FAIRMONT — West Virginia-based technology services firm TMC Technologies is getting the chance to expand its cybersecurity expertise and workforce thanks to a recent award to develop a Cyber Security Simulation Environment project for the NASA Independent Validation and Verification program in Fairmont.
TMC Vice President Randy Hefner said the development and information assurance work will give NASA IV&V a unique tool to quickly and more efficiently identify cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
“NASA’s involved now to make sure the communications are robust and not easily challenged between ground and space systems,” Hefner said.
Six people are supporting the Cyber Security Simulation Environment project, hosted for use in the NASA IV&V Jon McBride Software and Testing Research Lab, Hefner said.
The team is led by TMC Program Manager Scott Zemerick, who said the project’s main goal will be to create virtual cyber-attacks on NASA spacecraft.
“This will help the IV&V program to assess the security of NASA spacecraft and ground systems while also providing personnel with their own ‘spacecraft’ for attacking and keeping safe,” Zemerick said. “IV&V security personnel will form teams responsible for hardening and securing the spacecraft from attack and responsible for launching attacks against the simulated spacecraft to help identify real-life vulnerabilities.”
The simulation project TMC is developing for NASA, according to Zemerick, could be duplicated for both government and private needs, which he and Hefner hope will lead to further growth for the Fairmont tech firm.
“Even though our first focus is spacecraft, the cybersecurity concepts, fundamentals and practicality also apply to any complex system that has an important and critical asset,” Zemerick said. “Other examples would include unmanned aerial vehicles, which include similar software components as a spacecraft and are commanded from ground software systems that need to be secure.”
The latest project in cybersecurity is not the first for TMC.
In 2015, the company established its Information Assurance Division to support the growing need for cybersecurity support services for the federal government. Since then, Hefner said, TMC has performed cyberwork for the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg. He said that effort spans operations and maintenance activities for the division’s systems, cloud storage initiatives and TMC prime contracts for Use of Force and Electronic Departmental Order agile application development projects.
“We have actually grown that work both at NASA and FBI, and now it’s starting to come to fruition,” Hefner said.
The company’s cyberwork has even expanded to support the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) information technology infrastructure in Morgantown. Hefner said Monday was the first day for TMC’s newest hire: NETL’s cybersecurity area manager
“This is the key cyber position at the NETL,” Hefner said. “He’ll oversee both the operational aspects of cyber, which is vulnerabilities, writing up incident reports, as well as making sure new applications and the infrastructure is hardened so there aren’t any major issues.”
Hefner said nearly 10 percent of TMCs workforce is supporting cybersecurity projects for NASA IV&V, FBI CJIS and now the NETL.
“We are excited about the continued growth of our Information Assurance activities and the increasing number of subject matter experts joining TMC,” TMC President and Chief Executive Officer L. Wade Linger said. “This Information Assurance growth is giving us a larger footprint in an important market here in North Central West Virginia and across the nation.”