NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update
As I read the news, I am increasingly concerned to see one more cyber security story. Personal data hacked from Target and Neiman-Marcus. An attack on two county school systems takes down school internet access. More than 360 million stolen account credentials are being sold on a cyber black market. Just last week, a security bug called Heartbleed was disclosed that threatens the security of passwords. And you may wonder, "What is being done to keep this from happening to NOS systems?"
All of our IT-related services must be resilient and secure to resist the constant threat presented by computer viruses and worms, phishing attacks, hackers, and natural and man-made disasters. To make that happen, we continuously assess our weaknesses and create Plans of Action and Milestones, known as POA&Ms, to address them.
You may not be familiar with POA&Ms, but I can tell you that the leadership of every line office in NOAA knows what they are. Successful POA&M closure is so important to NOAA that the activity is included in the performance plans of every leader in the agency. Here at NOS, that includes Russell Callender and me, as well as your program's office director, deputy, and IT personnel.
Each POA&M is an improvement plan with the goal of enhancing our cyber security posture. POA&Ms take time and teamwork to complete. And when we complete a POA&M, our IT services are more secure than before. This work goes on largely behind the scenes in NOS. But I am proud to tell you that between October 2012 and September 2013, our IT staff worked together to complete and close out 286 POA&Ms throughout NOS. Because self-improvement is a continuous process, each year we create and close out yet another new batch of POA&Ms.
This is a remarkable accomplishment and could only be achieved through the tireless dedication of IT personnel throughout the organization. I want to recognize and thank the many NOS people that help keep us up and running, and secure. We simply could not carry out our mission without information infrastructure services.
Across NOS programs, about 10% of our workforce is dedicated to providing the information technology services we need for mission success. This includes not only the help desk staff that we see most often, but also network and system engineers, systems administrators, developers, web and database administrators, data managers, security officers and security engineers, acquisitions and property administrators, and IT managers. These talented people work together across NOAA and NOS to support NOS websites, navigation and positioning services, geospatial information systems, data collection and dissemination systems, data analysis, and collaboration services. They are deeply involved in federal government initiatives like the President's Open Data initiative, OMB's Cross-Agency Priority goals for Cybersecurity, and data center consolidation.
Finally, a reminder that no matter how sophisticated those systems are, each of us serves as the last line of defense when it comes to IT security. If you notice suspicious activity on your computer or suspect a security incident, immediately contact NOAA's Computer Incident Response Team (N-CIRT). Contact the N-CIRT directly 24 hours a day at (301) 713-9111. The web address for the N-CIRT 47-43 reporting form is: https://www.csp.noaa.gov/V3_Form/index.php. NOAA's Computer Incident Response page is: https://www.csp.noaa.gov/. After reporting an incident to N-CIRT, you should also inform your program's IT security officer immediately.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service
NOAA-led Rescue Effort Frees Entangled Humpback Whale off Maui
On April 6, NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary led a multi-agency response effort that successfully rescued a humpback whale from a life-threatening entanglement off Lahaina, Maui. The sanctuary worked closely with NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Corps, and the West Maui Rapid Response Team to dislodge a bridle of line running through the whale's mouth and trailing 120 feet behind the whale. The response team aboard the sanctuary vessel Koholā added buoys to one side of the bridle to pull the gear from the whale's mouth. The whale is expected to make a full recovery and was last seen heading north. Since 2003, the sanctuary and its partners have freed 20 endangered whales from life-threatening entanglements.
Training Stakeholders in How to Obtain Accurate Heights
The National Geodetic Survey is providing training on precise digital leveling techniques using corresponding software applications to representatives from NOAA, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, state agencies, local governments, and the private sector. The training is held at the NGS Training Center in Corbin, Va.
Navigation Response Team in Florida Discover Upside Down SUV
While surveying in Florida, Coast Survey's Navigation Response Team 1 recently made an unexpected find. When team members reviewed hydrographic data collected with side scan sonar and multibeam echo sounder, they discovered an upside down SUV in Panama City's West Bay Creek. The vehicle, adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway, was not an obstruction to navigation, but it was near a bulkhead where a local company loads gravel onto barges. The team quickly alerted the information to Bay County's sheriff, who sent divers to the location and called in heavy equipment from the gravel company to remove it. Thanks to this rapid alert, the risk to the barges was removed.
Contact: Lt. Michael.Davidson@noaa.gov
Social Science Research to Improve Hurricane Communications
The National Weather Service worked with the Coastal Services Center to conduct social science research aimed at improving the local hurricane statement. Local forecasters use this statement to communicate life-saving watches and warnings, meteorological conditions, and hazard impact information. Data was collected from partners and customers representing three stakeholder groups—broadcast meteorologists, emergency management personnel, and interested community members. A report of research findings and recommendations for improved timing, readability, and usefulness is now available and will be used for testing during future land-falling hurricanes.
Climate-Change Games Available Online
New issues call for a new approach, which is why four role-playing games were developed for coastal communities facing climate change impacts. The focus is on adaptation and risk management in the face of scientific uncertainty. The games are available for $3.00 per copy and a teacher evaluation package can be downloaded for free. The New England Climate Adaptation Project developed the games through a collaborative research grant from the National Estuarine Research Reserve Science Collaborative.
NOAA Science Featured on Aqua Kids
Aqua Kids, a children's television show that reaches over 90 million households, recently visited the NCCOS Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort, N.C., to learn more about the center's research. The episode explored research on sustainable marine aquaculture and how invasive species such as lionfish threaten coral reef ecosystems. The Aqua Kids' mission is to motivate today's youth (and adults) to take an active role in protecting and preserving the marine environment.
CO-OPS and Olympic Coast NMS Collaborate on Current Meter Deployment and Platform Test
CO-OPS is partnering with the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS) to deploy an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) in the sanctuary near La Push, Wash. OCNMS is assessing the possibility of maintaining a semi-permanent ADCP and CO-OPS is testing a new bottom mount platform for use in National Current Observation Program surveys as well as collecting current data to potentially be included in the Tidal Current Tables eventual hydrodynamic model validation. This deployment may be continued with the upcoming current survey in Puget Sound.
Investing in the Future: An Innovative New Stewardship Program
NOAA and partners awarded $4.9 million to EarthCorps for long-term stewardship of restoration sites in Commencement Bay near Tacoma, Wash. Representative Heck (WA), Rep. Kilmer (WA), and Rep. DeFazio (OR) attended the award ceremony. The Commencement Bay Stewardship Collaborative is part of a larger investment that will conserve habitat for fish and wildlife and give local urban communities access to the shoreline. EarthCorps, which was competitively selected for this funding, is a non-profit organization that trains environmental leaders through local service projects. The funding will support planning, restoration, monitoring, and maintenance at 17 sites across the Bay.