Homeland Security

October 17, 2017
The Department of Homeland Security needs innovators who can use existing data to identify biothreats, such as viruses, bacterium, pathogens and biological toxins. (Photo courtesy of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has launched the Hidden Signals Challenge, a $300,000 prize competition to identify novel uses of existing data to uncover emerging biothreats. The challenge calls upon innovators from a wide variety of fields to develop concepts that will identify signals and achieve timelier alerts for biothreats.

October 6, 2017

Explosives trace detection experts from industry, academia and government laboratories will gather in Washington, D.C., on October 24 and 25 to discuss advances in trace detection technologies.

The two-day event put on by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) will include presentations from S&T Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA), the Transportation Security Administration and sponsored organizations performing research and development. Commercial companies, government laboratories and universities will present current research.

October 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers

A group of U.S. government researchers focused on fortifying homeland security has cybersecurity technology development down to a science.

Those researchers work for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), within the Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T’s) Cyber Security Division. The division, like the entire department, supports a wide range of missions, including science and technology research along with protecting critical infrastructure, securing government systems, assisting law enforcement and developing, training and educating the cyber work force.

September 12, 2017
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
Claire Grady, senior officer performing the duties of the deputy secretary and under secretary for management, addresses the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in the middle of responding to two unprecedented weather events, working with state and local governments. But very important for success has been the work and collaboration of the industrial sector, said Claire Grady, senior officer performing the duties of the deputy secretary and undersecretary for management, DHS. Industry has provided visibility, traceability and communications across the response area, and this shows what we as Americans can accomplish together, she emphasized.

August 1, 2017
By Bill Sullivan
Bill Sullivan, professor of safety, security and emergency management at Eastern Kentucky University, suggests solutions for preventing active shooter and other attacks in schools.

The FBI examined 160 active shooter/mass murder incidents between 2000 and 2013 and found that 70 percent of these attacks occurred in schools or businesses. They also reported that these incidents are on the rise. As active shooter events have continued throughout the nation, various tactics have emerged, including the attack at Ohio State University where a student utilized a vehicle as a weapon and then assaulted victims with a knife. This same method of attack has occurred in other locations. Unfortunately, we can also predict that the use of explosives in such an attack is likely to happen in the future.

July 21, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded Salt Lake City-based startup Evernym a $749,000 Small Business Innovation Program (SBIR) award to develop an easy-to-use, decentralized mechanism for managing public and private encryption keys needed for the secure and scalable deployment of blockchain technologies.        

March 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
Power lines, such as these near the Celilo substation in Dallas Dam, Oregon, could go cold as a result of a cyber attack on the power grid. Adversaries already may have sown the seeds for shutting down power stations by embedding malware in a host of industrial control systems.

Enemy states and terrorist groups increasingly are developing the means to wage an attack on a nation’s power grid just as electric companies are relying more on automated information technology. Vulnerable supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, systems offer access for attackers, who also are learning more devastating ways of bringing down a grid.

Small nation-states and organizations, in particular, are cultivating advanced methods of attacking electrical grids, and these groups may not be as inhibited about setting an attack in motion as the larger, well-known cyber superpowers. Many threats to the grid already may be in place, undetected and at work, ready for launching at will.

January 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
The Secret Service’s chief information officer (CIO) says his highest priority is to provide the technology support to allow agents and uniformed division officers to complete their mission. That includes moving toward a more mobile environment.

The U.S. Secret Service is putting into place its first-ever cyber and information technology strategic plan, which provides a path forward through 2021. Among other goals, the plan calls for the agency to build a world-class network operations security center and to continue the march toward greater mobility for special agents and uniformed officers. 

December 13, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced that ZeroPoint, an exploit detection and analytics tool, has spun off as a startup company called ZeroPoint Dynamics.

August 1, 2016

BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc., Burlington, Massachusetts, has been awarded an $8,688,675 cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract for software. Contractor will provide research, develop, demonstrate and deliver a PHOENIX software system that allows first responders to entirely disconnect a non-cooperative organization from its network infrastructure and then selectively reform on a separate secure emergency network. Work will be performed at Burlington, Massachusetts, and is expected to be complete by July 29, 2020. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with 70 offers received.

