• PrivacyLeaky apps exacerbate Facebook’s privacy risks

    A bug in Facebook’s advertising platform made it possible for potential hackers to uncover users’ phone numbers, according to new research. The Facebook advertising system is incredibly effective at targeting specific audiences, which is what has made the company so lucrative, says a researcher. But because anyone can become an advertiser, and there is very little transparency in what ads are being placed, the platform “could be used for nefarious purposes,” he added.

  • PrivacyWith no clear liability against Facebook, expert calls for stronger data privacy laws

    The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that it has opened an investigation into Facebook after a data analytics firm collected the private data of more than fifty million users. Cambridge Analytica, the data company hired by the Trump campaign in 2016, has been accused of taking private information unbeknownst to users. The FTC will investigate whether or not Facebook violated a 2011 consent order with the FTC over its handling of user data and how the company notifies changes to its terms of service. Northeastern’s Professor Woodrow Hartzog, who specializes in privacy and data protection law, explains the possible legal fallout from this investigation.

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  • Data analyticsCambridge Analytica: the data analytics industry is already in full swing

    By David Beer

    Revelations about Cambridge Analytica have laid bare the seeming lack of control that we have over our own data. Suddenly, with all the talk of “psychographics” and voter manipulation, the power of data analytics has become the source of some concern. But the risk is that if we look at the case of Cambridge Analytica in isolation, we might prevent a much wider debate about the use and control of our data. By focusing on the reports of extreme practices, we might miss the many everyday ways that data analytics are now shaping our lives.

  • CybersecurityHigher education joint cyber security operations center launches

    Indiana University, Northwestern University, Purdue University, Rutgers University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have announced the launch and activation of OmniSOC, a specialized, sector-based cyber security operations center, or SOC, that provides trusted, rapid, actionable cyber intelligence to its members. OmniSOC protects five universities, hundreds of thousands of devices and tens of thousands of students and faculty from cyber threats.

  • Code breakingLeveraging emerging brain-like computers for cracking codes

    Scientists have discovered a way to leverage emerging brain-like computer architectures for an age-old number-theoretic problem known as integer factorization. By mimicking the brain functions of mammals in computing, Army scientists are opening up a new solution space that moves away from traditional computing architectures and towards devices that are able to operate within extreme size-, weight-, and power-constrained environments.

  • Terrorism insuranceInsurer hails U.K. government action to close the terrorism insurance gap

    Pool Re the other day welcomed the U.K. government’s commitment to amend the 1993 Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act to enable the reinsurer to extend its cover to include non-damage business interruption losses resulting from acts of terrorism. The reinsurer is currently restricted by the 1993 Act only to pay out if physical damage has occurred to commercial property. This means that businesses, inside a police cordon, that suffer financial loss through being unable to access their property or to trade, are only covered if there has been physical damage during a terrorist attack.

  • Super bugsAntibiotic-resistant infections cost $2 billion a year

    Antibiotic resistance adds nearly $1,400 to the bill for treating a bacterial infection and costs the nation more than $2 billion annually, according to a new study. The study, which is the first national estimate of the incremental costs for treating antibiotic-resistant infections, also found that the share of bacterial infections in the United States that were antibiotic resistant more than doubled over thirteen years, rising from 5.2 percent in 2002 to 11 percent in 2014.

  • Texas sink holesLarge swath of West Texas oil patch is heaving and sinking at alarming rates

    Two giant sinkholes near Wink, Texas, may just be the tip of the iceberg, according to a new study that found alarming rates of new ground movement extending far beyond the infamous sinkholes. Analysis indicates decades of oil production activity have destabilized localities in an area of about 4,000 square miles populated by small towns, roadways and a vast network of oil and gas pipelines and storage tanks.

  • Water securityThe effects of climate change on California watersheds

    California relies on the Sierra Nevada snowpack for a significant portion of its water needs, yet scientists understand very little about how future changes in snowpack volume and timing will influence surface water and groundwater. Now researchers are developing an advanced hydrologic model to study how climate change might affect California watersheds.

  • Our picksMass shootings’ survivors; how to regulate Facebook; AI & security, and more

    · Survivors of mass shootings face renewed trauma from conspiracy theorists

    · Domestic terrorism: The threat in our backyard

    · The tradeoffs inherent in earthquake early warning systems

    · What makes immigration reform so hard

    · How to regulate Facebook

    · After Cambridge Analytica revelations, Senators call on tech giants to testify

    · The science of conspiracies: Where Flat Earth meets Pizzagate

    · How much does artificial intelligence threaten national security?

  • The Russia watchInfrastructure weak; deterring Russia; targeting foreign propaganda, and more

    · Did Cambridge Analytica leverage Russian disinformation for Trump?

    · Infrastructure weak

    · Breedlove: Russian election meddling ‘a form of warfare’

    · Foreign Office launches extraordinary attack on Russia saying it is spreading ‘lies and disinformation’ over spy poison crisis

    · Tammy Baldwin seeks Twitter troll hearing after Russians spread Obama noose image

    · Responding to Russia: Deterring Russian cyber and grey zone activities

    · New House bills take aim at foreign propaganda

    · Hackers ‘led warplanes to Syrian hospital’ after targeting British surgeon’s computer

    · What Russian scientists are saying about nerve agents

  • The Russian connectionU.S. not ready to fend off Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms: GOP, Dem. lawmakers

    Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence (DNI), told lawmakers two weeks ago that “the Unsaid States is under attack” by Russia. On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held hearings about how the United States was addressing one of the components the three-pronged Russian attack: Russia’s ambitious effort to undermine and discredit American democracy by attacking the U.S. election infrastructure. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former DHS secretary Jeh Johnson were confronted by pointed questions from both Republicans and Democrats, questions which revealed a bipartisan consensus that the United States is not prepared to fend off Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms.

