Self-Destructing Bullet Patented by US Army

One of the largest contributors to technologies growth is the armed forces, with people looking at everything from mounting rail-guns to ships to being able to inject a sponge into people to stop gunshot wounds from bleeding. The latest patent that the U.S. Army has filed for though is designed to prevent harm, in the form of a self-destructing bullet.

.50 calibre bullets are designed to be used in large guns, with everything from a sniper rifle to a mounted machine gun firing them off with their range and size often making them the round of choice for long distance engagements. This puts you at the risk of firing bullets that may not stop where you want them to. This may no longer be the case though thanks to a patent filed by the U.S. Army.

Researchers Brian Kim, Mark Minisi and Stephen McFarlane didn’t feel rounds had to keep going. Two years after filing for their patent it was approved, allowing for a new design of bullet that would have a “timed” lifespan. Designed to ignite the second the round is fired, the countdown would begin, ending with the bullet ending its travel once the reaction reaches its final stage.

McFarlane stated that “the biggest advantage is reduced risk of collateral damage”. While the design is based and tested on the .50 calibre rounds, the patent extends to the method used in creating the new form of rounds, meaning that it could be used in everything from small handguns to large calibre weapons.

U.S. Agencies Told to Find Ways Through Encryption

Security is one of this year’s biggest buzzwords when it comes to technology, with cases like Apple vs the FBI. With everyone wanting to protect their data, from you and me to companies like VTech and TalkTalk looking to protect you from the hacks that left their reputation damaged and open to large fines and bad press. It has now come to light though that government agencies may have been ordered to do just that, to find ways through encryption.

The problem the FBI are having now is that they are requesting for a way to remove the protection put onto a phone, which in a single case may not be bad, but if used in other cases could be seen as a “master key” to access information whenever they want, something people are against since the government was found to already have been illegally spying on people (both in their country and abroad).

The memo in question is said to have been created at a meeting around Thanksgiving, with senior national security officials ordering agencies to find ways to bypass or counter the encryption software that is used to protect everything from your bank account to the pictures of your cat on your phone.

The reason people object to giving even law enforcement agencies having access to their information, except wanting to hide things from them, is that if they’ve already abused and misused their power, what is to stop them from continuing to do so? People are often the weakest part of systems, such as if the FBI agent bribed by a Judge had said yes.

With everyone from Google to John McAffee expressing their views on the Apple Vs FBI case, the conversation is likely to only heat up before it cools down. What are you opinions? Are there any circumstances where Apple could give the FBI to the phone without risking their phones and people’s information?

Navy Looking to Deploy Railgun on Destroyer

Railguns used to a work of fiction, propelling weapons on mecha suits and spaceships to fight aliens and space pirates. This changed several years ago now when BAE systems revealed a working railgun, and even more recently people started working on handheld railguns. With the original plan to mount a test railgun on the joint high-speed vessels (JHSV) this year, it comes as a surprise that there may be a rail gun in operational use before even that.

The Lyndon B Johnson, the last of three Zumwalt-class destroyers that are looking at deployment in 2018, is rumoured to be the first ship that will carry a functional railgun. The concept of a rail gun is to use magnetic charges to propel objects at high speeds without the need for explosive charges. This reduces the cost and the size of projectiles while also reducing the risk of transporting explosive materials everywhere.

The Zumwalt class of destroyers are designed for attacking land-based targets, so firing giant blocks of metal at supersonic speeds sounds like a starting point for them. The U.S. Navy’s director of surface warfare, Pete Fanta, even mused that “it’s engineering at this point, it’s no longer science”.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, catch the minute long clip of a rail gun below and realise just how far we’ve come in making those mecha-suits a reality.

The US And Europe Can’t Agree On Data Sharing

It’s been well-known for a while now that information, online and offline, has always been searched for and monitored. From GCHQ to the NSA, it sometimes seems like the entire alphabet is watching your every move online. With items like the ‘snooper charter’ making changes to digital monitoring, many countries are yet to see eye to eye when it comes to whom and what people should be able to see.

Sunday came and went without an agreement between American and European officials regarding how data should be transferred between the two areas. With information on the internet being sent around the world before reaching you at your computer, handling private and sometimes confidential information is a sensitive topic.

One of the key areas of debate is how European’s data would be protected against surveillance from the American government, with legal support for anyone to settle disputes in the American courts relating to their information.

With big companies like Facebook and Google operating around the world, although with large bulks of their companies based in America, you can see why they are interested in how this discussion will end.

This negotiation began three months ago, with a 15-year-old data transfer pact (also known as a safe harbour agreement), being invalidated due to Europeans data not being protected well enough when transferred to the United States.

With some people arguing that the standards in the US match those present in Europe, the deadline for a resolution is slowly creeping in, putting pressure on every party involved to resolve the matter.

