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Tech Beat - August 12, 2014

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Editor: Michael Baum
Date created: August 12, 2014
Date Modified: August 12, 2014 
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NIST Therapy for Ultraviolet Laser Beams: Hydrogen-treated Fibers

To make a better optical fiber for transmitting laser beams, the first idea that comes to mind is probably not a nice long hydrogen bath.

Micrograph of an optical fiber
Micrograph of an optical fiber that has been infused with hydrogen and cured with ultraviolet light (here shown transmitting violet laser light.) Fibers treated this way can transmit stable, high-power ultraviolet laser light for long periods of time, resisting the damage usually caused by UV light. The diameter of the pattern of air holes surrounding the core is 62.5 micrometers.
Credit: Slichter/NIST
View hi-resolution image

And yet, scientists have known for years that hydrogen can alter the performance of optical fibers, which are often used to transmit or even generate laser light in optical devices. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have put this hydrogen “cure” to practical use, making optical fibers that transmit stable, high-power ultraviolet laser light for hundreds of hours. NIST scientists expect these hydrogen-treated fibers, described in Optics Express,* to reduce errors in logic operations in their quantum computing experiments.

Optical fibers generally are not able to transmit ultraviolet light because the short wavelength light can interact with dopants or impurities in the fibers, resulting in so-called “solarization” damage and extreme losses of beam intensity. The fibers effectively shut down. Hydrogen molecules have been shown to heal this damage as it occurs.

NIST researchers tested two types of fibers with solid cores made of fused silica surrounded by lattices of air holes, which form a crystal structure that maintains the shape of transmitted laser beams. The fibers were infused with hydrogen gas at 100 times standard atmospheric pressure for four to six days. Conveniently, some of the fibers could be treated in NIST’s hydrogen pipeline materials testing facility.** After the hydrogen diffused into the fiber cores, the fibers were cured by exposure to ultraviolet laser light for several days.

NIST researchers then tested the fibers by transmitting ultraviolet laser light through them. The fibers did not display any solarization damage, even at output powers as high as 125 milliwatts (mW) at 313 nanometer (nm) laser wavelengths—several times the beam intensity needed for the group’s quantum computing experiments. The combination of hydrogen infusion and curing with ultraviolet light “appears to confer long-term resistance” to this type of damage, according to the paper. The fibers also lose very little of the laser light as it is transmitted.

For comparison, NIST researchers also tested fibers that were not treated with hydrogen. With 313 nm wavelength laser light at 100 mW power, light transmission through the fibers dropped to zero in four hours, confirming the value of the hydrogen treatment.

The treated fibers could be used to transmit a wide range of infrared, visible and ultraviolet wavelengths of light, according to the research team. When used at NIST to transmit laser light to trap ions (electrically charged atoms), the fibers reduce stray light and fluctuations in laser beam pointing and make it possible to transfer ultraviolet light between separate optical tables, the paper notes. The fibers also can help “clean up” misshapen beams, the researchers say.

The same NIST research group has achieved many “firsts” using trapped ions to demonstrate building blocks for quantum computers, which would use the exotic properties of the quantum world to solve problems considered intractable today.

* Y. Colombe, D.H. Slichter, A.C. Wilson, D. Leibfried and D.J. Wineland. Single-mode optical fiber for high-power, low-loss UV transmission. Optics Express, Vol. 22, Issue 16, pp. 19783-19793. Published online Aug. 8, 2014. DOI:10.1364/OE.22.019783.
** See 2010 NIST Tech Beat article, “Future of Hydrogen Fuel Flows Through New NIST Test Facility,” at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20100216.cfm#hydrogen.

Media Contact: Laura Ost, laura.ost@nist.gov, 303-497-4880

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It’s a Dynamic World, Now NIST Can Help You Measure Its Changes

Crash-test dummies, yarn-spinning machines and steel girders in bridges. What do they have in common? Look inside them all and you find transducers, devices that measure the forces that push, pull, weigh upon and slam into them. But transducers also have something in common: Until recently, it was difficult to calibrate them in all but the simplest sense. Now, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are changing that.

metrology collage
Credit: Photo collage by Talbott/NIST. Photos courtesy Fotolia***.

