• Corporations can benefit from altruism during a crisis

    Altruism – and social media – can help corporations cultivate trust with consumers on mobile devices during and after natural disasters, such as hurricanes. “Companies that engage in corporate social responsibility efforts during and after a disaster can build strong relationships with consumers,” says one researcher. “This is particularly true if companies are communicating their efforts through social media aimed at mobile device users – but only if their efforts appear altruistic.”

  • APT37 (Reaper): Overlooked North Korean cyber espionage unit

    An increasingly sophisticated North Korean cyber-espionage unit is using its skills to widen spying operations to aerospace and defense industries, a new study has revealed. Cybersecurity firm FireEye has identified a North Korean group, which it names APT37 (Reaper) and which it says is using malware to infiltrate computer networks. FireEye’s report suggests the group has been active since 2012, but has now graduated to the level of an advanced persistent threat.

  • Meet the new “renewable superpowers”: nations that boss the materials used for wind and solar

    Imagine a world where every country has not only complied with the Paris climate agreement but has moved away from fossil fuels entirely. How would such a change affect global politics? The twentieth century was dominated by coal, oil and natural gas, but a shift to zero-emission energy generation and transport means a new set of elements will become key. Solar energy, for instance, still primarily uses silicon technology, for which the major raw material is the rock quartzite. Lithium represents the key limiting resource for most batteries – while rare earth metals, in particular “lanthanides” such as neodymium, are required for the magnets in wind turbine generators. Copper is the conductor of choice for wind power, being used in the generator windings, power cables, transformers and inverters. In considering this future it is necessary to understand who wins and loses by a switch from carbon to silicon, copper, lithium, and rare earth metals.

  • Social media is helping Putin kill our democracy

    There are few more important issues confronting the West today than what to do about social media companies, which thanks to their ubiquity possess vast riches and daunting influence over our democracies. The Russians have been spreading lies for decades. Active Measures, including fake reports, forged documents, and dastardly conspiracies invented out of thin air, were created by the KGB to smear Western governments. Social media made Moscow’s clandestine work much easier and more profitable. Although the lies currently emanating from the Kremlin resemble Cold War Active Measures in overall form and content, they are now disseminated so quickly, and through so many fronts, trolls, and bots, that Western governments are severely challenged to even keep up with these weaponized lies, much less push back. For this, we have the Internet to thank. While none can deny the countless benefits of the online age, this is one of its most pernicious side effects. It’s time the West seriously addressed the problem, and quickly, since this Kremlin spy game isn’t going away.

  • U.K.: Russia launched last June’s costly NotPetya cyberattacks

    Russian military hackers were behind the NoPetya cyberattack on Ukraine that spread globally last year, the British government said. The United States said June’s NotPetya ransomware attack caused billions of dollars in damage across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. U.K. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Russia was “ripping up the rule book” and the U.K. would respond.

  • The U.S. export economy at risk from global infectious outbreaks

    In addition to tragic loss of life, the next global infectious disease outbreak could harm the U.S. export economy and threaten U.S. jobs—even if the disease never reaches our shores. Two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies analyze the risks and show potential losses to the American export economy from an overseas outbreak.

  • Iran’s uprising—a case of patrimonial corruption, pt. 2

    Iran’s corruption is more structural and ideologically oriented than the one resulting from nepotism or individual petty corruption. The grievances expressed by the ordinary Iranians on the streets of various towns, reflect the structural corruption that have resulted in a grave disparity in distribution of resources for the ordinary people. Because of the structural and patrimonial corruption, mismanagement, and preferential treatment of its citizens, Iran’s economic growth after the nuclear deal has benefited only the well-connected few. The demonstrations took place primarily in towns other than Tehran, and the demonstrators were not solely students demanding change on government’s policies concerning basic human rights and political freedoms. The demonstrators have been asking for an affordable price of groceries.

  • Iran’s uprising—a case of patrimonial corruption, pt. 1

    The recent uprising in Iran has a powerful message: eliminate economic injustice. In this respect, it is more potent and enduring than the wave of demonstrations in 2009 seeking “where is my vote.” The 2009 revolt was primarily carried out by young university students, intellectuals, urban dwellers, and those who had the experience of life under democratic systems. In that year, young Iranians’ overwhelming vote, for a semblance of a representative government, was answered with guns. Iran’s problems could not be explained without referring to the paradoxical fabric of its society, and its government. Iran has one of the highest adult education in the world— 97 percent among young adults— well ahead of the regional average. Further, a considerable percentage of the student body, in Iranian universities, is female. And Iran has a unique pattern of distribution of wealth among its institutions. The disposition of economic resources is mainly controlled, and ultimately benefited, by the extra-constitutional entities.

