• The Russian connectionFlorida GOP operative asked for – and received -- Russian hackers’ help in congressional race

    The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Russian government hackers’ effort to upend the 2016 presidential election was not limited to stealing Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign emails and memos and then using Wikileaks to publish them in order to embarrass and weaken Hillary Clinton. Aaron Nevins, a Republican operative in Florida, now admits that he colluded with Russian government hackers in order to help the candidate he supported win a congressional race. When the Journal asked Nevins whether it was right to collaborate with the Russian government to undermine a congressional race in the United States, he responded: “If your interests align,” he said, “never shut any doors in politics.”

  • Visa overstays739,478 visitors to U.S. in FY2016 overstayed their visas – and 628,799 are still in U.S.

    DHS earlier this week released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report. The report provides data on departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who entered as nonimmigrant visitors through an air or sea Port of Entry (POE) and were expected to depart in FY16. CBP processed 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions at U.S. air and sea POEs who were expected to depart in FY16—of which 739,478 overstayed their admission, resulting in a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent. Of the more than 739,000 overstays, DHS determined 628,799 were suspected “in-country” overstays, resulting in a suspected in-country overstay rate of 1.25 percent. An individual who is a suspected in-country overstay has no recorded departure, while an out-of-country overstay has a recorded departure that occurred after their lawful admission period expired.

  • Manchester attackManchester bomber had close connections with Manchester criminal gang

    The Manchester police say that the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, had close connections with criminal gangs in the city, as well as an association with a terrorist recruiter. Abedi, 22, was associated with a gang which has for years been waging war with a rival fang in south Manchester. People who knew Abedi say that he was deeply upset when one of his close friends became involved in a violent gangland feud, and some friends said that this trauma may have added to his feeling of disillusionment and anger.

  • TerrorismWhat science can reveal about the psychological profiles of terrorists

    By Coral Dando

    What went though the mind of the suicide bomber Salman Abedi just before he blew himself up in Manchester this week, killing twenty-two people? We often dismiss terrorists as non-humans, monsters, at first. But when we learn that they were seemingly normal individuals with families and jobs, it’s hard not to wonder about how their minds really work. The search for a terrorist “personality” or “mindset” dominated psychological research in the 1970s and 1980s and remains a significant area for research today. The idea behind such research is obvious – it’s to identify stable, predictive traits or “markers” of terrorist personalities. If we could do that, we may be able to predict who will become a terrorist – and perhaps prevent it. This type of research should be viewed with extreme caution because it involves many variables over which there is no consensus among experts – but we could agree that the more we find out about terrorists’ quest for significance, the better we can understand the identity and social issues that are fundamental to radicalization. So there’s every reason to be optimistic that psychology can be a powerful tool in the fight against terrorism.

  • Nuclear disastersU.S. nuclear watchdog greatly underestimates potential for nuclear disaster

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) relied on faulty analysis to justify its refusal to adopt a critical measure for protecting Americans from the occurrence of a catastrophic nuclear-waste fire at any one of dozens of reactor sites around the country, a new study shows. Fallout from such a fire could be considerably larger than the radioactive emissions from the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan. These catastrophic consequences, which could be triggered by a large earthquake or a terrorist attack, could be largely avoided by regulatory measures that the NRC refuses to implement.

  • Radiation detectionMobile phones can reveal exposure to radiation

    In accidents or terror attacks which are suspected to involve radioactive substances, it can be difficult to determine whether people nearby have been exposed to radiation. But by analyzing mobile phones and other objects which come in close contact with the body, it is possible to retrieve important information on radiation exposure.

  • AgroterrorismSenate passes legislation to address agrotrrorism threats to U.S. food supply

    The United States faces complex national security challenges, among them agroterrorism, which poses serious threats to U.S. food, agriculture, and livestock industries. Experts say that it is imperative to have preparedness policies in place quickly to respond to events threatening U.S. agriculture or food production systems in order to protect the industries which have an impact on Americans on a daily basis. The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act, which increases precautions and preparedness to mitigate potential threat of agroterrorism and high-risk events to the U.S. food, agriculture, and livestock industries.