If you think of any device with moving parts, it’s likely that it’s larger, bulkier or heavier than it needs to be, and, therefore, probably requires more energy than it might. That’s because engineers have lacked a good way to accurately measure dynamic forces—those that change over time—and so they over-design to compensate. It is difficult to standardize manufacturing and testing processes because measurements made with different transducer models generally do not agree with each other. Fast-changing forces like the shock waves felt in explosions and crashes are particularly difficult to measure accurately.

“It’s surprising, but true; and it cuts across industries,” says NIST physicist Ako Chijioke. “Measuring static forces is fairly easy. But once they start to change, it gets hard—and the faster they change, the harder it gets. So for a long time, designers often have had to over-engineer machines to make sure they can handle what we ask of them.”

Chijioke has spent the past few years trying to solve this decades-old problem, and, with his colleagues, has recently finished building the first system* that would be widely available to industry that can put a transducer through enough paces to ensure that its force measurements are accurate. Its measurements are tied to the International System of Units (SI), and it is proving useful for exploring how well a transducer functions in a dynamic environment, and for a range of applications.

“Essentially, we place a transducer with a specific amount of weight on top of it onto our device, and then start shaking it,” Chijioke says. “We begin vibrating it at 10 times per second, then increase it till it reaches 2,000 times per second. Depending on how thorough a manufacturer wants us to be across a range of weights and frequencies, calibration takes between an hour to a few days.”

The new NIST system is similar to a system at the German national metrology institute** and others under development at a few other national metrology institutes, according to Chijioke. NIST intends to use the new system to create a dynamic calibration service that would be more convenient for American manufacturers, who could send their transducers directly to NIST for calibration.

“Calibration might, for example, improve the performance of complex machines that need to work together with others such as robot welders and manufacturing presses on assembly lines,” Chijioke says. “But our efforts are likely to have ramifications that we and industry are just beginning to consider. A lot of the issues related to dynamic metrology are currently being worked out, and the field is still developing.”

Companies interested in having NIST dynamically calibrate their transducers should contact Rick Seifarth at ricky.seifarth@nist.gov or (301) 975-6652.

*Chijioke spoke about his work at the NCSLI Conference at 11:30 a.m., July 29, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. Details at http://events.ncsli.org/e/WS/WSM.aspx?hkey=100a45f6-7ebd-4967-8db3-6b065cf32431&WebsiteKey=69731f61-5509-4ae3-9a5f-535d405c53b0&New_ContentCollectionOrganizerCommon=4#New_ContentCollectionOrganizerCommon
**Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, www.ptb.de/index_en.html
***Full Fotolia credits: Fotolia_41800044_largemeeting_©Alessandro_Capuzzo-Fotolia_com Fotolia_56649320_robotwelder_©svedoliver-Fotolia_com Fotolia_45763011_pistons2_©mediagram-Fotolia_com Fotolia_61687463_ironbridge_©kulikovv-Fotolia_com Fotolia_25345207_crashtest_dummy_©Dmitry_Vereshchagin-Fotolia_com Fotolia_55555468_piston_engine_©joel_420-Fotolia_com Fotolia_53969437_bridgesupports_©V_ZHURAVLEV-Fotolia_com

Media Contact: Chad Boutin, boutin@nist.gov, 301-975-4261

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NIST, IAPP Host Privacy Engineering Workshop in September 2014

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold its second Privacy Engineering Workshop in San Jose, Calif., Sept. 15 and 16, 2014. The event is co-sponsored by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and is part of NIST’s efforts to address the lack of well-developed models, technical standards and best practices in privacy risk management.

