Department of Homeland Security Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Complete DHS Daily Report for August 12, 2009

Daily Report

Top Stories

 Reuters reports that Unit 3 at the Indian Point nuclear power station in Buchanan, New York shut on Monday during a thunderstorm. (See item 7)

7. August 11, Reuters – (New York) Entergy sees NY Indian Point 3 reactor back soon. Entergy Corp planned to restart the 1,025-megawatt Unit 3 at the Indian Point nuclear power station in New York later this week, after it shut on Monday during a thunderstorm, the company said in a release Tuesday. The company said a lightning strike in the vicinity of the Buchanan switchyard located across the street from the plant likely caused an electrical disturbance that shut the unit. The switchyard connects the plant to the power grid. The plant shut as designed with no damage to equipment, no release of radioactivity and no threat to workers or the public, the company said. Source:

 According to CNN, Kuwaiti security forces arrested six Kuwaitis linked to al Qaeda who planned to attack Camp Arifjan, a major logistics base for the U.S. military, during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the country’s state-run news agency reported Tuesday. (See item 29)

29. August 11, CNN – (International) Report: Six arrested in al Qaeda plot on U.S. base in Kuwait. Kuwaiti security forces arrested six Kuwaitis linked to al Qaeda who planned to attack a U.S. military installation, the country’s state-run news agency reported Tuesday. The suspects had planned to bomb Camp Arifjan during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Kuwaiti security sources said. The plot also involved an attack on Kuwait’s State Security Service headquarters and other government facilities, according to the Kuwait News Agency, which cited a statement from the Interior Ministry. An investigation into the alleged plot linked to al Qaeda is ongoing, the news agency reported. Two suspects confessed Tuesday that they planned the attacks. The other four suspects will be interrogated Wednesday, the sources said. Pentagon and U.S. military officials had no information about the reported plot on Camp Arifjan, the forward headquarters for the U.S. Army Central Command in the region. It is a major logistics base for the U.S. military and generally houses thousands of American troops. Source:


Banking and Finance Sector

14. August 10, Bloomberg – (New York) Ex-Credit Suisse brokers lied on rates, Tzolov says. A former Credit Suisse Group AG broker and his colleague “juiced up the rates” in sales pitches to clients, promising interest rates on federally backed student loans that were higher than the actual rates at the time, the broker testified in his colleague’s trial. “If the interest rate at the time was 4.92 or 4.93, I would add four or five points on top of it and show it to a prospective client to entice them to consider the product,” the broker testified today in Brooklyn, New York, under questioning by an assistant U.S. attorney. The broker and his colleague were charged in 2008 with falsely telling clients they were investing in federally guaranteed student loans that were a safe alternative to money-market funds or bank deposits. In fact they invested in riskier securities paying higher commissions, the government said. Testimony in the colleague’s trial before a U.S. district judge began July 23, the day after the broker pleaded guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud. He awaits sentencing. The colleague is charged with one count each of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud. The former brokers were not concerned that a client might discover the disparity after the purchase, the broker testified. “Rates are always changing, and we could always say that rates came down,” he said. Source:

15. August 10, New York Times – (Texas) Bank will allow customers to deposit checks by iPhone. The Internet has taken a lot of the paperwork out of banking, but there is no avoiding paper when someone gives you a check. Now one bank wants to let customers deposit checks immediately — through their phones. USAA, a privately held bank and insurance company, plans to update its iPhone application this week to introduce the check deposit feature, which requires a customer to photograph both sides of the check with the phone’s camera. “We’re essentially taking an image of the check, and once you hit the send button, that image is going into our deposit-taking system as any other check would,” said a USAA executive vice president. Customers will not have to mail the check to the bank later; the deposit will be handled entirely electronically, and the bank suggests voiding the check and filing or discarding it. But to reduce the potential for fraud, only customers who are eligible for credit and have some type of insurance through USAA will be permitted to use the deposit feature. The vice president said that about 60 percent of the bank’s customers qualify. USAA may seem like an unlikely innovator in mobile banking. It ranks in size just below the top 20 banks in the United States, and serves mostly military personnel, though many of its products are available to anyone. But with just one branch, in San Antonio, and customers deployed all over the world, the company has been aggressively developing an anytime, anywhere banking strategy. Three years ago, it introduced the option of depositing a check from home using a scanner. That laid the groundwork for the phone deposit feature, which USAA plans to offer on other phones this year. Source:

