Archive for April, 2015

Towards a new security frontier: resilience in transport systems against cybercrime

Friday, April 24th, 2015

by Dr Siraj Shaikh

Modern transport systems and infrastructure are diverse and sophisticated. Securing such infrastructure is increasingly a challenge. A growth in the risk posed by cybercrime and terrorism, and a possible overlap between the two, means that traditional physical measures – from barriers to CCTV – no longer suffice.

Due to the advances in electronic sensors and digital platforms for communication and control, physical security of today provides enhanced capability on the one hand, yet opens up doors for new types of threats on the other. Increasingly integrated and interconnected security operations mean that new attack vectors open up, which when coordinated across the physical and cyber space serve to be a real challenge for the detection and prevention of attacks. The impact of cybercrime hence is over and beyond the electronic domain, with potential for serious physical disruption and violation. Added to this, are challenges of credible and efficient collection of evidence, and preservation of personal privacy (both electronic and physical). The need to respond to this in a manner that is converged across both physical and cyber space hence is greater than ever.

Certain characteristics make modern transport more vulnerable including:

  • increasing use of electronic ticketing and fare collection, and passenger information systems,
  • threats of fare evasion and violation of access control, with ultimately a vulnerability to fraud and vandalism including public disorder and rioting, and
  • mounting privacy concerns, as movement details are highly-valued personal details that passengers are increasingly conscious of, violation of which is highly undesired.

Ticketing systems are vulnerable to forgery and fraud as physical ticket collection mechanisms fall short of detection. Electronic ticket machines are no panacea as they are targeted by card skimming devices. Electronic ticketing itself has suffered serious setbacks, as RFID-based mechanisms are vulnerable to eavesdropping and employing encryption is not effective. More serious attacks target signalling and control infrastructure, as the case in Poland demonstrates resulting in the injury of twelve passengers.

There is a need to converge on security at a system level to address:

  • sensing in one domain and responding in another, from cyber to physical or vice versa,
  • forensically-aware collection and handling of evidence – critical for prosecution – using a bottom-up approach including from data collection to component-level configuration, and
  • optimal deployment of security sensing and controls, informed by risk and cost to maximise operational resilience and effectiveness.

Dr Siraj Shaikh will be a guest speaker at the Counter Terror Expo 2015, taking place 21-22 April 2015 at Olympia, London

AFRL Analysis Confirms Feasibility of the SABRE Engine Concept

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Reaction Engines Ltd have announced that analysis undertaken by the United States’ Air Force Research Laboratory (‘AFRL’) has confirmed the feasibility of the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (‘SABRE’) engine cycle concept.

The analysis was undertaken by AFRL as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (‘CRADA’) with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL/RQ). These investigations examined the thermodynamic cycle of the SABRE concept and found no significant barrier to its theoretical viability provided the engine component and integration challenges are met.

Reaction Engines Ltd and AFRL are now formulating plans for continued collaboration on the SABRE engine; the proposed work will include investigation of vehicle concepts based on a SABRE derived propulsion system, testing of SABRE engine components and exploration of defence applications for Reaction Engines’ heat exchanger technologies.

AFRL/RQ program manager Barry Hellman stated – “The activities under the CRADA have allowed AFRL to understand the SABRE engine concept, its pre-cooler heat exchanger technology, and its cycle in more detail. Our analysis has confirmed the feasibility and potential performance of the SABRE engine cycle. While development of the SABRE represents a substantial engineering challenge, the engine cycle is a very innovative approach and warrants further investigation. The question to answer next is what benefit the SABRE could bring to high speed aerospace vehicles compared to other propulsion systems. Although application of the SABRE for single stage to orbit space access remains technically very risky as a first application, the SABRE may provide some unique advantages in more manageable two stage to orbit configurations. Furthermore, the heat exchanger technology also warrants further investigation for applications across the aerospace domain.”

Sam Hutchison, Director of Corporate Development at Reaction Engines Ltd commented – “The confirmation by AFRL of the feasibility of the SABRE engine cycle has further validated our team’s own assessment and conviction that the SABRE engine represents a potential breakthrough in propulsion that could lead to game changing space access and high speed flight capability. We look forward to continued collaboration with AFRL”.

SABRE is an innovative class of aerospace propulsion that has the potential to provide efficient air- breathing thrust from standstill on the runway to speeds above Mach 5 (4,500mph) in the atmosphere – twice as fast as jet engines. The SABRE engine can then transition to a rocket mode of operation for flight at higher Mach numbers and space flight. Through its ability to ‘breathe’ air from the atmosphere, SABRE offers a significant reduction in propellant consumption compared to conventional rocket engines which have to carry their own oxygen – which is heavy. The weight saved by carrying less oxygen can be used to increase the capability of launch vehicles including options for high performance reusable launch vehicles with increased operational flexibility, such as horizontal take-off and landing. Additionally, the SABRE engine concept could potentially be configured to efficiently power aircraft flying at high supersonic and hypersonic speeds.

See Reaction Engines Ltd News Release.

How Star Wars Illuminates Constitutional Law (and Authorship) – New Rambler Review

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Counter Terror Expo

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Counter Terror Expo is the leading international event dedicated to mitigating the threat of terrorism.

Over 10,000 attendees involved in the protection and security of private and public interests come from across the globe to explore solutions for threat mitigation, protection against attacks and to understand the risks they face.

The exhibition, featuring over 300 exhibitors, showcases the latest counter terror technology and solutions. In recent years it has been the launch platform for some of the most innovative products on the market.

Counter Terror Expo’s operationally critical and highly respected centrepiece conference event has a well deserved reputation for its delivery of insight, analysis, and perspective on the range of threats faced.

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Darryl Alisto