Morning Security Brief: Canadian Cybersecurity, Tsunami Debris Has Scientists on Alert, TWIC Extensions Approved, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►A secret memo from Canada's former public safety minister revealed that Canadian officials don't feel the country has the tools to fight hackers and that the cyberthreat is more widespread than originally thought. The memo was written in August 2011, almost a year after Canada released its cybersecurity strategy. “The government’s ability to respond is hindered by the lack of a national emergency policy for cyber attacks, aging lab facilities and difficulty recruiting specialists eligible for ‘top secret’ security status,” according to another document. The documents were obtained by Bloomberg News using Canada’s freedom of information law.

►As debris from the tsunami that hit Japan last year begins to wash ashore in the United States, scientists are worried about more than just radiation. Invasive species that hitched a ride on the debris are “a very clear threat,” says John Chapman, a research scientist at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Oregon. A concrete and steel dock recently washed up on Oregon’s coast carrying a species of crab, a species of algae, and a starfish previously unknown to the West Coast. "It's exactly like saying you threw a bowling ball into a China shop. It's going to break something. But will it be valuable or cheap glass. It's incredibly difficult to predict what will happen next," Chapman said.

►The Committee on Homeland Security passed legislation to extend the validity of TWICs. “Compelling hardworking Americans to undertake the expense and hassle of renewing their cards is not justifiable given that the basic requirements for biometric readers to match these cards with the cardholders have not been issued by the Department of Homeland Security,” Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) said in a statement.

►In other news, scientists at the University of Maryland’s Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials have created an infrared light detector that could be used to detect chemical weapons more than a thousand times faster than existing technology.♦ A BBC special report examines Mexico’s human trafficking industry. ♦ And nineteen deaths have been reported in a new outbreak of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo after Mai Mai fighters attacked an army base. The renewed fighting has displaced up to 100,000 people from their homes, Al Jazeera reports.


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