Science and Technology News

Friday, September 28, 2018

Justice Department Hosts Cybersecurity Industry Roundtable


The Justice Department’s Criminal Division hosted a cybersecurity roundtable discussion yesterday on the challenges in handling data breach investigations.  Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Criminal Division delivered opening remarks and served as moderator for the event.  Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Department’s National Security Division and officials from the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, the White House’s National Security Council and U.S. Department of Homeland Security also delivered remarks at the event.  The audience included many of the nation’s leading private-sector practitioners in the field of data breach response and representatives from premier cybersecurity and incident response firms in the country.

The Criminal Division held its inaugural cybersecurity roundtable in 2015, shortly after the creation of the Cybersecurity Unit within the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).  The goal of the first roundtable was to spur a conversation within the legal community about how the government can work more effectively with companies, firms, and organizations to prosecute and prevent data breaches.  Three years later, the Department continues to exchange ideas with and look to the private sector’s expertise and insight about how to improve cooperation between law enforcement agencies and data breach victims.

In February of this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions established a Cyber-Digital Task Force, which published its first report in July.  The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the cyber-enabled threats confronting the nation, and catalogs ways in which the Justice Department combats those threats, including by partnering with the private sector.

“Public-private partnerships addressing cybercrime play a critical role in our efforts to hold criminals accountable for data breaches,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.  “We depend on the private sector to help us maintain the rule of law in cyberspace at every stage of our work. That includes working together to obtain critical evidence for investigations and trials, and collaborating on developing the legal authorities needed to protect our 21st century economy.  Today’s discussion aims to share best practices, common challenges, and emerging threats, and identify how the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners can help private industry to protect Americans from harm while safeguarding privacy.  Through roundtables like this and the continuing collaboration they fuel, we will meet emerging threats, protect America’s technological innovations, and preserve public safety and security.”

“The Criminal Division has long been recognized for its innovative and aggressive pursuit of the most sophisticated cybercriminals,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “Active engagement with the private sector through events like the Cybersecurity Industry Roundtable is essential to our effectiveness as prosecutors because it allows us to draw upon a broad range of experience to get better at what we do.  The Criminal Division’s commitment to fighting cybercrime is unwavering, and we look forward to continued close cooperation in that fight with our counterparts in the private sector.”

The Criminal Division created the Cybersecurity Unit within CCIPS in December 2014 to help channel CCIPS’s expertise and experience combatting cybercrime into the prevention of cybercrime.  The Unit’s contributions during its brief existence have included issuing groundbreaking guidance to help organizations create vulnerability disclosure programs to improve detection of cyber vulnerabilities.  The Unit’s outreach to the private sector has included participation by members of CCIPS in well over 100 cybersecurity events since 2015, such as RSA, Black Hat, DEFCON, and International CES, which has helped the Unit build relationships with and gather input from incident responders, potential victims, and key information security experts.  This input has been put to good use.  The Criminal Division released a document at the first roundtable providing guidance to help organizations prepare for a cyber incident, called “Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting Cyber Incidents.”

As part of Thursday’s event, the Cybersecurity Unit released a new document providing even more comprehensive guidance that reflects input the Unit received during its outreach efforts.  The revised guidance addresses new issues like working with incident response firms, cloud computing, ransomware, and information sharing.  It is an example of the type of assistance that the Cybersecurity Unit was designed to provide—to help elevate cybersecurity efforts and build better channels of communication between law enforcement and industry.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Criminal Justice Technology in the News


Law Enforcement News

Three North Central Wisconsin Counties Train for Child Abductions
WAOW, (09/19/2018)
First responders from three Wisconsin counties recently trained for dealing with child abductions. The simulation training brought together multiple departments from Adams, Wood and Juneau counties, including first responders, sex offender registry specialists and volunteers. The training included using drones and the GIS mapping system.
Link to Article


