Press Club

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Hacks of infrastructure are on the rise, according to Ballston-based cyber security company Fend, which says the newly passed infrastructure bill with “unprecedented” cybersecurity spending couldn’t come at a better time.

Within the last year, criminals have realized that the business of holding billion-dollar infrastructure systems for ransom is a lucrative one, says Fend’s CEO and Founder Colin Dunn. Companies and government agencies work together to rustle up the ransom sum and put a halt to the chaos these attacks cause, such as the long lines at the pump after the Colonial Pipeline hack.

“They’re out for the money,” Dunn said. “It wasn’t until this year that they realized, ‘Oh, you can hold a pipeline company for ransom and everyone’s going to be really angry.’ I think we’re going to see more of it. Attackers are seeing how weakly defended these major major assets are.”

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill, signed into law last week, includes nearly $2 billion for cybersecurity. About $1 billion will go to state, local, tribal and territorial governments to modernize their systems to deter cyber attacks; $100 million will support a cyber response and recovery fund accessible to private-sector owners of critical infrastructure; and $21 million will go toward staffing the Office of the National Cyber Director, according to a U.S. Senate press release.

Dunn is encouraged by the allocation, as well as similar allocations in the American Rescue Plan Act.

“This is really unprecedented,” Dunn said. “I think the administration has seen these attacks, like the one on Colonial Pipeline… and they’re taking it really seriously, knowing that’s a threat that our enemies and criminals can hold over us — hold billion-dollar assets for ransom.”

Colin Dunn of Fend at an expo this year (courtesy photo)

Having the conversation now — when new infrastructure is set to be built — means that cybersecurity can be embedded from the beginning, rather than retroactively applied after an attack, he says.

“So much of the infrastructure that we are seeing fall under attack… we’ve had to apply cybersecurity way after these facilities were brought online. Now we’re talking about doing that up front,” he said. “Baking that early in the conversation is a big step forward and will be good for our security overall.”

The bill could be a boon for Arlington, which is home not to numerous cybersecurity companies, but also to “big players in energy,” he says. It emphasizes cybersecurity workforce development, which could be good news for a state and region focused on creating a pipeline of tech workers.

“There’s pretty much zero unemployment in cybersecurity, and expanding that nationwide is going to be really important, and here, where it’s a stronghold,” he said.

The bill does include a preference for U.S.-made goods and services, such as Fend’s cybersecurity products, which Dunn says will be helpful for supporting American businesses rather than the great deal of overseas competition.

He said he hopes the spending helps protect the U.S.’s growing renewable energy facilities, such as the solar farms that Fend secures. Securing renewable energy has long been one of Dunn’s priorities.

“If we lose our renewables, we’ll go back to burning more fossil fuels,” he said.

In this new world of infrastructure hacks, Fend has gained traction and business, Dunn says.

Most recently, Fend — located at 4600 Fairfax Drive in Ballston — announced a partnership with Federal Resources Corporation, allowing Fend’s products to be sold to more government agencies, such as the Department of Defense. That’s fitting, he says, because government funding helped Fend get started.

“Between them and NASA, there’s lots of funding flowing, which helps make the product readily accessible,” he said.

Earlier this year, Fend completed some additional fundraising and attained its third patent, he added.

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Morning Notes

Raindrops and leaves in Rosslyn (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Biden Visits Arlington for Vets Day — “President Joe Biden saluted the nation’s military veterans as ‘the spine of America’ on Thursday as he marked his first Veterans Day as president in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.” [WTOP]

Wet Roads Leading to Crashes — From the Washington Weather Geeks: “Please be careful out there this morning! Multiple crashes have been reported in and around the region. Wet [leaves] on the roads will help cause more hazards this morning. Slow down!” [Twitter]

Jury Duty Reminder — “Juror questionnaires were mailed in the form of a postcard with a website link in early August to 35,000 randomly selected residents of Arlington County and Falls Church City. Not everyone was chosen to receive the questionnaire. If you did not receive a postcard, there is nothing you need to do. These Questionnaires are used to qualify residents for jury duty which begins January 1, 2022, and ends December 31, 2022.” [Arlington County]

‘Missing Middle’ Study Update — “The most recent update revealed community support for the housing affordability, diversity, and supply that missing middle housing would bring. Competing concerns from homeowners have arisen regarding flooding, tree loss, and strain on infrastructure; though ultimately, existing patterns of development mean these issues already exist under the status quo.” [GGWash]

‘Spirit of Community’ Honorees — “As Arlington Community Foundation marks three decades of service this fall, this year’s Spirit of Community will honor three extraordinary people who embody Arlington’s Spirit of Community, Advocacy, and Volunteerism. In addition to recognizing these three extraordinary individuals, the program will feature Arlington youth and business leaders who have stepped up to meet the historic challenges of the last two years in inspiring and innovative ways.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

Lots of Ladybugs Around Area — “Multicolored Asian lady beetles are swarming in large numbers across the Mid-Atlantic because of late fall warmth. Also called ladybird beetles, this type of ladybug smells bad, can bite you and, if you squish it, produces a messy, yellow stain. This is another invasive insect that has found a home in our area.” [Capital Weather Gang]

WaPo’s Winter Forecast — “Overall, temperatures should work out close to average. Snow lovers are unlikely to be pleased as we’re projecting below-average amounts for the fifth time in the past six winters. We do, however, think we’ll top last winter’s snow totals… Alexandria, Arlington and Prince George’s counties and the District: 8 to 14 inches.” [Capital Weather Gang]

It’s Friday — Today there will be rain and storms until about 10 a.m., then gradually clearing through this evening. Sunrise at 6:48 a.m. and sunset at 4:56 p.m. Tomorrow there will be a chance of showers between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., otherwise it will be mostly sunny and breezy, with gusts up to 23 mph. Sunday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 51.

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On a gusty, very brisk fall evening, President Joe Biden once again visited Arlington to campaign for Terry McAuliffe.

“You don’t need to imagine how great a governor Terry McAuliffe will be because you know how great a governor he was,” Biden said, standing next to a basketball court at Virginia Highlands Park near Pentagon City.

With only a week until the general election and the former — and possibly future — governor clinging to a very narrow lead in polls over his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin, it certainly is notable that Biden is making his second Arlington appearance alongside McAuliffe in three months.

“The fact that he’s doubled down on McAuliffe is either a great sign or an ominous sign, depending on which side of the aisle you fall on,” Arlington Heights resident Tony Yang mused as he stood in the security line waiting to enter the event.

After McAuliffe made his remarks, Biden walked on the stage just after 8 p.m. and spoke for about 17 minutes. He spoke of McAuliffe’s record of Democratic leadership, often comparing Youngkin to former President Trump, and vouching for the Build Back Better plan that he’s trying to get passed in Congress.

He even dropped a specific Arlington reference about the planned new rail bridge that would replace the 117-year-old Long Bridge.

Biden also cracked the same joke he did in July about McAuliffe possibly being First Lady Jill Biden’s boss, due to her being a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, part of the state’s community college system.

Afterwards, the president did a photo line with a number of elected officials and candidates, while also taking selfies with a number of attendees near the stage.

The crowd — estimated by the White House at 2,500 people — was somewhat subdued throughout the nearly hour and a half event, perhaps due to the wind gusts and temperatures dipping into the low 50s.

Security was somewhat tight, though that didn’t stop Biden’s remarks being interrupted at least three times by protestors relating to the Line 3 pipeline, citizenship, and another matter that wasn’t immediately clear.

Prior to the event and outside of the park, a few Youngkin supporters made their case for their candidate while someone waved a giant Trump flag. There were also several PETA protesters dressed in blow-up dinosaur costumes to criticize the National Institutes of Health and the Biden administration for conducting experiments on animals.

The Younkin supporters, including Arlington GOP Communications Director Matthew Hurtt, could be seen holding signs saying “Virginia Runs on Youngkin” and “More Like Terry McAwful.”

Besides Biden and McAuliffe, a who’s who of Virginia Democrats spoke Tuesday evening in support of the ticket: Senator Tim Kaine, Rep. Don Beyer, Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn, lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala, Attorney General Mark Herring (who didn’t mention his lawsuit against Advanced Towing), current governor Ralph Northam, and Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti.

“Donald Trump is on the ballot next Tuesday,” said de Ferranti, also attaching Youngkin to Trump.

For some, having an event of this nature featuring a sitting U.S. president in their neighborhood was an experience that couldn’t be missed.

