NEWS

Morning Security Brief: Chemical Facility Security, DHS Software Vulnerability, FBI Nominee, E-Mail Privacy, and More

By Sherry Harowitz

► Concerns about how well the Department of Homeland Security is handling its chemical facility security responsibilities may cost the agency real money. The Dallas Morning News reports that “House budget-writers have proposed cutting nearly $9 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security because of problems and delays in tracking high-risk chemicals at plants like the West Fertilizer Co.” The article goes on to note that “a bill approved bythe House Appropriations Committee would withhold $20 million until DHS submitted to Congress a detailed spending plan that included answers about chemical security inspections.”

► A software vulnerability has put at risk personal details of DHS employees holding security clearances--including date of birth and Social Security numbers. The problem, which has existed since July 2009, was only recently brought to the agency’s attention by law enforcement authorities, reports Nextgov. Though it is not clear that the vulnerability was ever exploited, it raises questions about whether government systems have adequate security testing procedures in place, notes the article.

► Elsewhere in the news, the New York Times reports that "President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former hedge fund executive who served as a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation." The current head of the FBI must leave by September by law, the article notes. The Texas state legislature has passed a bill that would make it harder for law enforcement to get a warrant to read personal e-mails, according to several reports. Ars technica calls it the nation's strongest e-mail privacy bill. Ars technical also has a piece on experimental facial-recognition technology from Carnegie-Mellon University's CyLab Biometrics Center, which it says could have made it easier for law enforcement authorities to quickly identify the Boston Marathon bombers from the surveillance footage available.

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