Friday, October 5, 2007

Daily Report

The USA Today reports that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will test heat-sensing cameras capable of detecting objects hidden under clothing from 20 yards at rail and bus stations. The system’s manufacturer believes the new technology will also benefit military bases, landmark buildings, large events, arenas and, possibly, stores. (See item 8)

The Associated Press reports that, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, federal agencies are unaware of the total number of American research laboratories that could become the targets of attacks. The report was prepared for a House Energy and Commerce Committee, a day after news of an increase in accidents and missing shipments among these labs surfaced in the media. (See item 17)

Information Technology

22. October 4– (National) Gathering ‘Storm’ superworm poses grave threats to PC nets. An article in Computerworld theorizes that the creators of Storm Worm are preparing for phase two of their plan. Currently, Storm worm is not doing much, the article says, except gathering strength by continuing to infect Windows machines. The worm, which has been the most successful of a new breed of worm written by hackers seeking profit not fame, is currently unstoppable. “Storm has been around for almost a year, and the antivirus companies are pretty much powerless to do anything about it.” It is unknown what impact the worm has had and will have, since symptoms of infection do not appear quickly and infected computers can sit dormant for a long time.

23. October 4, Associated Press – (National) Microsoft launches health records site. On Thursday, Microsoft Corp. launched HealthVault, a Web site for managing personal health and medical information. The site is part library, part filing cabinet and part fax machine for an individual or family’s medical records and notes. While HealthVault itself does not do much more than provide a window into stored information, and a mechanism for sharing it, Microsoft hopes hospitals, doctors’ offices, advocacy groups and insurance companies will build Web applications that patients will want to use.

24. October 4, Associated Press – (National) Ebay: phishers getting better organized, using Linux. An Ebay audit has uncovered a huge number of hacked, botnet computers, said eBay’s chief information and security officer, speaking at a Microsoft-sponsored security symposium at Santa Clara University on Tuesday. He added that criminals are getting more organized and branching out from the Windows operating system to launch attacks. Though Linux is considered more secure than Windows, phishers are beginning to target Linux machines because Linux is highly reliable and a great platform for running server software. “Because Linux machines can be used to more easily create specially crafted networking packets, they can be used in highly sophisticated online attacks. Capabilities like this make Linux machines highly coveted by online attackers, and they fetch a premium in the underground marketplace for compromised machines.”

25. October 3, Computerworld – (National) Federal agencies face obstacles in implementing FISMA, says GAO. The departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense and State are apparently still having trouble complying with some requirements of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Four years since federal agencies began reporting on their progress in implementing the requirements of FISMA, several are still struggling to meet all of the requirements for a variety of reasons. For example, in a report dated August 31, the GAO found that the U.S. Department of Defense has been particularly challenged in trying to develop a complete inventory of major systems due to the different definitions the department uses for what constitutes a “system.”

Communications Sector

26. October 3, The Bulletin Online – (National) Destruction of just one large satellite would double amount of dangerous space debris. According to an article written by physicist David Wright and featured in this month’s issue of the science journal Physics Today, the destruction of satellites by anti-satellite weapons would produce much larger amounts of space debris than is commonly understood. Destroying just one large satellite, such as a U.S. reconnaissance satellite, would double the amount of debris in low Earth orbit (below 1,250 miles). This would be enough to damage or destroy other satellites. According to the article, “Space commerce generates more than $100 billion a year in revenue, and many aspects of society are becoming increasingly dependent on the services satellites make possible. For example, militaries are increasingly relying on them for a range of uses, including communication, reconnaissance, navigation, and weather monitoring.”

27. October 3, Reuters – (National) Verizon sued over subscriber numbers. A New York-based marketing company sued Verizon Communications Inc. on Wednesday, alleging that the No. two U.S. phone company overstated subscribers to its fiber-optic cable service and charged inflated prices for advertisements there.