CDMaST Phase 2 is going to change naval warfare

I’m constantly amazed at the level of tech we are achieving in a relatively short period of time. The “future” is coming fast, and sometimes in ways that even the best of science fiction didn’t anticipate.

Case in point – the CDMaST Phase 2 project from DARPA. Long story short, the idea behind this project “revolves around real-time secure networks of manned and unmanned aircraft, surface ships, and submarines able to attack and defend vast areas of the world’s oceans to hold enemy ships and submarines at risk over wide contested areas.”

The CDMaST project wouldn’t be the only line of defense. The project “would augment aircraft carrier battle groups and manned submarines with networked manned and unmanned systems of systems (SoS) that work collaboratively to control the seas.”

Imagine hundreds or thousands of drone-based ships in the ocean, playing basic defense and surveillance “over ocean areas as large as a million square kilometers”. This 24/7 armada would “hold the line” so to speak, and keep the Navy’s “12 aircraft carriers, 52 attack submarines, and 18 ballistic- and cruise-missile submarines” on a more focused and as-needed basis.

It’s brilliant.

Of course CDMaST is going to be target #A1 for hacking, and CDMaST is probably going to be the focus of some terrible movies when the mainstream media gets wind of this, but the idea that technology has reached the point of 24/7 global defense is astounding.

The article is on the Military and Aerospace website here.

DJI drones and tech banned from US Army for “operational risks”

In an article on Military and Aerospace Electronics, the US Army recently ordered all Army personnel “to cease all use of Chinese-made Dajiang Innovation drone products, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction.”

“This guidance applies to all DJI UAS and any system that employs DJI electrical components or software including, but not limited to, flight computers, cameras, radios, batteries, speed controllers, GPS units, handheld control stations, or devices with DJI software applications installed.”

According to a sUAS article, this full stop shutdown might have something to do with DJI drones collecting “audio, visual and telemetry data on all flights across the globe. The details shared here are perhaps known to a limited number of the worldwide owners and users of the DJI technology.”

In other words, it looks like every DJI flght was copied to DJI / China’s HQ.

The actual Army memo and breakdown is on a sUAS news site, the sharing / data collection of DJI drones is on another sUAS page, and the ban is cross-confirmed on the UPI news site and the Military and Aerospace page.

The new bank heist – hacking Apple’s biometric datbases

Today Apple announced their new shiny shiny – the iPhone X.

<Nicholson Joker Voice> You thought the celebrity photo leak was bad? The Equifax hack terrorized? Wait until you get a load of the biometric hack. </Nicholson Joker Voice>

Apple swears “the detailed biometric data points that Face ID will use to identify individuals will stay local, stored on the phone and not remotely” BUT “face ID will work with third-party apps.

The gold mine of biometric data won’t be held in Apple’s Fort Knox, but shared “on the open road” with third parties?

Never mind Apple. Forget about trying to get into their billion dollar systems. If I was an evil mastermind, this would be by four-step plan…

  1. Wait and see what new app requiring the iPhone X facial recognition takes off in popularity
  2. Hack their low-secure angel-funded 20-people-in-the-whole-company database
  3. Sell the users’ biometric data on the dark web
  4. Profit

If I was an government employee evil mastermind, this would be by four-step plan…

  1. Create multiple new apps requiring iPhone X’s facial recognition (match the celebrity funny face, make your own emojis, group party chat, who’s the hottest, etc)
  2. Keep a master database of all faces using the app AND constantly scan everything the camera “sees” while running in the background
  3. Keep the users’ biometric data in my master database – create cross references of who the user associates with through matching biometric facial scans, their GPS locations, and who they have in their contact list (Apple already allows app access to GPS position and contact lists BTW)
  4. Profit in a very serious long-term way

Read Apple’s statement again. The biometric data points are not generated and deleted with every use. They are stored. On the local phone.

That stored information will be shared with third-party apps.

Biometric scans are a mathematical algorithm. Your facial patterns create an identifier unique to you. There’s no changing it. Once your unique biological mathematical algorithm is out in the open, there’s absolutely no way to put that genie back in the bottle. The last cornerstone of individual security will turn to dust.

I expect the first public-aware hack in two years.

Texas specific addendum for concealed carry holders under evacuation

While most people outside of Texas think concealed carry is something best left in the wild west era, for most Texans, it is a part of everyday life.

Regardless of your stance, there is a law on the Texas books that affects the evacuees of Hurricane Harvey that conceal or open carry their firearm.

In 2007, the Texas legislature passed the “Emergency Powers Act”, which coincided with the arrival of Hurricane Katrina and the (alleged) confiscation of firearms by the local and state police departments during the evacuation process.

