Department of Homeland Security Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Complete DHS Daily Report for September 24, 2008

Daily Report


 According to Reuters, a coalition of 10 northeastern states this week will conduct the nation’s first carbon auction. The overall goal is to give utilities an economic incentive, rather than a regulatory mandate, to burn less coal, fuel oil, and natural gas, while making carbon-free energy alternatives more economically attractive. (See item 2)

2. September 22, Reuters – (National) First U.S. carbon auction set for Thursday. A coalition of 10 northeastern states this week will take steps to check global warming when it conducts the nation’s first carbon auction. Environmental groups, energy producers, and government leaders will be watching closely as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) sells carbon credits Thursday in the first of a series of quarterly online auctions. The cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction program aims to hold carbon dioxide emissions steady through 2014 and then gradually reduce them. RGGI caps the total amount of carbon that power plants in the 10-state region can pump out of their smokestacks at the current level — 188 million tons. Electric power generators must pay for allowances covering the amount of carbon they emit, and RGGI will provide a market-based auction and trading system where the generators can buy, sell, and trade the emissions allowances. The overall goal is to give utilities an economic incentive, rather than a regulatory mandate, to burn less coal, fuel oil, and natural gas, while at the same time making carbon-free energy alternatives such as wind and solar power more economically attractive. Some business and utility leaders have urged the states to hold off until a national plan is developed. The Business Council of New York State warns that the regional plan could harm the power supply and system reliability while increasing energy prices. Source:

 Homeland Security Today reports that securing data and protecting electronic personal health information continues to be a challenging task for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. (See item 33)

33. September 23, Homeland Security Today – (National) GAO: More to do on medical records security. The push for a national system for the creation, storage and distribution of electronic medical data on hundreds of millions of Americans undertaken in 2004 by the presidential administration, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, clearly holds enormous potential for streamlining health care services, costs, and efficiencies. Securing that data and protecting electronic personal health information, however, continues to be a challenging task for HHS, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The progress report, the first since January 2007 on HHS’s efforts, credits the agency with advancing various initiatives to develop and implement an overall privacy approach. Specifically the GAO gives HHS good marks for identifying milestones and the entity responsible for integrating the outcomes of its privacy-related initiatives, a goal GAO had outlined in its original report twenty months ago. Further GAO found that HHS has made some progress in ensuring that key privacy principles in HIPAA are fully addressed, and addressing key challenges associated with the nationwide exchange of health information. What HHS continues to lack, according to GAO, is “a defined process for assessing and prioritizing the many privacy-related initiatives and the needs of stakeholders to ensure that privacy issues and challenges will be addressed fully and adequately.” ‘Without a process that accomplishes this,” the report says, “HHS faces the risk that privacy protection measures may not be consistently and effectively built into health IT programs, thus jeopardizing patient privacy as well as the public confidence and trust that are essential to the success of a future nationwide health information network.” Source:


Banking and Finance Sector

16. September 23, Saratogian – (New York) Letter scam urges recipients to pay taxes on money ‘won’. The Waterford, New York, Office of the Public Safety Commissioner is warning residents to beware of a scam designed to lure letter recipients into paying taxes on money the letter claims they won. A Waterford resident received the letter, which claims the recipient won $125,000. The letter goes on to say the recipient can claim the cash once he or she pays $2,975 in taxes. The letter asks the recipient to send the money through Western Union or Moneygram. A check is included for $4,875, but the letter asks the recipient to call before cashing it. Police say the letter was sent as a mass mailing, and recipients should disregard it. Source:

17. September 23, Bloomberg – (National) Bernanke says failure to pass plan threatens

economy. The chairman of the Federal Reserve warned lawmakers that failure to pass a rescue plan to take over troubled assets from financial firms would pose a threat to markets and the economy. “Action by the Congress is urgently required to stabilize the situation and avert what could otherwise be very serious consequences for our financial markets and for our economy,” he said in testimony prepared for delivery today to the Senate Banking Committee. “Global financial markets remain under extraordinary stress.” He and the Treasury Secretary are pushing Congress to quickly approve a $700 billion plan to remove illiquid assets from the banking system. Lawmakers have balked at rubber-stamping the proposal, with Democrats demanding it include support for homeowners and limits on executive pay and Republicans questioning the plan’s reach and size. Source:

Information Technology

36. September 23, Tech Herald – (National) Report claims bulk of cyber attacks originate from U.S. SecureWorks has published details on the originating sources of attacks aimed at its clients during 2008. The details reveal that almost all of the cyber attacks originated from sources within the United States, followed closely by the People’s Republic of China. However, there were 12.9 million more attacks originating in the U.S., suggesting that American businesses have yet to take appropriate steps to secure their systems. Source:

37. September 22, ars technica – (National) Fake celebrity websites infecting the unwary with malware. Attacks through phony celebrity websites have continued to spawn. According to new data from McAfee, a user searching for a variety of items (wallpapers, screensavers, photos, etc.) relating on one specific celebrity has, on average, an 18 percent chance of encountering malware in one form or another. Such malware is often served up by a “fake” celebrity website whose primary purpose is to shove Trojans and worms into the desktops of the unwary. These websites differ from standard malware landing pads, as they try to appear as a legitimate source of news. Source:

38. September 22, Network World – (National) Cybercrime toll mounts for businesses. Cybercrime is a critical business concern, say 1,387 IT professionals surveyed by security firm Finjan. Ninety-one percent of respondents call cybercrime a “major business risk,” and 73 percent say they are more concerned about data theft than about downtime and loss of productivity from malware. In addition, a quarter of respondents admit to data breaches in their organizations, according to the survey that Finjan conducted in July and released Monday. Source:

Communications Sector

39. September 22, CNet News – (Texas) Microsoft opens San Antonio data center. Microsoft on Monday officially opened its San Antonio, Texas, data center, the latest in a string of giant facilities aimed at powering Microsoft consumer and business online services. The company said the data center occupies nearly half a million square feet and cost $550 million to establish. The facility joins other Microsoft data centers, including one in Quincy, Washington. Another site, due to open later this year in the Chicago area, will be Microsoft’s first to employ containers of servers, in addition to traditional rack-based set-ups. Microsoft also recently announced plans to build a center in West Des Moines, Iowa. Source:

40. September 22, Sci-Tech Today – (National) U.S. approves new spy satellite project. The new federal system will have a central mirror the exact size of those already being placed into space by two private companies. The satellites will be used to take shots of large areas, for mapping or watching troop movements or other broader-area tasks, not unlike what the commercial companies now sell for services like Google Maps. The goal of the $1.7 billion project approved last week is to have two new satellites in orbit by 2012. Source:

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