“It’s not a common thing that there’s a rally for a candidate you support is, literally, right by your house,” said Hania Basat, who lives in Pentagon City. “To have the president too, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Shelly Quintanilla agreed. She lives in Pentagon City with her husband and two young sons, ages six and one. For her, this rally was a chance to show democracy in action.

“We were really excited for the learning opportunity for the kids,” she said. “It’s better than school to learn about the president, the government, and our chance to get involved.”

For others, though, seeing the president — who arrived and departed via motorcade over the 14th Street Bridge — wasn’t that big of a deal.

“We have senators, congressmen, and Al Gore. He used to live up [there],” said Jim Kohlmoos, referring to the former vice president’s one-time residence in the nearby Arlington Ridge neighborhood. “We’re pretty much used to all of this.”

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Morning Notes

Rainy morning in Courthouse (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Candidate Questioned About Age — “Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement, who previously told news outlets that she is in her early 50s, appears to be two decades older, according to government records. When asked about the discrepancy, Clement, a perennial candidate who largely has self-funded her independent campaigns for local office, said that asking for her age amounted to discrimination and violated her right to privacy.” [Washington Post]

Road Closures for Biden Event — “On Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, President Joe Biden will attend a special event at Virginia Highlands Park, located at 1600 S. Hayes Street in Arlington. The event will take place from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The public can anticipate large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event… All road closures are anticipated to be lifted by 10 p.m.” [ACPD]

DARPA Building Sold — “The home of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is under new ownership. An affiliate of Cleveland-based Boyd Watterson Asset Management has acquired the 13-story, 355,000-square-foot building at 675 N. Randolph St. in Ballston for $196.5 million, according to public records. An affiliate of the Shooshan Cos., which developed the building a decade ago, was the seller.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Name Change Celebration — “It’s now been 101 years, but that’s not going to stop the Arlington County government from celebrating the 100th anniversary of its current name. County officials expect to hold a celebration of the switch from ‘Alexandria County’ to ‘Arlington County’ on Friday, Nov. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lubber Run Community Center.” [Sun Gazette]

Marymount to Promote ‘Racial Healing’ — “In the latest example of Marymount University’s commitment to raising awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion issues, the institution has been selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to host a new Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center.” [Marymount University]

County Seeking Design Award Nominees — “Arlington County’s biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, is accepting submissions for great design in architectural, historic preservation, landscape and public art projects through December 6, 2021.” [Arlington County]

It’s Tuesday — It’s going to be a windy day. A slight chance of showers between 8am and noon today. Partly sunny, with a high near 65 and a northwest wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to 18 to 23 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 37 mph into the evening hours. Sunrise at 7:29 a.m. and sunset at 6:14 p.m. Tomorrow it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 68 and more gusty winds.

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President Joe Biden and Virginia governor candidate Terry McAuliffe at Lubber Run Community Center in July (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) President Biden is coming back to Arlington.

Like he did in July, Biden will be campaigning with Terry McAuliffe, who’s in the home stretch of his campaign for a second term in the Virginia governor’s mansion. The Democratic campaign event is scheduled to take place from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street) near Pentagon City.

Those registering to attend must attest to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. No signs are permitted at the event, says the RSVP page.

Biden previously campaign with McAuliffe at Lubber Run Park near Ballston.

McAuliffe will face off against his GOP opponent, Glenn Youngkin, in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Early voting is currently underway and taking place through Saturday, Oct. 30. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is tomorrow (Oct. 22).

McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014-2018, will also be coming to Arlington tomorrow. The Friday event to kick off his bus tour of the Commonwealth is scheduled to take place from 8:45-10 a.m. outside county government headquarters at Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd).

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(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A day after declaring that vaccine booster shots were “not currently available,” Arlington started offering them.

“On Tuesday, August 17, Arlington County Public Health will begin offering an additional, or third, dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) to certain immunocompromised people,” Arlington County announced yesterday in a press release. “This follows FDA’s amended Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and the CDC’s adoption of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation.”

The vaccine booster shots are only available to those who attest that they qualify for them due to being moderately or severely immunocompromised. Those receiving the shots must also have already received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, with the last dose administered at least four weeks ago.

While currently restricted to only certain vulnerable individuals, booster shots are set to become widely available — and encouraged — this fall.