The workshop will focus on a set of draft privacy engineering objectives and a risk model that were developed by NIST using input from its first workshop on the subject, held in April 2014. That initial meeting attracted participants from a broad array of companies, advocacy groups, associations, government agencies and universities, among others. It explored the idea that dealing with privacy issues needed a framework for analysis analogous to those used in other fields.

“The first workshop revealed a communication gap between the legal and policy experts and the design and engineering teams that makes it difficult for organizations to manage privacy concerns effectively, understand risks and implement mitigating controls,” says Naomi Lefkovitz, senior privacy policy advisor at NIST. “The NIST privacy engineering work is an effort to bridge this gap. We want to help develop a privacy risk management framework that can help organizations get consistent and measurable results in privacy protection, and can help with the implementation of privacy principles such as the Fair Information Practice Principles.”

NIST’s draft privacy engineering objectives are predictability, manageability and confidentiality. They’re meant to be used in much the same way that cybersecurity experts design for the trio of confidentiality, integrity and availability. An analysis framework helps organizations manage risk, design system requirements, and evaluate their effectiveness at achieving these objectives.

The draft system privacy risk management model provides a proposed method for organizations to allocate resources and make informed choices about privacy in systems. It is intended to help them identify where controls can most effectively be implemented and facilitate steps to mitigate privacy risks.

“Finding a common set of terms and definitions is key to improving the maturity of the privacy conversation, the same way as it was to improving security,” says Suzanne Lightman, a senior information security advisor at NIST. “And while there are many sets of principles that address handling personal information, organizations and individuals still struggle to effectively communicate about privacy in the face of rapidly evolving technologies.”

The September workshop participants will consider these draft concepts and their input will help NIST develop a report on privacy engineering that the organizers hope will guide users, owners, developers and designers of information systems that handle personal information so they can make purposeful decisions about resource allocation and effective implementation of controls to decrease risks to privacy.

Access the privacy engineering objectives and risk model draft and register for the September workshop at www.nist.gov/itl/csd/privacy-engineering-workshop-september-15-16-2014.cfm.

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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NIST Ion Duet Offers Tunable Module for Quantum Simulator

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a pas de deux of atomic ions that combines the fine choreography of dance with precise individual control.

Andrew Wilson
Physicist Andrew Wilson in a NIST quantum information laboratory. NIST researchers have demonstrated fine control of two ions confined in separate zones of an electric-field trap, which is chilled to low temperatures in the silver chamber behind Wilson. The techniques will be useful in simulating complex quantum systems such as high-temperature superconductors.
Credit: Burrus/NIST
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NIST’s ion duet, described in the August 7 issue of Nature,* is a component for a flexible quantum simulator that could be scaled up in size and configured to model quantum systems of a complexity that overwhelms traditional computer simulations. Beyond simulation, the duet might also be used to perform logic operations in future quantum computers, or as a quantum-enhanced precision measurement tool.

In the experiments, researchers coaxed two beryllium ions located in separate zones of an electric-field trap (a storage device) into an “entangled” state. An important resource for quantum technologies, entanglement involves an intimate connection between the particles such that a measurement of one ordains the state of the other. This is the first time ions in separate zones have been entangled by manipulating their electric interactions, an important feature that could be used in quantum simulation and computing.

The work demonstrates a high level of quantum control with microfabricated trap technology well suited to the scaling-up needed to make powerful quantum information processors. Having separate trapping zones enabled the research team to tune the ions’ interactions from weak to strong—a feature expected to be useful for simulating the behavior of complex quantum materials.

“Even though the ions are confined apart from one another, we can now entangle them,” NIST physicist Andrew Wilson says. “We plan to use this for quantum simulation and computing, but when I explain to my family what we’re doing, the remote entanglement sounds kind of romantic.”

“We focus on the idea that everything needs to be scalable,” Wilson notes. “To do useful simulations we’ll need versatile traps with more than two ions, and making traps using the same technology used to make computer chips gives us this capability. NIST pioneered this approach and we’re fortunate to have great facilities for doing this sort of work.”

