Public Safety | Homeland Security Newswire

  • Urban violenceViolence in U.S. cities: Mixed, but optimistic, picture

    Violence has fallen in nearly all major U.S. cities since 1991, but recent fluctuations in violence in selected cities point to temporary disruptions in this 17-year decline. “American cities are much safer than they were in the early 1990s,” says one researcher. “While violence rose in many cities from 2014 to 2017, the most recent data indicate that, overall, cities have turned a corner and this recent rise in violence may have come to an end.”

  • Space weaponsHacked satellite could launch microwave-like attacks

    The satellite communications which ships, planes, and the military use to connect to the internet are vulnerable to hackers which, in the worst-case scenario, could carry out “cyber-physical attacks,” turning satellite antennas into weapons which operate, in effect, like microwave ovens. An expert speaking at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, said that a number of popular satellite communication systems are vulnerable to such attacks, which could also leak information and hack connected devices.

  • SurveillanceHolding law-enforcement accountable for electronic surveillance

    By Adam Conner-Simons

    When the FBI filed a court order in 2016 commanding Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters in a terrorist attack in San Bernandino, California, the news made headlines across the globe. Yet every day there are tens of thousands of court orders asking tech companies to turn over Americans’ private data. Many of these orders never see the light of day, leaving a whole privacy-sensitive aspect of government power immune to judicial oversight and lacking in public accountability. MIT researchers have proposed a new cryptographic system, using cryptography on a public log of wiretap requests, which encourages government transparency.

  • The Russia connectionU.S. imposing new sanctions on Russia for spy poisoning in U.K.

    The State Department says it will be implementing new sanctions on Russia as punishment for the March 2018 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil. The new sanctions, which will go into effect on 22 August, target export licenses of sensitive U.S. technologies and industrial equipment, such as electronics, calibration equipment, and gas turbine engines. Russia will also be given 90 days to comply with other demands, including allowing international inspectors into the country to ensure that no chemical or biological weapons exist there. If Moscow does not comply with the demands, a second round of sanctions could further downgrade diplomatic relations with Russia, or even restrict flights by Russian air carrier Aeroflot.

  • Cloak & daggerSyria accuses Israel of killing chemical weapons and rocket scientist

    A senior Syrian weapons engineer killed over the weekend when a bomb in his car exploded was killed in a targeted assassination by Israel’s security agency Mossad, the New York Times reported Tuesday, reinforcing accusations from Syria.

  • Bomb disposalHigh- and low-tech solutions for bomb disposal

    To ensure bomb techs are on the cutting edge of technology as they address evolving threats, DHS S&T created the Response and Defeat Operations Support (REDOPS) program. REDOPS connects the 466 bomb squads of varying sizes and budgets across the country with the tools and information they need to perform their duties better, faster and more safely. They look at a variety of sources—including the commercial marketplace, responder communities and international partners—for high- and low-tech solutions.

  • CrimeMurder rates highest in countries lacking due process

    Governments that do the best job protecting the rights of the accused have the lowest murder rates, while those that neglect due process have the highest, according to a new study. “This study suggests that how the government treats people in its effort to provide security matters,” says one researcher. “When there is a lack of trust in the state, people tend to take matters into their own hands and there are real-world consequences.”

  • WildfiresNew laser solution could slow spread of forest fires

    By Abigail Klein Leichman

    Aggressive wildfires are rampaging through many countries this summer, bringing death and destruction in their wake. In California alone, firefighters are scrambling to control 18 separate blazes. Texas, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, as well as Canada, Greece, India, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. are among other areas battling massive forest fires, a phenomenon experts expect will only increase due to climate change. Israeli company Fighting Treetop Fire is developing a system of removing combustible foliage with algorithm-controlled laser beams controlled via helicopter or truck.

  • Printable gunsBlocked from distributing plans for 3D-printed guns, "crypto-anarchist" is still in the DIY gun business

    By Matthew Choi

    Cody Wilson’s group Defense Distributed is known for attempting to upload the digital blueprints for 3D-printed guns. But he also helps customers make unregistered, unserialized conventional firearms, from Glocks to AR-15s.

  • GunsThe Las Vegas mass shooter had 13 rifles outfitted with bump stocks. He used them to fire 1,049 rounds.

    By Miles Kohrman

    The Las Vegas Police Department on Friday concluded its investigation into the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival, which claimed the lives of 58 people and left more than 800 injured. The report includes a detailed accounting and forensic analysis of the significant arsenal recovered from the gunman’s hotel room. The police recovered 18 rifles and a handgun. Thirteen rifles were outfitted with bump stocks, the aftermarket devices that allow semiautomatic weapons to mimic the rate of fire of an automatic rifle. The gunman used all but one of those bump stock-equipped rifles during his deadly attack. With the aid of the devices, the gunman unleashed a total of 1,049 rounds at the crowd below.

  • Printable gunsFrom gun kits to 3D printable guns, a short history of rogue gun makers

    By Timothy D. Lytton

    Gun rights activist Cody Wilson got a green light from the Trump administration in June to publish digital blueprints on the internet that will enable anyone with a 3D printer to make a plastic gun. Wilson’s harnessing of computer technology and his self-proclaimed radical ideology have added a new, unpredictable dimension to America’s struggle to reduce gun violence. But my research into the marketing, distribution and sales practices of the U.S. firearms industry reveals that there is nothing new in attempts by gun makers to exploit loopholes in government regulations. Since the 1980s, anyone can purchase the most lethal of firearms free from all legal restrictions. This has been made possible by small companies, operating on the margins of the gun industry, that sell complete weapons in the form of parts kits. Gun parts – as opposed to whole guns – are not subject to any of the federal regulations that govern firearms sales. No federal license is necessary to sell gun parts. And no background check is needed to purchase them.

  • Printable gunsInternet publication of 3D printing files about guns: Facts and what’s at stake

    By Kit Walsh

    When it comes to guns, nearly everyone has strong views. When it comes to Internet publication of 3D printed guns, those strong views can push courts and regulators into making hasty, dangerous legal precedents that will hurt the public’s ability to discuss legal, important, and even urgent topics ranging from mass surveillance to treatment of tear gas attacks. Careless responses to 3D-printed guns, even those that will do little to limit their availability, will have long-lasting effects on a host of activities entirely unrelated to guns.

  • ForensicsBuilding statistical foundation for next-gen forensic DNA profiling

    DNA is often considered the most reliable form of forensic evidence, and this reputation is based on the way DNA experts use statistics. When they compare the DNA left at a crime scene with the DNA of a suspect, experts generate statistics that describe how closely those DNA samples match. A jury can then take those match statistics into account when deciding guilt or innocence. These match statistics are reliable because they’re based on rigorous scientific research. However, that research only applies to DNA fingerprints, also called DNA profiles, that have been generated using current technology. Now, scientists have laid the statistical foundation for calculating match statistics when using Next Generation Sequencing, or NGS, which produces DNA profiles that can be more useful in solving some crimes.

  • Kite terrorismFor first time, arson balloon lands in Be’er Sheva, raises concerns of increased terror

    An arson balloon landed in the major southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva for the first time on Monday evening, raising fears that the range of terror devices employed by Palestinian terrorists, which have caused numerous fires in Israeli border communities, is increasing.

  • SurveillanceSpotting spies in the sky

    The use of drones for surveillance is no longer in the realm of science fiction. Researchers have developed the first technique to detect a drone camera illicitly capturing video. The new technology addresses increasing concerns about the proliferation of drone use for personal and business applications and how it is impinging on privacy and safety.