  • ForgeriesThwarting forgery with paper fingerprints

    Designing secure documents that provide high levels of security against forgery is a long-standing problem. Even in today’s digital age, this problem remains important as paper is still the most common form of proving authenticity – such as receipts, contracts, certificates and passports. Fingerprinting official documents could provide a cost-effective way to prevent forgery, new research shows.

  • TornadoesTornado’s strength explains number of casualties more than number of people in twister’s way

    New research shows that the strength of a tornado has a significantly larger effect than population on the number of casualties. Using a regression model, researchers found that on average a doubling of the population under the path of a tornado leads to a 21 percent increase in the casualty rate, while a doubling of the energy dispersed by the tornado leads to a 33 percent increase in the casualty rate.

  • Manchester attackU.K. security services missed several opportunities to stop Manchester suicide bomber

    British security services appear to have missed several opportunities to stop Salman Abedi before he carried out the Manchester Arena attack earlier this week. Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber, was repeatedly flagged to the authorities by friends, community leaders, and family members over his extremist views – and was independently noticed by the security services for his association with a known ISIS recruiter — but was not stopped by officers. The British security services have expressed a growing irritation and alarm with the stream of revelations in U.S. newspapers about various aspects of the investigation.

  • Manchester attackManchester attack: we are in an ‘arms race’ against ever adapting terror networks

    By Kris Christmann

    The Manchester attack illustrates how Western society is locked in an arms race with an ever adapting group of terrorists who keep changing their tactics and targets. Winning the battle depends on a number of complex factors and the acceptance that on the morning of 23 June Britain woke up to a new reality. We need to do more to consider the role of intelligence. Often the first person to know or suspect something about someone moving towards, or involved in, acts of terrorism will be those closest to them: their friends, family and community insiders. Their willingness to come forward and share knowledge, suspicions and concerns with authorities is critical because they offer a first line of defense. We are currently finding out more about the barriers and challenges people face in sharing information or cooperating with authorities, as well as what motivates them to surmount these challenges. This would tell us why those with concerns can fail to engage fully with government reporting campaigns. At the moment this is a critical blind spot in current counter-terrorism thinking and strategy.

  • Terrorism in EuropeChronology of terror in Europe

    The Monday evening deadly terrorist attack in Manchester is the latest in a string of terrorist attacks in major European cities. There is a long history of terrorist activity in Europe. Throughout the twentieth century, nationalist and separatist movements (for example, the Basque ETA or the Irish IRA) committed acts of terrorism to advance the cause of independence or autonomy for their people. The early twentieth century saw a surge in terrorism committed by anarchists, while in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s leftist groups (for example, the Baader-Meinhof group in Germany; the Red Brigades in Italy) were prominent. The 1970s also saw the emergence of Palestinian terrorism in Europe (for example, at the 1972 Munich Olympics). In the last fifteen years or so, most of the terrorist acts in Europe were carried out by Islamist groups and the local followers of such groups.

  • CybersecurityNetwork traffic offers early indication of malware infection

    By analyzing network traffic going to suspicious domains, security administrators could detect malware infections weeks or even months before they’re able to capture a sample of the invading malware, a new study suggests. The findings point toward the need for new malware-independent detection strategies that will give network defenders the ability to identify network security breaches in a more timely manner.

  • CybersecurityCombination of features creates new android vulnerability

    A new vulnerability affecting Android mobile devices results not from a traditional bug, but from the malicious combination of two legitimate permissions that power desirable and commonly-used features in popular apps. The combination could result in a new class of attacks, which has been dubbed “Cloak and Dagger.”

  • Emergency communicationCreating high-speed internet lane for emergency situations

    In a disaster, a delay can mean the difference between life and death. Emergency responders don’t have time to wait in traffic — even on the congested information superhighway. Researchers are developing a faster and more reliable way to send and receive large amounts of data through the internet. By a creating a new network protocol, called Multi Node Label Routing protocol, researchers are essentially developing a new high-speed lane of online traffic, specifically for emergency information.

