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US Drone Strike in Syria Reportedly Kills Top ISIS Online Recruiter

A U.S. drone strike in Syria Tuesday reportedly killed a fugitive British computer hacker who had become one of ISIS' top online recruiters.

The Wall Street Journal reported the death of Junaid Hussein late Wednesday, citing two people familiar with the operation. The officials said that Hussein was killed by a targeted airstrike near the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS' self-proclaimed "caliphate".

Hussein was a native of Birmingham, England who fled Britain for Syria in 2013 after serving prison time for hacking the e-mail of a former aide to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and publishing Blair's personal information online. Adopting the name of Abu Hussain Al Britani, he repeatedly called for young, computer-literate Muslims to come to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.

"You can sit at home and play call of duty or you can come here and respond to the real call of duty... the choice is yours," Hussein tweeted in 2014, referencing the popular video game.

In recent months, officials told the Journal that Hussein had tried to use social media to recruit would-be jihadis to carry out attacks against U.S. service personnel. The paper reported that Hussein would frequently post the names, addresses and photos of U.S. troops on his Twitter feed and urge his followers to find the serviceman or servicewoman and kill him or her. U.S. officials believe Hussein was also involved in plotting terror attacks over this past July 4 holiday.

Hussein was also linked to a failed May attack on a Garland, Texas "Draw Muhammad" cartoon contest. Elton Simpson, one of the gunmen involved in the failed assault, urged his Twitter followers to follow Hussein hours before he and fellow attacker Nadir Soofi were killed by police guarding the event.

The decision to target Hussein was made several months ago by U.S. and British officials, who had been gathering evidence against him in the event he was captured alive.

Earlier this month, reporters working undercover for Sky News managed to contact Hussein and his wife, a British Muslim convert named Sally Jones. He encouraged the reporters to form Islamist gangs in Britain with the goal of creating an Islamic state there, even sending them detailed guidebooks that included advice on raising money and procuring weapons.

Analyst's Note: Hussein, under the screen name of CyberCaliphate, claimed responsibility for defacing local Delmarva news station WBOC's website and Twitter account, as well as Centcom's Twitter account back in January 2015.

Thwarted train attack in France highlights U.S. rail vulnerability

Airports are protected by several layers of security, but railroad stations have minimal, if any, protective measures, and there are no security checks through which those who take the train must pass.

The attempted attack on the high-speed train from Brussels to Paris only highlights the vulnerability to attack of US rail.  In a recent study, which analyzed terrorist attacks over a 30-year period from 1982 to 2011, found that in recent years terrorists have shifted their focus away from attacking airlines to attacking subway and rail systems. The deadliest attacks in the decade, 2002-2011, were against subway and commuter rail systems.

The New York Times reports that larger US stations have armed Amtrak police officers, some with bomb-sniffing dogs. At some rail hubs – Union Station in Washington, D.C., for example, and Penn Station in New York — passengers and baggage are randomly searched. At Union Station, messages are appear on large-screen monitors urging passengers who spot suspicious activity to report it. A small number of military personnel patrol Penn Station.

“Passengers failing to consent to security procedures will be denied access to trains,” Christina E. Leeds, an Amtrak representative, told the Times in an e-mail Saturday.

Major European train stations also have greater presence of security personnel, but still, security at train stations is far behind the security measures implemented in European airports.

Amtrak has a police force of about 500 officers, and that smaller commuter rail services have their own security officers, who randomly patrol passenger cars, especially on special occasions such as concerts or sporting events.

DHS and TSA have made rail security a priority since the Madrid rail bombing in 2004 and the London underground bombing in July 2005. In December 2005, the TSA established security teams called Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, or VIPR, squads. These squads patrol ground transportation hubs such as train and bus stations and work with local and state and transportation officials to thwart terrorist attacks. The teams include security inspectors, behavior detection officers, and explosives experts. The agency says there are thirty-one teams in operation, and in 2014, they conducted more than 7,000 operations, including security patrols at train stations.

Security experts say, however, that trains remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Professor Arnold Barnett of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, who analyzed terrorist attacks over a 30-year period from 1982 to 2011, notes that the statistical risk posed to travelers by criminal/terrorist acts against air and rail are minuscule, but he argues that successful acts of terror have ramifications beyond their immediate consequences.

For example, many observers believe that the Madrid commuter-train bombings in 2004 changed the outcome of the Spanish national election shortly thereafter. Barnett argues that “if terrorists give weight to demonstrated success,” then the vulnerabilities illustrated by recent rail bombings from Great Britain to Sri Lanka could be precursors to further attacks. Because there is little evidence that attacks on rail systems can be thwarted while in progress, the greater terrorist interest in railroads “heightens the urgency” of intercepting terror plots in advance. Barnett concludes by noting that a planned 2009 New York subway attack was thwarted by good intelligence work, not by security measures at Times Square or Grand Central Station.

