Morning Security Brief: October Is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Canadian Drug Smugglers, Internet Surveillance, and More

By Carlton Purvis


►Halloween will now share its month with a campaign to combat the ghosts and ghouls inhabiting our computers and networks. On Monday, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring October Cybersecurity Awareness Month. “Every American has a stake in securing our networks and personal information, and we are working across the public and private sectors to ensure coordinated and planned responses to cyber incidents,” he said. Likewise, many security surveys and studies in the past have shown that no matter how complex your cybersecurity software, the end user is always the weakest link. This month-long awareness campaign seeks to educate users to try and close that gap. “I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the importance of cybersecurity and to observe this month with activities, events, and trainings that will enhance our national security and resilience,” he said.

►Unmanned border crossings between the U.S. and Canada allowed smugglers from British Columbia to move large amounts of drugs into the Pacific Northwest. After a six-month investigation, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police busted a three-man (so far) drug smuggling operation in the Saskatchewan province netting 30 kilograms of cocaine and 100,000 tablets of ecstasy, the Regina Leader-Post reported. The drugs were being brought across the border at an unmanned crossing near the community of Val Marie in southwest Saskatchewan.

►Internet companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook are becoming increasingly important surveillance tools for law enforcement agencies. “Although such companies try to keep their users' information private, their business models depend on exploiting it to sell targeted advertising, and when governments demand they hand it over, they have little choice but to comply,” Reuters reports. The report says demands for Internet companies to hand over information has become routine. One expert estimates 300,000 such requests are made each year. The costs of surveillance are minimal as well. Google charges $25 for the data. Yahoo charges $20. Microsoft and Facebook provide the data for free.

►TSA is implementing new machines that would scan government issued IDs to check them for authenticity. Currently, TSA agents use a small ultraviolet flashlight that they shine over IDs. “The new technology would authenticate government-issued IDs by comparing written information on the card with information encoded in the ID's bar codes, magnetic strip or computer chip. It would also match the ID to the boarding pass,” CNN reported.

►In other news, a 15-minute online documentary called (Un)Lawful Access was produced to raise concerns about legislation being proposed in Canada that would give law enforcement warrantless access to personal online data. It would also allow real time ISP surveillance and mandatory disclosure of customer information. The documentary interviews various security and cybersecurity experts on what passing Lawful Access legislation would mean for the average citizen and breaks down what type of information investigators would have access to. ⇒And private security firms hired to guard and escort ships are learning the hard way about entering the ports of other countries armed to the teeth. Last week, in Mozambique, five employees of Greyside were arrested for carrying unauthorized weapons. In the past, U.S. and British mercs have been arrested in other countries for carrying unauthorized weapons. In one case, it took six months to negotiate their release, Wired reports


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