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Morning Security Brief: Crimea Update, New Radar Data in Missing Plane Case, Catastrophic Cyber Attacks, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

►Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Russia will not seize other regions of Ukraine, this after the weekend's referrendum in which Crimea broke away from Ukraine and asked to be integrated into the Russian Federation. Ukranian military forces are trapped in bases in Crimea, and reports that a serviceman was killed at a base in Simferopol have led to Ukraine authorizing the use of weapons by its soldiers for self-defense. Meanwhile, western nations continue to implement sanctions, and the United Kingdom has suspended military cooperation with Russia. The BBC reports that pro-Russian activists have taken control of the headquarters of Ukraine's navy in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.

►ABC News reports that new radar data collected by Thailand reveals that 8 minutes after the missing Malasysian jetliner ceased communicating, Thai military radar detected a signal of "a plane flying in the direction opposite...back toward Kuala Lumpur. The plane later turned right, toward Butterworth, a Malaysian city along the Strait of Malacca. The radar signal was infrequent and did not include data such as the flight number." The plane never entered Thai airspace, so no alarm was raised.

►The issue of the liklihood of a catastrophic cyber attack is probed on Forbes's Web site by one of the authors of a new article in The Electricity Journal, "Cyber Security and Critical Energy Infrastructure." In it, the authors detail how the number of sophisticated cyber attacks on companies providing critical energy infrastructures are increasing. As power networks and, to a certain extent, oil and gas infrastructure both upstream and downstream, are becoming increasingly integrated with information communication technology systems, they are growing more susceptible to cyberattacks. "The topic of cyberattack against critical infrastructure has unfortunately moved from a hypothetical to a reality in my academic career.  Because of Stuxnet, which allegedly had a significant impact upon centrifuges employed in the Iranian nuclear enrichment program, we now have evidence that computers can be manipulated in a way to produce damage of physical plant and hardware.  We are contending with the fact that computers can be hijacked and instructed to break things, a topic more out of science fiction," notes coauthor Chris Bronk, Fellow in Information Technology Policy and Director of the Program on Energy and Cybersecurity in the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute.

►In other news, Las Vegas will once again benefit from federal homeland security funding. The Las Vegas Sun reports that the city should "receive $1 million of more than $400 million the federal government is distributing this year to communities to prepare for and respond to disasters." Another city with good news about funding is New Orleans, which  "has been allocated $3 million under the Urban Areas Security Initiative for protecting infrastructure, improving emergency management in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard parishes, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo released by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans," notes The Times-Picayune. A Lodi, California, man has been arrested by the FBI after a year-long surveillance on suspicion of supporting terrorism and the intent to join al-Qaida. Nichlas Michael Teusant, 20, was arrest by federal agents at the Canadian border after making threatening statements to undercover agents and suggesting online that he was preparing to carry out a bombing or other act of violence.

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