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Tag: Homeland Security

Insp. General Report Says Homeland Security Computers Vulnerable to Hackers

Maybe it’s asking too much, but you’d expect that an agency called Homeland Security would have more secure web sites. The federal government still needs to do much more to safeguard its computers from hackers.

hacker-istock-photo

By Alice Lipowicz
Federal Computer Week
The Homeland Security Department’s most popular Web sites appear to be vulnerable to hackers and could put department data at risk of loss or unauthorized use, according to a new report from DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.

An audit of cybersecurity for DHS’ nine most frequently visited Web sites found that although general security protocols were followed, there were still a number of vulnerabilities and gaps in security, including inconsistent management of security patching and security assessments.

“These vulnerabilities could put DHS data at risk,” Skinner wrote in the report issued Oct. 8.

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Read Report

Homeland To Back Off Stimulus Funding Until It Reviews Priorities

The spending of stimulus funds should come under intense scrutiny. There’s going to be some misspending of stimulus funds, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to keep waste and misguided priorities to a minimum.

Janet Napolitano/bill maher show

Janet Napolitano/bill maher show

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Facing criticism for her handling of federal stimulus money, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that she would not start any new border construction projects and would review how her department selected projects that would get money.

Napolitano has faced questions since The Associated Press reported last month that Homeland Security officials did not follow their internal priority lists when choosing which border checkpoints would be financed for renovations. Under a process that is secretive and susceptible to political influence, officials planned to spend millions at tiny checkpoints, passing over busier, higher-priority projects.

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9/11: “We Have Come a Long Way But We Have a Ways to Go”

On the eve of the 8th anniversary of one of the most dreadful days in American history, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano puts it best: “We have come a long way, but we have a ways to go.”

napolitano-on-bill-maher-show

By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — On the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, here’s what keeps the secretary of homeland security up at night: Complacency,” Janet Napolitano says without missing a beat.

“The fact that it has been eight years since 9/11, and people just assume the government is going to take care of that. . . . Safety, security is a shared responsibility. It doesn’t take much for everybody just to take a deep breath and say, ‘Okay, what would I need to do to be prepared?’ ”

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Justice and Homeland Officials Look At Mich. to House Guantanamo Inmates

michigan11In a state where the economy just plain old sucks, this will help out a little. And besides, these prisoners have to be held somewhere.

By JOHN FLESHER
Associated Press Writer
STANDISH, Mich. — Federal and state officials visited a maximum-security prison in rural Michigan on Thursday to begin assessing its suitability to house Guantanamo Bay detainees.

About a dozen state officials were joined by 18 representatives from the Defense, Justice and Homeland Security departments and the Bureau of Prisons on the tour of the lockup in Standish, said Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The prison in Standish, 145 miles north of Detroit, and a military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., are being considered to house the 229 suspected al-Qaida, Taliban and foreign fighters currently at the Guantanamo Bay prison, if it is closed by 2010 as President Barack Obama has ordered.

For Full Story

Montreal Paper Calls U.S. Homeland Security Policy “Sureal”

Canada continues to express skepticism about U.S. Homeland Security. Here’s the latest shot.

Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano

By the Montreal Gazette
In this sad “security trumps trade” era of United States border protection, we in this corner have more than once used the word “paranoid” about certain government policies of our friends to the south. But the latest news from the frontier makes us seek even stronger language: “surreal” perhaps.

The New York Times reported last week that at the striking new border post at Massena N.Y. – just across from Cornwall, Ont. – workmen were removing from the exterior of the building the glossy, bright yellow, 6.4-metre-high letters that spell out “United States.” This identification of the country you’re entering is apparently a security risk.

The Times quotes a spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency: “There were security concerns. The sign could be a huge target and attract undue attention. Anything that would place our officers at risk we need to avoid.” Courageously, however, the post will continue to fly the U.S. flag.

Few Canadians will be surprised to learn that the border agency is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, whose leader, Secretary Janet Napolitano, thought the Sept. 11 terrorists had come through Canada. Now she seems determined to enroll her whole country in a witless protection program.

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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-FBI Translator Tests Justice Dept. Again (Spy Talk)

Homeland Security Worker Sues Agency Over Illegal Search

It’s not good p.r. when someone from your own agency sues because of a goof. In Arizona, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is trying to make this go away via a legal motion.  In the end, the government might just have to end up forking some money over to make it vanish.

arizona-map

By Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic

A Department of Homeland Security employee in Yuma is suing his own agency over an illegal search by immigration officers who he said mistakenly stormed his home in search of an undocumented immigrant.

Jimmy Slaughter, a K-9 handler at the U.S. border crossing in San Luis, said in District Court papers that he and his wife, Sheila, have lived in their home for more than a decade and did not know the woman sought by a half-dozen agents who came to his door with guns drawn.

“Is this the agency which protects our country?” Slaughter asked in an affidavit attached to the lawsuit. “… Now my neighbors are wondering or believe I am just another ‘DIRTY COP!’ I have served my country proudly for 23 years in the Marine Corps and six years as a Customs K-9 handler. I bleed Red, White and Blue.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked a judge to dismiss the complaint, arguing that agents left the house once they realized their mistake, so the Slaughters have no basis for a claim.

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Read Lawsuit

Homeland Security Relaunches Tech-Savvy Website That Includes YouTube Videos

Being tech-savvy shouldn’t be an option these days. All the federal agencies need to jump in the pool.

homeland-logo

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department relaunched its Web site Wednesday and became the first Cabinet-level agency to follow the tech-savvy White House directives on social media.

President Barack Obama’s aides have been urging agencies to add interactive components to their Web sites, such as videos and blogs. But it’s been a slow start for a team that harnessed the Internet during the presidential campaign to organize supporters and deliver the White House.

The White House touted the Homeland Security Department’s online presence as a model for other agencies.

For Full Story

Read DHS Press Release on the Site

One of the YouTube Videos Posted On the Site

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZmCM1dKTAY

Cyberattacks Focus on Govern. Sites Including Homeland Security and the Washington Post & Nasdaq

computer-photoThese attacks certainly aren’t catastrophic — at least not yet. But they are scary and are a reminder that we need to do more to protect our computers.

By Brian Krebs and Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — A widespread and coordinated cyberattack during the past few days has targeted Web sites operated by major government agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security and Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, according to several computer security researchers.

The attacks involved thousands of computers around the globe infected with rogue software that told them to repeatedly attempt to access the targeted sites, a tactic aimed at driving up traffic beyond the sites’ normal capacity and denying access to legitimate users, according to the researchers, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they are helping with the investigation.

Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said that the agency was aware of ongoing attacks and that the government’s Computer Emergency Response Team had issued guidance to public and private sector Web sites to stem the attacks.

For Full Story