Morning Security Brief: Mad Cow Case Reported, Military Operations in Afghanistan, Nissan Hacked, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►First discovered in 1986, mad cow disease has killed more than 150 people and 184,000 cows worldwide. The neurological disease damages the central nervous system of cows and in humans can cause loss of brain function leading to a coma and death. A case of the disease has been reported in a cow in California. Mad cow or bovine spongiform encephalopathy is usually acquired when a cow or person ingests the brain or spinal tissue of an infected animal. Scientist are calling the recent case atypical, however, because they don’t think that occurred in this instance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there is no risk to the food supply of people or animals. South Korea has suspended sales of U.S. imported beef.

►A new report from the Kabul-based thinktank Afghan Analysts Network says the U.S. has misled the public by calling military operations in Afghanistan “Afghan-led.” The phrase has become more prevalent in NATO press releases describing operations, but sometimes U.S. and NATO troops were the only ones on the ground. "ISAF's desire to present accounts of events as favorably as possible is to be expected, but sometimes this slips into propaganda, half-truths and, occasionally, cover up," said Kate Clark, author of the report. The report details an instance where U.S. troops raided a television station that insurgents had attacked. An investigative report concluded that U.S. troops were the only ones to enter the building; however, a subsequent press release from NATO said it was a team of Afghan commandos who led the assault. Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for U.S. forces, when contacted by the Associated Press insisted that all counterterrorism and special forces missions have been Afghan-led.

►Eighteen of 24 federal agencies have reported inadequate information security controls for financial reporting for fiscal year 2011. And over the past six years, the number of incidents reported by federal agencies to the federal information security incident center has increased by 680 percent. A GAO investigation found that “most major agencies had weaknesses in most major categories of information system controls.” A new GAO report outlines the cyberthreats facing the nation’s systems and discuses cyberincidents and their impacts.

►In other news, Nissan releases a statement saying it was hacked and that user IDs and passwords were transmitted, but not personal information. The statement does not say how many customers are impacted. ♦ Investigators are trying to determine whether containers containing 1,000 gallons of sulfuric acid that spilled from the back of a truck on Tuesday were properly secured. The driver received burns over 10 percent of his body when he fell into the spill. ♦  And hackers pose as security researchers via e-mail to infect the computers of Tibetan activists by attaching malicious pdfs to "security alerts."



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