• Cyber securityIntel AMT security issue: Attackers may bypass login credentials in corporate laptops

    Helsinki, Finland-based F-Secure reported a security issue affecting most corporate laptops that allows an attacker with physical access to backdoor a device in less than thirty seconds. The issue allows the attacker to bypass the need to enter credentials, including BIOS and Bitlocker passwords and TPM pins, and to gain remote access for later exploitation. It exists within Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT) and potentially affects millions of laptops globally.

  • Climate threatsClimate change changing Earth’s landscape

    Climate change will replace land use change as the major driver of changes in Earth’s biosphere in the twenty-first century if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t curbed, new research suggests. Historically, human land use change, like urban development and agricultural expansion, has been the primary cause of anthropogenic ecosystem change. But now, due to rising greenhouse gas levels, climate change has become a growing threat to ecosystems. The rapid pace of climate change is making it difficult for species to adapt to changes in temperature, water cycles, and other environmental conditions that affect life on Earth.

  • Energy securityRejection of subsidies for coal and nuclear power is a win for fact-based policymaking

    By Ellen Hughes-Cromwick

    Energy Secretary Rick Perry has repeatedly expressed concern over the past year about the reliability of our national electric power grid. On 28 September 2017, Perry ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to revise wholesale electricity market rules, implicitly suggesting that the federal government would give subsidies to owners of coal and nuclear power plants, to compensate them for keeping a 90-day fuel supply on-site in the event of a disruption to the grid. On Monday, the independent five-member commission – four of whose members have been appointed by President Trump — unanimously rejected Perry’s proposal. FERC’s 5-0 decision shows that policymaking based on evidence won the day. Perry’s proposal, which critics said was aiming to prop up nuclear and coal power plants struggling in competitive electricity markets, had the potential to affect millions of electricity customers, as well as power markets and the environment. FERC deserves congratulations for putting evidence before action.

  • CryptocurrencyBitcoin risks: What you should know about the digital currency

    If you own Bitcoin or want to invest in the mercurial digital currency, which soared to more than $19,000 before plunging in value, watch out, says an expert. Security and privacy issues, not to mention the possibility of a Bitcoin market crash, should give you pause for concern, according to Rutgers’s Janne Lindqvist. Bitcoin, a digital currency introduced in 2009, features a peer-to-peer network with a public online ledger for tracking transactions. Bitcoin prices have soared in recent months, and people can buy and sell Bitcoins with some anonymity.

  • Climate-change costs2017 climate, weather disasters in U.S. totaling $306 billion — a new record

    2017 will be remembered as a year of extremes for the United States as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, fires, and freezes claimed hundreds of lives and visited economic hardship upon the nation. The average U.S. temperature in 2017 was 54.6 degrees F (2.6 degrees F above average), making 2017 third warmest year in 123 years of record-keeping. The five warmest years on record for the United States all have occurred since 2006. In 2017, the United States experienced 16 weather and climate disasters each with losses exceeding $1 billion, totaling approximately $306 billion — a new U.S. record. Far more tragic was the human toll. At least 362 people died and many more were injured during the course of these disasters.

  • CybersecurityApple, Android and PC chip problem – why your smartphone and laptop are so at risk

    By Siraj Ahmed Shaikh

    Less than a week into 2018 and we may have already seen the year’s biggest technology story. Researchers have identified a security flaw in the computer processors made by three of the world’s biggest chip designers, Intel, AMD and ARM, and a second flaw in Intel chips. This means that almost every smartphone, tablet, laptop and business computer in the world could be vulnerable to having sensitive data including passwords stolen. The cloud servers that store websites and other internet data are also at risk. This is one of the biggest cyber security vulnerabilities we’ve ever seen in terms of the potential impact to personal, business and infrastructure computer systems. What’s more, because the flaw is located in such a fundamental part of the computer, there’s no way to know whether or not a machine has been targeted and what data might have been accessed.

