Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Complete DHS Daily Report for August 20, 2008

Daily Report

• Industrial Info Resources reports that Tropical Storm Fay threatens to disrupt operations of more than 340 industrial plants in Florida. (See item 6)

• According to the Roanoke Times, a licensed pilot prompted a flurry of security precautions in Virginia on Monday after he took off from Roanoke Regional Airport without authorization and threatened to crash into Smith Mountain Lake. (See item 16)

Banking and Finance Sector

14. August 18, Reuters – (National) American Home to pay fraction of bankruptcy claims. American Home Mortgage Investment Corp., which was among the largest U.S. home loan providers before seeking bankruptcy protection a year ago, said it will pay unsecured creditors no more than 5.9 cents on the dollar as it liquidates assets. In a disclosure statement filed Friday with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware, the company said many unsecured creditors will recover zero to 2.2 cents on the dollar on their claims. Creditors whose claims are backed by collateral will recover the full amounts owed, it said. Shareholders will get nothing. The disclosure statement will be mailed to creditors so they can vote on Melville, New York-based American Home’s Chapter 11 liquidation plan. American Home filed for bankruptcy protection on August 6, 2007 after falling home prices and a surge in borrower defaults led to major write-downs, prompting margin calls from the company’s own lenders. The company’s collapse remains one of the largest since the nation’s housing slump began. American Home sought protection four months after similarly-sized subprime lender New Century Financial Corp filed for protection from its own creditors. Source:

15. August 18, Reuters – (National) Visa to test real-time fraud alerts. Visa Inc and eight U.S. and Canadian lenders have launched a pilot program designed to alert cardholders in real time that they might be victims of fraud. Visa, the world’s largest card network, said the test will provide as many as 2,000 cardholders with alerts via e-mail or through their mobile devices within seconds of their cards being used, rather than within hours or days. Participants may choose to be alerted to a variety of types of card usage, including ATM withdrawals, international transactions, Internet or phone transactions, and transactions above specified amounts. Lenders taking part in the pilot program are PNC Financial Services Group Inc, SunTrust Banks Inc, U.S. Bancorp, Wachovia Corp, Wells Fargo & Co, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Vancity, which is Canada’s largest credit union. Card companies report losses approaching $50 billion annually because of credit card fraud, the nonprofit Consumer Action has estimated. Source:

Information Technology

41. August 19, ReadWriteWeb – (National) Google sites now home for spammers. Google Sites, the Google platform for document sharing and collaboration, has been dubbed “SharePoint Light” by many members of the tech community. Apparently, spammers have adopted Sites as a tool to host spam and malware, and thanks to the domain name, some spam filters are having trouble blocking the messages. According to MessageLabs, Google Sites spam only accounts for one percent of all spam at the moment, but they expect this technique to become as popular as similar techniques being used to distribute spam using other free Google online services, including Google Docs, Google Pages, and Google Calendar. The benefit to using Sites for spamming is that it is harder to block the resulting URLs generated by the service. Unlike Google Pages, whose URLs are in the format of, a Sites URL begins The format of these URLs, which contain “,” is more difficult for traditional signature-based anti-spam tools to block. At the tail end of the URL, the spammers’ sites will contain site names that are composed of random letters and numbers. Source:

42. August 18, Digital Lifestyles – (International) CNN/MSNBC news spam hit 5 million an hour. According to Web security experts, poofed news spam messages are now being churned out at up to five million every hour. The spam purports to be a CNN and MSNBC news alert, showing a listing of vaguely convincing fake news headlines covering celebrities, politics, and other current issues. Although the email carries the branding, logos, and style of the official news websites, all the innocent-looking links in the messages take users to pages which try to install malware on their computer, usually by inviting them to download a codec which is supposedly required for them to watch a video on the page. Source:

43. August 18, CNN – (National) U.S. at risk of cyberattacks, experts say. The next large-scale military or terrorist attack on the United States, if and when it happens, may not involve airplanes or bombs or even intruders breaching American borders. Instead, such an assault may be carried out in cyberspace by shadowy hackers half a world away. And Internet security experts believe that it could be just as devastating to the U.S. economy and infrastructure as a deadly bombing. Experts say last week’s attack on the former Soviet republic of Georgia, in which a Russian military offensive was preceded by an Internet assault that overwhelmed Georgian government Web sites, signals a new kind of cyberwar, one for which the United States is not fully prepared. “The U.S. is probably more Internet-dependent than any place in the world. So to that extent, we’re more vulnerable than any place in the world to this kind of attack,” acting chief executive of Tulip Systems, an Atlanta, Georgia, Web-hosting firm that volunteered its Internet servers to protect the nation of Georgia’s Web sites from malicious traffic said. Known as distributed denial of service, the attacks employ multiple computers to flood networks with millions of simultaneous requests, overwhelming servers, and crippling Web sites. The challenge to U.S. security experts is that such attacks can be mounted anonymously, and relatively cheaply, from anywhere in the world. Source:

Communications Sector

44. August 18, Information Week – (National; Colorado) Qwest, unions reach agreement on eve of DNC. Qwest Communications and its unions reached an agreement Sunday on a new contract, paving the way for the company to move ahead as the official telecommunications provider for this week’s Democratic National Convention (DNC). Most of the details of the pact were hammered out over the weekend in marathon meetings between Qwest, the Communications Workers of America, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The CWA represents nearly 19,000 workers in 13 states where Qwest provides telecommunications services, while the IBEW represents 200 workers in Qwest’s Montana operation. “This agreement achieves our major objectives of providing quality jobs, adequate health care, and wage and pension increases for our members,” CWA’s vice president said in a statement. The Democratic convention kicks off later this week in Denver, also the headquarters of Qwest. The company is deploying more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic strands as well as thousands of data lines for the convention. Source:

45. August 18, TMCnet – (New Hampshire) XO Communications bolsters its Ethernet infrastructure. XO Communications is announcing major enhancements to its Ethernet infrastructure, offering businesses and wholesale customers new speed options and more Ethernet service offerings. Currently, XO is offering Ethernet services to four million commercial buildings in 75 metro areas in the United States through its nationwide fiber-optic network, expanded deployment of Ethernet-over-copper technology, and fixed broadband wireless capabilities. XO Communications says it’s deployed an enhanced Ethernet switching platform in major metros which provides reliable, service rich, next-generation infrastructure. This will help the company offer a broader range of Ethernet bandwidth options and services. It will also allow the provision of any-to-any multi-site Ethernet solutions with multiple classes of service which are on-demand, according to the company. Source: