Morning Security Brief: RSA Used Second NSA Tool; Russian Troops in Ukraine, Treating Infectious Diseases, And More

By Holly Gilbert

►Reuters reports that a team of academic researchers have found a second tool that security firm RSA adopted from the National Security Agency (NSA) that would allow the spy agency to conduct wider eavesdropping on some Internet communications. A similar report by Reuters in December 2013 revealed a $10 million contract awarded to RSA by the NSA to adopt a tool called “Dual Elliptic Curve” that had a “deliberate flaw–or ‘back door’–that allowed the NSA to crack the encryption.” According to the professors’ research, the second tool, called the "Extended Random" extension for secure  Web sites, could help crack another security product provided by RSA tens of thousands of times faster. While RSA acknowledges that it works with the NSA, the company has continuously denied any intentional creation of flaws in its security products to allow the agency to better spy on digital communications.

►The head of NATO says that there is no sign Russian troops are planning to pull out from the border with Ukraine, BBC reports. Anders Fogh Rasmusse said just ahead of a NATO summit that a “political dialogue” is still the best way to solve the crisis in the European nation, which lost its region of Crimea to Russia last month in an annexation. Russian president Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday that he had ordered a “partial withdrawal of Russian troops near the eastern border of Ukraine.”

► The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on Monday assessing a program run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide medical support from CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) events and to treat emerging infectious diseases. Between 2012 and 2013, the department awarded more than $440 million in contracts to build three Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CDIAM) that would manufacture pandemic influenza vaccines during an emergency, provide packaging support during emergency medical distribution, and workforce training. While the GAO is required to assess the effectiveness of the HHS program, the report states that the programs have not been operational long enough for a proper evaluation. “Until the CIADM core services are used, it will be unclear how effectively they will support the development and production of CBRN medical countermeasures,” reads the report.

►As the three-week hunt for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 continues, the Malaysian government has released the transcript from the cockpit of the disappeared jetliner. CBS News reports that the last words transmitted to air-traffic control from the cockpit were not “all right, good night,” as originally reported, but were “Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero.” Malaysian officials reporting the news on Monday night did not explain the discrepancy, and it has still not been determined whether the pilot or co-pilot of the missing flight spoke those words.  


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