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Water scarcity could affect 5 billion people by 2050

A new report claims that half of the world’s population may struggle to slake its thirst in the coming decades. The news: UNESCO’s new World Water Development Report says that 3.6 billion people currently live in places that can suffer from water scarcity for at least one month of the year. It projects that the figure will rise to 5 billion–half of the world’s predicted 10-billion population–by 2050.

The problem: More and more demands are being placed on the water cycle by industry, agriculture, and a growing population. At the same time, climate change is exacerbating the problem by causing extreme drought and floods, often making arid regions even drier–and we’re not doing enough to solve that problem. The solution: Might not be entirely tecnologocial.

While innovations in things like irrigation and desalination will help deliver water to some people, UNESCO argues that natural methods that trap water in soils could help protect 1.7 billion people from water scarcity.

Image credit:

  • Jeremy Brooks | Flickr

FBI and Homeland Security accuse Russia of cyberattacks on US infrastructure

The US Treasury also placed sanctions on Russian hackers over election meddling and last year’s NotPetya ransomware attack. Infrastructure hacks: A joint alert from the FBI and Homeland Security Department explains that “since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors have also targeted U.S. government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.” Direct action: The US Treasury has placed sanctions on five groups and 19 individuals from Russia for their involvement with “nefarious [cyber] attacks.” It specifically mentions interference in the 2016 US election and the NotPetya ransomware attack.

The sanctions mean individuals and organizations in the US are banned from doing business with the Russian entities.

The message: “The Administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure,” explained Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin. “These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.”

Russian retaliation? The Washington Post reports that Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, says the nation has already “begun preparing retaliatory measures.”

Image credit:

  • American Public Power Association | Unsplash

Security experts fear an industrial hack in the Middle East could hit elsewhere

A troubling cyberattack that hit a petrochemical company in August 2017 could be replicated around the world, including America. Backstory: Last fall, it was revealed that malware called Triton was used to shut down operations at an industrial plant in the Middle East. It later emerged that the attack used all-new software to hijack critical safety systems.

It’s still unclear who was behind the attack. What’s new: The New York Times says unnamed government officials and security experts believe the culprits “were sophisticated and had plenty of time and resources,” suggesting they “were most likely supported by a government.” The newspaper also claims the attack was meant to result in an explosion, but a flaw in the code stopped it from happening. Why it matters: The attack hit industrial controller systems that are, according to the Times, used in “around 18,000 plants around the world, including nuclear and water treatment facilities, oil and gas refineries, and chemical plants.” Security expert James A.

Lewis tells the newspaper that hackers could “deploy the same technique here in the United States.”

Source:Image credit:

  • Patrick Hendry | Unsplash

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