Department of Homeland Security Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

Friday, August 15, 2008

Complete DHS Daily Report for August 15, 2008

Daily Report

According to USA Today, police are trying to figure out why a man walked into the Democratic Party headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, and fatally shot the state party chairman. (See item 32)

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that Alaska State Troopers are investigating how someone caused $20,000 worth of damage to AT&T fiber optic cables, which were under a manhole. (See item 40)

Banking and Finance Sector

14. August 14, CNNMoney – (National) Nation’s foreclosure plague widens. Foreclosures rose in July as banks took back 77,295 homes - up 8 percent in a month and 183 percent in a year, a report issued Thursday shows. Total foreclosure filings - delinquency notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions - were up 8 percent from June and 55 percent year-over-year, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed homes. Foreclosure activity in Nevada, surpassing all other states, touched one in every 106 households in July. Foreclosures in the state were up 15 percent for the month and were almost double the rate of last July. Other hard-hit states included California, Florida and Arizona. California led the other states with a total of 72,285 filings. Source:

15. August 13, USA Today – (National) Financial stocks suffer after protection ends. The Securities and Exchange Commission ‘s emergency curb on short selling of 19 major financial services firms stocks expired before Wednesday trading, leaving investors to wonder if the measure helped protect the strained system. Since July 21, the SEC rule banned “naked” short sales on those 19 stocks. Short sellers hope to profit by selling borrowed shares and replacing them at lower prices. In naked short sales, traders do not actually borrow the shares; that can intensify the downward pressure on a stock. The rule’s expiration appeared to have some effect Wednesday as financial stocks suffered sizable losses. That could mean short sellers have been at least partly behind big drops in shares of some financial companies. Traders are torn on the value of the controversial rule as the SEC prepares to formally examine short selling and perhaps consider a permanent rule. Source:

Information Technology

37. August 14, VNUNet – (International) Malware heats up in July. Spammed malware activity boomed during the month of July, according to Google. The company’s Postini security branch recorded a major spike in malicious spam traffic over the month, peaking at 10 million messages logged on 24 July. The numbers are the highest recorded all year. Previous spikes logged by the company in March and April had only reached numbers of approximately four million. One of the prime offenders cited for the spike was an attack centered on fake UPS invoices. The user was asked to download malware disguised as software to track the supposed parcel. Also cited was the wave of attacks touting phony news articles. Attackers sent out spam messages containing links to supposed news sites. When the user visited the fake site and attempted to watch a movie file, the malware was installed. Source:

38. August 14, VNUNet – (International) Dutch police smash Shadow botnet. The Dutch High Tech Crime Unit has arrested two people and shut down the Shadow botnet, which is thought to contain over 100,000 compromised computers. A 19-year-old Dutch national is accused of running the botnet and police also arrested a Brazilian man who was trying to buy the use of it. The police have now asked security software vendor Kaspersky Labs to help shut the botnet down. The Dutch police are asking anyone who finds that they were part of the Shadow botnet to contact them and register a complaint. Kaspersky Labs have set up a web page detailing how to remove the Shadow malware. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also reported to have taken part in the case, as the organization is mounting a major campaign against criminal use of botnets. Previous successes have included the arrest of a teenager in New Zealand who was writing botnet code. Source:

39. August 13, ComputerWorld – (International) Hackers spoof MSNBC alerts in new twist on massive malware ruse. Hackers trying to plant malware on PCs have switched from touting news supposedly from CNN in come-on messages to pushing breaking stories said to be from rival network MSNBC, security experts said today. The fake messages pose with subject headings that include the phrase “Breaking News,” along with phony headlines, such as “Jerry Yang relinquishes control over Yahoo,” “Mary-Kate Olsen responsible for Heath Ledger’s death” and “Plane crashes into prep school, hundreds of kids killed,” said researchers at F-Secure Corp. and Sophos PLC. Last week, security vendors had warned users of a massive scam that used messages masquerading as news alerts from CNN. At its peak, the blitz dumped nearly 11 million messages an hour on users. Source:

Communications Sector

40. August 14, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – (Alaska) Vandals cut fiber optic cables in Fairbanks. Alaska State Troopers are investigating how someone caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to AT&T fiber optic cables. Troopers received a call Tuesday from an AT&T technician who discovered cables had been cut. The cables were under a manhole and so would have had to have been intentionally cut. The cost of repairs and service outages was estimated at $20,000. Source:

41. August 13, Abilene Reporter News – (Alaska) Verizon Internet service interrupted. Thousands of Verizon DSL customers were without high-speed Internet access Wednesday because of a fiber line cut that occurred between Midland and Andrews, officials said. The line was reportedly cut at 10:48 a.m., and Internet service was shut down for customers in the 325 area code. The fiber optic line is owned by the Texas Lone Star Network. The interruption affected more than 17,000 customers in Brownwood, San Angelo, and surrounding communities, said the Verizon office in Brownwood. The outage affected all of downtown Brownwood as well as locations throughout the city. Source:

42. August 13, Pioneer Press – (Minnesota) Local utilities have never before dealt with anything as massive as the GOP convention. Qwest will have lain close to 20 miles of communications wiring inside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul by the time preparations for the Republican National Convention are finished. The Xcel Energy Center has state-of-the-art telecommunications, but phone company Qwest Communications International built a bigger network on top of it just for the Republican National Convention. Big enough to handle 60,000 new phone lines — one for every man, woman, and child in Burnsville. Meanwhile, Xcel Energy pulled an extra high-voltage underground power line into the St. Paul arena that bears the utility company’s name. For the Sept. 1-4 convention, it plans to pump enough electricity inside the arena and to nearby media trailers to light up 8,000 homes. The power and telecommunications upgrades are necessary to feed the convention’s technology, ranging from the latest in high-definition video to e-mail. Source: