Morning Security Brief: Protests in Ukraine Turn Violent, Report on Kenyan Mall Attack, FireEye Finds G20 Summit Hack, and More

By Holly Gilbert

► There were violent clashes between riot police and protesters in Kiev, Ukraine this morning after days of ongoing demonstrations against Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an agreement strengthening the country’s cooperation with the European Union. According to CNN, “Hundreds of officers used chainsaws and brute force to tear down barricades put up by demonstrators around the city's Independence Square, or Maidan, which has been the focus of protests.” Injuries were reported on both sides. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry quickly released a statement this morning to condemn the actions of the government. "The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv's Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity," he said. "This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy."

► The Daily Beast reports that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has compiled a report based on the September terrorist attack on the shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, to demonstrate how easy it would be for a copycat attack to occur in the United States. The confidential report was presented to private security personnel yesterday in New York City. While the report is based on publicly available information, the department was able to “corroborate and cross-check vital information," including by sending policemen to Nairobi three days after the attack initially occurred. The author of the report, a veteran of the NYPD who wished to remain anonymous, said that the Kenyan attack in September, which left 67 dead and hundreds wounded, would be “simple, it’s effective and easy to copy.” The report points out that the security guards at the Westgate Mall were not armed, and it noted how easy it is to obtain rifles similar to those used by the terrorists. 

►Cybersecurity vendor FireEye has uncovered hacks that occurred on the computers of five European countries' foreign ministers just ahead of the G20 Summit this past September. Computer World reports that “After gaining access to their targets' computers, the hackers moved through internal networks infecting other systems and performing reconnaissance, according a FireEye report.” Security researchers at FireEye, who dubbed the hackers Ke3chang and says they are likely of Chinese origin, were able to temporarily gain access to the group’s command and control servers. They found that the attacks began with spear-phishing emails containing a malicious attachment named When the file was opened, attackers were able to use that as a backdoor to move through the network, downloading or uploading files and running shell commands.

►In other news, The Center for American Progress has released a report warning cuts to the 2014 U.S. budget could have dire consequences for IT departments at federal agencies. ⇒ NBC News reports that they’ve uncovered security vulnerabilities in several New York City schools by sending reporters into the buildings. ⇒The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee told CNN in an interview that the threat of terrorism is getting “worse, not better.” 


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