The idea of implementing screening measures, similar to those at airports, at train stations has been debated by security experts and lawmakers, but was stalled because of budgetary considerations and passengers’ objections. Amtrak officials told the Times that before the company’s high-speed train, the Acela, began service in 2000, and airport security screening tightened in 2001, Amtrak carried only one-third of travelers between New York and Washington. Amtrak’s share of that traffic is now 75 percent. The officials say that one reason for the growth in the number of passengers choosing Amtrak is the time-consuming airport security screening.

Source: Homeland Security News Wire

WMATA gears up to open Silver Spring Transit Center


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) plans to open the Silver Spring Transit Center on Sept. 20.

The announcement came yesterday, when the agency received a formal request from Montgomery County to transfer the transit center into the regional transit system, WMATA officials said in a press release. WMATA has 10 days to formally accept the facility, but "no issues are expected."

Montgomery County built the three-level, multimodal transit center, which is located adjacent to the Silver Spring Metrorail Station. The transit center will offer improved connectivity between Metrorail, Metrobus, the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC), intercity buses and taxis, WMATA officials said.

The center also feature multiple points of entry for pedestrian, bike trail access, 22 "Kiss and Ride" spaces, and direct access to Metrorail and MARC trains.

Over the next month, WMATA will complete final preparation for the facility.


Source: Progressive Railroading


Virtualization Doubles the Cost of Security Breach

When a security incident involves virtual machines in either a public or private cloud environment, the recovery costs double compared to that of a traditional environment, according to a new report from Kaspersky Lab.

In a survey of 5,500 companies that the company conducted with B2B International, enterprises paid an average of $800,000 to cover from a security breach involving virtualization, compared to $400,000 in traditional environments.

Small and midsized businesses, meanwhile, saw costs rise from an average of $26,000 to $60,000 with virtualization.

There were three main reasons for this cost difference, according to Andrey Pozhogin, senior product marketing manager at Kaspersky Lab.

First, many IT professionals incorrectly assume that virtualized servers are naturally more secure than their traditional counterparts.

"They believe that if a virtual machine catches a virus, they can just delete the virtual machine and create a new one from a template," he said.

According to the survey, 42 percent said that risks in virtual environments were "significantly lower."

In fact, malware is able to hop from one virtual machine to another, embed itself in the hypervisor, and use other techniques to avoid being cleaned out by re-imaging, said Pozhogin.

And virtualization can add risks, as well. For example, there can be a window of vulnerability between the time a virtual machine is spun up and anti-virus software is updated -- a window that can be dramatically magnified if all the virtual machines need to be updated at once.

As a result, virtualized environment can require security solutions specifically designed to deal with virtualization, he said.

But only 27 percent of respondents said that they had deployed a security solution specifically designed for virtual environments.

Second, companies tend to be well prepared with disaster-recovery plans when it comes to their traditional infrastructure, but are not as well prepared when it comes to virtualization.

"What we see is that companies that virtualize tend to limit the virtualization project to the virtualization itself," Pozhogin said. "They tend to postpone disaster recovery, fault tolerance, and security until later."

Virtualization can be expensive, complicated and lengthy, he said, and it's very tempting to just focus on one thing at a time.

Third, virtualization is often used for the most mission-critical, high-value processes, said Pozhogin.

When that infrastructure goes down, so do those processes.

"There are quite a big number of respondents who said that during the cyber incident, they lost access to business-critical data," he said.

Chetak New York L.L.C. Recalls 14.1 oz. Jar of "Deep Coriander Powder" Because of Possible Health Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 20, 2015 – Edison, NJ – Chetak New York L.L.C. of Edison, NJ is recalling 300 jars of 14.1 oz "Deep Coriander Powder", Lot# LE15152, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e. infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

The recalled "Deep Coriander Powder" jars were distributed nationwide in retail store from July 30, 2015 to August 13, 2015. The product comes in a 14.1oz clear plastic jar marked with the UPC number on the rear of the package. The lot number can be located on the bottom of the jar. -- UPC number for 14.1oz. is 011433134347.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing conducted by the FDA.

Consumers who have purchased 14.1oz jars of "Deep Coriander Powder" are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-973-835-1906, Monday through Friday from 9 am – 5 pm EST. Contact:
Consumer: 1-973-835-1906