Posted by raherschbach on 19 Apr 2018

In the wake of a natural disaster, the last thing anyone wants is further injury or loss of life. First responders put themselves at risk to aid victims, often without knowing the extent of the situation before they go in.

Enter unmanned systems.

Unmanned systems are capable of aiding first responders by helping them to monitor events as they unfold, and to find victims in need of help in potentially hazardous situations, without the further risk of human life.

According to unmanned systems expert Dr. Richard Baker, “Unmanned systems are used in disaster response and management for monitoring the actual event, whether it’s a tornado, a hurricane, or an earthquake. These vehicles can become essential to identify and provide situational awareness to the incident command.”

The use of these systems is also often a saver of critical time: “They let responders know which roads are closed or open, where people are that need help immediately, and allow them to be able to assess the situation and get that assistance out there faster and easier to an area where it really needs to be taken care of. Rather than doing the search by individuals on the ground, a lot of the initial searches are done by vehicles in the air,” says Dr. Baker. “And you can use ground vehicles to deliver assistance, or open pathways or whatever needs to be done.”

Unmanned systems are any electromechanical system which has the ability to carry out a predetermined or described task, or a portion of that task, and do it automatically with limited or no human intervention. There are many different types of unmanned systems, including aerial, ground, underwater, and even space vehicles.

Beyond disaster relief, first responders are also beginning to use unmanned systems to aid them in their everyday tasks. Dr. Baker says, “They use them today in public security, law enforcement, and search and rescue. The national parks services and the coast guard are also using them.”

“Search and rescue uses them quite a bit,” he continues, “anything from human body detection to simple things like a lost child in a cornfield can be detected very easily by an overhead vehicle. They can actually not only use them for detection, but if there are some people there that are hurt they can do an air drop to provide medical supplies, or other supplies they might need in an emergency.”

Even insurance companies coming in post-disaster to assess damage and begin the rebuilding process are starting to use unmanned systems. “The insurance companies and risk management are looking at using robots to go in and do an assessment immediately after a disaster and see what needs to be fixed and who needs help, and if people need dispatched to an area,” says Dr. Baker.

From bomb diffusing robots to package delivery drones dropping life vests to people trapped by flooding, it’s difficult to deny that unmanned systems are improving the lives of first responders and the people they save.

To learn more about Capitol’s unmanned systems programs, check out: Unmanned and Autonomous Systems and Unmanned and Autonomous Systems Policy and Risk Management.



Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on 18 Apr 2018

The TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation famously featured a synthetic life form named Data. It was an apt choice of name for a major character in this future-oriented show.

cyber analysts predict and protect from future cyber attacksIn our real world today, data – whether in the form of personal information or the numbers used to drive business decisions – has become the central protagonist, one impacting every facet of our lives.

It’s no wonder, then, that cyber breaches are increasingly focused on acquiring data – as opposed to the more old-fashioned, even quaint, goal of skimming revenue or extorting payment. In the Uber breach, disclosed in November 2017, the phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and names of 57 million users were exposed. The Equifax breach compromised millions of social security numbers.

Hospitals are among those being hit the hardest, with their cloud-based storage systems being hacked to steal patient medical records. According to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), hospital data breaches accounted for 30% of all incidents reported to the Health and Human Services department’s Office of Civil Rights, which operates a breach portal.

The good news? While data is a coveted target for hackers, it can also be used to predict and thwart attacks.

Cyber analytics is a rising field that adds descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive tools to the existing methods used by cybersecurity professionals to seal off vulnerabilities. Dr. Mary Margaret Chantré, assistant professor of cyber security and cyber analytics, defines it this way, “Cybersecurity is about the ability to be resilient to attacks and recover quickly. A cyber analyst looks at mistakes made in the past and tries to avoid them in the present so he/she can predict possible future attacks. This type of situational awareness helps minimize risk."

In examining threats, cyber analysts not only use traditional methods of statistical analysis – identifying a normal distribution pattern and then recording signification deviation – but also machine learning and algorithmic-based techniques, such as clustering and density estimation to better understand how to fortify your data.

Capitol Technology University is one of the universities paving the way for cyber analytics. Our programs at the undergraduate and masters levels are among the first in the country, aligning with the university’s pioneering tradition. Capitol, in fact, was one of the first institutions of higher education in the world to offer an academic degree program in cybersecurity, a field which is now high-priority for many schools, colleges, and universities. In 2010, Capitol started the nation’s first doctoral degree program in the field.

