber crime services, tools, expertise, and resources, which enables this sort of transnational criminal operation to take place across multiple countries.

Beyond Cyber Crime

Apart from the cyber crime consequences associated with social networking sites, valuable information can be inadvertently exposed by military or government personnel via their social networking site profile. In a recently publicized case, an individual created a fake profile on multiple social networking sites posing as an attractive female intelligence analyst and extended friend requests to government contractors, military and other government personnel. Many of the friend requests were accepted, even though the profile was of a fictitious person. According to press accounts, the deception provided its creator with access to a fair amount of sensitive data, including a picture from a soldier taken on patrol in Afghanistan that contained embedded data identifying his exact location. The person who created the fake social networking sites, when asked what he was trying to prove, responded: “The first thing was the issue of trust and how easily it is given. The second thing was to show how much different information gets leaked out through various networks.” He also noted that although some individuals recognized the sites as fake, they had no central place to warn others about the perceived fraud, helping to ensure 300 connections in a month.

This last point is worth expanding upon. Some social networking sites have taken it upon themselves to be model corporate citizens by voluntarily providing functions for users to report acts of abuse. A number of sites have easy to use buttons or links that, with a single click, will send a message to the system administrator alerting them of potentially illegal or abusive content. Unfortunately though, many sites have not followed the lead. Some sites provide users with no ability to report abuse, while others either intentionally or unintentionally discourage reporting by requiring users to complete a series of onerous steps every time they want to report abuse.

FBI Cyber Mission and Strategic Partnerships

The Department of Justice leads the national effort to prosecute cyber crime, and the FBI, in collaboration with other Federal law enforcement agencies, investigates cyber crime. The FBI's cyber crime mission is four-fold: first and foremost, to stop those behind the most serious computer intrusions and the spread of malicious code; second, to identify and thwart online sexual predators who use the Internet to meet and exploit children and to produce, possess, or share child pornography; third, to counteract operations that target U.S. intellectual property, endangering our national security and competitiveness; and fourth, to dismantle national and transnational organized criminal enterprises engaging in Internet fraud. To this end, we have established cyber squads in each of our 56 field offices around the country, with more than 1,000 specially trained agents, analysts, and digital forensic examiners. Still, we can not combat this threat alone.

Some of the best tools in the FBI’s arsenal for combating any crime problem are its long-standing partnerships with federal, state, local and international law enforcement agencies, as well as with the private sector and academia. At the federal level, and by Presidential mandate, the FBI leads the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF) as a multi-agency national focal point for coordinating, integrating, and sharing pertinent information related to cyber threat investigations in order to determine the identity, location, intent, motivation, capabilities, alliances, funding, and methodologies of cyber threat groups and individuals. In doing so, the partners of the NCIJTF support the US Government’s full range of options across all elements of national power.

The FBI also partners closely with not-for-profit organizations, including extensive partnerships with the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) in establishing the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), the National Cyber-Forensic and Training Alliance (NCFTA), the InfraGard National Members Alliance in establishing InfraGard, the Financial Services Information Sharing & Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Just one recent example of coordination highlights how effective we are when working within these closely established partnerships. Earlier this year, Romanian police and prosecutors conducted one of Romania’s largest police actions ever - an investigation of an organized crime group engaged in Internet fraud. The investigation deployed over 700 law enforcement officers who conducted searches at 103 locations, which led to the arrest of 34 people. Over 600 victims of this Romanian crime ring were US citizens. The success in bringing down this group was based in large part on the strength of our partnership with Romanian law enforcement and our domestic federal, state and local partners. Through extensive coordination by the FBI’s Legal Attache (Legat) in Bucharest, the Internet Crime Complaint Center provided the Romanians with over 600 complaints it had compiled from submissions to the reporting portal. In addition, and again in close coordination with the FBI’s Legat, over 45 FBI field offices assisted in the investigation by conducting interviews to obtain victim statements on Romanian complaint forms, and by obtaining police reports and covering other investigative leads within their divisions.

Working closely with others, sharing information, and leveraging all available resources and expertise, the FBI and its partners have made significant strides in combating cyber crime. Clearly, there is more work to be done, but through a coordinated approach we have become more nimble and responsive in our efforts to bring justice to the most egregious offenders.


Chairman Scott, Ranking Member Gohmert and Members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to come before you today and share the work that the FBI is doing to address the threat posed by cyber criminals in this country and around the globe. I am happy to answer any questions.

Body armour and protective sports padding made from cornstarch solution?

Not quite body armour made out of cornstarch but scientists from Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and the National University of Singapore have used the same scientific principles to invent a new made-in-Singapore lightweight, flexible, and simple to make composite material capable of dissipating high impact energy.

The ‘smart’ material is soft and can conform to the shape of irregular surfaces. It is form-fitting and offers a high degree of comfort and mobility to wearers but instantly stiffens upon impact to protect the person from knocks and falls, shrapnel from explosives, or injuries from weapons such as clubs. The material can withstand high-impact loads, will not crack under repeated loading and can even float on water.

Tests have shown that the new composite material is more effective than commercially available protective foams (used in sports) of greater thickness in dissipating impact energy. A 2cm thick version of the new material is comparable in performance to hard ceramic or steel plates when worn as a protective pad behind ballistic vests to reduce blunt trauma injuries. This could be used to replace the thick, heavy steel plates that are worn beneath Kevlar armour, thus improving mobility and comfort for the wearer.

