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by CSO Contributor

Homeland Security Dominates ASIS Convention; D.C. Area Shut Down Today; N.Y. Mayor Widens Privacy Rights for Immigrants; Virus Sender Helped FBI Bust Hackers

Sep 18, 20034 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Homeland Security Dominates ASIS Convention

More than 18,000 security experts gathered in New Orleans this week for the annual convention of ASIS International, formerly the American Society of Industrial Security. According to a story in todays New Orleans Times-Picayune, the hot topic was homeland security. Groups such as the ASIS Information Technology Security Council were talking about what businesses need to do to prepare for a terrorist attack. But apparently not too much. “Part of nuclear security is not talking about it,” the Times-Picayune quotes Gene Gwiazdowski, director of security for a nuclear power plant in Calvert Cliffs, Md. Gwiazdowski said the less information that is available to the general public about security at the plants, the easier it is to protect the facilities. The convention continues today with a talk by former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler, as well as seminars on the pros and cons of a national identification database and the vulnerabilities of water utilities. D.C. Area Shut Down TodayThe Washington Post. Even though forecasters said Isabel probably would reach the Washington area as a strong tropical storm, local leaders were leaving little to chance as schools and governments decided to close and police forces and rescue workers went on high alert. The Metro transit system announced that it would begin to shut down bus and rail service at 11 a.m. as part of a coordinated action to get people to stay at home. Some complain that the precautions are excessive, but officials say theyd rather be accused of that than have to explain a disaster.

The Metro system, commuter railroads, the federal government, most public schools and most county and city offices will be shut today, as Hurricane Isabel rushes northward with powerful winds and soaking rains, according to a story in

N.Y. Mayor Widens Privacy Rights for ImmigrantsNew York Times, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, under pressure from immigration groups and the City Council, revised his immigration policy yesterday to make it much harder for city agencies to report illegal immigrants to federal authorities. He did so in an executive order that established a broad new privacy policy that would prohibit city workers in most cases from giving out information about not just a person’s immigration status, but also sexual orientation, income tax records and welfare assistance, among other things. It also applies to law enforcement officers, except in cases involving criminal activity and terrorism. The city’s corporation counsel said that by expanding the privacy policy to cover other kinds of personal information, the new immigration policy could still comply with a 1999 federal court ruling that struck down the city’s longstanding policy of prohibiting city employees from passing on immigration information. He said the court did not rule that an overall confidentiality policy would be illegal, but left that question open.

According to a story in todays

Virus Sender Helped FBI Bust, court documents unsealed yesterday at the request of The Associated Press show that David Smith, the man responsible for transmitting the Melissa virus, began working with the FBI within weeks of his 1999 arrest. Smith told the judge while pleading guilty that he did not expect the amount of damage that took place. The court document says Smith helped the FBI bust virus senders abroad and stop viruses in the United States, primarily by using a fake identity to communicate with and track hackers from around the world, including the authors of the Anna Kournikova and Gokar viruses. Smith could have been sentenced to about 10 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but the judge reduced the sentence to 20 months after reading the documents just recently unsealed. The 35-year-old Smith, who declined to be interviewed, is serving his sentence in federal prison at Fort Dix, New Jersey. His attorney did not return calls from the AP.

According to an AP story on