BlackBerry joins cyber alliance, FBI opens biometric tech center and more

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

Mobile Security

BlackBerry joins National Cyber Security Alliance

BlackBerry has joined the National Cyber Security Alliance, a public-private group that works with the Department of Homeland Security to raise awareness of cybersecurity issues.

NCSA's board of directors includes officials from tech giants such as Google and Intel.

"Organizations and consumers increasingly rely on mobile technology, but they may not fully understand the security and privacy considerations that come with untethered, unlimited access to information," NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser said in a statement welcoming BlackBerry to the group.

FBI opens Biometric Technology Center

The FBI on Aug. 11 held a dedication ceremony at its new 360,000-square-foot Biometric Technology Center on the campus of the agency's Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg, W.Va.

When fully operational, the FBI said in an Aug 12 blog post, the BTC will encourage joint biometric investigations with the Defense Department, along with research and development efforts.

The FBI said that CJIS has the largest centralized collection of biometric information in the world.

Construction on the facility began in 2011. According to local news reports, the first employees will begin working in the facility by the end of the year.

Senator accuses administration of 'downplaying' cyber threats

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has accused the Obama administration of "downplaying" threats to cybersecurity.

"Instead of tackling the challenge with a serious review of our cyber doctrine, it seems like the administration is focused on downplaying emerging threats and convincing the American people that weakness is the new normal," Sasse said in a statement, according to a report in The Hill newspaper.

The Nebraska Republican's comments came a day after Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS Evening News that China and Russia are "very likely" reading his emails.

Sandia computer scammer pays $6 million to settle

Under a civil settlement announced by the Justice Department, a San Diego technology contractor agreed to pay the U.S. government almost $6 million to resolve allegations that the company inflated prices of computers sold for use at Sandia National Laboratories.

PC Specialists Inc., which did business as Technology Integration Group, bought computers and other technology products for resale to other purchasers, according to the Justice Department.

From 2003 to 2013, the department said, TIG sold Dell computers to Sandia Corporation for resale to the federal government under Sandia's contract with the National Nuclear Security Administration. In turn, according to the Justice Department, NNSA purchased the computers for use back at Sandia. Federal prosecutors said TIG knowingly inflated the amounts it charged Sandia by failing to give credits for rebates and discounts it received from Dell, as required under its contract.

The civil settlement arose from a lawsuit filed by Maverick Granger, a former TIG executive in Albuquerque, under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, that allow private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and share in the recovery. The Justice Department said Granger's share of the settlement hasn't yet been determined.