The material is a composite which consists of a polymer and a combination of other materials engineered through a patented method developed in Singapore. It works based on the concept of shear thickening, meaning the material is soft and fluid at rest but becomes rigid upon impact, just like a cornstarch solution. When moved gently, the molecular chains that hold the material together can ‘slide’ past one another, hence giving the material a soft consistency. In other words, the material will bend and flex smoothly under lightly applied force. But hit it or make sudden movements and the molecular chains do not have time to react properly and become entangled turning the material rock-solid. Similar shear thickening fluid-based materials technology involves encapsulating it within a foam matrix. The secret to the new IMRE-NUS material lies in how it’s made - with a patented method that not only allows it to be more flexible and soft without the need for foam encapsulation, but also helps the material spread out high-impact force much more effectively and quickly than other products.

“The idea for the new material came to us when we were demonstrating a popular cornstarch science experiment during our regular Science Outreach to the public to show the versatility of materials”, says Dr Davy Cheong, a Senior Research Engineer with IMRE and member of IMRE’s Science Outreach team, who co-invented the material with partners from NUS, Mr Phyo Khant and A/Prof Vincent Tan Beng Chye.

“The technology has huge potential in the protective body armour industry, particularly in the sports arena where blunt force trauma accounts for a significant portion of sports-related injuries”, adds Dr Cheong. “What we have here is a softer, more flexible padding that absorbs more impact but doesn’t hinder movement, which ultimately improves an athlete’s performance”.

The technology can be applied to a number of areas, including body armour, sports protective equipment, surgical garments, and even aerospace energy absorbent materials. IMRE is now looking for industry partners to help evaluate and scale-up the technology.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Mr Eugene Low

Manager, Corporate Communications

for Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) 3, Research Link Singapore 117602

DID +65 6874 8491

Mobile +65 9230 9235


For technical and business enquiries, please contact:

Dr Davy Cheong

Senior Research Engineer

Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) 3, Research Link Singapore 117602

DID +65 6874 7901


Dr Desmond Chong

Industry Development Manager

Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) 3, Research Link Singapore 117602

DID +65 6513 1429


For licensing opportunities, please write to:

Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd

30 Biopolis Street

#09-02 Matrix

Singapore 138671

DID +65 6478 8464


Annex A – Corporate Profiles

About the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)

Established in September 1997, IMRE has built strong capabilities in materials analysis, characterisation, materials growth, patterning, fabrication, synthesis and integration. IMRE is an institute of talented researchers equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as the SERC Nanofabrication and Characterisation Facility to conduct world-class materials science research. Leveraging on these capabilities, R&D programmes have been established in collaboration with industry partners. These include research on organic solar cells, nanocomposites, flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), solid-state lighting, nanoimprinting, microfluidics and next generation atomic scale interconnect technology.

For more information about IMRE, please visit

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation-driven Singapore. A*STAR oversees 14 biomedical sciences, and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, and seven consortia & centres, which are located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, as well as their immediate vicinity.

A*STAR supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry. It also supports extramural research in the universities, hospitals, research centres, and with other local and international partners.

For more information about A*STAR, please visit

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eat or Be Eaten: The Life and Times of Phytoplankton

Dr. Kevin Arrigo is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. He is the Chief Scientist for NASA’s ICESCAPE (Impact of Climate change on the Eco-Systems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment) mission this summer onboard US Coast Guard Cutter HEALY.

We’re surrounded by a green broth of life. The single-celled algae called phytoplankton are so dense that our instruments disappear from sight a mere few feet after we plunk them into the water.

A few days later, we sample the same area and find…nothing. Or almost nothing.

Phytoplankton are the staple food that sustains much of the Arctic marine ecosystem. The bread of the sea. But where did it all go?

That’s what Sharmila Pal, a graduate student of Claudia Benitez-Nelson (University of South Carolina), wants to find out.

In the Arctic, phytoplankton take advantage of the few months of sunshine and ice-free conditions in the spring and summer to grow to extraordinary numbers. So dense are these “blooms” that they completely overwhelm the ability of the grazers, mostly shrimp-like copepods, to consume them (just picture a cow with an entire pasture to itself). The phytoplankton that don’t get eaten will eventually sink after they suck the surface ocean dry of nutrients. Some of this energy-rich salad will decay as it sinks, but because the Arctic Ocean is so shallow, a lot of it reaches the bottom.

We’re just not sure how much.

Its important to know, however, because this food raining down from the surface feeds a lush bottom community of worms, clams, crustaceans, starfish, and lots of littler critters. This bottom – or benthic – buffet is itself supper for much larger and more familiar fauna such as the walrus and California grey whale.

Sharmila uses a clever approach to measure how many phytoplankton exit the surface ocean. It turns out that when a particle, including a phytoplankton cell, sinks to the depths of the ocean, it carries a hitchhiker with it – a radioactive isotope of the element thorium. By measuring how much thorium is missing from different depths of water, Sharmila can tell how many particles must have exited those depths during the preceding few weeks. It’s a lot of work, requiring her to pass gallons of water through a filter for every sample and then put the filter into an instrument that counts radioactive beta particles – kind of a fancy Geiger counter.

But when she’s done, she’ll be able to tell how much of the missing phytoplankton were eaten by grazers and how much has sunk to the bottom. Because the balance between herbivory and sinking is predicted to shift as sea ice in the Arctic continues to decline, understanding that balance today is of critical importance.

