The 2018 Aspen Security Forum just closed its doors after a week of intense intellectual security events at Deloitte Base Camp. Attendees have gone home with forum badges, master programs and packets as keepsakes, but the most valuable souvenirs are the memories of listening to keynote speakers such a Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI; Kirsten Neilsen, Secretary of Homeland Security; Daniel Coates, Director of National Intelligence; and Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, US Department of Justice, to name just a few.

One of the topics on the 2018 Aspen Security Forum agenda, aimed at “China Rising”, moderated by David Ignatius, Columnist and Associate Editor, The Washington Post, who led a panel of experts, Michael Collins, Deputy Assistant Director, East Asia Mission Center, Central Intelligence Agency; Marcel Lettere, Former Under Secretary of Defence for Intelligence, Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Ambassador of Singapore to the United States; Susan Thornton, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“ Having consolidated power and extended his term, President Xi Jinping is now the mightiest Chinese leader since Mao. And, his rise to political primary coincides with a moment in history when China itself is rising – economically, militarily, and geopolitically. It coincides, too, with a moment in history when America is both withdrawing from the global stage and riven internally by toxic partisanship. Is China on its way to becoming the new global hegemon and, if so, what are the geostrategic implications?”

A week of high level discussions with the most powerful minds together at the 2018 Aspen Security Forum, highlighted the subject “ A New Nuclear Arms Race”, moderated by Michael Gordon, National Security Correspondent, The wall Street Journal, with panelists, Bonnie Jenkins, Former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, US Department of State; Frank Klotz, Former Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration; Franklin Miller, Former Senior Director for Defence Policy and Arms Control, National Security Council and Andrew Weber, Former Assistant Secretary of Defence for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.

“Reminiscent of the Cold War, the US and Russia are racing to develop a new generation of more powerful nuclear weapons, making the prospect of cataclysmic war more realistic than at any time in generations. Can the nuclear arms race genie be put back in the bottle?”

Another hot conversation in the media that deserved a key panel was “Taking Fate into our Own Hands”, moderated by Terry Moran, Chief Foreign Correspondent, ABC News, who led panelists, Emily Haber, Ambassador of Germany to the United States,; John McLaughlin, Former Acting Director and Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Michael Murphy, Deputy Assistant of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; as well as David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States.

“Thus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously summed up Europe’s reaction to Trump’s America First agenda. For the first time since its founding, the strength of the NATO alliance is being questioned. Would a President who said that he was elected to “represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” really go to war to save Vilnius? And, it appears that Europe is as much in the President’s crosshairs for trade imbalances as China. In short, is the Trans-Atlantic partnership, the bedrock of the global order since WWII, being consigned before our eyes to the dustbin of history?”

All in all, it was indeed a valuable week of international and national discussions and debates, with experts from all over the world, and everyone looking to find the same solid solutions – sound security for a better world.

Highly regarded companies such as Goldman Sachs take great pride in boasting on their websites how “implementing facial recognition correctly”, may demonstrate great potential towards protecting one from a breach in cybersecurity. Securing the activity of one’s finance details with such advanced facial recognition technology has proven to be a positive and effective trend.

Microsoft, however, is questioning whether facial recognition technology is working for everyone’s advantage. In a recent blog posting, titled FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY: THE NEED FOR PUBLIC REGULATION AND CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY, written by Brad Smith – the Microsoft President is crying out for “the need for government regulation”.

Smith makes a passionate plea, due to what he considers the rapid evolution of technology and devices, “Advanced technology no longer stands apart from society; it is becoming deeply infused in our personal and professional lives”. He is demonstrating his concern about government tracking. In some instances Smith highlights how positive facial recognition technology is indeed useful for finding missing children or helping first responders identify a terrorist, however, the issues he feels a strong objection to is how facial recognition relates to “US government projects related to separating children from their families at the border”.

The elaborate details Smith illustrates in his blog post, regarding how facial recognition ought to be addressed through government regulation are many, but the emphasis in his starting points, clearly show his concern is focused on personal privacy and personal consent.

• Should law enforcement use of facial recognition be subject to human oversight and controls, including restrictions on the use of unaided facial recognition technology as evidence of an individual’s guilt or innocence of a crime?

