Morning Security Brief: Manning's Mixed Verdict, Some PCs banned from Top Secret Networks, Civil Liberties, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

► A military judge has found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, but guilty of lesser charges. According to The New York Times, "The judge in the court-martial, Col. Denise R. Lind, convicted Private Manning of six counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and most of the other crimes he was charged with. He faces a theoretical maximum sentence of 136 years in prison, although legal experts said the actual term was likely to be much shorter." The verdict has relieved those campaigning for governmental transparency, as the United Kingdom's The Guardian states, quoting Harvard Law Prefessor Yochai Benkler as saying that in finding Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, the judge took an "extremely important decision, under what must have been trying professional conditions, by denying the prosecution's effort to launch the most dangerous assault on investigative journalism and the free press in the area of national security that we have seen in decades."

► Chinese computer-maker Lenovo's PCs have been banned from being used in the top-secret, interconnected intelligence networks of the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand since 2005. This information comes from the Australian Financial Review, which says that the ban was put in place because of fears of vulnerability to hacking. The Review reports that these vulnerabilities were discovered after testing revealed "'back-door' hardware and 'firmware' vulnerabilities in Lenovo chips." The company refutes the claim and says that it was unaware of any ban. "In a statement, Lenovo said... its 'products have been found time and time again to be reliable and secure by our enterprise and public sector customers and we always welcome their engagement to ensure we are meeting their security needs.'"

►The Pew Research Center has released the finding of a new survey that reveals Americans are increasingly worried about the loss of their civil liberties in the name of antiterrorism. Pew says that 56 percent of those surveyed said that the federal courts are not properly limiting the collection of personal data as part of antiterrorism programs. Additionally, 70 percent replied that they believe the U.S. government is using this data for purposes that had nothing to do with antiterrorism and 63 percent believe that more than "metadata" is being collected--that the content of their communications is being monitored.

►A new survey conducted by Check Point states, "The sheer complexity of the security systems used by organisations to defend themselves could have become a contributing factor in data breaches." The company asked "560 UK-based IT and security professionals [and] found that 42 percent rated the complexity of security products as a risk factor in itself, just ahead of the 40 percent who agreed that simplifying their installations would be beneficial."


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