Daily Report Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Daily Highlights

Mississippi State University engineers are working with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a homeland security project that seeks to devise a computer tracking and monitoring model to thwart terrorist threats on inland waterways by identifying barges and other vessels carrying potentially dangerous cargoes. (See item 8)
The Department of Health and Human Services along with other federal health officials, on Monday, November 27, announced National Influenza Vaccination Week by urging Americans who have not gotten flu vaccinations yet to get them before flu season peaks. (See item 11)

Information Technology and Telecommunications Sector

20. November 27, Associated Press — Fan hacks singer’s cell phone data using national lab computer. A woman is accused of using a computer at a national laboratory to hack into a cell phone company's Website to get a number for Chester Bennington, lead singer of the rock group Linkin Park. According to an affidavit filed by the Department of Defense Inspector General, Devon Townsend, 27, obtained copies of Bennington's cell phone bill, the phone numbers he called and digital pictures taken with the phone. Investigators said she also hacked into the e−mail of Bennington's wife, Talinda Bennington, and at one point called her and threatened her. Townsend is accused of using a computer at her former workplace, Sandia National Laboratories, to access Bennington's cell phone information. Lab spokesperson Michael Padilla said Wednesday, November 22, that Townsend no longer worked there. Townsend's attorney, Ray Twohig, said that investigators were still analyzing his client's computer and that it remains to be seen what exact violations will be alleged. Townsend's computer wasn't connected to classified data, Padilla said.
Source: http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Music/11/27/people.linkinpar k.ap/index.html

21. November 27, New York Times — Web tool said to offer way past the government censor. At the University of Toronto a team of political scientists, software engineers and computer−hacking activists, or “hactivists,” have created the latest, and some say most advanced tool yet in allowing Internet users to circumvent government censorship of the Web. The program, called psiphon (pronounced “SY−fon”), will be released on December 1 in response to growing Internet censorship that is pushing citizens in restrictive countries to pursue more elaborate and sophisticated programs to gain access to Western news sites, blogs and other censored material. Psiphon is downloaded by a person in an uncensored country (psiphon.civisec.org), turning that person’s computer into an access point. Someone in a restricted−access country can then log into that computer through an encrypted connection and using it as a proxy, gain access to censored sites. The program’s designers say there is no evidence on the user’s computer of having viewed censored material once they erase their Internet history after each use. The software is part of a broader effort to live up to the initial hopes human rights activists had that the Internet would provide unprecedented freedom of expression for those living in restrictive countries.
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/27/technology/27censorship.ht ml?ref=technology

22. November 27, Computerworld — Department of Defense report to detail dangers of foreign software. A U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) task force early next year plans to warn the Pentagon of a growing threat to national security from adversaries who could insert malicious code in software developed overseas. The Defense Science Board (DSB), a military/civilian think tank within the DoD, will issue a report that calls for a variety of prevention and detection measures but stops short of recommending that all software procured by the military be written in the U.S., said the head of the task force that has been studying the so−called foreign influence issue. The possibility that programmers might hide Trojan horses, trapdoors and other malware inside the code they write is hardly a new concern. But the DSB will say in its report that three forces — the greater complexity of systems, their increased connectivity and the globalization of the software industry — have combined to make the malware threat increasingly acute for the DOD. Robert Lucky, the chairman of the DSB task force, said this month that all the code the DoD procures is at risk, from business software to so−called mission software that supports war−fighting efforts.
Source: http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=274599&intsrc=news_ts_head