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Author Archives: Sabrina I. Pacifici

Regin: Top-tier espionage tool enables stealthy surveillance

Symantec Security Response: ” An advanced spying tool, Regin displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen and has been used in spying operations against governments, infrastructure operators, businesses, researchers, and private individuals.  An advanced piece of malware, known as Regin, has been used in systematic spying campaigns against a range of international targets since at least 2008. A back door-type Trojan, Regin is a complex piece of malware whose structure displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen. Customizable with an extensive range of capabilities depending on the target, it provides its controllers with a powerful framework for mass surveillance and has been used in spying operations against government organizations, infrastructure operators, businesses, researchers, and private individuals. It is likely that its development took months, if not years, to complete and its authors have gone to great lengths to cover its tracks. Its capabilities and the level of resources behind Regin indicate that it is one of the main cyberespionage tools used by a nation state. As outlined in a new technical whitepaper from Symantec, Backdoor. Regin is a multi-staged threat and each stage is hidden and encrypted, with the exception of the first stage.  Executing the first stage starts a domino chain of decryption and loading of each subsequent stage for a total of five stages.  Each individual stage provides little information on the complete package. Only by acquiring all five stages is it possible to analyze and understand the threat.”

The world economy in 2014 still in the doldrums

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – Geneva – October 2014. “The world economy has not yet escaped the growth doldrums in which it has been marooned for the past four years, and there is a growing danger that this state of affairs is becoming accepted as the “new normal”. Policymakers everywhere, but particularly in the systemically important economies,Continue Reading

The State of the Birds 2014 United States of America

“One hundred years after the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the nation’s top bird science and conservation groups have come together to publish The State of the Birds 2014—the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever conducted. The authors call the results unsettling. The report finds bird populations declining across several keyContinue Reading

Annual Homeless Assessment Report 2014

HUD – “This report outlines the key findings of the 2014 Point-In-Time (PIT) and Housing Inventory (HIC) counts conducted in January 2014. Specifically, this report provides 2014 national, state, and CoC-level PIT and HIC estimates of homelessness, as well as estimates of chronically homeless persons, homeless veterans, and homeless children and youth. All Homeless People:Continue Reading

Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education

CRS – Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education, Gail McCallion, Specialist in Social Policy; Jody Feder, Legislative Attorney. October 23, 2014. “In recent years, a number of high-profile incidents of sexual violence at institutions of higher education (IHEs) have heightened congressional and administration scrutiny of the policies and procedures that IHEs currently have in place to address campus sexualContinue Reading

CERN Open Data Portal

“The CERN Open Data portal is the access point to a growing range of data produced through the research performed at CERN. It disseminates the preserved output from various research activities, including accompanying software and documentation which is needed to understand and analyze the data being shared. The portal adheres to established global standards in dataContinue Reading

North Dakota’s Oil Industry Has Grown, Spills and Leaks Have Soared

The Downside of the Boom: As North Dakota’s Oil Industry Has Grown, Spills and Leaks Have Soared,” by Deborah Sontag and Robert Gebeloff: “[A]s the [North Dakota fracking] boom … exploded, the number of reported spills, leaks, fires and blowouts has soared, with an increase in spillage that outpaces the increase in oil production …Continue Reading

Glacier National Park May Have No Glaciers by 2035

New York Times – By MICHAEL WINES: “GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. — What will they call this place once the glaciers are gone? A century ago, this sweep of mountains on the Canadian border boasted some 150 ice sheets, many of them scores of feet thick, plastered across summits and tucked into rocky fissures high above parabolicContinue Reading

Report – Major Management and Performance Challenges Facing DHS

Major Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security, November 14, 2014 OIG-15-09. “We have identified major challenges that affect both the Department as a whole, as well as individual components. DHS must continually seek to integrate management operations under an authoritative governing structure capable of effectively overseeing and managing programs that cross component lines.Continue Reading

USDA launches new web tool providing access to research and researchers

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science. USDA employs over 5,000 researchers to advance that science, and provides grants to many times that number of researchers outside the Department. As research becomes more interdisciplinary, itContinue Reading

Making plant taxonomy freely accessible

theguardian – GrrlScientist Saturday 13 September 2014. “…For more than a century, taxonomic information was locked away in a variety of dusty journals in vast libraries, where most people could not find or access it. Meanwhile, science marches onward at an ever-increasing rate of speed, which makes it important to rapidly access this information. To addressContinue Reading

NFL Concussion Settlement: How Much is a Brain Worth to the NFL?

Video via FRONTLINE: “Thousands of former NFL players are suing the National Football League over brain injuries they got while playing the game. But no brain is the same. So, what is a brain injury worth to the NFL? FRONTLINE explains.”