Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Daily Report

• According to the Associated Press, the USS New York, an amphibious assault ship built with scrap steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center, was christened Saturday. The bow stem contains 7.5 tons of steel from the site. The billion-dollar, 25,000-ton vessel is 684 feet long, 105 feet wide. It is the fifth in a new class of warship, designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. (See item 7)

• The Associated Press reports four large homes are burning at a “Street of Dreams” model home development north of Woodinville, Washington, and the Snohomish County District Seven chief told KING-TV that a sign saying ELF was left at the scene. ELF or Earth Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for other arsons, including one at the University of Washington in 2001 for which a woman is now on trial in Tacoma. (See item 26)

Information Technology

22. March 2, Government Executive – (National) OMB reports 60 percent increase in information security incidents. The number of information security incidents reported by federal agencies jumped from 5,146 in fiscal 2006 to 12,986 last year, with a 70 percent increase in unauthorized access to federal networks alone, according to a report from the Office of Management released Saturday. The results – which also show a sharp increase in reports of improper usage due mostly to a security breach at the Veteran Affairs Department – reflect better detection of threats, but also call into question the effectiveness of systems for certifying agencies’ information security. OMB submitted its fiscal 2007 report on the implementation of the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act to Congress Friday. Under the law, chief information officers and inspectors general are required to conduct annual reviews of their agencies’ information security programs. According to the report, agencies documented 2,321 incidents of unauthorized access in fiscal 2007, up from 706 in 2006, and 3,305 incidents of improper usage of networks, compared to 638 the previous year. Two-thirds of the latter jump stemmed from incidents at the VA. The number of incidents deemed unconfirmed and warranting further review also increased dramatically, from 912 to 4,056. “The fact that the number [of incidents] is going up does not reflect worse security, it reflects worse attacks,” the director of research at the SANS Institute, a nonprofit cybersecurity research organization. The report also showed that 92 percent of the total of 10,304 federal information systems are certified and accredited, compared to 88 percent in 2006 as well as an overall decrease in the percentage of employees receiving security awareness training between 2006 and 2007, from 91 to 85 percent.

23. March 2, Sunday Times – (International) Google Earth showed protesters way to conquer parliament. Demonstrators revealed Saturday that they had used Google Earth to plot their protest on the roof of the Houses of Parliament in England, last week, against the expansion of Heathrow. The website, which allows users to zoom in on satellite photographs of Earth, “showed us all the walkways, steps and other details we needed to make our way across the roof from the door to the far side where the public could see us”, said one of the five protesters. The planning for the stunt began last autumn after the government published documents for a public consultation on a possible third runway at Heathrow. A 23-year-old with a first-class degree in English literature from Cambridge described how they were able to map out the interior of the Palace of Westminster without raising suspicions. “We sent in a reconnaissance group who simply wandered around till they found the route to the roof ending in an open door. The fag butts around it showed it was being used by smokers,” she said. They managed to recruit a young Commons insider who, thanks to having a security pass, was able to carry the banners, handcuffs (bought from a Soho shop) and other equipment past the body scanners and X-ray machines that are supposed to protect the buildings. In all about 15 activists were involved. Though some now face court action, they are determined to continue their campaign.

Communications Sector

24. March 3, US Cellular – (Virginia) U.S. Cellular to expand wireless access in West Virginia’s rural communities. The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) has granted U.S. Cellular designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC). This enables the company to access an estimated $7 million annually from the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) to build and expand wireless infrastructure in the state’s rural and underserved communities. U.S. Cellular is projected to construct up to 70 new cell sites within the next five years, based upon the continuing availability of USF support at forecasted levels. This expansion will provide new or improved service to an estimated 405,000 residents in rural parts of the state. Source: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080303/nem087.html?.v=36