On January 3, a group of cybersecurity experts announced the existence of two security flaws affecting virtually every microprocessor on the planet, codenamed ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’: the Meltdown exploit affects computer processors that were built by Intel over the past decade, used in the majority of consumers’ personal computers, and over 90 percent of the world’s computer servers; Spectre is somewhat less dangerous, but is more widespread, as it affects not only Intel processors, but also those of their main competitor, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and Britain’s Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) chips. These vulnerabilities could potentially allow hackers to access personal data from computers, mobile devices, smart TVs, and cloud servers around the world.

Two whistleblowers from French aerospace and defense conglomerate Safran SA have revealed that the company bought computer code from a Russian company with connections to the Kremlin, incorporated the code into their own fingerprint recognition software, and sold their product to the Federal Bureau of Investigation — without disclosing the presence of the Russian-made code to the FBI. Analysts are concerned that the code could provide a backdoor for Kremlin-backed hackers to steal biometric data, a potential problem compounded by the fact that over 18,000 other law enforcement agencies in the US, including the TSA, rely on the FBI’s fingerprint database.

The control systems for the US Air Force’s Predator and Reaper drones at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada have been infected by a persistent computer virus, one that appears to resist being removed. The virus appears to be a simple keylogger virus — a program that records the keystrokes of the person using the infected computer — so it doesn’t interfere with the actual flight operations of the pilots, but multiple attempts to remove the infection have proved to be fruitless — and the origin of the invasive program also remains unknown.

"We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back," according to a source familiar with the situation. "We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know."