Homeland Security Newswire |

  • The Russian connectionLawmaker demands answers about Russian cyberattacks on electric utilities

    In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that in 2016 and 2017, hackers backed by the Russian government successfully penetrated the U.S. electric grid through hundreds of power companies and third-party vendors. Russian hackers gained access to control rooms, putting them in a position to disrupt U.S. power flow.

  • CybersecurityDark shadow on computer security

    Researchers have uncovered Foreshadow, a new variant of the hardware vulnerability Meltdown announced earlier in the year, that can be exploited to bypass Intel Processors’ secure regions to access memory and data. The vulnerability affects Intel’s Software Guard Extension (SGX) technology, a new feature in modern Intel CPUs which allows computers to protect users’ data in a secure ‘fortress’ even if the entire system falls under an attacker’s control.

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  • CybersecurityMore efficient security for cloud-based machine learning

    By Rob Matheson

    A novel encryption method devised by MIT researchers secures data used in online neural networks, without dramatically slowing their runtimes. This approach, a combination based on two encryption techniques,  holds promise for using cloud-based neural networks for medical-image analysis and other applications that use sensitive data.

  • The Russia connectionPeter Smith's money trail

    Peter Smith, a GOP donor and operative who killed himself in May 2017 after a short illness, was determined to obtain Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. He believed Russian government hackers had them. Buzzfeed News reports that Northern Trust, where Smith had a personal bank account, turned over ti the Justice Department documents showing 88 suspicious cash withdrawals totaling about $140,000 between January 2016 and April 2017. The FBI and Senate Intelligence Committee investigators suspect Smith used some of the cash to fund his Clinton email operation and pay the Russian government hackers.

  • PoliceDisproportionate killing of black men by police

    Bad policing, bad law, not “bad apples”: Killings of unarmed black men by white police officers across the nation have garnered massive media attention in recent years, raising the question: Do white law enforcement officers target minority suspects? An extensive, new national study reveals some surprising answers. Analysis of every use of deadly force by police officers across the United States indicates that the killing of black suspects is a police problem, not a white police problem, and the killing of unarmed suspects of any race is extremely rare.

  • SuperbugsPlugging an antibiotic pump

    Each year in the U.S., at least 23,000 people die from infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. Using computer modeling, researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are helping to develop the means to prevent some of those deaths.

  • PandemicsThree reasons the U.S. is not ready for the next pandemic

    By Christine Crudo Blackburn, Andrew Natsios, and Gerald W. Parker

    In the midst of a pandemic, decisions must be made quickly. Quick decision-making can often be hindered by the absence of high-level leadership. The need for high-level leadership, coordination and a new strategy are essential to mitigate the threat of pandemics, but these fundamental pandemic preparedness gaps persist. The next great pandemic is coming. The true question is: Will we be ready when it does? Right now, that answer is no, because the country lacks the sufficient safeguards we have outlined. But if the United States chooses to elevate the issue of pandemic preparedness and biosecurity as a national security priority, we could be. Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are not if we take action now.

  • Water securityEarly warning system for tracking groundwater contamination

    Groundwater contamination is increasingly recognized as a widespread environmental problem. The most important course of action often involves long-term monitoring. But what is the most cost-effective way to monitor when the contaminant plumes are large, complex, and long-term, or an unexpected event such as a storm could cause sudden changes in contaminant levels that may be missed by periodic sampling?

  • Food securityEnvironmentally friendly farming can increase productivity

    A major new study, measuring a global shift towards more sustainable agricultural systems that provide environmental improvements at the same time as increases in food production, shows that the sustainable intensification of agriculture, a term that was once considered paradoxical, delivers considerable benefits to both farmers and the environment.

  • Our picksGoogle’s tracking obsession; dredging & flooding; body-scanners on subways, and more

    •  EPIC to FTC: Google’s location tracking violates consent order

    •  Germany: No preparations made in case of alien landing

    •  Science Says: Hotter weather turbocharges US West wildfires

    •  PPD-20 elimination opens arguments over how U.S. should conduct offensive hacking operations

    •  Colorado’s 2018 wildfire season is one of the worst on record, and it’s not over yet

    •  Is dredging a solution to flooding problems?

    •  Los Angeles will be the first city to use body scanners on subways. Which could be next?

  • The Russia watchRussia’s midterms interference strategy; What Putin fears; countering Russia, and more

    •  Signs of Trump-Putin collaboration, starting years before the campaign?

