• New technologies developed to deal with growing illegal migration

    Mass migration driven by climate change is pushing the global demand for border security solutions. It is not just that climate change displaces people through floods, storms, and rising sea levels; it also displaces them through scarcity of food and water, and by the conflicts that are in turn sparked by scarcity and migration. Companies specializing in border solutions are developing new technologies to help border agents track and identify illegal migrants.

  • National Flood Insurance Program to focus more on victims’ needs

    Roy Wright, the newly appointed director of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), said that he will push it to better focus on the welfare and individual needs of disaster victims, following years of scandal within the organization. Wright, who will preside over the federal program beginning this week, criticized the insurance loopholes and complicated rules of private insurance companies that were perpetuated by the NFIP to “nickel-and-dime” policyholders and undermine their abilities to rebuild following a flood.

  • Chicago, center of fracking oil shipments, debates rail safety

    Chicago is home to the busiest crossroads of the nation’s rail network, and the country’s boom in oil fracking has led the city to see not only a massive increase in crude oil transferred by rail in the region, but also debates about the public safety of such an influx. The Windy City has experienced a 4,000 percent increase in oil train traffic since 2008, with many of the densely packed suburbs surrounding the city located very close to rail lines and switches.

  • U.S. surveillance policies cost U.S. tech sector more than $35 billion in sales

    New report says the U.S. tech industry has under-performed as a result of concerns about the U.S. government’s electronic surveillance. The report estimates that the total economic impact on the U.S. tech sector of U.S. surveillance practices exceeds $35 billion annually. The report recommends policymakers level the playing field for the U.S. tech sector by implementing a series of reforms such as increasing the transparency of its surveillance practices, opposing government efforts to weaken encryption or introduce backdoors in software, and strengthening its mutual legal assistance treaties with other nations.

  • No one wants to fund the development of new antibiotics

    Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are like a ticking time bomb. The world needs new antibiotics. Scientists, veterinarians, and doctors have been describing this crisis for some time. So why is so little happening? The honest truth is money. No one wants to foot the bill. The pharmaceutical companies have to make money, which they generally do not do on antibiotics.

  • Companies making cybersecurity a greater priority, but hackers may still be gaining

    Companies are spending increasing amounts on cybersecurity tools, but are not convinced their data is truly secure and many chief information security officers believe that attackers are gaining on their defenses, according to a new RAND Corporation study. While worldwide spending on cybersecurity is close to $70 billion a year and growing at 10 percent to 15 percent annually, many chief information security officers believe that hackers may gain the upper hand two to five years from now, requiring a continual cycle of development and implementation of stronger and more innovative defensive measures.

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  • NIST releases update of Industrial Control Systems Security Guide

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued the second revision to its Guide to Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Security. It includes new guidance on how to tailor traditional IT security controls to accommodate unique ICS performance, reliability, and safety requirements, as well as updates to sections on threats and vulnerabilities, risk management, recommended practices, security architectures and security capabilities and tools.

  • Zimbabwe’s new exchange rate: $1 for 35,000,000,000,000,000 old Zimbabwean dollars

    Following nearly fifteen years of ruinous economic policies which brought the country to its knees, the government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe will next week begin a three-month currency exchange program which will allow citizens to exchange “quadrillions” of local dollars for a few U.S. dollars. The plan is part of the government decision to discard, or decommission, the country’s worthless national currency. In 2008, the Zimbabwean hyperinflation set the all-time world record of 500 billion percent. Bank accounts with balances of up to 175 quadrillion (175,000 trillion) Zimbabwean dollars will be paid $5. Those with balances above 175 quadrillion dollars will be paid at an exchange rate of $1 for 35 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars.

  • D.C.-area becoming the Silicon Valley of cybersecurity

    A recent string of multi-billion dollar cybersecurity acquisitions in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area has led to the region being seen as a major hotbed for the industry. Spending by the Department of Defense (DOD) and a number of federal agencies has led to big contracts for many in the region, fuelling much of the growth. As the DOD focuses more of its budget on cyber issues and defense, the market has grown. “The D.C./NoVA/MD area, also known as the Cyber Corridor, is becoming the Silicon Valley of security,” say the CEO of one cybersecurity firm.

  • Criminals receive 1,425 percent return on investment from malware attacks: Report

    Trustwave yesterday released its 2015 Trustwave Global Security Report which analyzes the top cybercrime, data breach, and security threat trends from 2014. Among the report’s findings: Attackers receive an estimated 1,425 percent return on investment for exploit kit and ransomware schemes ($84,100 net revenue for each $5,900 investment); spam volume continues to decrease making up 60 percent of total inbound mail (compared to 69 percent in 2013 and more than 90 percent at its peak in 2008), but six percent of it included a malicious attachment or link, a slight increase from 2013.

  • State-by-state plan to convert U.S. to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050

    One potential way to combat ongoing climate change, eliminate air pollution mortality, create jobs, and stabilize energy prices involves converting the world’s entire energy infrastructure to run on clean, renewable energy. This is a daunting challenge. Now, researchers for the first time have outlined how each of the fifty states can achieve such a transition by 2050. The fifty individual state plans call for aggressive changes to both infrastructure and the ways we currently consume energy, but indicate that the conversion is technically and economically possible through the wide-scale implementation of existing technologies.

  • Israelis to gain $120 billion, Palestinians $50 billion over next decade in two-state solution

    The Israeli economy stands to gain more than $120 billion over the next decade in a two-state solution, a possible resolution of the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in which the Palestinians gain independence and relations between the Israelis and their neighbors normalize, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Palestinians would gain $50 billion, with average per-capita income rising by about 36 percent. A return to violence, by contrast, would have profoundly negative economic consequences for both Palestinians and Israelis. The estimates are part of a systematic effort to quantify the likely economic and security costs and benefits of five alternative futures for the conflict relative to present trends. Besides the two-state and return-to-violence scenarios, RAND researchers considered three additional alternative futures: a coordinated unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank by Israel, uncoordinated withdrawal where Palestinians do not cooperate with Israeli unilateral moves, and nonviolent resistance by Palestinians.

  • Mapping organized crime, terrorism hotspots in Eurasia

    More than a quarter of all the drugs produced in opium-rich Afghanistan pass through Eurasia. Drug trafficking in the region has been linked to the strength of such terrorists groups as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, and al-Qaeda. The illicit sale of weapons is common in the area, and locals are drawn into human trafficking rings either for forced labor or sexual exploitation. As organized crime plays an increasing role in funding terrorism, researchers aim to pinpoint hotspots in Eurasia where drug trafficking, human trafficking, and terrorism coincide. The research team, selected to receive a $953,500 Minerva grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Minerva Research Initiative, will examine the connections between terrorism and organized crime in Central Asia, South Caucasus, and Russia.

  • Combating cyber threats to the global financial industry

    Today more than fifteen billion devices are connected to the Internet; in the next five years, that number will grow to fifty billion. With each new device presenting an opportunity to be infiltrated and compromised by hackers, it is easy to understand why the importance of cybersecurity continues to skyrocket. So explained keynote speaker Elizabeth Petrie, director of strategic intelligence analysis for Citigroup, who kicked off a one-day conference at the University of Delaware on cybersecurity issues impacting the global financial industry.

  • Most Americans could be fed by food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes

    The popularity of “farm to table” has skyrocketed in the past few years as people become more interested in supporting local farmers and getting fresher food from sources they know and trust. Even large chain restaurants are making efforts to source supplies locally, knowing more customers care where their food comes from. New farmland-mapping research published the other day shows that up to 90 percent of Americans could be fed entirely by food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes.