Department of Homeland Security Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Complete DHS Daily Report for September 16, 2008

Daily Report


 Reuters reports that on Sunday a U.S. senator said Americans should brace for possible gas shortages as Texas oil refineries disabled by Hurricane Ike could remain idled for up to nine days. (See item 5)

5. September 14, Reuters – (National) Texas oil refineries could be down 9 days: U.S. senator. Texas oil refineries disabled by the massive Hurricane Ike could remain idled for up to nine days, and Americans should brace for possible gas shortages, said a U.S. senator on Sunday. “We are looking at another week or eight or nine days before refineries are up and going, so refined gasoline is going to be in a shortage situation because of the power outages and flooding,” the Texas senator said. Ike, a sprawling hurricane estimated to have caused billions of dollars of damage, forced a shutdown of a quarter of U.S. crude oil production as it passed over the heart of the U.S. energy industry. The biggest disruption in U.S. energy supplies in three years saw work halted at 15 Texas oil refineries as a precaution ahead of the storm. Source:

 According to a CBS News and Associated Press report, federal investigators say they will seek the cell phone records of two teenagers and a train engineer as they probe whether text messages factored into a commuter train crash that killed 25 in southern California on Friday. (See item 23)

23. September 14, CBS News and Associated Press – (California) NTSB to seek phone records in L.A. train crash. Federal investigators say they will seek the cell phone records of two teenagers and a train engineer as they probe whether text messages factored into a fiery commuter train crash that killed 25 in southern California. A board member for the National Transportation Safety Board says her agency is also talking with the two teens and their families. The teens told KCBS-TV that they received a text message from the engineer at 4:22 p.m. Friday, just moments before the deadly crash. She says that the engineer’s cell phone was not recovered at the crash site Sunday. A dispatcher tried to warn the engineer of a California commuter train that he was about to collide with a freight train but the call came too late, rail officials said. The dispatcher reached the conductor in the rear of the train, but by then it had already crashed into the oncoming Union Pacific engine at 40 mph, Metrolink officials said. Metrolink said the engineer ran a red signal, but federal investigators said it could be a year before they determine a cause. The National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday it was looking into a report that the engineer may have been text messaging around the time of the crash. Some 135 were injured in the crash. Source:


Banking and Finance Sector

16. September 15, CNN Money – (National) Bank of America buys Merrill – $50 billion. Bank of America said Monday that it has bought Merrill Lynch in an all-stock deal valued at as much as $50 billion. The purchase price would value the company at at least a 70 percent premium from Merrill’s closing price on Friday. The acquisition was put together Sunday as Wall Street awaited the fate of battered investment bank Lehman Brothers, which early Monday said it would file for bankruptcy. Concerns had been growing that Merrill would need to take more write downs and raise more capital to shore up its balance sheet. Merrill has posted net losses of more than $17 billion over the past four quarters. Bank of America is the nation’s third largest bank holding company in terms of assets, behind only Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. It is the largest by market value. Source:

17. September 15, Bloomberg – (National) Lehman files biggest bankruptcy case as suitors balk. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, succumbed to the subprime mortgage crisis it helped create in the biggest bankruptcy filing in history. The 158-year-old firm filed a Chapter 11 petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Monday. The collapse of Lehman, which listed more than $613 billion of debt, dwarfs WorldCom Inc.’s insolvency in 2002 and Drexel Burnham Lambert’s failure in 1990. Lehman was forced into bankruptcy after Barclays Plc. and Bank of America Corp. abandoned takeover talks Sunday and the company lost 94 percent of its market value this year. The company’s chief executive officer turned the New York-based firm into the biggest underwriter of mortgage-backed securities at the top of the U.S. real estate market. Source:

18. September 13, Naples Daily News – (Florida) Couple may face prison time in southwest Florida real estate scam. Last Wednesday, a man and his wife both pleaded guilty in federal court to fraud counts related to a mortgage fraud scheme in Cape Coral that involved at least 37 properties and more than $27 million in home loans. In his plea agreement, the man admitted to contracting to buy homes at one price, then having the home appraised for a higher amount – often bumping the price up by about $150,000 – and pocketing much of the difference as an “assignment fee.” In a year and a half, his wife’s company received $5.8 million in those fees. To buy the properties, the couple relied on 100 percent financing and fraudulent loan applications using “straw buyers” – people told that they would make a profit when the homes were flipped in six months to a year. Some received initial payments of $5,000. In effect, these buyers – many from New Jersey and south Florida – were agreeing to put their names on loan applications that the couple had filled out with inflated monthly incomes, invented work histories, and in some cases, temporarily pumped-up bank account balances. Many of the properties these buyers took out loans for have since gone into foreclosure – adding to the tally in Lee County, Florida, which still ranks as one of the foreclosure hot spots nationally. Source:

Information Technology

38. September 15, Techworld – (National) BusinessWeek turned into malware playground. The website of BusinessWeek magazine suffered a major SQL injection attack in recent days that left it hosting malware from hundreds of its pages, Internet security company Sophos has reported. Once compromised by such a server hole, the attack scripts could, in principle, launch anything desired by the attacker, but they currently include code for automatic attacks based on Javascript. This means that a visitor would find themselves hit by malware just by landing on one of the pages, without the need to interact in any way. The compromised part of the site is used by the magazine to advertise jobs to MBA graduates. “BusinessWeek, and the many other firms hit by SQL injection attacks, need to move fast to not only remove the malicious scripts, but also to ensure that they do not get infected again. Companies whose websites have been struck by such an attack often clean-up their database, only to be infected again a few hours later,” said a Sophos researcher. Sophos has posted a video on its website that runs through the attack in more detail. The video points out that the attackers would not have needed to target BusinessWeek specifically to have found the vulnerability from which the attacks sprang. Rather, a search engine could have been used to hunt down the vulnerable code. Source:

39. September 15, ABC News – (International) Large Hadron Collider’s hacker infiltration highlights vulnerabilities. Though the Large Hadron Collider’s infiltration by hackers did not disrupt the historic project, experts warn that its computer systems are vulnerable. Shortly after physicists activated the Collider on Wednesday, hackers identifying themselves as Group 2600 of the Greek Security Team accessed computers connected to the Compact Muon Solenoid detector, one of four key subsystems responsible for monitoring the collisions of protons speeding around the 18-mile track near Geneva, Switzerland. A few scientists had worried that the experiment could inadvertently create a planet-swallowing black hole. Physicists called this impossible, or at least extraordinarily unlikely. But the hack raises a different sort of worst-case scenario: the largest and most complicated science experiment in history, intended to reveal basic information about the composition of matter, derailed by malevolent intruders. The LHC experiments have very complex computer systems for data recording and analysis and even more sensitive systems for experiment control, trigger and data acquisition,” said an MIT physicist and Collider collaborator. “You could imagine that penetrating the ‘real time domain’ could have catastrophic consequences.” Source:

Communications Sector

40. September 15, Computerworld – (California) Tab for lockup of San Francisco’s WAN may reach $1M. San Francisco officials estimate that IT costs stemming from a network administrator’s alleged hijacking of the city’s WAN will total $1 million or more. The chief administrative officer in the city’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services (DTIS) said the DTIS has paid out $182,000 to Cisco contractors and $15,000 in overtime costs thus far. An additional $800,000 has been set aside to cover other expenses, he said, without elaborating. A DTIS administrator was arrested July 12 on computer-tampering charges. Prosecutors say he reset passwords to switches and routers in the WAN, blocking other IT workers from accessing them. He has pleaded not guilty. Source: