Morning Security Brief: Spanish Botnet, Napolitano at RSA, BlackBerry Security, TSO Abuses, & Data Retention Legal Loss

Sherry Harowitz


♦ Three men suspected of launching the Mariposa botnet, named after the Spanish word for butterfly, have been arrested by Spanish police, reports Reuters. The botnet has infected an estimated 13 million computers worldwide and stole credit card data. "Mariposa had infected machines in 190 countries in homes, government agencies, schools, more than half of the world's 1,000 largest companies and at least 40 big financial institutions, according to two Internet security firms that helped Spanish officials crack the ring," according to Reuters.

Business Week gives highlights of the speech Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will give today at the annual RSA conference on cyber issues. She'll highlight the need for "developing new devices for authenticating computer users and automate responses to cyber attacks,' says the magazine. She will also note the need to get better at quickly identifying computer users as a way of catching those launching attacks, and "Napolitano also will announce a contest to develop a 'clear and compelling message' to make the public more aware of computer-security issues," the Business Week reports.

♦ shows BlackBerry users five easy ways to get the most protection out of the "most secure" smartphone on the market. Rule number one: always password protect your BlackBerry. "This is probably the single most important--and effective--BlackBerry security tip that anyone can offer you," CIO writer Al Sacco says. Two other smart recommendations include encrypting your BlackBerry as well as wiping it clean when you buy another smartphone.

♦ Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has written a letter to homeland security chief Janet Napolitano complaining of abusive practices by TSA officers, reports The Washington Post's Joe Davidson. In his letter, Issa tells Napolitano that "the persistent misbehavior indicates that the Homeland Security Department is unwilling or unable to rein in its agents." TSA acknowledged the incidents Issa complained about, but in defense of their officers said, "The inappropriate actions of a few individuals in no way reflect on the outstanding work of the more than 50,000 Transportation Security Officers who work tirelessly to keep our skies safe."

♦ Germany's highest court yesterday suspended an EU counterterrorism law  that mandated phone and e-mail providers store customer data for 6 months. 'The court felt that the data was not properly secured or protected and that its use had not been made clear," writes CNET's Lance Whitney. Passed in 2005 in response to the Madrid train bombings of 2004, civil libertarians throughout Europe have fought the law while government and law enforcement officials believe its a necessary tool to fight terrorism.


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