Morning Security Brief: The Guardian and NSA Files, Border Security, IT Problems, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge
The Guardian says that it destroyed hard drives and computer equipment that contained copies of leaked NSA files provided by Edward Snowden. "The decision was taken after a threat of legal action by the government that could have stopped reporting on the extent of American and British government surveillance revealed by the documents. It resulted in one of the stranger episodes in the history of digital-age journalism. On Saturday 20 July, in a deserted basement of the Guardian's King's Cross offices, a senior editor and a Guardian computer expert used angle grinders and other tools to pulverise the hard drives and memory chips on which the encrypted files had been stored. As they worked they were watched by technicians from Government Communications Headquarters who took notes and photographs, but who left empty-handed," the newspaper says.
►Infosecurity reports on a new survey by Lancope that shows "nearly two-thirds of organizations believe that they have not experienced any [IT] security incidents over the last 12-18 months, or are unsure whether they have or not. Given the statistics uncovered by general forensic analysis, it is highly unlikely that so few have been breached," says the site. Additionally, 38 percent of the survey's respondents claimed to have experienced no ill-effects from the IT security incidents they were aware of--a claim that a cybersecurity expert interviewed for the article said was all-but-impossible. The expert opined that these organizations are in a state of denial.
►The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has assumed control of radar blimps that monitor the United States' border. These giant, tethered aerial devices were previously managed by the U.S. Air Force. They are used to detect low-flying aircraft bringing contraband into the United States, reports the dailycaller.
►In other DHS-related news, the DHS Sci­ence and Technology Direc­torate has renewed Northeastern University's Aware­ness and Localization of Explosives Related Threats Center (ALERT) as a DHS Center of Excellence. Bestowed on 12 U.S. research centers, the designation is accompanied by a five-year funding commitment, including $2.5 million in the first year. ALERT, which includes other universities and private industry as partners, focuses on "fail­safe screening of luggage and cargo; eliminating the availability of illegal explosives materials; and detecting long dis­tance threats as well as the presence of very minute samples of explosives residue on clothing. While all of these remain distant goals, they define the research and testing programs on which ALERT will concentrate," says the site news@Northeastern.


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