Morning Security Brief: New York Testing Location-Based Alerts, Illegal Gun Sales, Hospital Malware, and More

By Carlton Purvis

 ►Today, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., New York City will test its wireless emergency alert system. Users will receive a phone alert and vibration, even if the phone is on silent, that says “Extreme Alert” followed by text that reads, “This is a test from NYC Office of Emergency Mgmt. Test Message 1. This is only a test.” A total of six messages will be sent. At least this time they’re announcing it ahead of time. On Monday, Verizon sent out an errant emergency alert notification to residents in three New Jersey counties causing callers to flood 911 with calls.

►An investigation ordered by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg found that many private gun sellers are willing to commit a felony to make a deal. Investigators placed telephone calls to 125 private sellers in 14 states who posted gun advertisements online. They found that 77 of those sellers agreed to sell a weapon even after the would-be buyer said that he probably couldn’t pass a background check. Private sellers can sell a gun online without conducting a background check, but if the seller has reason to believe the person couldn’t pass one, it’s a felony to sell to them. “The findings paint a portrait of what city officials call a vast and largely unregulated market for illegal guns on the Internet,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

► A computer worm forced the Gwinnett Medical Center’s two main facilities to close their doors to Atlanta residents for three days last week. The virus disabled the hospital’s network, making different departments unable to communicate, so the staff had to hand deliver documents instead of sending them over the intranet. Ambulances had to be diverted to other facilities. A hospital spokesperson said that Gwinnett had no idea how the worm got in the system.

►In other news, industry experts share advice for companies on securing mobile devices that house sensitive information. ♦ A UK research firm says the security industry is expected to continue growth in 2012, but challenges lay ahead. ♦ And Albania’s new passports are said to be almost impossible to forge because they contain anti-counterfeiting features combined with biometric data to verify a traveler’s identity. An Albanian investigative journalist found the loophole: Have someone on the inside put someone else’s information on the passport. “The Director General of the Albanian General Register Office Armand Teliti said that the Albanian authorities have so far detected more than 500 biometric passports with identity information stolen from other Albanian citizens,” Hetq Online reports. The falsified passports were found through random fingerprint checks on European borders. 




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