Morning Security Brief: Benghazi Hearing, Disease Surveillance, iTravel, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►Libyan officials say he attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week was planned and launched by foreign fighters connected to al Qaeda. The U.S. says it was a spontaneous attack by local extremists. “The divergence in accounts was at the center of a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. For the first time, a high-ranking intelligence official described the Benghazi attack as ‘terrorism’ and provided an on-the-record account of what the U.S. knows and doesn't know about what took place over a number of hours on Sept. 11,” reports NPR in a story about the key findings to come out of the hearing.

►In other news, the U.S. has made little progress in the type of disease surveillance needed to mitigate the effects of a biological attack, according to the director of the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis University. Alan Zelicoff, M.D., says current methods are “still hobbled by slow transfer of information to public health officials who might otherwise be able to determine unusual patterns or disease that suggests a bioterror attack.” Zelicoff says the U.S. needs a nationwide real-time surveillance system that would allow clinicians to immediately report symptoms and update a local map.

►Apple patents show the company is working on the iTravel, which would allow a person’s phone to automatically send electronic identification to a TSA agent, check their baggage, and hold credit cards and travel documents electronically. “Next, at the X-ray stations, a traveler's phone would confirm to security agents that the traveler's ID had already been checked. Throughout the process, the phone photo could be displayed on a screen for comparison with the traveler. Facial recognition software could be included in the process,” CNN reports. In related news, hackers have discovered a vulnerability in the new iPhone operating system released this week that lets them steal address book entries, photos, videos, and browsing history.

►In other news, the Justice Department inspector general concluded that Attorney General Eric Holder did not know about the ATF’s Fast and Furious operation. Fourteen law enforcement officials have been recommended for discipline. ♦ SC Magazine reports HIPAA violations are becoming more common. ♦ And Santa Monica police are trying to figure out how a burglar made away with $10 million in goods from a home in the middle of the day, including art, watches, wine, cash, and a Porsche. Police are offering a $1,000 reward for information.



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