Get to know Data. Though the Star Trek series has long now entered reruns, he’s not going away. With a degree in cyber analytics from Capitol, you’ll be prepared to leverage data to take on cyber adversaries as fearsome as any dreamed up by Gene Roddenberry.



Posted by raherschbach on 17 Apr 2018

By Dr. Alex "Sandy" Antunes
Professor, Astronautical Engineering

Can anyone launch a satellite? Only in the sense that anyone can fly an airplane -- as long as they train up, get the proper license, and get clearance to take off each time.

One satellite start-up just might have skipped that middle step in their path to orbit, however.  At least they earn the distinction of being (if proven) the first unauthorized satellites ever launched by a US company.

The facts are that a US startup company in 'stealth mode' called Swarm Technologies was turned down for their FCC license, but launched a month later anyway, on the Indian Space Agency's ISR0 rocket. Their SpaceBee-1, -2, -3, and -4 were smaller than CubeSats and listed as (from IEEE) '“two-way satellite communications and data relay” devices from the United States. No operator was specified, and only ISRO publicly noted that they successfully reached orbit the same day.'

One of the hardest tasks for our Cactus-1 CubeSat is the FCC paperwork. It was easier winning our launch bid than figuring out the FCC spec. There are forms, mandatory software, affidavits needs from local operators -- we submitted our application in December and still spend half a day a week working on the next FCC steps.

I would love to be able to 'ignore' the FCC like Swarm Technologies allegedly did, but that happens to be illegal -- and for good reason.  The reason for licensing is twofold: to ensure no satellite interferes with emergency or broadcast services, and to minimize orbital risk from too much small 'space junk' potentially being in orbit.  Information indicates the SpaceBees were so small, the FCC was concerned with not being able to track or manage them.

This is actually an international compliance issue.  Each satellite-using country coordinates via the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) -- the FCC is just the US's agency.  If we didn't coordinate, not only would we be putting other missions at risk, not only would other missions be allowed to interfere with our communications, but emergency services and aircraft world-wide would be put at risk by errant broadcasters and uncoordinated transmitters.

I've written before on the risks of bad actors in the new space age we're in, because compliance is a tricky thing. It's arguable that the greatest achievements of Scaled Composite's SpaceShipOne and SpaceX's Falcon-1 rocket were not just technical but were in breaking the 'paperwork barrier' that made it very hard for independent companies to try for launch. They succeeded through persistence and lobbying, not just flat out ignoring international regs.

If you're a US citizen or US company, you have to follow US law -- even if the paperwork is hard, it's got a reason for existing. Unfortunately, this one bad actor could result in more scrutiny and more paperwork now for the rest of us. This company didn't just ignore a requirement, they were told 'no' and went ahead anyway. This is the CubeSat 'drone on the White House lawn' level of idiocy, where a selfish user ends up making it harder for everyone else who is complying.

So far, there hasn't been a clear restriction on future flights.  Our own Cactus-1 FCC license is still processing without any extra stress. Space is big, but not big enough for bad actors.  Let us hope this is a one-time anomaly, that no other space company will run afoul of some FCC or NOAA regulation. Wait, what? NOAA has a problem with SpaceX's rocket cameras? 

Stay tuned for the next blog post -- on who can take pictures from space.


Posted by raherschbach on 16 Apr 2018

Dr. Jason M. Pittman, Sc. D., is a scholar, professor, and cybersecurity thought leader. He currently is on the full-time faculty at Capitol Technology University. This is part two of an ongoing series on privacy.

Previously, I made the assertion that privacy, while necessary in the present, is ultimately bad for our future. I do recognize the boldness of my claim. Thus, I want to exercise due care in laying down the groundwork for the full argument.

Photo of Dr. Jason Pittman lecturingOver the course of this essay series, I will present my reasons as to why privacy must end. First, I will demonstrate why privacy is unnatural. This is contrary to mainstream opinion of course and much of the basis for the definition of privacy as well. Second, I will show that privacy is a proxy for a different problem. More aptly put, privacy is a descriptive label assigned to a host of underlying, root issues that ought to be addressed separately. Third, I will reveal privacy as a restrictive mechanism that directly impedes both individual and social growth. That is, privacy only keeps us as free as the walls in a zoo impart freedom unto the animals. Finally, and most importantly, I will establish that privacy produces a cumulative negative value for individuals and the species (human).

Why would we continue engaging in behavior that results in a worse situation then we currently find ourselves?

