Business

  • States, cities vying to become U.S. “cyber hub”

    The global cybersecurity market reached $67 billion in 2011, and it is projected to grow as high as $156 billion by 2019. The need for cybersecurity solutions and experts is going to grow as more companies such as Sony Pictures, Target, Home Depot, and Chase are hacked, consumers demand better online security, and businesses become more aware of the potential cost to their sales and reputation if they do not provide cybersecurity. As private sector firms compete with government agencies for the best cyber professionals, cities and states are also competing to be the country’s “cyber hub.”

  • Spanish “kebab laws” worry, upset Muslim immigrants

    Withy persistent unemployment and worries about radicalization, more Spanish cities are placing limits on businesses typically owned and operated by immigrants from North Africa. In the city of Terragona, for examples, these regulations – informally called “kebab laws” — disallow commercial licenses to any kebab shops, dollar stores, or Internet cafes within 500 yards of existing ones. Additionally, these businesses would have to comply with stricter hygiene standards and business hours. Muslim leaders in Spain and civil rights advocates say these laws are a thinly veiled effort to discourage Muslim immigration.

  • Depletion of soil accelerates, putting human security at risk: Scientists

    Steadily and alarmingly, humans have been depleting Earth’s soil resources faster than the nutrients can be replenished. If this trajectory does not change, soil erosion, combined with the effects of climate change, will present a huge risk to global food security over the next century, warns a review paper authored by some of the top soil scientists in the country. The paper singles out farming, which accelerates erosion and nutrient removal, as the primary game changer in soil health.

  • Lawrence Lally, 1934-2015

    Lawrence Lally, the father of the Homeland Security News Wire’s publisher Grant Lally, passed a few days ago. Lawrence’s parents lost their Long Island publishing business during the Great Depression, but Lawrence never lost his interest in writing and publishing. He was a successful attorney and real estate developer, and he owned, developed, and was involved in many other businesses, but he found his involvement with the North Shore Leader, of which he was the publisher, to be among the most rewarding and fulfilling of his many ventures. He was also close to HSNW, and often discussed it with his son, Grant. Earlier this week the Leader published an obituary for Lawrence Lally, and we are publishing it in HSNW with the Leader’s permission.

  • Insurance industry wary about insuring Bitcoin companies, transactions

    Consumers worldwide are engaging in 100,000 financial transactions every day using Bitcoins. The currency has moved beyond its secretive past and has been embraced by tech firms who are interested in it from a technological perspective and for its investment potential. Venture capital companies have invested more than $670 million worth of Bitcoins into security-related companies. An estimated $3.5 billion worth of Bitcoins are in circulation, 82,000 merchants now accept the currency, and eight million users have set up Bitcoin “wallets” in which they store and manage the currency. As of Monday one bitcoin is worth about $240 U.S. dollars. As a digital currency, Bitcoin is vulnerable to cyber theft — and a s a result, cybersecurity has been a concern among many insurers considering policies that cover Bitcoins.

  • U.S. consumer boycott of French-sounding products during 2003 Iraq War

    Remember “freedom fries?” In 2002, as the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush was gearing up to invade Iraq, tensions were rising in the U.N. Security Council, where France, deeply opposed to an attack on Iraq, threatened to use its veto power to stop the action. In the United States, sentiment toward Paris plummeted, particularly among conservative Americans. Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly announced on the air he was boycotting French products, and Capitol Hill cafeterias famously renamed French fries as “freedom fries,” in an edible admonishment of the French government. Do U.S. consumers boycott products in response to international conflict? Two professors at the University of Virginia say that in the case of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the answer is “yes.”

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  • Breach of background-checks database may lead to blackmail

    Newly released documents show how hackers infiltrated servers used by US Investigations Services(USIS), a federal contractor which conducts background checks for DHS. In a House Oversight and Government Reform Committeehearing last week, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) said more than 27,000 personnel seeking security clearances likely were affected by the USIS breach. Similar hacks also affected servers at the Office of Personnel Management(OPM), which holds information on security clearance investigations. Once hackers have a list of employees who possess government security clearances, they can exploit other aspects of those employees’ lives for malicious gain.

