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Espelund M.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment | Klaveness D.,University of Oslo
Frontiers in Microbiology | Year: 2014

Clostridium botulinum comprises a diverse group of botulinum toxin-producing anaerobic rod-shaped spore-forming bacteria that are ubiquitously distributed in soils and aquatic sediments. Decomposition of plants, algae, and animals creates anaerobic environments that facilitate growth of C. botulinum, which may then enter into food webs leading to intoxication of animals. Via saprophytic utilization of nutrients, the bacteria rapidly sporulate, creating a reservoir of highly robust spores. In the present review, we focus on the occurrence of C. botulinum in non-clinical environments, and examine factors influencing growth and environmental factors associated with botulism outbreaks. We also outline cases involving specific environments and their biota. In wetlands, it has been found that some C. botulinum strains can associate with toxin-unaffected organisms-including algae, plants, and invertebrates-in which the bacteria appear to germinate and stay in the vegetative form for longer periods of time. We suggest the need for future investigations to resolve issues related to the environments in which C. botulinum spores may accumulate and germinate, and where the vegetative forms may multiply. © 2014 Espelund and Klaveness.

News Article | December 2, 2015
Site: www.nature.com

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November that left 130 dead and more than 350 wounded, Alain Fuchs, president of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), announced a fresh call for proposals for research on terrorism. Acknowledging that any effort with no immediate effect may seem “derisory”, Fuchs said that science can help to open up avenues of analysis. The Islamist terror group ISIS also carried out deadly attacks this year in Tunisia, Lebanon, Bangladesh and other countries, and downed a Russian airliner in the Sinai Peninsula. But as thousands of Europeans have left to join Islamist groups in conflict zones, and are at risk of returning home trained to carry out further attacks, the continent is on edge. Terrorism researchers are trying to understand how young people in Europe become radicalized, by looking for clues in the life histories of those who have committed or planned terrorist acts in recent years, left the continent to join ISIS, or are suspected of wanting to become jihadists. A mixture of sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists and psychologists, such researchers are drawing on information generated by police, judicial inquiries and the media, and, in some cases, on interviews. They also study factors at play in prisons and socially-deprived areas. Some of their insights are summarized here. The rise of jihad in Europe has led to an assumption that there is a radicalization of Muslims more generally across the continent. Yet research suggests that most extremists are either people who returned suddenly to Islam or converts with no Islamic background, says Olivier Roy, who specializes in political Islam and the Middle East at Italy’s European University Institute near Florence — and as many as one in four French jihadists is a convert. Roy summarized the latest research at a conference organized in Mainz on 18–19 November by the German Federal Criminal Police Office. Violent extremism emerges first, with a religious justification tagged on after, adds Rik Coolsaet, head of political science at Ghent University in Belgium, who studies jihadis and foreign policy. He notes that two young British men who were jailed last year on terrorism offences after fighting in Syria had earlier ordered online the books Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies. It is difficult to make generalizations about how people become radicalized in Europe. At the Mainz conference, Roy said that many extremists come from broken families or deprived areas, lack education and are unemployed. A smaller number are well educated, have held jobs and have middle-class lifestyles. Some are in stable relationships and have young children. The characteristics that extremists seem to share are resentment directed at society and a narcissistic need for recognition that leaves them open to a narrative of violent glory, said Roy. Social factors can contribute to such frustrations, according to Farhad Khosrokhavar, a CNRS researcher who works at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris. Almost all European extremists and terrorists are second- and third-generation immigrants, whom Khosrokhavar says are often “stigmatized, rejected and treated as second-class citizens”. However, since about 2013, the profile of those leaving to fight in Syria has included a much larger proportion of middle-class youth than in previous generations, he says. The link between terrorism and prison was highlighted this year. The three terrorists involved in the January attack in Paris on the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, as well as some of the 13 November attackers, had all done time. Many French terrorists have a history of petty crime that landed them in prison. Stays there often proved seminal experiences on their path to radicalization, says Khosrokhavar, who spent several years interviewing some 160 staff and inmates at 4 large French prisons, including 15 inmates sentenced for terrorism offences. He says that prisoners often come under the influence of — and form lasting bonds with — radical Islamists and terrorist networks. Most of those who get involved in jihadi terrorism in Europe are “misfits and drifters” — people who joined militant networks during life crises or through friends and relatives on the inside, says Petter Nesser, a terrorism researcher at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment in Kjeller. But he says that the key actors in terrorist activity are a much smaller number of “entrepreneurs”. These seasoned, ideologically driven activists are part of transnational terrorist webs linked both to extremist groups throughout Europe and to armed groups in conflict zones. They are the ones who bring structure and organization to the disaffected majority, through recruitment and indoctrination. Several of the terrorists involved in the latest Paris attacks, and the perpetrators of previous attacks in Europe, had lived in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, which has a large Muslim community, mostly of Moroccan descent. This has led some politicians and media outlets to label it Europe’s terrorism capital — and to blame factors such as social deprivation or an apparent lack of integration of Muslims. “This is misleading,” says Nesser. Jihadi hot spots have emerged across Europe in environments ranging from poor suburbs, to universities and schools, to prisons. The key ingredient in the spread of jihadism in any location is a critical mass of jihadist entrepreneurs, he says. A focus on Molenbeek obscures the fact that European jihadism is transnational, Nesser says, and that its main drivers are armed conflicts and militant groups involved in those conflicts. He adds: “It is also unfair and stigmatizing towards the inhabitants of this Belgian suburb.”

