Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Daily Report

Fox News reports that a Bosnian man tried to enter the U.S. embassy in Vienna, Austria carrying a backpack containing hand grenades, nails, and Islamic literature. The police arrested the man after he was intercepted at security. (See item 21)

PRNewswire reports that a study conducted by the American Red Cross and the Council for Excellence in Government has shown that Americans are more prepared than last year to deal with weather emergencies, natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The report is intended to help state officials determine areas of vulnerability. (See item 22)

Information Technology

24. October 1, Computer World – (National) Military, oil firm use BI to avert disaster. The military is now using Business Intelligence software widely to support soldiers in the Iraq war effort. For example, business intelligence tools from Paris-based Business Objects SA are being used to search for defective batteries that could malfunction and cause explosions in Humvee vehicles. A group chief of business systems and technology at the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command Acquisition Center in Fort Monmouth, N.J., said his group also hopes to use BI tools to provide soldiers with data that will help them work in specific types of environments, such as extreme heat. Meanwhile, BP America Inc. in Houston is relying on a BI mashup to keep up with the wrath of Mother Nature. After hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, BP wanted to be able to get data about the condition of its drilling equipment, pipelines and other apparatus more quickly, said BP’s information management director. The oil company turned to a BI mashup that links maps and geospatial data with company data to create a visual representation of its equipment in the Gulf of Mexico.

25. October 1, New York Daily News – (National) NYPD has test camera scan license plates in Manhattan. The New York City Police Department has been operating a camera that scans the license plates of cars passing just blocks from ground zero, a newspaper reported Monday. The camera is an example of the kind of technology the NYPD hopes to use to create a high-tech security ring around Lower Manhattan, the Daily News reported. City officials pointed out that the camera, also not far from City Hall, is currently in a test phase. The camera is the only one of its kind attached to a fixed spot, though some squad cars have similar technology. It transmits scans of license plates wirelessly, and then matches them to a database. The executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union said the camera raises new questions about privacy. An $81.5 million plan to safeguard Lower Manhattan and parts of midtown modeled after security measures in London’s financial district, would feature surveillance cameras, as well as barriers that could automatically block streets.
Source: http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny--nypdeye1001oct01,0,6934407.story

Communications Sector

26. October 1, The Heights – (New England) Cell phone usage up 380 percent. Technicians for Verizon Wireless studied the usage in New England university neighborhoods between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on both Thursday, Aug. 23 and Thursday, Sept. 6. Boston schools such as Northeastern University and Boston University saw a 280 percent and 70 percent increases, respectively, while the cell sites serving the Harvard and MIT areas climbed 50 and 20 percent. Overall, Verizon Wireless network usage has seen a 20 percent increase in the Boston area since early August.
Source: http://media.www.bcheights.com/media/storage/paper144/news/2007/10/01/News/Cell-Phone.Usage.Up.380.Percent-3002128-page2.shtml

27. September 30, Dslreports.com – (National) Satellite phone system to make rural areas safer. Losing a cell phone connection due to gaps in reception is a common experience. At the very least, these gaps are frustrating and in some cases can be detrimental to a person’s ability to access emergency services. TerreStar Networks is working on a $1 billion satellite system designed to fill in those gaps to improve communications and emergency services. The system, which they hope to have up and running next year, will be tested out in Northeastern Vermont, an area chosen for its qualities as a “developmental sandbox,” where applications for rural areas can be widely tested

Source: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Satellite-Phone-System-to-Make-Rural-Areas-Safer-87983

Monday, October 1, 2007

Daily Report

reports that the Government Accountability Office presented a report to the senate on Thursday revealing that government investigators were able to smuggle “a duffle bag with contents that looked like radioactive material” into the U.S from Canada without being intercepted by border authorities. (See item 11)

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. rail system is exceedingly vulnerable to a terrorist attack. The director of the homeland security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that “tracks themselves are generally open and unguarded.” (See item 12)

Information Technology

26. September 28, Vnunet.com – (National) Spammers exploit protests in Burma. Spammers are exploiting the fight for democracy in Burma to spread malware, according to recent reports. The surge of media interest in Burma, or Myanmar as the ruling generals prefer, has led spammers to attempt to build up botnets. Emails have been spammed out purportedly from the Dalai Lama containing ‘information’ about the protests, in which Buddhist monks have been killed for requesting the right to democracy in their own country. “The message contains an attachment that looks like a Microsoft Word document but in fact harbors a Trojan that will give the hacker full access to the user’s computer.” Using topical news stories to trick unwary users into opening and downloading malicious code is a common, tested, and obviously still viable trick from the hackers’ playbook.
Source: http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2199853/hackers-exploit-saffron

27. September 27, Computerworld – (National) Number of malicious e-mails bearing bad links balloons tenfold. In a report published today, U.K.-based MessageLabs Ltd. said that 35 percent of the e-mail threats it now detects use embedded links to infect computers instead of the more traditional file attachments. In the March-June time frame, that figure was 20.2 percent, said the company. And in the opening quarter of 2007, a mere 3.3 percent of the intercepted threats carried links. The links, said a MessageLabs senior security analyst, lead unwary users directly to malware downloads or, increasingly, to purposefully-crafted sites that support malicious JavaScript code. “The volume of attacks using attachments has diminished over the last 18 months, while the number using links has shown a massive increase,” he said. MessageLabs’ data corroborates recent analyses by other security vendors, which have all noted the rapid increase in Web-based attacks – often from legitimate sites that have been compromised by criminals. Such trusted sites make perfect lures for drawing in users, whose browsers are then typically attacked through one or more unpatched vulnerabilities, allowing rogue code – often spyware or a Trojan horse that hijacks the PC to add it to a growing botnet – to be installed. “The bad guys know that most people have learned not to open attachments,” said the MessageLabs specialist. “E-mail is still the preferred attacker vehicle for getting their ‘message’ across, but now they're using links. They know people still follow links.” Source: http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=security&articleId=9039459&taxonomyId=17&intsrc=kc_top

Communications Sector

28. September 27, Computerworld – (National) Now anyone can jam your cell phone. Cell phone jammers, which scramble the signal of any incoming or outgoing cell phone call within a certain range, are illegal in the U.S. However, that does not stop dozens of online catalogs from selling them to American buyers. Although available for years, cell phone jammers are rare because they have been expensive, large and generally conspicuous looking. However, an online catalog called Brando, which specializes in all manner of USB gadgets and random peripheral devices, is now selling a very small and very inexpensive jammer. The jammer is smaller than a cell phone, costs only $166 and shuts down GSM 850-, 900-, 1,800- and 1,900-MHz cell phone calls within a 30-foot radius. The jammer holds a rechargeable lithium ion battery and comes with a charger. Source: http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9039398

29. September 27, Consumeraffairs.com – (National) Senator wants new broadband policy. With studies finding that the United States is falling further behind other countries in development of broadband access, Congress is beginning to consider new alternatives to the current telecom-cable stranglehold. Too many sections of the country have no broadband at all and in others, the price is prohibitive for working families and small businesses, a prominent senator told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which opened hearings on the issue yesterday. He added that “some experts estimate that universal broadband would add $500 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.2 million jobs.” Two FCC commissioners cited studies that showed the U.S.’s dismal rankings in worldwide broadband adoption. “Each year, we slip further down the regular rankings of broadband penetration...the fact is the U.S. has dropped year-after-year,” one said.

Source: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/09/kerry_broadband.html