• SurveillanceTSA’s roadmap for airport surveillance moves in a dangerous direction

    By India McKinney

    The Transportation Security Administration has set out an alarming vision of pervasive biometric surveillance at airports, which cuts against the right to privacy, the “right to travel,” and the right to anonymous association with others.

  • Vehicular cyberthreatsMitigating cyberthreats in vehicles

    In acts of terrorism, vehicles have been deployed as killing machines. These incidents involved human operators, but another sinister possibility looms: a vehicle cyber hack intended to cause human harm. While this kind of terrorist attack has not yet occurred, in the realm of security research, it’s been demonstrated how hackers could gain control over car systems like the brakes, steering and engine.

  • TransportationRevisiting federal safety regulations for liquid petroleum gas distribution systems

    Current federal safety regulations for small distribution systems used for propane and other liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs) should be improved for clarity, efficiency, enforceability, and applicability to risk, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • BiometricsImproving speed, accuracy of biometric scanning at security checkpoints

    Balancing speed and security at checkpoints, like airports, is essential to ensuring safe, reliable travel. Many of these checkpoints are increasingly using biometric technology to improve speed and reliability. While recent improvements in biometrics have lowered failure to match rates, many systems fail to quickly acquire biometric information in the first place. DHS S&T is working on designing a standard security checkpoint process to test the ability of biometric identity systems to acquire and match images from a diverse volunteer population within a realistic time constraint.

  • Passenger screeningWinners announced in $1.5 million Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge

    DHS S&T and TSA the other day announced the eight winners of the Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge. The prize competition solicited new automated detection algorithms from individuals and entities that can improve the speed and accuracy of detecting small threat objects and other prohibited items during the airport passenger screening process.

  • TransportationDriverless ferries to replace footbridges

    By Unni Skoglund

    As towns grow, the need arises for more river and canal crossings. But bridges are expensive and hinder the flow of boat traffic. An autonomous and self-propelled passenger ferry that can “see” kayakers and boats, and that shows up right when you need it, could be an ingenious substitute for footbridges. Soon the prototype for the world’s first driverless electric passenger ferry will be ready to launch in Trondheim, Norway.

  • CybersecurityConnected cars vulnerable to cyberthreats

    Connected cars could be as vulnerable to cyberattack as the smartphone in your hand or the personal computer on your desktop, according to a new study from the U.K.“Connected cars are no different from other nodes on the internet of things and face many of the same generic cybersecurity threats,” the team reports.

  • CybersecurityWhy 50,000 ships are so vulnerable to cyberattacks

    By Keith Martin and Rory Hopcraft

    The 50,000 ships sailing the sea at any one time have joined an ever-expanding list of objects that can be hacked. Cybersecurity experts recently displayed how easy it was to break into a ship’s navigational equipment. This comes only a few years after researchers showed that they could fool the GPS of a superyacht into altering course. Once upon a time objects such as cars, toasters and tugboats only did what they were originally designed to do. Today the problem is that they all also talk to the internet. The maritime industry is undoubtedly behind other transportation sectors, such as aerospace, in cybersecurity terms. There also seems to be a lack of urgency to get the house in order. So the maritime industry seems particularly ill-equipped to deal with future challenges, such as the cybersecurity of fully autonomous vessels.

  • Transportation securityPublic transit agencies should not have to disclose safety planning records in court: Experts

    To enable public transit agencies to engage in more rigorous and effective safety planning, their safety planning records should not be admissible as evidence in civil litigation, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences. State highway agencies and commuter railroads have been granted such “evidentiary protections,” and the report found no compelling reason to advise Congress against current practice by treating transit agencies differently.

  • DetectionData science improves lie detection

    Someone is fidgeting in a long line at an airport security gate. Is that person simply nervous about the wait? Or is this a passenger who has something sinister to hide? Even highly trained Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport security officers still have a hard time telling whether someone is lying or telling the truth – despite the billions of dollars and years of study that have been devoted to the subject. Researchers are using data science and an online crowdsourcing framework called ADDR (Automated Dyadic Data Recorder) to further our understanding of deception based on facial and verbal cues.

  • AviationHigh-ranking Russian GRU officer linked to downing of MH17

    A new report from a British investigative group, establishes, for the first time, the involvement of a high-ranking Russian military intelligence officer in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The 25 May report comes a day after the Dutch-led international Joint Investigative Team (JIT) said it had concluded the Buk missile that downed the MH17 was fired by Russia’s 53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.

  • Security screeningDHS S&T, TSA seek innovative solutions to enhance security screening

    DHS S&T and TSA are seeking innovative solutions from startups to enhance security screening. the new solicitation seeks solutions from startups that recognize, interpret and adapt to changes in objects, materials and other aspects of passenger property.

  • Safe skiesSecuring U.S. skies

    Extended stretches of U.S. land borders invite illegal entry on the ground, and U.S. coastlines are often used for unauthorized seaborne entry. New, creative attempts at illegal activity in these domains are a daily occurrence. Aerial threats pose a different challenge as they have no natural barriers restricting them — land or coastal. Commercialization of drone technology, for all the beneficial opportunities it provides, also enables a new medium for criminal activity and other homeland security threats.

  • BioterrorismRestoring subways in the event of a bioterrorist attack

    Only a week after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, envelopes containing anthrax spores were sent to several media companies and two senators. As a result, twenty-two people were infected and five died. Since these incidents, the U.S. has increased its efforts on measures countering bioterrorism. That incident stemmed from spores sent to individuals and offices where the reach was somewhat contained. Imagine if the spores had been taken onto a mass transit platform — like the subway. A subway incident can bring a whole city to a halt, and the effects can last much longer in the form of lingering fear and mistrust.

  • Nuclear safetySandia transport triathlon puts spent nuclear fuel to the test

    Nuclear power supplies almost 20 percent of U.S. electricity and is the leading carbon-neutral power source. However, it produces between 2,200 and 2,600 tons of spent fuel in the United States each year. Fuel rods become brittle and highly radioactive while powering the nuclear reactor, making safe transportation important. Sandia National Laboratories researchers completed an eight-month, 14,500-mile triathlon-like test to gather data on the bumps and jolts spent nuclear fuel experiences during transportation.