Morning Security Brief: More Details Emerge about Navy Yard Shooter; Obama Orders Review of Security Clearance Process; And More

By Holly Gilbert

► Three days after a shooting rampage at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. that left twelve victims dead, more details are emerging about the shooter, Aaron Alexis, who was killed by police at the scene. According to the Washington Post, federal officials say the 34-year old IT contractor “had sought treatment for insomnia in the emergency rooms of two Veterans Affairs hospitals in the past month, but he told doctors he was not depressed and was not thinking of harming others.” That was two weeks after an August 7 episode in Newport, Rhode Island in which Alexis called police, claiming that he was “hearing voices and feeling vibrations sent through his hotel-room walls.” Newport police contacted Newport naval base security about the incident, as Alexis was contracting there at the time, but an anonymous official not authorized to speak publicly tells USA Today the naval base "did not deem Alexis to pose a threat to himself or others based on his alleged conduct at the hotel that night.”

► President Obama has called for a sweeping review of the security clearance process, the authorization that allowed Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis to enter the secure military facility on Monday. The Pentagon has announced it will conduct "reviews of the clearance process for military staff and contractors as well as the security of military facilities worldwide,” according to NBC News. Defense secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters “Where there are gaps, we will close them…. Where there are inadequacies, we will address them, and where there are failures, we will correct them.” Hagel says an independent panel will also conduct its own review of the clearance process. The tech company that employed Alexis at the time of the shooting, The Experts, said in a statement “The latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late June of 2013 and revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation."

► The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) has issued a mid-year threat landscape report for 2013 assessing trends in global malicious cyber activity, and compared those trends to that of 2012. The data is the result of the analysis of over 140 publicly available reports from “security industry, networks of excellence, standardization bodies and other independent institutes,” according to the ENISA Web site. Some of the interesting finds in cyber activity include a shift from botnets to malicious URLs as a preferred method for the distribution of malware, an increase in Denial of Service attacks, and more widespread search engine optimization poisoning. The study concludes with a few key observations, including that cyberattacks are the “sixth most important cause of outages in telecommunication infrastructures, with an impact on considerable numbers of users in this sector,” and that “the consumerization of malware, cyber-hacking tools and services, together with the availability of digital currencies and anonymous payment services, will open up new avenues for cyber-fraud and criminal activity.” ENISA will issue a full threat landscape report to be published by the end of this year.

► Also in the news are two pieces on fighting gangs, one in the New York Times looks at what local police in New York City are doing to fight smaller gangs called crews. Another is a report from the U.S. Department of Justice with advice for keeping children from joining gangs.


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