Morning Security Brief: Bioagent Leaks, Man Arrested For Capitol Attack Plans, Facebook Admits Tracking Users
A new report tells of accidental bioagent releases. An al Qaeda supporter is arrested for a plot on the Pentagon and the Capitol. And Facebook finally comes out and admits to tracking users while they weren't logged in.
►U.S. government laboratories had 395 instances that involved the potential release of bioagents between 2003 and 2009, according to a new National Research Council report . Animal bites, needle sticks, procedural issues, and equipment failure were cited among the reasons for the release, but the most common reasons for releases were “loss of containment” and spills. Seven of the releases resulted in infections. For security reasons, the CDC does not identify labs involved in select-agent research, but it plans to release a report next spring examining some of the incidents.
►A U.S. man linked to al Qaeda was arrested Wednesday for planning to fly remote-controlled airplanes into the Capitol and the Pentagon. Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, was arrested and charged with an aerial bombing plot to attack Washington and attempts to deliver bomb-making materials for use against US troops in Iraq, officials said. During the investigation, FBI agents posed as al Qaeda members and supplied Ferdaus with a plane, explosives, and small arms. Ferdaus, a physics graduate from Northeastern University, planned the attack and distributed it to undercover agents on thumb drives. “He faces up to 15 years in prison for supporting a foreign terrorist organization, up to 20 years for attempting to destroy national defense sites, and the same again for attempting to use explosives against buildings owned by the United States,” Agence France Presse reported.
►We were tracking you, but we didn’t mean to, said Facebook, admitting that it has been tracking web pages members visit even after they've logged out. The site confirmed on Wednesday what hacker Nik Cubrilovic first revealed on his blog Sunday, but said that it was a mistake “that software automatically downloaded to users' computers when they logged in to Facebook 'inadvertently' sent information to the company,” the Daily Mail reported. Facebook says it has fixed the problem now though. “We fixed the cookies so they won't include unique information in the future when people log out,” a spokeperson said.
►In other news, 16 hotel groups from around the world are working to establish industry standards for handling customer credit card information.♦ DHS considers fencing trouble spots along the U.S.-Canada border. ♦ And Malaysia becomes the UN’s cybersecurity hub .