• Infrastructure protectionHouse passes important cybersecurity legislation

    Yesterday (Monday) the House unanimously passed H.R. 3359, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017. This important legislation will streamline the current structure of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) and re-designate it as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) to more effectively execute cybersecurity and critical infrastructure related authorities.

  • CybersecurityCyber trends in 2017: The rise of the global cyberattack

    A new report, Cyber maturity in the Asia–Pacific region 2017, distils the major trends from a year’s worth of cyber events and looks at how countries in the region are measuring up to the challenges and opportunities posed by the internet and ever-more-connected IT infrastructure. Although cyber maturity and cybersecurity generally improved over the past year, the threat landscape worsened. Cybercriminals are investing in more advanced and innovative scams, and nation-states are prepared to launch massively destructive attacks causing huge collateral damage.

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  • CybersecuritySimple tool tells whether websites suffered a data breach

    Computer scientists have built and successfully tested a tool designed to detect when websites are hacked by monitoring the activity of email accounts associated with them. The researchers were surprised to find that almost 1 percent of the websites they tested had suffered a data breach during their 18-month study period, regardless of how big the companies’ reach and audience are. “No one is above this—companies or nation states— it’s going to happen; it’s just a question of when,” said the senior researcher.

  • TerrorismThe moral questions in the debate on what constitutes terrorism

    By Jessica Wolfendale

    Even though domestic killings and nonterrorist mass shootings kill more Americans than terrorism and undermine our security, these acts typically don’t lead to calls for radical preventive measures. But if two acts of violence kill or injure similar numbers of people, have similar effects on victims and communities, and spread fear and terror, we, as a society, should see them as equally abhorrent, regardless of whether they are ideologically motivated. And we should see the goal of preventing such acts as equally urgent. Most of us, however, don’t. And that’s unfair. It’s unfair to the victims of mass killers and domestic violence, whose safety and security are not regarded as warranting the same outrage and demand for radical preventive measures that terrorist killings call for.

  • ViolenceViolence a matter of scale, not quantity

    Anthropologists have debated for decades whether humans living in tribal communities thousands of years ago were more or less violent than societies today. Researchers wonder whether the question of more or less violence is the wrong one — what if it’s a matter of scale? In a new paper, the researchers present data showing that the size of a society’s population is what drives the size of its “war group,” or number of people of fighting age who defend it. They also show that the size of the war group is what determines the number of casualties in a conflict.

  • Food safetyBioelectronic “nose” detects food spoilage by sensing the smell of death

    Strong odors are an indicator that food has gone bad, but there could soon be a new way to sniff foul smells earlier on. Researchers have developed a bioelectronic “nose” that can specifically detect a key decay compound at low levels, enabling people to potentially take action before the stink spreads. It can detect rotting food, as well as be used to help find victims of natural disasters or crimes.

  • Climate threatsPresenting facts as “consensus” bridges political divide over climate change

    New evidence shows that “social fact” highlighting expert consensus shifts perceptions across the U.S. political spectrum – particularly among highly educated conservatives. Facts that encourage agreement are a promising way of cutting through today’s “post-truth” bluster, say psychologists. The researchers found that by presenting a fact in the form of a consensus — “97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening” – climate change skeptics shift their perceptions significantly towards the scientific “norm.”

  • The Russia watchThe “Russia Story”; Russia’s meddling was U.S. “intelligence failure”; cyber forensics, and more

    · What is the “Russia Story”?

    · Defending the West from Russian disinformation: The role of institutions

    · What Putin really wants

    · Russian bots manipulate online conversation about Olympics, sexual harassment

    · WikiLeaks faces four U.S. probes into its 2016 election role and CIA leaks

    · Rep. Eric Swalwell breaks down how Russia infected the U.S. election

    · As Russia subverts missile treaty, U.S. looking at new weapons

    · Exposing Russian interference – the value of real-time forensics

    · Ex-spy chief: Russia’s election hacking was an “intelligence failure”

    · Company that used Russian coders for Pentagon project strikes deal

  • Our picksSt. Elizabeths DHS consolidation; Garde City, Kan. plot; police guns, and more

    · St. Elizabeths DHS consolidation plan: Where do we go from here?

    · The plot to bomb Garden City, Kansas

    · Congress weighs threat of Moscow wielding the energy weapon

    · House science chairman dives into Kaspersky cyber investigation

    · In Harvey’s wake, some worry about state insurer’s pace at paying claims from Ike

    · Police guns are turning up in crimes, but ATF can’t talk about it

    · Making a killing: The nexus of terrorism and wildlife trafficking

    · Climate change has come for Los Angeles

  • CybersecurityCybersecurity expert: Iranian hacking is a “coordinated, probably military, endeavor”

    On the heels of a report this week documenting Iran’s increasingly aggressive hacking attacks around the globe, a cybersecurity expert assessed that the advanced nature of the attacks suggests a “coordinated, probably military, endeavor.” A report released this week, by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, noticed increased and increasingly advanced cyber-espionage efforts by groups that have been tied to Iran, and to the nation’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

  • TerrorismSuspect held in NYC attempted terrorist attack

    A 27-year old Bangladeshi immigrant who lived in Brooklyn was detained by the police Monday morning after detonating an explosive device in the New York City subway tunnel during the morning commute. The suspect, Akayed Ullah, was injured in the 7:20 a.m. attempted attack, as were three passers-by. The explosion occurred in a passageway near 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, in midtown Manhattan near Times Square. The injuries were not life-threatening.