  • Safety procedures have not kept up with new, deeper offshore oil drilling operations

    Just five years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, which leaked roughly 134 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, federal agencies have approved even deeper series of next-generation wells, which critics cite as too new to be properly regulated. Concerned scientists and industry officials are arguing that the recently allowed wells have not yet developed proper corresponding safety procedures to prevent a disaster similar, or worse, than the one which befell the Macondo well.

  • Coffee production starting to decline as a result of warming

    Coffee is the world’s most valuable tropical export crop and the industry supports an estimated 100 million people worldwide. Scientists have provided the first on-the-ground evidence that climate change has already had a substantial impact on coffee production in the East African Highlands region. The study, using data from the northern Tanzanian highlands, verifies for the first time the increasing night time (minimum) temperature as the most significant climatic variable being responsible for diminishing Coffea arabica coffee yields between 1961 and 2012 and proves that climate change is an ongoing reality.

  • To bolster the world’s inadequate cyber governance framework, a “Cyber WHO” is needed

    A new report on cyber governance commissioned by Zurich Insurance Group highlights challenges to digital security and identifies new opportunities for business. It calls for the establishment of guiding principles to build resilience and the establishment of supranational governance bodies such as a Cyber Stability Board and a “Cyber WHO.”

  • More money, different approach offer opportunities to border security tech companies

    The number of border agents has reached roughly 21,000, up from 5,000 two decades ago. In fiscal year 2012, spending for border and immigration enforcement totaled almost $18 billion — 24 percent more than the combined budgets of the FBI, the DEA, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (total: $14.4 billion). One major trend driving the border security industry is the government’s shift from large-scale border security infrastructure projects to small unit security systems.

  • STEM education, STEM jobs, and immigration

    Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) is a leading critic of immigration reform which would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants, and a chief proponent of limiting the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States. One of his arguments is that Americans with college STEM degrees cannot get a job in their fields because these jobs are taken by skilled foreigners. There are two problems with Sessions’s argument: First, his definition of “STEM job” is so narrow, that Apple CEO Tim Cook and a Noble Prize scientist who works as a university professor would not be regarded as holding STEM jobs; second, his argument contradicts what basic economic teaches: Skilled immigrants contribute to American prosperity and security, and the labor market is not a zero-sum proposition.

  • Miami Beach luxury real estate market is booming in the face of rising sea levels

    By 2100, sea levels could rise by as much as six feet. Miami Beach, with its dense population and low altitude, is on the list of U.S. cities at greatest risk. This recognition has not slowed down the region’s luxury real estate market. To help drain city streets during high tides and floods, Miami Beach is installing an eighty pumping system units expected to cost between $300 and $500 million.Scientists are skeptical of plans to solve the city’s flood and tackle sea level rise problem with pumps, saying the only solution is rebuilding and retrofitting some city infrastructure at higher levels – and moving some neighborhood inland. “If you spend [the money] on the easy stuff, you’re not going to have any money left for the hard stuff,” says one geologist. “So my concern is the longer-term sea level rise that’s going to get real expensive — and if we’re all broke because we blew all that money saving a few places that should have been moved.”

  • Oklahoma scientists warn about fracking-induced earthquakes

    Using stronger language than in the past, the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) announced on Tuesday that the state’s ongoing waves of earthquakes are “very unlikely to represent a naturally occurring process.” The OGS says that fracking was likely a cause for the increased seismicity. The state’s seismicity rate in 2013 was seventy times greater than the rate before 2008, and rapidly grew to about 600 times greater today, according to the OGS. The average oil well in Oklahoma requires about ten barrels of saltwater to be injected for every barrel of oil that can be pumped out.

  • Climate change will worsen natural catastrophes’ impact on corporate creditworthiness: S&P

    Generally, companies have so far managed to mitigate the effects of natural catastrophes through liquidity management, insurance protection, natural disaster risk management, and post-event recovery measures. The more frequent and extreme climatic events many scientists predict, however, could adversely affect companies’ credit profiles in the future. Standard & Poor’s says that greater disclosure of firms’ exposure to extreme natural catastrophes should encourage them to bolster their resilience to these events and thereby aid transparency.