Monday, October 1, 2007

Daily Report

reports that the Government Accountability Office presented a report to the senate on Thursday revealing that government investigators were able to smuggle “a duffle bag with contents that looked like radioactive material” into the U.S from Canada without being intercepted by border authorities. (See item 11)

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. rail system is exceedingly vulnerable to a terrorist attack. The director of the homeland security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that “tracks themselves are generally open and unguarded.” (See item 12)

Information Technology

26. September 28, – (National) Spammers exploit protests in Burma. Spammers are exploiting the fight for democracy in Burma to spread malware, according to recent reports. The surge of media interest in Burma, or Myanmar as the ruling generals prefer, has led spammers to attempt to build up botnets. Emails have been spammed out purportedly from the Dalai Lama containing ‘information’ about the protests, in which Buddhist monks have been killed for requesting the right to democracy in their own country. “The message contains an attachment that looks like a Microsoft Word document but in fact harbors a Trojan that will give the hacker full access to the user’s computer.” Using topical news stories to trick unwary users into opening and downloading malicious code is a common, tested, and obviously still viable trick from the hackers’ playbook.

27. September 27, Computerworld – (National) Number of malicious e-mails bearing bad links balloons tenfold. In a report published today, U.K.-based MessageLabs Ltd. said that 35 percent of the e-mail threats it now detects use embedded links to infect computers instead of the more traditional file attachments. In the March-June time frame, that figure was 20.2 percent, said the company. And in the opening quarter of 2007, a mere 3.3 percent of the intercepted threats carried links. The links, said a MessageLabs senior security analyst, lead unwary users directly to malware downloads or, increasingly, to purposefully-crafted sites that support malicious JavaScript code. “The volume of attacks using attachments has diminished over the last 18 months, while the number using links has shown a massive increase,” he said. MessageLabs’ data corroborates recent analyses by other security vendors, which have all noted the rapid increase in Web-based attacks – often from legitimate sites that have been compromised by criminals. Such trusted sites make perfect lures for drawing in users, whose browsers are then typically attacked through one or more unpatched vulnerabilities, allowing rogue code – often spyware or a Trojan horse that hijacks the PC to add it to a growing botnet – to be installed. “The bad guys know that most people have learned not to open attachments,” said the MessageLabs specialist. “E-mail is still the preferred attacker vehicle for getting their ‘message’ across, but now they're using links. They know people still follow links.” Source:

Communications Sector

28. September 27, Computerworld – (National) Now anyone can jam your cell phone. Cell phone jammers, which scramble the signal of any incoming or outgoing cell phone call within a certain range, are illegal in the U.S. However, that does not stop dozens of online catalogs from selling them to American buyers. Although available for years, cell phone jammers are rare because they have been expensive, large and generally conspicuous looking. However, an online catalog called Brando, which specializes in all manner of USB gadgets and random peripheral devices, is now selling a very small and very inexpensive jammer. The jammer is smaller than a cell phone, costs only $166 and shuts down GSM 850-, 900-, 1,800- and 1,900-MHz cell phone calls within a 30-foot radius. The jammer holds a rechargeable lithium ion battery and comes with a charger. Source:

29. September 27, – (National) Senator wants new broadband policy. With studies finding that the United States is falling further behind other countries in development of broadband access, Congress is beginning to consider new alternatives to the current telecom-cable stranglehold. Too many sections of the country have no broadband at all and in others, the price is prohibitive for working families and small businesses, a prominent senator told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which opened hearings on the issue yesterday. He added that “some experts estimate that universal broadband would add $500 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.2 million jobs.” Two FCC commissioners cited studies that showed the U.S.’s dismal rankings in worldwide broadband adoption. “Each year, we slip further down the regular rankings of broadband penetration...the fact is the U.S. has dropped year-after-year,” one said.


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