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by CSO Contributor

Smallpox Campaign Taxing Health Resources; New Worm Targets Weak Windows Passwords; Arrests Lead to New Security Efforts for Japanese Online Banks

Mar 10, 20033 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Smallpox Campaign Taxing Health Resources

As they rush to answer President Bush’s call to vaccinate millions of emergency workers against smallpox, state and local health officials say they have stopped virtually all other counterterrorism efforts and in many cases have begun trimming services such as prenatal care, AIDS prevention, water testing and tuberculosis tracking, according to the Washington Post today. The Post cites a survey of 539 health departments released by the National Association of County and City Health Officials last month. It shows 79 percent of respondents indicated the smallpox inoculation campaign was siphoning staff time and money from other initiatives designed to protect citizens from chemical, radiological and other biological agents such as botulism, Ebola virus and anthrax. The story quotes sources from Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia, Seattle, Oklahoma, Georgia and beyond, saying the large percentages of public health resources and nearly all homeland security-related public health resources are devoted to the smallpox program, while other programs languish. Joseph Henderson, associate director of terrorism preparedness and response at the Centers for Disease Control, told the Post that states should be able to manage the first phase of the smallpox program—inoculating as many as 500,000 medical workers nationwide—by tapping into $1 billion distributed for the purpose last year. “Anything beyond that will be too much of a burden,” he said.New Worm Targets Weak Windows Passwords today reports that a new worm on the Internet targets computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, using easy-to-guess passwords for the Administrator account, according to alerts posted by a number of antivirus companies. The worm, called W32/Deloader-A (Deloader) and believed to have originated in China, appeared on Sunday and is considered a low risk for infection.

Arrests Lead to New Security Efforts for Japanese Online BanksAsahi Shimbun, Tokyo police arrested two men on suspicion of stealing 16 million yen through an online banking scheme that might involve hundreds of victims. Police said suspects had installed software that records keyboard strokes in about 100 computers at 13 Internet cafés in three Japanese cities since 2001. Using that software they allegedly obtained identification numbers or passwords of 719 people and broke into the Net-banking system, which allows clients to conduct banking transactions, such as transferring funds, online. A separate Asahi Shimbun story recounts how some banks are adding security measures to their online procedures in response. Several banks have issued customers unique personal tables of random numbers to use when logging in. Customers accessing their accounts online first enter their password, then receive a set of coordinates. Customers find the coordinates on the chart and enter the numbers printed at each coordinate into the computer to access the bank’s website. But the bank at the center of the recent Net-banking scandal, Citibank, does not employ this type of security system. Other banks are trying other measures. Sony Bank, for example, requires customers to register a single personal computer that they will use to access the online banking Web site, and another bank e-mails customers as soon as a transaction is made online.

According to a story in the English version