Morning Security Brief: FBI Tattoo Database, West Nile Epidemic, Kaspersky Lab Discovers Gauss, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►The FBI's Biometric Center of Excellence is asking local police for information "related to any current databases containing tattoo/symbol images, their possible meanings, gang affiliations, terrorist groups or other criminal organizations." The FBI’s goal is to combine its database with information being collected by local authorities to create a searchable database of scars, tattoos, and birthmarks by 2014. “The FBI's interest in broadening and deepening its tattoo database is part of the agency's larger project of collecting biometric information for its Next Generation Identification Program. That initiative, split into seven stages, also aims to expand the agency's collection of fingerprints, palm prints and iris scans, and to improve existing facial-recognition technology,” The Orlando Sentinel reports.

►West Nile virus has become epidemic in north Texas. Nine people have died from West Nile virus in Dallas County, leading a judge to declare a public health emergency for the area. County officials have reported 162 additional cases of the virus, the most cases in a year since 2004. County, state, and federal health and emergency management authorities are collaborating to respond to the outbreak. West Nile is spread from birds to people via mosquitoes.

►A sophisticated new computer virus has been found in computers in the Middle East. The new virus, Gauss, discovered by Kaspersky Lab, steals financial information from customers at Lebanese banks. “The firm said that similarities in coding, structure, and operation meant it could say ‘with a high degree of certainty’ that Gauss was related to ‘Flame,’ a sophisticated piece of spyware which prompted an Internet blackout across Iran's oil industry in April, and to ‘Stuxnet,’ an infrastructure-wrecking worm whose discovery revolutionized the cybersecurity field,” the Associated Press reports. Very little is known about the true capabilities and intent of the virus and one of the main questions right now is whether it is state-sponsored.

►In other news, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publishes guidelines for surveillance for chemical emergencies. ♦ The DoD wants better management for WMD response teams. ♦ And Massachusetts representative Edward Markey has introduced the Wireless Surveillance Act of 2012. See what it says here.



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