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by CSO Contributor

Terrorisms Peril Undiminished; New System Will Profile Every Airline Passenger; Banks Shut Ptech Accounts; MP3s Can Be Used to Hack into Computers

Dec 24, 20023 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Terrorisms Peril Undiminished

In a long and chilling report, The Washington Post today discusses the federal governments approach to ongoing threatsboth on defense and on offense. According to the Post, the elements of the U.S. “security deficit,” as one current official termed it recently, are varied. In their own fields of responsibility, across a wide range of government functions, nearly all of those interviewed by the newspaper acknowledged laboring under threats for which they have no present answer. In some cases they described the challenge as unavoidable. In others they said they had lost opportunities to respond. In still others, implicitly and explicitly, the officials raised questions about the president’s choices in the war on terrorism.New System Will Profile Every Airline PassengerWashington Post. The Post reports that the profiling system, called CAPPS II, will analyze passengers’ travel reservations, housing information, family ties, credit reports and other personal information.

Ben H. Bell, the former deputy director of an anti-terror task force in the Justice Department, will lead the Transportation Security Administration’s effort to profile every passenger on every airplane in the United States, according to another article in today’s

Banks Shut Ptech AccountsBoston Globe reports that major banks have canceled two corporate accounts and plan to cancel the personal accounts of four employees of Middle Eastern descent at Ptech Inc., the Quincy, Mass., software company that was searched by federal authorities Dec. 5 as part of a financial-crimes investigation. Neither the company nor its employees have been charged with any wrongdoing, the Globeexplains, but a person the company said helped it find funding, Saudi national Yasin al-Qadi, has been placed on a “blocked list” of suspected terror financiers. The employees received letters from FleetBoston Financial Corp. stating their accounts would be terminated Dec. 26. All were dated Nov. 25, well before the federal search, suggesting the bank was in touch with authorities beforehand. Questions have been raised about profiling. The banks claim not to discriminate on the basis of nationality or religion, but no specific explanations were given for any of the account closures. According to the Globe, while new rules such as the 2001 USA Patriot Act have widely worried privacy experts that they would give financial institutions too many snooping obligations, the rules don’t give many specific instances in which banks must cut off customers.


MP3s Can Be Used to Hack into ComputersEuropemedia today reports that security company Foundstone says Windows XP and WinAmp can open computers to attack by allowing music or other media files to control your PC. Flaws in the software let hackers import malicious MP3 or Windows Media fileswhich would look and sound no different from regular, unmodified media files. If Explorer is used to open the file, the operating system can be forced to perform tasks not authorized by the user, the site reports. Music and motion picture industry giants are currently hoping to use such hacking tactics as a secret weapon in their battle with file-sharing and so-called digital piracy.

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