  • WMDDHS establishes the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office

    Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen last week announced the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office. DHS says that the CWMD Office will elevate and streamline DHS efforts to prevent terrorists and other national security threat actors from using harmful agents, such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear material and devices to harm Americans and U.S. interests.

  • Gas masksBetter gas mask filters

    In research that could lead to better gas mask filters, scientists have been putting the X-ray spotlight on composite materials in respirators used by the military, police, and first responders, and the results have been encouraging. What they are learning not only provides reassuring news about the effectiveness of current filters in protecting people from lethal compounds such as VX and sarin, but they also provide fundamental information that could lead to more advanced gas masks as well as protective gear for civilian applications.

  • WildfiresControlled burning of forest land limits severity of wildfires

    Controlled burning of forestland helped limit the severity of one of California’s largest wildfires, geographers say. The researchers studying the Rim Fire, which in 2013 burned nearly 400 square miles of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, found the blaze was less severe in areas recently treated with controlled burns. “You can fight fire with fire. You can fight severe fires using these more controlled fires under conditions that are suitable,” says one expert.

  • Water securityRobot detects underground water leaks

    The United States faces a looming crisis over its deteriorating water infrastructure, and fixing it will be a monumental and expensive task. In Los Angeles alone, about two thirds of the city’s 7,000 miles of water pipes are more than 60 years old — and nearing the end of their useful lives. Water main breaks can cause flooding, leading to serious structural damage and soil erosion. Even small leaks can exacerbate water shortages and allow potentially harmful contaminants into our drinking water. But locating a leak within a vast network of underground pipes is almost impossible. Researchers are developing an autonomous robot that could quickly and inexpensively detect damage in water pipes — even those buried meters below the ground.

  • Climate threatsExplaining differences in climate change views among college graduates

    The average American college student has just a 17 percent chance of learning about climate change before graduation through required core courses. The finding may help explain why having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t always lead to increased acceptance of human-caused global warming, according to new research.

  • Our picksNuclear war is one “tantrum away”; Nazi-puncher’s dilemma; order from cyber chaos, and more

    · Nobel Peace Prize winner warns that nuclear war is one “tantrum away”

    · LA cyber center hopes to be a model for cities nationwide

    · The most secure account of all—if you can stand it

    · If terrorists hit Dallas, would first responder radios be ready?

    · U.S. intelligence community claims North Korea transferred 3 nuclear warheads to Iran

    · The North Korea debate sounds eerily familiar

    · The Nazi-puncher’s dilemma

    · Making order in cyber warfare law

  • Hemispheric securityFormer Argentinian president ordered arrested for covering up Iran’s role in terror attack

    An Argentinian judge on Thursday ordered the arrest of the country’s former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, accusing her of covering up Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing at the Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people and wounded 300. The former president, who now serves as a senator, is accused of signing a 2012 deal with Iran that would have allowed senior Iranian officials implicated in the attack to be investigated in their own country, rather than in Argentina.

  • The Russia connectionLawmakers request additional documents from DHS re: Kaspersky investigation

    U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent a letter Tuesday to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requesting documents and information related to the DHS directive to all government agencies to identify and remove Kaspersky Lab software from their computer systems.

  • Airport securityBiometric solutions to bolster security at U.S. airports

    World events over the last decade—and even in the last year—have shown that airports are an attractive target to terrorists. At the same time, the number of international air travelers is increasing. More than 119 million international travelers arrived in fiscal year (FY) 2016, an almost six percent increase from FY 2015 and over a 35 percent increase since FY 2009. It is estimated that international arrivals will continue to grow at more than four percent annually. In this changing security landscape, finding effective and scalable solutions to increase security and efficiently process travelers is imperative. The need is critical and will only grow as many airports are already operating at or near capacity.

  • WildfiresSmaller branches drive the fastest, biggest wildfires

    As the West tallies the damages from the 2017 wildfire season, researchers are trying to learn more about how embers form and about the blaze-starting potential they carry. Preliminary findings indicate the diameter of the branches that are burning is the biggest single factor behind which ones will form embers the most quickly and how much energy they’ll pack.

  • WildfiresHow to fight wildfires with science

    By Albert Simeoni

    In the month of October nearly 250,000 acres, more than 8,000 homes and over 40 people fell victim to fast-moving wildfires in Northern California, the deadliest and one of the costliest outbreaks in state history. Now more wind-drive wildfires have scorched over 80,000 acres in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, forcing thousands to evacuate and closing hundreds of schools. What is the most efficient way to protect the wild and-urban interface – the area where houses meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland vegetation? And what is the best way to evacuate? Fire conditions are constantly evolving, and basic research coupled with engineering solutions must keep up. Designing more resilient communities and infrastructure and protecting people more effectively are not onetime goals – they are constant. Currently nations are failing to meet the challenge, and impacts on communities are increasing.