Morning Security Brief: Drug Sniffing Dogs, Google Slams Mobile Security Vendors, DHS Denies Hackers Hit Water Pump, and More

By Carlton Purvis

► Is a sniff by a drug dog a search covered by the Fourth Amendment? The Supreme Court will soon decide. Police in Florida were tipped off that someone was growing marijuana inside a house, but after surveillance of the house, nothing turned up. A detective took a drug-sniffing dog to the porch of the house and the dog alerted that it smelled marijuana. The defendant, Joelis Jardines, argued that the sniff on the porch was an illegal search. A trial court agreed and threw out the case, but the appeals court disagreed, leaning on a ruling from 2005 that said, “dog sniffs only find contraband, and because nobody has a legitimate privacy interest in contraband, a dog sniff is not a search. Dogs, unlike certain technological devices such as a wiretap or a device that detects heat in a house, only alert police to illegal activity, not indiscriminately capturing random legal activity,” the Miami Herald reports. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a dog sniff without a warrant was an unreasonable search.

►Google says mobile security software vendors are scammers. Google engineer Chris DiBona says anti-virus companies are playing on consumers’ fears to try and sell unneeded mobile phone security software. “If you work for a company selling virus protection for Android, RIM or iOS you should be ashamed of yourself,” he posted online. DiBona noted that no smartphone has ever had a virus problem similar to one on a PC or Mac computer. A traditional computer virus on a mobile phone is possible, but not probable, he said.

►DHS and the FBI dismissed the conclusions of an Illinois terrorism intelligence center that said hackers caused a city water pump to burn out. “After detailed analysis, DHS and the FBI have found no evidence of a cyber intrusion into the SCADA system of the Curran-Gardner Public Water District in Springfield, Illinois,” DHS said in a statement. DHS spokesman Chris Ortman told CNET that there was no evidence to support claims made in initial reporting.

►In other news, the security industry is mourning the loss of respected security veteran and founder of American Alarm & Communication, John Mabry. Mabry died in a car crash in Georgia last Friday. ♦ The Electronic Security Association and other organizations have expressed their support for a bill that would allow electronic security companies access to he FBI database to vet potential employees. ♦ And the Pentagon says military action is acceptable in response to a cyberattack.


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