In today’s Bulldog wrapup of space, life science and technology news:

  • France warns of risk of war in cyberspace
  • Dutch testing tube unveiled for Hyperloop transport system
  • Scientists spot rare gravity waves for the third time
  • Women’s bacteria thwarted attempt at anti-HIV vaginal gel
  • Sears says that some Kmart stores targets of security breach

The details:

  • France warns of risk of war in cyberspace

Cyberspace faces an approaching risk of “permanent war” between states and criminal or extremist organizations because of increasingly destructive hacking attacks, the head of the French government’s cybersecurity agency warned Thursday.

In a wide-ranging interview in his office with The Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard lamented a lack of commonly agreed rules to govern cyberspace and said: “We must work collectively, not just with two or three Western countries, but on a global scale.”

“With what we see today — attacks that are criminal, from states, often for espionage or fraud but also more and more for sabotage or destruction — we are getting closer, clearly, to a state of war, a state of war that could be more complicated, probably, than those we’ve known until now,” he said.

His comments echoed testimony from the head of the U.S. National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, to the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 9. Rogers spoke of “cyber effects” being used by states “to maintain the initiative just short of war” and said: “‘Cyber war’ is not some future concept or cinematic spectacle, it is real and here to stay.”

Poupard said “the most nightmare scenario, the point of view that Rogers expressed and which I share” would be “a sort of permanent war — between states, between states and other organizations, which can be criminal and terrorist organizations — where everyone will attack each other, without really knowing who did what. A sort of generalized chaos that could affect all of cyberspace.”

Poupard is director general of the government cyber-defense agency known in France by its acronym, ANSSI. Its agents were immediately called to deal with the aftermath of a hack and massive document leak that hit the election campaign of President Emmanuel Macron just two days before his May 7 victory.

  • Dutch testing tube unveiled for Hyperloop transport system

A Dutch tech startup and a construction company on Thursday unveiled a Hyperloop test facility, a steel tube that will be used to help develop the futuristic high-speed transportation system.

It is a first step toward developing the system in the Netherlands, a key European transportation transport hub, and beyond.

[VIDEO: Watch a demo of the Hyperloop vision at ]

“It’s our goal to let it be available for the daily commuter,” said Tim Houter, CEO of Hardt Global Mobility, which is working on the project with construction company BAM. He described the concept as “a sort of on-demand, high-speed transportation system for everyone.”

The Hyperloop was first proposed in 2013 by SpaceX and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk to transport “pods” of people through a tube at speeds of roughly 700 mph (1,126 kph). A Hyperloop has levitating pods powered by electricity and magnetism that hurtle through low-friction pipes.

The new test facility, a 30-meter (100-foot) long, 3.2-meter (10.5-feet) diameter tube, is located at Delft Technical University.

Houter, who was part of a team of students from the university that won a Hyperloop contest organized by Musk in January, said the tube will be used for low-speed testing in a vacuum.

  • Scientists spot rare gravity waves for the third time

Astronomers said Thursday they detected a third ripple in the fabric of space-time, a remnant of a cosmic crash of two black holes 3 billion years ago.

These invisible ripples, called gravitational waves and first theorized by Albert Einstein, first burst into science’s view to great fanfare in February 2016 after a new $1.1 billion international experiment went online.

MIT researcher and experiment spokesman David Shoemaker said the latest discovery shows these waves can be anywhere in the sky and may be commonplace in the universe.

Two black holes, which likely were originally far apart, eventually merged into a giant one — 49 times the size of the sun — sending an invisible wave rippling out. It traveled 3 billion light years until hitting twin detectors in Louisiana and Washington.

  • Women’s bacteria thwarted attempt at anti-HIV vaginal gel

Creating new HIV prevention tools for women has proven frustratingly slow and researchers have found another hurdle: bacteria in the reproductive tract.

A new study published Thursday examined what stalled an early attempt at an anti-HIV gel, and found certain types of vaginal bacteria broke down the protective medication before it had time to work.

The finding is the latest to link our health to the microbes that share our bodies, what’s called the microbiome. And while it highlights another difficulty in developing vaginal “microbicides” to block HIV infection, it also offers the prospect of one day identifying women who are particularly vulnerable.

“This is an important study,” said microbiologist Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh, who wasn’t involved in Thursday’s report but leads the Microbicide Trials Network that tests potentially protective products. “It does tell us that this is another factor we have to consider.”

Women make up about half of the nearly 37 million people worldwide living with HIV. They’re particularly at risk in hard-hit Africa. Scientists have long sought unobtrusive ways for women to protect themselves when their partners won’t use a condom — especially in poor countries where another option, a daily anti-HIV pill, isn’t widely available.

  • Sears says that some Kmart stores targets of security breach

Some Kmart stores were targeted by hackers, leading to unauthorized activity on some of its customers’ credit cards, the retailer’s parent company said.

Sears Holdings Corp. said in a blog post late Wednesday that Kmart’s store payment systems were recently infected with virus-like computer code undetectable by current anti-virus systems.

It said some credit card numbers were stolen. A Sears Holdings spokesman said the investigation into the hack is still ongoing, so details on the dates of the breach, how many customers were affected and which stores were targeted, were not available. Not all Kmart stores were affected, he said. Kmart had 624 stores at the end of April.

No personal information, such as names, addresses, social security numbers and email addresses, was pilfered, the company said.

Sears Holdings, which is based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, said it has removed the hackers’ code and is confident Kmart customers can safely use their credit and debit cards in its stores.

There is no evidence or Sears customers were affected, it added.