• ImmigrationTrump signs immigration order to curb asylum claims

    The Trump administration has issued an executive order which would effectively ban migrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border from qualifying for asylum. The administration’s move comes as thousands of Honduran migrants are making their way north. The order means that the United States will no longer allow certain people who enter the country illegally to qualify for asylum.

  • Considered opinion: The Russia connectionCountering Russian election hacks

    By Eric Jensen

    According to a Center for Public Integrity report, the “U.S. military hackers have been given the go-ahead to gain access to Russian cyber systems as part of potential retaliation for any meddling in America’s elections.” Eric Jensen writes in Just Security that this signals a significant change to the U.S. cyber policy and is a clear indication that cyber actions have now entered the mainstream of national security tools. “For years, the “newness” of cyber capabilities have caused the level of authorization to remain at very high levels and subject to extensive interagency dialogue before even simple cyber tasks could be taken. These procedural requirements undoubtedly had the practical effect of limiting the number of cyber activities undertaken. By allowing DoD and other government agencies to function more autonomously within pre-approved guidelines reflects a normalization of cyber capabilities that has been too long in coming.”

  • Election securityWhite House MIA on midterm elections security

    The United States is less than a week away from the 2018 midterms, but the Trump administration has not put together a substantive, coordinated effort to fight disinformation or possible election interference. Law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence officials held one 90-minute meeting at the Justice Department late last month and left without any answers. No one from the White House attended. In the absence of White House leadership or an overarching strategy, some agencies have taken individual actions. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has stepped forward and convened her own meetings with agency leaders on election security issues.

  • CybersecurityS&T awards $11.6 million to defend against network, internet disruptions

    Five research organizations were awarded separate contracts totaling $11,511,565 to develop new methods to identify and attribute Network/Internet-scale Disruptive Events (NIDEs), the DHS S&T announced last week.

  • SuperbugsNew FDA initiative to reduce overuse of antibiotics in animals met with skepticism

    Each year more than 2 million Americans suffer infections from bacteria that cannot be treated by one or more antibiotics—and at least 23,000 die. Approximately 70 percent of all medically important antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in food-producing animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that the agency will soon be implementing a 5-year blueprint to advance antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings. The FDA wants to further its efforts to reduce the overuse of antimicrobial drugs and combat the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance. Critics charge the new FDA’s initiative is too timid.

  • SAFETY Act: 15 years onSAFETY Act at 15: 1,000 qualified antiterrorism technologies approved

    For fifteen years now, the S&T Office of SAFETY Act Implementation (OSAI,) under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act, has been approving anti-terrorism technologies for liability protections. It has so far approved more than 1,000 Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies.

  • Considered opinion: Truth decay The West is ill-prepared for the wave of “deep fakes” that artificial intelligence could unleash

    By Chris Meserole and Alina Polyakova

    Russian disinformation has become a growing problem for Western countries. European nations are finally taking action, which is an important first step, but Chris Meserole and Alina Polyakova write “to get ahead of the problem, policymakers in Europe and the United States should focus on the coming wave of disruptive technologies. Fueled by advances in artificial intelligence and decentralized computing, the next generation of disinformation promises to be even more sophisticated and difficult to detect.” Bigger data, better algorithms, and custom hardware promise to democratize the creation of fake print, audio, and video stories. “Deep fakes and the democratization of disinformation will prove challenging for governments and civil society to counter effectively,” Meserole and Alina Polyakova warn.

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

    By Jennifer Lynch

    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.

  • Energy securityHere’s why Trump’s new strategy to keep ailing coal and nuclear plants open makes no sense

    By James Van Nostrand

    President Donald Trump recently ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take “immediate steps” to stop the closure of coal and nuclear power plants. The proposal is premised on these power plants being essential to national security. To be sure, the coal and nuclear industries are in trouble. Thirty-six coal plants have retired since Trump was elected, and another 30 will close in the coming months. More than 1 in 10 of the nation’s nuclear reactors are likely to be decommissioned by 2025. But experts are not worried about any electricity shortages or outages between now and 2025. The Energy Department’s own assessment of whether the ongoing wave of coal and nuclear plant retirements are threatening grid reliability, found no cause for alarm. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected an earlier proposal for the tax-payers to subsidize these declining industries. In short, there is no emergency that justifies this unprecedented intrusion into the electricity markets that would warrant forcing taxpayers and utilities to pay a premium to keep coal and nuclear plants online. The only “emergencies” are the financial woes of the plant owners caused by the rapid decline coal consumption and the nuclear industry’s weak outlook.

  • CybersecurityMapping DHS’s new cybersecurity strategy, highlighting S&T’s R&D support

    Last month at a cybersecurity conference, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen previewed the May unveiling of DHS’s new cybersecurity strategy and issued a stern warning to cybercriminals. The new DHS Cybersecurity Strategy was released 15 May. Nielsen said: “I have a news flash for America’s adversaries: Complacency is being replaced by consequences. We will not stand on the sidelines while our networks are compromised. We will not abide the theft of our data, our innovation and our resources. And we will not tolerate cyber meddling aimed at the heart of our democracy.”

  • BiothreatsWinners 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.

  • CybersecurityWhite House eliminates Cyber Coordinator position

    Rob Joyce, the White House Cyber Coordinator, left his position Friday to return to the National Security Agency (NSA), and the White House, instead of replacing him, has decided to eliminate the position. Gary Kasparov, Russian chess champion and critic of President Vladimir Putin, said that doing away with that job as the United States is still trying to cope with the impact of Russia’s 2016 election interference, and as it faces ongoing and mounting cyberthreats and attacks, is “[l]ike eliminating the Navy after Pearl Harbor.”

  • CybersecurityDHS S&T awards first Phase 4 award for IOT security

    Atlanta-based Ionic Security is the first company to successfully complete prototype testing and move to the pilot deployment phase as part of DHS S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). SVIP offers up to $800,000 in non-dilutive funding to eligible companies.

  • FBIThe curious case of the twice-fired FBI analyst

    By Topher Sanders

    Said Barodi, a Muslim American, had been deemed an “excellent” employee over a decade of work with the bureau before he was fired after a run-in at an airport. He won his appeal to get his job back, only to be fired again. He says his heritage made him a target. “I was the enemy within,” he says.

  • Climate threatsLawmakers question Pruitt’s proposal to limit EPA’s use of science

    The EPA has announced new policy-making rules which, critics say, are aimed to reduce the role of science in the agency’s decisions. EPA’s proposal would limit the scientific information used in rulemaking, allow the agency to ignore scientific studies where the underlying data has not been made public, and force the agency to only use scientific data that can be reproduced. Lawmakers yesterday sent a detailed letter to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, requesting more information on his proposal.