• Truth decayAI Startups to Fight Against Online Disinformation

    On both sides of the Atlantic, governments, foundations, and companies are looking at how to solve the problem of online dis/misinformation. Some emphasize the demand side of the problem, believing it important to focus on consumer behavior and the use of media literacy and fact-checking. Some focus on legal remedies such as platform-liability and hate-speech laws as well as privacy protections. Others try to raise the quality of journalism in the hope that creating more reliable content. There is another kind of fix, offered by small companies in the information ecosystem: Using natural language processing as well as human intelligence to identify and, in some cases, block false or inflammatory content online.

  • CybersecurityTests Find 125 Vulnerabilities in 13 Network Attached Storage Devices

    In a new, follow-up cybersecurity study of network attached storage (NAS) systems and routers since 2013, consulting and research firm Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) found 125 vulnerabilities in 13 IoT devices, reaffirming an industrywide problem of a lack of basic security diligence.

  • PerspectiveIf U.S. Claims of How the Saudi Oil Attack Went Down Are True, Then the Failure to Prevent It Is a Huge Embarrassment

    It has yet to be definitively established how the massively disruptive attacks this past weekend on a crucial Saudi oil facility took place. The version of events being advanced by U.S. officials, however — that most of the damage was from cruise missiles launched from Iran — raises the embarrassing question of why the U.S. military was unable to do anything about it. the airspace around Iran and Saudi Arabia is some of the best-defended and most intensively monitored on earth, thanks to the decades-long buildup of U.S. assets there. But on Saturday those defenses failed to prevent what U.S. officials have said were at least 17 separate strikes. Based on information made public about the strikes, defense insiders were left wondering how the U.S. military had fared so poorly in one of its primary missions in the region.

  • Perspective: China syndromeFearing “Spy Trains,” Congress May Ban a Chinese Maker of Subway Cars

    A Chinese state-owned company called CRRC Corporation, the world’s largest train maker, completed the $100 million facility this year in the hopes of winning contracts to build subway cars and other passenger trains for American cities like Chicago and Washington. But growing fears about China’s economic ambitions and its potential to track and spy on Americans are about to quash those plans. Lawmakers — along with CRRC’s competitors — say they are concerned that subway cars made by a Chinese company might make it easier for Beijing to spy on Americans and could pose a sabotage threat to American infrastructure. Critics of the deal speculate that the Chinese firm could incorporate technology into the cars that would allow CRRC — and the Chinese government — to track the faces, movement, conversations or phone calls of passengers through the train’s cameras or Wi-Fi.

  • Perspective: China syndromeHuawei's Dominance of Africa's Mobile Networks Mean More Spying on African Citizens

    Chinese tech firm Huawei has been increasing its footprint across Africa, providing countries with new technology and telecommunications equipment, including most notably 4G and 5G mobile networks. Some of this expansion has involved Huawei technicians helping governments in Africa to spy on their political opponents.

  • Perspective: RansomwareNorth Korean Hacking Groups Hit with Treasury Sanctions

    The Department of the Treasury hit three North Korean groups with new sanctions Sept. 13 for conducting cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, including the infamous WannaCry ransomware attacks. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control announced that Lazarus Group, an advanced persistent threat believed to be working at the behest of the North Korean government and two of its subgroups, dubbed Bluenoroff and Andariel, was responsible for unleashing WannaCry, which wrought havoc across hospital and health care organizations in as well as other sectors in the United Kingdom and other industrial sectors in 2017, as well as the 2014 Sony hack.

  • Perspective: Business & paramilitariesWPB Judge Tosses Suits Accusing Chiquita of Helping Terrorists Kill Colombians

    About 220,000 Colombians were killed in the civil war which raged in Colombia between 1964 and 2016. Most of the victims were killed by two Marxist insurgency groups, the FARC and the ELN. Many, however, were killed by various right-wing paramilitary groups which often coordinated their activities with government forces. A number of Colombians whose relatives were killed by paramilitary violence sued Chiquita Brands International in a Florida court for providing financial assistance to the paramilitary groups. Their hopes for success faded this month when U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra threw out their claims.

