• Iran admits its nuclear facilities are under massive cyberattack

    Iran has confirmed that 30,000 computers in the country’s power stations, including the nuclear reactor in Bushehr, have been attacked by the Stuxnet worm; the Stuxnet worm is described by experts as the most complex piece of malware ever designed; once Stuxnet gains access to a plant’s computers, it hunts out specific software that controls operations such as the opening and closing of valves or temperature regulation; by halting those processes it can cause extensive damage to nuclear power stations, power grids or other industrial facilities; the high number of infections in Iran have led experts to conclude that the worm may have been designed in the United States or Israel to disable Iran’s controversial nuclear facilities

  • Secure network for critical infrastructure idea draws fire

    The Obama administration wants to develop a secure computer network to defend civilian government agencies and critical civilian infrastructure and industries; the restricted network would allow the government to provide greater protection to vital online operations and critical infrastructure — such as financial networks, commercial aviation systems, and the national power grid — from Internet-based attacks; critics say this ambitious idea is impractical

  • Worldwide groundwater depletion rate accelerating

    In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled; if water was siphoned from the Great Lakes as rapidly as water is pumped out of underground reservoirs, the Great Lakes would go bone-dry in around 80 years

  • Bridge column withstands 6.9 quake in tests

    Engineers in California test a bridge column design capable of withstanding a 6.9 quake; nearly all of California’s 2,194 state-owned bridges have been retrofitted better to withstand tremors; local cities and counties across California own 1,193 with work done on 729 of them

  • Experts: Israel used cyber weapon to disrupt Iran's nuclear reactor

    The Stuxnet malware has infiltrated industrial computer systems worldwide in July and August; now, cyber security experts say that the worm was, in fact, is a search-and-destroy cyber weapon meant to hit a single target — Iran’s Bushehr reactor; Stuxnet amazed — and stunned — computer security experts: too large, too encrypted, too complex to be immediately understood, it employed amazing new tricks, like taking control of a computer system without the user taking any action or clicking any button other than inserting an infected memory stick; in Stuxnet, the world faces a new breed of malware that could become a template for attackers wishing to launch digital strikes at physical targets worldwide — Internet link not required

  • U.K. defense minister lends support to notion of an EMP threat

    The U.K. minister of defense, Liam Fox, appears to be lending support to the idea of an imminent electromagnetic strike against the West; in speech to an EMP-threat organization on Monday, Fox said that “As the nature of our technology becomes more complex, so the threat becomes more widespread — While we all benefit from the products of scientific advances so we also create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by our enemies. However advanced we become the chain of our security is only as strong as its weakest link”; security experts say an EMP strike is difficult to execute, and that a terrorist organization or a rogue state with only one bomb would rather use it to destroy a major city than disrupt the electrical grid and communication networks

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  • MIT: No shortage of uranium for nuclear energy, more research needed

    New study challenges the assumption that the world is running out of uranium — and suggests that nuclear power using today’s reactor technology with a once-through fuel cycle can play a significant part in displacing the world’s carbon-emitting fossil-fuel plants, and thus help to reduce the potential for global climate change

  • The National Infrastructure Bank idea gains adherents

    The U.S. aging infrastructure will eventually constrain economic growth; government alone can no longer finance all of the nation’s infrastructure requirements; a national infrastructure bank (NIB) could fill the gap; the NIB could attract private funds to co-invest in projects that pass rigorous cost-benefit tests, and that generate revenues through user fees or revenue guarantees from state and local governments; investors could choose which projects meet their investment criteria, and, in return, share in project risks that today fall solely on taxpayers

  • A first: a Master's degree in infrastructure protection

    Ottawa’s Carleton University has unveiled a first-of-its-kind degree program: a Master of Infrastructure Protection; the program was launched last week, is offering a unique mix of courses related to engineering and national security policy; the aim is to educate infrastructure designers and engineers about policy-related issues, and policy makers about the design and engineering of the interconnected systems that form Canada’s economic and societal backbone

  • Age of pipes blamed for deadly San Bruno gas explosion

    Robots called “smart pigs” can inspect new pipelines, and modern pipelines have automated valves that stop gas flow when sensors detect a pressure drop — but the natural gas pipeline in San Bruno, California, is 54-years old; to shut off the old pipeline after the deadly explosion, workers had to retrieve keys and drive to two secured sites 1.5 to 2 kilometers from the fire, then manually crank valves shut

  • Louisiana worried about Corps' levee armoring plans

    Louisiana says the Corps of Engineers is $1 billion short for completing levee construction around New Orleans, while the Corps says it has enough money; the disagreement over the cost of completing levee construction centers on a long-simmering argument over the last construction task scheduled for earthen levees throughout the system: deciding what type of armoring will keep the levees from washing away if they are overtopped

  • South Africa shelves small nuclear plant scheme

    South Africa is shelving the development of a cutting-edge nuclear reactor — Pebble Bed Modular Reactor — after the program failed to find private investors or customers abroad; South Africa was one of the few countries in the world engaged in research on the technology, touted as much safer than earlier generations of nuclear plants

  • Geoengineering may affect different regions differently

    Geoengineering approaches would succeed in restoring the average global temperature to “normal” levels, but some regions would remain too warm, whereas others would “overshoot” and cool too much; in addition, average rainfall would be reduced

  • Security standards for smart grid evolve

    Digital technology in the smart grid measures and distributes the delivery of electricity to consumers and has the potential to reduce energy use and costs for consumers as it’s deployed in more areas of the country; security experts say, however, that the new network will offer new avenues for criminals to infiltrate, corrupt and steal data