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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Jul 7, 2020

The National Security Agency issued a new cybersecurity advisory on Thursday, warning that virtual private networks, or VPNs, could be vulnerable to attacks if not properly secured. The agency's warning comes amid a surge in telework as organizations adapt to coronavirus-related office closures and other constraints.

A VPN allows users to establish private, encrypted connections to another network over the internet. They are used widely by corporations and other organizations to protect proprietary data from hackers while employees work remotely.

A senior NSA official who briefed reporters Wednesday said the increase in remote work had attracted the attention of potentially malicious cyber actors. 

Read more: CBS News

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic
provides new opportunities for the Islamic State extremist group, al-Qaida and their affiliates as well as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and hate groups.

The U.N. chief said it’s too early to fully assess the implications of the coronavirus pandemic on terrorism, but all these groups seek to exploit divisions, local conflicts, failures in governing, and other grievances to advance their aims.

Guterres told the launch of United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week that the Islamic State group, which once controlled a vast swath of Syria and Iraq, is trying to reassert itself in both countries, “while thousands of foreign terrorist fighters battle in the region.”

Read more: AP

A massive explosion and fire at a highly sensitive Iranian nuclear facility last week was likely an act of sabotage, intelligence officials and weapons experts said Monday, but analysts were divided over the severity of the damage to Iran’s nuclear program.

Satellite photos released over the weekend show a gaping hole in a large industrial building where Iranian technicians assembled machines that make enriched uranium. The building, on the grounds of Iran’s sprawling Natanz uranium enrichment complex, was rocked early Thursday by a mysterious blast that Iranian officials acknowledge caused “significant” damage.

Read more: Washington Post

A leading Iraqi expert on Islamic State and other militant groups has been shot dead in Baghdad after receiving threats from Iran-backed militias, security officials have said.

Gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Hisham al-Hashimi, 47, on Monday outside his home in the Zeyouneh area of Baghdad, a family member said, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

The family member heard five shots fired. Al-Hashimi was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Al-Hashimi was a respected security analyst who appeared regularly on Iraqi television and whose expertise was sought out by government officials, journalists and researchers.

Read more: The Guardian (UK)

Wreaths have been laid in memory of the victims of the 7/7 terror attacks on the 15th anniversary of the bombings.

The Mayor of London and the head of the Metropolitan police laid wreaths at a memorial to the attacks, in Hyde Park.

Fifty two people died and 700 were injured when four bombs went off across the capital city on 7 July 2005.

The heads of the Transport for London, British Transport Police, and City of London Police also joined the service.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: "Our capital will never forget the terrible events of that day.

"As we mark 15 years since the attack on our city, I want again to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of our emergency services and transport workers, who ran towards danger to save lives, on that awful day.

Read more: BBC News