Morning Security Brief: Update on N.Y. Train Crash, IG Report on DHS Cybersecurity, Air Defense Zone Tensions in Asia, and More

By Holly Gilbert

► A commuter train that derailed in the Bronx, New York, on Sunday, killing four people and wounding dozens of others, was traveling at a speed of 82 miles per hour (mph), more than double the speed limit of 30 mph for the curve it was maneuvering. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) official announced the findings of its investigation regarding the speed of the Amtrak train on the Metro-North railroad at a news conference on Monday. He said the driver of the train failed to decelerate when approaching the curve, where the speed limit plummets from 70 mph to 30. According to CBS news, “The NTSB also found that about 5 seconds before the engine ground to a halt, brake pressure dropped from 120 psi to 0.” The train’s engineer, William Rockerfeller, was injured in the crash. He “reportedly told first responders when he realized the train was approaching the curve with too much speed, he pulled an emergency procedure called ‘dumping the brakes,’ which resulted in the rapid drop in psi.”

► The Department of Homeland Security has failed to abide by many of its own cybersecurity policies, according to a report by the DHS Inspector General (IG) released on November 21, leaving the agency’s network vulnerable to unnecessary risks. The Washington Post reports that Senator Tom Coburn (D-OK), ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement on Monday that the agency has no excuse for the cybersecurity failures. “We spend billions of taxpayer dollars on federal information technology every year. It is inexcusable to put the safety and security of our nation and its citizens at risk in this manner," he said. But the IG report also applauded the DHS for making improvements to its information security program and abiding by president Obama’s cybersecurity initiatives.

► U.S. vice president Joe Biden is visiting Asia in the midst of growing tensions between China and Japan over China’s declaration of an air defense zone. Biden is attempting to quell tensions between the two Asian powers after “Beijing proclaimed an air defense zone over disputed isles in the East China Sea,” according to Reuters. The United States is obligated by treaty to defend the islands, which Japan controls. “Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. However, it recognizes Tokyo's administrative control and says the U.S.-Japan security pact applies to them.” CNN reports that “The Chinese declaration less than two weeks ago has prompted a war of words between governments and flights through the contested air zone by military planes from the United States, China, Japan and South Korea.”

► ABC News reports that bulletproof glass pods have been installed at passenger exits in airports in Syracuse, New York and Atlantic City, New Jersey, meant to prevent people from being able to return to the secure passenger area once they have left, and preventing anyone from entering through the exit area. The report describes how the doors work: "Travelers step into the elevator-sized cylinders and wait as a door slides closed behind them. After a couple of seconds, another door opens in front with a female voice coolly instructing, 'Please exit.'" The doors, manufactured by Eagle Security Group, Inc. of New York City, could be seen in more airports soon, as the vendor says it is in talks with other vicinities. The Transportation Security Adminstration is attempting to save about $888 million by shifting exit-monitoring responsibilities to local airports next year.


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