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October 19, 2009
10:40 am
From PC World, on a message from President Obama on cybersecurity:

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Americans to help guard against cyberattacks in a first-of-its-kind video published on the White House Web site.

"Our digital networks are critical to our national security, our military superiority and public safety. But that dependence also makes us vulnerable to cyberattack from those who would do us harm," Obama said in the video.

He called the threat of cyberattacks one of the most serious economic and national security challenges faced by the U.S., and urged businesses and individuals to take greater care online.

Obama said he will "soon" appoint a cybersecurity coordinator to lead a new government office responsible for making sure that defending the country's networks becomes a national security priority.


From the Long Beach Press-Telegram, on a big marijuana seizure in Mission Viejo:

More than $500,000 worth of marijuana was seized on Interstate 5 in Mission Viejo and a driver from Mexico was arrested, the U.S. Border Patrol announced today.

The 839.52 pounds of marijuana affected the way the 2002 Toyota Sequoia sport utility vehicle was handling, drawing the attention of Border Patrol agents, an agency official said.

Agents first spotted the vehicle northbound on the freeway near San Clemente, the official said.

The agents stopped the vehicle about 2 p.m. in Mission Viejo near the Oso Parkway exit. The agents could see large bundles of marijuana as they approached the car, the official said.



From the Associated Press, on a new cyber-crime task force in Missouri:

The Secret Service launched a new task force Friday aimed at bolstering efforts to stop cyber-crime in St. Louis and eastern Missouri.

More than 100 people, mostly law enforcement officials, attended a meeting to launch the Gateway Electronic Crimes Task Force.

The Secret Service office in St. Louis will oversee the task force, one of nearly 30 around the country.

John Large of the Secret Service Criminal Investigative Division said cyber-crime has grown far beyond the days when teenage hackers would break into a system just to see if they could do it. Today, organized criminal groups are breaking into financial systems. And many of the criminals are based overseas.


Public Events
10:30 AM EDT
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate will swear in Richard Serino as FEMA Deputy Administrator
The Great Hall
2nd Floor, Faneuil Hall
Congress Street at North Street
Boston, Mass.

11:00 AM CDT
Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Bart R. Johnson will participate in a panel discussion about information and intelligence sharing at the GEOINT 2009 Symposium
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
Ballroom A
200 East Market Street
San Antonio, Texas

3:30 PM CDT
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will participate in a public meeting of the Ocean Policy Task Force
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas & Entergy IMAX Theater
1 Canal Street
New Orleans, La.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
October 15, 2009
3:38 pm
Whether it’s age, walk of life, ethnicity or nationality—everyone is at risk. Department of Homeland Security has a responsibility to ensure that every community has equal access to our messages during a disaster, and that every individual can find public information during a crisis.

Today, Secretary Janet Napolitano applauded FEMA’s redesigned Spanish-language website. Located at http://www.fema.gov/espanol, the newly redesigned site helps fulfill Secretary Napolitano’s commitment to openness and accessibility in our efforts to build a culture of readiness and resilience across the nation.
 

The redesigned site provides easier access to and expanded information about current disasters, preparedness, and a Spanish-language version of FEMA’s National Emergency Family Registry and Locator systems at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/es – a site to help family members locate each other during a crisis.

We spent September talking about what to do before something happens. Now we need to ask the question, “¿Estan Preparados?”

Check out the new site, and tell your friends and loved ones.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
October 14, 2009
11:07 am
From the Los Angeles Times, on Secretary Napolitano’s visit to the Cyber Crimes Center:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano got a firsthand look Tuesday at how her agency, which defends the nation's physical borders, also guards a volatile virtual frontier: cyberspace.

Napolitano visited the Cyber Crimes Center, which is operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a discreet office building in suburban Virginia. Known as C3, the 12-year-old unit has a staff of 35 who use their computer expertise to assist investigations of complex international crimes, especially those that victimize children.

"Cyber can be awfully abstract, but the Internet has become the new medium by which crimes are committed -- child pornography, sex tourism, exploitation," Napolitano said.

The visit was part of Napolitano's effort to promote her department's designation of October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The Homeland Security Department has been working to boost resources and expertise in response to a surge in Internet crime.

From the Brownsville Herald, on Customs and Border Protection on a CBP seizure at the border:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a man and a woman from Matamoros after they tried to drive a car with more than $400,000 in cocaine hidden inside, officials said.

Jesus Antonio Orozco, 22, and Gabriela Nazareth Montalvo, 18, were arrested Monday afternoon at B&M International Bridge, said A CBP press release.

