Public Safety | Homeland Security Newswire

  • NIST boosts drone forensics with new data on its website

    Aerial drones might someday deliver online purchases to your home. But in some prisons, drone delivery is already a thing. Drones have been spotted flying drugs, cell phones and other contraband over prison walls, and in several cases, drug traffickers have used drones to ferry narcotics across the border. If those drones are captured, investigators will try to extract data from them that might point to a suspect.

  • HART: Homeland Security’s massive new database will include face recognition, DNA, and peoples’ “non-obvious relationships”

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.

  • “Red flag” gun laws linked to reduction in firearm suicides

    Risk-based firearm seizure laws – also known as “red flag,” risk warrant, gun violence restraining order, or extreme risk protection order laws – provide ways for law enforcement to seize guns from individuals considered to pose an imminent risk of serious harm to themselves or others. Nearly 23,000 Americans died in suicide incidents involving a firearm in 2016. A new study provides evidence that risk-based gun seizure laws are saving lives.

  • Risk assessment tools may increase number of incarcerations

    The use of risk assessment tools has increased considerably within criminal justice institutions in recent decades, and these tools have been viewed by many as a way to stop or even reverse the U.S. heavy reliance on imprisonment. But new research suggests these tools may actually contribute to expanding the number of people caught up in the criminal justice system. In 1972, there were approximately 375,000 people incarcerated in the U.S. By 2007, the number had climbed to 2.1 million people. In 1972 the incarceration rate was 161 incarcerated people per 100,000 residents, compared with 767 per 100,000 in 2007.

  • Cold War-era KGB “active measures” and the Kremlin’s contemporary way of war

    Bob Seely, a Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight and a Russia researcher, has just published the first comprehensive definition of the nature of modern Russian warfare. The paper draws a direct comparison between Cold War-era KGB “Active Measures” and the aggression of Putin’s Russia. “From fake news aimed at Europe to the propaganda of RT, and from the occupation of Crimea to the streets of Salisbury, Russia is waging a very modern kind of conflict on the West – as well as on the Russian people themselves,” Seely said.

  • Risk-management roadmap to denuclearization in North Korea

    Immediate denuclearization of North Korea is unrealistic, scholars say. They recommend a phased denuclearization to take place over ten years or more, allowing the United States to reduce the greatest risks first and address the manageable risks over time.

  • Corporate data collection and U.S. national security: Expanding the conversation in an era of nation state cyber aggression

    What has the Russia investigation revealed about risks inherent in mass private data collection? Carrie Cordero writes that one thing we learned from the Russia investigation is that we may be framing the conversation about corporate data collection too narrowly. “Based on what we have learned publicly so far about the Russian election interference, it is worth pausing to reflect on the national security implications of corporate data collection and aggregation as it relates to the collection of individual, private citizens’ data,” she says. “Although the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and special counsel investigations are not yet complete, we know enough already about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to understand that data collected from private companies and organizations can be accessed, exposed and potentially misused in a way that is harmful to the country’s institutional stability. At the very least, its misuse sows distrust and confusion. At worst, it shreds the institutional and societal fabric that holds the country together.”

  • Civil liberties organizations urge transparency on NSA domestic phone record surveillance

    Last week, twenty-four civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, urging him to report—as required by law—statistics that could help clear up just how many individuals are subject to broad NSA surveillance of domestic telephone records. According to the most recent transparency report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the NSA collected more than 530 million call records in 2017, an increase of more than 300 percent from the year prior.

  • RAND to help oversee high-quality research on gun violence

    Every day in the United States, close to 100 people are killed by guns, and for every death, two more are injured. The gun-related murder rate in the U.S. is 25 times higher than the rate in 22 other high-income nations. About two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States are suicides. The RAND Corporation has been selected to help oversee a philanthropic fund that will support high-quality research on issues related to gun violence.

  • Gun violence research gets $50 million boost from private funders

    In one swoop, a new $50 million initiative to boost funding for gun violence research is poised to eclipse the federal government’s efforts to understand the epidemic. Experts in the field say the fund, created by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, could advance understanding of the causes and effects of gun violence and inform public policy.

  • Handgun purchaser licensing laws linked to fewer firearms homicides

    State laws that require gun purchasers to obtain a license contingent on passing a background check performed by state or local law enforcement are associated with a 14 percent reduction in firearm homicides in large, urban counties, a new study finds.

  • New tool to detect deadly chemical weapon agents: Butterflies

    Every spring caterpillars shed their cocoons, emerging as butterflies. This timeless symbol of change is now being applied to enhanced chemical detection for U.S. soldiers. Researchers from the military service academies, funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department, are using butterflies to detect trace amounts of chemical warfare agents with increased precision and speed.

  • China sonic attack: how sound can be a weapon

    Reports of “sonic attacks” in China, and previously in Cuba, have left many wandering whether sonic weapons could be targeting U.S. diplomats. Victims have reportedly experienced mild brain injuries with symptoms including “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure.” Little is known for definite, but the symptoms do suggest that some sort of sonic interference could have taken place. It is unlikely to be the result of a deliberate “sonic attack.” Instead, these injuries are probably the side effects of intrusive surveillance.

  • Winners announced in $300K biothreat prize competition

    DHS S&T the other day announced the grand prize winner of its $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. The prize competition called for the design of an early warning system to keep communities safe by using existing data sources to uncover emerging biothreats.

  • Mobile security messages 20 percent more effective if warnings vary in appearance

    Using brain data, eye-tracking data and field-study data, researchers have confirmed something about our interaction with security warnings on computers and phones: the more we see them, the more we tune them out. But the major study also finds that slight changes to the appearance of warnings help users pay attention to and adhere to warnings 20 percent more of the time.