Homeland Security

July 11, 2017
By Breann Pendleton
Sandia National Laboratories researcher Patrick Feng (l), holds a trans-stilbene scintillator and organic chemist Joey Carlson holds a scintillator made of organic glass.

Sandia National Laboratory researchers have discovered a cost-effective and simpler way to detect nuclear material. Their research makes use of organic glass scintillators that, when employed, could make it harder to smuggle nuclear materials though U.S. ports and borders. 

The team of researchers created a scintillator—a device used to detect nuclear threats—out of an organic glass material instead of relying on the standard material called trans-stilbene, crystalline in the form of a molecule, according to a Sandra Lab press release.

May 18, 2017
By Breann Pendleton
2015 Robot Rodeo: Bomb squads from across the country saddled up their robots and duked it out at the ninth annual Western National Robot Rodeo at Sandia National Laboratories. Photo by Randy Montoya

This isn’t their first rodeo.

Sandia National Laboratories hosts its 11th annual Western National Robot Rodeo next week, an event where police and military bomb squads can practice using robots to defuse dangerous situations. 

Ten teams from around New Mexico will compete in 10 events testing robots’ speed and security in simulated yet realistic scenarios, according to a laboratory news release. While the top three teams will receive trophies, participants mainly are vying for bragging rights, says Jake Deuel, Sandia’s robotics manager and rodeo coordinator.

May 31, 2017
By Julianne Simpson

As the Defense Department and other government agencies begin to recognize the benefits of working with smaller, innovative technology companies, the potential for insider threats and cyber attacks grows. And now, all federal contractors face a deadline to implement a step to protect against these outside cybersecurity risks and threats from the inside.

Beginning today, all cleared government contractors must complete insider threat employee awareness training prior to being granted access to classified information and every year thereafter. The mandate is part of NISPOM Change 2, a U.S. government regulation that requires insider threat programs for cleared federal contractors.

May 4, 2017

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has submitted a report to Congress that shows some good and bad news about the security of the government’s mobile device environment. "Threats to the mobile device ecosystem are growing, but also ... the security of mobile computing is improving,” said Dr. Robert Griffin, DHS acting undersecretary for science and technology, in a written announcement.

May 1, 2017
By Mark J. Maier

As if facing down escalating terror, cyber and insider threats is not enough, private businesses are hamstrung by limited budgets that make choosing how and when to defend themselves more and more difficult. This rising cluster of threats demands intense security and substantial financial resources to protect people and assets.

The struggle is most pronounced in the homeland, where private parties own the majority of assets and critical infrastructure. Relying exclusively on the U.S. government for support is no longer an option—they must engage just as vigorously after an attack. 

April 11, 2017
The Remote Video Surveillance System upgrade has achieved full operational capability.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has determined the Remote Video Surveillance System (RVSS) upgrade has achieved a full operating capability. The RVSS capability is currently operational in Nogales, Douglas, Naco, Yuma and Ajo, Arizona, with relocatable deployments planned this year in McAllen and Laredo, Texas.

Located on elevated towers and structures, the RVSS advanced electro-optical and infrared sensors provide persistent ground surveillance to border patrol agents. It uses a video management system with real-time analytics to effectively detect, track, identify, classify and respond to missions along U.S. borders.

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.

October 1, 2016
By George I. Seffers
Interoperable sensors deployed across a city can feed information to first responders, improving disaster response efforts.

Homeland security researchers are defining the specifications for a central hub device that will protect, connect and inform the next generation of first responders and may be one step toward a miniature Internet of Things designed specifically for emergencies. The hub may be a personal cellphone that will provide a customizable feed of voice, video and data from an array of Internet of Things sensors, enhancing response efforts and ultimately saving lives.

February 22, 2017
By Sandra Jontz
Adm. Philip Davidson, USN, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, warns that the Navy is taking a risk by pushing modernization efforts to the back burner in favor of forward deployed fleet readiness. Photo by Mike Carpenter

The integrity of the U.S. Navy suffers today because the integrity of the force depends on capability, capacity and readiness—three areas that have taken a beating with a Navy at war for 15 years and the budget shortfalls threatening so many military arenas, said Adm. Philip Davidson, USN, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command. 

