NEWS

Afternoon Security Brief: License Plate Scanners, UK Electronic Monitoring Legislation, New Mac Virus Seen in the Wild, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►Montgomery Count Maryland Police say license plate scanner technology would have saved lives in the attacks by the D.C. snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo 10 years ago. Ten people were killed and three wounded during a three-week killing spree that shut down highways and made people afraid to visit gas stations. “Because the killer’s car crossed paths with police at murder scenes, but didn’t fit descriptions of a suspect vehicle, the plate reader would have remembered,” CBS News reports. “How many hits, or how many times has the same tag come into contact with law enforcement? That would have given us a huge clue,” Capt. Paul Starks of Montgomery County said.

►New legislation is to be announced in the United Kingdom that will give the British intelligence agency GCHQ access to calls, texts, e-mails, and Web browsing history in real time and without a warrant. The Home Office says the law provides a great weapon in the fight against terrorism by letting intelligence officials know “who an individual or group is in contact with, how often and for how long.” A government spokesman said it will make sure the monitoring is in line with the government’s approach to civil liberties. Critics of the legislation compared the law to surveillance in countries like China and Iran calling it a major blow to democracy. Until now, approval from a judge was needed to monitor communications.

►A rare Mac Trojan has been discovered in the wild. Hidden in a fake word document, it exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Office for Mac creating a back door for hackers to access files, install programs, and create new accounts on a user’s computer. So far the virus seems to only affect Tibetan NGOs. Computer security experts suspect GhostNet, a Chinese cyber espionage group, created the virus to spy on Tibetan sympathizers.

►In other news, a bird flu outbreak in pheasants in Ireland has officials on alert. A one-kilometer area has been quarantined and people who have been exposed to the birds have been given preventative anti-viral medication. ♦ The USDA is dedicating the month of April to raising awareness about invasive plant and animal species and have developed an online system for reporting them. ♦ And police say the suspect in the Oikos University shooting had been expelled from the university, recently evicted, and was made fun of for his poor English skills. The former student, One Goh, returned to campus Monday killing seven people before fleeing and being apprehend later at a local supermarket.

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