  • Energy securityGeopolitical risks to U.S. oil supply lowest since the early 1970s

    The geopolitical risks to the U.S. oil supply are the lowest since the early 1970s, due to fracking, climate action and a more diverse global supply, according to a new study. America’s energy prosperity contrasts with a more fraught period for energy-exporting countries where geopolitical challenges have been compounded by fiscal stress and rising domestic energy demand, the authors said.

  • IranU.S. imposes sanctions on Iran over ballistic missiles, signals further measures

    The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on five Iranian entities over their involvement in developing ballistic missiles and signaled that more punitive measures are in play in response to the Islamic Republic’s crackdown of anti-government protests. The five designated companies are all subsidiaries of Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group (SBIG), which is part of the Iranian Defense Ministry.

  • Manmade earthquakesTo reduce the number of bigger earthquakes in Oklahoma, inject less saltwater

    Starting around 2009, saltwater disposal (SWD) volume began increasing dramatically as unconventional oil and gas production increased rapidly throughout Oklahoma. As a result, the number of magnitude 3-plus earthquakes rattling the state has jumped from about one per year before 2011 to more than 900 in 2015. Oklahoma is now the most seismically active state in the lower 48 United States.


     

  • Climate threats & businessNew principles to guide corporate investment toward climate goals

    Faced with climate change today, companies and investors face many complex ethical questions. Should investors continue to invest in fossil fuels or should they divest, sending a signal about the perceived illegitimacy of particular business models in a changing climate? Further, given the internationally agreed aspirations towards achieving net-zero emissions, how should investors manage the legal and financial risks of this transition?

  • Natural disasterHurricanes make 2017 year of highest insured losses ever

    The hurricane trio of Harvey, Irma, and Maria will cost the insurance industry a record amount in 2017: the final insurance bill for those and other natural catastrophes, including a severe earthquake in Mexico, is expected to come to $135 billion – higher than ever before. And overall losses – that is, including uninsured losses – amounted to $330 billion, the second-highest figure ever recorded for natural disasters. The only costlier year so far was 2011, when the Tohoku earthquake in Japan contributed to overall losses of $354 billion in today’s dollars.

  • CybersecurityPractically all Intel processors produced in the last decade found to have major security flaw

    A major security flaw has been discovered in practically all Intel processors. The flaw will require fixes within Windows, macOS, and Linux. Developers are currently working overtime to fix what they describe as a significant security hole within the Intel chips. Patches are already available within some versions of Linux and some testing versions of Windows. Experts note that the fixes, once in place, will slow down computers and cloud servers considerably.

  • Climate threatsHumidity may intensify heat stress to a point exceeding human endurance

    Climate scientists say that killer heat waves will become increasingly prevalent in many regions as climate warms. However, most projections leave out a major factor that could worsen things: humidity, which can greatly magnify the effects of heat alone. Now, a new global study projects that in coming decades the effects of high humidity in many areas will dramatically increase. At times, they may surpass humans’ ability to work or, in some cases, even survive.

  • Critical mineralsThe geology and resources of 23 minerals critical for the United States

    It would be no exaggeration to say that without minerals, no aspect of our daily lives would be possible. From the high-tech devices we use to access the information superhighway to the cars and trucks we use to drive the freeways, from the urban jungle to rural farms, every aspect of our lives relies on minerals. Thus, access to sufficient supplies of these minerals is a crucial part of keeping our economy and our security running. In a new collection of articles, USGS geologists provide the latest on the geology and resources of twenty-three mineral commodities deemed critical to the economy and security of the United States.

  • Climate-change costBillion-dollar weather and climate disasters on the rise

    from 1980 to 2017, the United States has sustained 218 weather and climate disasters in which overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2017). The total cost of these 218 events exceeds $1.2 trillion. This total does not yet include the costs for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Between 1 January and 6 October 2017, there have been fifteen weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. The 1980–2016 annual average pf weather events with losses exceeding $1 billion each is 5.5 events (CPI-adjusted); the annual average for the most recent 5 years (2012–2016) is 10.6 events (CPI-adjusted).