Women Own More Consoles than Men According to New Survey

It’s always interesting when people release studies on video games and even more interestingly their users. While asking people for their opinions and ideas in polls may not be the best way to get accurate figures, it’s always interesting to see what people come back with. This time, the interesting figure is the number of console owners, or rather the number that identified themselves as female.

From the Pew Research Centre, the study looked at device owners, and what demographics they fit into. For example, they calculated that over 80% of 18-49-year-olds had a smartphone, with around 45% of U.S. adults owning a tablet (up from only 10% back in 2011).

Computer owners range at around 74% of U.S. Men, with 71% of Women stating they owned a computer, with 42% of women stating they own a console (described as “e.g. Xbox or Playstation“), a whole 5% above the stereotype of male gamers (who sit at a mere 37%). Dedicated portable gaming devices sit at 14% for each gender, with devices like the PSP and Sega Genesis (yes that was included in the category of portable gaming devices), while MP3 players still have roughly 40% ownership within the U.S. (38% and 42% for Men and Women respectively).

With roughly 3.7% margin of error stated on the gender, and up to 2.6% stated as the error in calculating the percentage of U.S. adults in whole, are there any figures that have surprised you or did you expect something different for any of the figures?

White House Orders New Measures to Combat Breaches In Digital Security

Earlier we mentioned how OPM (Office of Personal Mangement) in the US found they had been hacked with thousands of records accessed, including those relating to background checks for security clearances, something which if true leaves their employees open to blackmail and a whole host of actions that are unpleasant and unwanted by the government.

The White House has now taken action, directing all agencies to take a series of steps in order to prevent and detect any unwanted access into their networks. Tony Scott, U.S. Chief Information Officer, has launched what is being called a 30-day cyber security sprint.

The emergency measures listed include:

  • patching “critical-level” software holes “without delay”
  • Tightening security and access restrictions for “privileged users”, this includes cutting the number of users with this level of access and to monitor their access to the systems for suspicious behavior
  • Increase level of two-factor authentication, where a user is asked to confirm their login attempt, normally by receiving a text or phone call with a code in it

According to the released information, agencies have to report on their progress and problems implementing these steps within the next 30 days. With a “Cybersecurity Sprint Team” task force being deployed to lead the month long view and analysis of the US’s digital defenses, many organizations could find their technology changing.

While the actions are greatly appreciated, if the documents have been copied or accessed, a lot of personal information has been released to people who may use it for harm. Here’s hoping they don’t and that the government has stepped up their security because of this revelation.

Thank you NextGov for the information.

Image courtesy of NMINews.

Twitter Officially Announces the Commercial Buy Button

It has been rumoured and hinted in various ways for a while, and now it has become a hard fact. Twitter is introducing the Buy Button into their page and mobile apps. It will just be tested on a “small percentage of U.S. users” to begin with, but the test group will grow as the function matures. The start-up test-phase will feature some selected test partners, and their products will now be able to be bought directly from the tweets about them. Twitter is calling it the next big thing.

While the demonstration video below shows and tells that your payment information will be stored safely and secure, we all know that in the end there isn’t such a thing. I personally rather enter them each time than trust them to Twitter on a permanent basis, and luckily it looks like that’s an option too. That said, the information will be stored and transferred with encryption and not forwarded to the seller, the same way PayPal does it for example.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEGk5LRumJM[/youtube]

The starting partners for this new function are Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday and Stripe, with more to follow soon. The new Buy Button will allow you to purchase a tweeted product with just a few finger-tap on the screen. It’s so simple, the product is ordered and will be shipped to you soon. Convenience and impulse shopping here we come.

This is another attempt to dig deeper into the growing market and amount of users that connect from a mobile devices. The normal browser platform isn’t even mentioned in the statement, but I’m sure Twitter won’t skip out on that market, as it will be sure to make profits for them.

Thank you Twitter for providing us with this information

Image and video courtesy of Twitter.

U.S Judge rejects Apple’s injunction against Samsung

In the latest fight of the ongoing patent war between Apple and Samsung, a U.S. judge has rejected Apple’s latest bid for a permanent injunction against Samsung, and it seems the blows they two are dealing to each other are getting smaller and smaller.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, said that Apple’s reputation as an innovator “has proved extremely robust” despite Samsung’s patent infringement. “Apple has not demonstrated that it will suffer irreparable harm to its reputation or goodwill as an innovator without an injunction.”

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment while Samsung said it welcomed the ruling. “We remain committed to providing American consumers with a wide choice of innovative products,” Samsung said.

The U.S is the last battlefield that is left for the two giants, after they decided to end all global patent lawsuits outside of the U.S earlier this year.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Reuters.

