Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Complete DHS Daily Report for March 4, 2009

Daily Report


 The Frederick News Post reports that the Frederick, Maryland Police Department is investigating the weekend theft of at least 8,000 pounds of fertilizer from a secured storage shed at a farm supply store. (See item 4)

4. March 3, Frederick News Post – (Maryland) Police continue fertilizer theft investigation. The Frederick, Maryland Police Department is continuing its investigation into the weekend theft of at least 8,000 pounds of fertilizer from the Southern States store. At least 6,000 pounds of 19-19-19 fertilizer and 2,000 pounds of urea were taken from a secured storage shed in the rear of the business between Saturday and Sunday, a police lieutenant said. There is nothing to indicate that this is anything other than a theft, he said. The Criminal Investigations Division will continue to investigate, he said. The Maryland Coordination Analysis Center along with all federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation field office, have been notified of the theft. Source:

 According to KXAN 36 Austin and the Associated Press, Texas Forest Service officials said the Bastrop wildfire’s reach has destroyed 28 homes, 17 businesses, and more than 1,200 acres of land. Officials said the fire could burn until Friday. (See item 28)

28. March 3, KXAN 36 Austin and Associated Press – (Texas) Wildfire may burn until Friday. Despite some reports, the Bastrop wildfire is not completely out. Texas Forest Service officials said the blaze’s reach has destroyed 28 homes, 17 businesses, and more than 1,200 acres of land. Still, only 75 percent of the fire is contained. More than 100 fire crews have been working since Saturday to get the fire under control. Fire officials said they are still very concerned about hot spots that threaten to flare up and continue scorching land, with the ongoing safety threat of the possibility of fire hiding in the base of trees and brush. Several roads are still closed because of the threat of hot spot flare-ups. “Two priorities: There are maintain the structures that we’ve saved, so we don’t get reburned and also work on the structures that have burned, anything that may come out of there and pose a problem,” said a Texas Forest Service official. The Texas Forest Service has brought in fire crews from other states to help contain this fire, but it warns of the high winds and low humidity becoming the biggest challenges over the next few days. Twenty forest firefighters from North Carolina will be in Bastrop by Wednesday to help with the fight. It said it hopes to have this all out by the end of the week. Officials said if weather conditions continue with winds and humidity, the fire could burn until Friday. Source:


Banking and Finance Sector

7. March 3, USA Today – (Oregon) SEC accuses Sunwest Management of securities fraud. A major corporate operator of assisted-living facilities and its founder were accused of a massive securities fraud on March 2 in what the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged was a scheme that raised $300 million from investors who now face the loss of their money. The allegations target Oregon-based Sunwest Management; the firm’s founder and former CEO; and several related entities and individuals. The former CEO’s defense attorney said his client had done nothing wrong. Lawyers for Sunwest did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the case. At its peak in 2007, Sunwest managed more than 320 retirement facilities in 34 states and had estimated assets of $2 billion, SEC said. But the company collapsed in December as the former CEO filed for bankruptcy court protection. From 2006 through 2008, the former CEO allegedly raised $300 million from more than 1,300 investors who were told that their money would buy partial ownership interest in a specific retirement facility and provide a 10 percent annual investment return, SEC charged. But the money was allegedly commingled in a single fund that was used to pay operating expenses, investor returns, and other costs. As a result, SEC charged that misled investors did not realize that more than half the retirement sites were losing money. Source:

8. March 2, Computerworld – (National) Banks, credit unions begin to sue Heartland over data breach. In an indication of the legal troubles companies can find themselves in over data breaches these days, several banks and credit unions have begun suing Heartland Payment Systems over its recently disclosed data breach. In the six weeks since the potentially-massive breach was disclosed, eight banks and credit unions have filed lawsuits against Heartland over its alleged failure to take adequate measures for protecting credit and debt card holder data. Heartland said on January 20 that unknown intruders had broken into its network sometime last year and accessed payment card data belonging to an undisclosed number of people. The breach, thought to possibly be the biggest ever disclosed, has already affected over 500 financial institutions, including a handful in the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Canada. The lawsuits seek compensation from Heartland for the costs the financial institutions say they have had to bear in notifying affected customers about the breach, and to reissue them new payment cards. The lawsuits also claim damages from Heartland for costs of the alleged fraud the banks claimed have resulted from the breach. Source:

9. March 2, – (International) Visa says no new breach. Visa Inc. said recent alerts it sent to credit card issuers are not related to a new breach, countering reports that a second payment processor had been compromised. In a statement issued on February 27, San Francisco-based Visa said the alerts “were part of an existing investigation and are not related to a new compromise event.” Credit unions last week reported receiving alerts from Visa and MasterCard about credit and debit card accounts that were exposed in the breach of a payment processor. They reported that the compromise was unrelated to the breach announced by Heartland Payment Systems in January. Information about newly affected accounts was relayed to banks and credit unions February 9, via Visa’s Compromised Account Management System. The system, which informs banks of compromised account numbers, gives issuers the ability to monitor, close, or block the compromised accounts. Visa’s statement did not say what existing investigation the alerts are related to, and a company spokesman said he could not provide that detail. “Visa has provided the affected accounts to financial institutions so they can take steps to protect consumers,” the company said in its statement. “In addition, Visa is risk-scoring all transactions in real-time, helping card issuers better distinguish fraud transactions from legitimate ones.” Source:,289142,sid185_gci1349611,00.html

Information Technology

24. March 3, Reuters – (International) Netbooks may offer hackers private data gateway. Low-cost netbooks could be a high-speed gateway into people’s lives, bank accounts, passwords and other personal data. Netbooks have made headlines since their 2007 launch, making PCs accessible to millions of non-traditional users. But their cheap cost could also carry a steep price tag due to lax security that makes them easier prey for viruses and hackers. Since their introduction less than two years ago by Taiwan’s Asustek, nearly all major PC makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, and Lenovo, have jumped on the netbook bandwagon. But their no frills nature, combined with low computing power and relative lack of sophistication among their users could combine to create the perfect storm for hackers and virus creators looking for easy targets, analysts say. “The Internet is full of dangers, regardless of what computer you are using,” said the greater China marketing manager at anti-virus software maker Symantec. “But keeping in mind that the netbook is primarily used to surf the Internet, those dangers are possibly multiplied many-fold, especially if there is no anti-virus software installed in the machine.” Source:

25. March 3, MX Logic – (International) Conficker to attack Southwest on Friday the 13th. Security professionals are warning of a possible Conficker attack on the Web security of a major commercial airline on March 13. The worm, also known as Downadup, has been found to be targeting the site of Southwest Airlines and may disrupt online flight check-in and other services on March 13. One security official told he found millions of computers infected with Conficker were programmed to contact the site, which redirects visitors to the main site, on March 13 to get instructions. The official speculated this would cause a denial-of-service attack, which would temporarily shut down the site. The worm, which has reportedly infiltrated more than 12 million computers worldwide, may also be targeting a site called on March 8, a Chinese women’s network called on March 18, and a computer phonetics site on March 31, according to some security experts. Source:

26. March 2, SoftPedia – (International) Cyber-criminals target their own kind. Cyber-crooks are not only exploiting security flaws in popular software in order to steal from vulnerable and innocent users. An independent security consultant describes how vulnerabilities in unpatched releases of the Zeus crimeware kit are being exploited by hackers in order to steal resources from their fellow criminals. The security researcher has come across an interesting posting made by a botnet runner, who asks for help to secure his infrastructure after being compromised several times by other hackers. According to his own account, someone hijacked his botnet, composed of over 100,000 compromised computers, by exploiting a vulnerability in the Zeus kit, which allowed remotely injecting a high-level account into the administration panel of the crimeware. Source:

Communications Sector

27. March 2, InfoWorld – (International) Manufacturers recall plagued handsets. Four manufacturers have issued recalls due to problems ranging from overheating to dropped E-911 calls. AT&T was forced to recall the Quickfire GTX75 (made by UTStarcom) after reports of the handset overheating when improperly connected to the AC charger. AT&T pulled the Quickfire off the shelves and sent out a notice to users explaining how to properly hook up the Quickfire handset to the charger. LG put a recall notice out about 30,000 of its 830 Spyder handsets after several customers had difficulty keeping a connection with (or had trouble with the quality of) voice calls to E-911. The company is recalling two software versions for the touchscreen slider: T83LGV03 and T83LGV04. The handsets were sold at various dealers in several states from September 2008 to November 2008. The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic NAM was released Stateside recently. Within a few days, the forums were reporting that the touchscreen would not connect to 3G. In addition to that problem, Mobile-Review released a report outlining some serious issues with speaker failure — the Web site noted that 10 handsets had experienced the same failure. Nokia is aware of the problem, which it pins on the speaker supplier. Handsets manufactured after February are apparently not affected. Nokia PR has issued a statement saying that service centers should be able to replace the speakers with product from a different supplier. Lastly, RIM’s BlackBerry Bold took a hit when NTT DoCoMo had to halt sales of the smartphone in Japan — also due to overheating. Source: