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Morning Security Brief: Death Toll in Yemen Attack, DHS Under Investigation, And More

By Megan Gates

An official death toll for yesterday’s attack on Yemen’s Defense Ministry headquarters was released this morning with 52 people killed and more than 160 others wounded, The New York Times reports. “Assailants widely suspected of being members of al Qaeda carried out a two-pronged attack on Yemen’s heavily guarded Defense Ministry headquarters.” It blew “open an entrance to the compound with a car full of explosives and gunning down civilians at a hospital inside,” according to witness reports gathered by The NYT. More than 150 intelligence and security officials have been killed in Yemen over the last two years in various attacks, with a majority of the deaths stemming from drive-by shootings.

A Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing on December 10 to examine whether or not the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using overtime hours compensation, which it’s technically not eligible for. The hearing, to be held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce, is in response to an Office of Special Counsel report detailing abuse of overtime payments to DHS. “The report reveals that, for years, Homeland Security employees have abused a fund meant to compensate workers who must sometimes stay on duty beyond normal business hours, such as law enforcement officers responding to criminal activity,” Government Security News reports.

Clashes erupted yesterday in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, prior to a United Nations Security Council vote to strengthen the international force that’s been unable to stop violence in the area, according to The New York Times. “Officials and citizens said some strategic locations in the capital, Bangui – a military camp, the neighborhood around the airport and an opposition district – appeared to have come under sustained assault from forces opposed to the rebel coalition that seized power in the country earlier this year,” The NYT report said. The article states that an official from Doctors Without Borders said that at least 50 people have been killed and approximately 100 others wounded, but other reports put the number of deaths near 100.  In March of 2013, the rebel group Seleka, a mostly Muslim group, forced the nation’s president, Francois Bozize, to flee the nation and replaced him with Michel Djotodia. Militia groups of mostly Christians have risen up to oppose the rebels and “the fighting Thursday appeared to be a calculated demonstration of force by Seleka’s opponents at a time when foreign powers were preparing to vote on a stronger intervention force.” The Security Council voted previously to support an intervention of force with more than 2,000 African Union troops on the ground, and it has asked nations to contribute further to the efforts to expand the force to 3,600.

Microsoft Corp announced that it has “disrupted the largest network of compromised personal computers, involving some 2 million machines around the world, since it stepped up its battle against organized online criminals three years ago,” according to Reuters. Microsoft filed a lawsuit that effectively blocked all Internet traffic to 18 addresses involved in the ZeroAccess crime ring, which was devoted to click fraud and cheated “advertisers on search engines, including Microsoft’s Bing, by making them pay for interactions that have no chance of leading to a sale.” At the same time that Microsoft won its court order, law enforcement agencies in Europe served warrants, allowing them to seize servers that contained more evidence about the leaders of the ring. Microsoft said that the scheme cost advertisers on Bing, Google Inc., and Yahoo Inc. approximately $2.7 million monthly.

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