 

U.S. State Accuses Oracle of Lying, Fraud and Racketeering

The state of Oregon, U.S, has sued Oracle America Inc. and six of its top executives on Friday. Reason for the lawsuit is their failing to deliver a working website for the Affordable Care Act program, also known as Obamacare. Oregon had paid Oracle around $240 million dollars for a system that never worked.

A 126 page long lawsuit was filed in Marion Country Circuit Court claiming that fraud, lying and “a pattern of racketeering” by Oracle cost the state and its Cover Oregon program hundreds of millions of dollars. “Not only were Oracle’s claims lies, Oracle’s work was abysmal,” the lawsuit said. 

In a statement issued from Oracle, it reads “the lawsuit is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project.” Oracle plans to fight the lawsuit and is confident that they will win both in this lawsuit and the one filed 2 weeks ago in the federal court.

Oregon was initially enthusiastic about the federal healthcare plan and their own Cover Oregon and quickly engaged in television commercials and print ads in advance of the rollout. But the Oracle-built site never worked and Oregonians were forced to submit paper applications in a hastily-organized process. In April Oregon moved to an exchange run by the federal government.

The original whistle-blower on this told the state that Oracle “planned … a behind the scenes effort” to keep the state from hiring an outside systems integrator who would oversee the project. The suit asks Oracle to pay for Cover Oregon’s financial losses, plus penalties for damages.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image and video courtesy of Oracle.

U.S. Navy Testing Pilotless Helicopters

The Naval Research Labratory has been testing pilotless helicopters for some time now. In fact, they’ve been using them in Afghanistan already but due to their inefficiencies in operating the technology it isn’t being used to its full potential.

Marines primarily use the unmanned helicopters for the delivery of items like water, food, and gear from place to place, where ever it might be needed.

The improvement in technology brings a greater level of  autonomy to these units. According to officials associated with the project, the technology has been tested on three different helicopters already as well as two versions being produced by both Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences.

Check out the rest of the Article over at MSN.

Thank you to MSN for providing us with this information.

U.S. & China To Setup A Joint Cyber Security Team

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States and China has agreed that both the countries need to work on Cyber Security. This would be an area where both the countries, especially China, will be able to earn each other’s trust and cooperation, as told by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

It wasn’t too long ago when both countries have accused eachother of series of cyber attacks. It was recently when U.S. said that the attacks originated from China, and they have targetted U.S. government corporates using computer networks to steal data from the respected sectors. It was also been said by a security firm that China has a secret military facility unit which is most likely where the attack originated from. China on the other hand claimed that it was a series of a large-scale attack, but it was then officials and business executives who attended China- U.S. Internet industry forum in Beijing said that both parties need to find a common ground.

Under Secretary of State of Economic Affairs Robert Hormats said in the forum,”It’s important to have a dialogue on this, but it’s also important that the dialogue be a means to an end, and the end is really ending these practices.”

Kerry said that “[Cyber Security] affects the financial sector, banks, financial transactions, every aspect of nations in modern times are affected by the use of cyber networking and obviously all of us – every nation – has an interest in protecting its people, protecting its rights, protecting its infrastructure”.

Its still unclear if U.S. will be allowed Chinese made hardware to be used in government sectors, especially in NASA, Judiciary and police departments.

Source: Reuters

FCC To Give Small Carriers A Chance

The Anti-trust division justice Departments tells FCC that that they need to make sure that smaller wireless carrier companies, Sprint and T- Mobile, need to get access to low-frequency spectrum during the auction to ensure that the competition is maintained.

Currently, FCC is drafting the rules for spectrum auctions of the spectrum that TV broadcasters are giving up, making way for wireless broadband companies to take it instead. This is particular for spectrum below 1 GHz. usually at 600 MHz. This has a higher value as it the wireless carrier can travel long distances and even penetrate through buildings. Justice Department however requests that FCC should include a rule to address this issue by providing a cap. Large wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon already have a substantial amount of 700MHz frequency spectrum which allowed them to build their 4G LTE networks.

The Department said in a filling to the FCC,”The Department concludes that rules that ensure the smaller nationwide networks, which currently lack substantial low-frequency spectrum, have an opportunity to acquire such spectrum could improve the competitive dynamic among nationwide carriers and benefit consumers. The more concentrated a wireless market is, the more likely a carrier will find it profitable to acquire spectrum with the aim of raising competitors’ costs. This could take the shape, for example, of pursuing spectrum in order to prevent its use by a competitor, independent of how efficiently the carrier uses the spectrum.”

Larry Krevor, Vice President for Government Affairs, Spring said,”The Justice Department is absolutely right. Ensuring that all carriers, large and small, have access to the low-band spectrum would improve competition and benefit consumers. We are hopeful that the FCC will adopt policies which recognize the importance of low-band spectrum to wireless competition and the American economy as a whole.”
AT&T and Verizon on the other hand argued that any limitation during the auction will limit their participation.

Source: CNET