• “Great British Firewall”: U.K. plans firewall to protect industries, consumers

    The GCHQ, U.K.’s surveillance agency, said it was planning to build a British firewall to offer protection against malicious hackers. GCHQ has developed cybersecurity systems the aim of which is to protect government sites and critical infrastructure, but the agency is now ready to offer its expertise to major private companies. “It’s possible to filter unwanted content or spam. It’s possible to filter offensive content. It’s technically possible to block malicious content,” GCHQ director said. “So, the question is: why aren’t we, the cybersecurity community, using this more widely? Well, we — in the U.K.— now are.”

  • Why Terrorism (Re)insurance Pools need to collaborate

    Julian Enoizi, CEO of Pool Re, the U.K. government-backed terrorism pool, on Tuesday, 13 September, posted a note on the Pool Re’s Web site ahead of the 6 October Global Terrorism Risk Insurance Conference, which will take place in Canberra, Australia. “The terrorist threat is unprecedented and persistent, and our national interests are now threatened at home and overseas,” he wrote. “Terrorism is a global phenomenon and we need to face up to it with an internationally joined-up response involving innovation, creativity, and collaboration.”

  • AIR Worldwide expands its terrorism model globally

    Catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide (AIR) announced that it has expanded the capabilities of its terrorism risk model to support scenario testing for the United States and twenty-seven other select countries to help companies assess the impact of different attack scenarios on their portfolios and better manage their global terrorism risk. AIR Worldwide is a Verisk Analytics business.

  • Freight airships may soon help Asian companies reach world markets

    The rise of freight airships could go down like a lead balloon with traditional aircraft companies, but could also represent a new high for Asian companies seeking to exploit new ways to reach world markets. Researchers explain how the reinvented technology of airships has come apace in recent years and is a far cry from the trial and error methods and primitive materials used to build the giant Zeppelins of yesteryear.

  • Strengthening national security by improving intelligence software

    An intelligence analyst hunting for answers in a sea of data faces steep challenges: She must choose the right search terms, identify useful results, and organize them in a way that reveals new connections. Making that process quicker and more intuitive could yield faster answers to key national security questions. Researchers are developing intelligence software that allows analysts to interact more closely with their data.

  • Oklahoma shuts down 37 wells after Saturday’s 5.6 magnitude earthquake

    Oklahoma ordered the shutting down of 37 wells after Saturday’s 5.6 magnitude earthquake. Experts note that the significant increase in the number earthquakes measuring 3.0 or higher in Oklahoma has been linked to the practice of underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production. Only three earthquakes 3.0 magnitude or higher were recorded in 2009. Last year, the state had 907 such quakes. So far this year, there have been more than 400.

  • Solar-powered Ring Garden combines desalination, agriculture for drought-stricken California

    With roughly 80 percent of California’s already-scarce water supply going to agriculture, it is crucial for the state to embrace new technologies that shrink the amount of water required to grow food. Alexandru Predonu has designed an elegant solution which uses solar energy to power a rotating desalination plant and farm that not only produces clean drinking water for the city of Santa Monica, but also food crops — including algae.

  • Vulnerabilities found in cars connected to smartphones

    Many of today’s automobiles leave the factory with secret passengers: prototype software features that are disabled but that can be unlocked by clever drivers. In what is believed to be the first comprehensive security analysis of its kind, a team of researchers has found vulnerabilities in MirrorLink, a system of rules that allow vehicles to communicate with smartphones.

  • A chip that checks for sabotage, flags defects

    With the outsourcing of microchip design and fabrication a worldwide, $350 billion business, bad actors along the supply chain have many opportunities to install malicious circuitry in chips. These Trojan horses look harmless but can allow attackers to sabotage healthcare devices; public infrastructure; and financial, military, or government electronics. Researchers are developing a unique solution: a chip with both an embedded module that proves that its calculations are correct and an external module that validates the first module’s proofs.

  • U.S. has given 1.4 million guns to Iraq, Afghanistan -- but doesn’t know where, by whom these weapons are currently being used

    The United States has given more than 1.4 million guns to Iraqi and Afghan forces, as part of the more than $40 billion worth of U.S. Department of Defense arms and munitions contracts since 9/11. The Pentagon has only partial, and not necessarily accurate, information not only about the total number of firearms involved, but how, where, and by whom these weapons are currently being used. Journalists have offered evidenced that many firearms openly available for purchase on black markets and on social media throughout the Middle East were originally provided by the Pentagon to U.S. associates in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Managing terrorism risk more complicated today

    Managing terrorism risk today requires a combination of strategies and tactics that protect people, property, and finances. On the financial side, the choice is whether to retain or transfer the risk via insurance. But the changing pattern of terrorism risk has some companies questioning whether they are adequately insured for business interruption and related losses. And they wonder how to prepare for potential losses from cyber terrorism and other events. 

  • Worst flooding since 1998 leaves $33 billion economic toll in China

    The new Global Catastrophe Recap report, covering July 2016 disasters, reveals that much of China endured substantial seasonal “Mei-Yu” rainfall that led to a dramatic worsening of flooding along the Yangtze River Basin and in the country’s northeast. Total combined economic losses were estimated at $33 billion. Meanwhile, the United States recorded six separate outbreaks of severe convective storms and flash flooding from the Rockies to the East Coast. Total combined economic losses were minimally estimated at $1.5 billion. Only 2 percent of China damage is covered by insurance, compared to nearly 70 percent for U.S. storms.

  • Hacking hotel magnetic-stripe based key cards is easy

    If you travel a lot for business or pleasure, and stay at hotels at the places you visit, you may not like the information presented at the DefCon 24 event in Las Vegas. A security expert will tell the attendees that the magnetic-stripe based key cards guests are given to enter their rooms have major weaknesses which could allow an attacker to modify these cards to enter guests rooms.

  • Block MEMS awarded $9.8M contract for standoff detection of chemical threats

    Block MEMS, a developer of Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL)-based infrared detection systems, has been awarded a $9.8 million contract from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop a system that can detect trace quantities of chemicals at standoff distances of at least 100 ft.

  • 80% of EU oil imports now supplied by non-European companies

    Non-European companies supply four-fifths of Europe’s oil imports, with Russian firms supplying more than one-third (36 percent) of imported crude, a new study on Europe’s foreign oil dependency has found. Just two of the top ten oil suppliers to the EU are European, and most of our imported oil is supplied from unstable countries.