Morning Security Brief: Polio Spread Causes Concern, Tech Companies Announce Data Request Changes, and More

By Megan Gates

► The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an international health emergency as polio spreads from the conflict zones in three continents. A WHO emergency committee announced in Geneva that Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon have allowed the virus, once thought to be nearly eradicated, to spread and should take extraordinary measures to stop it. The committee is calling for all children in these countries to be inoculated, or reinoculated, and all travelers from these countries to be reinoculated and “carry proof in the form an internationally recognized document,” The New York Times reports. The committee had become "alarmed" in recent days that "polio had spread recently from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Syria to Iraq, and Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea,” according to the Times. The committee also said there was “increasing evidence that adult travelers contributed to this spread.” If the disease is allowed to spread “unchecked, this situation could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious vaccine-preventable diseases,” the Times reports.

► Four major U.S. technology companies have largely ended the practice of “quietly complying with investigators’ demands for e-mail records and other online data, saying that users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure,” according to The Washington Post. Making the change are Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, who are all updating their policies to expand routine notification of users about government data seizures, unless prevented by a court order. They are following in the footsteps of Yahoo, which announced similar changes in July. The new changes come without the support of the Department of Justice, which said in a statement that the new policies "threaten investigations and put potential crime victims in greater peril." The new policies will affect some government requests for data, but will not affect data requests approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which are kept secret by law, and national security letters, which carry binding gag orders.

► Target CEO and Chairman Gregg Steinhafel is stepping down in the wake of last year’s data breach, which dealt a “devastating” blow to the No. 3 U.S. retailer and prompted congressional hearings, Reuters reports. Target made the announcement this morning and said that Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan will take over as interim president and CEO. Roxanne Austin, a current member of Target’s board of directors, has also been appointed as interim non-executive chair of the board. The announcement came after Target revealed in December 2013 that it was the victim of a cyberattack that resulted in the theft of at least 40 million credit and debit card numbers and 70 million other pieces of personal data.


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