Homeland Security

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.

January 13, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
Cybersecurity experts warn of possible growing cyber risks from domestic unrest. Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens

Officials in U.S. federal and state governments need to consider and address the possible cyber risks stemming from the current civilian unrest, cyber experts advise. Until now, the federal government, especially, has had a foreign intelligence focus, said Adm. Michael Rogers, USN (Ret.).

January 5, 2021
Posted by: George I. Seffers
Biometrics systems tested by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate effectively identify most individuals even when they wear face masks. Credit: SergeyTinyakov/Shutterstock

A controlled scenario test by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) shows promising results for facial recognition technologies to accurately identify individuals wearing protective face masks, according to an S&T press release.

The tests were conducted as part of S&T’s 2020 Biometric Technology Rally, held this fall at the Maryland Test Facility, and could reduce the need for people to remove masks at airports or ports of entry.

December 11, 2020
Posted by: George I. Seffers
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate has announced the launch of a Startup Studio designed to rapidly field commercial technologies.  Photo courtesy of Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) will launch its first Homeland Security Startup Studio in January. The program is a partnership with FedTech and is aimed at commercializing federally funded breakthrough technologies to support homeland security missions, the directorate announced December 10.  

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.

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. 

March 23, 2020
 
Sandia National Laboratories’ Saturn accelerator, viewed through an artistic lens, tests countermeasures used to protect electronics against X-ray radiation from nuclear weapons. Laboratory officials have announced two new initiatives, one to protect the electrical grid, and another to help maintain a nuclear edge. Photo by Randy Montoya

To deter attempts to disable U.S. electrical utilities and to defend nuclear weapon systems from evolving technological threats, Sandia National Laboratories has begun two multiyear initiatives to strengthen U.S. responses.

February 26, 2020
By Maryann Lawlor
Sandia National Laboratories researchers leading the MARCUS project are developing a system to capture small unmanned aircraft systems then fly them away from crowds or sensitive areas such as government buildings. Photo by Randy Montoya

An unmanned aircraft system tracks and follows Sandia National Laboratories researcher David Novick, who is leading a project to identify, track and capture enemy UAS during flight.</body></html>

February 24, 2020
By Tim Mullahy
Members of the Oklahoma National Guard drive down Telephone Road in Moore, Oklahoma, May 21, 2013, en route to the neighborhoods devastated by a tornado. Cybersecurity needs to be a priority in the aftermath of major disasters when people and their personal data can be most vulnerable. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mark Hyber

It’s easy to forget that in the midst of a catastrophe, physical safety isn’t the only thing that’s important. As technology’s role in disaster response and relief becomes more and more prevalent, cybersecurity becomes an essential part of the process. Here’s why.

Few people are more vulnerable than those impacted by a crisis. Whether a man-made attack or a natural disaster, the widespread destruction created by a large-scale emergency can leave countless individuals both destitute and in need of medical attention. Protecting these men, women and children requires more than a coordinated emergency response.

February 10, 2020
 
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology directorate is working with four companies to develop sensors to help thwart wildfires threatening urban areas. Credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management photo

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) selected four new industry partners to participate in a new wildfire sensors project with Smart City Internet of Things Innovation (SCITI) Labs.

January 17, 2020
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
The Department of Homeland Security is rolling out A Smart City Technology Integration Pilot in St. Louis, aimed at increased interoperability for public safety officials and first responders. Credit: Shutterstock/Rudy Balasko

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported on January 17 that its Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate had completed the final integration of a smart city technology pilot in St. Louis as part of a program designed to enhance overall public safety and streamline operations across the city’s departments.

“This final rollout event, which included a series of tabletop exercises and operational scenarios, demonstrated how these technologies could be leveraged by first responders, emergency managers and other city officials in real-life events, such as floods, fires or earthquakes,” the DHS indicated.

November 26, 2019
By George I. Seffers
A new report developed under a joint program between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Homeland Security Department develops a draft framework for organizations to assess the threat of unintended consequences in the cyber realm. Credit: issaro prakalung/Shutterstock

A new report on the commoditization of cyber weapons suggests that the easy availability of inexpensive offensive cyber tools is reshaping the cyber threat landscape. The report is being briefed to officials across the federal government, including elements of the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, Senate Cyber Caucus and the Secret Service.

December 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Positioning, navigation and timing is critical to an array of critical infrastructure areas, including the electrical power grid, finance and transportation. The U.S. government is working to harden so-called PNT systems against jamming, spoofing and other vulnerabilities, in part by developing a resiliency framework. Credit: Shutterstock/NicoElNino

Over the next year, U.S. government officials intend to develop an initial conformance framework to ultimately improve resilience for systems that provide positioning, navigation and timing for a wide variety of users. That initial framework will focus on timing, and lessons learned will be used to develop more comprehensive versions.

September 24, 2019
By Shaun Waterman
(l-r) Monte Hawkins, director of the National Vetting Center, Charles Bartoldus, former official and now senior advisor to CT-Strategies, ODNI Identity Intelligence Executive Kathleen Lane, DHS CIO official Emily Barbero, NVC Chief of Staff Casie Antalis and NVC Technical Director Lori Vislocky speak at AFCEA International's Federal identity Forum and Expo in Tampa, Florida. Credit: Shaun Waterman

To guard America’s borders against a lengthening list of threats, the new interagency National Vetting Center (NVC) is flipping the script on watchlisting, officials said Monday.

Instead of compiling lists of individuals believed linked to terrorism or some other threat, the NVC is figuring out how to leverage all the information held by U.S. government agencies about any individual applying for entry to the country, the center’s director, Monte Hawkins, told AFCEA International’s Federal Identity Forum and Expo in Tampa, Florida.