Spacequakes Rumble Near Earth

July 27, 2010: Researchers using NASA's fleet of five THEMIS spacecraft have discovered a form of space weather that packs the punch of an earthquake and plays a key role in sparking bright Northern Lights. They call it "the spacequake."

A spacequake is a temblor in Earth's magnetic field. It is felt most strongly in Earth orbit, but is not exclusive to space. The effects can reach all the way down to the surface of Earth itself.

"Magnetic reverberations have been detected at ground stations all around the globe, much like seismic detectors measure a large earthquake," says THEMIS principal investigator Vassilis Angelopoulos of UCLA.

It's an apt analogy because "the total energy in a spacequake can rival that of a magnitude 5 or 6 earthquake," according to Evgeny Panov of the Space Research Institute in Austria. Panov is first author of a paper reporting the results in the April 2010 issue of Geophysical Research Letters (GRL).

In 2007, THEMIS discovered the precursors of spacequakes. The action begins in Earth's magnetic tail, which is stretched out like a windsock by the million mph solar wind. Sometimes the tail can become so stretched and tension-filled, it snaps back like an over-torqued rubber band. Solar wind plasma trapped in the tail hurtles toward Earth. On more than one occasion, the five THEMIS spacecraft were in the line of fire when these "plasma jets" swept by. Clearly, the jets were going to hit Earth. But what would happen then? The fleet moved closer to the planet to find out.

"Now we know," says THEMIS project scientist David Sibeck of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "Plasma jets trigger spacequakes."

According to THEMIS, the jets crash into the geomagnetic field some 30,000 km above Earth's equator. The impact sets off a rebounding process, in which the incoming plasma actually bounces up and down on the reverberating magnetic field. Researchers call it "repetitive flow rebuffing." It's akin to a tennis ball bouncing up and down on a carpeted floor. The first bounce is a big one, followed by bounces of decreasing amplitude as energy is dissipated in the carpet.

"We've long suspected that something like this was happening," says Sibeck. "By observing the process in situ, however, THEMIS has discovered something new and surprising."

The surprise is plasma vortices, huge whirls of magnetized gas as wide as Earth itself, spinning on the verge of the quaking magnetic field.

"When plasma jets hit the inner magnetosphere, vortices with opposite sense of rotation appear and reappear on either side of the plasma jet," explains Rumi Nakamura of the Space Research Institute in Austria, a co-author of the study. "We believe the vortices can generate substantial electrical currents in the near-Earth environment."

Acting together, vortices and spacequakes could have a noticeable effect on Earth. The tails of vortices may funnel particles into Earth's atmosphere, sparking auroras and making waves of ionization that disturb radio communications and GPS. By tugging on surface magnetic fields, spacequakes generate currents in the very ground we walk on. Ground current surges can have profound consequences, in extreme cases bringing down power grids over a wide area.

After THEMIS discovered the jets and quakes, Joachim Birn of the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico conducted a computer simulation of the rebounding process. Lo and behold, vortices appeared in good accord with THEMIS measurements. Moreover, the simulations suggest that the rebounding process can be seen from Earth's surface in the form of ripples and whirls in auroral displays. Ground stations report just such a phenomenon.

"It's a complicated process, but it all fits together," says Sibeck.

The work isn't finished. "We still have a lot to learn," he adds. "How big can spacequakes become? How many vortices can swirl around Earth at once--and how do they interact with one another?"

Stay tuned for answers from THEMIS.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Learn Sarver Heart Center's Continuous Chest Compression CPR

Every three days, more Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest than the number who died in the 9-11 attacks. You can lessen this recurring loss by learning Continuous Chest Compression CPR, a hands-only CPR method that doubles a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest. It’s easy and does not require mouth-to-mouth contact, making it more likely bystanders will try to help, and it was developed at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

View the Video


Making Two Systems Work as One

Call it the tale of two automated fingerprint systems.

The FBI has managed the nation’s collection of fingerprints since 1924, but we went fully electronic in 1999 when we launched the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or IAFIS. This national repository of fingerprints and criminal histories enables law enforcement at every level to quickly match up criminal evidence with criminal identities.

On the other hand (so to speak), the Department of Homeland Security IDENT—the Automated Biometric Identification System that houses fingerprint records and limited biographic information—was created in 1994 to help U.S. border and immigration officials keep criminals and terrorists from crossing our borders.

But in this post-9/11, globalized world, those charged with protecting the nation need to be on the same page…with appropriate access to each other’s information. So that’s why the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of State have worked hard in recent years to establish interoperability between these two fingerprint databases.

Phase one. In 2006, DHS and DOJ/FBI began a pilot project with a limited number of agencies, making technical enhancements to IAFIS and IDENT that allowed two-way sharing of information. The FBI and DHS exchanged electronic copies of fingerprint images of certain subsets of data from each system, including known or suspected terrorists, subjects with wanted notices, and visa refusals. Authorized users of each system were then able to access those records.

The result: law enforcement and border and immigration officials each gained near real-time access to information from both systems on non-U.S. persons they encounter—whether at a police booking station, a border crossing, or at a U.S. Embassy visa office abroad.

Phase two. In 2008, we began expanding the concept, implementing a technological fix that would support a direct search request from authorized users of the full IDENT and IAFIS systems through a single interface. Right now, more than 450 jurisdictions in 26 states are participating in phase two, with more being added all the time.

