pandemic

May 26, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
Atlantic Council researchers emphasize that the technological revolution, which shows no sign of stopping, will reshape societies and geopolitics “in novel and even unanticipated ways.” Credit: Shutterstock/Yurchanka Siarhei

A new study from the Atlantic Council’s Commission on the Geopolitical Impacts of New Technologies and Data warned that the technological revolution is continuing at such speed and enormity that it is reshaping societies and geopolitics across the globe, and “in novel and even unanticipated ways.” Researchers recommend that the United States take immediate steps to create specific strategies, governance and leadership roles; develop capabilities for a digital economy, quantum computing, supply chain resiliency, biomedical protections and space-related solutions; and strengthen partnerships with allies.

April 13, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
Sittipong Phokawattana/Shutterstock

Global changes increasing at an accelerated pace will drive new threats to international security, and some of these are already manifest in the worldscape, according to a pair of just-released U.S. intelligence community forecasts. Yet the diversity of these changes and their possible outcomes offer different potential scenarios ranging from “a renaissance of democracies” to “tragedy and mobilization.”

April 5, 2021
Posted by: George I. Seffers
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate has awarded a contract to Mesur.io to use its Earthstream platform to provide data on potential biological threats, including pathogens. Credit: Fotomay/Shutterstock

To develop capabilities to monitor the current COVID-19 pandemic and other future biological events, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has awarded $199,648 to Mesur.io Inc., for analysis and reporting of outbreak-related data.

March 17, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The United States already is losing positional advantage to China in the Western Hemisphere, in our own “neighborhood,” warns Adm. Craig S. Faller, USN, commander, U.S. Southern Command, testifying before Congress on March 16.

China is using the COVID-19 pandemic to progress its goal of global dominance. The adversary is using its vaccination program and assistance to poorer countries in the democratic Western Hemisphere to cement the use of China’s 5G communications and information technology, especially in the Caribbean and Central and South America, leaders say. The problem is that what starts as a veiled commercial interest ends with a significant military application and connection—given that the commercial companies, like Huawei, are all state owned, explained Adm. Craig S. Faller, USN, commander, U.S. Southern Command.

October 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
As the deadly COVID-19 virus spread around the world, so did the attacks from malicious cyber actors, taking advantage of the unsure times, say experts from leading cybersecurity firms. Credit: Shutterstock/VK Studio

While the world was facing the rapid and deadly spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, most commonly known as COVID-19, malicious cyber attackers were also at work, increasing the number of attacks, switching methods, taking advantage of the boom in Internet, network and email users, and playing on fears during the uncertain time, cybersecurity experts say. Companies struggling to maintain operations are still leaving gaps in digital security, they warn.

October 7, 2020
By Ray Rothrock
Just like basic personal hygiene during a pandemic, practicing cyber fundamentals comes down to the individual and consistency. Photo credit: vientocuatroestudio/Shutterstock

When it comes to nefarious deeds, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a gold mine for bad actors. In addition to wreaking havoc for individuals and healthcare organizations, federal agencies are also prime targets. Case in point: a portion of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) website was recently compromised, in what appears to be a part of an online COVID-19 disinformation campaign. 

In a time of heightened cyber risk and limited human and fiscal resources, how can agencies protect their networks from malicious actors by taking a page from the COVID playbook? They can diligently practice good (cyber) hygiene.

In fact, there is a direct correlation between personal and cyber hygiene.

October 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Department of Homeland Security scientists serve as the first line of defense against the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mongkolchon Akesin/Shutterstock

When the mysterious and deadly coronavirus invaded America’s shores in January, scientists who study deadly pathogens scurried to gather as much information as possible about the virus to help end the outbreak as soon as possible. They’ve answered some of the critical questions, but some answers are yet to come.

Some of those researchers work with a program called PANTHR for the Probabilistic Analysis for National Threats, Hazards and Risks within the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate. The program officially kicked off in October 2019, but it was created through a consolidation of ongoing efforts.

October 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
New York City was one of the early hotspots for the spread of COVID-19. New York University researchers funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation have been studying human behavior near medical facilities to help inform policies on pandemics and other potential disasters.  GagliardiPhotography/Shutterstock

New York University researchers are studying the behavior of people leaving healthcare facilities and how they physically interact with the environment—what they touch and for how long, for example. The research will allow the development of localized disease transmission models that can be applied to larger areas, such as entire cities. Potential models could be critical for predicting the continued spread of COVID-19 as well as future pandemics and other disasters, such as chemical spills.