  • Middle East nukesFormer IDF intel chief: Bombing of Syrian reactor shows Israel will act alone to survive

    Maj-Gen. (Ret.) Amos Yadlin, Israel’s chief of military intelligence in 2007 said in a press briefing that the Israeli Air Force’s destruction of a Syrian reactor shows that when Israel is faced with “a very serious threat” to its existence, “Israel is going to act, and act even if Israel has to act alone.”

  • U.K. spy attackDeny and distort: A timeline of Russia's changing story on Skripal poisoning

    Since the poisoning of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter on 4 March in England, Russian officials have been consistent about one thing: Moscow didn’t do it. Otherwise, they have offered a hodgepodge of theories, evasions, and refutations to parry British accusations that a Soviet-era nerve agent was likely used to poison Skripal and his daughter. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said on 19 March that Moscow was “not fooling anyone” with its “increasingly absurd” denials of culpability for use of the nerve agent on British soil. Vladimir Putin was trying to “conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation,” Johnson said.

  • InfrastructureHow do forensic engineers investigate bridge collapses, like the one in Miami?

    By Martin Gordon

    On 15 March, a 950-ton partially assembled pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami suddenly collapsed onto the busy highway below, killing six people and seriously injuring nine. Forensic engineers are taking center stage in the ongoing investigation to find out what happened and why – and, crucially, to learn how to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

  • Nuclear safetySandia transport triathlon puts spent nuclear fuel to the test

    Nuclear power supplies almost 20 percent of U.S. electricity and is the leading carbon-neutral power source. However, it produces between 2,200 and 2,600 tons of spent fuel in the United States each year. Fuel rods become brittle and highly radioactive while powering the nuclear reactor, making safe transportation important. Sandia National Laboratories researchers completed an eight-month, 14,500-mile triathlon-like test to gather data on the bumps and jolts spent nuclear fuel experiences during transportation.

  • Nuclear safetyPipe-crawling robot to help decommission DOE nuclear facility

    A pair of autonomous robots developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute will soon be driving through miles of pipes at the U.S. Department of Energy’s former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, to identify uranium deposits on pipe walls. The CMU robot has demonstrated it can measure radiation levels more accurately from inside the pipe than is possible with external techniques.

  • Extreme weatherClimate change to fuel more extreme heat waves in western U.S. by 2020

    Human-caused climate change will drive more extreme summer heat waves in the western United States, including in California and the Southwest as early as 2020, new research shows. Understanding the driving forces behind the projected increase in occurrence and severity of heat waves is crucial for public health security and necessary for communities to develop extreme heat mitigation strategies, said the authors.

  • Our picksSpace-based ray guns; bad fire season; Plan B (and C) on Florida guns, and more

    · Facebook haunted by its handling of 2016 election meddling

    · Did Cambridge Analytica leverage Russian disinformation for Trump?

    · Kaspersky’s “Slingshot” report burned an ISIS-focused intelligence operation

    · Pentagon’s new arms-research chief eyes space-based ray guns

    · What were we doing in Iraq anyway?

    · Fire season could be bad in the pacific northwest

    · With no power to pass gun laws, Florida cities prepare Plan B (and C)

    · Diplomats, ‘Net greybeards work to disarm USA, China and Russia’s cyber-weapons

  • The Russia watchWorse than bots and trolls; the rise of Euro-Putinism; Russia’s unnoticed war on the West, and more

    · The next Russian attack will be far worse than bots and trolls

    · Russia’s been waging war on the West for years. We just haven’t noticed.

    · The rise of Euro-Putinism

    · Leaked docs show UK long worried about Russian nerve agent

    · The nerve agent poisoning in England was a message to the rest of the world

    · Russia has a long history of eliminating ‘enemies of the state’

    · Boris Johnson: Britain needs its allies to stand with us against Russia

    · Putin has finally gone too far

    · Russian hackers target European agency with updated DealersChoice Adobe Flash exploit tool

    · Allies “entering a new world” in confronting Russia, U.K. official says

    · Five myths about espionage

  • The Russia connectionSenate Intel Committee: Initial election security recommendations for 2018 election cycle

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold an open hearing today, Wednesday, 21 March 2018, on the threats to election infrastructure. The hearing will cover Russian attempted attacks on state election infrastructure in 2016, DHS and FBI efforts to improve election security, and the view from the states on their cybersecurity posture. The committee yesterday made available its initial recommendations on election security after investigating Russian attempts to target election infrastructure during the 2016 U.S. elections.

  • Middle East nukesIsrael admits destroying Syrian reactor in move seen aimed at Iran

    The Israeli military has formally acknowledged for the first time its destruction of a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, saying the air strike removed a major threat to Israel and was a “message” to others. Israel’s announcement on 21 March about Operation Out of the Box is widely seen as a veiled warning to arch-enemy Iran as it builds up its military presence in Syria. Syria, with North Korean help, secretly built the reactor in the desert near Deir al-Zor in north-east Syria, in violation of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). North Korea planned to use the facility for separating weapon-grade plutonium from spent uranium, a nuclear-weapon related activity prohibited by the 1994 U.S.-North Korea nuclear Framework Agreement.