Business

  • Extending terrorism insurance would save U.S. government money after future attacks

    In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, terrorism risk insurance quickly became either unavailable or very expensive. Congress reacted by passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which provides an assurance of government support after a catastrophic attack. This has helped keep terrorism risk insurance affordable for businesses. The program will expire at the end of this year and Congress is considering the appropriate government role in terrorism insurance markets.

  • How the Heartbleed bug reveals a flaw in online security

    By Robert Merkel

    The Heartbleed bug – which infects an extremely widespread piece of software called OpenSSL  — has potentially exposed the personal and financial data of millions of people stored online has also exposed a hole in the way some security software is developed and used. The Heartbleed bug represents a massive failure of risk analysis. OpenSSL’s design prioritizes performance over security, which probably no longer makes sense. But the bigger failure in risk analysis lies with the organizations which use OpenSSL and other software like it. A huge array of businesses, including very large IT businesses with the resources to act, did not take any steps in advance to mitigate the losses. They could have chosen to fund a replacement using more secure technologies, and they could have chosen to fund better auditing and testing of OpenSSL so that bugs such as this are caught before deployment. They didn’t do either, so they — and now we — wear the consequences, which likely far exceed the costs of mitigation.

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  • Conventional theories about Titanic disaster are flawed

    Previously it had been suggested that the seas which sank the famous cruise ship — which set off on its maiden voyage 102 years last week (Thursday 10 April 2014) — had an exceptional number of icebergs caused by lunar or solar effects. A new study finds, however, that the Titanic not unlucky for sailing in a year with an unusually high number of icebergs. In fact, the risk of icebergs higher now than it was in 1912.

  • British intelligence agency promotes cybersecurity education

    As part of its national cybersecurity strategy to “derive huge economic and social value from a vibrant, resilient, and secure cyberspace,” the United Kingdom will issue certifications to colleges and universities offering advanced degrees in cybersecurity. The British intelligence agency, Government Communications Headquarters(GCHQ), has notified various institutions to apply for certification by 20 June 2014. Students who complete the approved courses will carry a “GCHQ-certified degree.”

  • Britons worry that new EU food inspection rules would risk U.K. food safety

    The European Food Safety Authority(EFSA) in June will introduce a new Europe-wide food inspection regime, arguing that there is a need to modernize the food inspection process. The EFSA plans to reduce seventy pieces of detailed regulation down to a framework of five overarching laws to “reduce the burden on business.”Among other things, the new rules will replace laws that list diseases banned from the meat supply with a more general requirement on safety, health, and welfare. The EFSA claims that many of the diseases and parasites inspectors currently find are harmless to humans and are not considered major animal diseases. U.K. consumer advocates, meat inspectors, and veterinarians say the new rules threaten the safety of the U.K. food supply.

  • Feds struggle to plug power grid security holes

    Many of the current vulnerabilities in the power grid are attributable to newly adopted smart-grid technology, which allows operators to transmit energy from a diverse pool of resources. Smart-grid technology relies on devices in remote locations which constantly communicate with substations, those access points can be compromised by hackers.

  • U.S. tops list of global entrepreneurs, followed by Australia and Sweden

    The United States is the most entrepreneurial economy in the world, according to the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI). The GEDI index combines data on entrepreneurial activities and aspirations with data describing how well the country supports entrepreneurial activity in the United States and 119 other countries across the world. The United States came top, followed by Australia and Sweden in second and third place, respectively.

  • Debate over closing NY’s Indian Point nuclear power plant intensifies

    Indian Pointnuclear power plant, just thirty miles from New York City, has presented a conundrum for environmentalists who advocate clean-air initiatives, caps on carbon emissions, and increasing investment in non-polluting renewable energy sources — but at the same time argue that nuclear power poses a safety hazard to the surrounding area and demand that Indian Point cease operations. Closing the plant would require a long-term energy strategy to replace the 2,000 megawatts the plant currently produces.

  • Cutting edge, animatronic mannequin to test CB protective suits, equipment

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    The U.K. Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has taken delivery of a new robotic mannequin which will be used to test chemical and biological (CB) protective suits and equipment for the U.K.’s Armed Forces. The “Porton Man” uses state of the art technology and is able to walk, march, run, sit, kneel and even lift its arms as if to sight a weapon just like an infantry soldier.

  • Federal judge: terrorism victims may seize Iranian-owned $500 million mid-Manhattan tower

    Federal Judge Katherine Forrest on Friday ruled that the Iranian companies which own the 650 Fifth Avenue building in Manhattan must forfeit the property – evaluated between $500 and $700 million — to victims of terrorism who hold billions of dollars in judgments against Iran. The claimants include families who lost relatives in the 9/11 attacks and the 1983 Beirut bombing, in both of which Iran was implicated. The Iranian owners have vowed to appeal, but legal experts say the building assets could possibly be distributed while the challenge is pending.

  • More stringent climate policies mean hard choices for coal plant operators

    Limiting climate change to 2°C means shutting down coal power plants — an unpopular proposition for coal power companies. A new study shows, however, that delaying climate policies could prove even worse for power plant owners. The reason: new power plants being built now, especially in China and India, are built to run for 30-50 years, paying off only after years of operation. Stringent climate policies, however, could make the cost of emission so high that coal power generation is no longer competitive, leaving new power plants sitting idle and their owners and investors with huge losses — a problem known as stranded capacity.

  • CBP takes another stab at high-tech border security

    The George W. Bush administration’s effort to build a high-tech border security system – the Boeing-led SBINet – was a failure, and the Obama administration shut it down in 2011. CBP is now trying again, this time with Elbit Systems as the lead contractor. The hope is that the lessons of the doomed SBINet, and Elbit’s experience in building high-tech defensive systems along Israel’s borders, would yield better result this time around.

  • Food-related disease outbreaks can teach us about the consequence of food terrorism

    Since unintentional food-related outbreaks have become so common, policy makers could use data from unintended foodborne disease outbreaks to estimate the effects of intended foodborne disease outbreaks. The impact on trade and economies is the primary motive for food terrorism, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but beyond the financial loss, such intended foodborne disease outbreaks may even impact political stability.

  • University scientific research has enormous short-term value: study

    Using new data available to examine the short-term economic activity generated by science funding, researchers have for the first time been able to illuminate the breadth of the scientific workforce and the national impact of the research supply chain that is funded by federal grants. They found that university research is a key component of the U.S. economic ecosystem, returning the investment through enormous public value and impact on employment, business, and manufacturing nationwide.

  • Anti-immigrants backlash in Europe intensifies

    Anti-immigration groups and parties are enjoying a surge in many European countries, including Britain, France, and Austria, as many European economies face high unemployment and declining wages. The open-border policies of the European Union (EU), which allow citizens of EU member states to work and receive social welfare anywhere within the EU, have led many citizens to call for immigration limits and quotas.