Business

  • Black markets for hackers increasingly sophisticated, specialized, and maturing

    Black and gray markets for computer hacking tools, services and byproducts such as stolen credit card numbers continue to expand, creating an increasing threat to businesses, governments and individuals, according to a new study. One dramatic example is the December 2013 breach of retail giant Target, in which data from approximately forty million credit cards and 70 million user accounts was hijacked. Within days, that data appeared — available for purchase — on black market Web sites.

  • Conflicting views hamper N.C. preparation for sea level rise

    Residents of North Carolina’s coastal towns are finding themselves increasingly caught in the cross-fire between local and state government regarding how to define future sea level rise resulting from global warming and the necessary measures needed to prepare for it. Due to a four-year moratorium on any action on the state level, area developers and homeowners have received no official input, and the lack of consensus has negative consequences for the health and prosperity of the region.

  • Controversial Mississippi power station to cut emissions by more than half

    A new $5 billion state-of-the-art power facility is under construction Kemper County, Mississippi. It places a firm bet on the future of carbon-capture technology, and other technological advancements, including: it utilizes the gasification process with carbon in unique ways; it recycles treated wastewater to generate power; and it makes money from the carbon dioxide it has removed by selling it to oil companies for their own extraction. Critics say that investing so much money in untested technologies is too much of a gamble.

  • Facebook making snooping more difficult

    Facebook has joined its Silicon Valley competitors to improve cybersecurity following a recent report suggesting that the NSA may have posed as Facebook to infect targeted computers. Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer, said Facebook was working to “make sure the system is robust enough that everyone should be coming in the front door with legal process and not getting information any other way.” He added that no one could pose as Facebook servers any more since the company made “https,” a secure method of accessing Web pages, standard last year.

  • U.S. lags behind other countries in commercial use of drones

    As the United States continues to explore regulations and safety guidelines for commercial UAVs, other countries have already adopted their use. Photographers, real estate agents, filmmakers, and news agencies in the United States want to use drones in their operations, but the FAA insists that rules addressing safety challenges associated with drones need to be in place before drones can share the sky with manned aircrafts.

  • Howard County, Md. attracts cybersecurity firms

    Howard County, Maryland boasts a growing presence of cybersecurity firms and specialists at a time when the industry is gaining attention. The proximity of the county to government agencies has helped cybersecurity firms gain federal contracts, and the proximity of large cybersecurity consumers like the NSA offers cybersecurity firms in Howard County a large pool of cybersecurity specialists to select from when NSA employees decide to shift to the private sector.

  • Shale may offer long-term home for nuclear waste

    About 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel currently sit in temporary above-ground storage facilities, and it will remain dangerous for tens or hundreds of thousands of years or longer. Experts say that since the U.S. government abandoned plans to develop a long-term nuclear-waste storage site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada in 2009, finding new long-term storage sites must be a priority. Shale deep under the Earth’s surface could be a solution. France, Switzerland, and Belgium already have plans to use shale repositories to store nuclear waste long-term.

  • Storm surges, rising sea levels threaten New Jersey’s beach-centered tourism industry

    Sea level at the Jersey Shore could rise by thirty-one inches by the year 2050, posing a threat to New Jersey’s $38 billion tourism industry. Experts say that the potential for more harsh storms and sea level rise calls for better promotion of what else New Jersey has to offer tourists aside from the beach.

  • NERC drill finds U.S. grid preparedness insufficient

    The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reported that its recent GridEx II exercise has highlighted the fact that nearly all the utilities which took part in the two-day drill last November – a drill aiming to test the preparedness of the U.S. power grid to withstand cyber and physical attacks – admitted that their planning for such attacks was insufficient. NERC’s president, Gerry Cauley, said that protecting utilities against cyber and physical attacks should be considered in the context of measures taken to protect the grid from other threats. He noted that utilities are already hardening their systems against storms like Hurricane Sandy, while working to determine their vulnerability to solar activity that changes the earth’s magnetic field.

  • China's share of rare earths minerals declining amid falling demand

    China still dominates the world’s rare earth elements market, but its share in global production has been steadily decreasing in recent years. A new study which shows a dramatic decline in these minerals’ prices has shaken he industry. In 2013, China accounted for 92.1 percent of high-tech rare earth oxides produced in the world. The percentage is still high, but it is a decline from 2010, when China accounted for 97.6 percent of global production of the mineral and fell to 95.1 percent in 2011.

  • Value of U.S. mineral production decreased in 2013

    Last year, the estimated value of mineral production in the United States was $74.3 billion, a slight decrease from $75.8 billion in 2012. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s annual Mineral Commodity Summaries 2014 report, the 2013 decrease follows three consecutive years of increases. Net U.S. exports of mineral raw materials and old scrap contributed an additional $15.8 billion to the U.S. economy.

  • Washington, D.C. area leads nation in cybersecurity jobs

    The Washington, D.C metropolitan area had more than 23,000 cybersecurity job postings in 2013, making the region the leading destination for cybersecurity jobs, followed by the New York metro area with 15,000 cybersecurity job postings in 2013. On a state-by state basis, Virginia ranks second and Maryland ranks sixth, with Virginia reporting 25.1 cybersecurity job postings per 10,000 residents and Maryland posting 18.1 jobs per 10,000 residents.

  • S.C. politicians want decision to halt work on Savannah River plutonium plant reversed

    Three Republican lawmakers from South Carolina — Senator Lindsey Graham and Representatives Tim Scott and Joe Wilson have – have asked South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to “explore any legal avenues” to prevent the mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) project at the Savannah River Sitefrom shutting down. The administration has decided to put the project on hold after repeated delays and cost overruns averaging 60 percent over the original estimates.

  • Libyan PM escapes country after assembly ousts him over oil tanker fiasco

    Libya’s General National Congress has approved a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and designated the defense minister as acting prime minister. Zeidan left Libya after the vote, in all likelihood for Italy. The no-confidence vote came after a North Korean-flagged tanker named Morning Glory managed to sail away from the port of al Sidra, carrying 234,000 barrels of crude oil from rebel-held oil fields. Last summer, armed militias in east Libya took over most of the country’s oil fields – and also three ports, with partial control of a fourth — bringing oil exports, which had amounted to 1.6 million barrels a day, to a halt. U.S. describes oil sale by the militias as “theft” from the Libyan people.

  • Secret raises $10 million at a $50 million valuation

    Secret allows users to post messages to their circles of contacts without identifying themselves as the source of the posted message. The start-up, which was launched in January, has closed a $10 million round of funding at a $50 million post-money valuation. The funding was led by Google Ventures, with participation from KPCB.