Doug Bedell — April 12, 2021, 3:43 pm

Bully For These Bollards!

The Reliance Foundry website is displaying a bully good variation in bollards – Crash-rated gnomes!

Rather than having gnomes simply guarding gardens, Reliance, in British Columbia, Canada, is introducing them as bollards able to block intruding vehicles anywhere! They’re calling them “Permanent pixie protectors, tested for toughness”.

These Reliance Foundry bollards are sure to draw traffic, but not the mean-spirited kind!

Doug Bedell — April 9, 2021, 2:00 pm

U.S. and Russia Continue Nuclear Weapons Compliance


The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reported last month that China is apparently expanding its ballistic missle capacity. Not good news. Now FAS advises that Russia and the United States are continuing to limit their offensive nuclear forces. That’s better news, though hardly disarmament.

As to the U.S. and Russia, FAS notes that “The latest set of this data shows the situation as of March 1, 2021. As of that date, the two countries possessed a combined total of 1,567 accountable strategic missiles and heavy bombers, of which 1,168 launchers were deployed with 2,813 warheads. That is a slight decrease in the number of deployed launchers and warheads compared with six months ago (note: the combined warhead number is actually about 100 too high because each deployed bomber is counted as one weapon even though neither country’s bombers carry weapons under normal circumstances).

“Compared with September 2020, the data shows the two countries combined increased the total number of strategic launchers by 3, decreased combined deployed strategic launchers by 17, and decreased the combined deployed strategic warheads by 91. Of these numbers, only the “3” is real; the other changes reflect natural fluctuations as launchers move in and out of maintenance or are being upgraded.

“In terms of the total effect of the treaty, the data shows the two countries since February 2011 combined have cut 422 strategic launchers from their arsenals, reduced deployed strategic launchers by 235, and reduced the number of deployed strategic warheads by 524. However, it is important to remind that this warhead reduction is but a fraction (just over 6 percent) of the estimated 8,297 warheads that remain in the two countries combined nuclear weapons stockpiles (just over 4 percent if counting their total combined inventories of 11,807 stockpiled and retired (but yet to be dismantled) warheads).”

Blessed be the peacemakers, they keep at it.

Doug Bedell — April 7, 2021, 3:49 pm

Facebook’s 2019 Security Slipup Continues to Haunt the Web


If you ever get annoyed about needing a password for almost everything that exists on the web (and who doesn’t?), consider the continuing impact from “the exploitation of a Facebook server that was not password protected and available online” back in 2019. “The data matches Facebook user IDs with names, locations, birthdates, phone numbers, email addresses, and, in some cases, biographical information.”

Scott Briscoe reports on the continuing impact of the Facebook data breach on the Today in Security blog.

“The breach is back in the news because over the weekend, Business Insider reported that Hudson Rock Chief Technology Officer Alon Gal discovered that even the low bar of having to pay a few dollars for a trove of personal data on Facebook users no longer exists.

“Initially, once verified, the information sells for a relatively high price. The Washington Post reports Gal as saying the leaked database generated tens of thousands of dollars. But the price declined as the data aged. Earlier in 2021, in a last attempt to wring money out of the breach, someone built a bot that for a low fee provided the phone number of any of the 533 million Facebook users impacted by the breach. Now the entire database has been posted online and is freely available, according to Business Insider.”

The web is definitely not a place to tread casually, but carefully and with continuing awareness that a slip-up can cause continuing harm or annoyance to others.

Doug Bedell — April 5, 2021, 2:40 pm

Cybersecurity Becoming a Federal Priority


In a virtual address to The RSA Conference, in partnership with Hampton University and the Girl Scouts of America, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas discussed his aims for the department’s cybersecurity work.

“First,” he noted, ” the government does not have the capacity to achieve our nation’s cyber resilience alone. So much of our critical infrastructure is in the private sector’s hands. We need to work with the private sector to protect the interests of the American people and the services on which we rely…

“Second, our government got hacked last year and we didn’t know about it for months. It wasn’t until one of the world’s best cybersecurity companies got hacked itself and alerted the government, that we found out. This incident is one of many that underscores a need for the federal government to modernize cybersecurity defenses and deepen our partnerships.”

In short, cybersecurity is becoming a more pronounced and focused federal effort. Right on, guys!

Doug Bedell — April 2, 2021, 12:56 pm

A Webcast on Cybersecurity Awareness and Managing Its Risks


To keep a cyber security incident from occurring takes time – time to study predator types, the risks they pose and the techniques they use. So the Digital Guardian’s blog directs us to the 2021 SANS Security Awareness Report: Managing Human Cyber Risk, “the result of collecting and analyzing responses from more than 1,500 security awareness professionals around the globe. This truly is a report by the community for the community.”

