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by CSO Contributor

Ridge Says Warnings at Highest Level Since 9/11; Alleged Draft of ‘Patriot II’ Legislation Obtained; Tethers May Ease Jail Crowding, State Budgets; Hacking Insurance Premiums Soar; Tangled Up in Spam

Feb 10, 20034 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Ridge Says Warnings at Highest Level Since 9/11

According to an AP report in todays Mercury News, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today that the latest terrorism alert issued by the Bush administration represented the most significant such warning since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In television interviews today, Ridge was asked what U.S. citizens are expected to do in response to such warnings. He said, When we raise the national consciousness about the level of attack, that in itself, is a deterrence…. Asked about critics’ accusations that the alert might have been tied to President Bush’s warning to Saddam Hussein that time is running out on Baghdad avoiding war, Ridge said, Well, I regret that interpretation. Alleged Draft of “Patriot II” Legislation, new legislation, titled the “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003,” has been quietly drafted by the staff of Attorney General John Ashcroft. It would expand surveillance power, increase government access to private data, and expand the definition of terrorist activities. The legislation would also allow the creation of a DNA database for suspected terrorists. There is also a provision that would allow the government to “expatriate” a U.S. citizen. In a special report on its website, the Center for Public Integrity says it obtained a copy of a draft of the previously undisclosed legislation dated January 9, 2003. In response to its report, the Center says, Barbara Comstock, director of public affairs for the Justice Dept., released a statement saying, “Department staff have not presented any final proposals to either the Attorney General or the White House. It would be premature to speculate on any future decisions, particularly ideas or proposals that are still being discussed at staff levels.” Other comments provided to the Center differ. Summaries and full text of the draft legislation are available through the special report.

According to the privacy news portal

Tethers May Ease Jail Crowding, State BudgetsDetroit Free Press. In metro Detroit, the story says, defendants are wearing tethers that map where they are at all times, devices that measure their blood-alcohol level through skin pores and anklets that will not allow them to come within feet of people they have tried to stalk. According to national jail research organizations, Michigans Governor Jennifer Granholm is the first governor to propose using such technology as a solution to jail overcrowding. But about 130 local, state and federal jurisdictions use tethers, the Free Press reports. Most people say the tether is better than jail, but not everyone. Some say the technology is so imperfect that alarms sound even when wearers have stayed at home and wearers have had to spend much time addressing malfunctions in the tether.

As technology grows more sophisticated and Michigans budget picture grows more dire, policy makers are turning to a new generation of electronic monitoring devides, or tethers, to help solve prison overcrowding, acording to a story in todays

Hacking Insurance Premiums SoarUSA Today, many insurance companies have removed hacking losses from general-liability policies, forcing companies to spend extra for “network risk insurance,” which costs about $5,000 to $30,000 a year for $1 million in coverage. In addition to the premium, USA Today reports, companies have to pay upfront to have their networks assessed. Losses from computer crime are expected to soar to $2.8 billion in the United States this year, and “hacker insurance will be ubiquitous in a few years,” USA Today quotes Bruce Schneier, CTO of Counterpane Internet Security. “You can’t budget for the next computer worm, but insurance is a fixed cost that reduces risk.”

According to a story in

Tangled Up in Spam yesterday devoted six pages to a story on spam. As we all know, unsolicited e-mail absorbs bandwidth and overwhelms Internet service providers, according to the story. Corporate tech staffs labor to deploy filtering technology to protect their networks. The cost is now widely estimated (though all such estimates are largely guesswork) at billions of dollars a year. Sorting the good from the bad looks easy, but it’s a real problem, both for humans trying to manage their in-boxes and for artificial intelligence. The story includes a brief overview of spams history (the first was likely a product promo on ARPAnet in 1978). And it covers what people are doing to fight spam now, such as Paul Grahams proposal last summer for adaptive, probabilistic filtering and the Federal Trade Commissions pursuit of fraud. Odd forces, the Times says, have conspired to create paralysis in the government on the matter of spam. Corporate marketers and Internet traditionalists have found themselves in an accidental alliance under the watchword self-regulation.

New York Times Magazine