Morning Security Brief: Germany Cancels Verizon Contract Over Spying Concerns, GAO Identifies Currency Issues, And More

By Megan Gates

► Germany’s government is discontinuing its Verizon contract due to fears that the company is allowing U.S. intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on its communications, The New York Times reports. “The links revealed between foreign intelligence agencies and firms after the National Security Agency (NSA) affair show that the German government needs a high level of security for its essential networks,” the German Interior Ministry said in a statement to the Times. Germany’s actions are just part of the latest fallout from the revelations by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, and reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone was tapped by U.S. intelligence agencies.

► A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlights the emerging challenges that virtual currencies pose to the federal financial regulatory and law enforcement agencies in carrying out their responsibilities. Among the GAO’s chief concerns is that virtual currency provides greater anonymity than other traditional payment systems. “As a result, financial regulators and law enforcement agencies may find it difficult to detect money laundering and other crimes involving virtual currencies,” according to the report. Federal agencies and law enforcement have taken some actions to address virtual currencies, but the GAO recommends that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau take steps to identify and participate in interagency working groups to address virtual currencies.

► The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for “drastic action” to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. To date there have been at least 600 cases and 390 deaths caused by the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, according to WHO numbers referenced by CNN. “Complicating matters, these countries have major medical infrastructure challenges and there is a real sense of mistrust from communities there of the help that has been sent,” according to CNN. “In Sierra Leone and Guinea, WHO has said that community members have thrown stones at health care workers trying to investigate the outbreak.” Officials believe that the outbreak has a particularly wide footprint because of the proximity between the jungle where the virus was identified and cities, along with the capital of Guinea having a population of 2 million and an international airport. WHO has sent teams of experts to the area to assist locals with the epidemic and plans to meet next week to discuss containment.

► In other news, Ukraine signed a trade and economic pact with the European Union today bringing the country further into the European orbit while Russia warned its leader of consequences for making the deal, new grants are boosting terrorism research work at the University of Massachusetts, and thousands march across Kabul to protest election fraud.


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