  • Emergency communicationAI to aid in humanitarian efforts

    Mobile phones are one of the fastest growing technologies in the developing world with global penetration rates reaching 90 percent. However, the fact that most phones in developing countries are pre-paid means that the data lacks key information about the person carrying the phone, including gender and other demographic data, which could be useful in a crisis. Researchers have developed an AI algorithm to accurately predict the gender of pre-paid mobile phone users, so that emergency response teams would have better information about those affected by disasters.

  • Border wallBorder walls may pose serious challenges to biodiversity, but smaller challenges to humans

    With the prospect of a U.S.-Mexico border wall looming, research and reporting on the ecological impacts of walls is both important and timely. Reporting in BioScience on such barriers’ known effects on wildlife, science journalist Lesley Evans Ogden describes the potential effects of the proposed structure along the 2000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. “If the wall is completed, it will create a considerable biodiversity conservation challenge—one unlikely to disappear anytime soon,” she writes.

  • TornadoesTornado damage impact could triple in coming decades

    Tornadoes are one of the most unpredictable weather phenomena on Earth. Each year the United States, home to more tornadoes than any other country, sustains billions of dollars of damage, death, injuries, and disruption from the violent storms. Scientists say that the potential for annual tornado impact magnitude and disaster could triple by the end of the twenty-first century.

  • The Russian connectionRussia may have rigged Brexit vote – and U.K.’s 8 June general election could be next: Experts

    A report handed to the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Select Committee suggests that Russian secret funds and disinformation campaign may have swayed the EU referendum vote in favor of Brexit. Ahead of the 8 June parliamentary election, GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters – the U.K. equivalent of the U.S. NSA] has warned leaders of Britain’s political parties of the threat Russian government hacking was posing to British democracy – while Russian interference with Brexit is also on the radar of the Electoral Commission, which is worried about the transparency of money donated to political parties and campaigns.

  • Iran nukesNuclear experts: Trump keeping nuclear deal but confronting Iranian aggression

    The Trump administration’s emerging strategy for confronting Iranian threats appears to be upholding the nuclear deal while sanctioning Iran’s non-nuclear behavior, two experts on the agreement say. They note that even as President Donald Trump waived United States sanctions against Iranian crude oil exports, his administration slapped new sanctions against the regime. The experts characterize the strategy the “waive-and-slap approach.”

  • DHSOffering Sheriff David Clarke a position at DHS “is not only dangerous but highly shameful”: ADL

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed deep concern over reports that Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. is likely being considered for an appointment as an Assistant Secretary in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).“The fact that Sheriff Clarke may be assuming a key role at DHS is not only dangerous but highly shameful,” ADL said. “An individual representing such extremist ideologies should not be given this type of leadership role and we urge the Trump administration not to go forward with this appointment.”

  • Aviation securityWhy banning laptops from airplane cabins doesn’t make sense

    By Cassandra Burke Robertson and Irina D. Manta

    Recent reports suggest that terrorists can now create bombs so thin that they cannot be detected by the current X-ray screening that our carry-on bags undergo. In an effort to protect against such threats, the U.S is considering banning laptops and other large electronic devices in the passenger cabins of airplanes flying between Europe and the United States. This would extend a ban already in place on flights from eight Middle Eastern countries. It is tempting to think that any level of cost and inconvenience is sensible if it reduces the risk of an attack even a little. But risks, inherent in flying and even driving, can never be avoided entirely. So when weighing policies that are designed to make us safer, it is important to consider both their costs and potential effectiveness. Unfortunately, whether the benefits justify the costs is too often not the yardstick used by officials determining whether to pursue these types of policies. Instead, it is more likely that political considerations motivate the adoption of restrictive policies, which in the end actually do little to protect citizens’ security.