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Blog Entries from December 21, 2011

Census Report Reveals Shifts in State Populations, Texas Gains Most

Alternate TextMap of U.S. showing population shifts

First population estimates since 2010 show slowest national growth since the 1940s

A new report from the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau reveals that the United States population grew to 311.6 million between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011, an increase of 2.8 million. This marks the lowest overall growth rate for the U.S. since before the baby boom, according to Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “Our nation is constantly changing and these estimates provide us with our first measure of how much each state has grown or declined in total population since Census Day 2010.”

The report shows that Texas gained more people than any other state during the Census period (529,000). Other fast-growing states included California (438,000), Florida (256,000), Georgia (128,000) and North Carolina (121,000). Combined, these five states accounted for slightly more than half the nation’s total population growth. California remained the most populous state, followed by Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. While the District of Columbia experienced the fastest growth, with a population climbing by 2.7 percent, Rhode Island, Michigan and Maine each saw a decrease in total population. The Census Bureau will release 2011 estimates of the total population of counties and incorporated places beginning in 2012.  Census release  |  Comunicado de prensa en español

Protecting Personal Computers at Start-Up: NIST Offers Guidelines

A new draft computer security publication from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides guidance for vendors and security professionals as they work to protect personal computers as they start up.

The first software that runs when a computer is turned on is the "Basic Input/Output System" (BIOS). This fundamental system software initializes the hardware before the operating system starts. Since it works at such a low level, before other security protections are in place, unauthorized changes—malicious or accidental—to the BIOS can cause a significant security threat.

"Unauthorized changes in the BIOS could allow or be part of a sophisticated, targeted attack on an organization, allowing an attacker to infiltrate an organization's systems or disrupt their operations," said Andrew Regenscheid, one of the authors of BIOS Integrity Measurement Guidelines. In September, 2011, a security company discovered the first malware designed to infect the BIOS, called Mebromi. "We believe this is an emerging threat area," said Regenscheid. "These developments underscore the importance of detecting changes to the BIOS code and configurations, and why monitoring BIOS integrity is an important element of security." NIST release