16. August 10, Associated Press – (National) Feds allege Mo. funeral scheme could cost $600M. An executive of a defunct funeral contract company is facing federal fraud charges in an alleged scheme to loot hundreds of millions of dollars from customers’ prepaid funeral accounts. Attorneys for the executive said on August 10 that he will plead not guilty at an August 12 arraignment in federal court in St. Louis. The executive was president and chief financial officer of National Prearranged Services Inc. and a director of two of its affiliated life insurance companies, all of which collapsed financially last year. The indictment unsealed on August 7 alleges a decade-long scheme in which officials at National Prearranged Services altered documents to change the terms and beneficiaries of their customers’ prepaid funeral contracts. The St. Louis-based company is accused of using various financial transactions — often involving its Austin, Texas-based affiliates, Lincoln Memorial Life and Memorial Service Life — to siphon money from customers’ accounts. It then sent reports to funeral homes showing false account balances, the indictment said. The pre-purchase of caskets, burial vaults and funerals has become a regular and important part of business for many funeral homes. Customers who buy a funeral package valued at $5,000, for example, are guaranteed to receive the same services even if the price has increased to $8,500 by the time of death. Under such arrangements, money for a prepaid funeral generally is placed in a trust account that bears interest. The collapse of National Prearranged Services and its affiliated insurance companies resulted in more than $600 million worth of losses on prepaid funeral accounts. States’ insurance guarantee funds are covering the original face value of the contracts, but not the inflation-adjusted cost of the funerals themselves. That has left funeral homes on the hook for the rest of their costs. The executive is among 45 defendants named in a civil racketeering, fraud and fiduciary negligence lawsuit filed on August 6 in federal court in St. Louis against officials of National Prearranged Services, its insurance affiliates and various banks, law firms, auditors and investment advisers connected to the consortium of companies. Source:

17. August 10, WEAU 13 Eau Claire – (Wisconsin) Text messaging scam hits cell phones during weekend. Police are warning people about a text messaging scam that hit cell phones recently. La Crosse Police say cell phone customers got a message that shows their credit card was deactivated. Officers say it also directs them to call a phone number to reactivate their credit card. Banks and credit unions in the area heard from customers asking if the message was legitimate. Police say it appears to be a phishing scam, aimed at getting personal and banking information. Source:

Information Technology

35. August 10, CNET News – (International) Apple working on software fix for MacBook Pro hard drives. Owners of Apple MacBook Pro notebooks with 7200rpm 500GB hard drives have been complaining for months of clicking sounds followed by temporary stalling. According to Apple, a fix is in the works. “We are aware of the issue and are working on a software update,” an Apple representative told CNET News on August 10. He gave no time frame for the release of the software update. People have been reporting that they hear a beep from the computer shortly before the hard drive clicks and then the computer stops responding. The computer is unresponsive for 10 seconds or so and then begins to work normally again. The hard drive issue does not require the user to force-reboot the computer, which would cause any unsaved work to be lost. Simply waiting out the unresponsive system apparently works every time. There does not appear to be any specific task that triggers the hard drive to enter its unresponsive state. Users on Apple’s support forums are reporting that it seems to be completely random and does not matter where they are or what they are doing when it happens. It does appear that the issue only affects the 500GB hard drives that run at 7200rpm. Source:

Communications Sector

36. August 11, CNN – (National) Stimulus billions fund rural broadband Internet expansion. Fast Internet access is a luxury most businesses take for granted these days, but in remote areas of the country, the staticky crackle of a dial-up modem connection remains a familiar sound. A $7.2 billion stimulus initiative aims to expand broadband access and speed up the modem’s extinction. Two federal agencies, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utility Service, each landed billions from the Recovery Act to fund new broadband infrastructure projects. Applications are due this week for the first wave of grants and loans from those programs. For entrepreneurs in rural areas, a broadband connection can be an economic lifeline. America is now ranked 15th in the world on broadband access, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It was No. 1 in the mid-1990s. Source:

37. August 11, Periscope IT – (International) Storage reliability questioned after high profile outages. The reliability of data storage facilities and managed hosting services has been brought into question following a series of high-profile internet outages, it has been claimed. According to Computer World, downtime experienced by Equinix and Primus has raised doubts about both security and reliability of such facilities and their website monitoring services. Internet service provider Primus, which is based in Australia, suffered several hours of downtime as a result of a sub-station fault which prevented a back-up generator from starting. The outage followed hot on the heels of data storage provider Equinix’s Sydney operation going down. The managing director of earthwave, told the news provider that such outages highlight the need for regular testing and website monitoring. “It shows they don’t have the right test procedures and have not validated their infrastructure to work in the event of a disaster,” he added. Recently, a denial of service attack brought down social networking website Twitter. It is believed that similar attacks were levelled at Facebook and LiveJournal at the same time. Source: