Homeland Security

February 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Ultimately, lessons learned and technologies developed under the Next Generation Cyber Infrastructure Apex program will benefit other critical infrastructure industries, such as oil and gas.

Within the next 12 months, a fledgling program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will likely begin transitioning cybersecurity technologies to the finance sector in an effort to shore up the nation’s critical infrastructure. Technologies developed under the program ultimately could be made available to other sectors.

February 1, 2018
By Erwin Gianchandani and Meghan Houghton
Much U.S. infrastructure is in disrepair and needs to be replaced. Cities across the nation are embracing smart city connectivity to improve not only electric or water systems but also overall efficiency and quality of life.

The U.S. infrastructure increasingly shows signs of aging, posing a threat to essential services. These conditions put the United States at a crossroads. Governments at all levels, working with the private sector, can either design the infrastructure of the future—one that will intelligently support community services and resident needs for decades to come—or continue to apply just-in-time repairs to the strained system.

February 1, 2018
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

The United States cannot adequately secure its entire critical infrastructure. The infrastructure is too broad and complex. Much of it consists of highly vulnerable legacy software running older supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. But the nation can take steps to address vulnerabilities in key areas and mitigate losses in others.

February 1, 2018
By Ryan René Rosado

With modern society’s infatuation with selfies, facial recognition technology could easily be used to identify common physical traits of criminals, pinpoint communities dominated by potential offenders and then help determine where to focus crime-prevention programs.

February 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
 The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security, or ENISA, plays a collaborative role to bring Europe together to improve cybersecurity.

Europe is taking on several socio-technological initiatives, including developing a digital single market and tackling consumer financial services reform. Add the need to balance privacy concerns and safeguards across 28 member countries of the European Union, and it may seem like a tall order for policy makers to help strengthen information security.

Enter the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security, the European Union’s cybersecurity agency known as ENISA. The agency, founded in 2004, equips the European Union (EU) to prevent, detect and respond to cybersecurity problems.

February 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The distinctive collegial nature of universities makes them susceptible to cyber attacks, experts say. Credit: Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

Although universities can be part of larger cyber attacks as unwitting victims like any other organization or enterprise, the institutions are distinguished by a collegial nature that renders them vulnerable. Academia has a more open atmosphere and a mindset of research and collaboration, making universities an enticing cyber target even for adversaries such as nation-states

February 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
A new project led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory aims to use distributed energy resources, such as customer-generated solar power, to enhance the electrical grid’s ability to recover quickly from blackouts or cascading outages. The work is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Modernization Initiative.

A new project headed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory aims to use microgrid resources to boost the electric grid’s ability to bounce back more rapidly from blackouts or cascading outages, such as those following major storms or earthquakes.

In less than three years, researchers will attempt to demonstrate the potential of distributed energy resources, including the energy produced by solar panels on homes, to help restore power to the grid from scratch, an effort commonly known as a black start. The black start process is now done manually using special generators that can provide power to slowly bring other generators back online.

January 26, 2018
By Beverly Cooper

Most of society recognizes that an accelerated threat environment, driven by continuous technological advances, is a danger to national and global security. Enemies are regularly overcoming the defensive barriers of organizations and individuals alike, causing crises on a regular basis. The problems are too prolific for any one sector to solve on its own, but public-private partnerships provide an opportunity for leveraging the strengths of all homeland security stakeholders, leading to stronger protection.

December 19, 2017
 
A DHS pilot project has secure mobile apps used by first responders. Credit: geralt/Pixabay

A Department of Homeland Security Science pilot testing project helped identify and secure a variety of mobile apps used by first responders.

December 6, 2017
 
The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a study through March 31 on the Waterways Analysis and Management System.

The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking input from mariners for a study of navigation requirements in the Pacific Seacoast System. 

The Waterways Analysis and Management System (WAMS) study will review the short-range Aids to Navigation (ATON) system that covers American waterways from the Canadian border to the Mexican border and around Alaska, Hawaii and the Marianas Islands.

Interested mariners and maritime stakeholders can provide input by taking the survey, which will be available online until March 31, 2018.

December 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
Among the technologies being developed under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program are wearable technologies to monitor the health and welfare of Customs and Border Protection K-9 partners.

A variety of systems cultivated under a Homeland Security rapid development program may be fielded late next year, bearing the first major fruits of the 2-year-old effort.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) kicked off its Silicon Valley Innovation Program in 2015 in an attempt to dramatically reduce the time to develop and deploy technology. The program focuses on all areas of the DHS mission, including information technology, finance, energy, health and first responders.

December 1, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Personnel with the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency provide emergency coordination, response and recovery services for people affected by Hurricane Irma. U.S. military and civilian organizations supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local authorities in disaster-relief efforts.

Even before weather reports start rolling in, U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security communicators prepare for the search, rescue and recovery missions they will face when a hurricane hits. But the winds of this hurricane season blew some nasty currents their way. Harvey, Irma and Maria not only were record-breaking hurricanes but also left little time for recuperation from one event to the next.

December 1, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will use facial recognition technology at airports to verify the identity of U.S. citizens returning from foreign travel.

Imagine, as an American citizen, returning to the United States from an international flight, going through customs and never pulling out a passport. For U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is working to expand its entry and exit biometric-based security, this is an emerging reality. Using advanced facial recognition technology, customs officers at entry points in U.S. airports will be able to identify travelers long before they reach the customs desk.

December 1, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor

When stranded flood victims could not get through to 911 during Hurricane Harvey, they posted on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to reach out for help. Hashtags such as #SOSHouston and #SOSHarvey were used to flag citizen rescuers.

In a first, the U.S. Coast Guard’s social media team saw trapped survivors turn to social media during the coastal Texas storm. As the number of posts spiked, the Coast Guard National Command Center (NCC) began to receive calls from concerned citizens who also noticed the pleas for help on these platforms.

November 1, 2017
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
Coast Guard rescue efforts during recent hurricanes are aided by web technologies, including Google Street Maps and Facebook.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Matthews, USCG

Three major hurricanes pummeled the United States this year, occurring nearly concurrently and causing massive damage in multiple states and in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The conditions created by these overlapping disasters were extreme, with disparate needs and changing operational requirements often thwarting response capabilities. Facing unprecedented challenges during and after these storms, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security relied on traditional as well as innovative approaches to serve the affected communities.

October 26, 2017
 
John Zangardi, who has been picked as the next chief information officer for the Department of Homeland Security, closes out AFCEA's Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium.

The White House announced on October 26 the intent to appoint John Zangardi, acting chief information officer (CIO) at the Department of Defense, to be the CIO for the Department of 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 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A single cyber attack could cripple an entire city, such as New York, which helps fuel the national economy, experts warn.

With the Internet of Things promising—or perhaps threatening—to connect many more millions of devices, experts from industry, government and the military are urging action.

The critical infrastructure covers a lot of territory, including banking and finance, gas and oil, health care, agriculture, water distribution, transportation, communication, law enforcement and emergency services. Many outdated and poorly secured computers, experts say, operate a great deal of that infrastructure. Additionally, commercial or private entities own the vast majority of the infrastructure, meaning that government has little authority to protect it.

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.

September 12, 2017
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
Panelists discuss immigration policies during the FCEA Homeland Security Conference.

The president’s executive orders on immigration can be summarized in one sentence: You will now enforce the laws enacted by Congress, said Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “We have no new laws, just law enforcement. We must protect the border to remain a sovereign country,” Homan explained during the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington D.C.  

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