News Article | August 25, 2016
Site: phys.org

The Stuxnet computer worm discovered in 2012 set alarm bells ringing in industry and public sector offices all over the world. This very advanced software worm had the ability to infect and disable industrial process control systems. The scary thing was that the worm had crept its way into many of the most common industrial control systems. If a state or a hacker is able to spread malignant software so widely, what can we expect next? The Internet of Things, virtually connecting everything to everyone, is rapidly proliferating to businesses, public sector offices and our homes. How can we defend ourselves against a threat when we don't know what it looks like, or where it will strike next? Researchers at SINTEF are working to find a way of counteracting such threats. They are developing methods that will enable companies and public sector agencies to manage threats and attacks, including those that no-one has thought of. "Society is under pressure from new threat and vulnerability patterns", says Tor Olav Grøtan, a Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF. "Standard approaches involving defence systems based on clear control procedures and responsibility are inadequate when the risk is moving around between a diversity of areas and sectors. There is an urgent need for innovative thought and new approaches", he says. Grøtan is heading the project "New Strains of Society", which is aiming to develop new scientific theories in the field of hidden, dynamic and, what researchers call, "emergent" vulnerabilities. SINTEF's research partners are the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), and the University of Tulsa in the USA. Professor Sujeet Shenoi at the University of Tulsa is closely involved. He lectures his students on "ethical hacking", with the aim of raising expertise in the US public sector to the same levels as those possessed by malicious experts and hackers. For the last twenty years, Professor Shenoi has been instructing almost 400 Master's and Doctoral (PhD) students in how to hack into public and private sector networks. The students need security clearance and must undertake to work in the American public sector after they have qualified. With the consent of the owners, the students have penetrated deep into computer systems controlling payment terminals, smart electricity meters, gas pipelines, coal mines and wind farms. They have succeeded every time. "Someone or other, not necessarily us, has the ability to break into any computer system", says Shenoi. "We have to live with this and manage it, and that is why the concept of resilience (the dynamic ability to resist and adapt) is so important", he says. Professor Shenoi sees Norway as an ideal location for the development of such resilience. "Norway is one of the most digital countries in the world", he says. "With a relatively small population of 5.2 million, it can become a whole-world laboratory. This is not easy to achieve in the USA, which is too big and too diverse", he says. SINTEF and its partners are looking into three so-called 'threat landscapes': oil industry activity in the high north, a global pandemic, and ICT systems embedded in critical infrastructure in the oil and electrical power sectors. A workshop was held recently with the aim of addressing vulnerabilities in the energy sector. It was attended by representatives from the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM), the Norwegian Communications Authority (NKOM), the US National Security Agency (NSA), the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority, research scientists, consultants and businesses. "We were there to test a new method of exposing unknown threats and vulnerabilities, and to prepare a stress test", says Grøtan. "People from the oil and electrical power sectors, who aren't normally thinking on the same wavelength, had the chance to work and reflect on issues together. We will apply this experience as the project progresses as part of our work to develop a stress test method designed to investigate how well an organisation is equipped to handle an unexpected situation", he says. And the need is urgent. In 2014 Statnett and hundreds of other Norwegian energy sector companies were subject to a large-scale hacker attack. They are not alone. All sectors of society are under attack and the number of attacks increases every year. For example, Statoil intercepts 10 million spam e-mails every month. Opening an e-mail attachment is a very common way of allowing malignant software to enter a company's computer systems. Another is when careless employees give system access to subcontractors and other external parties. Explore further: Iran says Duqu malware under 'control'