Mesquite Police Department Joins Neighbors App to Improve Public Safety
Mesquite News, (09/19/2018)
The Mesquite Police Department in Texas is joining the free mobile app Neighbors to enhance efforts to communicate with the community on public safety news and information. The department will monitor the app for crime activity and use it as an investigative tool. Residents can download the app to join their neighborhood area and share crime information and receive alerts from the police department.
Link to Article


Houston Fire Chief Announces Funding for Ballistic Vests for First Responders
KHOU, (09/19/2018), Jamie Galvan
The Houston Fire Department has received funding for new ballistic-resistant vests for firefighters when responding to a violent scene. The bid process is ongoing. Once approved and procured, firefighters will wear the vests during calls that clearly have the potential for danger, such as domestic violence incidents, shootings and stabbings.
Link to Article


Garfield County Disbands Crime-Tip Program
Aspen Daily News, (09/22/2018)
The Garfield County Sheriff's Office in Colorado is disbanding its chapter of the Crime Stoppers tip program Oct 1, citing the rise of social media, cellphone cameras and other ways provide information to authorities. Crime Stoppers gathered information from residents, and if useful tips led to an arrest, the tipster was paid up to $1,000. Today, the use of surveillance cameras at businesses, and residents using cameras that can transmit images via text or email have aided law enforcement in fighting crime.
Link to Article


LaRue County Schools Implements New System to Cut Emergency Response Times
The News-Enterprise, (09/23/2018)
Schools in LaRue County, Ky., have started using a new navigation system in hallways to improve communication between schools and public safety agencies. Through hallway signs, the FastPath Hallway Navigation System is designed to make communication more efficient and cut the time it takes first responders to arrive to the exact scene of an emergency.
Link to Article


Spokane Police Want to Use Drones for Investigations & Searches
KXLY, (09/25/2018), Melissa Luck
The Spokane Police Department wants to use drones for crime scene mapping, missing persons searches and other investigations. The city council is scheduled to discuss the issue at the next regular council meeting.
Link to Article


Corrections News

Return to Sender: No More Mailing Books to Inmates in Pennsylvania
Slate, (09/19/2018), Mia Armstrong
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is banning direct book donations to inmates as part of new restrictions to thwart contraband in prisons. Previously, approved organizations could mail books or other publications directly to inmates. Now, the department is beginning a transition to ebooks to fight the flow of illegal drugs into facilities. The DOC also will no longer process inmate mail at correctional facilities; mail will go to a processing center where it will be opened, scanned, and emailed back to individual facilities to print and distribute.
Link to Article


Moran Stops Policy That Would Bar Women From Wearing Tampons When Visiting Virginia Prison Inmates
Richmond Times-Dispatch,( 09/25/2018), Frank Green
A policy barring women who visit inmates at Virginia prisons from wearing tampons or menstrual cups set to take effect Oct. 6 has been suspended. The Virginia Department of Corrections had said the measures were needed to keep contraband from entering prisons. State Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran suspended the policy, saying a more thorough review is needed. The policy was criticized by the ACLU of Virginia, which argued that it could discourage visits from family and friends.
Link to Article

Monday, September 24, 2018

Face of Defense: Army Astronaut Prepares for December Launch


By Jason Cutshaw, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- One soldier is proving childhood dreams can come true as she prepares to launch into space for her first time.

Army Astronaut Lt. Col. Anne C. McClain, and her crewmates, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, are scheduled to launch Dec. 20 aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a six-month rotation on the International Space Station.

“When you look over the history of human space flight during the past 50 years, it is a relatively short time,” McClain said. “Every vehicle that has been built and every flight that has been taken is an accomplishment in and of itself. We have been flying to the space station for about 18 years and the thing we are always doing at all of our agencies is [asking], ‘What’s next? What is the next step we can take where mankind has never been before?’ For us, that is deep space.

“At the crew level we are fortunate,” she continued. “We have been training together more than a year for this flight. It is actually very easy to forget we are from three different countries and three different places because we are doing the same things together every day. We have the same concerns and the same issues in dealing with our families and we just connect as human beings.”