    •  Here’s how Russia will try to interfere in the 2018 elections

    •  Facebook opens up to researchers — but not about 2016 election

    •  Four ways to counter Russia’s social-media warfare: The battle of Cressy offers a lesson on fighting the weaponization of Twitter and Facebook. Seriously

    •  Here we go again with Russia sanctions that will do nothing

    •  Putin is afraid of one thing. Make him think it could happen

    •  Fears of voting machine hacking erupts as an issue in U.S. election

    •  The Russian threat you’re not hearing about

  • TerrorismUN Report: With aid from Iran, al Qaeda is resurgent

    A United Nations report found that although the threat of ISIS has diminished, as the terror group is transitioning from “a proto-State network to a covert network,” al Qaeda is newly resurgent with support from Iran. The report states, “the global Al-Qaida network continues to show resilience. Al-Qaida’s affiliates and allies are much stronger than those of ISIL in certain places, including Somalia, Yemen, South Asia and the Sahel.”

  • EbolaEbola cases mounting in Congo as region prepares for more

    The Ebola outbreak on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) grew by nine more confirmed cases Thursday, and one death. Six of the new cases (including the death) are from Mandima health zone in Ituri province. Ituri borders North Kivu province, the outbreak’s epicenter. The cases expand the number of cases in neighboring Ituri province. Outbreak total now stands at 66, which includes 39 confirmed and 27 probable cases. Lab testing results have brought the suspected number of cases down to 36 from 58.

  • Security clearanceFormer senior intelligence officials rebuke Trump for the Brennan security clearance decision

    In an unprecedented rebuke to President Donald Trump, more than a dozen former senior U.S. intelligence officials have signed a letter pointedly criticizing him for what they describe as his “ill-considered” decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan. “Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security concerns and not political views,” they write.

  • InfrastructureGenoa bridge collapse: maintaining these structures is a constant battle against traffic and decay

    By Marios Chryssanthopoulos

    As rescue workers look for survivors in the concrete rubble that used to be part of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italian authorities are starting their investigation into the possible causes behind this terrible tragedy. It is too early to determine what may have caused the catastrophic collapse of more than 100 meters of the multi-span, cable-stayed suspension bridge, completed just over 50 years ago. But it’s important to understand that bridge engineering does not end when construction finishes and traffic starts to flow. In fact, properly looking after a bridge during its long life is as crucial as having a good design, using high-quality materials, and ensuring sound workmanship during construction.

  • Document reliabilityMaking electronic documents more trustworthy

    Today, the expeditious delivery of electronic documents, messages, and other data is relied on for everything from communications to navigation. As the near instantaneous exchange of information has increased in volume, so has the variety of electronic data formats–from images and videos to text and maps. Verifying the trustworthiness and provenance of this mountain of electronic information is an exceedingly difficult task – especially since the software used to process electronic data is error-prone and vulnerable to exploitation through maliciously crafted data inputs, opening the technology and its underlying systems to compromise.

  • ExtremismInteractive map pinpointing extremism and hate across U.S.

    Last week, in advance of the first anniversary of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released the ADL H.E.A.T.(Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism, Terrorism) Map — an interactive map detailing extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. The map is a visual reflection of select proprietary datasets developed by ADL experts in its Center on Extremism.

  • Hate crimesBlack Americans are still victims of hate crimes more than any other group

    By Lillianna Byington, Brittany Brown, and Andrew Capps

    James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death in Texas 20 years ago, became one of the namesakes for a 2009 federal law expanding hate crime legislation. But just 100 hate crimes have been pursued by federal prosecutors between January 2010 and July 2018.

  • DetectionWiFi can detect weapons, bombs, chemicals in bags

    Ordinary WiFi can easily detect weapons, bombs and explosive chemicals in bags at museums, stadiums, theme parks, schools and other public venues, according to a new study. Researchers  demonstrated how this low-cost technology could help security screening at public venues like stadiums, theme parks and schools.

  • First respondersNew first-responder safety, efficiency systems on the way

    Two homeland security technologies will be developed jointly by American and Israeli companies to increase the safety and efficiency of first-responders — law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services —  after getting funding from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation. The technologies will build advanced technologies for victim location and radio communication.

  • TsunamisClimate change, sea level rise to cause more devastating tsunamis worldwide

    As sea levels rise due to climate change, so do the global hazards and potential devastating damages from tsunamis, according to a new study. Even minor sea-level rise, by as much as a foot, poses greater risks of tsunamis for coastal communities worldwide.

  • Our picksChanging execution methods; Chinese surveillance; Texas students & drones, and more

    •  Ryan Zinke finally admits that climate change is making wildfires worse

      DHS holds election security exercise with states to prep for midterms

      ‘Man-in-the-disk’ attack took advantage of Android data security flaws

      China is going to new lengths to surveil its own citizens

      Thousands of miles of internet cables could be underwater by 2033

      Wildfire areas have high poverty and small tax bases. Will that affect future construction?

      Texas students undergo drone training for public safety use

      Fentanyl, gas, firing squad: Why execution methods are changing