Morning Security Brief: DNC 2012 Security, Al-Qaeda Wants Ricin, HTTPS Everywhere, and More

By Carlton Purvis


►Charlotte, North Carolina, police have begun training with the Department of Homeland Security to prepare for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The event is expected to bring 35,000 people to the area. Police have started a three-day course that is a combination of classroom and field training. The large amount of advanced planning is to make sure there is “a seamless security plan that will create a secure environment" for the dignitaries, participants and the public,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokesman Robert Tufano said. Charlotte’s police force is expected to double in size for the four-day event by partnering with multiple agencies, UPI reports.

►Al-Qaeda operatives are trying to smuggle chemical weapons through Yemen, and there are indications the group has intentions to make compact bombs. U.S. intelligence officials say al-Qaeda operatives on the Arabian Peninsula have “pursued bulk supplies of castor beans and other precursor materials to the lethal toxin ricin,” Global Security Newswire reports. Much of this intelligence was received during the questioning of a senior Somali extremist captured by the Navy earlier this year. 

►The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ToR Project have launched the first version of a Firefox plug-in called HTPPS Everywhere. The plug-in lets users browse the web securely by encrypting connections to more than 1,000 Web sites. “HTTPS Everywhere 1.0 encrypts connections to Google Image Search, Flickr, Netflix, Apple, and news sites like NPR and the Economist, as well as dozens of banks,” according to an EFF press release. “Without HTTPS, your online reading habits and activities are vulnerable to eavesdropping, and your accounts are vulnerable to hijacking,” EFF Senior Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley said. “EFF created HTTPS Everywhere to make it easier for people to keep their user names, passwords, and browsing histories secure and private. With the revelation that companies like Paxfire are out there, intercepting millions of people's searches without their permission, this kind of protection is indispensable.”

►District officials say newly installed security cameras at a Chicago-area school are paying for themselves by saving money that would have gone to correcting vandalism. Dryden Elementary School had a problem with people going up on the roof and vandalism on campus after hours. The fourteen cameras cost the district $19,000 to install earlier this year, but have led to four arrests. Incidents of vandalism dropped from 25 per year to just five in the past six months, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

►In other news, The British Security Industry Association is reporting an increase in requests for retail surveillance as a result of the U.K. riots. “Thanks to the presence of this technology across our town and city centers the police are able to review vital CCTV images to piece together specific incidents, identify the prime offenders and make high-profile calls for public support in their enquiries,” a BSIA chairman said. ⇒ Security firms in Kenya are being mandated to improve the welfare of their employees and will soon be subject to an annual levy that would be used as insurance to compensate persons who incur losses as a result of misconduct by a private security services. The Private Security Industry Regulation Bill is part of the government's efforts to regulate the private security industry, which has so far operated without oversight, the Business Daily reports. ⇒ And reports that the Obama administration is putting the final touches on an executive order that could help prevent the release of sensitive government documents.


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