Foremost, we need to understand why there is high demand for privacy. Yes, this presupposes that there is high demand for privacy, but I feel safe in this presupposition given the overt evidence in the pop dialectic. That is, all the research -- the interviews, the reading, and the presentations -- points towards three aspects of privacy that result in the high demand we see nowadays. These are parity, currency, and permanency of information. Understanding the demand for privacy does not necessarily develop an understanding of privacy however.

Thus, there are fundamental principles that ought to be considered that will lead us towards a definition of privacy. This means that we need to develop a working comprehension of concepts such as intrusion, seclusion, limitation, and control. I am doubtful that your definition of privacy will match a singular principle in this list. Rather, I have found that modern privacy is an amalgamation of these principles. Such comprehension invariably will lead us to ponder where privacy originates (i.e., how do we know privacy) the relative merit of privacy; whether privacy is flawed for example.

As a matter of fact, I now perceive privacy, in all the potential amalgamated definitions, to be deeply flawed. I will share with you the deficiencies in privacy that I have uncovered. The flaws I intend to discuss are privacy as a zero-sum heuristic, privacy as an anthropomorphism, privacy as declines, and privacy as a perception.

I do not hesitate to mention that these defects are exceedingly catastrophic to the case for privacy. Nevertheless, my viewpoint only represents the conclusion I have reached. I would be remiss to inculcate this view of catastrophic flaw in privacy without first offering you a deeper explanation as to why I think privacy is bad. The explanation here is the same as for why privacy must end, thus we have come full circle.

Full circle is not automatically the end of the conversation, however. If I have convinced you that privacy must end, I want to provide some transparency into what I feel we can do to rid ourselves of privacy. Much of my thinking involves using technology to re-balance the overarching information equation. The other parts of my answer to privacy involve tearing down and rebuilding the human mind as such relates to the underlying privacy pathology.

To be sure, the going will be hard. I honestly do not have all the answers. However, I do think we can find the right questions together.


Posted by raherschbach on 13 Apr 2018

Interest in blockchain has escalated -- and the immediate reason isn't hard to pinpoint. Bitcoin and other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies have been in the news ever since a dramatic price spike (and subsequent decline) late last year. This month, Bitcoin surged again, gaining $1,000 in value within one hour.

Blockchain uses distributed ledger technology in order to validate transactions without the need for a trusted third party, such as a payment processor.

But blockchain technology's significance goes well beyond currencies. Many see it as a potentially revolutionary innovation with an abundance of possible uses: from managing medical records to streamlining product supply and distribution.

Cybersecurity professionals, meanwhile, are eyeing blockchain's potential to aid in the fight against cybercriminals and adversaries. Because blockchain gets rid fof the middlemam, it removes one possible weak link in terms of security, As Forbes magazine reports, "by leveraging a distributed ledger and taking away the risk of a single point of failure, blockchain technology provides end-to-end privacy and encryption while still ensuring convenience for users."

In short, blockchain -- once grasped only by the few -- is quickly turning into a game-changer you can't afford not to understand.

Not sure where to start? Capitol Technology University's next Cyber Saturday can help you master the fundamentals. The next session of Capitiol's popular event series, designed for high school and community college students but open to anyone with an interest in computers or gaming, will provide an introduction to blockchain and the intriguing world of digital currencies.

A cybersecurity professional will be your guide for this presentation, part of a full morning of exciting Cyber Saturday activities at the McGowan Center on the Capitol campus. The event starts at 9:00 am and lunch will be provided before an afternoon session of Capture the Flag and other fun activities traditionally held as part of the Cyber Saturday program.

Cyber Saturdays are mainly intended to be fun, while at the same time involving skills utilized in cybersecurity, one of today’s most in-demand fields.

“These events increase awareness and then they get students interested in the [cybersecurity] profession,” says Dr. William Butler, chair of the Cybersecurity program at Capitol.

Cyber Saturdays have been a recurring event at Capitol since 2013. Meghan Young, director of admissions, says the program has been highly popular.

"Capitol is in an ideal position to offer events like these because of our designated Cyber Lab and our faculty who take the time to make learning fun and interesting,” Young said. “It gets better and better each year."

The event is free, but registration is requested ahead of the event. Inrerested in attending? Register here or contact for more information. To reach the program by phone, call 240.965.2458 or 813.495.4536.

Event details:

9:00-10:00 am: Welcome to Capitol
10:00-11:00 am: Blockchain fundamentals
11:00 am -- 12:00 pm: Wireless routers and hacking
12:00-1:00 pm: Lunch and networking
1:00-2:00 pm: Capture the Flag and King of the Hill competitions

Location: McGowan Center, Capitol Technology University, 11301 Springfield Road, Laurel, MD.