• Russia already moving to the next cyber incursion in U.S.

    “From a technological point of view, this [hacking U.S. voting machines] is something that is clearly doable,” said Sherri Ramsay, the former director of the federal Central Security Service Threat Operations Center, which handles cyber threats for the military and the National Security Agency. “For us to turn a blind eye to this, I think that would be very irresponsible on our part.” Cybersecurity experts are increasingly concerned that Russia and others are already moving to the next incursion. “What really concerns me is having suffered these probing attacks last year, we may be in for an even more sophisticated, more potentially effective assault next time around—and oh, by the way, others were watching,” said Ambassador Doug Lute, a retired Army lieutenant general who served as the permanent representative to NATO from 2013 to 2017.

  • Kaspersky antivirus hack a wake-up call for business

    Russian state-sponsored hackers were able to steal National Security Agency (NSA) material on methods the NSA uses to conduct cyber espionage as well as how the agency helps defend critical U.S. government networks. An NSA contractor placed the material on his or her private computer – a violation of the agency’s security policy – and the private computer reportedly had anti-virus software belonging Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab installed. The software detected the unsecured classified material and alerted Russian intelligence to its presence. Michael Sulmeyer, the director of the Belfer Center’s Cyber Security Project at Harvard University, says geopolitics should guide some in the private sector to follow the U.S. government’s lead in removing Kaspersky’s software from their networks.

  • “North Korea crisis could spark a global chain of nuclear strikes”: Luxembourg Forum

    Leading international experts on nuclear non-proliferation and world leaders met Monday in Paris for the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe to express their concern on the escalating crisis in nuclear weapons control. During his opening remarks, Tony Blair warned that “the proliferation of nuclear weapons is the most serious threat today to the fate of humankind.” Blair further said that “Proliferation begets further proliferation leading to risk of additional terrorist capability.”

  • U.S. not prepared to identify perpetrators of biological attacks: Expert panel

    When violent attackers use biological agents to inflict harm, not only must law enforcement attribute the crime to the correct perpetrator, they must also identify the pathogens used and their sources exactly and quickly. That was the focus of a special meeting last week hosted by the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense.

  • Why would the Trump administration ban travel from Chad?

    To the surprise of many experts, the Trump administration’s revised travel ban removed Sudan – but added Chad, a Muslim majority country in the Sahel region of Africa. Chad’s inclusion has befuddled observers as well as the Chadian government and the African Union. Based on my experience working at the State Department, including a period of time when I was focused on the Sahel, I went looking for reasons that would lead the U.S. to ban Chadians. I found more questions than I was able to answer. Sanctioning a country that has been an ally to the United States on its top national security priority – terrorism – does serve as a red flag to other countries. Some countries will seek to stay on the United States’ good side. Others, especially in Africa, may eye China as an alternative, more reliable partner.

  • Detecting nuclear materials used in dirty bombs

    Radiological material falling into the wrong hands is a constant security concern for governments around the world. Border agencies must scan incoming vehicles and freight for radioactive material, which is a challenging task, as huge volumes of both move across borders each day. Imperial College London’s physicists have developed two devices for detecting nuclear materials.

  • After hurricanes, Congress ponders future of flood insurance program

    The devastating hit Houston took from Hurricane Harvey has exacerbated — and highlighted — the enormous financial jam facing the National Flood Insurance Program. Thanks to the recent onslaught of hurricanes hitting Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, there has never been a greater need for the program. But that need has also set off a new round of calls to dramatically overhaul a program that hasn’t been able to sustain itself without major subsidies from the U.S. Treasury.

  • Russia recruited YouTubers to bash “Racist B*tch” Hillary Clinton over rap beats

    According to the YouTube page for “Williams and Kalvin,” the Clintons are “serial killers who are going to rape the whole nation.” Donald Trump can’t be racist because he’s a “businessman.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign was “fund[ed] by the Muslim.” Williams and Kalvin’s content was pulled from Facebook in August after it was identified as a Russian government-backed propaganda account. According to Clint Watts, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, using third party contractors from both inside Russia and countries with cheap labor is a method used by the Kremlin to “muddy the waters on attribution” of propaganda. “Often, (the Kremlin) will contract out entities to do this so they can say, ‘You can’t prove that it’s us,’” Watts told the Daily Beast. “It’s pretty routine for them to try to gain resources through third parties and contract cutouts.”

  • Terrorism and guns: Troubling implications for U.S.

    According to the authoritative Global Terrorism Database (GTD), firearms accounted for about 55 percent of fatalities in terrorist attacks even though guns were used in less than 10 percent of terrorist events. Attacks involving more common weapons such as explosives, incendiary weapons and vehicles, or melee weapons had fewer fatalities than attacks involving firearms.Among industrialized countries, the United States has the highest proportion of terrorist attacks in which the perpetrators used firearms.

  • FISA Section 702 reform bill a good Start, but improvements still needed: Critics

    Last Wednesday, the draft of the House Judiciary Committee’s bill to reauthorize and reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was made public. Section 702 permits the government to collect the content of communications of targets who are non-Americans located abroad, including communications they may have with Americans. Critics urge Congress to pass significant and meaningful reforms to Section 702 which address the serious constitutional concerns it raises, or allow that surveillance authority to expire.

  • Administration’s decision to rescind 2015 water rule based on flawed analysis: Experts

    New evidence suggests that the Trump administration’s proposal to rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that would limit the scope of the Clean Water Act inappropriately overlooks wetlands-related values. The differences between the two analyses led to an almost 90 percent drop in quantified benefits from the 2015 to the 2017 analysis.

  • Why a congressional ban on bump stocks is unlikely

    Even in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, it appeared that nothing could shake the immovable stalemate over gun rights in Congress – but a strange thing happened: Republicans started talking about tightening regulations on firearms. But until Congress can prove otherwise, and Republicans in particular move from rhetoric to legislation, it’s reasonable to expect this latest bipartisan opening to meet a similar fate to the bipartisan move, in the wake of Sandy Hook, to expand background checks: That attempt, led by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), could not overcome a Senate filibuster.

  • Changes needed to news coverage of mass shooters: Researchers

    Reducing news coverage of rampage shooters’ personal information, like their names and photos, could be a deterrent to future mass shooters, according to researchers. The researchers identify three consequences of current news coverage, which typically includes publishing names and faces of mass shooters in initial and follow-up coverage: mass shooters’ fulfillment and incentive to achieve notoriety; competition among offenders to maximize victim fatalities; and copycat and contagion effects.

  • Days before LV shooting, DHS warned of threats by “lone offenders” to public events

    On 20 September, only days before the Las Vegas mass shooting, DHS issued an 11-page report warning that “unaffiliated lone offenders” were one of the biggest threats to large public gatherings. The report did not refer to Las Vegas, but rather noted security concerns about public events – including sports events — in the South-Central areas of the United States. The 20 September report is similar to an unclassified, for-official-use-only “Joint Special Event Threat Assessment,” issued by DHS and the FBI in December 2016, which warned of the threats to public events in Las Vegas, especially New Year celebrations. “Unaffiliated lone offenders and [homegrown violent extremists] are of particular concern,” the document said.

  • Hamas refuses to disarm raising concerns of Hezbollah model in Gaza

    Hamas has rejected the Palestinian Authority’s demand for disarmament and has vowed to hold onto its weapons to fight Israel. The terrorist group’s Politburo Chief, Ismail Haniyeh, said in an interview with Egyptian television that “there are two groups of weapons: There are the weapons of the government, the police and security services.”