  • Perspective: Water woesBottled Water Is Sucking Florida Dry

    Florida has the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world, but they are being devastated by increasing pollution and drastic declines in water flow. Some springs have dried up from overextraction; others have shown signs of saltwater intrusion and harmful algae blooms. The answer to this problem is simple: No more extraction permits should be granted, and existing permits should be reduced with the goal of eliminating bottled water production entirely in Florida. But that simple solution is not being implemented. In the next few months, Nestlé, the largest bottled-water company in the world, is set to renew its permit at Ginnie Springs, one of the most popular recreational attractions along the Santa Fe River,” Sainato and Skojec write. “The permit allows Nestlé to take one million gallons per day at no cost, with just a one-time $115 application fee.”

  • Perspective: Mitigating climate crisisCan We Engineer Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis?

    The Climate Apocalypse is upon us. More carbon monoxide has been discharged into the atmosphere in the last 50 years than in the whole of human history that went before. Carbon traps heat and the world is getting hotter. Heat holds water vapor and so rainfall is getting more frequent while heat waves last longer. Ice at the poles melts and coastal cities face inundation as sea levels rise. The doom confidently predicted by many climate scientists around the world is being met by optimism among other scientists who are employing innovative technologies that may transform the debate and offer hope for us all. These technological breakthroughs will impact all aspects of climate change from carbon emissions to food production and all forms of energy.

  • Perspective: Truth decayThe BBC Joins Up with Google, Facebook, and Twitter to Try to Tackle Misinformation Online

    The BBC is teaming up with some of the biggest names in tech to coordinate a defense against the online disinformation campaigns endemic to some of their platforms, the outlet announced Saturday. Google, Twitter, and Facebook said that they, and the BBC, would come up with a targeted approach which, in part, uses an early warning system during critical periods when the spread of misinformation “threatens human life or disrupts democracy during election,” per the BBC.

  • Perspective: ImmigrationHow Climate Change Is Driving Emigration from Central America

    Migration from Central America has gotten a lot of attention these days, including the famous migrant caravans. But much of it focuses on the way migrants from this region – especially El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras – are driven out by gang violence, corruption and political upheaval. These factors are important and require a response from the international community. But displacement driven by climate change is significant too.

  • Perspective: CryptocurrencyWarning Issued After Malware Is Found to Have Hijacked Bitcoin Blockchain

    Bitcoin’s blockchain has been hijacked by a new strain of the Glupteba malware that uses the network to resist attacks, cyber security researchers have warned. The malware uses the bitcoin blockchain to update, meaning it can continue running even if a device’s antivirus software blocks its connection to servers run by the hackers, security intelligence blog Trend Micro reported this week.

  • Disaster costsDamage Estimates for Hurricanes Like Dorian Don’t Capture the Full Cost of Climate Change-Fueled Disasters

    By Gary W. Yohe

    Scientists say climate change is causing powerful hurricanes like Dorian to increasingly stall over coastal areas, which leads to heavy flooding. The U.S. government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment offered a range of climate change-induced losses of U.S. GDP which range from as low as 6 percent to as high as 14 percent by 2090. Aa more meaningful assessment of the costs of climate change – using basic economic principles I teach to undergrads – is a hell of a lot scarier.

  • Security screeningFaster, Smarter Security Screening Systems

    By now, attendees to sporting events, visitors to office buildings, and especially frequent fliers are all quite familiar with the technologies used at security checkpoints. You arrive at the security checkpoint, check your bags, show your ID and maybe your ticket or boarding pass, throw away the coffee or water you’ve been chugging, and then wait in a long line until it is your turn to be screened. The security lines can be inconvenient. S&T and partners are working to help security screening systems, whether at airports, government facilities, border checkpoints, or public spaces like arenas, to work faster and smarter.

  • PerspectiveWelcome to the New Phase of U.S.-China Tech Competition

    It came without a breaking news alert or presidential tweet, but the technological competition with China entered a new phase last month. Several developments quietly heralded this shift: Cross-border investments between the United States and China plunged to their lowest levels since 2014, with the tech sector suffering the most precipitous drop. U.S. chip giants Intel and AMD abruptly ended or declined to extend important partnerships with Chinese entities. The Department of Commerce halved the number of licenses that let U.S. companies assign Chinese nationals to sensitive technology and engineering projects.