Eventually, our interoperability plan calls for every IDENT and IAFIS user—local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement and authorized non-criminal justice agencies across the country—to have this same ability.

Within the first and second phases, we’ve already seen some successes:

• Miami police recently arrested a man for battery and ran his prints through both systems. It turned out he was a Mexican native who had been removed from the U.S. twice for other crimes. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received a notice about the search, and he was deported.

• Police in Roxbury, Massachusetts arrested a man on firearm and drug charges. An IDENT/IAFIS search identified him as a Jamaican citizen previously removed from the U.S. who was also a known member of a violent street gang and a suspect in three murders. ICE was notified and began proceedings to have him removed from this country.

In recognition of their innovative solutions to align our automated identification fingerprint systems, members of DHS’ U.S.–VISIT team (U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program) and the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division team were recently honored with the ICE Assistant Secretary’s Protecting the Homeland award.

Congratulations to everyone involved…but the real winners are the American people, who are safer in their cities and neighborhoods.

Northwest Trains Region in Information Assurance

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Dagendesh, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Detachment Northwest

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Regional information assurance support specialists from Commander, Navy Region Northwest (CNRNW) conducted IA training for Sailors and Department of Defense (DoD) personnel at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, July 21 and Naval Base Kitsap, July 22.

Information assurance training for Naval Station Everett is scheduled to be held Aug. 10.

All Department of the Navy personnel who have access to DoD computers, including active duty, Reserve, retired, Navy civilians and contractors are required to complete inforamtion assurance training.

"Commander, Navy Region Northwest is presenting information assurance training to the customer of all the bases. Customers will need to attend these so they can learn the best and safest practices for information assurance of the networks," said Peg Burchill, CNRNW, IA support specialist. "IA (information assurance) training is given to personnel to ensure they know the correct information is getting out only to the right person."

During the information assurance training, Sailors and DoD employees were reminded that they must take adequate security measures in safe guarding information.

"Network security is critical to the defense and the security of the nation. This is nothing to take lightly. If they (intruders) get into our networks, they will know our Department of Defense positions and that is very scary stuff," said Burchill.

The training included common sense tactics about certain websites to avoid, suspicious e-mails, Common Access Card (CAC) and developing passwords as well as the importance of classified information and how to safeguard it from unauthorized users, both inside and outside the workplace.

"We ask you not to forward spam, but when you send it to the information assurance manager (IAM) that you attach it," said Joseph Ellis, regional information assurance technician. "You must be careful what you save or reply to, and lock your computers when you leave your desk."

The more Sailors and DoD employees know about information assurance, the safer their networks will be.

"IA training is very important because it keeps the computers and networks safe; it's something everyone needs to know because our security depends on it," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (EXW) David J. Miaso, assigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Base Security. "It also provides an additional layer of defense for our networks and helps ensure availability for only authorized users."

USS Shoup's 'Internet Cafe' Opens For Business

By Lt. Jacquelyn R. Bengfort, USS Shoup Public Affairs

USS SHOUP, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Shoup (DDG 86) celebrated the opening of a new Internet cafe July 22; one of several quality of life upgrades on board in preparation for a deployment later this year.

The quality of life upgrades were chosen based on Sailors' suggestions. Some of the improvements included installation of flat-screen LCD televisions in each of the berthings, new energy drink vending machines and a facelift for the weight gym.

"Much of what we have done was a direct result of Sailors' comments, suggestions, and requests," said Cmdr. Joe Nadeau, Shoup's commanding officer. "The changes were easy to implement because they made so much sense."

The addition of an Internet cafe was part of a larger effort to improve Sailors' ability to communicate with their families during long periods at sea. The crew's satellite-connected telephone was also moved from its previous location in a busy passageway to a quiet corner with a curtain for privacy.

Shoup Sailors have been enthusiastic about the changes, especially as they were the driving source in choosing the projects.

"It makes a difference when people listen to your input," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Zsa Zsa Alston, one of Shoup's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation representatives. "The changes have definitely improved morale."

Shoup is homeported in Everett, Wash., as part of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, which is currently conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California.

Open Innovation in the Science and Technology Community

Dr. John Ohab is a new technology strategist at the Department of Defense Public Web Program.

The most recent edition of the Office of Naval Research’s Innovation Newsletter explores the increasingly important paradigm of “open innovation,” which is based on the idea that organizations can and should innovate by drawing from external sources of knowledge.

In the newsletter below, you’ll find an article capturing the entrepreneurial spirit that drives Open Innovation forward co-authored by three professors from the Naval Postgraduate School of Business; an article focused on core social technologies and their role in crowd sourcing, intra-government collaboration, and citizen science; an article on massive multiplayer games and insight generation; and an article on Open Innovation and lessons learned within a specific Naval science and technology community of interest.

The Innovation Newsletter is published quarterly and covers a variety of exciting topics. It include articles from scientists, engineers, warfighters, professors, program officers, and others, all sharing their insights and research on a particular field of interest. If you have any recommendations for newsletter topics or articles, e-mail

Single Celled Food Factories of the Arctic [ICESCAPE]

Dr. Kevin Arrigo is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. He is the Chief Scientist for NASA’s ICESCAPE (Impact of Climate change on the Eco-Systems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment) mission this summer onboard US Coast Guard Cutter HEALY.

