Friday, April 24, 2009

Complete DHS Daily Report for April 24, 2009

Daily Report

Top Stories

 According to the Associated Press, about 600 workers were evacuated for about two hours from the government’s former uranium enrichment site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on Thursday after cleanup crews detected a natural gas odor in a waste burial ground. (See item 26)

26. April 23, Associated Press – (Tennessee) DOE cleanup site in Tenn. evacuated after odor. About 600 workers were evacuated for about two hours from the government’s former uranium enrichment site in Tennessee on April 23 after cleanup crews detected a natural gas odor in a waste burial ground. The Department of Energy declared an emergency at the former K-25 site in Oak Ridge shortly after 8:30 a.m. when an excavation operator struck something underground and smelled fumes similar to natural gas or propane. The evacuation ended about two hours later, but workers were not immediately allowed to return to the site. The excavators were digging in a 5-acre field where solvents and debris were dumped from the 1950s to 1976. A DOE spokesman said no injuries were reported, but officials ordered the evacuation as a precaution when the “odor spread beyond the affected area.” About 1,500 people work at the former K-25 site, which was created in the 1940s to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and fuel for commercial power reactors. The complex was shut down in the 1980s. For several years, the site has been undergoing a multimillion-dollar cleanup to convert it into an industrial park that has been renamed East Tennessee Technology Park. Source:

 The Associated Press reports that a coastal wildfire in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina spread early Thursday toward the Barefoot Landing development, a sprawling complex of houses, condominiums, and golf courses, burning dozens of homes and forcing hundreds to flee in the middle of the night. (See item 37)

37. April 23, Associated Press – (South Carolina) SC wildfire burns homes near popular beach area. A coastal wildfire spread early Thursday toward one of the busiest tourist stretches in South Carolina, burning dozens of homes and forcing hundreds to flee in the middle of the night. No injuries were reported. Police banged on doors to awaken residents as strong winds pushed the blaze through a wooded swath toward the Barefoot Landing development, a sprawling complex of houses, condominiums and golf courses separated from the main route through Myrtle Beach by the Intracoastal Waterway. Officials hoped the waterway would act as a natural firebreak to protect more populated areas closer to the beach. State fire officials said as many as 40 homes had been damaged or destroyed. A North Myrtle Beach spokeswoman said only that 40 homes were damaged and the extent of that would not be known until later in the day. About 2,500 people in a four-mile stretch on the western side of the waterway were told to leave their homes overnight, she said. Shelters were set up at North Myrtle Beach City Hall and the House of Blues, where about 50 people watched a television over the bar looking for news updates. A cause of the fire, which started a day earlier in a wooded area west of the beach, had not been determined. Adding to the problem were heavily vegetated patches called Carolina Bays that caught fire and fueled the blaze. The area is the anchor of the state’s $16 billion tourist industry, drawing college students for its low-cost spring break and families who fill miles of budget beachfront hotels along the coast from Memorial through Labor Day. Source:


Banking and Finance Sector

8. April 23, CNN – (National) Obama in credit card face-off. Ramping up his campaign to crack down on credit cards, the U.S. President will meet on April 23 with executives of 14 leading companies to press his case for new consumer protections. The White House meeting comes a day after credit card legislation opposed by the financial services industry moved forward on Capitol Hill. The House Financial Services Committee voted 48-19 to approve a bill to clamp down on rates and fees; nine Republicans joined the panel’s Democrats in voting for it. The House bill would, among other things, ban “arbitrary” interest rate increases, prohibit excessive fees and order more disclosure. It could go to the full House for a vote as soon as next week. But the U.S. President’s administration signaled it plans to push for further changes. “We are…working with Congress on legislation that will promote simplicity, require transparency, demand fairness, and ensure accountability — so that we can strengthen consumer protections against abusive and deceptive practices,” a U.S. Presidential adviser said in a statement on April 22. The House bill, and a similar one in the Senate, is a cornerstone of efforts by consumer groups and mostly congressional Democrats to rewrite rules governing lending practices by card companies, banks and others. The House bill, championed by a Representative of New York, is similar to one passed by the House last year. Source:\

9. April 22, Wall Street Journal – (National) TARP still falls short on key issues. The U.S. government’s rescue of the financial system continues to fall short on the same issues of transparency and taxpayer protection that have dogged the initiative since its inception in October 2008, oversight groups charged on April 22. The findings suggest the U.S. Presidential Administration still faces headwinds as it tries to recast the bailout program as a salve for the broader economy. U.S. regional banks fell on April 22 as several firms posted quarterly results that echoed the weaknesses reported earlier by their money center cousins, but they lacked the investment banking and trading businesses that helped their bigger rivals. “People are angry because they are paying for programs that have not been fully explained and that have no apparent benefit for their families or the economy as a whole,” a Harvard University law professor told the Treasury Secretary during a hearing on Capitol Hill. A former U.S. Senator, one of two Republicans on the five-member Congressional Oversight Panel, told the Treasury Secretary that the Treasury’s frequent vacillations on continuing stress tests of the top 19 banks and other programs was fostering uncertainty. Such public flagellation has become a frequent occurrence for officials at the Treasury since Congress passed the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program in October 2008 to help banks recapitalize and clean up their balance sheets. The Treasury Secretary acknowledged that results of the aggressive intervention have been “mixed,” but offered a defense officials have expressed both publicly and privately, that the economy would be worse without the steps they have taken. Source:

