• The Russian connectionRefusal to accept reality of Russian hacking hobbles U.S. cyber defense efforts: Experts

    The evidence of a broad, systemic effort by Russian government hackers and disinformation specialists – on instructions from President Vladimir Putin — to undermine the U.S. electoral process and ensure a Trump victory in November 2016 is incontrovertible, and it is mounting. The evidence has not persuaded President Donald Trump, however. He cites Putin’s denial of the Russian cyber effort as a reason why he – Trump — does not trust the unanimous conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community. Cyber experts say that Trump’s refusal to accept the reality of the 2016 Russian government hacking and disinformation campaign is creating a dangerous policy vacuum. This vacuum, the security experts fear, is only encouraging more cyber warfare.

  • Law enforcementOptimal policing: When should the police use confrontational tactics?

    Citizens depend on police to provide public safety while maintaining the trust of the community. How can democratic societies balance these two, often conflicting, aims — given citizens’ often divergent views over basic tenets of criminal justice policy? Researchers outline a “formal model of optimal policing” that can be used to resolve tensions between public safety and community trust — and that also can help a public that is prone to privileging one over the other, depending on the circumstances, to keep both in mind.

  • Law enforcementWhy police reforms rarely succeed: Lessons from Latin America

    By Yanilda González

    Americans have mobilized extensively in the past three years against police brutality, militarization, and corruption through the Black Lives Matter and related movements. Government officials at the federal level have responded to these demands by creating specialized task forces to recommend best practices, and investigating troubled police departments and enforcing reforms. Courts have also worked to roll back unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policies, while city governments have created independent oversight agencies and enacted robust community policing programs. But will it stick? My research on police reform in Latin America shows that such reforms are highly vulnerable to political reversals. These cases reveal how they can be quickly rolled back before they can take hold and demonstrate results. Understanding the politics of police reform in Latin America may be informative for those who hope for changes in policing in the U.S.

  • CybersecurityApplied cybersecurity research for better protection of critical national infrastructure sectors

    DHS S&T awarded a five-year Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), with a maximum value of $70 million, to Arlington, Virginia-based Cyber Apex Solutions, LLC, to facilitate applied research of prototype cyberdefenses for critical national infrastructure sectors.

  • RailgunNavy’s railgun ready for operational demos

    The U.S. Navy announced that its electromagnetic railgun is out of the laboratory and ready for field demonstrations. The revolutionary railgun relies on a massive electrical pulse, rather than gunpowder or other chemical propellants, to launch projectiles at distances over 100 nautical miles—and at speeds that exceed Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. That velocity allows projectiles to rely on kinetic energy for maximum effect, and reduces the amount of high explosives needed on ships.

  • Helium supplyUpdating a nearly 100-year-old law could shore up U.S. helium supply

    Helium is essential for MRIs, the fiber optics that deliver images to our TVs, scientific research, and of course, party balloons. In the past decade, helium prices have sky-rocketed due to supply shortages. But if small updates are made to an old law, the United States could boost its domestic helium output and help keep critical medical tests and electronics running.

  • Energy securityClimate change threatens European electricity production

    The vulnerability of the European electricity sector to changes in water resources is set to worsen by 2030 as a consequence of climate change. Thermoelectric power stations—including coal, gas, and nuclear plants—use significant amounts of fresh water for cooling purposes. A large gas power station can use an Olympic-sized swimming pool of water per minute. If water is not available, or if it is too warm, power stations have to reduce electricity production, or cease production completely.

  • Recommended readingU.S. cyber apathy; ISIS turns on Ian; Privacy at the border, and more

    U.S. cyber diplomacy has bigger problems than the closure of its coordination office; ISIS turns its guns — and propaganda machine — on Iran; Crossing the U.S. border? Here’s how to securely wipe your computer; Surveillance: German police ready to hack WhatsApp messages; Here’s how DoD organizes its cyber warrior; Congress urged to find ways to move families trapped’ in homes that flood repeatedly; 100,000 pages of chemical industry secrets gathered dust in an Oregon barn for decades — until now.

  • TerrorismEU's highest court keeps Hamas on EU terror list

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) earlier today (Wednesday) has rejected a request to take the Palestinian militant group Hamas off the EU’s list of terrorist organizations. The tribunal has referred the case back to a lower court. The decision overturns a 2014 ruling by the EU’s second-highest court to remove Hamas from the EU’s terror watch-list.

  • Illegal armsU.S. weapons main source of trade in illegal arms on the Dark Web

    New report, based on first-ever study, looks at the size and scope of the illegal arms trade on the dark web. European purchases of weapons on the dark web generate estimated revenues five times higher than the U.S. purchases. The dark web’s potential to anonymously arm criminals and terrorists, as well as vulnerable and fixated individuals, is “the most dangerous aspect.”

  • Surveillance“Stalking software”: Surveillance made simpler

    The controversial Snap Map app enables Snapchat users to track their friends. The app makes it possible for users to monitor their friends’ movements, and determine – in real time – exactly where their posts are coming from (down to the address). Many social media users expressed their indignation, referring to the app as “stalking software.” This is the latest in a series of monitoring tools to be built on social media platforms. A new study assesses the benefits and risks associated with their use.