Inducing the ions to perform a number of intricate quantum dances, the researchers first coaxed the ions to exchange a single quantum of vibrational energy (the smallest amount that nature allows). They then used lasers and microwaves to entangle the ions’ “spins.” Analogous to tiny bar magnets, the spins of the entangled ions pointed in the same direction, but were also in a “superposition” of pointing in the opposite direction at the same time. Superposition is another strange but useful feature of the quantum world.

The researchers say that extending the new module to make a two-dimensional network of a few tens of ions would be enough to perform useful simulations of phenomena that are extremely difficult to model even on the most powerful traditional computers. An example is the high-temperature superconductitivity—electron flow without resistance—observed in certain ceramics. Despite more than 20 years of study, the underlying mechanism remains a mystery. A quantum simulator might provide deeper insights.

The ion duet also could be used to perform logic operations in quantum computers, which would have a wider range of applications than quantum simulators. And NIST researchers also envision the ion duet as a sensor, in which one well-controlled ion is used to investigate a second ion with interesting features. For instance, a beryllium ion might be used to probe a charged anti-matter particle in another trap zone, Wilson says.

This research was funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and the Office of Naval Research.

*A.C. Wilson, Y. Colombe, K.R. Brown, E. Knill, D. Leibfried and D.J. Wineland. Entangling spin-spin interactions of ions in individually controlled potential wells. Nature. August 7. DOI 10.1038/nature13565.

Media Contact: Laura Ost, laura.ost@nist.gov, 303-497-4880

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NIST Announces New Competition for Advanced Manufacturing Planning Awards

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a new competition for planning awards to support industry-driven consortia in developing research plans and charting collaborative actions to solve high-priority technology challenges and accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing in the United States.

NIST's Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program anticipates awarding a total of $5.6 million in two-year grants during the young program's second competition. Awards will range between about $250,000 and $500,000, subject to the availability of funds. Applications are due Oct. 31, 2014, and selections will be announced during the first half of 2015.

Teaming and partnerships that include broad participation by companies of all sizes, universities and government agencies, driven by industry, are encouraged. Nonprofit U.S. organizations as well as accredited institutions of higher education and state, tribal and local governments are eligible to apply for the program.

AMTech's goal is to spur consortia-planned and led research on long-term, precompetitive technology needs of U.S. manufacturing industries. The program aims to help eliminate barriers to advanced manufacturing capabilities and to promote domestic development of an underpinning technology infrastructure, including high-performing supply chains.

AMTech is designed to address a serious weakness in the nation's innovation ecosystem, an issue identified by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, among other bodies.

According to the NSTC, there is a gap between R&D activities and the deployment of technological innovations in the domestic production of goods, which is contributing significantly, for example, to the growing trade deficit in high-value-added, advanced-technology products.

In May 2014, the program conferred 19 advanced manufacturing technology planning awards totaling $9 million to new or existing industry-driven consortia. Of the 19 consortia that received awards, 11 are new efforts that are being launched with AMTech funding. Collaborations spanned a wide variety of industries and technologies, from flexible-electronics manufacturing to biomanufacturing and from pulp-and-paper manufacturing to forming and joining technologies.

Full details of the solicitation, including eligibility requirements, selection criteria, legal requirements and the mechanism for submitting proposals are found in an announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) posted at Grants.gov under funding opportunity number 2014-NIST-AMTECH-01.

Pre-applications are required for this AMTech competition and are due by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, Sept.5, 2014. Full applications must be received by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, Oct. 31, 2014.

NIST will host webinars on the AMTech funding opportunity on Aug. 7 and 14, 2014, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The events will offer guidance on the AMTech program and preparing proposals. Webinar participants will be able to ask questions. Advance registration is required. To register for the Aug. 7 webinar go to: www.nist.gov/amo/amtech-webinar.cfm. To register for the Aug. 14 webinar go to: www.nist.gov/amo/amtech-webinar-2.cfm.