  • “Jackpotting” drains millions from U.S. ATMs

    ATM machines across the country are being targeted by a wave of criminals in search of an illegal high-tech payday. The Secret Service calls this phenomenon “jackpotting,” and are warning U.S. bank attacks are imminent. It is a modern-day version of a bank robbery, but no weapons are used — only malware, a small device or two and a special key that can be purchased on the Internet. When cyberattackers take control of the machine, cash spews out of the ATM like a Las Vegas jackpot. ASU professor helps combat cyberattacks though intelligence-gathering.

  • Keeping the lights on if the world turns to 100% clean, renewable energy

    Researchers propose three separate ways to avoid blackouts if the world transitions all its energy to electricity or direct heat and provides the energy with 100 percent wind, water, and sunlight. The solutions reduce energy requirements, health damage, and climate damage. “Based on these results, I can more confidently state that there is no technical or economic barrier to transitioning the entire world to 100 percent clean, renewable energy with a stable electric grid at low cost,” says one researcher.

  • Salvage yard as a source for rare-earth elements

    As the United States seeks a stable domestic supply of rare-earth elements – essential to high-tech instruments and electronics – researchers are looking to the salvage yard to see what might be lurking under the hoods and in the doors of light-duty cars and trucks. Rare-earth elements (REEs) are not scarce but scattered, meaning they typically can’t be found in economically exploitable concentrations. They have become increasingly sought after, however, since they are used in high-strength magnets, electric motors, and consumer goods like laptops, tablets and cellphones. A single smartphone can contain nine rare-earth elements alone.

  • Turkey’s foray into Somalia is a huge success, but there are risks

    Turkey’s engagement with Somalia is striking for its brevity and ostensible success. Turkey has been involved in Somalia since just 2011, yet Ankara can point to a string of reported accomplishments and an arguably outsized presence in an often violent country regularly described as a failed state. Turkey’s presence in Somalia certainly embodies one of the most interesting regional geopolitical developments in the past decade. It also represents one of the most misunderstood and confusing. Why did Turkey choose Somalia? And, after its initial humanitarian intervention in 2011, what internal and external forces have shaped and expanded that involvement? Furthermore, what explains Turkey’s reported triumphs? Turkey’s actions have arguably improved the situation in Somalia over the past six years. This is because Ankara has actually attempted to assuage rather than solve Somalia’s long-standing problems outright. Investment is largely driven by profits and assistance is targeted, coordinated and based on needs. These interventions rarely come with the types of strings attached that characterize other efforts seeking to restructure Somalia. This has been welcomed by many Somalis for whom requirements for political reform or the creation of accountability mechanisms ring hollow.

  • Lawmaker demands documents on Kaspersky Lab, threatens use of compulsory process against DHS

    U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) yesterday sent a letter to the DHS demanding a complete response to the committee’s 5 December request and threatening the use of compulsory process to obtain documents related to the DHS Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 17-01. The BOD required all government agencies to identify and remove Kaspersky Lab software from their computer systems.

  • Digital deceit: Tacking the technologies behind precision propaganda on the internet

    Over the past year, there has been rising pressure on Facebook, Google, and Twitter to account for how bad actors are exploiting their platforms. The catalyst of this so-called “tech-lash” was the revelation last summer that agents of the Russian government engaged in disinformation operations using these services to influence the 2016 presidential campaigns. The investigation into the Russian operation pulled back the curtain on a modern Internet marketplace that enables widespread disinformation over online channels. The authors of a new report say we have only begun to scratch the surface of a much larger ecosystem of digital advertising and marketing technologies.

  • Debunking 3 myths behind “chain migration” and “low-skilled” immigrants

    President Donald Trump has embraced the rhetoric of “chain migration” to spread the message that the United States is legally letting in too many of the wrong kind of immigrant. That term, however, distorts the facts. As a scholar on U.S. immigration law and policy, I’d like to correct and contextualize the numbers on the now maligned “family-based immigration,” and uncover the biases that underlie the preference for the “highly-skilled” immigrant. Family immigration is subject to significant limitations and it exists because American values include ideals such as family unification.