Friday, May 29, 2020

Investment to Improve Domestic Semiconductor Production and $6 Million to Expand Domestic Production of Satellite Solar Array Panels

Statement attributed to Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, Department of Defense spokesman:

"As part of the national response to COVID-19, the Department of Defense has signed a $12.45 million contract award with 5N Plus Semiconductor to improve semiconductor production processes to support long term business viability and maintain the sole domestic source of critical semiconductor technologies for space programs.

Located in St. George, Utah, where the project will be performed over the anticipated 39 months. This agreement will support 5N Plus Semiconductors' product and process capability integration with U.S. space satellite suppliers to complete development and qualification of next-generation semiconductor products and technologies.

The Department of Defense has also signed a $6 million contract with SolAero Technologies to sustain critical domestic industrial base capability for satellite solar array panels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, SolAero Technologies will expand its domestic production capability and capacity for advanced satellite solar cells and panels.

SolAero will accomplish this by addressing critical capabilities and capacity to integrate advanced solar cells into Covered Interconnected Cells (CICs) and Photovoltaic Assemblies (PVAs). This will enable SolAero to retain critical workforce capabilities throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19 and to restore some jobs lost because of the pandemic.

Both Defense Production Act Title 3 contracts support the Space Defense Industrial Base, and use funds authorized and appropriated under the CARES Act.

The Department remains closely partnered with FEMA and HHS, providing almost $2.5 billion in lifesaving supplies and equipment to service members and federal agencies in the nation's whole-of-government approach to the coronavirus pandemic."

CISA Releases New Cyber Essentials Toolkit

WASHINGTON – As a follow-up to the November 2019 release of Cyber Essentials, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released the first in a series of six Cyber Essentials Toolkits. This is a starting point for small businesses and government agencies to understand and address cybersecurity risk as they do other risks. CISA’s toolkits will provide greater detail, insight and resources on each of the Cyber Essentials’ six “Essential Elements” of a Culture of Cyber Readiness.

Today’s launch highlights the first “Essential Element: Yourself, The Leader” and will be followed each month by a new toolkit to correspond with each of the six “Essential Elements.” Toolkit 1 focuses on the role of leadership in forging a culture of cyber readiness in their organization with an emphasis on strategy and investment.

“We thank all of our partners in government and the private sector who played an essential role in the development of CISA’s Cyber Essentials Toolkit,” said CISA Director Christopher Krebs. “We hope this toolkit, and the ones we are developing, fills gaps and provides executives the tools they need to raise the cybersecurity baseline of their teams and the organizations they lead.”

Developed in collaboration with small businesses and state and local governments, Cyber Essentials aims to equip smaller organizations that historically have not been a part of the national dialogue on cybersecurity with basic steps and resources to improve their cybersecurity. Cyber Essentials includes two parts – guiding principles for leaders to develop a culture of security, and specific actions for leaders and their IT professionals to put that culture into action.

Each of the six Cyber Essentials includes a list of actionable items anyone can take to reduce cyber risks. These are: 

  • Drive cybersecurity strategy, investment, and culture; 
  • Develop heightened level of security awareness and vigilance; 
  • Protect critical assets and applications; 
  • Ensure only those who belong on your digital workplace have access; 
  • Make backups and avoid loss of info critical to operations; and 
  • Limit damage and restore normal operations quickly. 
To learn more about the Cyber Essentials Toolkits, visit

Thursday, May 28, 2020

IT manager sentenced for hacking into and sabotaging his former employer’s computer network

ATLANTA – Charles E. Taylor has been sentenced to federal prison for hacking his former Atlanta-based employer and sabotaging their internal communications network, causing more than $800,000 in damage.

“Taylor deliberately sabotaged the computer network he had been entrusted to protect because he was upset with his former employer,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Corporate insiders like Taylor cause significant losses through hacking activity each year, and companies must remain vigilant against insider threats to their network security.”

“Taylor used sabotage to betray the trust placed in him by his employer, causing extreme hardship for the company and his fellow employees,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “No amount of subterfuge will protect cyber criminals from being unmasked, arrested and prosecuted by FBI investigators and federal prosecutors.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: In 2013, Taylor, a resident of Jacksonville, Arkansas, was hired as a systems administrator for a lumber and building materials wholesaler. In early 2018, a large Atlanta-based building products distributor acquired the company. Taylor kept his job as a senior systems engineer after the merger, but he was unhappy with the newly combined company and resigned in July 2018.

A month after his departure, Taylor conducted a multi-stage sabotage campaign targeting the company’s network. Using information he gained in his employment, Taylor logged into the network remotely without authorization and used encryption methods to hide his network connections. In mid-August 2018, Taylor changed passwords for network routers located at dozens of company warehouses. Company employees were unable to access the routers, and the company replaced them shortly thereafter at a cost of roughly $100,000.

Days later, Taylor issued a shutdown command for a central command server on the company’s network, crippling internal communications at the company. As the company worked to restore its network over a two-day period, employees at several of its branches were forced to take customer orders by hand and field incoming orders using their personal cell phones. In total, the server sabotage cost the company over $700,000 dollars in lost profits and remediation costs.

Charles E. Taylor, 60, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee to one year and six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release - one year of which will be served on home detention - and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $834,510. Taylor was convicted of computer fraud on February 19, 2020, after he pleaded guilty.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan P. Kitchens, Deputy Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section, prosecuted the case.

DOD, USAF Warfare Center to Build a 5G Network, Test Prototype Software at Nellis

May 28, 2020

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center (USAFWC) at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada have teamed to build a fifth-generation (5G) cellular network on Nellis as part of DOD's development of 5G for both defense and civilian uses.  