• Similarly, should we ensure there is civilian oversight and accountability for the use of facial recognition as part of governmental national security technology practices?

• What types of legal measures can prevent use of facial recognition for racial profiling and other violations of rights while still permitting the beneficial uses of the technology?

• Should use of facial recognition by public authorities or others be subject to minimum performance levels on accuracy?

• Should the law require that retailers post visible notice of their use of facial recognition technology in public spaces?

• Should the law require that companies obtain prior consent before collecting individuals’ images for facial recognition? If so, in what situations and places should this apply? And what is the appropriate way to ask for and obtain such consent?

• Should we ensure that individuals have the right to know what photos have been collected and stored that have been identified with their names and faces?

• Should we create processes that afford legal rights to individuals who believe they have been misidentified by a facial recognition system?

The President of Microsoft bespeaks passionate objectives in the area of facial recognition technology, “this is a national issue that requires national leadership by our elected representatives”.

To read the entire blog by Microsoft President, Brad Smith visit: https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2018/07/13/facial-recognition-technology-the-need-for-public-regulation-and-corporate-responsibility/

Volcanoes can be deadly as we learn from history when the volcano of Mount Vesuvius, opened up and swallowed the settlement of Pompeii, in Italy, thousands of years ago. In AD 79, there was no way of detecting volcanic eruptions; communities perished and nature took its course.

Honeywell has changed the course of history in the form of gas detection technology, which is able to read air quality associated with volcanoes and take spot samples of gas levels.

Dramatic media coverage from Hawaii recently has reported 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit magma flow from multiple fissures created by the erupting volcano Kilauea. Hawaii’s Big Island has suffered over 200 earthquakes and the hot flowing lava has destroyed at least 400 homes and livelihoods. Fortunately, lives have been protected due to evacuation procedures that were implemented by first responders. The situation has been closely tracked by the assistance of the MultiRAE wireless detector and AeaRAE Pro: two multi-threat transportable monitors.

In instances where time is of the essence, and toxic levels of air can obstruct the nose and throat, severely burning the airways, and impeding breathing, the monitors have played a tremendous part in the health and safety of the community at large. Deadly elements such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide are volcanic gases that the Honeywell devices can monitor, in tandem with the quickly changing winds.

Reports state that explosions are currently active as well as ongoing in the region. The volcanic activity can be seen by astronauts in space who describe the sightings as extraordinary, with cracks in the earth and merging lava fields that are violent and growing. These Honeywell devices are vital in helping Hawaiians during this unstoppable destructive situation.

The US National Guard is on alert as the unpredictable volcanic situation is constantly unfolding, and are focused on finding evacuation sites.

Rapid DNA is a program funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Resilient Systems Division, to verify legal kinship of family members. According to the DHS report, it is a DNA based, quick and cost efficient way to “ improve immigration efficiency for legal kinship applicants, reduce kinship fraud, identify mass casualty victims, provide for family reunifications, and conduct DNA watch list checks”.

Currently, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS) is dependent upon “documentary evidence and testimony elicited during interviews to verify family relationships”. These procedures prove to be prolonged and drawn out.

Professional field officers will be able to execute the Rapid DNA testing quickly. Rapid DNA is promoted by the US government, as a biometric tool, to be used at the United Sates borders where a common overwhelming influx of illegal immigrants is causing national concern.

Due to the recent situation of migrants flooding the border of Mexico to enter illegally into the United States, the DNA testing is upsetting some, who feel it may be a breach of privacy.

Border Patrol officials have reported that many children crossing the border illegally, are not actually with members of their biological family and are being trafficked and exploited. Some adults produce birth certificates stating the children they cross with illegally are theirs, however instances have proven that a lot of these documents are counterfeit.

Agents at the border state that they would be working with this method of Rapid DNA, in the hopes that parents will understand that protection of illegal children, is the prime factor of importance and this type of verification ( although there are those that may argue), is said to be, ultimately, for the child’s best interests.