The Arctic Ocean. It marks the end of the line for the gray whales’ epic 2-3 month, 5000-7000 mile journey. It’s also where Arctic terns raise their chicks after a grueling 12,000 mile migration.

But why here?

Surprisingly, during its abbreviated spring and summer season, the Arctic Ocean hosts among the most biologically rich waters on Earth. When the sun approaches its zenith and the sea ice begins to wane, the Arctic Ocean teems with life. This frenzy of biological activity is fueled by the rapid growth of phytoplankton, those tiny floating photosynthetic dynamos that turn carbon dioxide into sugary snacks for the rest of the Arctic marine food web.

My research group, along with that of Greg Mitchell (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), is interested in how these amazing single celled food factories grow so quickly under such harsh conditions.

Like the tomatoes in your garden, phytoplankton require both sunlight and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to thrive. A recent up-tick in the amount of phytoplankton, especially in the shallow areas of the Arctic Ocean, indicates that nutrients may now be more abundant than in the past.

So naturally we want to know how well phytoplankton grow under different light and nutrient conditions and where any extra nutrients are coming from.

By working with Bob Pickart (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), who is measuring the paths of the major currents in the Chukchi Sea, we hope to get a handle on where the nutrients come from, where they are going, and how much there are.

To measure the growth of phytoplankton, we use a variety of tricks. Gert van Dijken (Stanford University) and Gert van Dijken (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) add radioactive CO2 to water samples and measure how fast it is removed during photosynthesis. They do this both on deck in “incubators” under natural sunlight and in the lab in a “photosynthetron” that exposes the phytoplankton to many different light levels. Molly Palmer (Stanford University) shoves phytoplankton into a Fast Repetition Rate Fluorometer and measures their respond to changes in light. And Matt Mills and Zach Brown (both of Stanford University) assess how phytoplankton behave under altered nutrient concentrations.

Because phytoplankton (and to a lesser degree sea ice algae) provide virtually all the food for Arctic marine ecosystems, it is important to understand what controls their numbers. By surveying a large area of the Chukchi Sea, ICESCAPE should be able to provide unique insight into the growth of these fascinating and ecologically important parts of the Arctic ecosystem.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cyber Command Leader Learns about Intelligence Training

By Lt. j.g. Sergio Wooden, Center for Naval Intelligence Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The Center for Naval Intelligence (CENNAVINTEL) hosted Rear Adm. William Leigher, deputy commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/deputy commander, 10th Fleet, at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center (NMITC) in Virginia Beach, July 13.

Leigher's visit was in support of current Information Dominance Corps (IDC) training initiatives and to assist CENNAVINTEL staff members in understanding changing cyber training requirements.

"We have to think through the unique intelligence requirements that come from thinking about cyberspace as the fifth operational warfighting domain," said Leigher. "Concepts like visualizing foreign cyberspace and providing indications and warning for impending cyber attacks need to be developed and included as part of the education of our future intelligence professionals."

The admiral visited the basic and advanced-level courses at NMITC and observed how CENNAVINTEL uses the integrated learning environment (ILE) to enhance and augment student learning, which consists of 75 percent instructor-led and 25 percent computer-based training.

Leigher offered his command's assistance to ensure that the appropriate level of cyber training/awareness and intelligence support implications are developed and appropriately added to all Intelligence Specialist (IS) "A" or "C" schools and Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course (NIOBC) training. He also offered to support the Advanced Maritime OPINTEL Course (AMOC) with cyber curriculum and case studies to improve the courses analysis training and cyber awareness.

"Overall, admiral Leigher's visit brought a much-needed focus and awareness of Navy cyberspace and its importance and natural linkage to intelligence, and he shared a tremendous amount of knowledge" said Capt. Donald P. Darnell Jr., commanding officer of CENNAVINTEL and NMITC. "Our future intelligence professionals are beginning to understand cyber issues and how intelligence needs to be inextricably linked to cyber, dealing both with attacks and defense involving our networks."

The New National Space Policy

By Mark Stout

An adage regarding Hollywood scripts (that seems to hold true for performance appraisals as well) is that they’re never really written they’re only…rewritten. Similarly, there’s also the proofreader’s axiom that asserts ‘editing normally makes the document better.’ Both of these truisms can also apply to policy, and in the specific case before us--the “new” National Space Policy dated June 28th, 2010--they do.

Read On

Keel Laid for First Joint High Speed Vessel

From Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Army and Navy authenticated the keel for the future U.S. Army Vessel (USAV) Spearhead (JHSV 1) July 22, at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., symbolically recognizing the beginning of ship construction.

Spearhead is the first ship to be built as part of the DoD's Joint High Speed Vessel program, managed by the Navy's Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships.

Though in development for less than four years - a relatively brief time for a major acquisition program - the ship underwent a rigorous production review process prior to the start of construction, where the ship's design maturity, the availability of materials and components and the shipbuilder's ability to successfully start fabrication were all closely evaluated.

"Our commitment to fully maturing the design prior to the start of construction has already paid huge dividends," said Capt. George Sutton, strategic and theater sealift program manager for PEO Ships. "Additionally, the use of proven commercial technologies and the shipbuilder's improvements to their production processes have paved the way for an already very successful program."

This commercially designed, non-combatant vessel leverages commercial technology and merges the previous Army Theater Support Vessel and the Navy High Speed Connector to decrease costs by taking advantage of the inherent commonality between the existing programs.

