NEWS

Morning Security Brief: Investigators Claim Death Threat, New U.S. Airline Security Directives, Malware Sneak Attack, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

The New York Times has run an exposee on the now defunct security company, Blackwater, and its behavior in Iraq during the U.S. occupation. Among the revelations is that Blackwater's top manager threatened to kill U.S. State Department investigators. The American Embassy officials in Baghad sided with Blackwater, forcing the investigators out of the country. In an analysis of the article, the BBC notes, "[The Times] paints a portrait of a company whose employees, from the top down, considered themselves above the law--engaging in reckless, threatening behaviour with a disregard for written procedures and civilian safety. Blackwater, which was later sold, renamed, and merged with its buyer company, currently has four employees on trial for killing 17 Iraqis in 2007. "The investigators observed numerous violations of government rules, including reducing the number of guards assigned to missions, storing weapons in unsafe locations, using unauthorised firearms and poorly maintained vehicles, providing poor work conditions for foreign contract workers, drinking heavily and 'partying with frequent female visitors'," the BBC summerizes. It also describes the two investigators being told that they would be killed and that no one could do anything about it because they were in Iraq. The investigator told The TImes, "I took [the] threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contracts."

►U.S. President Barak Obama's administration is likely to direct airport authorities and airlines operating overseas to expand passenger screening on flights into the United States. This directive, if issued, is in response to the threat of terrorists from Syria developing bombs that could be smuggled aboard. ABC News reports that "the proposed directives include requiring airport authorities overseas, particularly in Europe, to further scrutinize U.S.-bound passengers’ electronics and shoes, to set up more explosives detection machines, to increase random screenings of travelers, and to take a series of secret actions the public would never see.....  While intelligence obtained by the U.S. government has not indicated a specific target or a specific timeline, one source called the threat 'different and more disturbing than past aviation plots.'"

►Microsoft has executed a legal sneak attack that shut down millions of Web sites on Monday morning. KrebsonSecurity says that "In its latest bid to harness the power of the U.S. legal system to combat malicious software and cybercrooks, Microsoft convinced a Nevada court to grant the software giant authority over nearly two dozen domains belonging to no-ip.com, a company that provides dynamic domain name services.... [a]ttackers responsible for leveraging...remote-access Trojans known as 'njrat' and 'njw0rm' — were using no-ip.com’s services to guarantee that PCs infected with this malware would always be able to reach the Internet servers that the attackers were using to control them." According to no-ip.com, Microsoft said they out only be filtering out the malacious traffic flow, but  instead they also blocked legitimate users and customers of no-ip.com's clients. No-ip.com says that to deal with approximately 2,000 bad sites, Microsoft took down four million, and that no-ip.com was never contacted about the issue by Microsoft until the day the action was taken.

►A report released by Interactions Consumer Marketing on Retail's Reality: Shopping Behavior After Security Breaches details how customers react, even if their own data was not stolen. "Our study found that 12 percent of shoppers would stop shopping at a retailer hit with a breach, while a staggering 79 percent of shoppers who do return prefer to use cash as a method of payment as opposed to using credit or debit cards. More importantly, we discovered that it is possible for retailers to regain the trust of most shoppers after data exposure, but not before coming clean about the incident and being specific about what changes were made to prevent it in the future," states Internactions Consumer Marketing. The report also found that 45 precent of shoppers say they don't tust retailers to keep their information safe.

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