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Morning Roundup - December 31st, 2010

From the Washington Post, on the intelligence review regarding last week's attempted terrorist attack:

President Obama will receive a report Thursday detailing how some government agencies failed to share or highlight potentially relevant information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab before he allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, while others were insufficiently aggressive in seeking out what was known about him, administration officials said Wednesday.

Intelligence intercepts from Yemen beginning in early August, when Abdulmutallab arrived in that country, contained "bits and pieces about where he was, what his plans were, what he was telling people his plans were," as well as information about planning by the al-Qaeda branch in Yemen, a senior administration official said. "At first blush, not all these things appear to be related" to the 23-year-old Nigerian and the bombing attempt, he said, "but we believe they were."

Agencies under particular scrutiny include the CIA, the National Security Agency -- in charge of electronic intercepts -- and the State Department. Each possessed pieces of the puzzle, none of which was considered overly worrisome or immediately actionable -- absent the other pieces -- under existing procedures. The National Counterterrorism Center, established after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to connect the dots government-wide, did not do so.


From The Record, on increased security for the travel sector:

Bomb-sniffing dogs and gun-toting police officers will be conspicuous at the region's airports and train stations this weekend as part of a local security clampdown following a failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound jet last week.

Security measures will be stepped up at New Jersey train stations and NJ Transit facilities, including the deployment of K-9 units and additional state police personnel, Governor Corzine announced Wednesday.

Similar steps - such as the deployment of K-9 units - will be taken at the region's three major airports and the PATH transit system, all of which the Port Authority operates.

While there is no known threat in the New Jersey area, local officials will "assure the safety and security" of the hundreds of thousands of travelers who will be flying in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport or riding on local train lines this weekend, Corzine said.

"We will also increase the number of officers patrolling our roadways to be on the lookout for impaired drivers or any abnormal activity," Corzine said.


From the Associated Press, on an uncovered smuggling tunnel in Nogales:

Border Patrol agents in the Arizona border city of Nogales discovered a 36-foot smuggling tunnel Tuesday that was under construction and caused a sink hole on a street.

Agency spokesman David Jimarez says the tunnel's builders knocked a hole in a drainage system in the neighboring Mexican city of Nogales and dug out an offshoot extending 25 feet into the American sister city.

Investigators don't know where the tunnel was supposed to end because it wasn't
finished.

No arrests have been made.

From USA Today, on new warnings for small business that bank online:

A rising swarm of cyber-robberies targeting small firms, local governments, school districts, churches and non-profits has prompted an extraordinary warning. The American Bankers Association and the FBI are advising small and midsize businesses that conduct financial transactions over the Internet to dedicate a separate PC used exclusively for online banking.

The reason: Cybergangs have inundated the Internet with "banking Trojans" - malicious programs that enable them to surreptitiously access and manipulate online accounts. A dedicated PC that's never used for e-mail or Web browsing is much less likely to encounter a banking Trojan.

And the bad guys are stepping up ways to get them onto PCs at small organizations. They then use the Trojans to manipulate two distinctive, decades-old banking technologies: Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers and wire transfers.ACH and wire transfers remain at the financial nerve center of most businesses. ACH transfers typically take two days to complete and are widely used to deposit salaries, pay suppliers and receive payments from customers. Wire transfers usually come into play to move larger sums in near-real time.

"Criminals go where the money is," says Avivah Litan, banking security analyst at Gartner, a technology consulting firm. "The reason they're going here is the controls are antiquated, and a smart program can often get the money out."


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