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Blog Category: TechBeat

New Computer Security Guide Can Help Safeguard Small Businesses

Image of video player. Click to watch a new NIST video explaining the reasons why small businesses should be concerned about safeguarding the information on their computers.

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a guide to help small businesses and organizations understand how to provide basic security for their information, systems and networks. Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals,by Richard Kissel, teaches computer security to groups of small business owners ranging from tow truck operators to managers of hospitals, small manufacturers and nonprofit organizations. The 20-page guide uses simple, clear language to walk small business owners through the steps necessary to secure their computer systems and data. (More) (Video page) (Guide)

Therapeutic Nanoparticles Offer Potential as Cancer-Killers

NIST logo. Click for image: An iron-centered nanoparticle (left) has a coating of the sugar dextran, whose tendrils prevent groups of the particles from clumping. When tumor cells ingest them (right), the particles still congregate closely enough to share heat when stimulated by a magnetic field, killing the cells. White arrow indicates a red blood cell.

A research team at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) studying sugar-coated nanoparticles for use as a possible cancer therapy, has uncovered a delicate balancing act that makes the particles more effective than conventional thinking says they should be. In cooperation with The Johns Hopkins University, Dartmouth College, the University of Manitoba and two biopharmaceutical companies, the NIST team has demonstrated that the particles are potent cancer-killers because they interact with one another in ways that smaller nanoparticles do not. Click on NIST logo above for image and description or here. (More)

New NIST Trace Explosives Standard Slated for Homeland Security Duty

Bottle of SRM 2905 seen under blue crime scene light and spot of tagged SRM on test paper. Click for larger image.

To aid in searches for explosive materials and persons who have been in contact with them, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), with support from the Department of Homeland Security, has developed a new certified reference material, Standard Reference Material (SRM) 2905, Trace Particulate Explosives. Compatible with field and laboratory assay methods, the SRM will be helpful in calibrating, testing and developing standard best operating procedures for trace-explosives detectors. (More)

Who Are You? Mobile ID Devices Find Out Using NIST Guidelines

Image of person holding a PDA. Click for larger image.

A new publication that recommends best practices for the next generation of portable biometric acquisition devices—Mobile ID—has been published by Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Devices that gather, process and transmit an individual’s biometric data—fingerprints, facial and iris images—for identification are proliferating. Previous work on standards for these biometric devices has focused primarily on getting different stationary and desktop systems with hard-wired processing pathways to work together in an interoperable manner. But a new generation of small, portable and versatile biometric devices are raising new issues for interoperability. (More)

Novel Temperature Calibration Improves NIST Microhotplate Technology

Image of microhotplate. Click for larger image.

Researchers at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new calibration technique that will improve the reliability and stability of one of NIST’s most versatile technologies, the microhotplate. The novel NIST device is being developed as the foundation for miniature yet highly accurate gas sensors that can detect chemical and biological agents, industrial leaks and even signs of extraterrestrial life from aboard a planetary probe. (More)

NIST Releases Final Version of New Cybersecurity Recommendations for Government

NIST logo.

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released its final version of a publication which represents a major step toward building a unified information security framework for the entire federal government. Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations was released in draft form for public review in June. “The aim is to provide greater protection for federal information systems against cyber attacks,” said Ron Ross, of NIST’s computer security division. (More)

NIST: 'Microfluidic Palette' May Paint Clearer Picture of Biological Processes

Image of microfluidic palette. Click for larger image.

Researchers at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created an innovative device called the “microfluidic palette” to produce multiple, steady-state chemical gradients—gradual changes in concentration across an area—in a miniature chamber about the diameter of a pinhead. The tool can be used to study the complex biological mechanisms in cells responsible for cancer metastasis, wound healing, biofilm formation and other fluid-related processes. (More)

NIST's LIDAR May Offer Peerless Precision in Remote Measurements

Image of Earth, Mars, the Moon and  and the sun. Click for video.

By combining the best of two different distance measurement approaches with a super-accurate technology called an optical frequency comb, researchers at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built a laser ranging system that can pinpoint multiple objects with nanometer precision over distances up to 100 kilometers. The novel LIDAR (“light detection and ranging”) system could have applications from precision manufacturing lines on Earth to maintaining networks of satellites in perfect formation, creating a giant space-based platform to search for new planets. (More) (Video)

Physicists Find Way to Control Individual Bits in Quantum Computers

Optical lattices use lasers to separate rubidium atoms (red) for use as information “bits” in neutral-atom quantum processors -- prototype devices which designers are trying to develop into full-fledged quantum computers. NIST scientists have managed to isolate and control pairs of the rubidium atoms with polarized light, an advance that may bring quantum computing a step closer to reality. Click for larger image.

Physicists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have overcome a hurdle in quantum computer development, having devised a viable way to manipulate a single “bit” in a quantum processor without disturbing the information stored in its neighbors. The approach, which makes novel use of polarized light to create “effective” magnetic fields, could bring the long-sought computers a step closer to reality. A great challenge in creating a working quantum computer is maintaining control over the carriers of information, the “switches” in a quantum processor while isolating them from the environment. (More)

Nanosoccer Robots Ready to Compete in Upcoming RoboCup Games

YouTube video clip of nanosoccer. Click to view 2008 video.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be serving up “soccer under glass”—the glass of a microscope lens—when nanosoccer makes its second appearance at the RoboCup games at the international competition in Graz, Austria, from June 29 to July 5, 2009. Nanosoccer is a Lilliputian event where computer-driven “nanobots” the size of dust mites challenge one another on fields no bigger than a grain of rice. Viewed under a microscope, the nanobots are operated by remote control and move in response to changing magnetic fields or electrical signals transmitted across the microsized arena. (More)