Business

  • Privacy vs. security debate intensifies as more companies offer end-to-end-encryption

    A long running debate has now come to the fore with greater urgency. The tension between the privacy that encryption offers, and the need for law enforcement and national security agencies to have access to secured and encrypted e-mail, has become more acute in the last two years. The revelations of Edward Snowden about the post-9/11 reach and scope of surveillance by intelligence agencies and law enforcement, have caused some tech giants to offer encrypted services to their customers – encrypted services which enhance customers’ privacy protection, but which at the same time make it impossible for law enforcement and intelligence services to track and monitor terrorists and criminals. “Our job is to find needles in a nationwide haystack, needles that are increasingly invisible to us because of end-to-end encryption,” FBI director James Comey told lawmakers in recent hearing on the Hill.

  • Adobe deals with yet another flaw

    On the heels of the discovery of a zero-day defect, a vulnerability not known to the software developer, Adobe is scrambling to develop yet another patch for another vulnerability. The vulnerability, labeled CVE-2015-5119, causes a system to crash and allows a remote computer take control of the target machine. According to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team(US-CERT,) ActionScript 3 ByteArray class, which can allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system.

  • Mercenary hackers get hacked

    In an ironic turn of events, a group of mercenary hackers were themselves hacked. The group of Italy-based hackers, known as Hacking Team, has been selling its software and services to government and corporate entities in order to test their security fitness. The hackers were able to gain access to the company’s client list, which shows that the company sold surveillance software to authoritarian regimes so they could spy on political dissidents.

  • "Keeping America a technological leader": SRC's STEM-supporting initiatives

    SRC, Inc., an R&D company which was established in 1957, has its roots in academia. It regards science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) as the foundation of its business. Over the past decade there have been numerous reports about how the U.S. ranking in science and mathematics education has been declining. There has also been a drop in the number of students majoring in STEM fields. Around 2007, SRC developed its philanthropic focus areas as a way to direct its resources to areas where the company could have the most impact. One of these focus areas is STEM. HSNW talked with Lisa D. Mondello, director of corporate communications and PR at SRC, about the company’s STEM-related initiatives.

  • Oklahoma Supreme Court: Oil companies may be sued for fracking-induced quakes

    On 30 June the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that oil companies may be sued over quakes if they can be linked to hydraulic shale fracturing methods, or “fracking.” Numerous scientific studies found a direct link between the increase in fracking activity in Oklahoma and the sharp rise in the number of quakes in Oklahoma, a region which until 2009 was considered seismically stable. The number of earthquake in the state has increased from 1.5 tremblors a year before to 2008, to an average of 2.5 a day, according a report from Richard Andrews, the Oklahoma state geologist.

  • If global warming is left unchecked, fish will have to find new habitats -- or perish

    The goods and services our oceans provide are valued at hundreds of billions of dollars per year. A new study assessed the impact of climate change on marine and coastal ecosystems, ocean chemistry, tourism, and human health. The study specifically analyzed how warming will impact fisheries and the global economic gains we receive from these fisheries. It found that Climate change is forcing fish out of their current habitats and into cooler waters and many more species will soon be affected if climate goals are not met. “From looking at the surface of the ocean, you can’t tell much is changing,” said one researcher. “The oceans are closely tied to human systems and we’re putting communities at high risk.”

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  • New rail safety rule appears to allow railroad companies to keep oil shipment info secret

    Some railroad companies are arguing that a clause in a new federal rule meant to improve outdated tanker car designs, allows rail companies not to share shipment information publicly except for of emergency services personnel. Though the DOT acknowledged that there had been significant public demand for total transparency, the language in the final ruling was vague enough to allow for the hauler’s interpretation.

  • Privacy by design: Protecting privacy in the digital world

    It is a fact of modern life — with every click, every tweet, every Facebook Like, we hand over information about ourselves to organizations which are desperate to know all of our secrets, in the hope that those secrets can be used to sell us something. What power can individuals have over their data when their every move online is being tracked? Researchers are building new systems that shift the power back to individual users, and could make personal data faster to access and at much lower cost.

  • Muzzle biometrics for cattle ID reduces food fraud

    Meat products are currently a vital part of the global food supply, with beef being a major component of that trade. However, international markets, emerging infectious diseases, and criminal activity mean that there is always a risk of inferior products hitting the supermarket shelves. Researchers are developing a biometric identification system for cattle that could reduce food fraud and allow ranchers to control their stock more efficiently. The system uses the unique features of a prominent part of the animal to identify the beasts — their muzzles.

  • 2014 uncertainty over renewal of Terrorism Risk Insurance Act changed consumer behavior

    Terrorism insurance take-up rates dropped off toward the end of 2014, due to the anxiety stemming from the unexpected expiration of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA). Through much of 2014, there was uncertainty whether Congress would renew the program, which initially passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This uncertainty led customers, and potential customers, to change their insurance buying plans.

  • Iowa mall shooting draws attention to lack of private security preparedness

    A fatal 12 June shooting by Alexander Kozak, an off-duty security guard at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, Iowa has highlighted the lack of screening regulations in private security firms. In Iowa, for example, despite licensing by Iowa Code Section 80A, many private security guards working at state malls, schools, and corporations have no training requirements and dodgy background check rules.

  • Precision agriculture: Sensors and drones as farmers’ best friends

    The precision agriculture sector is expected to grow at a high rate over the coming years. This new way of farming is already a reality in northwest Italy, where technologies are being used to keep plants in a good state of health but also to avert the loss of quality yield. Sensors and drones can be among the farmers’ best friends, helping them to use less fertilizers and water, and to control the general condition of their crops.

  • Tying insurance rates to flood risk for low-lying structures

    Current methods used by the National Flood Insurance Program for setting risk-based insurance rates do not fully capture the flood risk for low-lying structures, which are more likely to incur losses because they are subject to longer duration and greater depth of flooding and are flooded more frequently and by smaller flood events, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report offers alternative approaches for calculating risk-based premiums for these structures, ranging from incremental changes to current methods to a complete overhaul of the system, although it does not recommend which approach the NFIP should adopt or what the new rates should be.

  • Using technology to defeat a tiny beetle which threatens grain stores

    Invasive insect species pose a considerable threat to U.S. agriculture and natural resources – making it imperative that known invasive species are detected and their introduction prevented throughout global trade pathways. The tiny khapra beetle poses a major threat to unprotected grain stores. Scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) are helping the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) Plant Protection Quarantine (PPQ) find an easier, more effective way to inspect bulk food supply for khapra beetles.

  • State Department stays away from Chinese-owned Waldorf Astoria

    The U.S. State Department said American diplomats and State Department officials, for the first time in decades, would not be staying at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel during this year’s UN general assembly. Worldwide last year sold the high-end Midtown hotel for $1.95 billion to the Chinese group Anbang Insurance Group. The sales contract allowed for “a major renovation” by the Chinese, and American security experts had no doubt as to the purpose of these “renovations”: As is the practice in China, the Chinese owners, working on behalf of China’s intelligence services, were going to plant listening devices in every room and ball room, and wire every phone, Wi-Fi hot spot, and restaurant table in order to eavesdrop on hotel guests.