• DHS instructs government agencies to stop using Kaspersky Lab’s software

    DHS on Wednesday, referring to reports about the links between the Russian cybersecurity company and Russian intelligence agencies, ordered all U.S. government agencies to stop using Kaspersky Lab software products. DHS gave the agencies thirty days to identify any Kaspersky products they were using, and ninety days to remove all such products. A former FBI official, referring to Eugene Kaspersky, the company founder, said: “He wouldn’t help us at all… From the early 2000s, it was felt Kaspersky was an FSB [the successor agency of the KGB] guy and everything he’d developed was just a huge front.”

  • Rethinking where/whether to rebuild after Hurricanes Irma, Harvey

    Though our natural instinct is to put everything back exactly where it was before a disaster, Mark Abkowitz, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Studies said people need to seriously rethink where and how to rebuild. “We’re talking hurricanes now, but it could be inland flooding, tornadoes, drought, wildfires, earthquakes. The question really comes up: If we had things the way they were and they suffered the level of catastrophic impact that they did, what’s the reasoning behind putting it back exactly the way it was before?” asks Abkowitz.

  • Is the new iPhone designed for cybersafety?

    As eager customers meet the new iPhone, they’ll explore the latest installment in Apple’s decade-long drive to make sleeker and sexier phones. But to me as a scholar of cybersecurity, these revolutionary innovations have not come without compromises. Many of Apple’s decisions about the iPhone were driven by design – including wanting to be different or to make things simpler – rather than for practical reasons. Apple has steadily strengthened the encryption of the data on its phones, but other developments have made people less safe and secure. Today, unsafe decisions are far easier to make on your phone than on your computer. And more people now use their phones for doing more things than ever before. Making phones slimmer, shinier and sexier is great. But making sure every user can make cybersafe decisions is yet to be “Designed by Apple.” Here’s hoping the next iPhone does that.

  • Designing a post-Harvey Houston for the future

    Being honest about the extent and urgency of the Houston-Galveston region’s flooding problem will not harm the community but will form the basis for recovery, according to a paper by an engineering and environmental expert. “Denying fundamental truths and moving forward with business as usual will be the economic death knell for the Houston region,” Rice University’s Jim Blackburn wrote in a paper highlighting fifteen policies and actions that are meant to initiate a conversation about designing a Houston for the future. “And make no mistake about it — how we respond to this horrible reality will determine the economic future of our region.”

  • What lessons will Houston-area officials learn from Harvey? History gives us a clue

    As Houston begins to recover from Harvey, a growing chorus of voices is calling for big policy changes to reduce flood damage from future disasters. Local officials haven’t said much about what they might pursue, but history offers some clues.

  • Western energy sector target of sophisticated attack by Russian-linked group Dragonfly

    The energy sector in Europe and North America is being targeted by a new wave of cyberattacks that could provide attackers with the means to severely disrupt affected operations. The group behind these attacks is known as Dragonfly. The group has been in operation since at least 2011 but has re-emerged over the past two years from a quiet period following exposure by Symantec and a number of other researchers in 2014. This “Dragonfly 2.0” campaign, which appears to have begun in late 2015, shares tactics and tools used in earlier campaigns by the group.

  • Equifax breach will haunt Americans for decades

    Cyberexperts say that the Equifax giant cybersecurity breach which compromised the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans — almost half the country – will have long-term consequences for many Americans. Looking ahead, for decades almost 50 percent of the U.S. population will have trouble applying for home loans, credit cards, cell phones, or simply passing background checks.

  • S&T awards $8.6 million for enhancing security of mobile apps for the government

    DHS S&T has awarded funding to five R&D projects that will enhance the secure use of mobile applications for the federal government. These Mobile Application Security (MAS) R&D projects focus on continuous validation and threat protection for mobile apps and integrating security throughout the mobile app lifecycle.

  • Why didn’t sanctions stop North Korea’s missile program?

    North Korea’s long-range missile program has made significant technological advances in the past few months. For most of the past twenty years, the international community has struggled to stop this kind of progress by imposing a series of severe sanctions on the country. Have sanctions failed? This question is complicated, but what is undeniable is that sanctions have had unforeseen consequences by making North Korea’s procurement efforts more sophisticated as Chinese middlemen monetize the risk. Americans tend to view North Korea as an inward-looking, economically isolated state cut off from the international community. However, the country’s illicit networks – including those supplying its missile program – are global and responsive. Ultimately, they will be difficult to counter.

  • Gregory Falco: Protecting urban infrastructure against cyberterrorism

    While working for the global management consulting company Accenture, Gregory Falco discovered just how vulnerable the technologies underlying smart cities and the “internet of things” — everyday devices that are connected to the internet or a network — are to cyberterrorism attacks. His focus is on cybersecurity for urban critical infrastructure, and the internet of things, or IoT, is at the center of his work. A washing machine, for example, that is connected to an app on its owner’s smartphone is considered part of the IoT. There are billions of IoT devices that don’t have traditional security software because they’re built with small amounts of memory and low-power processors. This makes these devices susceptible to cyberattacks and may provide a gate for hackers to breach other devices on the same network.

  • Harvey’s losses “would reach $190 billion or 1 percent of the nation's GDP”: AccuWeather

    AccuWeather’s Dr. Joel N. Myers predicts that “The total losses from this storm would reach $190 billion or 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), countering the expected growth in the economy for the rest of this year.” The one percent loss that AccuWeather is predicting will be spread out over the next 12 months, but the bulk of it will occur over the next four months. “This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history,” Myers said.

  • Extreme weather, event-attribution science mean businesses, governments risk more litigation

    With Hurricane Harvey battering the southern United States, a new report warns that governments and business may be increasingly at risk of litigation for failing to prevent foreseeable climate-related harm to people and infrastructure. “Identifying the human influence in events once only understood as ‘acts of god’ will reshape the legal landscape, meaning governments and businesses could be sued if they don’t take action to protect people from floods, heatwaves and other foreseeable climate change risks.”

  • Harvey's cost could reach $100 billion: Insurance experts

    The floods caused by Hurricane Harvey are only going to worsen in the coming days, but insurance experts say that estimates based on the damage Harvey has already caused suggest that the financial cost of the devastating hurricane could be as high as $100 billion. The 2005 Hurricane Katrina-caused damaged reached $120 billion, of which $80 billion were insured losses. The 2012 Megastorm Sandy caused $75 billion in economic losses.

  • Post-Hurricane Katrina personal debt fell for those worst hit, but at a cost

    In the U.S., more than 200 weather and climate disasters have exceeded $1 billion in damages since 1980, with a total cost exceeding $1.2 trillion. Yet, relatively little is known about how people affected by natural disasters cope with the resulting financial shock.

  • On internet privacy, be very afraid

    In the internet era, consumers seem increasingly resigned to giving up fundamental aspects of their privacy for convenience in using their phones and computers, and have grudgingly accepted that being monitored by corporations and even governments is just a fact of modern life. In fact, internet users in the United States have fewer privacy protections than those in other countries. In April, Congress voted to allow internet service providers to collect and sell their customers’ browsing data. Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier talked about government and corporate surveillance, and about what concerned users can do to protect their privacy. “Surveillance is the business model of the internet,” he says.