Friday, March 7, 2008

Daily Report

• According to the Associated Press, two airplanes carrying more than 100 passengers narrowly averted a mid-air collision east of Pittsburgh after an Ohio air traffic control trainee told a Delta Air Lines pilot to turn into the path of an oncoming plane, officials said. The Delta pilot made a nosedive and missed the plane by about 400 feet. (See item 11)

• CNN reports that authorities are searching for a man on a bicycle as a possible suspect in the Thursday bombing at a military recruiting station in Times Square, investigators said. The blast, around 3:45 a.m., caused no injuries. Subway service to Times Square was briefly halted but resumed in time for the morning rush hour. A witness and an officer at a police substation near the recruiting office saw a man riding a bicycle. (See item 28)

Information Technology

33. March 6, ComputerWeekly – (International) Anti-malware failing firms, NATO expert says. Organizations with sensitive data remain at risk from increasingly cunning spies because anti-malware firms are not interested in “low traffic” problems, a top NATO expert said yesterday. The head of the Nato Computer Incident Response Capability Coordination Center, told an e-crime conference that anti-malware suppliers had done a good job, but said that it was hard to interest them in targeted, social engineering driven attacks by foreign intelligence agencies. NATO uses commercial off the-shelf products to protect its business and administration network, he said. “I have little sympathy for IT managers who complain about attacks because affordable, deployable solutions are available.” But they needed to be applied properly and kept up to date, he said. “The computer is almost the perfect weapon,” he said. It is low cost, low risk, multipurpose, locatable anywhere, easily deployed and very effective, he said. That is why NATO rated cybercrime up with missile defense, energy supply and terrorism as security threats, he said. He said NATO would publish its new plan that reflects this assessment at its Bucharest meeting next month.

34. March 05, United Press International – (National) OMB issues report of US federal gov’t IT security. The White House Office of Management and Budget says that the number of computer security incidents reported by federal network managers more than doubled last year, largely due to increases in the disclosure or loss of personal data and intrusions of an as-yet undetermined character. Officials said the increase was at least in part due to improved reporting of incidents by departments and agencies, and touted other figures in the report to lawmakers, released quietly at the weekend, that showed that the number of federal computer systems certified secure had finally reached a 90- percent government-wide goal set in 2002. But other observers said the rise was likely in part attributable to an increase in the number and severity of attacks. “The level of malicious activity accelerated sharply in 2007” on the public and private sector networks we know about, said the president of the Cyber-Security Industry Alliance. He said it was likely federal networks had experienced a similar rise in malicious activities. The report says the threat to U.S. government computer systems was “shifting from opportunistic hacking to targeted, dynamically adapting attacks” and acknowledged that “a long-term architectural roadmap is necessary to provide a consistent strategy for mitigating malicious cyber activity.” The total number of security incidents reported in 2007 by departments and agencies to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT ) – the monitoring center based at the Department of Homeland Security – rose to 12,986, compared with 5,146 in 2006.

Communications Sector

35. March 6, US Internet Industry Association news release – (National) New study reports wide adoption of broadband in rural America. Broadband Internet has not only gained adoption faster in the United States than any other technology, but also reached robust levels of availability in most states, according to a report issued today from the US Internet Industry Association. The study, “Deployment of Broadband to Rural America; An Evaluation of Current Broadband Services to Rural Americans and The Impact of Internet Public Policy On Broadband Deployment,” was written by the USIIA’s president and chief executive officer. “The accepted political dogma that America has in some way failed in its efforts to deploy broadband is based on a series of miscalculations,” he said. There are three issues that contribute to these miscalculations: too often the level of Internet deployment is confused with the level of adoption; data from America is compared with data from other countries, without regard for factors such as population density or percentage of rural versus suburban or urban areas; and the data that does exist is presented in ways intended to support a specific policy or political view rather than allowing the data to speak to itself. While adoption has been rapid, hitting 50 percent of the overall U.S. homes in the second half of 2007, it has not matched the pace of deployment, the study shows. In states like Kentucky and California, deployment surpasses 95 percent. Specific projects in those and other states and areas have pushed deployment to these levels. Rural areas, despite lower population density, do not have to lag behind. In Iowa, for example, rural communities often have better access than non-rural areas, a “reverse digital divide,” according to the study. However, despite this deployment, there remain substantial differences between rates of rural deployment and rates of adoption of broadband. “Programs that focus resources on factors relating to adoption need to be strengthened,” the author said. The full study can be found at