Morning Security Brief: Wal-Mart Bribery, Text Message Spam, Republican National Convention, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►The Wal-Mart bribery scandal has all the makings of a gripping criminal prosecution, James B. Stewart writes in the New York Times. “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which outlaws the bribery of foreign officials by American executives, carries stiff penalties for those convicted: fines of up to $5 million and up to 20 years in prison."  But, Stewart said, based on past precedent, it’s likely that no one will go to jail. He notes in his column that 37 of the 57 companies involved in bribery cases from 2005 to 2010 settled and no one was charged. “I couldn’t find a case of an executive at a major American-based, publicly traded company who was successfully prosecuted and sent to jail. A majority of individual prosecutions appear to involve people of relatively limited means who are in smaller or privately held companies or who are officials in foreign companies based outside the United States, where there is little likelihood of a conviction,” Stewart wrote.

►The number of spam text messages sent to mobile phones rose 45 percent in the last year to 4.5 billion. “The surge is costing carriers money and frustrating users, who must pay for the messages and deal with potentially fraudulent texts,” Bloomberg reports. Spammers get the numbers from online or use random number generators for particular area codes. For spammers the cost is relatively low, using $20 unlimited texting plans. Clicking on links in the messages often installs malware or authorizes charges to a subscriber’s mobile bill.

►Private security companies are using fear as a tactic to cash in on the upcoming 2012 Republican National Convention, but local businesses aren’t buying it, the Tampa Bay Times reports. A security company has started sending out mailers to local businesses advertising their services. "At the 2004 RNC there were 1,800 arrests, in 2008 there were 800 arrests. What kind of mayhem will Tampa see in 2012?” one reads. Of the 50,000 visitors expected for the event, police estimate 15,000 will be protestors. “But thus far, downtown businesses aren't scrambling to install more security cameras or hire bodyguards,” the Times reports. The company that sent out the mentioned mailer has done just two jobs. A bodyguard company says it’s received no calls for service. And a Tampa loss consultant and insurance adjuster says he hasn’t received many calls either.

►In other news, Boko Haram is suspected of being behind a brazen suicide attack that killed five people in a government convoy on Sunday. Two people on motorcycles drove into the convoy and detonated explosives. No group has claimed credit for the attack, but the attack mirrored other attacks by Boko Haram, the Associated Press reports. ♦ In its second major data breach in a year, the Texas government revealed that it inadvertently released more than 6.5 million voter social security numbers on documents provided to lawyers. That’s half of Texas’ voters. Last year, the state comptroller released the personal information of 3.5 million state employees. ♦ And a judge rules that an anti-fracking group can sue the former director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency's Office of Homeland Security and the Institute of Terrorism Research for defamation and conspiracy.


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