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by CSO Contributor

Microsoft Road Show; U.S. Plants: Open to Terrorists; Bush Security Swings into Action in U.K.; Health Experts Fear SARS Reemergence

Nov 17, 20034 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Microsoft Road Show

According to a Reuters story on Yahoo!News today, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said today that security is the software giant’s top priority as it seeks to allay worries about computer viruses while fending off calls for Asian governments to develop an alternative to its Windows operating system. Ballmer is on a weeklong tour of Japan in which he will seek to ease concerns about the safety of its products. Computer industry associations from Japan, South Korea and China said last Friday they would strongly recommend their governments seek open-source software, such as Linux, as an alternative to Windows, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates addressed the Comdex crowd in Las Vegas, also focusing on security but looking forward to seamless computing as well. CNET reports that Gates’ annual was designed to outline the promise of new software as well as the pitfalls of spam and the threats to security. The story offers more Comdex coverage.U.S. Chemical Plants Open to Terrorists60 Minutes aired a program last night focusing on the more than 100 chemical plants in United States where a catastrophic accident or an act of sabotage by terrorists could endanger more than a million people. 60 Minutes reports that its correspondents found gates unlocked or wide open, dilapidated fences, and unprotected tanks filled with deadly chemicals that are used to manufacture everything from plastics to fertilizer. And the program quoted Carl Prine, an investigative reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, who began probing security at chemical plants six months after Sept. 11after companies had been warned by the government that they were potential targets. I found almost nonexistent security in a lot of places, said Prine, who visited 60 plants all over the country, including the Chicago, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh and Houston area. I walked right up to the tanks. There was one plant in Chicago, I simply sat on top of the tank and waved Hello, I’m on your tank.”


Bush Security Swings into Action in U.K.BBC News Online story, an “unprecedented” security operation is under way ahead of President Bush’s state visit to Britain. Police say they have increased the number of officers on duty from 5,000 to 14,000 for the three days, and hundreds of U.S. special agents are already in the U.K. The heightened state of security has also seen extra police at ports and airports and checking people arriving on Eurostar trains from France. Bush will also be protected by hundreds of armed guards from the United States, but they will not be granted diplomatic immunity, and will be subject to the British legal system if they shoot anybody. Several protests are planned during the state visit.

According to a

Health Experts Fear SARS ReemergenceWashington Post. A new outbreak could occur if the SARS virus is transmitted again from wild animals to people. It could also flare up if the pathogen has been spreading undetected among people in rural China or elsewhere. Or it could escape from one of the many laboratories where scientists are studying the virus. What worries health experts most, however, is that SARS could mimic the devastating Spanish flu of 1918, which killed millions. If the disease reappears, many experts say, it remains unclear how well the world could defend against the virus, which sickened more than 8,000 people this year, killed 780 and staggered the economies of Toronto, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, reports the Post.

Nearly five months after they contained the SARS outbreak, health authorities are bracing for the possibility that the frightening lung infection could reemerge, sparking another deadly and disruptive global health emergency, according to a story in todays