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by CSO Contributor

9/11 Commission Says U.S. Agencies Slow Its Inquiry; Brand-Name Scam E-Mails Increase; Dell to Tighten Systems Security; Border Patrol—Against Ticks

Jul 09, 20034 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

9/11 Commission Says U.S. Agencies Slow Its Inquiry

The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said today that its work was being hampered by the failure of executive branch agencies, especially the Pentagon and the Justice Department, to respond quickly to requests for documents and testimony, according to a story in The New York Times today. The panel also said the failure of the Bush administration to allow officials to be interviewed without the presence of government colleagues could impede its investigation, with the commission’s chairman suggesting today that the situation amounted to “intimidation” of the witnesses. Under the law creating the bipartisan, 10-member panel last year, the commission, which met for the first time in January, is required to complete its investigation by next May. The Times says that in their statement the panels leaders said that the “problems that have arisen so far with the Department of Defense are becoming particularly serious.” Brand-Name Scam E-Mails IncreaseAtlanta Journal-Constitution today, SurfControl, a leading Web and e-mail filtering company, issued a warning Tuesday against “brand-spoofing spam,” which masquerades as e-mail from a major corporation in order to pry financial and identity information from recipients. The story cites one of the biggest cases of spoofing, which involved thousands of Best Buy customers who received spam in June titled “Fraud Alert” that was designed to fish for personal information. Using concern about a purchase from Best Buy and possible credit card misuse as bait, the fraudulent e-mail message urged recipients to go to a special Web site and correct the problem by typing in their Social Security and credit card numbers. Other big names that have been spoofed are Sony, UPS, PayPal, Bank of America and First Union Bank. Spoofing has become such a problem that eBay, the Internet’s largest auction site, has announced an e-mail address——where consumers can forward messages they believe to be fraudulent.

According to a story in the

Dell to Tighten Systems SecurityThe Register today, Dell said it is enabling security features to bring shipping systems into line with security benchmarks established by the Center for Internet Security (CIS), a non-profit body backed by IT companies, academia, audit agencies and the U.S. government. Dell will offer the same service for Windows XP customers later this year, when CIS delivers an XP-oriented benchmark.

Dell said today that it will activate more than 50 Win2k security settings in Windows 2000 installations prior to shipment, essentially to save customers from having to do the work themselves. And since so few of them do, the company hopes its efforts mean there will be many more better protected systems out there. According to a story in

Border Patrol—Against TicksNew York Times. The mission? Find smuggled or stray cattle with ticks and disinfect them by dipping them in vats of pesticide. Do the same for infected horses, sheep and deer that wander across 600 miles of winding border, from Del Rio to Brownsville, where balmy temperatures allow the ticks to thrive. The porous frontier separating the United States and Mexico and lower water levels along the Rio Grande in recent years have made it easier for ticks to cross the border on stray cattle. So have ecological changes like the spread of buffel grass, a drought-resistant plant native to Africa that allows the parasites to thrive as they lie in wait of host cattle. And what about people crossing that porous border? The tick riders exchange information with Border Patrol agents, but they often turn the other way when witnessing an illegal border crossing. “Our mission is to keep ticks out of the country, not people,” one tick rider told the Times.

Along the banks of the Rio Grande, 61 cowboys are employed by the Department of Agriculture to combat the spread of the fever tick, a parasite that can wipe out 90 percent of a cattle herd in days. The $3 million program is profiled in todays