• Aerial Threat: Why Drone Hacking Could Be Bad News for the Military

    Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly called drones, are now a fundamental part of defense force capability, from intelligence gathering to unmanned engagement in military operations. But what happens if our own technology is turned against us? As with all IT technology, manufacturers and users may leave the digital doors unlocked. This potentially leaves opportunities for cyber-criminals and perhaps even cyber-warfare.

  • A Safer Way for Police to Test Drug Evidence

    Scientists have demonstrated a way for police to quickly and safely test whether a baggie or other package contains illegal drugs without having to handle any suspicious contents directly. The new technique can limit the risk of accidental exposure to fentanyl and other highly potent drugs that can be dangerous if a small amount is accidentally inhaled.

  • Helping First Responders Identify Unknown Chemicals

    First responders arrive first on the scene when disaster strikes or terrorists attack. They often encounter dangerous conditions like smoke and chemicals. To best help in situations like these, they need to know the chemical substances present onsite. This is where analytical field instruments such as Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometers (GC/MS) come into play. But to acquire such technology, first responders first need to know which GC/MSs suit both their needs and their budgets.

  • Funding for Research on Gun Injuries to U.S. Children Gets 30 Times Less Funding Per Death Than other causes

    Firearm injuries kill 2,500 American children each year and send another 12,000 to emergency departments. But a new study finds that the nation spends far less on studying what led to those injuries, and what might prevent and treat them, than it spends on other, less-common causes of death in children between the ages of 1 and 18 years.

  • The U.S. Government Keeps Too Many Secrets

    That the U.S. government has a problem with classifying information—the process of identifying and protecting documents and discussions that must be kept secret to preserve national security—was established long before President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal returned the subject to the headlines. Classifying information is a key part of how the U.S. government functions and is able to carry out sensitive tasks, Giglio writes, but the problem is that too much national-security information—from the trivial to the politically inconvenient—gets labeled “confidential,” “secret,” or “top secret,” meaning that only those with the corresponding government clearance can access it.

  • I Helped Classify Calls for Two Presidents. The White House Abuse of the System Is Alarming

    The whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine controversy said White House officials ordered information about President Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky to be removed from the classified server typically used to store such information and placed on a hyper-secure “code word” server. Such special protections are typically reserved for material of the gravest sensitivity: detailed information about covert operations, for example, where exposure can get people killed. Kelly Magsamen, who staffed presidential meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders while she was an NSC staffer during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, writes that “It is difficult to overstate just how abnormal and suspicious treating the call in that manner would be. It strongly suggests White House staff knew of serious wrongdoing by the president and attempted to bury it — a profound abuse of classified systems for political, and possibly criminal, purposes.”

  • Experts Document the Lack of Research on Youth Firearm Injury

    A national research team has just published the largest-ever examination of the state of research on all aspects of youth firearm injury - whether intentional, unintentional, or self-inflicted. The bottom-line conclusion: Far more research, and better research, is needed on children, teens and the prevention and aftermath of firearm injuries and deaths. If translated into action, such new knowledge could help reduce death and injury rates, and other effects.

  • National Security Chip Plant Gets an Upgrade

    Sandia National Laboratories has completed phase one of an anticipated three-year upgrade at its plant responsible for making integrated circuits. The upgrade will align Sandia with industry, but the Lab notes that the decision to upgrade was driven by the Lab’s national security mission. Six years of planning ensured the conversion would not affect production of components needed for national defense. Chips produced at Sandia can be found in the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

  • In-Suit Communications Equipment for First Responders

    Every day, across the nation, emergency responders are dispatched to calls with situations ranging from basic structural fires to complex search and rescue operations to domestic violence or assaults. Emergency responders answering those calls for help oftentimes arrive at a scene with limited information, so communication between themselves and their colleagues becomes of the utmost importance. When responding to a hazardous material incident, personal protective equipment (PPE) may need to be worn, which can significantly impact the ability to communicate.

  • The Big and Urgent Task of Revitalizing Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications

    A few weeks ago, Adam Lowther co-authored an article proposing the use of artificial intelligence in nuclear weapons launch decisions. The article was met with pointed criticism. “Our sole concern is achieving the desired end-state — strategic stability and American supremacy, which are not mutually exclusive. We believe that trends in technological development will ensure artificial intelligence plays a central role, but the exact shape of the future is yet to be determined,” Lowther writes. “I would ask those who are serious about ensuring the survivability of the American nuclear deterrent to join us in thinking about new approaches to guaranteeing that its adversaries never, even for a moment, doubt that the United States can command and control its nuclear forces under any set of conditions. Whether it is through an artificial intelligence-based NC3 system or some other means will be decided over the coming decade — and only after several technologies reach maturation.”

  • U.S., U.K. and Australia to Call on Facebook to Create Backdoor to Encrypted Messages

    The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia will pressure Facebook to create a backdoor into its encrypted messaging apps which would allow governments to access the content of private communications, according to an open letter from top government officials to Mark Zuckerberg. The letter is expected to be released Friday. Law enforcement agencies have long argues that encrypted communications, while protecting privacy, also shields criminals and terrorists, making investigations of crimes and acts of terror much more difficult.

  • A New Hunt for Jimmy Hoffa

    Jimmy Hoffa, the brilliant but ruthless head of the Teamsters Union, had a taste for corruption and a knack for making powerful enemies, including his frequent business partners, the Mafia, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. After President Nixon commuted his federal prison sentence, Hoffa planned to retake control of the Teamsters, much to the alarm of the mob. Then, one July day in 1975, Hoffa vanished without a trace from a restaurant parking lot outside of Detroit. Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith – whose stepfather, Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien, had been the FBI’s earliest suspect — has just published a book on the Hoffa mystery. Goldsmith invested years in researching the mystery not only to clear O’Brien’s name (O’Brien was never charged), but also to try and figure out what happened to Hoffa.

  • India-Pakistan Nuclear War Could Kill Millions, Lead to Global Starvation

    A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could, over the span of less than a week, kill 50-125 million people—more than the death toll during all six years of World War II, according to new research. The researchers calculated that an India-Pakistan war could inject as much as 80 billion pounds of thick, black smoke into Earth’s atmosphere. That smoke would block sunlight from reaching the ground, driving temperatures around the world down by an average of between 3.5-9 degrees Fahrenheit for several years. Worldwide food shortages would likely come soon after. Today, India and Pakistan each have about 150 nuclear warheads at their disposal, and that number is expected to climb to more than 200 by 2025.

  • North American Seismic Networks Can Contribute to Nuclear Security

    The International Monitoring System is the top global seismic network for monitoring nuclear weapon tests around the world. To expand the system’s detection capabilities, however, international monitors should seek out the data, methods and expertise of smaller regional seismic networks.

  • How to Dismantle a Nuclear Bomb: Team Successfully Tests New Method for Verification of Weapons Reduction

    How do weapons inspectors verify that a nuclear bomb has been dismantled? An unsettling answer is: They don’t, for the most part. When countries sign arms reduction pacts, they do not typically grant inspectors complete access to their nuclear technologies, for fear of giving away military secrets. Now MIT researchers have successfully tested a new high-tech method that could help inspectors verify the destruction of nuclear weapons. The method uses neutron beams to establish certain facts about the warheads in question — and, crucially, uses an isotopic filter that physically encrypts the information in the measured data.