In the act, written by Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) and with Rep. Frank Corte (R-San Antonio), all Texans are granted “safe passage” of their legally concealed or open carry firearm in times of evacuation.

The bill, available online here, states “a peace officer, during a state of disaster or a state of emergency, (may) disarm an individual lawfully carrying or possessing any firearm or ammunition if the officer reasonably believes it necessary for the protection of the officer or another individual. The bill requires the officer to return the firearm or ammunition to the individual before ceasing to detain the individual unless the officer arrests the individual or seizes the firearm as evidence in a criminal investigation.”

Shelters may have their own rules regarding firearms carry (concealed or open) for admission, but legally, all Texans can retain their firearm(s) while evacuating pending the exceptions noted in the bill.

Southwest Airlines lets you donate your Rapid Rewards points to help Houston

Southwest Airlines has had a website to donate Rapid Rewards points for awhile now (AKA: frequent flier miles), but with hurricane Harvey hitting Houston, now might be a good time for those fortunate enough to have thousands of unused points to make a big difference.

On the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards donation site, you can donate to All Hands Volunteers, The American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues, and Ronald McDonald House. Any of these five charities will be in Houston (if not already) helping get the city back on its’ feet. Details on the organizations and their mission statements are on the Southwest Airlines donation website as well.

You can also donate to The Dream Foundation, Honor Flight Network, Make A Wish, or the Student Conservation Association on the same website.

On-site medical care at George R. Brown Convention Center shelter in Houston

According to a recent press release, those sheltering at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston “will have medical care on-site through a 250-bed Federal Medical Station established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the request of the State Department of Health.”

“The Federal Medical Station is scheduled to be operational Wednesday.”

“HHS has additional Federal Medical Stations available for patient care in Texas, and has positioned two 250-bed Federal Medical Stations in Baton Rouge ready to be deployed in Louisiana should state officials determine they are needed.”

HHS has also “activated its Disaster Distress Helpline, a toll-free call center, that is available at 1-800-985-5990 to aid people in coping with the behavioral health effects of the storm and help people in impacted areas connect with local behavioral health professionals.”

HHS National Disaster Distress Helpline for #HurricaneHarvey 800-985-5990

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has set up a National DIsaster Distress Helpline for Hurricane Harvey.

This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746).

On the helpline website, the HHS states “When disaster strikes, often people react with increased anxiety, worry and anger. With support from community and family, most of us bounce back. However, some may need extra assistance to cope with unfolding events and uncertainties. If you are experiencing emotional distress due to the storm, call the National Disaster Distress Helpline. The Disaster Distress Helpline puts people in need of counseling on the path to recovery. Our staff members provide counseling and support before, during, and after disasters and refer people to local disaster-related resources for follow-up care and support.”

According to another press release, HHS is also working on local efforts for Texas and Louisiana in response to Hurricane Harvey by calling in “460 National Disaster Medical System staff, including community doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel from around the country, to be in place ahead of the storm and ready to respond when and where needed.”

THe HHS site dedicated to Hurricane Harvey is here.

Oxford study shows prolonged standing at work leads to greater risk of heart disease

So much for all that “stand at work” idea. A new study by the American Journal of Epidemiology finds that “workers who stand on the job most of the time are at greater risk of heart disease than workers who predominantly sit.”

The article on EHS Today shows the Oxford study was very thorough, taking into account age and existing health conditions.

“Even after adjusting for a wide range of factors – personal (e.g. age, gender, education levels, ethnicity, immigrant status, marital status); health conditions (e.g. diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, mood and anxiety disorders); health behavior (e.g. smoking, drinking, body mass index, exercise); and work (e.g. physical demands, shift schedule) – the risk of heart disease still was twice as high among people who primarily stood on the job compared to those who primarily sat. In fact, the unadjusted risk of heart disease among people who stood on the job even was slightly higher than among daily smokers (5.8 percent).”

That’s really scary. Prolonged standing at work is more dangerous than smoking.

The summary article is here on EHS Today, and the Oxford / American Journal of Epidemiology core study, methodology, and results are here.

The Texas valley got lucky – Harvey just glanced by

The Texas valley got lucky. Stupid lucky. Hurricane Harvey shifted North as it drew closer and just glanced the area with a few intense storms.

Right now the sun is out, you can see blue sky, and the ground is bone-dry.

Clouds over McAllen 082517 1830CST

Hurricane Harvey looks like a “Day After Tomorrow” kind of monster, and if it keeps its’ core in the Gulf, things are going to get real ugly in the next few days for upper Texas.

Stay safe everyone.