• CBP completes construction of border wall prototypes

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Thursday that construction for prototypes of the Border Wall has concluded in San Diego. The prototype construction phase is complete. CBP will now test and evaluate the finished products, provided by industry, to determine which wall design elements meets our needs. This testing and evaluation period will last thirty to sixty days.

  • DOD to remove Kaspersky software from Pentagon systems

    The Department of Defense is reviewing its computer systems to make sure that software from under-suspicion Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky does not touch any military systems. In September DHS issued a directive to all civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems. The directive, which gave agencies three months to complete the removal, referred to deepening concerns in the U.S. intelligence community about the close relationship between Kaspersky and the Russian intelligence agencies.

  • DOD to remove Kaspersky software from Pentagon systems

    The Department of Defense is reviewing its computer systems to make sure that software from under-suspicion Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky does not touch any military systems. In September DHS issued a directive to all civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems. The directive, which gave agencies three months to complete the removal, referred to deepening concerns in the U.S. intelligence community about the close relationship between Kaspersky and the Russian intelligence agencies.

  • S&T funds training of the next generation of animal health experts

    Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) are highly contagious with high morbidity and mortality. These diseases quickly cross-national borders, negatively impacting a country’s economic stability and public health by reducing exports, food quality and quantity, and the availability of livestock products and animal power. They pose serious threats to a country’s well-being, and scientists around the world are continuously investigating new methods to prevent their spread. This past summer, DHS S&T funded two programs — Texas A&M University’s Bench to Shop program and Kansas State University’s Transboundary Animal Disease Fellowship — to train the next generation of animal health experts.

  • DHS, FBI warn critical infrastructure firms of attacks by “Russia-linked” hackers

    DHS and the FBI on Friday have issued an alert that warning critical infrastructure companies of “advanced persistent threat (APT) actions targeting government entities and organizations in the energy, nuclear, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.” DHS said the hacking campaign, labeled Dragonfly, is a Kremlin-sponsored operation.

  • Warming seas could lead to 70 percent increase in hurricane-related financial loss

    If oceans warm at a rate predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN-sponsored group that assesses climate change research and issues periodic reports, expected financial losses caused by hurricanes could increase more than 70 percent by 2100, according to researchers. The finding is based on the panel’s most severe potential climate change scenario – and resulting increased sea surface temperature – and is predicted at an 80 percent confidence level. The model drew on hurricane data for the last 150 years gathered by NOAA.

  • For $1000, anyone can purchase mobile advertising to track your location, app use

    Privacy concerns have long swirled around how much information online advertising networks collect about people’s browsing, buying and social media habits — typically to sell you something. But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee? Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house? Could a suspicious employer see whether you’re using shopping apps on work time? The answer is yes, at least in theory.

  • U.S. bans Russian anti-virus software after Israel warns about hacking

    The U.S. government recently prohibited federal agencies from using the products of the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab. Kaspersky’s anti-virus software is used by 400 million people globally – and the off-the-shelf software was installed on many U.S. government systems. Israeli intelligence officials warned their U.S. counterparts that Russian government hackers had morphed Kaspersky’s anti-virus software into a search engine for sensitive information. The classified data was then extracted back to Russian intelligence systems. Kaspersky’s denials notwithstanding, cyber experts say it is not technically possible that Kaspersky Lab’s officials were ignorant of the Russian government’s use of the company product.

  • Climate action window could close as early as 2023

    As the Trump administration repeals the U.S. Clean Power Plan, a new study underscores the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions—from both environmental and economic perspectives. For the U.S. most energy-hungry sectors—automotive and electricity—the study identifies timetables for action, after which the researchers say it will be too late to stave off a climate tipping point. And the longer the nation waits, the more expensive it will be to move to cleaner technologies in those sectors—a finding that runs contrary to conventional economic thought because prices of solar, wind and battery technologies are rapidly falling, the study’s authors say.

  • Why Rick Perry’s proposed subsidies for coal fail Economics 101

    In a controversial proposal, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has asked federal regulators to effectively subsidize coal and nuclear power plants at ratepayers’ expense. Subsidizing utilities to burn more coal would worsen coal’s major negative externalities in the name of some dubious positive externalities. Deregulated power markets already have measures in place to support efficient levels of investment in reliability and resilience. There is surely room for refinement, but Perry’s proposal is the opposite of refined. It asks government to interfere in well-functioning markets, which is not something Republicans usually support – especially since it will come at great expense to ratepayers. Subsidizing coal for its reliability attributes is like subsidizing bacon for its nutritional content. There are better ways to get your vitamins, and better ways to keep the lights on.

  • Kaspersky antivirus hack a wake-up call for business

    Russian state-sponsored hackers were able to steal National Security Agency (NSA) material on methods the NSA uses to conduct cyber espionage as well as how the agency helps defend critical U.S. government networks. An NSA contractor placed the material on his or her private computer – a violation of the agency’s security policy – and the private computer reportedly had anti-virus software belonging Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab installed. The software detected the unsecured classified material and alerted Russian intelligence to its presence. Michael Sulmeyer, the director of the Belfer Center’s Cyber Security Project at Harvard University, says geopolitics should guide some in the private sector to follow the U.S. government’s lead in removing Kaspersky’s software from their networks.

  • Microsoft investigating Russian government operatives’ purchase of campaign ads

    Microsoft is reviewing its accounts to determine whether Russian government operatives and trolls aligned with the Russian government purchased ads on Bing or other company products in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential race. The company’s decision to conduct an internal investigation comes as Microsoft’s tech industry peers — Facebook, Google, and Twitter — are dealing with probes by the U.S. Congress into the extent to which Kremlin-backed agents spread disinformation on their platforms around Election Day.

  • Flights worldwide face increased risk of severe turbulence owing to climate change

    Flights all around the world could be encountering lots more turbulence in the future, according to the first ever global projections of in-flight bumpiness. A new study has calculated that climate change will significantly increase the amount of severe turbulence worldwide by 2050–2080. Severe turbulence involves forces stronger than gravity, and is strong enough to throw people and luggage around an aircraft cabin.

  • Russia recruited YouTubers to bash “Racist B*tch” Hillary Clinton over rap beats

    According to the YouTube page for “Williams and Kalvin,” the Clintons are “serial killers who are going to rape the whole nation.” Donald Trump can’t be racist because he’s a “businessman.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign was “fund[ed] by the Muslim.” Williams and Kalvin’s content was pulled from Facebook in August after it was identified as a Russian government-backed propaganda account. According to Clint Watts, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, using third party contractors from both inside Russia and countries with cheap labor is a method used by the Kremlin to “muddy the waters on attribution” of propaganda. “Often, (the Kremlin) will contract out entities to do this so they can say, ‘You can’t prove that it’s us,’” Watts told the Daily Beast. “It’s pretty routine for them to try to gain resources through third parties and contract cutouts.”

  • Russian agents bought ads on Google platforms, targeting voters in crucial swing states

    Google says Russian agents have purchased ads on YouTube, Google Search, Gmail, and the company’s DoubleClick ad network. Some of the ads touted Donald Trump, while other ads aimed to help Trump indirectly: They promoted the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and the Green party candidate Jill Stein in order to weaken Hillary Clinton among left-leaning voters. The purpose of other ads was to sow discord, deepen social divisions, and intensify racial animosity: These ads talked about the threat to America posed by immigrants, African American activists, and members of the LGBT community, aiming to intensify backlash against these groups, and the politicians who spoke on their behalf, among White and more traditional voters. Many of the ads targeted voters in crucial swing states.