• Hair dye “CSI” could help police solve crimes

    Criminals with a penchant for dyeing their hair could soon pay for their vanity, as scientists have found a way to analyze hair samples at crime scenes to rapidly determine whether it was colored and what brand of dye was used. Researchers showed that surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) could be used rapidly to confirm whether hair samples, even microscopic ones, were dyed and what brand of colorant was used.

  • Grants competition to improve security, privacy of online identity verification systems

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is launching a competition for a fourth round of grants to pilot online identity verification systems that help improve the privacy, security, and convenience of online transactions. The pilot grants support the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), a White House initiative launched in 2011. NSTIC’s goal is to improve trust online through the creation of a vibrant “Identity Ecosystem,” in which individuals and organizations are able to better trust one another because they follow agreed-upon standards and processes for secure, privacy-enhancing and interoperable identity solutions online.

  • Lawmakers want more security features to be added to Visa Waiver Program

    The recent attacks in Paris have led U.S. lawmakers to propose restrictions on, or adding more security to, the U.S. Visa Waiver Program(VWP), which allows citizens from thirty-eight countries to travel to the United States for up to ninety days without obtaining a traditional visa. Concerns now revolve around the threat that some of the roughly 3,000 European nationals who have traveled to Syria to fight alongside Islamic extremist groups, and are now equipped with skills to launch an attack, may return to Europe and then book a flight to the United States to launch an attack.

  • Smart keyboard can tell who you are – and also powers and cleans itself

    In a novel twist in cybersecurity, scientists have developed a self-cleaning, self-powered smart keyboard that can identify computer users by the way they type. The smart keyboard can sense typing patterns — including the pressure applied to keys and speed — that can accurately distinguish one individual user from another.

  • EU Parliament considers reviving uniform air-passenger information legislation

    The European Parliament is considering reviving draft legislation which would force airline companies to give EU member governments a cohesive and uniform set of passenger information, following heightened security concerns in the wake of the 7 January Paris attacks. The legislation, first proposed in 2011, was rejected bu the EU Parliament in 2013.

  • Visa Waiver program scrutinized in wake of Paris terror attacks

    Following the deadly terror attacks in Paris last week, there has been a renewed criticism of the U.S. visa waiver program which has allowed travel without visa by many. The program is now subject to second thoughts by some and questions whether, as currently constituted, it may expose the United States to unjustified risks. “The visa waiver program is the Achilles’ heel of America,” said one critic, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California).

  • Washington State to offer 2-tier driver’s license system to comply with Real ID Act

    State officials in Washington are looking to redesign the state’s driver’s licenses and ID cards to comply with the federal 2005 REAL IDact which requires proof of legal U.S. residency for access to federal government buildings and soon domestic air travel. At least twenty-four states and territories have yet fully to comply with the REAL ID act, but Washington is one of only nine states that have not received a compliance extension from the federal government.

  • Mobile biometric device expedites identity matching

    The Stockton (California) Police Department (SPD) has been quietly testing a state-of-the-art Mobile Biometric Device (MBD) technology for the past four years. Designed quickly to scan fingerprints, irises, and other biological information while officers and evidence technicians are on the field, MBDs can communicate with remote fingerprint databases and confirm matches in as little as three minutes.

  • U.S. introduces new security measures to screen Western-passport travelers

    At least 3,000 of the 15,000 foreign fighters in Syria are from Australia and Europe. DHS has introduced new screening measures for travelers from Europe, Australia, and other allied nations due to concerns about the increasing number of Islamist militants who have fought in Syria and Iraq alongside the Islamic State (ISIS) and could travel freely to the United States using their Western passports.

  • Most states are complying with Real ID, but a few lag behind

    Forty U.S. states and some territories have adopted the Real ID Actrequirements for state driver’s licenses and identification cards, mandated by the federal government. Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington are still considered noncompliant as of October 2014. DHS announced a phased enforcement of the Real ID Act in 2013, and residents of non-complying states are already facing restrictions – such as having to present a passport or birth certificate in order to enter restricted areas in federal facilities or nuclear power plants. These restrictions will only tighten between now and January 2016.

  • Building a better lie detector

    The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), announced the other day the winner of its first public challenge contest, Investigating Novel Statistical Techniques to Identify Neurophysiological Correlates of Trustworthiness (INSTINCT). The winning solution, JEDI MIND — Joint Estimation of Deception Intent via Multisource Integration of Neuropsychological Discriminators — uses a combination of innovative statistical techniques to improve predictions approximately 15 percent over the baseline analysis.

  • A crime-fighting “magic” marker pen picks up hidden fingerprints

    A crime-fighting “magic” marker pen that can identify the hidden properties of receipts containing fingerprint deposits within a matter of seconds will be demonstrated at the Knowledge Transfer Network’s (KTN) Applications of Forensic Science Research and Development Technology Showcase 2014 event today (8 October) in London.

  • Nanoparticles will allow detecting previously undetectable fingermarks

    A group of researchers from Switzerland has thrown light on the precise mechanisms responsible for the impressive ability of nanoparticles to detect fingermarks left at crime scenes. The researchers have provided evidence contesting the commonly accepted theory that nanoparticles are attracted to fingermarks electrostatically. The attraction, they claim, is in fact chemical and is caused by compounds on the surface of nanoparticles bonding with a complex cocktail of compounds present in fingermark residue.

  • Experts urge caution in relying upon eyewitness identifications in criminal cases

    A new report from the National Research Council recommends best practices that law enforcement agencies and courts should follow to improve the likelihood that eyewitness identifications used in criminal cases will be accurate. Science has provided an increasingly clear picture of the inherent limits in human visual perception and memory that can lead to errors, as well as the ways unintentional cues during law enforcement processes can compromise eyewitness identifications, the report says.

  • Investigative genetics technology helps nab criminals

    Every year, investigators collect tens of thousands of biological samples from crime scenes that may hold valuable clues to solving criminal cases. Unlocking those clues now is easier thanks to a new software solution unveiled last week by Battelle researchers who have applied advanced bioinformatics to next-generation sequencing data. ExactID analyzes biomarkers that can predict physical appearance, ancestry, clinical traits, and familial relationships among people. This information can be invaluable to forensic analyses and case work.