Cybersecurity


Majority OK with airport full-body scan, report says

Sixty-five percent of people quizzed in a recent survey said they’d be willing to submit to a full electronic body scan at airports, according to a new report from Unisys.

The Unisys Security Index, released April 13, used people's answers to a series of questions to come up with a "social indicator" of how safe they feel regarding national, financial, Internet and personal security.

This time the semi-annual study included a supplemental question about whether different types of security screening measures are acceptable, and 729 air travelers responded.

In addition to the 65 percent who said they're OK with a full electronic body scan, 57 percent said they don't mind proving their identity through biometric data and 72 percent were willing to provide personal data in advance. Meanwhile, 7 percent said they were unwilling to submit to any of the measures, the report states.

The findings come as the Transportation Security Administration moves to greatly increase the use of whole-body imaging to detect nonmetallic explosives. The agency is also moving ahead on its Secure Flight program, which uses information technology to check fliers' names against watch lists.

Patricia Titus, chief information security officer at Unisys Federal Systems and former CISO at TSA, said she thought people would continue to support the use of full electronic body scans as long as there isn’t a breach that results in someone’s scan ending up on the Internet.

Meanwhile, U.S. respondents showed a moderate concern about safety with an overall score of 147 out of a possible 300. U.S. adults were more concerned about national security, with a score of 160, than they were about financial, personal or Internet security, which garnered scores of 153, 143 and 132, respectively.

The study was conducted by Lieberman Research Group, which made phone calls from Jan. 29 to 31 to 1,004 people ages 18 or older.

Posted on Apr 13, 2010 at 7:21 PM0 comments


Can virtual worlds create better spies?

Previously, an entry in this blog explained that the agency that conducts research for intelligence agencies is interested in learning how  people's performance in a virtual world or game can affect their abilities in real life.

The agency, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), is interested in focused, quantitative research on how gaming and virtual world immersion could boost problem-solving skills, critical thinking, teamwork and persistence, according to a request for information (RFI) from that organization released in March. IARPA does research for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

In the request, IARPA said studies show that immersive environments can affect real world performance, but the agency said much of that previous research has focused on case studies and gross-level effects.

So why are intelligence agencies interested in research on games and avatars?

In an e-mail message response to follow up questions from Federal Computer Week about the possible research, ODNI said if features of virtual environments that contribute to enhanced real-world performance are identified, intelligence agencies may be able to develop environments to improve training or provide support for analysts.

A researcher could alter the fidelity of a virtual environment to determine what is “good enough,” or a researcher might test different story narratives of virtual games to determine if they have a real-world effect, ODNI said.

“Most prior research has looked at gross level, short term effects. We are interested in measuring the effects of methods using [virtual environments] as compared to [non-virtual environments]," ODNI said. "What aspects or features of the virtual environments contribute to the real world effect? Can we measure the persistence of these effects for a week, a month, or a year? These are the sorts of metrics that we are interested in,"

Responses to the RFI are due April 12.

Posted on Apr 05, 2010 at 7:21 PM0 comments


FAA looks to crack IT 'sound barrier'

Information technology at the Federal Aviation Administration is at a crossroads, analogous to when pilot Chuck Yeager cracked the sound barrier in 1947, according to the agency’s chief information officer.

“Once the sound barrier was broken, aircraft were able to move rapidly to a much higher dimension of performance – to twice, three and four times the speed of sound with relatively little additional effort,” FAA CIO David Bowen said in a speech March 31. “We need to do the same with our IT efforts at the FAA.”

According to the transcript of the speech, titled “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” Bowen said the FAA needs to eliminate duplication in systems, applications, data centers, and operations. He also said the agency needs to break down “line-of-business silos.”

“The sound barrier for us lies in our willingness to break through the current model of operations and move to a new dimension,” Bowen said. “That dimension is one of cooperation, one of a willingness to break through our barriers of history, culture and self-interest that are holding us back.”

Posted on Apr 02, 2010 at 7:21 PM0 comments


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