Leveraging the Navy's extensive experience in surface ship acquisition, PEO Ships has taken the lead on acquisition of both the Army and Navy high speed transport vessels. The future Spearhead is expected to be delivered to the Army's 7th Sustainment Brigade in 2012. The second ship of the class, the future USNS Vigilant, will be delivered to the Navy the following year.

"The JHSV's aggressive and streamlined acquisition process and the service's ability to leverage commercial investments has allowed us to provide a more maneuverable and flexible vessel to our warfighters," said Army Col. R. Eric Fletcher, the Army's project manager for Force Projection. "As a multiuse platform, the JHSV will provide our nation's warfighters with the capabilities to operate in a variety of missions, across the globe." The vessels will be used for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment for missions ranging from contingency operations and humanitarian assistance, to disaster relief and emerging seabasing concepts in austere port environments. The ships will be capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. They will be capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2).

Other joint requirements include an aviation flight deck to support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations.

To further improve production efficiencies, JHSV shipbuilder Austal has constructed a Modular Manufacturing Facility (MMF), completed in November 2009, which provides a five-fold increase in existing capacity and reduces construction duration.

PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of 10 major surface ships classes and small boats and craft.

The PEO is committed to ensuring that prior to the start of ship construction, each program completes an exhaustive production readiness review to demonstrate that design is mature and the requirements are well understood. Fully maturing the design prior to the start of construction is one of a number of initiatives the PEO is undertaking to reduce costs in shipbuilding.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Military support to mitigate oil spill continues

By Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

The leak has been plugged, but military efforts along the Gulf Coast continue as part of the federal response force to clean up the oil spill.

About 1,900 Defense Department and associated personnel are deployed to the Gulf, including four Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard who deployed to the area last week. Service members are providing ongoing support to contain the leak and clean up the spill, including military-owned skimmers and pollution control equipment, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Robert L. Ditchey II said July 15.

The military also is funding National Guard support to state governors in the region, as well as staging areas for boom and logistical coordination along the coast and at sea, Ditchey said.

National Guard troops are supporting local, state and federal authorities with aviation transportation, reconnaissance, security, hazardous materials training and other assets, he said. The Guard has 15 dedicated helicopters for transportation and reconnaissance missions.

National Guardsmen are also assisting BP to take claims from Gulf residents affected by the spill, Ditchey said.

The Coast Guard has been leading the federal response there since April when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. The explosion resulted in hundreds of millions of gallons of oil gushing from the sea floor.

"We have been working together closely with the U.S. Coast Guard from the beginning," Ditchey said. "We are committed to supporting the response effort for as long as we are needed."

New Office Aims to Reduce Military's Fuel Usage

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2010 - When Sharon E. Burke was sworn in earlier this month as the Pentagon's first director of operational energy plans and programs, her mission was clear: reduce the amount of energy needed in war zones, and decrease the risk to troops that transport and guard the military's fuel. Burke isn't asking troops to do without the fuel, generators, and batteries needed for wartime operations or even for creature comforts, she said yesterday in an interview with American Forces Press Service. Instead, she hopes to find energy alternatives and efficiencies to meet the military's needs.

"The job of this office is to make sure the troops get the energy they need to do their jobs," she said. "Our top priority is to give our deployed forces more options, more mission effectiveness."

Maintaining current energy levels in environments like Iraq and Afghanistan is unsustainable, Burke and other Pentagon leaders say. Besides the obvious environmental impact, the current levels come with tremendous financial and security costs, they say.

The Defense Department uses some 300,000 barrels of oil each day, 70 percent of which goes to overseas operations, and 30 percent to stateside bases, Burke said. The department's energy consumption accounts for 80 percent of the federal government's usage, officials have said.

The Defense Logistics Agency delivers more than 170,000 barrels of oil each day to the war theaters, at a cost of $9.6 billion last year, Burke said. The department, overall, spent $13.4 billion on energy last year, she said.

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have said that America's demand for oil is a national security issue by making the United States dependent on imports from foreign nations that are not allies. Gates identified energy as one of the department's top 25 transformational priorities, and this year's Quadrennial Defense Review addresses energy for the first time as a strategic issue. Congress approved the creation of Burke's position last year as part of the Defense budget in what she said is another example of the administration's efforts on environmental issues.

The fact that energy is a wartime operational and strategic issue isn't new, Burke said, but it has become more so as more and more fuel is needed and transports must travel through open areas at high risk of insurgent attacks.

A tremendous amount of military manpower is used to protect such convoys, Burke said. As one military police officer told her in Iraq, she said, "'You only have to watch a fuel truck blow up once to see the irony of the job you're doing here.'"

Burke said getting enough energy in theater has become a challenge. "We've assumed we'll always be able to get what we need," she said. "But we can't assume that anymore. We need to plan for it."

Of the financial cost, Burke said, "We're using a tremendous amount of money that we could be spending on our troops and their equipment." She added that the price of fuel in a war zone – when transportation and security are added in – is significantly higher than what regular consumers pay at the gas pump. When the average American is paying $3 per gallon of gas, she said, the price can soar to more than $20 per gallon in places like Helmand province, Afghanistan, when support costs are added in.

Burke said she will initiate a "consistent dialogue" with the services about their energy needs.

