NEWS

Morning Security Brief: Security Weaknesses at the Kabul Embassy, Homeland Security Nominee, Cybercrime, and more

By Laura Spadanuta

The Washington Times reports that United States diplomatic facilities in Kabul, Afghanistan are being left vulnerable by security weaknesses. The newspaper received a State Department Inspector General's report through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Inspector General report criticized the State Department for not physically inspecting the U.S. Embassy in Kabul before approving the security plans. The embassy was the target of a Taliban attack in 2011. The report also noted that the embassy lacked certain supplies that would be necessary in another attack, and it reported that other facilities in Afghanistan were vulnerable.

Phishing attacks have been taking advantage of the emotional response users may feel to a recent hack into Apple's Developer Center, which is its Web site for developers. CNet reports that the phishers are asking users to change their passwords, which may dupe the recipient into visiting a Web site where they'll enter their personal information. According to the article, "scammers often use emotional responses to a recent event to induce panic in users -- which may make them less likely to double-check a domain or other details before frantically inputting their log-in details." The Apple Developer Center site was down earlier this month because an intruder tried to steal user data. CNet offers clues as to how to spot the fake e-mails.

The nominee for deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, yesterday fought off allegations that he misused his influence. The LA Times reports that Mayorkas is defending himself on claims that he helped a company secure a special visa for a foreign visitor. The company in question is run by Anthony Rodham, brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mayorkas is currently the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and he testified before a Senate panel yesterday. If confirmed, Mayorkas will temporarily replace DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano until a permanent replacement is named. Rodham's company reportedly secured a visa for an investor after it was denied twice. The investigation, which is also looking into the visa program, is ongoing.

A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies calculates the costs of cybercrime and cyberespionage. The report states that the estimated range of costs of these attacks in the United States would be $24 to $120 billion. These are referred to as "tolerated costs," which the report then compares with other tolerated costs to put the cost into perpsective. For example, $120 billion is only a fraction of 2011's $70 trillion GDP. Drug trafficking costs $600 billion. The report adds that the dollar amount may not fully be able to measure the effect of cybercrime and cyber espionage on innovation, trade, and social costs from job loss.

 

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