At the recent Drone Games in San Francisco, the winning entry managed to infect other drones while airborne, BoingBoing reported.
James “substack” Halliday's Virus-Copter made wireless contact with other drones and not only infected them with his amok-copter program but then got the infected drones to infect others, causing them to "run amok."
This kind of program might not represent a threat to government agencies’ growing use of drones, although researchers have shown that, in some circumstances, drones can be compromised. In June, a team from the University of Texas at Austin demonstrated to Homeland Security Department and Federal Aviation Administration officials how the UT team used GPS spoofing to take control of a drone in flight.
Unmanned aerial vehicles have been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of late have been employed by a variety of civilian agencies, for everything from taking weather readings and monitoring global warming to tracking invasive species, along with some surveillance efforts.
The only thing holding back further drone use, at least until 2015, are Federal Aviation Administration regulations that bar the commercial use of robot aircraft, according to a recent article in Mother Jones.
Posted on Dec 13, 2012 at 1:35 PM0 comments
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which supplies Global Positioning System data to the Defense Department and scientific community, is collecting data from a wider range of GPS reference stations in an effort to improve the accuracy of that data, ArsTechnica reports.
NGA hopes to acquire more orbit information by "collecting the data from a constellation of GPS ground stations operated by private companies and other institutions," ArsTechnica writes.
According to a request for information, NGA intends to augment its real-time GPS data feeds with GPS data from non-DOD entities. There are more than 350 ground stations run by the International Global Navigation Satellite Systems Service as well as GPS stations operated by other government agencies and research organizations, ArsTechnica said.
This network of GPS reference points would improve the speed and accuracy of GPS tracking. Additionally it would allow for lightweight tracking devices that could operate for months on a single charge because the power required for the signal processing calculations would be "pushed into the cloud, where the computational cost is lower and power is plentiful," the article says.
Posted on Dec 12, 2012 at 1:42 PM0 comments
Ever since President Thomas Jefferson in 1804 sent Lewis and Clark to find and map the most direct and practicable water route across the continent to the Pacific Ocean, Americans have been curious about the land they live in.
But it wasn’t until 1879 that the U.S. Geological Survey was established to make a geologic map of the United States. Then in 1992 Congress enacted the Geologic Mapping Act, which required the USGS and the state geological surveys to build a “national archive” of standardized geoscience map information called the National Geologic Map Database. The website debuted in 1996.
Change occurs more rapidly in the 21st century, however. USGS and the Association of American State Geologists, AASG, have just launched a redesigned website that is significantly more advanced in terms of the technology and information now available to the public.
The new system improves the integration of publication citations, stratigraphic nomenclature, downloadable content, and unpublished source information, greatly improving public access to this archive, according to the USGS website.
One significant feature of new site is “MapView” – a new interface that seamlessly portrays the nation’s geologic maps published by USGS, the state geological surveys, and many others. These maps, now available through the National Geologic Map Database, can be viewed in detail and downloaded from the various publishers.
According to USGS, this is just the first stage in a complete redesign of the database. Other aspects of the site will be upgraded in the months ahead.
Posted on Dec 07, 2012 at 1:14 PM4 comments
With Americans bracing for tax hikes in January if Congress and the White House can’t resolve the "fiscal cliff" budget dilemma, taxpayers’ personal data may also take a hit.
Personal information could be at risk from the IRS’ IT modernization efforts, warns the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) in a newly released report published Dec. 4. The IG office labels the modernization program "a major risk" to the data and cites two key systems, Modernized e-File and the Customer Account Data Engine 2, or CADE 2.
The report said IRS "has made progress to improve information security and personnel safety; however, it needs to continue to place emphasis on information and physical security programs in order to ensure that policies, procedures and practices adequately address security control weaknesses."
Among the weaknesses cited were system access controls, configuration management, audit trails, physical security, remediation of security weaknesses, and oversight and coordination on security related issues.
A summary of the IG report on the TIGTA website notes that the IRS has developed and implemented significant systems since last year’s assessment, including Release 7.0 of the Modernized e-File system in January 2012 and the daily processing and database implementation projects of CADE 2.
The CADE 2 project was in the testing phase when the IG report was written in September and was expected "to be placed into production in late 2012." CADE 2 will store all individual taxpayer account data and provide that information to "select downstream IRS systems on a daily basis."
The report says IRS data integrity testing hasn't provided sufficient assurance that CADE 2 data is consistently accurate and complete. It calls for stronger traceability controls on a database meant to become the authoritative repository of taxpayer information.
"Until the IRS addresses security weaknesses, it will continue to put the confidentiality, integrity and availability of financial and taxpayer information and employee safety at risk," the report said.
The audit was initiated as part of the TIGTA Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Audit Plan and addresses the major management challenge of modernization. TIGTA is required by the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 to annually perform an evaluation of the adequacy and security of IRS technology.
Posted on Dec 06, 2012 at 11:46 AM0 comments
The National Nuclear Security Administration has launched a project management mobile app for its Global Threat Reduction Initiative that runs on both the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms, according to the agency's blog.
The app hooks mobile users into G2, GTRI’s project management system, to help GTRI project managers in their mission to secure nuclear and radiological materials around the world. The app allows mobile users to quickly filter and analyze all the real-time information about locations and coordinate that with schedules and infrastructure.
Since NNSA established GTRI in 2004 to consolidate efforts to prevent the acquisition of nuclear and radiological materials for use in weapons of mass destruction and for other acts of terrorism, the agency's workload has grown. It developed G2 to help NNSA project managers filter and analyze large amounts of real-time, geospatial data and integrate that data with scope, schedule, cost and infrastructure information for the entire portfolio of GTRI projects, according to the agency. With G2, NNSA said it was able to do more work and manage greater resources without having to hire additional staff.
The new app makes the G2 system available to mobile users, allowing the GTRI team to manage projects wherever they are in the world from their smartphones or tablets.
This is the first time that the GTRI has released an app for more than one operating system, which indicates the administration’s commitment to multiplatform mobile device management.
The NNSA has previously experimented with networking strategies that ended up being used departmentwide.
Posted on Dec 05, 2012 at 2:11 PM0 comments