Some services already are working on alternative energy sources and fuel efficiencies. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said earlier this year that Marines in Afghanistan are using solar-powered water purification systems to reduce the use of fossil fuels and the need to haul water. The Marines also are using spray-on insulation to keep tents warm in winter and cool in summer.

Burke said she'll also discuss with the services other alternatives to lighten transport loads or buy goods locally to reduce the number of transports.

NIST and DARPA Working on Language Translation Devices for U.S. Troops

Dr. John Ohab is a new technology strategist at the Department of Defense Public Web Program.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Defense Department are collaborating on voice translation technology that at one time seemed only possible in Star Trek.

According to a story on the NIST website, a team of NIST scientists have spent the last four years evaluating cutting-edge speech translation technology for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The NIST scientists evaluated three two-way, real-time, voice-translation devices designed to improve communications between the U.S. military and non-English speakers in Afghanistan.

The DARPA project, called TRANSTAC (spoken language communication and TRANSlation system for TACtical use), currently focuses on Pashto, a native Afghani tongue, but NIST has also assessed machine translation systems for Dari—also spoken in Afghanistan—and Iraqi Arabic.

The story also details exactly how DARPA’s TRANSTAC systems actually work:

All new TRANSTAC systems all work much the same way, says project manager Craig Schlenoff. An English speaker talks into the phone. Automatic speech recognition distinguishes what is said and generates a text file that software translates to the target language. Text-to-speech technology converts the resulting text file into an oral response in the foreign language. This process is reversed for the foreign language speaker.

Team SPAWAR's PEO C4I Establishes New Program Office Focused on Information Assurance, Cyber Security

By Steven Davis, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Navy's Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) formally established a new program office July 20.

The Information Assurance and Cyber Security Program Office, also known as PMW 130, will focus solutions to protect and defend Navy information systems.

"PMW 130 will be the sentry, manning the gates of Navy information," said Rear Adm. Jerry Burroughs, the program executive officer for C4I. "It is designed to provide the information assurance products and cyber security solutions necessary to protect and defend Navy information and information systems, thereby protecting the fleet's ability to operate effectively."

Virtually every operation aboard a Navy ship – navigation, engineering, communications and weapons – relies on transfer of data. The ship's ability to effectively carry out its mission can be impacted if the data information flow is interrupted.

"Information is no longer an enabler, but a core capability as important today as the introduction of nuclear power was in the last century," said Burroughs. "We must be able to support the employment of dynamic cyberspace operations, which take us to a predictive rather than reactive posture in how we operate and defend our networks and information."

The Defense Department addressed the importance of cyber security in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and responded by creating U.S. Cyber Command to coordinate network and information security issues.

In concert, the Navy established the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and re-commissioned the 10th Fleet during a ceremony at Fort Meade in January. Both Fleet Forces Command and 10th Fleet were created as part of the vision to achieve the integration and innovation necessary for warfighting superiority across the full spectrum of military operations in the maritime, cyberspace and information domains, and to raise information to the forefront of the Navy's 21st century arsenal.

PMW 130 will team with U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, 10th Fleet, other government organizations, industry and academia with the common goal of providing information dominance to warfighters. The new program office is headed by Kevin McNally, who formerly served as the deputy program manager in PEO C4I's Ship Integration Program Office.

Criminals Use Romance, Patriotism to Steal Money

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

July 22, 2010 - Shelly is a smart, successful business owner, but a brief liaison with a man claiming to be a servicemember nearly cost her everything.

Shelly was thrilled to meet a handsome Marine on a dating website she frequented. Although her contact with the military was limited, she was deeply patriotic and had a great admiration for servicemembers.

After just a few days, the man began professing his love for her via e-mail and instant messaging. He said he was deployed to Iraq, and was looking for love after he had lost his wife in a car crash about two years prior. His 5-year-old boy was staying with his sister while he was deployed, he told her.

Shelly was enthralled but, as a single mom, remained cautious. She began to notice some idiosyncrasies: his birth date on one website didn't match another and the picture with dark hair and eyes she originally saw didn't match the blond-haired, blue-eyed man on a different profile.

About three days into their relationship, the man told her his bank account had been hacked into and $37,000 had been taken. He couldn't check his bank account from Iraq, he claimed, asking her for some money to get by. Suspicious, Shelly asked him for his military address and phone number.

"I'm so disappointed you don't believe me," he said, and gave her a number that connected her to a fax machine. Fed up, Shelly called him out. Angry and defensive, he blew up at her and threatened to "get her" and "go public with who you are."

"What bothers me is he has my information," said Shelly, a successful media professional from the West Coast whose name has been changed to protect her privacy. "He knows I have a son, knows the name of my company and my address."

The man never admitted it was a scam, but unable to verify he was who he said, Shelly walked away. She'd like to report him but is scared of what he'll do. And the worst part, she said, is his profile is still on that site.

"It's so awful that he impersonates a military man," she said. "I have deep respect for the military, and he's using these guys to scam people."

Shelly is not alone in her Internet-based scare. Many people, from various backgrounds and in locations around the world, are falling victim to a wave of military-related Internet romance scams.

Special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command recently warned the American public of this scam. "We are seeing a number of scams being perpetrated on the Internet, especially on social, dating-type websites where females are the main target," Chris Grey, Army CID's spokesman, said in an Army News article.

