Business

  • Small, portable, fast TLC unit for explosives, drugs analysis

    Field Forensics of St. Petersburg, Florida, unveiled its microTLC, a portable and easy to use solution for pre-screening and presumptive identification of drugs and explosive mixtures. Thin layer chromatography (TLC) is an established laboratory procedure which identifies compounds belonging to the same general chemical class. The microTLC makes it possible for both laboratory and field analysis to be performed by first responders and forensics scientists.

  • BGU researchers identify critical vulnerability Samsung's Galaxy S4

    Security researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev’s (BGU) Cyber Security Labs have identified a critical vulnerability in highly secure Samsung mobile devices which are based on the Knox architecture. Samsung Knox, which is currently undergoing the U.S. Department of Defense approval review process, features the most advanced security-driven infrastructure for mobile phones. The breach, researchers believe, enables easy interception of data communications between the secure container and the external world including file transfers, emails and browser activity.

  • Extensive use of antibiotics in agriculture creating public health crisis

    In the United States, 80 percent of the antibiotics are consumed in agriculture and aquaculture for the purpose of increasing food production. This flood of antibiotics released into the environment — sprayed on fruit trees and fed to the likes of livestock, poultry, and salmon, among other uses — has led bacteria to evolve.Mounting evidence shows resistant pathogens are emerging in the wake of this veritable flood of antibiotics — resulting in an increase in bacteria that is immune to available treatments. Scientists say that if the problem is left unchecked, this will create a health crisis on a global scale.

  • Wearable body-cameras adopted by more police departments

    Law enforcement agencies around the country are testing body-cameras on officers as a way to keep records of police interaction with the public. The cameras may be attached to hats, eyeglasses, or hung around the neck, giving the public and the courts a more intimate look at how police do their jobs.

  • Arable land in Africa leased to foreign agrobusinesses

    Many countries in Africa are welcoming big agricultural projects bankrolled by foreign investors whose goal is to grow food in Africa and then send it abroad. Liberia has reportedly signed concessions for nearly one-third of its national territory in recent years. Half of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s agricultural lands have been leased to grow crops, including palm oil for the production of biofuels. Critics question whether it is a wise policy to produce food for foreign consumption in regions where many go hungry — especially when the land deals with foreign agrobusinesses displace local subsistence farmers.

  • Natural gas saves water, reduces drought vulnerability

    A new study finds that in Texas, the U.S. state that annually generates the most electricity, the transition from coal to natural gas for electricity generation is saving water and making the state less vulnerable to drought. Even though exploration for natural gas through hydraulic fracturing requires significant water consumption in Texas, the new consumption is easily offset by the overall water efficiencies of shifting electricity generation from coal to natural gas. The researchers estimate that water saved by shifting a power plant from coal to natural gas is 25 to 50 times as great as the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing to extract the natural gas.

  • Barrier systems, robots reduce security costs

    High-security compounds have traditionally employed security guards to protect buildings and facilities, deter intrusion, and prevent theft, but as budget cuts continue to force both private and government organizations to cut staff, some agencies are deploying portable barrier systems and robots tasked with securing organizations and their assets.

  • Social network spying may backfire, lead to low returns

    Organizations looking to hire new staff should rethink their clandestine use of social networking Web sites, such as Facebook, to screen new recruits. Researchers found that this practice could be seen as a breach of privacy and create a negative impression of the company for potential employees. This spying could even lead to law suits.

  • NERC’s critical infrastructure protection standards ambiguous, unclear: analysts

    In January 2008, to counter cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructure assets such as bulk electricity supply (BES), North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s (NERC) launched its Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards for BES cybersecurity. The NERC-CIP is marked by uncertainties and ambiguous language, raising concerns in the industry and among industry observers as companies try to enforce the standards. “Industry now screams for a defined control set with very specific requirements that don’t permit subjective and ambiguous interpretations,” comments one analyst.

  • Lawmaker wants to know how cyber-safe vehicles are

    Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) has asked twenty automobile manufacturers to submit details of their plans to prevent vehicles from wireless hacking attempts, as well as plans to prevent violations of driver privacy. Markey wants automobile manufacturers to apply computer-industry security processes and technology — including anti-virus software, incident logging, incident-response planning, software vulnerability patching, and third-party penetrating testing — to mass produced vehicles.

  • Cybersecurity giants adapt to changing cyberthreat landscape

    McAfee and Symantec, the two technology giants of traditional firewall and antivirus protection software, are shifting their attention to focus more on cybersecurity challenges. A rapidly changing landscape for computer networks, in which data is transmitted and stored via mobile devices and cloud computing, has created demand for products and services that can secure information against state-sponsored or organized cyber terrorism.

  • Cold War to cyber war, here’s how weapon exports are controlled

    By Bruce Baer Arnold

    It was reported last week that the U.K. government is pushing for new restrictions on software — in particular, on tools that would prevent surveillance by the state. This was the focus of negotiations to incorporate cyber security technologies into the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies. Wassenaar was born of the Cold War in 1996. The idea was to inhibit the Soviets (and Chinese) by preventing the export of military equipment and the technology that could be used to make, maintain or defeat that equipment. The push to include cybersecurity in Wassenaar negotiations is unlikely to be effective but will reassure nervous politicians and officials.

  • Shot spotting system helps Stockton, Calif. Police reduce gunfire

    ShotSpotter sensors detect gunfire, then immediately transmit a signal to control center where technicians use triangulation to locate the spot of origin of the firing to within five to ten feet. The technician reports the location within thirty to forty seconds to the police to dispatch officers to the scene. Stockton, California police has been using ShotSpotter for nine months now, and the police chief says the system has helped reduce gunfire in the covered area by fifty percent.

  • U.S. loses clean electricity as nuclear power plants keep closing

    Four nuclear power plants, sources of low-emissions electricity, have announced closings this year. The main reason: the increasing availability of cheap natural gas as a result of fracking. If plants continue to shut down instead of extending operations, the United States risks losing 60 percent of its clean electricity starting in 2030, according to a new report by the American Physical Society (APS). The APS calls on socially responsible investors to encourage utilities to consider carbon emissions in business decisions.

  • Food security and self-provision of major cities

    Wealthy capital cities vary greatly in their dependence on the global food market. The Australian capital Canberra produces the majority of its most common food in its regional hinterland, while Tokyo primarily ensures its food security through import. The Copenhagen hinterland produces less than half of the consumption of the most common foods. For the first time, researchers have mapped the food systems of capital cities, an essential insight for future food security if population growth, climate change, and political instability will affect the open market.