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“The Weakest Link”- Insider Foils Underwear Bomb Plot May 8, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Risk & Risk Management, terrorism, Uncategorized.
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I have written extensively about the weakest link in any security program being the actual people responsible.  While we understand this point from a “good guys” perspective, it is just as true for our adversaries.   MSNBC reported today that the underwear bomber who was supposed to blow up a jet liner this month had been working for US and our Allies since day one and was a paid informant.  As stated on MSNBC: “An insider who worked with the United States and an allied security service to thwart an al-Qaida bomb plot hatched in Yemen was the man picked to carry out the suicide attack on a U.S.-bound airliner, U.S. and Yemeni officials tell NBC News. An unidentified Yemeni  government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the supposed suicide bomber was working for Western intelligence “from day one.”

The interesting point of this story is that it does not matter whether we are talking about nuclear facilities, cybersecurity, or counter terrorism, the human element always plays a role and is always the most unpredictable.  While the group that sent the man on his suicide mission clearly believed he was a ‘true believer’ willing to give his life for their cause, it appears that he had another agenda.  This is the challenge with security.  Trust but verify is a mantra that rings true in all aspects of security.  Thank goodness the group that tried to blow up the airliner acted on faith and not solid security principles.

Airstrike Kills Al Qaeda Leader wanted in USS Cole Bombing May 6, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Industry News, Risk & Risk Management, terrorism.
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Foxnews reported that an airstrike on Sunday killed an Al Qaeda leader on the FBI’s most wanted list for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.  According to Foxnews: ” Fahd al-Quso was hit by a missile as he stepped out of his vehicle, along with another Al Qaeda operative in the southern Shabwa province, Yemeni military officials said. They were speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with military regulations.” 

“Al-Quso, 37, was on the FBI’s most wanted list, with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture. He was indicted in the U.S. for his role in the 2000 bombing in the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, in which 17 American sailors were killed and 39 injured. (more…)

ALERT: CyberAttack Underway Against US Gas Piplines May 6, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in cybersecurity, Industry News, InfoSec & Privacy, Risk & Risk Management, terrorism.
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According to stories on MSNBC, CNN, and other major outlets, “A major cyber attack is currently under way aimed squarely at computer networks belonging to US natural gas pipeline companies, according to alerts issued to the industry by the US Department of Homeland Security.”   On March 29th, 2012 the US Department of Homeland Security issued 3 confidential Amber Alerts warning that the US was facing a: “gas pipeline sector cyber intrusion campaign” against multiple pipeline companies.  The attacks, which began 4 months ago, are ongoing today.  The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS CERT), which is responsible for helping secure the nation’s industrial control systems said: (more…)

“Viva La Revolucion!”- Social Media; The New Yellow Journalism? May 3, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Industry News, Risk & Risk Management.
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In the late 19th Century, a phenomenon known as ‘yellow journalism’ took hold as newspapers battled for marketshare.  More specifically, it was the battle between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst which fostered the coining of the phrase.  At a high level, Yellow Journalism is defined as: “…a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.[1] Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.”  In fact, Yellow journalism was blamed for the start of the Spanish American War.  In response, responsible journalists founded organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists (founded 1909) and developed codes of ethics and responsible reporting.  Today, responsible, professional journalists adhere to a code of ethics or canons which dictate that they will report the truth accurately.  As stated in the SPJ: “Seek Truth and Report It”.   While some bend the rules, most reporters are accurate and professional.

With the rise of “bloggers”(this author included) and other social media ‘experts’ could it be that we are seeing the rise of a new wave of ‘Yellow Journalism’?  (more…)

Porn, Steganography & Al Qaeda = Bad News May 2, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in InfoSec & Privacy, Risk & Risk Management, terrorism.
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“Believe half of what you see and nothing that you hear”…Benjamin Franklin

Recently it was disclosed that German cryptographers had managed to decipher plans taken from an Al Qaeda operator who had a memory card confiscated.  According to the story: “On May 16 last year, a 22-year-old Austrian named Maqsood Lodin was being questioned by police in Berlin. He had recently returned from Pakistan via Budapest, Hungary, and then traveled overland to Germany. His interrogators were surprised to find that hidden in his underpants were a digital storage device and memory cards.  Buried inside them was a pornographic video called “Kick Ass” — and a file marked “Sexy Tanja.” “  As stated on Gary Kessler’s website: (more…)

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