Monday, October 29, 2007

Daily Report

  • · KIRO TV Channel 7 in Seattle, Washington reports that handguns stored in luggage have been disappearing from major airports, which means that dangerous weapons might be loose in secure areas in direct proximity to passenger jets. A number of declared guns have gone missing before the bags arrive at their destinations. Security officials worry that those weapons might end up in the hands of terrorists. (See items 13)
  • · Government Executive reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to develop a comprehensive plan for how companies would recover from cyberattacks that disrupt the Internet, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) auditor. Although the DHS developed a plan in 2006 for how businesses and the government could recover from such cyberattacks, there is no public-private plan for recovery. (See item 29 )

Information Technology

26. October 26, Computerworld – (National) Microsoft now takes blame for WSUS update error. After initially denying reports that it had updated enterprise customer’s PCs with the Windows XP desktop search tool without administrator approval, Microsoft Corp. admitted its mistake. Late Thursday night, a program manager on the WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) team, said the update for Windows Desktop Search (WDS) had, in fact, been installed on some machines without administrator approval, and offered an apology. On a company blog, she said that Microsoft revised and released a WDS update package Tuesday aimed at machines running Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 that did not have the desktop search tool installed. The update was supposed to be optional. “Unfortunately, in revising this update, the decision to reuse the same update package had unintended consequences to our WSUS customers,” she said. This meant some computers automatically received the update. Early on Thursday, reports from enterprise users running WSUS -- the Microsoft software that manages updates and patches to Windows client machines -- began hitting support forums claiming that WDS was installing without permission. According to some administrators, the first hint they had of the unexpected installs came from users complaining of slow machines. Others reported the same symptoms, generated by the disk- and processor-intensive initial indexing of the files on the PC.

27. October 26, IDG News Service – (National) Scammers sentenced for Microsoft
software scheme. Four people have been sentenced to prison and fined tens of millions of dollars for buying discounted Microsoft Corp. software and then illegally reselling it at a profit. Two of the convicted, husband-and-wife owners of Samtech Research, were sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $25 million in fines to Microsoft for their role in a software reselling scheme they ran between 1997 and 2001. Together with two associates they purchased more than $29 million worth of software at Microsoft’s academic-discount rates and then resold it to nonacademic entities, making more than $5 million in profits. The couple had already been kicked out of Microsoft’s Authorized Education Reseller (AER) program, but they “formed new corporations ... to disguise their identity from Microsoft and re-enter the AER program,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement yesterday. They laundered their profits by purchasing real estate in their son’s name and by wiring more than $300,000 to Pakistan, the DOJ said. The couple’s associates were also sentenced in connection with the case. The scam was exposed during a two-year undercover investigation called Operation Cyberstorm, which was conducted by the F.B.I. and the Internal Revenue Service.

Communications Sector

28. October 26, p2pnet news – (International) Facebook wants Canadian ‘hacker’ names. Facebook is after Canadian ‘John Doe’ hackers it says “may have stolen personal information” from members. And it wants ISPs Rogers Communications Inc. and Look Communications to hand over details. “Court documents allege the hackers may have swiped personal information about Facebook members, including user names, passwords and e-mail addresses,” says the Financial Post, going on: “It is not clear how many Facebook customers were affected or where the hackers live.” Rogers and Look both turned down Facebook’s demand saying they’d only make the data available if a court ordered them to do so. Facebook is poised to oblige. “All other methods of obtaining the evidence and documents have been exhausted,” Facebook said in its application, quoted in the story. “The evidence and documentation of [Rogers and Look] is required so that justice may be done between the parties in the [U.S.] action.” The alleged incidents occurred between June 1 and June 15, “with the hackers improperly gaining access to Facebook’s private data system more than 200,000 times during that period, the lawsuit says,” states the Financial Post.

29. October 25, Government Executive – (National) Workforce issues complicate planning for cyberattacks. The Homeland Security Department has yet to develop a
comprehensive plan for how companies would recover from cyberattacks disrupting the
Internet, in part because the department has not been able to find and keep highly trained cybersecurity experts, according to a top information technology auditor at the
Government Accountability Office (GAO). In 2006, DHS developed a plan for how
businesses and the government could recover from a cyberattack that disrupted the
Internet. In that plan, DHS laid out the response that would be coordinated by the National Communications System, which would be responsible for the hardware and security infrastructure. The National Cyber Security Division would be responsible for maintaining the integrity of the software applications and information under attack. Still, “there is no public-private plan for recovery and there is no date by which such a plan must exist,” testified GAO’s director of information technology at a Tuesday hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and National Archives. Companies and individuals worldwide lose about $14 billion through the Internet because of malicious code attacks, but the Internet has yet to suffer a catastrophic failure, he said.