Morning Security Brief: International Poll Watchers, Suspicious Packages at Polling Place, Chinese Cyberattacks, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental agency. It specializes in post conflict rehabilitation and often provides international poll observers during elections, but officials in Iowa and Texas say they aren’t allowed near polling stations. Iowa and Texas say international poll watchers could be arrested if they come near polling places on Tuesday. In a letter to the State Department, the OSCE calls the threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE “unacceptable.” OSCE has observed six other U.S. elections without incident.

►A Florida polling station was temporarily closed on Saturday morning after police found two suspicious packages outside. One package was a cooler with a USB cord sticking out of it. Police also found a suspicious garbage bag. The polling station was evacuated and the bomb squad detonated both packages.

►Computer scientists and cybersecurity researchers are questioning the safety of voting by e-mail, which was approved for New Jersey residents after Hurricane Sandy. Two of the major concerns: “E-mail is not encrypted, so ballots are at risk of being viewed or modified in transit, and neither the sender nor recipient would know it” and “Election officials are going to be opening ballots as e- mail attachments, which is a common way for hackers to distribute malicious software,” Bloomberg Businesssweek reports.

►The Justice Department has implemented its usual efforts on Election Day to make sure voters aren’t intimidated at the polls and that their votes are counted accurately. Click here to see what the DOJ is doing and how to report intimidation or suppression.

►Cybersecurity researchers find more evidence pointing to China as a major source of cyberattacks. According to research, malicious attacks account for 15 percent of global Internet traffic daily. That number drops to 6.5 percent around October 1, China’s National Day, when many people are off work, says a report by CloudFlare.

►In other news, FEMA has approved more than $200 million in Hurricane Sandy assistance. ♦ The Atlanta Police Department grounds all its helicopters after two pilots were killed in a crash over the weekend. ♦ And a carbon monoxide leak at a school sends 25 children to the hospital.


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