• Europol’s No More Ransom initiative celebrates its first year

    Ransomware has soared since 2012, with criminals attracted by the promise of profit and ease of implementation. The total number of users who encountered ransomware between April 2016 and March 2017 rose by 11.4 percent compared to the previous twelve months, from 2,315,931 to 2,581,026 users around the world. A year ago, Europol and partners the No More Ransom initiative, which now has 109 partners, including government agencies and private organizations and companies.

  • Applied cybersecurity research for better protection of critical national infrastructure sectors

    DHS S&T awarded a five-year Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), with a maximum value of $70 million, to Arlington, Virginia-based Cyber Apex Solutions, LLC, to facilitate applied research of prototype cyberdefenses for critical national infrastructure sectors.

  • U.S. weapons main source of trade in illegal arms on the Dark Web

    New report, based on first-ever study, looks at the size and scope of the illegal arms trade on the dark web. European purchases of weapons on the dark web generate estimated revenues five times higher than the U.S. purchases. The dark web’s potential to anonymously arm criminals and terrorists, as well as vulnerable and fixated individuals, is “the most dangerous aspect.”

  • “Stalking software”: Surveillance made simpler

    The controversial Snap Map app enables Snapchat users to track their friends. The app makes it possible for users to monitor their friends’ movements, and determine – in real time – exactly where their posts are coming from (down to the address). Many social media users expressed their indignation, referring to the app as “stalking software.” This is the latest in a series of monitoring tools to be built on social media platforms. A new study assesses the benefits and risks associated with their use.

  • The real costs of cheap surveillance

    Surveillance used to be expensive. Even just a few years ago, tailing a person’s movements around the clock required rotating shifts of personnel devoted full-time to the task. Not any more, though. Governments can track the movements of massive numbers of people by positioning cameras to read license plates, or by setting up facial recognition systems. Private companies’ tracking of our lives has also become easy and cheap too. Advertising network systems let data brokers track nearly every page you visit on the web, and associate it with an individual profile. It is worth thinking about all of this more deeply. U.S. firms – unless they’re managed or regulated in socially beneficial ways – have both the incentive and the opportunity to use information about us in undesirable ways. We need to talk about the government’s enacting rules constraining that activity. After all, leaving those decisions to the people who make money selling our data is unlikely to result in our getting the rules we want.

  • Troubled flood insurance program traps homeowners in flood-prone areas

    The U.S. flood insurance program has repeatedly rebuilt some of the most flood-prone properties in the country, unintentionally setting a trap for owners of modest homes who would prefer to move out of harm’s way, according to a new national report. Today it is thousands of properties, but climate change and rising sea levels threaten to flood millions of properties in the coming decades. For every $100 the nation spends to rebuild homes with national flood insurance funds, FEMA spends just $1.72 to better protect people by moving them to safer, less flood-prone land.

  • Minority Report? Wisc. company replaces ID cards, badges with microchips implants

    River Falls, Wisconsin-based technology company Three Square Market has become one of the first in the world to implant microchips in staff so they can clock-in or enter secure areas by waving their arm instead of using swipe cards or ID badges. The implanted microchip would also allow employees to order food at the cafeteria and open the parking garage doors. They can also log in to their computer without a password.

  • Petya variant hobbles European businesses

    In the wake of May’s WannaCry attack, which affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, a fast-moving malware malware outbreak was reported 27 June at targets in Spain, France, Ukraine, Russia, and other countries. The attack infected large banks, law firms, shipping companies, and even the Chernobyl nuclear facility in the Ukraine. The new malware is thought to be a variant of Petya, a wiper malware designed to destroy systems and data with no hope of recovery.

  • Three advanced first-response technologies funded

    The Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation awarded funding to three homeland security projects, selected by DHS and MOPS, between U.S. and Israeli companies to advance technologies for first responders. In addition to the grants from BIRD, the projects will access private sector funding, boosting the total value of the three projects to approximately $7 million. The program funds technology collaborations between U.S. and Israeli partners that have significant commercial potential to meet the most pressing requirements of first responders.

  • Strategic threat: Russia’s use of the “energy weapon” against Western Europe

    In 2016, Russian gas imports equaled 23 percent of total U.K. gas demand, 25 percent in France, 40 percent in Italy, 55 percent in Denmark, 58 percent in the Czech Republic, 62 percent in Germany and Hungary, 64 percent in Poland, 70 percent in Austria, and 84 percent in Slovakia. Although it has not been widely successful to date in the former Soviet zone, Russia’s use of the “energy weapon” against Western European countries in various forms still constitutes a strategic threat that warrants close attention from policymakers, experts say.

  • Why has healthcare become such a target for cyber-attackers?

    More than 16m patient records were stolen from healthcare organizations in the United States and related parties in 2016. That year, healthcare was the fifth most targeted industry when it came to cyber-attacks. And earlier this year, Britain’s National Health Service was crippled by a ransomware attack that locked up the computers holding many of its records and booking systems. As connected technology becomes even more embedded in healthcare, this cyber-threat is only likely to grow. But if we want to protect our health from cyber-attacks, we shouldn’t fear technology. Instead, we need to understand it better and realize that the threat becomes much worse when people make simple mistakes.

  • Dust Bowl redux: Increase in dust storms in the U.S.

    Could the storms that once engulfed the Great Plains in clouds of black dust in the 1930s once again wreak havoc in the United States? A new statistical model developed by researchers predicts that climate change will amplify dust activity in parts of the United States in the latter half of the 21st century, which may lead to the increased frequency of spectacular dust storms that have far-reaching impacts on public health and infrastructure.

  • Cyberattack could cost $120 billion: Lloyd’s

    Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London has warned that the cost of a serious cyberattack to the global economy could reach $120 billion or more – which was the cost of damage inflicted by Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy. insurance firm says the threat posed by global cyberattacks has spiraled, and that it poses a huge risk over the next decade to business and governments everywhere. Trevor Maynard, Lloyd’s head of innovation and co-author of the report, said that where people are involved, risk changes quite rapidly — from cyberattacks to terrorism and political risk – but that from year to year, such risks vary relatively little. “But climate change in the end will be far larger as a risk,” he said, and it remains the biggest challenge in the long run.

  • App ensures safe surfing on public Wi-Fi hotspots

    You always need to assume someone’s looking over your shoulder when you’re using public Wi-Fi: a hacker, or the government, or a plain old snoop. New app — SaferVPN — automatically turns on as soon as your device connects to unsecured networks, an begins to direct data through an encrypted “tunnel.”

  • Russian hackers likely behind cyberattacks on U.S. nuclear operators: Experts

    Russian government hackers are suspected to be behind a series of cyberattacks on U.S. nuclear operators. The attacks were similar to recent Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power infrastructure. Experts say that rhe attacks in Ukraine and the United States show that Russian hackers appear to be testing increasingly advanced tools to disrupt power supplies. “If you think about a typical war, some of the acts that have been taken against critical infrastructure in Ukraine and even in the U.S., those would be considered crossing red lines,” says one security expert.