  • SurveillanceThe real costs of cheap surveillance

    By Jonathan Weinberg

    Surveillance used to be expensive. Even just a few years ago, tailing a person’s movements around the clock required rotating shifts of personnel devoted full-time to the task. Not any more, though. Governments can track the movements of massive numbers of people by positioning cameras to read license plates, or by setting up facial recognition systems. Private companies’ tracking of our lives has also become easy and cheap too. Advertising network systems let data brokers track nearly every page you visit on the web, and associate it with an individual profile. It is worth thinking about all of this more deeply. U.S. firms – unless they’re managed or regulated in socially beneficial ways – have both the incentive and the opportunity to use information about us in undesirable ways. We need to talk about the government’s enacting rules constraining that activity. After all, leaving those decisions to the people who make money selling our data is unlikely to result in our getting the rules we want.

  • JammingTesting tactics for mitigating jamming

    Jamming devices are illegal, and may delay emergency response times, escalate hazardous situations, or result in loss of life. Nearly 100 federal, state, and local public safety and private organizations gathered last week to test tactics and technologies to identify, locate, and mitigate illegal jamming of communications systems, such as GPS, radio, and wireless systems.

  • Animal diseaseA case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) discovered in Alabama

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week announced an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a neurologic disease of cattle, in an eleven-year old cow in Alabama. This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States. BSE is not contagious and exists in two types — classical and atypical. Classical BSE is the form that occurred primarily in the United Kingdom, beginning in the late 1980s, and it has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people.

  • FloodsTroubled flood insurance program traps homeowners in flood-prone areas

    The U.S. flood insurance program has repeatedly rebuilt some of the most flood-prone properties in the country, unintentionally setting a trap for owners of modest homes who would prefer to move out of harm’s way, according to a new national report. Today it is thousands of properties, but climate change and rising sea levels threaten to flood millions of properties in the coming decades. For every $100 the nation spends to rebuild homes with national flood insurance funds, FEMA spends just $1.72 to better protect people by moving them to safer, less flood-prone land.

  • Coastal perilShifting storms threaten once placid areas with extreme waves, extensive damage

    The world’s most extensive study of the impacts of coastal storm fronts in a changing climate has found that rising seas are no longer the only threat. The study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognized danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before.

  • Recommended readingIran’s cyberthreat; surviving tsunamis in the U.S.; floating islands off Louisiana, and more

    The Iranian cyberthreat is real; If Trump undermines the Iran deal; Could private flood insurance be cheaper than the NFIP? Surviving a tsunami in the United States; The floating islands of south Louisiana? Could be an option as sea rises; The future of fake news: don’t believe everything you read, see or hear; How do you work out if a signal from space is a message from aliens?

  • SurveillanceMinority Report? Wisc. company replaces ID cards, badges with microchips implants

    River Falls, Wisconsin-based technology company Three Square Market has become one of the first in the world to implant microchips in staff so they can clock-in or enter secure areas by waving their arm instead of using swipe cards or ID badges. The implanted microchip would also allow employees to order food at the cafeteria and open the parking garage doors. They can also log in to their computer without a password.

  • The Russian connectionNew questions in Russia probe

    “It has become clear that the Russian intention was to attempt to enter into a collaborative or cooperative relationship with the Trump campaign in order to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign to their mutual benefit,” a former CIA official says. “To that end, the Russian government employed hacking activity to collect information and then embarked on an ambitious intelligence operation to leak that information to Trump’s advantage and to Clinton’s detriment. The question that remains, and is most important to answer, is did the Trump campaign willfully accept this assistance from the Russian government and enter into a conspiracy to benefit the campaign?” the former official said. “I would say it’s the most consequential Russian intelligence operation in my lifetime in terms of the attempted scope of their intention to penetrate our domestic politics and influence an American election. I can’t recall a precedent where they were that ambitious and that aggressive in pursuing that kind of goal. It’s hard to imagine that they would have done so with a completely unwilling partner.”

  • African securitySelf-help vigilante groups are reshaping security against Boko Haram

    By Chukwuma Al Okoli

    Boko Haram militants have killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million others in north east Nigeria since 2009. The militants left government and its security forces looking powerless and people in the region helpless. No place was safe. Rather than flee, join the insurgents, or risk being killed, some chose a fourth option – self- defense. People began to organize into emergency community vanguards to defend themselves. The involvement of vigilantes in counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria has been a subject of contentious debate. It’s apparent that they have contributed to improving security for some communities. But there are also concerns that in the long run they could pose a threat given their heavy-handed approach. Examples include extra-judicial killings, violation of human rights, extortion and criminal impunity.

  • CybersecurityPetya variant hobbles European businesses

    In the wake of May’s WannaCry attack, which affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, a fast-moving malware malware outbreak was reported 27 June at targets in Spain, France, Ukraine, Russia, and other countries. The attack infected large banks, law firms, shipping companies, and even the Chernobyl nuclear facility in the Ukraine. The new malware is thought to be a variant of Petya, a wiper malware designed to destroy systems and data with no hope of recovery.

  • CybersecurityCybercrime fighting tool moves from government to private sector

    Some Department of Energy facilities experience thousands of attempted cyberattacks every day. But the FLOWER software app, developed and patented by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has been used by other tools and cyber analysts to detect, deter, and mitigate coordinated attacks.