Department of Homeland Security Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Complete DHS Daily Report for September 30, 2008

Daily Report


 According to the Washington Bureau, the executive branch has abruptly halted a government program that tests the levels of pesticides in fruits, vegetables, and field crops, arguing that the $8 million-a-year program is too expensive. (See item 24)

24. September 27, Washington Bureau – (National) Citing cost, USDA kills pesticide-testing program. The executive branch has abruptly halted a government program that tests the levels of pesticides in fruits, vegetables, and field crops, arguing that the $8 million-a-year program is too expensive — a decision critics say could make it harder to protect consumers from toxins in their food. Data from the 18-year-old Agricultural Chemical Usage Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) were collected until this year, and the Environmental Protection Agency used the data to set safe levels of pesticides in food. The program was launched in 1990 to answer congressional concerns over the use of the chemical daminozide, or Alar, on apples. But now USDA contends the program is too expensive. The decision came as a shock to researchers at the EPA and elsewhere who have come to rely on the data, which measure how much pesticide farmers apply to certain crops each year. USDA had been scaling back the program over the last several years, alternating which fruits and vegetables are tested. In 2007, USDA tested only cotton and apples. Institutions that used the USDA data must now buy similar information from a private company. Those who have purchased the data packages said they cost about $500,000 to $700,000 a year. Source:,0,6191823.story

 Federal Computer Week reports that the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico suffers from cybersecurity weaknesses that affect how it protects information on its sensitive but unclassified network, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. (See item 34)

34. September 26, Federal Computer Week – (New Mexico) GAO: Los Alamos Lab has cybersecurity gaps. The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico suffers from cybersecurity weaknesses that affect how it protects information on its sensitive but unclassified network, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). That network includes sensitive data such as controlled nuclear information, export control information, and personally identifiable information about employees of the national lab, the GAO report released September 25 explained. The nuclear weapons lab has experienced breaches in its security in several incidents over the last decade. It was budgeted nearly $200 million in fiscal 2007 to provide for physical and cybersecurity. Despite improvements, the facility continues to have gaps in its physical security and cybersecurity, the GAO report concluded. Source:


Banking and Finance Sector

14. September 29, Reuters – (National) Citi to buy Wachovia assets. Citigroup Inc. will buy the banking operations of Wachovia Corp. in a deal assisted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the FDIC said on Monday. Under the deal — struck in consultation with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and the U.S. president — depositors will be fully protected and no cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund is expected, the FDIC said. “Wachovia did not fail; rather, it is to be acquired by Citigroup Inc on an open bank basis with assistance from the FDIC,” a statement on the FDIC’s website said. Citigroup will buy the bulk of Wachovia, including five depository institutions, and assume its senior and subordinated debt. Wachovia will retain ownership of its retail brokerage unit, AG Edwards, and its assets-management division, Evergreen. The FDIC said it would share losses with Citi on a pre-identified pool of Wachovia loans. Source:

15. September 29, Reuters – (National) U.S. Treasury opens money market guarantee program. The U.S. Treasury Department said on Monday its temporary guarantee program for money market mutual funds was now in effect for at least three months. The Treasury said each fund regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission under rule 2a-7 that maintains a stable share price of $1 can now decide whether to participate in the program. To receive the government guarantee, participating money market mutual funds that had a net asset value of $0.9975 or more per share on September 19 must pay a fee of 1 basis point per share to the Treasury. Those with a net asset value below $0.995 on September 19 are not eligible for the program. Source:

16. September 28, IDG News Service – (National) Trojan can grab extra personal banking data. A Trojan horse program now available to a growing number of fraudsters can add data entry fields to legitimate online banking sites and entice consumers to give up sensitive information such as bank card numbers and PINs (personal identification numbers). The Limbo malware integrates itself into a Web browser using a technique called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) injection, said the head of new technologies at RSA Consumer Solutions. Because it is so closely integrated in the browser, it can operate even while the user is at the real bank site and can actually change the layout of that site, he said. “Nothing tells you that something is wrong here, with one exception: You’re being asked to provide some information that you were never asked to do before,” he said during a briefing for reporters and analysts earlier this week. “Limbo can get onto a user’s computer through many paths, including both pop-up messages that ask you to download an add-on program and methods that are invisible to the user,” he said. They sometimes get on to PCs in conjunction with other phishing attacks. And like other malware programs, Limbo is becoming available to more fraudsters through an underground market that includes a complex supply chain and falling prices. Limbo costs about US$350, down from about $1,000 a year ago and $5,000 two years ago, he said. Source:

17. September 27, Associated Press – (National) SEC scraps bank oversight program.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Friday it was ending a program of voluntary oversight for Wall Street investment banks that its chairman said clearly has not worked. The chairman of the SEC announced the agency’s decision to end the program under which SEC examiners inspected the five biggest Wall Street banks: Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Bear Stearns. The financial upheaval of the last six months has “made it absolutely clear that voluntary regulation does not work” for the bank supervision program, the chairman said in a statement. The program “was fundamentally flawed from the beginning, because investment banks could opt in or out of supervision voluntarily,” he said. The seismic regulatory shift allows the only two independent investment banks standing on Wall Street (Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) to create commercial banks that can take deposits, thereby bolstering their resources. It also puts them squarely under the regulatory jurisdiction of the Federal Reserve. Source:

18. September 26, Minneapolis Star Tribune – (Minnesota) Federal officials: Petters tied to multi billion dollar fraud scheme. The chief executive of Petters Group Worldwide is the central figure in what authorities suspect is a multi-billion dollar fraud scheme that lured investors with empty promises, according to documents unsealed in federal court. In a sworn statement used to obtain nine search warrants, authorities said the capital raised through his equity company, Petters Co. Inc., was used “for his other business ventures and to support his extravagant lifestyle.” The government claims that the twin city businessman and a circle of associates played loose and free with investors’ money by creating the impression of a successful retail business that bought and sold phantom goods for more than 10 years. The government’s allegations are contained in an affidavit prepared by an FBI agent seeking court permission for a series of search warrants. It was unsealed Friday afternoon in St. Paul. Source:

Information Technology

36. September 29, VNU Net – (National) Apple issues Java updates. Apple has issued updates for the Java components of its two most recent OS X releases. The three security fixes address a total of 38 Common Vulnerability and Exposure (CVE) entries in Java. Each of the fixes addresses errors which could lead to remote code execution. Apple said that the errors contained both Mac-specific and Java-specific flaws. While Sun Microsystems develops and maintain Java software for several operating systems, Apple is among the vendors that have opted to develop Java components in-house. Source:,apple-issues-java-updates.aspx

Communications Sector

37. September 28, San Jose Mercury News – (National) New worry for mobile phones: malware. Security experts think mobile phones, particularly smart-phones with full operating systems, are the next malware (malicious software), battleground. The more phones perform the same functions as PCs, the greater the chance they will have similar vulnerabilities, experts say. Perhaps the best known handset virus is Commwarrior-A, a piece of malware identified in 2005 that spread to phones using the then-current version of the Symbian operating system via text messages. The number of pieces of mobile malware detected since then has grown steadily. Analysts say there all kinds of ways that mobile malware could make mischief. Hackers have already induced phones to exchange text messages with rogue operators that charge a high per-message fee. Security experts worry hackers could soon use the GPS feature built into many phones to track the location of their owners. And experts are alarmed that a new generation of spyware dubbed “snoopware” could eventually be used to turn on the microphone or camera on a phone, allowing a hacker to listen in on phone owners’ conversations or see their surroundings. Source: