Although not as hardcore as the British hacker that did his work over 56k, another hacker should be commended for his ability to hijack FEMA phone systems and make $12,000 worth of free phone calls this weekend. The Department of Homeland Security was apparently upgrading FEMA's voicemail system with outdated Private Branch Exchange (PBX) technology but failed to configure the security settings properly. The phreak was able to exploit a vulnerability and use Homeland Security's own phones to ring up countries like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Which all proves that Michael Chertoff was right to fear the power hackers have over inept government bureaucracies. [AP] (Photo by gthills)
No suspicious activity required! Federal agents under the Department of Homeland Security may now seize the laptops of travelers coming into the United States from abroad. They're authorized to copy and decrypt the notebook's contents. The new DHS policies state that officers may "detain" laptops "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion." Our nonindividualized suspicion: Sales of encrypted flash drives will soar. (Photo by AP/Mike Derer) [Washington Post]
Those wacky shoe-screening cards at the TSA started a blog! It's got a catchy name ("Evolution of Security"), a thriller trailer tagline ("Terrorist Evolve. Threats Evolve. Security Must Stay Ahead. You Play a Part." COMING THIS FALL.), and incredibly bitchy comments. Like "DHS and TSA are fundamentally broken. Disband both immediately and return our civil liberties." That's one of the mild ones! They deleted most of the not mild ones. Also it's hosted on Blogger. Some more entertaining of the remaining comments, below. [ThinkProgress, WP]
Today's spoooookiest Halloween story is about how a scary troll named Michael Chertoff called up our governor and made him back down from his plan to give driver's licenses to aliens. Because letting Hondurans drive to work will lead to a hundred more 9/11s! The Homeland Security chief bullied Gov. Spitzer into supporting a weird "tiered" license system in which illegal immigrants will have theirs printed with invisible ink on cocktail napkins with a big stamp that says "DO NOT LET ON AIRPLANES" while us citizens get the totally brand-new and fucking terrifying-sounding "Real IDs" that have microchips and spycams and GPS devices in them probably. So Spitzer kinda caved like three different ways here and now everyone is mad at him again! Except Chertoff, who promised to keep that Homeland Security money flowing into Albany.
Are we awful for laughing when the little girl demonstrates the bulletproof qualities of this backpack by crouching behind it? We know all your important organs are located in your torso, but still. Ouch, kneecap!