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April 2008

Security Research

The European Union has published a considerable amount of information about its Framework Programs, its principal vehicle to fund scientific and technological research and development. A general outline is available here and the program’s homepage can be viewed here.. The EU accepts online submissions, send them here

    Legal Report

    U.S. Federal Legislation: Terrorism Insurance

    A bill (H.R. 2761) that would reauthorize the government-based terrorism insurance program for seven more years has been signed into law (P.L. 110-160). Under the law, the terrorism insurance program, which was slated to expire at the end of 2008, will be extended until the end of 2015.

      U.S. Federal Legislation: Airport Security

      A bill (H.R. 1413) that would establish an airport security pilot program has been approved by the House of Representatives and is now pending in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The program, which would be carried out at five commercial airports. would screen all airport workers with access to sensitive areas within the airport and would then conduct a vulnerability assessment of each airport to determine how well the screening programs worked.

        U.S. Federal Legislation: Gun Control

        In response to the Virginia Tech shootings, the President has signed a bill (H.R. 2640) into law that would require all states to submit information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

        According to statements by Rep. McCarthy, the law was necessary because not all states submit complete information. For example, not all states enter the records of those deemed mentally defective into the NCIS system. And for some states that do have complete information, the data is not automated, so it cannot be entered into the NCIS system.

          U.S. Federal Legislation: Homeland Security

          A bill (H.R. 1392) designed to track the use of homeland security grant money was included in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill, which became law (P.L. 110-161) in December.

          The provision requires that homeland security grant recipients submit quarterly reports describing the nature and amount of each expenditure made using grant funds. This information will be published and made available to the public on the DHS Web site.

            U.S. Federal Legislation: Identity Theft

            A bill (S. 2168) introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would increase penalties for identity theft has been approved by the Senate and is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

            The bill would provide restitution for victims of identity theft for the time spent dealing with the issue as well as actual monetary damages. The bill would also expand the identity theft laws to include organizations that are victimized rather than just individuals as under current law. Such damages could be paid for using criminal and civil forfeitures of property used to commit computer fraud offenses.

              State Legislation: Oklahoma: Background Screening

              A new Oklahoma law (formerly H.B. 1927) would require that special advocates—those appointed by the court to represent the best interest of a child—undergo a criminal background check.

                State Legislation: Wisconsin: RFID

                A bill (A.B. 488) introduced in the Wisconsin Assembly would prohibit the sale of consumer goods equipped with RFID tags unless the seller renders the tags inoperable before the consumer takes possession of the items.

                  Elsewhere in the Courts: Sexual Harrassment

                  A federal appeals court has overturned a circuit court’s sexual harassment verdict in favor of a fast food restaurant. In the case, the appeals court ruled that the owner of the business could be held liable for the actions of the restaurant manager who fired a teenage employee after she refused to date him and then blocked her access to information she needed to report the incident.

                  Elsewhere in the Courts: Employment Screening

                  Contract employees assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) can pursue their lawsuit against the agency over stringent new background screening rules. The court ruled that the new requirements raise privacy issues and do not seem to further the government’s legitimate interests because they target low-risk employees as well as those in more sensitive positions.

                  Elsewhere in the Courts: Mental Health

                  A federal appeals court has ruled that an employee who suffered a breakdown after a stray dog found its way into a warehouse where she was working can pursue her claims against the company. The employee filed a lawsuit arguing that the company violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when it fired her after the incident. The court agreed that the employee’s actions, which included irrational behavior and anxiety, should have alerted the company that she might be suffering from a serious mental health condition.

                  SM Online

                  Religious Institutions

                  Houses of worship aren’t immune to crime and violence, but there are security resources (here and here) out there to keep worshippers looking above rather than around.

                    Real ID

                    DHS has tiered implementation of REAL ID rules for secure licenses and identification cards. After 2014, licenses issued to drivers younger than 50 must be compliant, while by 2017, all Americans must carry compliant licenses for federal uses.

                      Suicide Bombings

                      Find out how a knowledge of crowd movements may help reduce casualties from a suicide bomb attack. For an earlier 2005 study on the same phenomenon, click here

                        Spam Explosion

                        Spam has exploded, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of all e-mail sent in 2007, reports Barracuda Networks.

                          Emotional Distress

                          An employee may sue his employer for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a federal appeals court ruled, after the worker was fired for refusing to confess to a crime he did not commit.

                          Russian Cybercrime

                          Russian cybercriminals, says McAfee, are a permanent and serious danger with most phishing, spam, and identity theft schemes led by such groups.

                            Security Patches

                            Missing security patches? This free vulnerability-scanning tool will help security professionals detect the threats if they have Microsoft Windows.

                              Bomb IQ

                              A government portal that helps U.S. bomb disposal technicians keep up with techniques flourishing on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq is opening to some private sector users.

                                Sexual Harassment

                                The California Court of Appeal has overturned a $1.5 million harassment verdict and ordered a new trial because the jury was given incorrect instructions on what constitutes sexual harassment. The plaintiff in the case was spanked as part of a team-building exercise.

                                Malware's Tentacles

                                Despite security solutions, 72 percent of networks with more than 100 workstations and 23 percent of home users are malware-infected, says PandaLabs.

                                  Overseas Threats

                                  The Department of State has broken down the top threats of 2007. Theft of trade secrets, cyberattacks, insider threats, “home-grown” political radicalism, terrorism, and political conflict were the most serious threats to U.S. security.


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