• Global small arms trade reached $6 billion in 2013

    The Small Arms Survey’s Trade Update 2016: Transfers and Transparency reports that the world’s “top” and “major” small arms exporters delivered at least $5.8 billion worth of small arms in 2013, an increase of 17 percent compared to the $5 billion worth exported in 2012. The United States exported a record $1.1 billion worth of small arms in 2013. Transfers of small arms to the United States ($2.5 billion) alone accounted for 42 percent of all imports.

  • Inside ISIS' looted antiquities trade

    For excavators – archaeologists, but also looters like the Islamic State, or ISIS – the opportunity for discovery in modern Iraq and Syria is dazzling. Everyone seems to agree that ISIS is digging up and selling archaeological artifacts to make money. But no one seems to agree on how much money it’s actually making from its illegal antiquities trade: amounts have ranged from $4 million to $7 billion. Patchy data and methodological challenges do not fully explain why $7 billion fell to $4 million in public discussions about the ISIS antiquities trade. While market mystique and over-the-top plot lines are fine for Hollywood films and adventure novels, it’s no way to understand terrorist finance, and without that understanding we are unlikely to arrive at genuine and lasting solutions.

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  • New alloy to boost rare-earth elements production

    Rare earths are a group of elements critical to electronics, alternative energy, and other modern technologies. Modern windmills and hybrid autos, for example, rely on strong permanent magnets made with the rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium. Yet there is no production occurring in North America at this time. Researchers have developed aluminum alloys that are both easier to work with and more heat tolerant than existing products. The alloys — which contain cerium — have the potential to jump-start the U.S. production of rare earth elements.

  • HIPAA audits and what you need to consider to keep your organization compliant

    HIPAA has long been a regulation which has been confusing, in many aspects requiring a legal degree to understand the complexity and exactly how to become and remain complaint.HIPAA was enacted in 1996, and it has taken twenty years for it to become the elephant in the room it is today.The regulation has become more sophisticated based on the overwhelming increase in data breaches with the medical industry experiencing the greatest impact.

  • NRC asked to shut down Indian Point nuclear plant

    Located twenty-six miles from New York City, in the right weather conditions a radiation release at Indian Point nuclear power plant could reach Times Square in as little as ninety minutes, making evacuation of New York City impossible and rendering the area uninhabitable for a long time. Critics of the agiing plant say that the disappearance and disintegration of more than 1 in 4 critical bolts holding the Indian Point nuclear reactor cooling system together is far more serious than owner, Entergy, admits.

  • Appalachian coal ash rich in rare earth elements

    In the wake of a 2014 coal ash spill into North Carolina’s Dan River from a ruptured Duke Energy drainage pipe, the question of what to do with the nation’s aging retention ponds and future coal ash waste has been a highly contested topic. A study of the content of rare earth elements in U.S. coal ashes shows that coal mined from the Appalachian Mountains could be the proverbial golden goose for hard-to-find materials critical to clean energy and other emerging technologies.

  • Changing climate threatens World Heritage, tourism sites

    Climate change is fast becoming one of the most significant risks for World Heritage sites across the globe. Many World Heritage sites, designated for their global significance and universal value to humankind, are major tourist destinations. Some are among the most iconic places on Earth.

  • It’s easier to defend against ransomware than you might think

    Ransomware – malicious software that sneaks onto your computer, encrypts your data so you can’t access it and demands payment for unlocking the information – has become an emerging cyberthreat. Several reports in the past few years document the diversity of ransomware attacks and their increasingly sophisticated methods. Unfortunately, the use of advanced cryptosystems in modern ransomware families has made recovering victims’ files almost impossible without paying the ransom. However, it is easier to defend against ransomware than to fight off other types of cyberthreats, such as hackers gaining unauthorized entry to company data and stealing secret information.

  • What Machiavelli can teach us about cybercrime and e-commerce security

    Online poker offers new insights into the mind-set of scheming Machiavellians, researchers have found. The researchers show that the card betting game can be used as a novel way to better understand the psychology of strategic deception. The research is part of a broader project looking at break-through research on deception, a basic problem at the heart of cybercrime affecting sectors such as e-commerce and financial services, to deepen our fundamental understanding of how deception works particularly in online settings.

  • Study probes impact of terror on business travelers, managers

    A joint study of terror’s impact on business travelers and business travel managers revealed surprising results, especially with regard to traveler fears and anxiety. Among other findings, the study found that 31 percent of business travelers worry that a reluctance to travel could hurt their career, and that 6 percent would not feel comfortable expressing their concerns to upper management.

  • Update on earthquakes: Newest results from Oklahoma Commission look “encouraging”

    The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), the regulatory agency overseeing the state’s oil and gas industry, now has data that may suggest their directives to owners of production and induction wells have successfully contributed to a decline in seismic activity in the most volatile areas prone to earthquakes.Scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) continue to remind the public that there are a wide variety of unanswered questions about immediate and long-term remedies even with the new directives in place. 

  • How Israel became a cybersecurity superpower

    Israel’s rise as one of the world’s leaders in cybersecurity has been boosted by cooperation between the military, government, education, and private sectors, a level of partnership unmatched in the Western world. Israel’s cybersecurity sector is now worth half a billion dollars annually — second only to the United States.

  • Italian police cannot unlock Bari terrorist iPhone

    The Italian security services have been unable to unlock the Apple iPhone 6 plus of a suspect member of a terrorist ring in the city of Bari. Analysts say the development will likely result in another stand-off between Apple and a government fighting terrorism, similar to the stand-off between Apple and the U.S. government over the iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorists.

  • CBP MSC vehicle contracts to Telephonic appear problematic

    According to federal government documents, problematic contract inconsistencies predominate in yet another CBP surveillance technology program. The CBP contract in question calls for the production of Multiple Surveillance Capability (MSC) vehicles. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of these documented problematic delays in the CBP and Office of Technology Innovation and Assessment (OTIA) acquisition process with Telephonics MSC vehicle contracts have serious ramifications. Equally troubling is that CBP MSC contract delays from 2010 to 2015 mirror SBInet delays from 2006 to 2011. These contract delays with Telephonics MSC vehicles, a surveillance technology already in place in other countries, continues to create a U.S.-Mexican border far less secure or safe than it should or has to be.

  • Cybersecurity’s weakest link: humans

    There is a common thread that connects many of the recent hacks which captured the headlines. They all employed generic – or what is now considered “old school” – phishing attacks which typically took the form of the infamous “Nigerian prince” type e-mails, trying to trick recipients into responding with some personal financial information. “Spearphishing” attacks are similar but far more vicious. They seek to persuade victims to click on a hyperlink or an attachment that usually deploys software (called “malware”) allowing attackers access to the user’s computer or even to an entire corporate network. Yes, people are the weakest links in cybersecurity. But they don’t have to be. With smarter, individualized training, we could convert many of these weak links into strong detectors – and in doing so, significantly strengthen cybersecurity.