Business

  • Can a hacker stop your car or your heart? Security and the Internet of Things

    By Temitope Oluwafemi

    An ever-increasing number of our consumer electronics is Internet-connected. We’re living at the dawn of the age of the Internet of Things. Appliances ranging from light switches and door locks, to cars and medical devices boast connectivity in addition to basic functionality. The convenience can’t be beat, but the security and privacy implications cannot and should not be ignored. There needs to be a concerted effort to improve security of future devices. Researchers, manufacturers and end users need to be aware that privacy, health and safety can be compromised by increased connectivity. Benefits in convenience must be balanced with security and privacy costs as the Internet of Things continues to infiltrate our personal spaces.

  • Ethnic diversity among traders makes markets less likely to suffer bubbles: Study

    Stock market bubbles have led to economic catastrophes from the Great Depression through the dot-com boom of the 1990s and up to the recent housing financial crisis. Although these episodes cause widespread financial havoc, the reasons behind economic bubbles remain unclear. A new study proposes a cause: Bubbles happen when people mindlessly trust the behavior of others, particularly when surrounded by ethnic peers. The researchers found that markets of ethnically diverse traders are much less likely to suffer bubbles. These findings could have a lasting impact on economics — and ethnic diversity.

  • SCE&G places 180,000-pound CA05 module at V.C. Summer Unit 2, S.C.

    South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G) and its partners placed on 6 December the CA05 structural module on the V.C. Summer Unit 2 nuclear island. The company says this is one of several milestones achieved this year in the construction of nuclear reactors that are among the first in the U.S. in thirty years.

  • FIDO 1.0 specifications published aiming to promote stronger authentication

    The FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, an open industry consortium promoting standards for simpler, stronger authentication, the other day published final 1.0 drafts of its two specifications — Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) and Universal 2nd Factor (U2F).

  • FAA would allow four private companies to operate drones in U.S. airspace

    The Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) announced the other day that it would allow four private companies to operate drones in U.S. airspace. The drones will be used to survey land, inspect remote oil rigs, perform agricultural and environmental research, monitor construction projects, and collect geographical data. The FAA has banned most drone flights as they pose a risk to the safety of manned aircrafts, and in some cases to privacy. The drone industry says that if drones are integrated into U.S. civilian airspace, the domestic economic impact would surpass $82.1 billion between 2015 and 2025, while creating more than 100,000 high-paying jobs.

  • Turning excess space into apartments as an incentive for earthquake-retrofitting of buildings

    San Francisco is dealing with a housing shortage at the same time that city officials are trying to get landlords to retrofit buildings which are at risk of crumpling during a severe earthquake. In 2013, Mayor Ed Lee approved a bill that mandates retrofits for soft-story multi-unit residential buildings over the next four to seven years. Roughly 4,800 buildings of two or more stories, containing five or more apartment units, which were approved for construction before January 1978, have to be retrofitted, according to the mandate.A member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, recently proposed that building owners of at-risk apartment buildings be allowed to finance earthquake retrofits by converting garages, basements, and other excess space into apartments –a plan which would also increase the city’s housing stock.

  • FEMA will review denied or underpaid Sandy-related claims by owners of damaged homes

    Hundreds of homeowners who were denied claims for damages caused by Hurricane Sandy will now have their claims reviewed, according to a series of reforms by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which operates the National Flood Insurance Program. According to FEMA administrator, W. Craig Fugate, contractors hired to handle homeowner claims allegedly conspired to underpay flood insurance settlements to homeowners.

  • Storing hydrogen underground could boost transportation, energy security

    Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage, says a recent Sandia National Laboratories study sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office. Geologic storage of hydrogen gas could make it possible to produce and distribute large quantities of hydrogen fuel for the growing fuel cell electric vehicle market.

  • FAA caught between commercial pressures, safety concerns in regulating drone use

    Law enforcement agencies in major U.S. cities have expressed concerns about the possible use of drones by terrorists to launch bombs against key U.S. targets, including shopping malls, stadiums, and even banks. The FAA is in a tough spot, says one expert.”If they come out with rules that are not protective enough and then there’s some sort of an accident then they will be criticized for not having been more careful with this technology,” he says. “On the other hand, if they come out with rules that are viewed as overly restrictive in the name of safety then they are going to be criticized as impeding the growth of the industry, so it’s a very difficult balancing act that they have to navigate.”

  • Coordinated cyberattacks by Iran-based hackers on global critical infrastructure

    Irvine, California-based cybersecurity firm Cylance last week released a report detailing coordinated attacks by hackers with ties to Iran on more than fifty targets in sixteen countries around the globe. Victim organizations were found in a variety of critical industries, with most attacks on airlines and airports, energy, oil and gas, telecommunications companies, government agencies and universities.

  • Growing cybersecurity threats offer opportunities for cybersecurity businesses

    A 2013 report from the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team(US-CERT) noted that the number of cyberattacks reported by federal agencies had skyrocketed 782 percent since 2006, to nearly 49,000, in 2012. Today, the figure is much higher. The increasing threat of cyberattacks from domestic and foreign actors has opened up opportunities for cybersecurity professionals, many of whom held positions with the U.S. military or intelligence agencies. For the private sector, cybersecurity spending is expected to reach $71.1 billion this year, and expected to grow about 9 percent annually through 2016.

  • Insurance industry needs support to address effects of climate change on the built environment

    A new report finds that the increasing frequency of extreme weather brought on by climate change adversely affects real estate values and increases the probability of property damage occurring in urban areas. In the last ten years alone, direct losses in real estate and infrastructure as a result of natural disasters has tripled, reaching $150 billion per year. The report highlights the steps the insurance industry has taken to adopt risk standards for climate change across the industry, from catastrophe models and scenario analysis to insurance products that incentivize risk-reducing building practices.

  • DOJ’s new cyber unit to provide legal guidance on electronic surveillance

    The Justice Department is creating a cybersecurity unit within its Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) to provide legal guidance on electronic surveillance investigations.The unit will also work with Congress on cybersecurity legislation and focus on cybercrime prevention.

  • Tech investors turning to agriculture as a safe bet

    Investors and entrepreneurs are turning their sights toward the world of farming, seeing the next decades as especially challenging for because of the need to feed the expected ten billion people who will then people the planet. The technologies that these companies are investing in include not just the expected hallmarks of advanced efficient farming — robot workers, better software, and food substitute technology — but also farmland itself.Manysee the investment as a more solid and safer relative one amidst to the much more volatile tech prospects. “Farmland is more of a safe way to invest your savings,” says one investor. “Farmland isn’t going to disappear. Dropbox could disappear.”

  • China says U.S. does not appreciate China’s own vulnerability to cyberattacks

    At the seventh annual China-U.S. Internet Industry Forum held on 2-3 December, Lu Wei, minister of China’s Cyberspace Affairs Administration, which manages Internet information in China, urged U.S. officials and the private sector to stop claiming Chinese cyberespionage against U.S. systems and instead understand China’s Internet information policies. China has become the world’s largest Internet market with over four million websites, 600 million Web users, and four of the world’s top ten Internet firms.