Morning Security Brief: ISC West Awards Controversy, Hacking Tools Legislation, Merchant of Death, and More

By Carlton Purvis


►The ISC West product award process has come under scrutiny by critics calling for more transparency. IP Video Market founder and blogger John Honovich questioned the legitimacy of the process in a post earlier this week. “Decisions are made in secret. No one publicly ever learns why one product won over another. [The] Security Industry Association simply releases a long list of winners with hardly any details about why or how a decision was made,” he wrote. Honovich said awards for best new products are often awarded for products that aren’t new, aren’t cutting edge, and many of them are already widely available and not novel products. Pixim-powered cameras won multiple awards, which Honovich says is a conflict of interest considering the Pixim marketing manager is the SIA committee chair. Honovich said Pixim responded to the post saying that the Pixim employee “does not view the presentations, does not vote, and has no idea of the voting outcome in advance.” Read the full post at IP Video Market. Comments on the post complain that the awards process has "zero credibility" and awards go to companies that have put the most money into the conference.

►The European Union is pushing to criminalize the production and sale of hacking tools, possibly making criminals out of security researchers. Critics argue the law should take into account the intent before criminalizing possession. “There are times when security researchers need to access systems without permission without no criminal intent,” said EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez.

►Russia says the U.S. courts are “baseless and biased” in response to the sentencing of arms dealer Viktor Bout, a.k.a. the "Merchant of Death." Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday for conspiracy and terrorism charges. “Despite the shakiness of the evidence, the illegal nature of his arrest by U.S. special forces in Thailand and his subsequent extradition, the U.S. justice system, carrying out a clear political order, has ignored lawyers' arguments and numerous appeals in the defence of a Russian citizen,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. “Prosecutors argued that Bout's weapons fuelled some of the world's bloodiest conflicts, including Rwanda, Angola and Congo. They said he was looking for new arms deals in places like Libya and Tanzania when he was arrested by U.S. agents posing as Colombian Farc rebels,” the Guardian reports.

►In other news, the Coast Guard sinks a ghost ship that arrived in the Gulf of Alaska from Japan after drifting at sea since the earthquake and tsunami last March. ♦ The U.S. issues a security alert for Nigeria, saying the country faces high risk for terrorist attacks because of the Easter holiday. ♦ And federal agents have threatened to seize from Sotheby’s a 10th century Cambodian statue that was originally stolen from the Khmer kingdom.


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