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Encryption Standard Revised<@VM>IBM Strives for a Petaflop<@VM>CSC Merges Nichols Unit <@VM>AverStar Still Sees IPO<@VM>Shopping at the Patent Office<@VM>Understanding Labor Laws <@VM>Top 10 Concerns Of Global IT Executives

The data encryption standard (DES) that federal agencies and other organizations use to disguise sensitive information has been revised by Secretary of Commerce William Daley.

The revision uses the DES algorithm in three successive operations, a technique called triple DES. The revised standard applies to agencies using encryption to guard sensitive, unclassified information.

The initial version of DES was first approved in 1977 and has been revised several times. With the latest revision, agencies procuring cryptographic products will need to purchase equipment supporting triple DES.

Triple DES offers greater security than single DES and is intended as a bridge between DES and the future advanced encryption standard, or AES. Under development by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the advanced encryption standard is being designed to offer strong cryptographic security well into the 21st century.IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., launched a $100 million research initiative last week to build a supercomputer 500 times faster than existing supercomputers. The goal is to build a computer that can perform 1 quadrillion operations per second, or one petaflop. That is 2 million times faster than today's desktop computers.

Dubbed Blue Gene, the supercomputer initially will be used to model the folding of human proteins to give medical researchers a better understanding of diseases, as well as potential cures. IBM will use a new computer design and architecture and predicts it will meet its goal in five years. About 50 researchers will work on the project.
Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., announced plans to make Nichols TXEN a part of its health care group. The $8.2 billion systems integrator picked up the unit in November as part of its $391 million acquisition of Nichols Research Corp., Huntsville, Ala.

TXEN's 600 employees will join the 1,900 CSC employees who specialize in health care. TXEN provides information technology and business process outsourcing primarily to commercial customers.

AverStar Inc. of Burlington, Mass., formally withdrew its registration last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering.

The company, which gets most of its business from NASA and the Department of Defense, will wait for more favorable market conditions for government information technology providers, said Paul Serotkin, AverStar vice president of corporate development.

AverStar, which has about $170 million in annual revenue, planned to go public in August but management scrapped that plan because of bumpy market conditions. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Arlington, Va., is now open for business with an electronic storefront that allows users to shop via the Internet and even get uncertified patents delivered electronically. Certified copies of patents and trademarks still have to be delivered via fax, U.S. mail or other delivery service.

Built by Software Performance Systems Inc., Arlington, Va., as part of a $1.1 million contract it won in April, the Order Entry Management System let users order and pay for patents and trademarks via a Web browser and check the status of their orders. The Patent and Trademark Office processes 500,000 orders a year. The site is at new Web site, Elaws Advisors ( helps employers and employees understand and comply with nine federal laws, including the Family Medical Leave Act, Uniformed Service Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the Mine Safety and Health Administration Quarterly Report.

The site, co-designed by American University Professor Larry Medsker, seven students at the school's Computer Science and Information Systems Department and the Labor Department with a $100,000 grant, makes it easier for employers and employees to understand new laws and regulations.

The Labor Department hopes the site will improve the quality of regulatory compliance information and save it time and money.

The site uses a question-and-answer format to explain the specifics of the labor laws. Elaws stands for Employment Law Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses.

1.Aligning information systems and corporate goals71.2%
2.Organizing and using data64.4%
3.Improving the information systems' human resource61.0%
4.Capitalizing on advances in information technology61.0%
5.Instituting cross-functional information systems59.3%
6.Connecting to customers, suppliers and partners electronically55.9%
7.Integrating systems55.9%
8.Creating an information architecture54.2%
9.Developing an electronic business strategy52.5%
10.Restructuring the information systems function52.5%

Results of an annual survey conducted by Computer Systems Corp. that asked 803 information
technology executives to name their top 10 information systems management issues.

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