• After Paris, it’s traditional detective work that will keep us safe, not mass surveillance

    Before the dust has even settled from the attacks on Paris, familiar calls for greater surveillance powers are surfacing. The desire for greater security is understandable, but that doesn’t mean we should suspend our judgement on the measures proposed to bring it about. It’s widely accepted that intelligence work is the most effective form of counter-terrorism, and that the best intelligence comes from community engagement, not coercion. So we must be wary of the evangelism of those pushing technological solutions to security problems, and the political clamor for mass surveillance.

  • ISIS “trying to obtain chemical, nuclear weapons”: U.K. government

    British prime minister David Cameron said yesterday that the government security review has warned that ISIS and al-Qaeda are trying to get their hands on chemical and nuclear weapons. Cameroon referred to the security review in a speech in which he called on Members of Parliament to approve U.K. air strikes in Syria within a week. The British government pledged allocation additional resources for new equipment and the creation of within the Army of two new rapid response “strike brigades” of 5,000 soldiers each. The number of civilian jobs in the Ministry of defense, though, will be heavily reduced.

  • Smart sensor detects single molecule in chemical compounds

    Researchers have developed a smart sensor that can detect single molecules in chemical and biological compounds — a highly valued function in medicine, security, and defense. The researcher used a chemical and biochemical sensing technique called surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), which is used to understand more about the make-up of materials.

  • Telegram IM app recalibrates policies after Paris attacks

    Pavel Durov, the creator of the popular instant messaging app Telegram, has said that following the Paris terrorist attacks, his company has blocked dozens of accounts associated with the jihadist Islamic State group. As is the case with other technology companies, Telegram is trying to negotiate the balance between privacy and security: the same privacy-enhancing technology which keeps customers’ communication private, also helps terrorists communicate with each other and plot attacks safe from monitoring and surveillance by intelligence agencies and law enforcement.

  • Demonstrating technologies for disaster response

    Radiological incidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima illustrate the need for effective coordination of federal, state, and local agencies in response efforts. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demonstrated new technology developments at the Columbus, Ohio, Battelle Memorial Institute facility that will enable more effective radiological decontamination.

  • 2 dead, 7 arrested in French police raid on apartment building in search of attacks’ mastermind

    About 200 members of the special units of the French police early Wednesday morning (Paris time) swooped on the Parisian banlieue, or suburb, of Saint-Denis – where the Stade de France, one of the sites of Friday’s terrorist attacks, is located – and arrested seven people. Two people were killed. One of the dead was a young woman who blew herself up with a suicide vest. French Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that the operation was a result of a credible tip — in all likelihood, a police informer who resides in the neighborhood — suggesting Abdelhamid Abbaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin, was holed up in an apartment in a residential building.

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  • Paris terrorist attacks reignite debate over end-to-end encryption, back doors

    The exact way the terrorists who attacked France last Friday communicated with each other, and their handlers, in the run-up to the attack is not yet clear, but the attack has prompted law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Europe and the United States to renew their call to regulate the use of new encryption technologies which allow users to “go dark” and make it difficult, if not altogether impossible, to retrieve the contents of communication.

  • Discovery of “hidden earthquake” challenges tsunami early-warning systems

    Seismologists studying the 2011 Chile earthquake have discovered a previously undetected earthquake which took place seconds after the initial rupture. This newly discovered phenomena which they have called a “closely spaced doublet” presents a challenge to earthquake and tsunami early warning systems as it increases the risk of larger-than-expected tsunamis in the aftermath of a typical subduction earthquake.

  • U.K. put special British police unit on standby in the wake of Paris attacks

    In the early hours of Saturday, following the previous evening’s terrorist attacks in Paris, the British government put a special British police unit on standby for an emergency national mobilization of officers. The move was a precautionary measure taken as the government weighed placing the United Kingdom on its highest state of terrorist alert. There are forty-three local police forces in England and Wales, and raising the terrorist threat level to critical — the highest would have triggered the dispatching of officers from some of these local forces patrol sites and neighborhood in the country’s big cities.

  • Most people object to fully autonomous weapons: Survey

    Public opinion is against the use of autonomous weapons capable of identifying and destroying targets without human input, according to a new survey. “It has been said that future wars will be fought with completely automated systems,” said one of the researchers behind the survey. “The survey results clearly show that more public discussion is necessary so that we can make intelligent decisions about robotic weapon technologies.”

  • Wireless technology enables advanced up protective clothing

    Combining the latest advances in sensor and wireless technology with comfortable protective clothing has opened up new partnership possibilities across a range of sectors. Numerous end users stand to benefit from the inclusion of smart technology in protective clothing. One French start-up has pioneered intelligent active protection systems for ski racers. Further advances may see the use of advanced protective clothing by soldiers and first responders.

  • Facebook: Governments’ demanding more user data, content restrictions

    Facebook says that governments’ requests for information and for the removal of content have increased in the first half of 2015. Such requests have substantially increased in the last two years, since the company began releasing such information. The number of accounts for which governments around the world have requested account data jumped 18 percent in the first half of 2015, to 41,214 accounts, up from 35,051 requests in the second half of 2014.

  • Lawmakers want to know scope of federal agencies’ use of cellphone tracking technology

    Members of the House Oversight Committee on Monday sent letters to the heads of twenty-four federal agencies asking them whether or not their agencies employ the StingRay cell phone tracking technology. The technology simulates a cell phone tower so it can collect information on mobile phones and their users. The letters are indicative of a growing unease with the unregulated use of the technology by federal agencies.

  • German spy agency spied on FBI, UN bodies, and German citizens: Report

    BND, Germany’s intelligence service, spied on the FBI, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, UNICEF — the UN Children’s Fund, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and the World Health Organization, among many other targets. What may upset many Germans is the fact that the list of BND surveillance targets also included German citizens. Germany has strict privacy laws and German citizens are not allowed to be spied on without a thorough review by the courts.

  • Microwave absorber may advance radar cloaking for stealth missions

    Microwave absorbers are a kind of material that can effectively absorb incident microwave energy to make objects invisible to radar; therefore they are commonly used in aircraft cloaking and warship stealth. Recently, as radar detection devices have been improved to detect the near-meter microwave length regime, scientists are working on high-performance absorbers that can cloak objects in the equivalent ultra-high frequency regime (from 300 megahertz to two gigahertz). Conventional absorbers for the ultra-high regime, however, are usually thick, heavy, or have narrow absorption bandwidth, making them unsuitable for stealth missions. To solve this problem, researchers have developed an ultra-thin, tunable broadband microwave absorber for ultra-high frequency applications.