September 8, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Money laundering and other crimes have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the need for more widespread use of identity verification and management technologies, government officials say. Credit: stevepb/Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the federal government’s need for better identity verification and management tools, in part to ensure relief funds go to the people who need them.

Gay Gilbert, administrator, Office of Unemployment Insurance, Department of Labor, told the audience for the FedID Virtual Collaboration Event today that the department was hit with a pandemic-induced perfect storm. “For those of you who have been watching the news, probably you’ve noticed that the unemployment insurance program has become a key—a little bit of a hotbed, actually, with regard to COVID-19,” she said.

August 12, 2020
Posted by George I. Seffers
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate intends to hold a virtual industry day next week seeking solutions to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: U.S. Army

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is seeking groundbreaking solutions to address current and future operational needs.

July 10, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/Wth

Threats to global security now include the ongoing pandemic, its exploitation by international malefactors and climate change, according to an ad-hoc group of international defense and national security experts. These experts spent two days brainstorming the future online, and their findings were analyzed by the world’s most well-known artificial intelligence (AI) computer.

Titled “Securing the Post-COVID Future,” the event exchanged ideas among active duty military and civilian expertise with several international organizations. Findings during the 50-hour nonstop event were evaluated by tools from Watson, IBM’s question-answering computer that bested Jeopardy!’s top two champions in a competition a few years ago.

May 20, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Network data gains value for the Defense Department amidst an increase in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: solarseven/Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique challenge for the Defense Department. More people are working remotely, networks are busier than ever and hackers from around the world seek to take advantage, driving up demand for more situational awareness data to keep those networks safe. And the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) continues to deliver that data under the most unusual of circumstances.

April 30, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has revealed weaknesses in the medical industrial base, including a dependency on China, indicates Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. Credit: Tumisu/Pixabay

The United States is overly dependent on foreign sources, especially China, for personal protective equipment such as the gear required during pandemics, including the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, according to Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.

Lord made the comments during an press April 30 press briefing that was streamed online.

May 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, outlines concerns for the defense industrial base stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downtown.

Ellen Lord, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment suggested today that foreign adversaries may take advantage of the ongoing pandemic to conduct economic warfare against the United States, that industry could see a three-month “slow down” and that smaller businesses that provide critical components could suffer.

Lord made the comments during a press conference that streamed online.  

April 29, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
Health care providers adjust personal protective equipment as they prepare to enter a facility treating the Ebola virus in Liberia. Future pandemics could come from natural viruses or biological weapons developed by sophisticated nations; but whichever the source, opportunistic foes will take advantage of their effects to wreak further havoc on victim nations. (U.S. Army photo)

(Part two of a three-part series)

As the world watches the COVID-19 coronavirus wreak havoc, the potential of a man-made pandemic is offering its own allure to bad actors, ranging from nation-states to rogue organizations. Even if an organization lacks the wherewithal to develop or deploy a biological weapon, lessons already learned are demonstrating that a pandemic offers great opportunities for mayhem and profit, a national security expert says.

April 16, 2020
Posted by George Seffers
The Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate has released a review of systems it developed and fielded that are now contributing to the COVID-19 response. Credit: Corona Borealis Studio/Shutterstock

The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has released a review of systems it has developed and fielded and their contributions to countering the COVID-19 pandemic.

The list includes:

Single Automated Business Exchange for Reporting (SABER)

SABER is a free, open-source software that enables businesses to report their operating status both during and after a disaster. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, users have leveraged SABER to:

April 14, 2020
By George I. Seffers
DARPA's Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies program may prove to be a game changer for future pandemics. And the program has not yet even begun. Credit: U.S. Army photo

A U.S. Defense Department research program that has not yet even officially begun may contribute advanced testing devices for COVID-19 and other future pandemics.

The program is being run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is called the Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies. The acronym, DIGET, is pronounced “dig it.”

March 31, 2020
 
Anyone with 3D printing or other additive manufacturing capabilities can help counter the spread of the coronavirus by making N95-style masks. Credit: CDC image

A movement is underway to inspire 3D printing or other additive manufacturing experts and hobbyists to produce N95-style masks, visors and other critical medical supplies across the United States and the globe. 

The so-called Maker’s Mask is a mask created by Rory Larsen at the request of Kaiser Permanente in Seattle. Larsen created the mask from commercially available hobbyist-grade 3D printers and other common household materials. He intends to share his design freely and widely.