• The Geopolitics of Rare Earth Elements

    The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed fragility in the global supply chains for not only pharmaceuticals and crucial medical supplies but also some critical minerals. Chief among them are rare Earth elements (REEs), which are necessary for clean energy equipment, advanced military gear, and consumer goods. About 80 percent of the world’s REEs are produced and refined in China.

  • Cyber Regulation Could Be Coming Following Spate of Hacks, Ransomware Attacks

    The United States may soon look to regulate private companies, mandating higher standards for cybersecurity following a series of damaging hacks and ransomware attacks against key firms and critical infrastructure. Cybersecurity experts say that malign actors are currently operating with impunity and that too many private sector organizations have, so far, failed to take the necessary precautions. “Enlightened self-interest, that’s apparently not working,” Chris Inglis, tapped to be the country’s first national cyber director, told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Market forces, that’s apparently not working.”

  • U.S. Attorney General Warns Ransomware “Getting Worse and Worse”

    U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland warned Wednesday that ransom-motivated cyberattacks are “getting worse and worse,” echoing other top Biden administration officials who have sounded the alarm about the problem in recent weeks.  “We have to do everything we possibly can here,” Garland told lawmakers. “This is a very, very serious threat.” 

  • Fastly’s Global Internet Meltdown Could Be a Sign of Things to Come

    For an hour on the morning of June, dozens of the world’s most-visited websites went offline. Together, these websites handle hundreds of millions of users. This case illustrates the fragility of an internet that’s being routed through fewer and fewer channels. When one of those major channels fails, in what is called a “single point of failure”, the results are dramatic, disruptive and incredibly costly. It’s urgent we address this significant vulnerability if we’re to avoid another global internet meltdown – but this time caused by criminals, not code.

  • Broad Swath of the Web Knocked Offline by Outage

    A broad swath of the World Wide Web has been knocked offline by an outage at edge cloud CDN specialist Fastly. The company runs an “edge cloud,” which is designed to speed up loading times for websites, protect them from denial-of-service attacks, and help them deal with bursts of traffic. The technology requires Fastly to sit between most of its clients and their users. That means that if the service suffers a catastrophic failure, it can prevent those companies from operating on the net at all.

  • Fastly Global Internet Outage: Why Did So Many Sites Go Down — and What Is a CDN, Anyway?

    If you were having difficulty accessing your favorite website on Tuesday time, you’re not alone. A jaw-dropping number of major websites around the globe suddenly became unavailable with no immediately obvious explanation — before reappearing an hour later. To understand why it happened, you need to know what a CDN (content delivery network) is and how crucial they are to the smooth running of the internet.

  • Envisioning Safer Cities with Artificial Intelligence

    Over the past several decades, artificial intelligence has advanced tremendously, and today it promises new opportunities for more accurate healthcare, enhanced national security and more effective education, researchers say. But what about civil engineering and city planning? How do increased computing power and machine learning help create safer, more sustainable and resilient infrastructure?

  • Analysis: The Texas Electric Grid and the Improvements that Didn’t Come

    After the deadly and expensive electrical outages during a winter freeze in February, Texas lawmakers passed major bills aiming to make such disasters less likely in the future. But there’s still a lot to do.

  • Climate Change Increases Extreme Rainfall and the Chance of Floods

    Climate experts warn that, without urgent action, climate change will continue to cause an increase in the intensity of extreme rainfall that can lead to severe flooding.

  • A 20-Foot Sea Wall? Miami Faces the Hard Choices of Climate Change.

    In Miami, the U.S. metropolitan area that is perhaps most exposed to sea-level rise, the problem is not climate change denialism. Patricia Mazzei writes that “the trouble is that the magnitude of the interconnected obstacles the region faces can feel overwhelming, and none of the possible solutions are cheap, easy or pretty.”

  • Retreat from Rising Seas

    As climate change causes seas to rise, coastal communities around the world face a difficult dilemma: Should they fight to keep their homes and communities above water, or accept that moving inland may be the best option?

  • The Weaponized Web: The National Security Implications of Data

    Open societies have encouraged and promoted rapid technological advancement and market innovation —but both have outpaced democratic governance. Authoritarian powers have noticed the underlying opportunity to exploit the open standards of the democratically regulated digital information environment and undermine democratic values and institutions while shoring up their own regimes. This poses a novel challenge for democracies, which must adapt to compete in this conflict over the data, architecture, and governance framework of the information space without compromising their democratic principles.

  • New Thinking to Translate Infrastructure Dollars into Resilience

    America’s roads, bridges and other public resources and services appear to be suffering from a chronic resilience deficit, and recent cyberattacks appear to reflect gaps in resilience. All these underscore the fact that much of the nation’s infrastructure was built under the assumptions of the past and apparently false expectations about the risks of the future. Rapid changes in infrastructure as well as the threats to which it is exposed are creating new challenges for resilience.

  • Increasing Flood Risks in the U.K.

    As climate change continues to cause unpredictable and extreme weather events around the world, researchers are calling for engineers to rethink how they design for flood prevention. Flood frequency analysis has been the cornerstone of flood risk control, hydraulic structure design, and water resource management, but the researchers say that flood series in most areas do not follow historical patterns.

  • Reframing Infrastructure Security

    Infrastructure has always been a target in warfare, says Mikhail Chester, an ASU professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Think about military aircraft dropping bombs on bridges or railroad lines,” he says. Chester points to the recent ransomware attack that shut down one of America’s largest fuel pipeline networks. “This kind of problem is growing, and it can’t be solved through remedial repairs to old infrastructure,” Chester said.