Understanding how fire spreads in a microgravity environment is critical to the safety of astronauts who live and work in space. And while NASA has conducted studies aboard the space shuttle and International Space Station, risks to the crew have forced these experiments to be limited in size and scope. Fire safety will be a critical element as NASA progresses on the journey to Mars and begins to investigate deep space habitats for long duration missions.
The first Spacecraft Fire Experiment (Saffire-I) was the beginning of a three-part experiment to be conducted over the course of three flights of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus vehicle to investigate large-scale flame spread and material flammability limits in long duration microgravity.
The Saffire-I experiment enclosure was approximately half a meter wide by 1 meter deep by 1.3 meter long and consisted of a flow duct and avionics bay. Inside the flow duct, the cotton-fiberglass blend burn sample measured 0.4 m wide by 1 meter long. When commanded by Orbital ATK and Saffire ground controllers operating from Dulles, Virginia, it was ignited by a hot wire. Previous to this experiment, the largest fire experiment that had been conducted in space is about the size of an index card.
After the experiment was ignited, the Cygnus continued to orbit Earth for six days as it transmitted high-resolution imagery and data from the Saffire experiment. Following complete data transmission, the Cygnus spacecraft completed its mission with a destructive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Saffire-I launched inside the Cygnus spacecraft atop the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle on March 22, 2016. Space Station Crew members successfully grappled Cygnus to the space station on March 26. The Saffire experiments were developed at NASA Glenn Research Center by the Spacecraft Fire Safety Demonstration Project and sponsored by the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. AES pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities, and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond low-Earth orbit. AES activities are uniquely related to crew safety and mission operations in deep space, with a strong focus on future vehicle development.
The theft of 80 million customer records from health insurance company Anthem earlier this month would be more shocking if it were not part of a larger trend. In 2013, the Department of Defense and some US states were receiving 10–20 million cyberattacks per day. By 2014, there was a 27% increase in successful attacks, culminating with the infamous hack of Sony Pictures.
Much of the media focus is on the losses rather than the process by which such breaches take place. Consequently, instead of talking about how we could stop the next attack, people and policymakers are discussing punitive actions. But not enough attention is given to the actions of individual end users in these cyberattacks.
We are the unintentional insiders
Many of these hacking attacks employ simple phishing schemes, such as an e-card on Valentine’s Day or a notice from the IRS about your tax refund. They look innocuous but when clicked, they open virtual back doors into our organizations.
It is you and I who click on these links and become the “unintentional insiders” giving the hackers access and helping spread the infection. Such attacks are hard to detect using existing anti-virus programs that, like vaccines, are good at protecting systems from known external threats — not threats from within.
Clearly, this virtual battle cannot be won using software alone. In the same way personal hygiene stymies the spread of infectious disease, fixing this cyber quandary will require all of us to develop better cyberhygiene. We need to begin by considering the cyberbehaviors that lead to breaches.
My research on phishing points to three. Firstly, most of us pay limited attention to email content, focusing instead on quick clues that help expedite judgment. A picture of an inexpensive heart-shaped valentine gift gets attention, oftentimes at the cost of looking at the sender’s email address.
This is coupled by our ritualized media habits that our always-on and accessible smartphones and tablets enable. Many of us check emails throughout the day whenever an opportunity or notification arises, even when we know it is dangerous to do so, such as while driving. Such habitual usage significantly increases the likelihood of someone opening an email as matter of routine.
And finally, many of us just aren’t knowledgeable about online risks. We tend to hold what I call “cyber risk beliefs” about the security of an operating system, the safety of a program, or the vulnerability of an online action, most of which are flawed.
Cleaning up our cyberhygiene act
Developing cyberhygiene requires all of us — netizens, educators, local government, and federal policymakers — to actively engage in creating it.
To begin, we must focus on educating everyone about the risks of online actions. Most children don’t learn about cybersafety until they reach high school; many until college. More troublingly, some learn through risky trials or the reports of someone else’s errors.
In an age where online data remain on servers perpetually, the consequences of a privacy breach could haunt a victim forever. Expanding federal programs such as the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, which presently aims to inspire students to pursue cybersecurity careers, could help achieve universal cybersecurity education.
Second, we must train people to become better at detecting online fraud. At the very least, all of us must be made aware of online security protocols, safe browsing practices, secure password creation and storage, and on procedures for sequestering or reporting suspicious activity. Flawed cyber-risk beliefs must be replaced with objective knowledge through training.
Although some training programs address these issues, most target businesses that can pay for training. Left out are households and other vulnerable groups, which, given the recent “bring your own device to work” (BYOD) trend, increases the chances that a compromised personal device brings a virus into the workplace. Initiatives such as the Federal Cybersecurity Training Events that presently offer free workshops to IT professionals are steps in this direction, but the emphasis must move beyond training specialists to training the average netizen.
Finally, we must centralize the reporting of cyber breaches. The President’s proposed Personal Data Notification and Protection Act would make it mandatory for companies to report data breaches within 30 days. But it still doesn’t address who within the vast network of enforcement agencies is responsible for resolution. Having a single clearing house that centralizes and tracks breaches, just like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks disease outbreaks across the nation, would make remediation and resource allocation easier.
Across the Atlantic, the City of London Police created a system called Action Fraud, which serves as a single site for reporting all types of cyberattacks, along with a specialized team called FALCON to quickly respond to and even address impending cyberattacks. Our city and state police forces could do likewise by channeling some resource away from fighting offline crime. After all, real world crime is at a historically low rate while cybercrimes have grown exponentially.
While not exactly a lock picking video I thought you might find this interesting. I was motivated to make this video because every time we get a FNG (Fine New Guy) they show up with one of these soft sided suitcases. Then, almost 100% of the time they get ripped off as we pass through a, well…. not so nice part of the world.