‘We Are All In It Together’

“At the end of the day, the Earth is a small place and we are all in it together, McClain said. “The decisions we make affect one another. From our perspectives, rather than taking politics and letting them inform our friendships, we actually take our friendships and let them inform our view of how politics should be and how our world could be.

“The peaceful exploration of space is absolutely a unifying aspect,” she added. “Working with this crew is an incredible opportunity, but it is also an example of what humans can do when we put aside our differences and really focus on what motivates us.”

McClain is a native of Spokane, Washington, and earned her undergraduate degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. Additionally, she earned two master’s degrees while studying in England. She was a member of the USA Rugby Women’s National Team and said her experiences have played an integral role in helping her work with the international members of her NASA team.

“We are not just going to the International Space Station to visit, we are going there to live. It will be our home, and we are going to adapt to it,” McClain said. “When I go to Russia, it is absolutely a second home for me right now. I always tell people it is amazing the perspective you get when you get out of your comfort zone long enough to make it your comfort zone.

“It is amazing to see how people on the other side of the world approach the exact same problems yet come up with different solutions,” she added. “Getting comfortable in another culture really helps you understand perspectives and that we are not that different from one another.”

‘Humbling’ Experience

As a soldier, McClain earned her wings as an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout/attack helicopter pilot. She has more than 2,000 flight hours and served at every level of Army aviation units at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, and at Fort Rucker, Alabama; as well as in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“The Army has given me everything I have as an adult,” she said. “It gave me my undergraduate college education and two master’s degrees. It gave me flight school and test pilot school. But I think, most importantly, the Army gave me really humbling, selfless leadership experience.”

“I went into the Army probably a little overconfident in some of my abilities, and I came out very humbled and very in awe of the people I serve with and with a recognition that I could never accomplish remotely what others can when given the right tools,” McClain said. “My biggest role as a leader or as a member of the team is to enable other people around me to perform at their optimal best.”

“I try to be the leader who synergizes the team and tries to recognize barriers to the team around me and knock those barriers down,” she continued. “Our soldiers in our military are some of the most innovative, smart, dedicated, selfless people who I have ever worked with in my life. I am humbled every day just to be in their ranks. I learned from them to trust the people around me.

“Here at NASA our lives depend on each other every day,” McClain added. “I was in a vacuum chamber last week that can be a real threat to your body. These guys put on my gloves and pants while doing a leak check to make sure everything was good. My life was in their hands last week and it will be again in the future. I learned to have that trust in the Army.”

Selection, Training

In 2013, McClain attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School where she was selected as one of eight members of NASA’s 21st astronaut class. Her astronaut candidate training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in ISS systems, spacewalks, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training. She completed astronaut training in 2015.

“If you do the thing everybody else does, you are going to get what everybody else does,” McClain said. “If you want to do something amazing and something great, you need to start being different today and stay dedicated to that. There is nothing you are doing that is not important so you must excel in everything you do.”

During the upcoming mission, McClain and her team will facilitate about 250 research investigations and technology demonstrations. She explained that science experiments conducted in space yield benefits and technology advancements for all humanity and looks forward to achieving more scientific progress.

“The benefit of science experiments in micro-gravity and low-earth orbit are too numerous to just leave and move onto the next thing,” McClain said. “I am overwhelmed at the quantity of tasks we have, in a good way. One of the really neat things about going to the space station for six months is that we don’t specialize.”

“One of the things I really like is getting into academic areas I had no experience with before,” she continued. “I am an aerospace engineer by training and I was a test pilot in the Army. One of my favorite things now is biology and learning about the human body. To me this is really fascinating, and I could have had a totally different career and loved it also.

“What I am most excited about is space walks. We have some ‘penciled in’ for our mission,” McClain added. “It is what I dreamed of when I was a little 5-year-old girl and it is pretty neat to think that maybe in the next six months it could be happening.”