These cyber criminals, posing as military members, prey on patriotic women seeking love online, as well as others with a soft spot for military members. In many cases, they say they're deployed, whether to Iraq or Afghanistan, and claim to need money for everything from leave papers to a flight back home.

They may pose as an Air Force lieutenant or an Army general, and even a fake profile of retired Army Gen. Richard A. Cody, former vice chief of staff of the Army, has popped up on several dating sites.

Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, recently discovered that cyber criminals have been using his picture to ask people to send money. Odierno fought back using his Facebook page, on which he has nearly 10,000 fans.

"I have never solicited [personal] information from anyone, here or elsewhere, nor will I ever," he wrote July 17. "Thank you for your concern about those posing as me; our investigators are looking into all allegations."

The Internet Crime Complaint Center received nearly 340,000 complaint submissions in 2009, according to the center's 2009 Internet Crime Report. The vast majority of cases referred to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies contained elements of fraud and involved a financial loss by the complainant. The total dollar loss from all cases of fraud in 2009 that were referred to law enforcement by the center was $559.7 million, the report said.

Some women, like Shelly, realized early that they were being scammed, but others are left with empty bank accounts and broken hearts.

"It's not a bad thing to be patriotic, but people are trying to distort that for personal gain," Paul Sternal, the acting cyber crimes program director for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, said during an interview with American Forces Press Service.

Sternal likened this wave of romance scams to a scam commonly seen within the Defense Department: the Nigerian scam. In this scam, a person sends an e-mail claiming to be overseas and in financial trouble. The person tries to entice someone to send money by promising a huge reward in return; in some cases money, or in Shelly's case, love and eventually marriage.

There's a lesson to be learned from Shelly's Internet-based troubles, Sternal said. People, particularly within the Defense Department, need to be on alert for online threats.

Each day, criminals ranging from individuals seeking personal gain to foreign governments looking to compromise national security, are mining the military for information, Sternal said. The networks, he said, are scanned millions of times per day and probed thousands of times per day, with increasing frequency and sophistication.

"The Defense Department, by the very nature of what it does, makes it an obvious target for people who want to exploit it for information about operations, technology, and what we do to defend the nation," Sternal said.

These threats can be presented in a variety of ways, from scams similar to the one Shelly faced to widespread and sophisticated phishing scams. Phishing scams are when people attempt to gain sensitive information, such as passwords and user names, by posing as a trustworthy source in an e-mail. These scammers may pose as a bank or credit card company and ask for information that the company normally wouldn't ask for, Sternal said.

In a recent phishing scam, numerous fraudulent e-mails were sent to financial customers of USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union. The e-mails, which appear to originate from USAA and the credit union, ask the recipient to provide or verify personal information such as name and rank, account numbers, date of birth and mother's maiden name.

"While these e-mails may appear to be legitimate, it's important to remember USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union will never ask for [personal identification] or to verify financial institution data via e-mail," a U.S. Strategic Command news release issued in response to this scam said.

In some cases, the e-mail may include a link that, when clicked on, installs a malicious code.

"The end game, in those instances, is not to compromise identity, but [not] to compromise information you have available to you as a Defense Department military member, civilian or contractor," Sternal said. He advised people to keep an eye out for e-mails that arrive "out of the blue."

"Know what your established relationships are," he said.

People need to use the same wisdom online that they use at home, Sternal said. People normally toss out junk mail, particularly when it's not personally addressed or from a trusted source. This same scrutiny needs to be applied to e-mails that arrive over the Internet, he said.

Additionally, people should keep an eye out for suspicious computer activity that can signify a virus, including a suddenly slow-running system or programs that suddenly start popping up without being opened, Sternal said.

Increasingly sophisticated adversaries are using the Internet to their full advantage, he said. They've gone from trying to physically smuggle a part or computer chip out of the country to trying to smuggle the design schematics online, which can have a major impact on national security.

"The Internet is a great resource, and look how the Defense Department uses it to communicate the good we do, to recruit, to get information out to help people," Sternal said. "There are tremendous benefits, but we need to be smart about how we do this." To ensure the best protection of the military's information and networks, the Defense Department established the U.S. Cyber Command in May. But while the Defense Department has sophisticated protections in place, each employee has a personal responsibility to protect information as well.

Sternal passed on some tips for all computer users:

-- Use caution: Whether it's surfing the Internet, reading e-mail or downloading files, a savvy user exercise caution in where he goes, who he communicates with and what he accepts from other users.

-- Stay smart: It's important to pay attention to security bulletins and alerts, press reports on new cyber attacks, and even the department's INFOCON levels.

-- Expect it: All Defense Department employees are targets by affiliation. When deciding what to put out on the Internet – whether it's an e-mail or social networking site – consider the impact if that information ends up on the public domain or in the hands of a criminal. And if information is compromised, have a plan to respond and recover.

-- Take responsibility: The Defense Department offers employees free antivirus software for home use, and people should take full advantage of firewalls, strong passwords and encryption.

"If you have a home network, secure it," Sternal said.

These days, he said, users have grown clever and many now hit delete rather than open suspicious e-mails. However, as computer users become wiser, so do the adversaries, Sternal said. They're using increasingly sophisticated programs that will move them beyond the delete button, he said, making it even more important for people to stay alert.

As in Shelly's case, "I think people let their guard down on the Internet," Sternal said. "The thing to remember is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is."

To report a cyber crime, visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center at, the Federal Trade Commission at or On Guard Online at