On Tuesday morning, Orozco and Montalvo went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Felix Recio, who ordered they be held without bond and remanded them to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The arrests took place after a white 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Orozco was sent to a secondary inspection area, records show.

CBP officers noted discrepancies on the walls of the vehicle and five packages containing 13 pounds of cocaine were hidden inside, the release said.


Public Events

10 AM EDT
Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute will join FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Transportation Security Administration Acting Assistant Secretary Gale Rossides, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Chief David Aguilar and U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan to testify about diversity at DHS before the House Committee on Homeland Security
311 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

10 AM EDT
NPPD Director for Software Assurance Joe Jarzombek will deliver remarks about secure coding at the SC World Congress and Expo
Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers
811 7th Avenue
New York, N.Y.

10 AM CDT
CBP Associate Chief Alan Langford, Sector Chief Randy Hill and Patrol Agent in Charge David Lamascus will participate in a media availability to officially unveil Uvalde Border Patrol Station’s new all-weather checkpoint
Uvalde Checkpoint
U.S. Highway 90, 9 miles west of Uvalde
Uvalde, Texas

9 AM PDT
NPPD Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Gregory Schaffer will deliver remarks highlighting National Cybersecurity Awareness Month at the “Cyber Security West: Our Shared Responsibility” conference
Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel1230 J StreetCamellia/Gardenia RoomSacramento, Calif.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
October 13, 2009
4:02 pm
Secretary Napolitano appeared on ABC’s The View and the Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart yesterday, where she discussed H1N1, preparedness, and a number of other topics.

It's clear that Americans have questions about H1N1. Who should receive the vaccine? Is it safe?

The secretary addressed those issues during her interviews:
"This is a bad flu, and it's a very safe vaccine, so under any analysis, you should go ahead and get the vaccine."

Check out video of the interviews at theview.tv and thedailyshow.com, and head over to flu.gov for more information on the vaccine.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
October 13, 2009
10:55 am

Cross-posted from the White House Blog

In my last blog post, I linked to President Obama’s proclamation announcing the start of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This week, I would like to discuss in more detail the cyber threats that we are facing as a Nation and as individuals. A key theme for this month is that cybersecurity is "our shared responsibility." Each one of us must take the time to increase our awareness of the cyber risks that are present every time we turn on our computers.

Just the other day, the media was breaking a story about the latest generation of malicious software designed to steal money from bank accounts. This "bank Trojan," called URLzone provides a sophisticated interface for managing theft from numerous accounts and deceives the account owner with false statements.

For years, research institutions have noted a steady increase in number of malicious programs that are being used to exploit the vulnerabilities of our computers. A vast percentage of all e-mail is spam, which tries to lure us into downloading software, visiting an infected website or social networking account, or even making a phone call in order to get us to reveal information useful for identity theft or to steal money. Many of these malicious actors are now sending out fake emails from the Internal Revenue Service.

Sophisticated cyber criminals are bypassing individual computer users and are attacking financial institutions. To them, the motivation is simple. Why steal one bank account record when you can steal millions? Fortunately, our law enforcement agencies have had some remarkable successes against key groups responsible for cyber attacks. Just last week, nearly 100 people were arrested in the United States and Egypt on charges of computer fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identify theft. Last month the U.S. Government convicted the individual responsible for the theft and sale of more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers from numerous U.S. retailers with losses of more than $21 billion. You can learn more about federal law enforcement efforts in combating cyber crime here, here, and here.

And then there are the botnets, which are large numbers of compromised computers that are controlled remotely by criminals or other malicious actors. Some computer experts have estimated that one quarter of all personal computers are part of a botnet. The Conficker worm has been around for about a year and has managed to spread into millions of machines through network connections and portable media such as thumb drives. These botnets appear to be used primarily for supporting criminal activities such as spam, but we worry that such large botnets could be used to launch unprecedented denial-of-service attacks against banking, government, or other important websites.

As you can see, the cyber threat is quite real. Every day dozens of Federal departments and agencies work with their industry partners to help mitigate these threats. And while we have made great strides thwarting the efforts of cyber criminals, more needs to be done. Next week, I will write more about the basic cybersecurity tips that every computer user should know and adopt.

John Brennan is Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
October 13, 2009
10:41 am


On Monday, October 12, Secretary Napolitano appeared on ABC’s The View and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where she discussed the vaccine for H1N1 and the Color-coded Threat Level System.

The secretary commented:


"This is a bad flu, and it's a very safe vaccine, so under any analysis, you
should go ahead and get the vaccine."

