Morning Security Brief: Arkansas Tornado, Terrorism Concerns, Passport Security, and Hacking Satellites

By Mark Tarallo

► A powerful tornado in Arkansas carved an 80-mile path of destruction through an area around the Little Rock suburb of Vilonia, killing at least 16 people, possibly more, the Associated Press reports. Emergency officials began to pick through the rubble to look for survivors as the sun rose Monday morning. The tornado that touched down around 7 p.m. Sunday about 10 miles west of Little Rock grew to be half a mile wide and remained on the ground for much of that route, authorities said. It was among a rash of tornadoes and heavy storms that rumbled across the center and south of the country overnight. Another twister killed a person in Quapaw, Oklahoma, before crossing into Kansas to the north and destroying 60 to 70 homes and injuring 25 people in the city of Baxter Springs, according to authorities in Kansas. A suspected tornado also struck near Plain Dealing in northwest Louisiana, the AP reports. The National Weather Service warned that the destructive storms were expected to continue Monday in the South and Mississippi Valley.

► Federal officials are worried that those who are training with terrorists in war-ravaged Syria may slip back into the United States looking to strike, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told ABC News in an interview on Sunday. “We’re very concerned about Syria foreign fighters, people who are going into Syria, who are being recruited by extremists there and who then may leave Syria with a different purpose in mind,” Johnson said on the ABC program “This Week,” his first network interview since becoming Homeland Security secretary in December 2013. “We are continually monitoring the situation and we are concerned,” Johnson said.

► Passport and travel document security will be “fundamental to avoiding the collapse of global security over the next decade,”Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said at a United Nations meeting on Friday. Noble warned that ''stolen and lost travel documents are still in the hands of international terrorists,” and at least 400 million out of the 1.2 billion international passengers in 2013 were not screened against Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database, which holds more than 40 million records. The Interpol Chief’s remarks came while speaking at a high-level open briefing before the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and its Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED). "The time to act is now. The time is now for the United Nations, for the Counter-Terrorism Committee and for its Executive Directorate to join Interpol and make it a global priority to close this security gap,” Noble said.

► Satellite communication (SATCOM) terminals, relied upon by US military aircraft, ships, and land vehicles to move in harmony with one another, are susceptible to cyber-attack through digital backdoors and other vulnerabilities, according to a new report, the Christian Science Monitor reported. SATCOM terminals cited in the report, conducted by IOActive, a Seattle-based cyber-security firm, also serve nonmilitary uses, such as data collection from remote oil and gas pumping sites or retail chain stores. All involve sending data from far-flung operations up to large commercial satellite networks. “IOActive found that malicious actors could abuse all of the devices within the scope of this study,” says the report, entitled “A Wake-up Call for SATCOM Security.” “These vulnerabilities have the potential to allow a malicious actor to intercept, manipulate, or block communications, and in some cases, to remotely take control of the physical device,” the report says.



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