July 15, 2019
Posted by George I. Seffers
The DHS Science and Technology Directorate is funding a $35 million, 10-year effort to create a research center of excellence focused on preventing and countering terrorist attacks. Credit: deepspace/Shutterstock

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced today $35 million in funding opportunities for a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Terrorism Prevention and Counterterrorism Research (TPCR). Accredited U.S. colleges and universities are invited to submit proposals as the center lead or as an individual partner to work with the lead institution in support of the center’s activities.

July 11, 2019
 
 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security takes a closer look at how the government is using biometrics in protecting the nation. Credit: Shutterstock/Andrea Izzotti

The current climate surrounding the identification of citizens and deportation of noncitizens is fiery at best. And while facial recognition and other biometric technologies offer the government advanced tools to protect the homeland, some critics, including lawmakers, are sounding the alarm on how agencies are using identification data and whether citizens' privacy rights are being protected.

March 11, 2018
 
The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and Israel’s Ministry of Public Security are searching for companies or academic institutions in each country to work together on first responder systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles, border protection and systems to fight cyber crime. Credit: charles taylor/Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and Israel’s Ministry of Public Security (MOPS) are seeking proposals to support collaborative research and development between U.S. and Israeli companies, or between a company and a university or research institute—one from the United States and one from Israel. 

December 19, 2018
 
Everett Kaneshige, chief strategy officer for broadband and telecommunications for the State of Hawaii (l) and Tom Lawless, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) region IX coordinator, test satellite connectivity in remote areas affected by the Kilauea volcanic eruption. DHS has announced a new approach to information technology modernization, which opens new opportunities for industry, including small businesses. Credit: Grace Simoneau/FEMA

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa announced this week that DHS will follow a new strategy for obtaining information technology services. Rather than pursue a re-competition of the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading-Edge Solutions (EAGLE) II, the department will offer an array of options for industry, including greater opportunity for small businesses, under EAGLE Next Generation.

July 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A mobile intensive care unit paramedic communicates using a land mobile radio. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with the full spectrum of emergency responders to improve communications interoperability during disaster events.

Just as methodical programs to improve emergency communications interoperability are building up speed, new technologies threaten to derail the entire effort. Emergency responders find that new mobile systems bring valuable capabilities, such as enhanced data access, and they embrace these technologies eagerly. But the advanced communications systems often do not mesh with each other as well as traditional broadband radio links, and their innovative approaches pose new challenges.

June 29, 2018
 
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have created a nerve gas detector using a smartphone, a box made of Legos and a chemical sensor. Credit: University of Texas at Austin

Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, have designed a way to sense dangerous chemicals by rigging up a smartphone, a sensor and a box made from Lego bricks, the university has announced. The device could help first responders and scientists in the field identify deadly and difficult-to-detect nerve agents such as VX and sarin.

May 4, 2018
Posted by: George I. Seffers
Jack Lewis, a NIST associate, demonstrates the use of a virtual reality headset and controllers with NIST’s virtual office environment in which first responders search for a body in a fire. Credit: Burrus/NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) aim to make virtual reality simulations more of a reality for first responders, enabling firefighters, law enforcement officers and others to train for emergency operations and communications.

May 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Credit: JoeBakal/Shutterstock

One does not have to look too far beyond the headlines to see that the battle for world power is playing out in the information space. Free and open democratic societies increasingly are tested by rising autocratic countries employing high technology in information warfare.

For the United States to succeed in this battle, citizens, not just the government, need to be more discerning about information, experts say.

April 9, 2018
Posted by George I. Seffers
The U.S. Department of Energy has released a request for proposals for at least two next-generation exascale supercomputers. Credit: dlohner/Pixabay

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry today announced a request for proposals potentially worth up to $1.8 billion for the development of at least two new exascale supercomputers, to be deployed at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories in the 2021-2023 timeframe. Among other benefits, the systems will help nuclear security, a major piece of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

March 20, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
The domain of information warfare has shifted from being a military battlefield to affecting all aspects of society, experts say. Credit: vchal/Shutterstock

One does not have to look too far beyond the headlines to see that the battle for world power is being played out in the information space. Free and open democratic societies increasingly are being tested by rising autocratic countries employing high technology in information warfare.

For the United States to succeed in this battle, citizens, not just the government, need to be more discerning about information, experts say.

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.

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.

May 7, 2015
By George I. Seffers
A prototype device known as FINDER detected heartbeats in the rubble of Nepal, leading to the rescue of four men.

The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) device lived up to its name in Nepal, detecting signs of life that led to the rescue of four men trapped under as much as 10 feet of bricks, mud and other debris following the devastating April 25 earthquake in the area.

FINDER, developed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage. Jim Lux, JPL’s FINDER task manager, credits luck, but it took quick thinking and rapid coordination to ensure FINDER was in the right place at the right time to be helpful.

April 28, 2015
By Maryann Lawlor

Although cybersecurity has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately, 90 percent of companies recently surveyed admit that their organizations have invested in a security technology that was ultimately discontinued or scrapped before or soon after deployment. The survey also revealed that the most important metrics are the least reliable. For example, although 70 percent of respondents said return on investment and total cost of ownership are critical metrics for investment and measurement of a technology’s economic benefits, the same number said it is difficult to calculate these metrics.

October 10, 2014
 

PositiveID Corporation, Delray Beach, Florida, has announced that it, in conjunction with its partner, ENSCO Inc., has been awarded a SenseNet Program contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate. The goal of this SenseNet award is to implement faster, less expensive bio-threat detection systems, using existing infrastructure where possible, to provide an added level of security.

September 17, 2014
By Rita Boland

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to replace its Automated Biometric Identification System, or IDENT, in the next two to four years, an official with the department says. IDENT is DHS's central system for storing and processing biometric and associated biographic information for various homeland security purposes.