Companies / JVs / Partnerships

  • Security clearanceSecurity check firm USIS accepts $30 million fraud settlement

    United States Investigations Services, the security firm which vetted Edward Snowden, has agreed to a fine of about $30 million to settle U.S. charges related to the way it conducted background checks on applicants for sensitive government jobs. The Justice Department said USIS engaged in practice internally called “dumping” or “flushing,” in which the company released the background checks of individuals to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and presented these cases as having been completed when, in fact, they were not.

  • Infrastructure protectionNew technology solves city pipelines leakage problem without excavation

    In Mexico City there are twenty-six thousand kilometers of water pipes and drainage, of which about 8,000 are useless, with risk of collapse and resulting cuts in service. The water pipes infrastructure of many other cities is not much better. A Mexican start-up has created a technology to renew piping without the need for excavation, ensuring it lasts fifty years, twice as long as traditional piping.

  • Counter-drone technologyCounter-drone technologies demonstrated at DoD’s Black Dart event

    Small, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs, aka UAVs, for unmanned aerial vehicle), or drones, are easy to obtain and launch and they are hard to detect on radar, making them of particular concern to law enforcement and the Department of Defense. Earlier this month DHS circulated an intelligence assessment to police agencies across the United States warning about drones being used as weapons in an attack. DOD says that Black Dart 2015, which began 26 July and ran through 7 August, is the Department of Defense’s largest live-fly, live-fire joint counter-UAS technology demonstration. One of the innovative developers of counter-UAS technologies is SRC Inc., a not-for-profit company formerly affiliated with Syracuse University. The company showed its SR Hawk surveillance radar, which is integral to its layered approach to defending against UASs.

  • Visual-information gatheringSandia teams with industry to improve human-data interaction

    Intelligence analysts working to identify national security threats in warzones or airports or elsewhere often flip through multiple images to create a video-like effect. They also may toggle between images at lightning speed, pan across images, zoom in and out or view videos or other moving records. These dynamic images demand software and hardware tools that will help intelligence analysts analyze the images more effectively and efficiently extract useful information from vast amounts of quickly changing data. Sandia Lab and EyeTracking, Inc. will research and develop tools to improve how intelligence analysts gather visual information.

  • Cyber carjackingResearchers use SMS to take control of a car remotely

    Researchers have discovered a serious flaw in vehicle security, which allowed them to hack a car, remotely activating its windscreen wipers, applying its brakes, and even disabling them – and do all this by using simple text messages. The vulnerability was found in small black dongles which are connected to the vehicles’ diagnostic ports. The dongles are used by insurance companies and fleet operators and are plugged into the car’s onboard diagnostics port (OBD-II).

  • PrivacyWindows 10 is not really free: you are paying for it with your privacy

    By David Glance

    Windows 10, it seems, is proving a hit with both the public and the technology press after its release last week. After two days, it had been installed on sixty-seven million PCs. For those concerned about privacy, it is the very fact that the upgrade is free that has them concerned that Microsoft has adopted a new, “freemium” model for making money from its operating system. Microsoft is employing a unique “advertising ID” that is assigned to a user when Windows 10 is installed. This is used to target personalized ads at the user. There are steps users can take to mitigate the worst of the privacy issues with Windows 10, and these are highly recommended. Microsoft should have allowed users to pay a regular fee for the product in exchange for a guarantee of the levels of privacy its users deserve.

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  • CyberjackingHackers take remote control of a Jeep, forcing it into a ditch

    Security experts have called on owners of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles vehicles to update their onboard software to make their vehicles better protected against hackers. The call comes after researchers demonstrated they could hack and take control of a Jeep over the Internet. The researchers disabled the engine and brakes and crashed the Jeep into a ditch – while the driver was sill behind the wheel.

  • CybersecurityQuestions raised about Kaspersky’s close ties to the Russian government

    Kaspersky Lab is a Moscow-based company which sells security software, including antivirus programs. The company has 400 million customers, and it ranks sixth in revenue among security-software makers. Since 2012, the company began to replace senior managers with people with close ties to Russia’s military or intelligence services. The company is also helping the FSB, the KGB’s successor, in investigating hacks – and people in the know say the company provides the FSB with the personal data of customers. The company’s actual or perceived alliances have made it a struggle to win U.S. federal contracts.

  • CybersecurityAdobe 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.

  • CybersecurityD.C.-area becoming the Silicon Valley of cybersecurity

    A recent string of multi-billion dollar cybersecurity acquisitions in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area has led to the region being seen as a major hotbed for the industry. Spending by the Department of Defense (DOD) and a number of federal agencies has led to big contracts for many in the region, fuelling much of the growth. As the DOD focuses more of its budget on cyber issues and defense, the market has grown. “The D.C./NoVA/MD area, also known as the Cyber Corridor, is becoming the Silicon Valley of security,” say the CEO of one cybersecurity firm.

  • Crude-by-railWashington State requires railroads to plan for the “largest foreseeable spill”

    Washington State governor Jay Inslee (D) has signed a new state law last month which requires railroad companies to plan with the state for the worst possible conditions when shipping crude oil. The law will require companies to plan for the “largest foreseeable spill in adverse weather conditions.” Much of the impetus for the new bill came after BNSF told Washington emergency responders in April that the company considers the worst-case spill scenario to involve 150,000 gallons of crude oil from the Bakken region, which includes parts of North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan, Canada. That amount of crude is carried by five tanker cars — but BNSF crude-oil trains often consist of 100 or more rail tank cars.

  • EncryptionUSMobile launches Scrambl3 mobile, Top Secret communication-standard app

    Irvine, California-based USMobile, a developer of private mobile phone services, yesterday launched Scrambl3, a smartphone app that enables users to create their own Private Mobile Network. When Scrambl3 users communicate with each other, Scrambl3 creates a Dark Internet Tunnel between their smartphones. This Tunnel cloaks the calls and texts by making them invisible on the Internet. Scrambl3 App for Android-based phones is available for a 60-day free beta offering from the Google Play Store.

  • BiometricsDHS awards $58.9 million biometric support contract to Ideal Innovations, Inc.

    Arlington, Virginia-based Ideal Innovations, Inc. (I3) has been awarded a contract by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) to provide specialized fingerprint analysis in support of OBIM’s Biometric Support Center (BSC). The BSC provides fingerprint identification services when the automated matching capabilities of DHS’s central repository cannot determine whether two sets of fingerprints match.

  • EncryptionTech companies urge rejection of push by FBI, DOJ for electronic devices “backdoors”

    In a 19 May letter to President Barack Obama, a group of Silicon Valley tech companies, cyber-security experts, and privacy advocacy groups urged the president to reject the implementation of “backdoors” in smartphone and computer encryption. The letter offered evidence of the  strong objection of the tech industry to demands from the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to allow secret backdoor passages into consumer electronics, which would make it possible for law enforcement to read encrypted private communications and data.

  • Nuclear powerNRC ruling raises questions about future of Diablo Canyon reactors

    In a major victory for those who pointed, post-Fukushima, to the risks involved in having a nuclear power reactor operating too close to a seismic fault, as is the case with the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners have ruled – in a decision that could mark the beginning of the end of Diablo Canyon — that an Atomic Safety Licensing Board will decide whether Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was allowed illegally to alter the plant’s license. This alteration was made in an effort to hide the risk from powerful earthquake faults discovered since it was designed and built.