You’re also invited to join a “live insights webcast” scheduled for April 7 at 10:30am EST on the “2021 Security Awareness Report: Utilize Data-Driven Actions to Manage Your Human Risk” with co-authors Lance Spitzner and Dan DeBeaubien, “to hear first-hand how the report’s insights can influence the success of your program and career.”

Security, digital or otherwise, takes time to accomplish. Here’s an opportunity to head off digital threats via an at-your-desk webcast.

Doug Bedell — March 31, 2021, 11:49 am

Consider Working for DHS In Meeting Its National Security Needs


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a “Help Wanted” sign out. DHS is “seeking hundreds of qualified individuals to fill critical positions in law enforcement, such as criminal investigators, deportation officers, Customs and Border Protection officers, Border Patrol agents, special agents, physical security specialists, and police officers. We will also be filling other critical positions to include emergency management specialists, intelligence analysts, and more.”

To spur its hiring effort, DHS is holding two-hour webinar programs starting April 23 through June 29. “To learn more, visit www.dhs.gov/recruitment. To register for a session, select “Webinar Schedule” on the www.dhs.gov/recruitment website, and click on “Register” for the session that you are interested in. You will receive the link and conference call information after registration is completed.”

This can be a life-changing opportunity for people interested in and qualified for national security service.

Doug Bedell — March 29, 2021, 1:43 pm

U.S. Lagging in Rankings of Security and Happiness


The United States of America isn’t where we like to think we are in terms of feelings of security and happiness, and it isn’t just COVID-19 that has brought about the balance. For the fourth year in a row, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world in the World Happiness Report 2021. The United States is 19th.

“Finnish happiness isn’t skin deep and immediately visible — it’s deeply engrained in our being. Sustainable happiness is our superpower, and it means we tend to take life as it comes — a trait that is helping us through these challenging times,” said Heli Jimenez, senior director of international marketing at Business Finland, in a press release.

It’s a matter of how a nation focuses its values, and sustains that focus. The U.S., apparently, has a distance to go in this regard.

Doug Bedell — March 26, 2021, 11:39 am

Picking Up Warning Signs of Workplace Violence


The Thinkcurity.com site turns our attention to the possibility of violence in workplaces, chiefly arising from irregular patterns of employee activity. Could there be behaviors signaling disregard of others’ safety?

The post lists two dozen factors that might be signs of hostility developing toward other workers, going beyond “temper tantrums”. They include simmering or uncontrollable anger, continual excuses, safety concerns, mental health issues and depression from immersion in social media.

Employees can’t be expected to be cheery all the time, but when they “pop the cork” for various reasons, you may have missed some warning signs of uneven temperaments. Yes, in-house threats to workplace security occur too.

Doug Bedell — March 24, 2021, 10:54 am

Britain Reverses Its Stance on Reducing Nuclear Weapons


Great Britain has reversed itself on the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile in favor of increasing its available warheads. Hans Kristensen on a Federation of American Scientists blog notes that “The decision makes Britain the first Western nuclear-armed state to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile since the end of the Cold War. In terms of numbers, it takes Britain back to a stockpile size it had in the early-2000s. The change is part of ‘a shift to a more robust position on security and deterrence.’”

“The Review,” Kristensen adds, “also decided that Britain will ‘no longer give public figures for our operational stockpile, deployed warhead or deployed missile numbers.’ This counterproductive decision follows the earlier decision of the Trump administration to keep the nuclear stockpile number secret. By embracing nuclear secrecy, Britain effectively abdicates its ability to criticize Chinese or Russian secrecy about their nuclear arsenals.

“The decision to increase the size of the future stockpile – and potentially deploy more warheads on British submarines – is but the latest example of nuclear-armed states invigorating a nuclear arms race and reversing progress toward reducing the world’s nuclear arsenals.”

Doug Bedell — March 22, 2021, 10:43 am

2020: A Bummer Year for Internet Crime, the FBI Reports


2020 was a tarnished year for internet crimes, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) advises. The year racked up a record number of 781,790 internet crime complaints received by the bureau.

“The highest number of complaints received (241,342) by far were related to phishing/pharming/vishing/smishing scams, which are “[t]he use of unsolicited email, text messages, and telephone calls purportedly from a legitimate company requesting personal, financial, and/or login credentials,” the FBI’s report advises.

“Following those, the next two highest amounts of complaints received were related to non-payment/non-delivery (108,869) and extortion (76,741). Along with providing the overview of the statistics and the work that was done to combat internet crimes, this report also gives advice to readers on how to avoid becoming victims of these crimes, as well as how to report potential illegal incidents.”