From NBC News:

Top U.S. health officials announced Wednesday that the country has developed a plan to start offering Covid-19 booster shots to all Americans beginning the third week of September, citing evidence that protection is waning not only against hospitalization and death, but also mild and moderate infections, as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread.

Arlington County, meanwhile, has been upgraded to an area of “high” community spread of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The local transmission rate was deemed “substantial” by the CDC a couple of weeks ago.

As of Tuesday, neighboring Fairfax County and Alexandria were still seeing only “substantial” community transmission, a lower classification than “high,” according to the CDC website.

Arlington is recording about 33 new cases per day, or 14 daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to a 7-day moving average published this morning by Virginia Dept. of Health.

More on the booster shots, below, from the Arlington County press release.

People who are immunocompromised should speak to their healthcare provider to help decide if they would benefit from an additional dose. Moderately to severely immunocompromised people include those who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
  • Individuals will be asked to self-attest (confirm) as having a qualifying condition at the time of vaccination.

Bring your vaccination card with you so your provider can fill in the information about your additional dose. Keep your vaccination card in case you need it for future use and consider taking a picture of your vaccination card as a backup copy.

At this time, an additional dose of vaccine is not approved for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or people who are fully vaccinated and not immunocompromised. The FDA and CDC continue to review evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of an additional dose for these individuals.

Arlington County encourages everyone 12 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine, especially those who are immunocompromised or have close contact with immunocompromised persons. Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) will only be offering additional doses for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals at the Arlington Mill Community Center and Walter Reed Community Center clinics; they will not be available at field missions or “pop-up” events at this time.

Free walk-in and scheduled appointments are available at ACPHD’s clinics. Additional opportunities can be found at vaccines.gov; confirm with individual providers the availability of additional, or third, doses.

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(Updated at 10:15 p.m.) President Joe Biden paid a visit to Arlington and the recently-renovated Lubber Run Park, in support of Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia gubernatorial bid.

A crowd of just under 3,000 well-wishers assembled feet from the doors of the Lubber Run Community Center, near Ballston, which just opened to the public earlier this month after serving as a vaccination site.

Biden’s motorcade arrived at the park at 6:50 p.m., after speeding past restaurants and onlookers in Arlington, according to a White House press pool report. There were “a couple dozen protesters” of various stripes outside the event, including those against fracking, oil pipelines, and abortion.

After arriving, Biden spoke with a group of DACA recipients, met with McAuliffe, and took photos with numerous state and local officials. He took the stage around 8 p.m. and spoke for about 30 minutes, highlighting his agreement with McAuliffe on just about every every issue.

The president talked about jobs, increasing the minimum wage, and veteran assistance, while also criticizing McAuliffe’s Republican opponent in the race, Glenn Youngkin. He also expressed concern about rising Covid numbers.

Biden complimented current Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam efforts in helping to “get shots in arms,” but said there’s still work to be done.

“What we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Biden said.

The president also noted, if McAuliffe is elected, he would once again be the First Lady Jill Biden’s boss, due to her being a professor at Northern Virginia Community College.

As the president spoke, uniformed Secret Service members with large binoculars watched over the crowd from the roof of the community center. At least one helicopter also buzzed overhead.

At one point, a group of hecklers started shouting something about a pipeline.

“This is not a Trump rally,” Biden said, according to the pool report. “Let ’em holler. No one’s paying attention.”

Prior to Biden and McAuliffe speaking, Dr. Leonard N. Smith, Senior Minister of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Green Valley, gave an invocation. McAuliffe later came out to Mark Morrison’s 1996 hit Return of the Mack before speaking for about 15 minutes. (“Returnofthemack” was also the event’s WiFi password.)

Other speakers included a bevy of Democrats: Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn, lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala, Attorney General Mark Herring, Northam and Rep. Don Beyer.

Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti, County Board members Takis Karantonis and Katie Cristol, Arlington School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen, School Board member Monique O’Grady, Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, and Del. Alfonso Lopez were also in attendance.

“Welcome to Arlington, the healthiest county in Virginia,” Beyer, Arlington’s representative in Congress, declared when he spoke.

This, of course, isn’t the first — nor, likely, the last — time Biden has come across the Potomac, but this is the first time many locals can remember a president has come to their neighborhood.

Ray Payton lives in Buckingham and grew up nearby, graduating from Yorktown High School.

“I don’t know when a president has come to the neighborhood before,” Payton said earlier in the evening. “And I’ve been here all of my life.”