10. April 22, Nashville Business Journal – (Tennessee) Charges filed in local Ponzi scheme. An individual who billed himself as a financial life coach is facing federal criminal charges after prosecutors say the Brentwood man defrauded investors out of nearly $11 million in a Ponzi scheme. The defendant faces eight counts of wire and mail fraud in documents filed by the U.S. Attorney General’s office in U.S. District Court. In late January, a federal court froze the assets of the defendant and his company, ProTrust Management, after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against him. That complaint alleged that the defendant defrauded 27 investors out of at least $6.5 million. It also alleged that ProTrust committed ongoing securities fraud by investing in “fictitious securities,” as well as the federal government’s $825 billion bailout package, also known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. The SEC says the defendant is not a licensed financial planner nor securities broker, lied about his credentials and lied about affiliations with gold-plate financial services firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Berkshire Hathaway. The current charges now say the defendant defrauded some 50 clients to the tune of $10.9 million. Source:

11. April 22, Yankton Press & Dakotan – (South Dakota) New local scam reported. After days of being subjected to fraudulent calls seeking personal information, Yankton-area residents have now begun receiving e-mails targeted at customers of a local bank. First Dakota National Bank warned the public of the e-mail scam on April 22 in a media release. The e-mails claim to be a correspondence from First Dakota and offer a link to a site that purports to be that of the financial institution. The e-mail states: “You have 1 new ALERT message. Please login to your First Dakota National Bank Online Login and visit the Message Center section in order to read the message. To Login, please click the link below: First Dakota National Bank Online Banking.” A spokesman of First Dakota reported earlier in the day that the bank was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to get the site closed down. A message left with the regional FBI office located in Minneapolis was not returned on April 22. First Dakota was also cited in the phone scam that began on April 17, in which individuals were also asked to give personal information. Later, the calls claimed to be originating from other local banking institutions, as well. The mass-call effort had some individuals receiving three fraudulent calls a day. Source:

Information Technology

34. April 21, CNET News – (International) F-Secure says stop using Adobe Acrobat Reader. With all the Internet attacks that exploit Adobe Acrobat Reader people should switch to using an alternative PDF reader, a security expert said at the RSA security conference on April 22. Of the targeted attacks so far this year, more than 47 percent of them exploit holes in Acrobat Reader while six vulnerabilities have been discovered that target the program, the chief research officer of security firm F-Secure, said in a briefing with journalists. Just last month, Adobe issued a fix for an Acrobat Reader hole that attackers had been exploiting for months, after issuing a patch for a critical vulnerability in Flash player the month before. In 2008, the favored targeted attack vector was Microsoft Word, which had 15 known vulnerabilities, compared to Acrobat Reader’s 19, and which represented 34.5 percent of the attacks, compared to 28.6 percent for Acrobat Reader, he said. Top-level executives, defense contractors, and other people who have access to specific sensitive corporate or government information are subject to targeted attacks where an attacker sends a file that has malicious code embedded in it. Once the file is opened, the computer is infected typically with a back door that then steals data. PDF and Flash browser plug-ins are also used in attacks known as “drive-by downloads” in which malware is surreptitiously downloaded onto a computer while the user is surfing the Web. The number of PDF files used in attacks rose from 128 between January 1 and April 16 last year to more than 2,300 in that same time period during this year, the chief research officer said. Source:

Communications Sector

35. April 23, Kennebec Journal – (Maine) Fire knocks out cable, Internet for 27,000. Some 27,000 Time Warner Cable subscribers are without cable and Internet service following a fire Thursday at the intersection of Western Avenue and Granite Hill Road. An overload on a transformer set an electrical pole on fire. That, in turn, caused a grass fire shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday, according to the Manchester town manager. The fire damaged Time Warner fiber optic cable, leaving 27,000 subscribers in Greene, Leeds, Lewiston, Manchester, Readfield and elsewhere without service. Source:

36. April 22, CNET News – (National) AT&T cuts cord on VoIP service. AT&T has pulled the plug on its CallVantage voice over IP phone service, according to letters from subscribers this week. The service competed with other VoIP services like Vonage. VoIP services use broadband networks to place phone calls. These services are much less expensive than traditional landline phone services and cost between $20 and $30 per month. An AT&T spokesman has said that the VoiceWing service will be disconnected in phases throughout the year. And the company will send several more reminders to its customers before it shuts down the service. Source: