Morning Security Brief: Obama Nomiates Roth, UK Business Cybersecurity, How the NSA Spied on Internet Users, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

►President Barak Obama has nominated John Roth, currently of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to the post of inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The current acting inspector general, Charles Edwards, is being investgated by Congress because of allegations of abuse of power. According to The Washington Post, "Edwards has denied the claims against him, calling them 'false allegations' and 'personal attacks.' This month, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ronald H. Johnson (R-Wis.) said the acting inspector general should resign and that they were working to find a replacement candidate to recommend to Obama." Roth is currently in the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations. Among his notable cases there has been one against 1,600 Web sites selling fake or misbranded drugs.

The Telegraph reports that large United Kingdom companies are not taking cybersecurity seriously in their decision-making processes. The U.K. Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills conducted a survey that revealed "only 14 per cent of FTSE 350 firms are regularly considering cyber threats, despite the increasingly high level of online crime.... To tackle the growing threat the government is working with industry to develop an official 'cyber standard' that will help kick-start the adoption of good cyber practices. Backed by industry, the kitemark-style standard will be launched early next year as part of the £860 million cross-government National Cyber Security Programme."

The Boston Globe explores now the U.S. the National Security Agency was able to eavesdrop on the communications of Google and Yahoo users without breaking into either company's data centers. "People knowledgeable about Google and Yahoo’s infrastructure say they believe that government spies bypassed the big Internet companies and hit them at a weak spot—the fiber-optic cables that connect data centers around the world that are owned by such companies as Verizon Communications, the BT Group, the Vodafone Group and Level 3 Communications. In particular, fingers have been pointed at Level 3, the world’s largest so-called Internet backbone provider, whose cables are used by Google and Yahoo," says the Globe. "The Internet companies’ data centers are locked down with full-time security and state-of-the-art surveillance, including heat sensors and iris scanners. But between the data centers—on Level 3’s fiber-optic cables that connected those massive computer farms—information was unencrypted and an easier target for government intercept efforts, according to three people with knowledge of Google’s and Yahoo’s systems who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

►The North Atlantic Treaty Association (NATO) has launched a large-scale, three-day cyberexercise to practice defending against massive, simultaneous attacks. The NATO exercise includes players from more than 30 European nations.


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