Balvinder Sehmi lives just a few doors down from the community center, in a house she’s lived in for 47 years. This is also the only insistence she can remember of a president stopping by.

“I’m surprised he’s here,” she said excitedly, above the din of the crowd. “I’m going to tell people he was at my house.”

Read More

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Morning Notes

Road Closures for Biden Event — “The public can anticipate large crowds and increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area related to the event. The following road closures will begin at 1:00pm: Park Drive from N. George Mason Drive to 3rd Street N., 3rd Street N. from N. Park Drive to N. Columbus Street. During the event, the following closure will also be in effect: George Mason Drive from N. Carlin Springs Road to N. Henderson Road.” [Arlington County]

Mahjong Bar Coming to Pentagon City — “Lo and Bun’d Up founder Scott Chung are taking the idea of post-dinner games one step further for their next business venture: Sparrow Room, a mahjong parlor and speakeasy-style dim sum bar tucked away behind Bun’d Up at Pentagon Row. During the day, patrons order Taiwanese-style gua bao stuffed with fried chicken or bulgogi beef at the fast-casual restaurant. Come evening, they can head to the dimly-lit, 42-seat bar for mahjong games, cocktails, and dim sum-style fare.” [Washingtonian]

In-Person Speakers Outnumber Virtual — “Two months after the Arlington County Board resumed in-person meetings, it appears members of the public are more comfortable showing up to voice their opinions. Of the 18 people signed up for the County Board’s July 17 ‘citizen comment’ portion kicking off the meeting, 13 were in-person speakers, the remainder checking in via Internet.” [Sun Gazette]

Fire Union Asks for Recognition — From the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association, following the County Board authorizing collective bargaining with employee groups: “Start the collective bargaining process. We have petitioned the county to recognize us as the union representing all firefighters and paramedics in Arlington.” [Press Release, Twitter]

Flights Still Down at DCA — “The number of scheduled outbound passenger flights departing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in the third quarter of 2021 is expected to be down 35 percent from the same period in 2019 – among the biggest sustained downturns in the nation, but still a sign of incremental progress.” [Sun Gazette]

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President Joe Biden and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will be holding a “grassroots event” near Ballston on Friday.

The campaign event is being held at Lubber Run Park, next to the new Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive). Gates are slated to open at 5 p.m. for members of the public who RSVPed online to attend.

“President Biden and Terry will discuss Virginia Democrats’ commitment to creating good paying jobs, making health care more affordable and giving every Virginia child a world class education,” the McAuliffe campaign said in a press release.

The location was not initially revealed when the event was first announced last week.

McAuliffe, who formerly served as governor prior from 2014 to 2018, captured the Democratic nomination for another term last month. He is running against Republican nominee and businessman Glenn Youngkin.

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President Joe Biden is planning a visit to Arlington next week.

Biden will be visiting the county on Friday with former Virginia governor and current Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, according to McAuliffe’s campaign.

“On Friday, July 23, President Joe Biden will host a grassroots event with Terry McAuliffe in Arlington, Virginia,” says an RSVP page for the event. “President Biden and Terry will discuss Terry’s commitment to creating good-paying jobs, making health care more affordable, and giving every Virginia child a world-class education.”

The exact time and location of the campaign event has not been revealed.

https://twitter.com/TerryMcAuliffe/status/1416118997217579022

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) President Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery this afternoon.

A week after the First Lady visited a nonprofit in Clarendon that supports military families, Biden is visiting Section 60 of the nation’s most hallowed ground, where servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.

The visit immediately followed a speech at the White House in which Biden said all remaining U.S. forces will be withdrawing from Afghanistan, starting Saturday, May 1. The withdraw is expected to be complete by Sept. 11.

Some roads near the cemetery, including the Memorial Bridge, were temporarily closed due to the presidential motorcade. The president arrived at the cemetery around 3 p.m. and departed about 20 minutes later.

During the brief visit, Biden walked past a row of headstones carrying an unopened umbrella, the grass wet amid a light rain. He saluted a wreath and said of the many headstones, “it’s hard to believe, isn’t it?”

He expressed amazement at the sacrifice of those “prepared to give their lives for their country,” generation after generation, and said in response to a reporter’s question that it was not a hard decision to end America’s longest war.

“For me it was absolutely clear,” the president said.

File photo

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