Morning Security Brief: Counter-Meth Funding Cuts, Prison Cell Phones, HIPAA, and More

By Carlton Purvis


►In February, the federal government cancelled a program that gave local law enforcement agencies millions of dollars to confront methamphetamine production head on. Since the cut, seizures of meth labs have dropped by one-third, the Associated Press reports. Without the funding, law enforcement agencies in states with meth problems are abandoning actively seeking out meth production. “Authorities say they have no doubt that meth trafficking remains brisk,” writes the Associated Press. In areas that can fund activities to counter meth, angencies continue to make record busts.

►In Mississippi, cell phone calls from inside prisons are checked against a database before they’re sent to the cell phone tower. Prison officials in Louisiana are considering adopting that type of program to stop illegal phone calls, The Advocate reports. The state’s prisons are having a problem with cell phones getting to inmates from visitors or corrupt officers. Thirty-two phones have been confiscated from inmates at Angola State Penitentiary this year, according to The Advocate. Seven of the phones were confiscated from the extended lock down area, and employees have been fired for bringing phones to inmates. Because it is difficult to keep phones out, officials seek a new approach; the new program would keep the signals in.

►An article by Becker’s Hospital Review discusses the potential violations of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) that come from the increased use of text messaging to notify physicians to contact the hospital. The concern is that patient information could be sent over unsecured networks. “The e-mails are entered by the hospital employee, converted into a text message and sent to the physician's cellular phone. Physicians frequently request that more patient data is included in the message, such as the patient's name and room number, so the physician can look up the chart prior to returning the call,” the writer states. There have also been instances of hospital employees and doctors communicating patient information back and forth from their personal cell phones. These systems are often not encrypted because of the extra expense to the hospital.

►The Sun Sentinel writes about a new Android app that lets users lock or wipe their phones by text message in the event it’s lost or stolen. ⇒NIST seeks public comment on a draft of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity (NICE). The plan, "Building a Digital Nation," outlines NICE's mission, vision, goals and objectives, the press release states. ⇒ Brazilian police are setting up permanent bases in the favelas for a massive offensive being launched to clean up Rio de Janeiro before the 2016 Olympic games.



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