The text of the FFO announcement also is available at www.nist.gov/amo/funding.cfm.

More information on the AmTech program is available at: www.nist.gov/amo.

Media Contact: Mark Bello, mark.bello@nist.gov, 301-975-3776

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MEP Launches Competition to Fund Manufacturing Centers in 10 States

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today opened a competition to award new cooperative funding agreements for its Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers in 10 states. The competition is the first in a multiyear effort to update the funding structure to better match needs with resources in MEP's network of 60 centers. The MEP centers help small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money.

The current competition will fund awards for centers in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The awards will provide half of each center's first-year operating funds, which the centers must match with funding from nonfederal sources. MEP anticipates awarding a total of nearly $26 million for the 10 centers.

"MEP has seen great success during its first 26 years of existence. This new award competition will allow us to continue to get the most out of our federal investment and better meet the changing needs of U.S. manufacturers," said Phil Singerman, acting MEP director and NIST associate director for Innovation and Industry Services.

Established in 1988, MEP is a public-private partnership that delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers. For every one dollar of federal investment, MEP helps businesses generate nearly $19 in new sales growth and $21 in new client investment. This translates into $2.2 billion in new sales annually. For every $1,978 of federal investment, MEP helps create or retain one manufacturing job.

Each MEP center works directly with area manufacturers to provide expertise and services tailored to their most critical needs, ranging from process improvement and workforce development to business practices and technology transfer. Through local and national resources, MEP centers have helped thousands of manufacturers reinvent themselves, increase profits, create jobs and establish a foundation for long-term business growth and productivity.

In March 2014, the Government Accountability Office released a report on MEP, recommending changes to its distribution of funds, which were allocated according to the award each center received when it was established as opposed to its current need. The competition announced today will give MEP the opportunity to reset the funding levels of these centers and reduce the variation in funding among them.

U.S.-based nonprofit institutions or organizations, including existing MEP centers, are eligible to participate in the competition.

This first competition will serve as a demonstration to ensure the process of re-competing all 60 centers will not disrupt the MEP system or degrade its performance. It also will allow for the testing and refinement of procedures, milestones and resource requirements.

The cooperative agreements have a five-year period of performance. Continued funding for the remaining years of each center's cooperative agreement will be awarded by MEP on a non-competitive basis, and may be adjusted higher or lower from year to year of the award, contingent upon satisfactory performance, continued relevance to the mission and priorities of the program, and the availability of funds. During the five-year period, the mandatory cost-share increases after the third renewal, up to a maximum two-thirds of the center's budget for year five and beyond.

MEP will host a webinar for interested parties approximately 14 business days from the release of the Federal Funding Opportunity. Details on the webinar will be available at http://www.nist.gov/mep/ffo_state-competitions.cfm. Full details on the competition and award process can be found at https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-18264.

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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Updated NIST Guide Provides Computer Security Assessment Procedures for Core Security Controls

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued for public comment a draft update of its primary guide to assessing the security and privacy controls that safeguard federal information systems and networks. Public comments are due by Sept. 26, 2014.

NIST publishes two complementary publications that together provide its basic guidance and recommendations for ensuring data security and privacy protection in federal information systems and organizations, a role assigned to NIST under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). The publications are so famous they are generally known just by their numbers.

The first, Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations (Special Publication 800-53), is an encyclopedic catalog, organized by function, of available methods or “controls” that can be established to safeguard an information system no matter how small or large. The fourth revision of SP 800-53 was issued in April 2013.*

The new updated guide is the companion work, Assessing Security and Privacy Controls in Federal Information Systems and Organizations: Building Effective Assessment Plans (SP 800-53A). If SP 800-53 is all about planning for appropriate controls to safeguard an information system, SP 800-53A is a methodology for determining how well you did. The draft revision of the assessment guide has been updated to keep it aligned with SP 800-53.