FIFA World Cup 2018 is well underway, in the host country Russia, and soccer fans around the world are jubilant. All eyes are glued to TV screens, to watch competitive matches which started June 14 and will continue through to July 15; a month span, devoted to one of the most revered sports globally – football.

For those fortunate to be able to travel to this once communist Eastern European country, to support their respective national team, amidst the many thousands of other enthusiastic fans, there is one common factor that people should be mindful of during their visit to this highlighted event – safety.

Following the 2016 European Championship, in Marseille, France, reports stated that English fans, were attacked by approximately 150 Russian hooligans, who forcefully charged at the Brits, in a “prearranged” and targeted way. Needless to say, the concern of violence is problematic.

Claims that a Russian Hooligan Army, has been preparing physically to engage in brawls against rivals at the FIFA World Cup 2018, is something the federation are taking very seriously. The viscous attacks in Marseille, by the Russian thugs, are reported to have left two people in a coma. It was disclosed that the attacks were planned with well-trained precision in military style fashion, “with many of them sporting Martial Arts gloves”. Brice Robin acted as the Marseille Chief prosecutor. At least 50 perpetrator Russian fans were deported back to Russia and the team was given a suspended disqualification, together with a fine by the EAFA, Europe’s apex football body.

Law enforcement authorities are on high alert at FIFA World Cup 2018, despite the fact reports state the most notorious Russian football hooligans have been blacklisted and banned from attending. A fan ID system has been implemented to keep track of individuals in attendance and fans groups have been warned by the Federal Security Service, that imprisonment will be the only option, if extreme violence breaks out.

Security expert, Helmut Spahn , the Director of Security, FIFA, seriously has his mind on the threat of Radical Islam extremist terrorist suicide bomber attacks at football stadiums, as well as brutal hooligan fan issues, but he remains ever optimistic that security measures continue to remain strong with vigilant professional co-ordination between all security parties including intelligence, surveillance, police and armed forces.

It is without a doubt that the host country is doing everything it possibly can, security wise, to maintain a positive reputation, at a time when all the world’s eyes are closely watching.

Starting today June 19th, until Friday 22, in Nashville Tennessee, is ESX – Electronic Security Expo. This year’s 2018 event, according to their program, as revealed to the public online, aims to feature “insights from tech experts, a heartfelt panel on school security, and more”.

The ESX Expo is a “nation-wide event, open exclusively to the electronic security and life safety industry”. It is designed to allow interaction of professionals and those alike in the safety and security community.

Divided into topics of education, events & experiences, Expo and Non-for Pofit, the week’s activities promises to energize its attendees to re-think the future. Key-note speakers are invited to voice their opinions and experiences on security integration subject matters; some of these sessions are also interactive so the community may participate in discussions and brainstorming.

Alongside the business and networking opportunities are anything from breakfasts to cocktail receptions as well as various forms of entertainment; one such highlight includes a performance set to take place in the exhibit hall on June 20, by Kristen Merlin, a finalist on NBC;’s “ The Voice”.

The ESX Expo website also boasts of an upcoming Shark Tank style contest called TechVision Challenge, where contestants enter their creative concepts and are judged by a panel of impressive industry leaders.

It is an Expo that offers expert advice on its showcased products, and services. With a keen intent to help the gathering security integration enthusiasts learn more about installation training, merchandising, marketing and sales, exhibitors are on display throughout.

As stated publically, “ESX is owned by the industry’s leading professional associations. All profits made from the show are reinvested into programs and activities that help grow the industry”.

For more information: http://www.esxweb.com/Schedule/Full-Schedule

All eyes are on the U.S. President Donald J. Trump, this week as he prepares to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong- Un, in Singapore. On June 12th, worldwide media with their cameras will be focused on the summit, as this most important geopolitical event takes place. In addition to reporters with their special broadcasting equipment, all set to zoom in on this historical period, Singapore will certainly have other cameras in full activation – its security eye.

A wealthy nation, that attracts world leaders and billionaires, Singapore will spare no expense in ensuring top-notch security. A country that has a strong reputation for law, order and rule, it is certain that Singapore will stand for no shenanigans. The country is extremely adamant that is doesn’t accept anyone who wishes to hold political rallies or protests its streets. Radical individuals with a tendency towards terrorism or other forms of violence are definitely not welcome under any terms. New laws have been created in recent months granting the police authoritive powers to take strict action on troublemakers.

