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by CSO Contributor

Apple Security Patch Causes Dismay; U.S. Nearing Deal on Way to Track Foreign Visitors; U.S. May Get Privacy Czar; Security Experts Urge Vigilance in Rapid Transit Systems

May 24, 20044 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Apple Security Patch Causes Dismay

InfoWorld reports that a critical patch for Mac OS X issued on Friday leaves Mac users as vulnerable to attacks as they were before the fix, according to a security company. Last week researchers warned of two serious vulnerabilities in Apple Computer Inc.’s Unix-based operating system, both allowing a malicious Web page to send code to a Mac and execute it. Apple issued a patch for the one flaw on Friday, but the fix leaves the other problem unpatched, experts said. Critics pointed out that Apple was warned of the hole in February, but did not issue a patch until the problem began to be widely discussed on Internet forums last week, InfoWorld reports. U.S. Nearing Deal on Way to Track Foreign VisitorsThe New York Times today, the Department of Homeland Security is on the verge of awarding its biggest contract to date for an elaborate system that could cost as much as $15 billion and employ a network of databases to track visitors to the United States long before they arrive. Times interviews with government officials, experts and the three companies vying for the contract—Accenture, Computer Sciences and Lockheed Martin—reveal new details and potential complications about a project that all agree is daunting in its complexity, cost and national security importance. The program, known as US-Visit, seeks to replace the nation’s physical borders with what officials call virtual borders. The system would tie together about 20 federal databases with information on the more than 300 million foreign visitors each year. Privacy advocates say they worry that the new system could give the federal government far broader power to monitor the whereabouts of visitors by tapping into credit card information or similar databases.

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U.S. May Get Privacy story. The Act would also establish a 10-member commission, appointed by various government bodies, for overseeing privacy and civil-liberty freedoms related to homeland security initiatives. The Department of Homeland Security is currently the only agency with a federally mandated chief privacy officer.

Reps. Kendrick Meek (D-Florida) and Jim Turner (D-Texas), who are both members of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, introduced a bill Thursday called the Strengthening Homeland Innovation by Emphasizing Liberty, Democracy, and Privacy Act (or Shield Privacy Act) that would establish a federal chief privacy officer position, as well as separate positions at every federal department and agency, according to a

Security Experts Urge Vigilance in Rapid Transit SystemsThe Oakland Tribune, the Department of Homeland Security issued last week its first national guidelines for commuter rail systems, which took effect Sunday. But two top counterterrorism experts— Brian Jenkins, who advised U.S. presidents, and Mike Herstik, who protected Israeli bus stations— say mass transit systems need more than vigilance to defend against bombings. They urge systems to act quickly on reports of unattended bags; pose a visible and varied deterrent; train employees to distinguish a threat from a hoax and what to do in either case; install cameras and emergency phones with people on the other end of them; prioritize plans for stopping more attacks than they can handle; screen passengers without bringing bus and rail systems to a standstill; and get more dogs, more security teams and more money. The Tribune reports that the American Public Transit Association told Congress this month that U.S. transit systems need a total of $6 billion to protect 32 million daily passengers. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the government has spent $115 million on transit security. The story describes the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system as an illustration of the dangers and difficulties securing urban transit systems.

According to a story in