The guide, updated from the 2010 version of the document and reflecting current and future needs of federal agencies, provides new assessment procedures for the security controls in SP 800-53 and a new appendix for the assessment procedures currently under development for the privacy controls.

“We have made some significant changes to our security control assessment guidelines to support continuous monitoring and ongoing authorization” says Ron Ross, NIST Fellow and Joint Task Force Project Leader. “These changes can lead to greater efficiencies and cost-effective testing and evaluation of our critical information systems and supporting infrastructure.”

The guide gives organizations flexibility to define specific parts of security and privacy goals that require more scrutiny, tailor the scope and effort level required for assessments, assign assessment and monitoring frequencies on a more targeted basis, and conduct assessments of security or privacy capabilities.

“It also provides critical information to support root-cause failure analysis and initiatives such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program,” Ross adds.

The draft publication offers new naming conventions in a more structured format and syntax for assessment procedures that will aid industry as it develops automated assessment tools. Other improvements grew out of lessons learned from agencies using the Risk Management Framework.

“We have also begun the very important task of integrating privacy control assessments into the traditional security assessment guideline, anticipating the addition of privacy assessment procedures into the NIST publications soon,” Ross says.

This Joint Task Force publication is written for federal agencies and contractors, the Department of Defense and the Intelligence community.

The initial public draft of Assessing the Security and Privacy Controls in Federal Information Systems and Organizations, Building Effective Assessment Plans is available at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/PubsDrafts.html#800-53ar4. Public comments are requested by Sept. 26, 2014, and can be sent to sec-cert@nist.gov.

*See the April 2013 NIST Tech Beat story, “NIST Issues Major Revision of Core Computer Security Guide: SP 800-53” at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20130430.cfm#sp80053.

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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Registration Opens for the Next Cybersecurity Framework Workshop

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold a workshop on the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, Oct. 29 and 30, 2014, hosted by the Florida Center for Cybersecurity (FC2) located at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

The purpose of the Cybersecurity Framework Workshop is to gather input to help NIST understand stakeholder awareness of, and initial experiences with, the framework and related activities to support its use. The target audience is critical infrastructure owners and operators and cybersecurity staff, specifically those who have operational, managerial and policy experience and responsibilities for cybersecurity, technology and/or standards development for critical infrastructure companies.

The voluntary framework was released in February 2014 as directed by the President in Executive Order 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. It is based on existing standards, guidelines and practices and provides guidance for reducing cybersecurity risk for organizations within the critical infrastructure, such as in the energy or banking industries. The framework was developed in a year-long process in which NIST served as a convener for industry, academia and government stakeholders.

Since the framework was released, NIST has continued to reach out to stakeholders to raise awareness and encourage use of the framework and to collect feedback. These activities are outlined in an update on the framework, released today. The update summarizes progress in areas identified in the framework's accompanying Roadmap as needing additional development—where the needs of critical infrastructure owners and operators extend beyond existing standards, guidelines and practices. NIST also recently released a Cybersecurity Framework Reference Tool to help users navigate the framework.

In advance of the October meeting, NIST plans to issue a Request for Information to learn how companies and organizations are learning about and using the framework. NIST will seek input from individual critical infrastructure owners and operators of all sizes, as well as their representatives from sector and professional associations; federal agencies; state, local, territorial and tribal governments; standards development organizations; industry and consumer groups; and solution providers and other stakeholders.

The framework was envisioned as a "living" document that would be continually improved based on feedback from users' experiences and updated as changes in standards, guidelines and technology require. Upcoming workshops,the RFI and feedback submitted to cyberframework@nist.gov will help inform future versions.

To register for the October workshop, go to https://www-s.nist.gov/CRS/conf_disclosure.cfm?conf_id=7453.

Media Contact: Jennifer Huergo, jennifer.huergo@nist.gov, 301-975-6343

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