May 24, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit rides aboard an Office of Air and Marine UH-60 helicopter. Homegrown terrorism has moved to the top of the threat list at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The greatest threat facing the U.S. homeland mixes both internal and external enemies, according to the Department of Homeland Security's undersecretary for intelligence and analysis. Homegrown violent extremists influenced by overseas radical ideologues top the list of hazards confronting the public and private sectors in their efforts to secure the country.

Many overseas terrorist organizations still see the United States as the enemy and a roadblock to achieving their objectives. But the threat within now grabs the lion’s share of attention from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as well as from intelligence and law enforcement groups that strive to stay a step ahead of terrorists.

June 21, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Russell Deyo, undersecretary for management, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, addresses attendees at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may sometimes seem like a confused teenager, but it is growing and maturing and striving to make the country stronger, reports Russell Deyo, the DHS undersecretary for management.

June 21, 2016
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) started a pilot program last week at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to collect biometrics on passengers leaving the country. This marks the first time the United States has collected such information. A CBP official said the government released a request for information last night and hopes to release a request for proposals next year.

May 25, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Project iVe has its roots in a previous Department of Homeland Security and Berla Corporation program known as Blackthorn, which focused on gathering data from navigation devices such as Garmin, TomTom and Magellan.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security researchers are pursuing possible partnerships—both domestically and internationally—to continue developing a toolkit that provides access to the digital data stored by cars used in crimes, including terrorist acts.

May 26, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
ISS Global’s Dfuze software platform incorporates many data elements so law enforcement can log information from crime scenes such as the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013.

Emerging surveillance technology seems ripped from tech-noir thrillers such as 2002's Minority Report, in which police jail would-be murderers before any violence actually has occurred. Just thinking about crimes gets people in trouble. While the predictive nature of today’s analytic tools might not have reached the same levels as in the futuristic action film, the technologies employed to defend the homeland are pretty close.

May 23, 2016
The AeroVironment Tether Eye UAS is being evaluated for the counterterrorism mission.

AeroVironment Inc. has announced the U.S. Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) is evaluating the company’s new tethered unmanned aircraft system, named Tether Eye, for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and security applications. The CTTSO funded the development program.

September 3, 2015
By George I. Seffers
Helicopters drop water and fire retardant on a fire near the Mexican border. AUDREY will provide tailored information to firefighters, whether in the air or on the ground.

Researchers are linking together the power of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to create a personal assistant to provide total situational awareness to first responders. The advanced program is wise enough to provide only the information necessary for each user, smart enough to ask questions and versatile enough for virtually anyone to use, including firefighters, warfighters, factory workers and home owners.

If all goes well, the system is set to begin prototype testing within the next 16 months, and an initial capability could be fielded soon.

July 24, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) today announced a $2.9 million cybersecurity mobile app security research and development award that will help identify mobile app vulnerabilities. The Northern Virginia-based small business, Kryptowire, was awarded a 30-month contract through the S&T’s Long Range Broad Agency Announcement.

July 22, 2015
By George I. Seffers

Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of homeland security, and Sarah R. Saldaña, director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on Thursday presided over the unveiling of an expanded ICE Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

The center, known as C3, will provide ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with enhanced operational and training capabilities to meet the growing cyber mission of the agency and increasing workload of criminal cases with a cyber nexus.

June 30, 2015
By George I. Seffers

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) on June 23 identified CryptoWall as the most current and significant ransomware threat targeting U.S. individuals and businesses. In the 14 months since the malicious software first appeared, the IC3 received 992 CryptoWall-related complaints, with victims reporting losses totaling more than $18 million, according to the FBI warning.

The financial impact to victims goes beyond the ransom fee itself, which is typically between $200 and $10,000. Many victims incur additional costs associated with network mitigation, network countermeasures, loss of productivity, legal fees, IT services and/or the purchase of credit monitoring services for employees or customers.

Pages