Eldhuset K.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment | Weydahl D.J.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing | Year: 2011

We have studied the geographic position of several high-resolution spotlight TSX images by investigating the location of deployed radar corner reflectors. Results show that the geolocation accuracy is better than the resolution cell in both azimuth and range directions. The same corner reflectors as well as distinct points on buildings are used to estimate the absolute height from stereo viewing spotlight TSX images to within a few decimeters accuracy. © 2011 IEEE.

Heinrich D.H.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment | Selj G.K.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2015

Evaluation of signature properties of military equipment is very important. It is crucial to apply the proper method out of many possible approaches, based on amongst others ranking by probability of detection, detection time, and distance to target, which have been carried out by various countries. In this paper we present results from camouflage pattern assessments utilising two different approaches, based on human observers (detection time) and simulations (CAMAELEON). CAMAELEON ranks camouflaged targets by their local contrast, orientation and spatial frequency, mimicking the human eye's response, and is a rapid and low cost method for signature assessment. In our camouflage tests, human observers were asked to search for targets (in a natural setting) presented on a high resolution pc screen, and the corresponding detection times were recorded. In our study we find a good correspondence between the camouflage properties of the targets in most of our unique tests (scenes), but in some particular cases there is an interesting deviation. Two similar camouflage patterns (both were random samples of the pattern) were tested, and it seemed that the results depended on the way the pattern is attached to the test subject. More precisely, it may seem that high-contrast coloured patches of the pattern in the target outline were significantly different detected by humans compared to CAMAELEON. In this paper we discuss this deviation in the two signature evaluation methods and look at potential risks. © 2015 SPIE.

Mariussen E.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
Archives of Toxicology | Year: 2012

Perfluoroalkylated compounds (PFCs) are used in fire-fighting foams, treatment of clothes, carpets and leather products, and as lubricants, pesticides, in paints and medicine. Recent developments in chemical analysis have revealed that fluorinated compounds have become ubiquitously spread and are regarded as a potential threats to the environment. Due to the carbon-fluorine bond, which has a very high bond strength, these chemicals are extremely persistent towards degradation and some PFCs have a potential for bioaccumulation in organisms. Of particular concern has been the developmental toxicity of PFOS and PFOA, which has been manifested in rodent studies as high mortality of prenatally exposed newborn rats and mice within 24 h after delivery. The nervous system appears to be one of the most sensitive targets of environmental contaminants. The serious developmental effects of PFCs have lead to the upcoming of studies that have investigatedneurotoxic effects of these substances. In this review the major findings of the neurotoxicity of the main PFCs and their suggested mechanisms of action are presented. The neurotoxic effects are discussed in light of other toxic effects of PFCs to indicate the significance of PFCs as neurotoxicants. The main findings are that PFCs may induce neurobehavioral effects, particularly in developmentally exposed animals. The effects are, however, subtle and inconclusive and are often induced at concentrations where other toxic effects also are expected. Mechanistic studies have shown that PFCs may affect the thyroid system, influence the calcium homeostasis, protein kinase C, synaptic plasticity and cellular differentiation. Compared to other environmental toxicants the human blood levels of PFCs are high and of particular concern is that susceptible groups may be exposed to a cocktail of substances that in combination reach harmful concentrations. © Springer-Verlag 2012.

Selj G.K.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment | Heinrich D.H.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2015

Reliable, low-cost and simple methods for assessment of signature properties for military purposes are very important. In this paper we present such an approach that uses human observers in a search by photo assessment of signature properties of generic test targets. The method was carried out by logging a large number of detection times of targets recorded in relevant terrain backgrounds. The detection times were harvested by using human observers searching for targets in scene images shown by a high definition pc screen. All targets were identically located in each "search image", allowing relative comparisons (and not just rank by order) of targets. To avoid biased detections, each observer only searched for one target per scene. Statistical analyses were carried out for the detection times data. Analysis of variance was chosen if detection times distribution associated with all targets satisfied normality, and non-parametric tests, such as Wilcoxon's rank test, if otherwise. The new methodology allows assessment of signature properties in a reproducible, rapid and reliable setting. Such assessments are very complex as they must sort out what is of relevance in a signature test, but not loose information of value. We believe that choosing detection times as the primary variable for a comparison of signature properties, allows a careful and necessary inspection of observer data as the variable is continuous rather than discrete. Our method thus stands in opposition to approaches based on detections by subsequent, stepwise reductions in distance to target, or based on probability of detection. © 2015 SPIE.

Skauli T.,Norwegian defence research establishment
Optics Express | Year: 2012

Coregistration errors in multi- and hyperspectral imaging sensors arise when the spatial sensitivity pattern differs between bands or when the spectral response varies across the field of view, potentially leading to large errors in the recorded image data. In imaging spectrometers, spectral and spatial offset errors are customarily specified as "smile" and "keystone" distortions. However these characteristics do not account for errors resulting from variations in point spread function shape or spectral bandwidth. This paper proposes improved metrics for coregistration error both in the spatial and spectral dimensions. The metrics are essentially the integrated difference between point spread functions. It is shown that these metrics correspond to an upper bound on the error in image data. The metrics enable estimation of actual data errors for a given image, and can be used as part of the merit function in optical design optimization, as well as for benchmarking of spectral image sensors. © 2012 Optical Society of America.

Solberg S.,Norwegian Forest And Landscape Institute | Astrup R.,Norwegian Forest And Landscape Institute | Breidenbach J.,Norwegian Forest And Landscape Institute | Nilsen B.,Norwegian Forest And Landscape Institute | Weydahl D.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
Remote Sensing of Environment | Year: 2013

There is a need for monitoring methods for forest volume, biomass and carbon based on satellite remote sensing. In the present study we tested interferometric X-band SAR (InSAR) from the Tandem-X mission. The aim of the study was to describe how accurate volume and biomass could be estimated from InSAR height and test whether the relationships were curvilinear or not. The study area was a spruce dominated forest in southeast Norway. We selected 28 stands in which we established 192 circular sample plots of 250m2, accurately positioned by a Differential Global Positioning System (dGPS). Plot level data on stem volume and aboveground biomass were derived from field inventory. Stem volume ranged from zero to 596m3/ha, and aboveground biomass up to 338t/ha. We generated 2 Digital Surface Models (DSMs) from InSAR processing of two co-registered, HH-polarized TanDEM-X image pairs - one ascending and one descending pair. We used a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) from airborne laser scanning (ALS) as a reference and derived a 10m×10m Canopy Height Model (CHM), or InSAR height model. We assigned each plot to the nearest 10m×10m InSAR height pixel. We applied a nonlinear, mixed model for the volume and biomass modeling, and from a full model we removed effects with a backward stepwise approach. InSAR height was proportional to volume and aboveground biomass, where a 1m increase in InSAR height corresponded to a volume increase of 23m3/ha and a biomass increase of 14t/ha. Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) values were 43-44% at the plot level and 19-20% at the stand level. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Fongen A.,Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
Proceedings - 3rd International Conference on Emerging Security Technologies, EST 2012 | Year: 2012

Authentication and Identity Management help to protect resources and justify trust in "bona fide" operation by service client and service provider. Besides, identity management can support hardware assisted integrity protection. In the Internet of Things (IoT), the high number of lightweight devices requires scalable and lightweight solutions to trust management. The paper proposes a framework for authentication and integrity protection well suited for anIoT environment. © 2012 IEEE.

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