• The Russia connectionTwo Russians Charged with Series of Hacking, Bank Fraud Offenses, Malware Deployment

    The U.S. Justice Department announced computer hacking and bank fraud charges against Russian national Maksim Yakubets, the alleged leader of a cybercriminal organization that has illicitly earned more than $100 million since 2016. Simultaneously, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against Yakubets and his Evil Corp, which is behind the widespread use of a multifunctional malware package that has harvested online banking credentials from infected computers in more than 40 countries. The Justice Department alleges that Yakubets “also provides direct assistance to the Russian government’s malicious cyberefforts, highlighting the Russian government’s enlistment of cybercriminals for its own malicious purposes.”

  • Canine detectionDHS S&T Event to Host Innovators, Researchers, Experts on Canine Detection

    Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is inviting innovators, researchers, and canine training experts to learn about funding opportunities in the detection canine field. “We want to reach a broad spectrum of innovators to help us solve our most important detection canine research challenges,” said Don Roberts, S&T’s Detection Canine Program Manager.

  • ArgumentThe Surest Way to Lose to China Is to Disparage Expertise

    In the White House, university halls, and op-eds pages, experts are under siege. Oriana Skylar Mastro writes that President Trump calls them “terrible,” and so it is little surprise that most of the individuals driving his China policy are not China specialists, do not speak Mandarin, and have little in-country experience.

  • Family separationReport: DHS Lacked Technology to Track Separated Migrant Families

    The Department of Homeland Security lacked a technology system to efficiently track separated migrant families during the execution of the zero tolerance immigration policy in 2018, a report released Wednesday by the agency’s inspector general found.

  • Family separationDHS OIG’ Report on Family Separation: Summary

    In a report titled DHS Lacked Technology Needed to Successfully Account for Separated Migrant Families, the Inspector General of DHS say that “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) adopted various ad hoc methods to record and track family separations, but these methods led to widespread errors.” The IG adds: “These conditions persisted because CBP did not address its known IT deficiencies adequately before implementing Zero Tolerance in May 2018. DHS also did not provide adequate guidance to personnel responsible for executing the Zero Tolerance Policy.”

  • PerspectiveAmid Questions of Legality on Delaying Ukraine Aid, White House Shifted Authority: Report

    The White House earlier this year authorized a politically appointed official to withhold military aid meant for Ukraine after budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the congressionally approved funds, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. After the OMB’s budget staff members questioned Trump’s blocking of the congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority to continue holding the funds. Duffey was previously a high-ranking Pentagon official and the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party. Former OMB officials told the Journal that it’s highly unusual for a political officer like him to gain such power.

  • Perspective: ClassificationThe 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.

  • Perspective: ClassificationI 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.”

  • Western hemisphereVenezuelan Regime Preparing to Confiscate Exiles’ homes, property

    During the past two decades, the government of Venezuelan has systematically expropriated billions of dollars in land and other assets of private companies. Reports from Venezuela say that the government is now turning its attention to the homes of the millions of Venezuelans living abroad.

  • Big DataLeveraging Big Data for Enhanced Data-Driven Decisions

    Defense Strategies Institute (DSI) announced the 7th annual Big Data for Intelligence Symposium, focusing on the theme “Harnessing the Power of Advanced Analytics to Support Enhanced Decision Making.”The symposium will focus on the challenges and opportunities of turning large amounts of raw data into actionable intelligence and the steps that should be taken in the future to improve this process in order to maintain U.S. operational advantage.

  • Perspective: Smart citiesDHS Seeks Standards for “Smart City” Sensors, Starting in St. Louis

    The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate is kicking off a pilot program that will test the integration of smart city technologies in St. Louis, Missouri. Working in collaboration with the city and the Open Geospatial Consortium, agency insiders will use the pilot to research, design and assess Homeland Security’s Smart City Interoperability Reference Architecture, or SCIRA.

  • Infrastructure protectionHelping Structures Better Withstand Earthquakes, Wind, and Fire

    NIST is awarding more than $6.6 million to fund research into improving disaster resilience. Eleven organizations will receive 12 grants to conduct research into how earthquakes, wind and fire affect the built environment to inform building designs, codes and standards to help those structures better withstand such hazards.

  • Perspective: Science & politics Upholding Scientific Integrity at Federal Agencies

    Republicans and Democrats on a House subcommittee on Thursday agreed that science-related policy decisions should be based on facts, but differed on how to protect the federal scientists who gather and analyze those facts from undue influence. 

  • Perspective: WMD detectionTrump Administration Has Gutted Programs Aimed at Detecting Weapons of Mass Destruction

    The Trump administration has quietly dismantled or cut back multiple programs that were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help detect and prevent terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, a Times investigation has found. The retreat has taken place over the last two years at the Department of Homeland Security, which has primary domestic responsibility for helping authorities identify and block potential chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that the changes, not previously reported, were made without rigorous review of potential security vulnerabilities, the Times found, undermining government-wide efforts aimed at countering terrorist attacks involving unconventional weapons, known as weapons of mass destruction.

  • Explosives detectorsAssessing Handheld Explosives Trace Detectors

    Individuals who carry explosives or have been involved in bomb making are likely to be contaminated with trace explosives, microscopic particles invisible to the naked eye. Without the right equipment, detecting trace explosives can be challenging for responders and security personnel. Handheld explosives trace detectors (ETDs) can be used to complement bomb-sniffing canines, which are still the gold standard in trace explosives detection. These detectors can be used to find trace explosives on individuals, hopefully preventing a dangerous incident.