The secretary went on to say that the government knows that the H1N1 vacccine is safe because it is based entirely on the seasonal flu vaccine. She also said that there would be enough vaccine for everyone, but that children should be vaccinated before adults.


Check out the videos below!
October 13, 2009
8:57 am
From NPR, on an interview with ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton:

The way this country detains illegal immigrants is about to change dramatically - at least if the Obama administration follows through on a proposed overhaul unveiled this week. The man responsible for making it happen: John Morton, the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security. He tells host Guy Raz that the system has exploded in size and become too dependent on private contractors.

GUY RAZ, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz. This hour, stories of immigrants and the debate over how those who come in illegally are treated when they're caught.

This week, the Obama administration announced its intention to overhaul the way illegal immigrants are detained in our nation's prison system. About 400,000 people are detained each year for violating immigration law; many of them nonviolent offenders. The Department of Homeland Security released a report this week that describes a costly and wasteful penal system filled with people who pose little or no risk to the general population.

Well, the man charged with fixing that system is John Morton. He is assistant secretary for immigration and customs enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security.

Secretary Morton, welcome.


From the Los Angeles Times, on a visit to the Transportation Security Laboratory:

Eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the front line in America's war on terrorism runs through a little-known federal laboratory where engineer Nelson

Carey holds what appears to be a bratwurst in a bun.

"This is a Semtex sausage," said Carey, as he pinched the pink plastic explosive long favored by terrorist groups.

On his table lies a green Teletubby doll stuffed with C-4 military explosives, a leather sandal with a high-explosive shoe insert, an Entenmann's cake covered in an explosive compound that looks like white frosting, and other deadly devices Carey and his colleagues have built. None have detonators, so they are safe.

"We let our imaginations go wild," Carey said. "The types of improvised explosive devices are endless."So are possible solutions, at least in theory. That's where the Transportation Security Laboratory comes in. Scientists here dream up ways an enemy might slip a weapon or a bomb onto a plane, and then try to build defenses to detect or counter the danger.

The work is part cutting-edge science, part Maxwell Smart.

Staffers have experimented by exploding more than 200 bombs on junked jetliners. They also have filled a warehouse with nearly 10,000 lost or abandoned suitcases and other packed luggage.


From the Los Angeles Times, on the challenges faced by the Coast Guard in the arctic:

Most days in Nome, you're not likely to run into anybody you didn't see at the Breakers Bar on Friday night. More than 500 roadless miles from Anchorage, rugged tundra and frigid Bering Sea waters have a way of discouraging visitors.

So it was a big deal when the World, a 644-foot residential cruise ship with condos costing several million dollars apiece, dropped anchor during the summer for a two-day look-see.

"We never had a ship anywhere near this size before," Chamber of Commerce director Mitch Erickson said. "My guess is they've probably been everywhere else in the world, and now they're going to the places most people haven't seen yet."

That's about to change.

The record shrinking of the polar ice cap is turning the forbidding waters at the top of the world into important new shipping routes.

Four other cruise ships also docked in Nome recently. The Coast Guard deployed its first small Arctic patrol vessels last year. Fleets of research vessels steamed north all summer, while ships surveying the vast oil and gas deposits under the Arctic seabed have talked of using Nome as a base.


Public Events
1:30 PM EDT
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) National Communications System Regional Communications Coordinator Stephen Weinert will deliver remarks at the Michigan Emergency Management Conference
100 Grand Traverse Village Boulevard
Acme, Mich.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
October 9, 2009
10:29 am
From the New York Times, on vaccinations for H1N1:

The age group most likely to become infected with swine flu - students from elementary and high school - is the group that did the worst in having seasonal flu shots last year, according to data released Thursday by federal health
officials.

Only about 21 percent of children ages 5 to 17 received flu shots last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared with 41 percent of infants, 32 percent of adults at risk of complications and 67 percent of the elderly.

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer, on a drug seizure at the Seattle-Tacoma airport:

Authorities at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport seized 24 pounds of cocaine and arrested three suspects late last week, according to the Port of Seattle, which called the bust the airport's largest drug seizure ever.

In a statement, a port spokesman said Transportation Security Administration workers found an 11-pound bag of cocaine in the checked luggage of a passenger bound for Alaska. After finding the bag's owner at a departure gate, port police determined that he was traveling with two companions and, assisted by police canine Lilly, found two other checked bags with more cocaine, the port said.


