Morning Security Brief: Bin Laden Anniversary Warning, A Social Network for Former Extremists, Iran’s Cyber-strength, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►The FBI and DHS have issued a warning of possible violence from al Qaeda affiliates in the coming weeks because of the upcoming anniversary of Osama bin Laden’ s death. “In the past six months, counterterrorism officials have seen what they consider an increase in intelligence about potential threats from the group, according to an intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information,” the Associated Press reports. The bulletin warns that al Qaeda is seeking to “advance plots along multiple fronts, including renewed efforts to target Western aviation.”

Wired examines a new social network for former violent extremists and their victims to share experiences. The site, Against Violent Extremism, will be run by ISD, “a London-based think tank that has a long track record working in the counter-extremism field.” It already includes members who were once a part of the white power movement and former Islamic extremists. “Members (who will all be vetted) can set their own privacy settings to control the information they share about themselves. The platform currently has 44 'formers,' 18 'survivors' from a total of 395 'connections' and plans to have 500 members by the end of year one and more than 1,000 by the end of the year two. Members are mapped so that people can search for expertise geographically,” Wired reports.

►Chinese and Russian hacking activities are a concern, but experts testified at a hearing on Thursday that Iran shouldn’t be overlooked. Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, told a House panel that Iran has invested heavily in its cyberattack capabilities in the last three years. The Iranian government has reportedly launched a $1 billion project to develop its cyber warfare capabilities. “Last summer, a hacker believed to be working with the Iranian government broke into a Dutch Web security firm and created fake certificates that are used to authenticate a Web browser's security. As a result of the hack, as many as 300,000 Iranians may have had their web communications monitored. That event forced many security experts to take notice of Iran's hacking skills,” the Huffington Post reports. James Lewis, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Iran's cyber capabilities are still in primitive stages and they probably don’t have the sophistication to launch an attack against the United States yet.

►Gun violence reported in the United States outranks reported incidents in other developed countries, according to a Police Executive Research Forum study released on Thursday. ♦ Security researcher Luigi Auriemma finds that network connected TVs and Blu-ray players are susceptible to hacking if an attacker is on the same network. And Hezbollah is upgrading its UAV unit to increase surveillance of Israel ad attack capability, according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.




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