June 29,

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FAA final rule on UAS
Download the final rule.
White House Issues New Rules on Drones

On June 21, 2016, the Obama Administration announced the release of new ground rules for commercial, scientific, public safety and other non-recreational uses of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more commonly known as drones. The  final rule (PDF) was jointly issued by the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Office of the Secretary of Transportation, and takes effect in late August 2016.

The new rule clears the way for routine flights by the agricultural industry, research and development, educational and academic use, as well as power line, pipeline, and antenna inspections. The framework in this rule also allows aiding certain rescue operations, bridge inspections, aerial photography, and wildlife nesting area evaluations.

The new rule requires drones to be flown according to a basic set of rules designed to protect both people on the ground and manned aircraft. These include:
  • A requirement to avoid operating unmanned aircraft over people;
  • A requirement for non-recreational remote pilots to pass a written knowledge test and to go through the same security vetting process as traditional manned-aircraft pilots;
  • A requirement for unmanned aircraft to stay at least 5 miles from airports and, among other reasonable restrictions, generally fly at an altitude below 400 feet, creating a safe buffer between unmanned and manned aircraft, which can generally fly no lower than 500 feet; and
  • A requirement for remote pilots to keep unmanned aircraft within visual sight.
The  White House Fact Sheet noted that "over the next 10 years, commercial unmanned aircraft systems could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and by 2025, the industry could be supporting as many as 100,000 new jobs." With more than 10,000 commercial drones already registered, the FAA projects that sales of drones intended for commercial use will triple from 600,000 this year to 2.7 million in 2020. For companies that plan to use drones for deliveries, like Amazon and Alphabet, separate regulations will be required but head of the FAA, Michael Huerta, has given no timetable for when those rules might be written or issued.

The White House also cited its concern about privacy protections as the use of drones expands. In addition to the Presidential Memorandum issued last year,  Promoting Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, new steps were announced in the fact sheet in tandem with the new final rule:
  • A public education campaign on privacy designed to educate pilots and citizens on drone privacy, including providing all unmanned aircraft users with recommended privacy guidelines as part of the unmanned aircraft systems registration process and through the FAA's B4UFly mobile app; educating all commercial drone pilots on privacy during their pilot certification process; and issuing new guidance to local and state governments on drone privacy issues.
  • A call to private sector and nonprofit organizations to share commitments for new technologies or business practices that will protect privacy during drone operations. This call builds on actions already taken by industry.
These two steps are in addition to previous efforts taken including instituting strong federal standards that require federal agencies and contractors to adhere to the same privacy standards as the agencies themselves and developing industry-consensus best practices for protecting privacy, which the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has worked on with privacy advocates. Last month, the NTIA released  best practices for unmanned aircraft privacy, transparency, and accountability.

These are still the early days of UAS and more regulations will be required, particularly as the number of drones, both for use recreationally and commercially, continues to grow.

Protecting Your Institution from Ransomware Attacks

Earlier this year, the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT), a 501c3 cybersecurity think tank, released The ICIT Ransomware Report (PDF) in which they state "2016 is the year ransomware will wreak havoc on America's critical infrastructure community." Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts, or locks, valuable digital files and demands a ransom to release them. Common targets of ransomware include businesses, law enforcement and government agencies, and educational institutions. Ransomware campaigns target those believed to be most likely to pay the ransom demand and are often spread en masse in the hopes that a portion of the users will pay. Recent campaigns have targeted enterprise end users, making awareness and training a critical preventive measure for institutions.
A ransomware attack was thwarted last week at Red Deer College in Canada. College officials were able to lock down the system within minutes after an employee downloaded an infected file, quickly noticed something was amiss, and notified the school's IT help desk. A recent article in Campus Safety Magazine identifies how seven other institutions dealt with ransomware attacks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) doesn't support paying a ransom in response to a ransomware attack. According to FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor, "Paying a ransom doesn't guarantee an organization that it will get its data back-we've seen cases where organizations never got a decryption key after having paid the ransom. Paying a ransom not only emboldens current cyber criminals to target more organizations, it also offers an incentive for other criminals to get involved in this type of illegal activity. And finally, by paying a ransom, an organization might inadvertently be funding other illicit activity associated with criminals."
The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported in the 2015 Internet Crime Report that "in 2015, the IC3 received 2,453 complaints identified as ransomware with losses of over $1.6 million [loss is based on adjusted loss]." The following resources provide prevention and business continuity considerations as well as links to additional information:

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Professional Development Opportunities

Title: Digital Evidence: Successfully Identifying and Acquiring Electronic Evidence to Combat the CSI Effect
Hosted by:  End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI)
Date: July 12, 2016 at 2:00PM ET
Location: Online
Fee: Free
Title: Building LGBTQ Responses Within the Austin, Texas Police Department
Hosted by:  Battered Women's Justice Project (BWJP)
Date: July 13, 2016 at 2:00PM CT
Location: Online
Fee: Free
Title: Essentials Of Community Cybersecurity (AWR136)
Hosted by:  Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX)
Dates and Locations:
  • July 27, 2016 in Freehold, NJ
  • August 3, 2016 in Jefferson City, MO
  • August 9, 2016 in Bloomington, IN
Fee: Free

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This project was supported by Grant No. 2013-MU-BX-K011 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.
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