• Molecular alliesDiscovering new molecules for military applications

    The efficient discovery and production of new molecules is essential for a range of military capabilities—from developing safe chemical warfare agent simulants and medicines to counter emerging threats, to coatings, dyes, and specialty fuels for advanced performance. Current approaches to develop molecules for specific applications, however, are intuition-driven, mired in slow iterative design and test cycles, and ultimately limited by the specific molecular expertise of the chemist who has to test each candidate molecule by hand. DARPA’s Accelerated Molecular Discovery (AMD) program aims “to speed the time to design, validate, and optimize new molecules with defined properties from several years to a few months, or even several weeks,” DARPA says.

  • SyriaAfter downing of Russian plane, Moscow to supply S-300 missile system to Syria

    Russia has announced it will supply Syria with an S-300 ground-to-air missile system, saying it will improve the allied country’s defenses and help avert a repeat of the downing of a Russian warplane by Syrian forces a week ago. Speaking on 24 September, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow will deliver the S-300 within two weeks and will also provide Syrian government forces with updated automated systems for its air-defense network.

  • Cyber operationsWhy it’s unwise for the U.K. to boast about its cyberattack capability

    By Joe Devanny

    The U.K. government is very publicly investing more money in its ability to conduct cyberattacks and, at the same time, it is becoming increasingly open in talking about the attacks it has conducted in the past – and those it might conduct in future. There are risks involved in publicly signaling the imminence of cyber and other attacks, especially against capable adversaries with a demonstrable appetite for taking risks and a cavalier attitude about collateral damage. The U.K. needs to think more carefully about how it integrates cyber operations, and communication about them, into its wider approach – not only towards Russia but across the whole spectrum of national security operations.

  • BiosecurityDOD lagging on lab biosecurity: GAO

    For three years, the DoD has been attempting to implement security reforms after reports revealed that an Army lab at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah accidentally sent 575 live samples of Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, to 194 labs over the course of a decade. The GAO says the Department of Defense (DoD) is still short of meeting goals meant to improve the department’s biosafety and biosecurity programs, leaving government labs still at risk.

  • Cyber strategyU.S. prepared to strike in cyberspace

    The United States is prepared to go on the offensive in cyberspace to ensure adversaries know there is a price to pay for hacks, network intrusions and other types of attacks. President Donald Trump signed a new National Cyber Strategy on Thursday, calling for a more aggressive response to the growing online threat posed by other countries, terrorist groups and criminal organizations.

  • Chemical weaponsUN confirms 33 chemical attacks, constituting war crimes, by Syrian regime since 2013

    The United Nations reported Wednesday that the Assad regime in Syria continues to use chemical weapons against civilian targets, including three chlorine gas attacks on a rebel-held Damascus suburb and on Idlib province this year that constitute war crimes.

  • The Russia connectionU.K. charges Russians in novichok case, May says “not a rogue operation”

    British prosecutors have announced charges against two Russian men they believe poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent, and Prime Minister Theresa May says the government has concluded the suspects were officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency.

  • Microwave weaponsMicrowave weapons suspected as cause of U.S. envoys' illnesses

    Doctors and scientists increasingly suspect that weaponized microwaves were the cause of unexplained noises and illnesses that afflicted U.S. diplomats and their families in Cuba and China in the last year. While a medical study of 21 Cuba victims published in March did not mention microwave weapons as a cause, its lead author told the New York Times that microwave weapons were now considered a primary suspect and that his investigative team was increasingly certain the diplomats suffered brain injury.

  • CybersecurityGermany creates cybersecurity R&D agency

    The German government today (Wednesday) announced the creation of a new federal agency to develop cutting-edge cyber defense technology. The agency would resemble the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is credited with developing the early internet and GPS. The German agency, unlike DARPA, will focus on cyber defense ad cyber protection. DARPA’s range of defense-related research and development is much broader.

  • Volcanic threatsNapoleon's defeat at Waterloo partly caused by Indonesian volcanic eruption

    Electrically charged volcanic ash short-circuited Earth’s atmosphere in 1815, causing global poor weather and Napoleon’s defeat, says new research. Historians know that rainy and muddy conditions helped the Allied army defeat the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. The June 1815 event changed the course of European history. Two months prior, a volcano named Mount Tambora erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, killing 100,000 people and plunging the Earth into a ‘year without a summer’ in 1816.

  • Space weaponsHacked satellite could launch microwave-like attacks

    The satellite communications which ships, planes, and the military use to connect to the internet are vulnerable to hackers which, in the worst-case scenario, could carry out “cyber-physical attacks,” turning satellite antennas into weapons which operate, in effect, like microwave ovens. An expert speaking at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, said that a number of popular satellite communication systems are vulnerable to such attacks, which could also leak information and hack connected devices.

  • The Russia connectionU.S. imposing new sanctions on Russia for spy poisoning in U.K.

    The State Department says it will be implementing new sanctions on Russia as punishment for the March 2018 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil. The new sanctions, which will go into effect on 22 August, target export licenses of sensitive U.S. technologies and industrial equipment, such as electronics, calibration equipment, and gas turbine engines. Russia will also be given 90 days to comply with other demands, including allowing international inspectors into the country to ensure that no chemical or biological weapons exist there. If Moscow does not comply with the demands, a second round of sanctions could further downgrade diplomatic relations with Russia, or even restrict flights by Russian air carrier Aeroflot.

  • Cloak & daggerSyria accuses Israel of killing chemical weapons and rocket scientist

    A senior Syrian weapons engineer killed over the weekend when a bomb in his car exploded was killed in a targeted assassination by Israel’s security agency Mossad, the New York Times reported Tuesday, reinforcing accusations from Syria.

  • DetectionNew nerve gas detector made of a smartphone and Lego bricks

    Researchers have designed a way to sense dangerous chemicals using, in part, a simple rig consisting of a smartphone and a box made from Lego bricks, which could help first responders and scientists in the field identify deadly and difficult-to-detect nerve agents such as VX and sarin.

  • SyriaNetanyahu sets out new Syria policy

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set out three specific demands regarding Syria when he met Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Wednesday. The three specific demands were the withdrawal of Iranian and Hezbollah forces from the border with Israel; the removal of all Iranian long-range missiles in Syria; and that Syrian civilians must not be attacked in the zone near the Israeli border.