''The Defense Department recognizes 5G technology is vital to maintaining America's military and economic advantages,'' said Dr. Joseph Evans, DOD technical director for 5G and the lead for the department's 5G development effort. ''We expect to start construction on the network at Nellis in July and have it fully operational in January of next year.''

Only users taking part in the testing will have access to the private network. The network will feature relocatable cell towers that can be set up and taken down in less than an hour. Testing will involve mobile operations centers where team members will use the network while on the move.

The Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP), an industry consortium, will seek commercial software prototypes through a Prototype Other Transactional Authority (OTA) process it will manage. IWRP member companies may provide prototype proposals. Prototypes will focus on two areas: Applications and Services for Survivable Command and Control (C2) and Wireless Network Enhancements.

Applications and Services for Survivable C2 prototypes will build or revise C2 software used at Air and Wing Operations Centers to support distributed planning and mission-execution functions. These applications involve architectures that enable C2 operations under a variety of 5G network conditions. They may incorporate human-machine interfaces, which go beyond simple graphic-user interfaces and may include audio, gestures, augmented reality devices and haptics that stimulate touch and motion. Network Enhancement prototypes will build and test novel 5G features including network slicing to allow network operators to dedicate portions of their networks to specific uses and software-defined networking, which makes network control possible using software applications. This prototype will also test interoperability with legacy and future generations of cellular and mobile networking.   

Testing at Nellis will start in January 2021 and continue in three 12-month phases.

This test builds upon DOD's previously announced 5G communications technology prototyping and experimentation at Hill AFB, Utah; Joint Base Louis-McChord, Washington; Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia; and Naval Base San Diego, California.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Cyberstalking, Making Interstate Threats

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – An Odessa, Texas man, who had an online relationship with a juvenile female in the Western District of Virginia, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to cyberstalking and making interstate threats to the girl’s family following her suicide. United State Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement today.

Adrian Raul O’Dell, 20, was charged in October of 2019 and arrested the following month at his home in Texas. He pleaded guilty today to two counts of cyberstalking and one count of making interstate threats. 

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that online conduct can cause victims serious harm and cyberstalking will not be tolerated. With increasing amounts of our lives and business being conducted online, these kinds of cases remain a priority for this office,” First Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar said today. “I am grateful for the hard work of the FBI and the Warren County Sheriff’s office in identifying this defendant and bringing him to Virginia to face justice.”

“The facts of this case speak for themselves and are saddening to us all.   Although today’s plea will not make up for the loss to the victim’s family or the pain they endured, we hope it reassures them of the FBI's full commitment to investigate such matters to the fullest extent of the law,” Special Agent in Charge Archey said today. “We are grateful for the assistance of the United States Attorney's Office, the FBI's El Paso Field Office/Midland Resident Agency and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for their diligence and assistance in this investigation.”

According to court documents, between September 2017 and around March 2018, O’Dell had an online relationship with a 16-year-old girl who lived in Linden, Virginia. In May 2018, following an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that the girl died by suicide in a wooded area near her home.

The indictment alleges that from June 2018 through June 2019, O’Dell, using a variety of false email and online personas, took credit for her suicide.  The defendant then sent threatening and intimidating messages to her family members and friends that placed them in reasonable fear of death and serious bodily harm. In addition, these messages attempted to cause friends and family members substantial emotional distress.  The defendant sent certain of these messages in violation of a protective order.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Warren County Sherriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Kate Rumsey is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Louisiana Man Sentenced for Business Email Compromise Scheme

BOSTON – A Louisiana man was sentenced today in connection with an international business email compromise scheme that defrauded companies of almost $900,000.

Larry Brown Jr., 37, of Lafayette, La., was sentenced during a videoconference to time-served (approximately 10 months in prison), three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $10,425. In April 2020, Brown pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In April 2019, Brown was charged with co-defendant Paul M. Iwuanyanwu, 39, of Medfield.

Brown and, allegedly, Iwuanyanwu worked with others who breached the email systems of companies and installed unauthorized computer programs that diverted company emails to accounts controlled by the conspirators. As a result, emails sent by or to the companies were first routed through the email accounts where conspirators could view the messages. Conspirators also had the ability to send and respond to emails as if they were representatives of the companies.

It is alleged that conspirators used this unauthorized access to companies’ email accounts to cause the companies to redirect payments intended for legitimate business operations to bank accounts controlled by Brown and Iwuanyanwu.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Michael S. Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Homeland Security Investigations in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom, of Lelling’s Securities & Financial Fraud Unit and Carol Head, of Lelling’s Asset Recovery Unit, are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Statesville Man Is Sentenced To Prison For Cyberstalking

The Defendant Sent Hundreds of Harassing and Threatening Texts to a Woman in Maryland

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Late yesterday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced Charles Timothy Browne, 57, of Statesville, N.C., to 43 months in prison and three years of supervised release, for cyberstalking a woman residing in Maryland, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

John A Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

According to information in filed court documents and the sentencing hearing, in December 2017, and January 2018, Browne sent a Maryland woman approximately 731 harassing and intimidating texts including, “I like my new gun,” “Now your gonna feel some pain,” and “Lock your door.” Court records show that Browne also texted a mutual friend that he was going to shoot the woman in the face.  Browne’s repeated texting caused the Maryland woman substantial emotional distress and to fear that he would kill or seriously injure her.

On February 3, 3030, Browne pleaded guilty to cyberstalking. At yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Bell enhanced Browne’s sentence because, at the time he sent the harassing and intimidating texts to the Maryland woman, a judge-issued protective order was in effect that prohibited him from abusing, threatening to abuse, harassing and/or contacting her.  Between 2004 and 2017, Browne had been subject to six protective orders.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray commended the FBI for their investigation of this case.

Assistant United States Attorney Kimlani M. Ford, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.