• Sandia teams with industry to improve human-data interaction

    Intelligence analysts working to identify national security threats in warzones or airports or elsewhere often flip through multiple images to create a video-like effect. They also may toggle between images at lightning speed, pan across images, zoom in and out or view videos or other moving records. These dynamic images demand software and hardware tools that will help intelligence analysts analyze the images more effectively and efficiently extract useful information from vast amounts of quickly changing data. Sandia Lab and EyeTracking, Inc. will research and develop tools to improve how intelligence analysts gather visual information.

  • New analysis method discovers eleven security flaws in popular Internet browsers

    Georgia Tech researchers developed a new cyber security analysis method which discovered eleven previously unknown Internet browser security flaws, and were honored with the Internet Defense Prize, an award offered by Facebook in partnership with USENIX, at the 24th USENIX Security Symposium. Their research explores vulnerabilities in C++ programs (such as Chrome and Firefox) which result from “bad casting” or “type confusion.” Bad casting enables an attacker to corrupt the memory in a browser so that it follows a malicious logic instead of proper instructions.

  • Researchers use SMS to take control of a car remotely

    Researchers have discovered a serious flaw in vehicle security, which allowed them to hack a car, remotely activating its windscreen wipers, applying its brakes, and even disabling them – and do all this by using simple text messages. The vulnerability was found in small black dongles which are connected to the vehicles’ diagnostic ports. The dongles are used by insurance companies and fleet operators and are plugged into the car’s onboard diagnostics port (OBD-II).

  • Worries about megaquake benefit preparedness, retrofitting businesses in Pacific Northwest

    The sale of emergency preparedness kits has been booming in the Northwest of the United States, as more press stories have highlighted the growing confidence of scientists that the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a megaquake. Stores that sell a few preparedness kits a month, and which typically cater to survivalists, see a dramatic increase in business, as do businesses which retrofit houses to make them more quake-resilient.

  • Bill requiring Internet companies to report “terrorist activity” opposed by digital rights groups

    A coalition of digital rights groups and trade associations last week released a joint letter opposing a proposal in the Senate to require U.S. tech firms to police the speech of their users and to report any signs of apparent “terrorist activity” to law enforcement. The letter says that this sweeping mandate covers an undefined category of activities and communications and would likely lead to significant over-reporting by communication service providers. The letter urged senators to remove the “terrorist activity” reporting requirements from the Intelligence Authorization Act (S. 1705).

  • Windows 10 is not really free: you are paying for it with your privacy

    By David Glance

    Windows 10, it seems, is proving a hit with both the public and the technology press after its release last week. After two days, it had been installed on sixty-seven million PCs. For those concerned about privacy, it is the very fact that the upgrade is free that has them concerned that Microsoft has adopted a new, “freemium” model for making money from its operating system. Microsoft is employing a unique “advertising ID” that is assigned to a user when Windows 10 is installed. This is used to target personalized ads at the user. There are steps users can take to mitigate the worst of the privacy issues with Windows 10, and these are highly recommended. Microsoft should have allowed users to pay a regular fee for the product in exchange for a guarantee of the levels of privacy its users deserve.

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  • U.K. needs more “constructive” thinking on migrant welfare benefits

    As the British political debate continues on whether the British government should try to impose a four-year ban on EU migrant citizens claiming in-work benefits, a new Oxford University study argues that rather than pursuing treaty change, more constructive thinking could ease the financial burden on British taxpayers. The study author says one solution could be to set up an EU fund for helping local authorities most affected by immigration. He also highlights the relatively lax access to NHS services that EU citizens enjoy in Britain compared with other EU member states.

  • DHS asks judge to cancel contempt hearing over immigration executive order

    When President Barack Obama last year issued his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, applicants covered by the order received a three-year work permit, or EADs (Employment Authorization Documents). On 16 February 2015, Brownsville, Texas-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen temporarily blocked Obama’s immigration action. After the temporary injunction was in place, the federal government mistakenly issued the approximately 2,500 three-year permits. On Friday, DHS secretary Jeh Johnson asked Judge Hanen not to find him and other Obama administration officials in contempt, telling the judge that DHS had recovered all but 22 of the 2,500 offending permits. Johnson also advised the judge that DHS had corrected federal computer databases to invalidate those permits not turned over by their owners.

  • N.Y. village pays ransom to regain access to hacker-encrypted files

    The village Ilion in central New York paid ransom twice last year — $300 and $500 — to have access to its computers two official-looking e-mails planted malware throughout the village’s computer system. The New York State comptroller’s office has audited 100 municipal computer systems the past three years, and said the experience of Ilion should serve as a warning to others municipalities of the growing cyberthreat – especially attempts by hackers to infiltrate computer systems to make them inaccessible unless ransom is paid.

  • Community-based flood insurance offers benefits, faces challenges

    Community-based flood insurance — a single insurance policy that in theory would cover an entire community — may create new opportunities to reduce flood losses and enhance the likelihood of communities paying more attention to flood risk mitigation, says a new National Academies report. This option for providing flood insurance, however, would not provide the sole solution for all of the nation’s flood insurance challenges.

  • North Wales wants to be “one of the most secure places in the world to do business”

    Glyndŵr University is to play a leading role in the fight against cybercrime. The Wrexham, Wales-based university hosted the first meeting of the North Wales Cyber Security Cluster on Thursday (23 July). The institution and North Wales Police saw experts in online security and e-crime join the forum, and also invited members of the public and business owners who have been targeted in the past to attend and share information and advice, in a bid, the organizers say, “to make North Wales one of the most secure places in the world to do business.”

  • Hackers take remote control of a Jeep, forcing it into a ditch

    Security experts have called on owners of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles vehicles to update their onboard software to make their vehicles better protected against hackers. The call comes after researchers demonstrated they could hack and take control of a Jeep over the Internet. The researchers disabled the engine and brakes and crashed the Jeep into a ditch – while the driver was sill behind the wheel.

  • Initiative launched to expose those who fund, profit from wars in Africa

    Oscar-winner actor George Clooney, in an effort to tackle corruption in war zones, on Monday launched an initiative to identify and help bring to justice individuals funding and profiting from Africa’s deadliest conflicts. Clooney and U.S. human rights activist John Prendergast launched the project, called The Sentry, which will investigate money flowing in and out of conflict zones, and pass on the information to policymakers to take action.

  • SRI International working to develop screening device for radiation exposure

    radiation that may lead to severe health consequences post-exposure. To rapidly triage large numbers of people to determine who needs immediate treatment, a new, simple screening test is needed. Currently, if a person has absorbed a significant dose of ionizing radiation, there is nothing that can be done beyond waiting to see what symptoms develop, which roughly correlate with exposure level. SRI International has been awarded a $12.2 million contract to continue development of a diagnostic test for absorbed doses of radiation following a radiological incident.

  • Questions raised about Kaspersky’s close ties to the Russian government

    Kaspersky Lab is a Moscow-based company which sells security software, including antivirus programs. The company has 400 million customers, and it ranks sixth in revenue among security-software makers. Since 2012, the company began to replace senior managers with people with close ties to Russia’s military or intelligence services. The company is also helping the FSB, the KGB’s successor, in investigating hacks – and people in the know say the company provides the FSB with the personal data of customers. The company’s actual or perceived alliances have made it a struggle to win U.S. federal contracts.