It is reported that police are allowed to ban journalists if necessary, and prevent reporting; even possibly confiscating devices that present text, video, photographs, or audio communication. Loudspeakers, banners, flags and demonstration posters are seemingly prohibited. There will be no tolerance for those bearing firearms and even drones are forbidden.

Singapore is in full swing, and heightened checks underway. Whether pedestrian or vehicle complete scrutiny is the theme. Airspace around Singapore will be restricted during the summit and security with cover not only Singapore’s mainland but also the surrounding seas and Sentosa Island.

A country that is super clean due to charging enormous fines to anyone caught littering, and a government known to ban chewing gum from the streets, it still believes in common forms of corporal punishment such as caning, for certain offenses. Singapore officials will not tolerate theft, vandalism or disruption of any kind.

Trump and Kim have obviously chosen Singapore to host their denuclearization discussions in a country where intelligence, police protection, and security are of the highest standard. It indeed makes sense that the two leaders would feel most confortable sitting down together, in a country rated the safest nation in Asia, if not the world.

A recent report issued by the United States of America, Department of Homeland Security, has been making serious efforts to focus on public security. On June 8, Bob Kolansky, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Infrastructure Protection, highlights the release of the DHS Soft Target and Crowded Places Security Plan Overview.

Unable to forget the horrific terrorist type attacks on soft targets that have taken place of late, the Department of Homeland Security strongly emphasizes vigilance and preparedness. Complacency is not an option.

Anyone who frequents crowded public spaces should turn their attention to the Security of Soft Targets and Crowded Places Resource Security Guide. The catalogue matrix includes advice in the way of tools and resources for businesses, government, and first responders, as well as the general public. It offers resource descriptions and links to understand the basics of security; how to identify suspicious behavior; forms of protection, and ready responsiveness.

“Soft Targets and Crowded Places (ST-CPs), such as sports venues, shopping venues, schools, and transportation systems, are locations that are easily accessible to large numbers of people and that have limited security or protective measures in place making them vulnerable to attack”.

The Department of Homeland security aims to work alongside other organizations and countries to ensure that all citizens are better protected.

“An informed and empowered public is DHS’s greatest ally in its work to enhance the security of ST-CPs”.

The Security of Soft Targets and Crowded Places Resource Guide was released in April 2018 and can be found via link:
https://www.dhs.gov/publication/securing-soft-targets-and-crowded-spaces

Recent media reports state that Twitter Inc, is urging its users to change their passwords due to an internal data glitch in the system.

Media has released information that a “bug” has affected the internal system of Twitter Inc, prompting the social media company to sound the alarm for an alteration on passwords.

In a blog post Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief technologist apologized. Normally passwords are protected by a technology that disguises the user passwords, not even allowing Twitter staff the ability to see them in form. Unfortunately, the bug caused the veil to be lifted and the passwords were unmasked, exposing personal codes.

Cryptographic techniques allow passwords to be stored on Twitter’s servers for the purpose of authenticating login. The codes are converted into a strand of characters known as a “hash”. The “bug” did not allow the “hash” process to fulfill its mission. Hacker’s could have had the opportunity to steal personal information, due to such exposure. There is no reports on precisely how many accounts were affected by this incident.

Seemingly, more than thirty three millions people use Twitter, and have been advised to change to a password that is unique and doesn’t match other services, as well as to create one that is heavily formulated with numerals, letters and symbols. It is best to avoid common passwords that include names, addresses or pet names.

To stay securely ahead, change passwords often and use paraphrases that can easily be remembered on all related devices.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., and ZTE Corp are prominent Chinese companies that produce telecommunications equipment and mobile phones.

In a recent statement issued by the U.S. Pentagon, the devices manufactured by these companies “may pose an unacceptable risk” to U.S. military bases worldwide.

Senior level, U.S. intelligence officials are concerned the devices might be capable of spying on U.S. service personnel. According to media reports, Blackberry smart phones have also been ousted.

The potential threats have not been completely released, due to security reasons.