Public Events
12:15 PM CDT
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas will participate in a media availability about his vision for the agency and current initiatives
USCIS District Office
2424 Edenborn Ave.
Metairie, La.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
October 8, 2009
10:27 am
From the Brownsville Herald, on a thwarted smuggling attempt:

U. S Border Patrol agents have arrested a man and a juvenile accused of smuggling a group of 12 undocumented immigrants across the Rio Grande.

Antonio Davila Garcia, a Mexican national, was arrested early Sunday morning near the levee by Impala Road in the Southmost area, court records show.

On Monday morning Davila went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Morgan, who set his bond at $25,000 cash and remanded him to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The arrest took place after Border Patrol camera operators alerted field agents to a group of 14 individuals crossing the river in an area near Veteran's International Bridge, records show.

Agents responded to the area and caught up with the group north of the river levee a few yards from Impala Road, USBP said.


From WBOY-TV, on a DHS effort to coordinate training at the local level:

In this scenerio, a terror suspect has anthrax that could be released at the Charleston Civic Center during an event. Charleston Police and the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department are working together to get rid of the threat. These types of exercises are a sobering reminder that thousands of lives hang in the balance during terrorist acts.

"Even our first day of training this week it was a wake-up call for a lot of us. We know without a doubt if something happens here, even our life ur lives are going to be on the line," says Lieutenant Sean Crosier of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.

"It's a scary thing, but it's something we have to deal with to protect the public," says Lieutenant Preston Hickman of the Charleston Police Department.Organizers hope the training keeps law enforcement on their toes at all times regarding potential terrorist threats, because they point out it could happen anywhere and at any time.

"When people don't see something like that on a regular scale, you tend to get complacent and don't think it's going to come," says Christian Fernley, the training coordinator fo the Department of Homeland Security.


No public events scheduled today
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
October 7, 2009
9:21 am
From the Los Angeles Times, on yesterday's detention reforms announcement:

Nonviolent immigrant detainees could be held in converted hotels, nursing homes or placed in electronic ankle bracelets for monitoring as part of a series of reforms planned for the nation's detention system, Department of Homeland Security officials said Tuesday.

The moves would help overhaul a system that houses an average of 32,000 detainees every day across the country and has been criticized as having unsafe and inhumane conditions. Some of the detainees include women and children.

"This is a system that encompasses many different types of detainees, not all of whom need to be held in prison-like circumstances or jail-like circumstances, which not only may be unnecessary but more expensive," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

The department plans to build two detention centers, including one in California. Napolitano said some detainees had violent pasts and needed to be securely detained, but others were asylum-seekers with no records and should be held at facilities "commensurate with the risks that they present."


From Bloomberg News, on the President's remarks yesterday at the National Counterterrorism Center:

President Barack Obama said the U.S. is making "real progress" in the battle against al-Qaeda and other extremists as he addressed workers at the National Counterterrorism Center today in suburban Washington.

"Few Americans know about the work you do, and this is how it should be," Obama said at the center in McLean, Virginia. "Today I want every American to know about the difference you've made."

Obama said counterintelligence efforts by the center helped lead to the arrest of Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan man who lived in New York and Denver and is charged with plotting to detonate explosives in the U.S. He received bomb-making instructions while in Pakistan, where he attended an al-Qaeda training camp, according to a federal indictment.

Al-Qaeda continues to target the U.S. from Pakistan, Africa and Southeast Asia, Obama said. The coordination of anti- terrorism efforts at the center is critical to blunting that threat, he said.

"Every agency, every department, every branch, every level - one team, one mission, that's how we're going to prevail in this fight and that's how were going to protect this country that we all love," Obama said.


From the Chicago Daily Herald, on a new baggage system for O'Hare International Airport:

O'Hare International Airport has been awarded a $13.6 million grant by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for security improvements.

The funding will be dedicated to the construction of a new inline baggage handling system designed to strengthen security at the bustling airport.

"Bringing in new equipment will help improve the safety and efficiency of traveling through our nation's airports," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, said in announcing the funding.

According to DHS, inline baggage handling systems use state-of-the-art technology to screen baggage for explosives quickly while streamlining the ticketing and boarding process.


Public Events
9 AM EDT
National Protection and Programs Directorate Control Systems Security Program Director Sean McGurk will deliver remarks about security issues facing critical infrastructure control systems at the International Society of Automation Expo
Reliant Center
One Reliant Park
Houston, Texas

2 PM EDT
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Kevin Cook and Captain David Stalfort will testify about the National Maritime Center and maritime credentialing before the House Committee on Transportation, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.

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