Morning Security Brief: Terrorist Attacks Hit Record Numbers, Cybersecurity Bills, Critical Infrastructure Attacks, and More
By Ann Longmore-Etheridge
A new report shows terrorist attacks and fatalities at an all-time high. Two bills are in the works in the United States that boost government cybersecurity research and development and increase the pool of critical infrastructure cybersecurity workers. A number of Mexican critical infrastructure sites have been attacked during the past week. Dutch police have arrested hackers who used malware to steal more than $1.4 million from online banking customers.
►A new report obtained by CNN shows that the number of terrorist attacks and fatalities was at a record high in 2012. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) states that there were more than 8,500 terrorist attacks and approximately 15,500 deaths. This was a 69 percent rise in attacks and an 89 percent rise in fatalities. START is one of U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Centers for Excellence. It compiles the Global Terrorism Database. CNN reports that 2013 may break 2012's highs. "This year is expected to outpace even 2012’s record high. There were 5,100 attacks in the first six months of 2013, said Gary LaFree, START’s director, and the wave of violence shows few signs of ebbing," states CNN. "Part of the observed increase in 2012 may be due to the fact that START has improved its data collection methods and is better than ever at finding and categorizing terrorism, LaFree said. But he said the dramatic rise is not just a matter of having better data."
►The U.S. Congress's House Homeland Security Committee has amended and approved cybersecurity bills that would increase government cybersecurity research and development and increase the number of critical infrastructure cybersecurity workers. According to Multichannel News, "The R&D bill would encourage the development of new infrastructure protection technologies and [ensure that] information is shared between government and the private sector.... Some of those concerns stemmed from questions about security clearances in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks and Navy Yard shooter, both of whom had access to critical facilities and information that in hindsight appeared clearly inappropriate."
►Mexico has suffered a series of attacks on critical infrastructure during the last week. The Chicago Tribune reports that "an unspecified number of substations and gas stations were attacked and damaged early on Sunday in the troubled western state of Michoacan in an attack that temporarily knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of people. National security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said authorities were still investigating the attacks but added that two men suspected of being involved had been killed in a firefight with soldiers, while three others had been captured." Since the attacks, Mexican security forces have been increased at both state and publicly owned infrastructures. It is believed that the attacks are the work of criminal gangs who are fighting each other and the authorities.
►Dutch cybercrime police have broken up a gang who used banking malware to purloin approximately $1.4 million from bank customers. The stolen funds were then laundered using Bitcoins. The malware, known as TorRAT, steals online banking information. The malware was distributed through phishing attacks and hacked Twitter feeds.