January 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers free training designed to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure, including the electrical grid.

The U.S. government is expanding and enhancing training on how to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from both cyber and physical attacks. 

For more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has offered a wide array of free training programs to government and private-sector infrastructure owners and operators. Critical infrastructure provides the essential services that underpin American society and serves as the backbone of the nation’s economy, security and health. It includes defense, transportation, finance, communications and other sectors.

February 13, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate has announced an opportunity for manufacturers of Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment used in critical infrastructure to test their products against GPS jamming and spoofing.

The GPS Testing for Critical Infrastructure (GET-CI) event, to be held April 17-21, at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Indiana, is the first in a series of test opportunities.

February 1, 2017
By Maj. Gen. Earl D. Matthews, USAF (Ret.)

Now that Donald Trump has become the 45th president of the United States, he will be exposed to the nation’s soft underbelly: cybersecurity. Given rapid advancements in information and communication technologies, continued coupling of the digital domain with the physical world and advanced persistent threats, critical infrastructure protection poses a major challenge for the United States. 

This is where the president should focus his efforts. But is either the Department of Homeland Security or the Defense Department the right agency for cyber protection?

By Katie Helwig
Douglas Maughan from the Department of Homeland Security speaks to AFCEA committee members.

Douglas Maughan, director of the Cyber Security Division at the U.S.

November 1, 2016
By Matthew Dallimore
A radiation portal monitor (RPM) is used to scan vehicles and containerize cargo contaminated with naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs). Photo courtesy of Symetrica.

Radiation detection is critical to security across the globe. Led by the World Customs Organization, the industry is moving from a simple detection model to intelligent detection, which employs holistic solutions to improve radiation detection universally.

October 31, 2016
By David Young

The strongest assembled securities available today can’t fully safeguard the nation’s critical infrastructure assets. But the good news is that these vulnerabilities are front and center on official radars and primed for increased attention. For starters, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated November as Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (CISR) month.

Ooctober 21, 2016
By Julianne Simpson

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh C. Johnson gave a report on the department’s progress in cyber hiring, announcing more than 120 new employees.

The announcement comes during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. “Cybersecurity has been one of our department’s most important missions, and hiring top cyber talent is crucial to our success in that mission,” he said in the statement.

September 28, 2016
By Julianne Simpson
The Coast Guard's national security cutters are 418 feet long and have a top speed of 28 knots.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced the service’s sixth national security cutter, Munro, will be commissioned April 1, 2017, at the Smith Cove Terminal in Seattle.

The cutter will be home ported in Alameda, California, and is named after Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro, the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient.

September 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
An Air Force Research Laboratory researcher holds up a sweat sensor prototype. The lab’s 711th Human Performance Wing and the University of Cincinnati conducted human trials for wearable sweat sensors that could measure biomarkers and alert users to physical exhaustion, stress or possible illness.

The future of wearable technologies will plug people—from head to toe—into the Internet using smart clothing embedded with sensors connected to smartphones that can relay an abundance of environmental, health and fitness information to apps that track users’ well-being. Designers are even creating tattoolike devices that gather data through skin contact and transmit it wirelessly to smartphones and remote diagnostic facilities. 

August 8, 2016
The Department of Homeland Security has made the Next-Generation Incident Command System globally available.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has announced the Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS), an information sharing tool for first responders, is now available worldwide.

August 5, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
The first Women in STEM panel held this week at AFCEA’s TechNet Augusta address issues that keep women from pursing and staying in STEM fields. Photo by Wayland Linwood.

It’s not easy for some women to find their voices among the cacophonous male-dominated chatter of the technology world, much less getting it heard by others—especially leaders.

How should women handle the frustrating problem of posing a question during a staff meeting, only to have it fall on deaf ears—an issue made worse when she then slides a sticky note to a male peer who asks it, gets it acknowledged and earns praise for it?

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