U.S. government bans Kaspersky software citing fears about Russian intelligence

 Three months after the General Services Administration removed Kaspersky Lab from a list of approved federal vendors, Homeland Security is banning the Russian security software maker outright. In a statement on Wednesday, DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke directed all Executive Branch agencies and departments to identify any Kaspersky products being used over the next 30 days, to make a plan… Read More

Trump administration sued over warrantless smartphone searches at U.S. borders

 With the border wall fight looming large in Congress, another kind of battle at the border is heating up. On Wednesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit with the Department of Homeland Security over warrantless border searches. In the case, Alasaad v. Duke, two organizations will represent 11 individuals who had U.S.… Read More

Border agents can’t lawfully search data stored in the cloud

 Storing dating in the cloud isn’t always the safest means of locking it down, but avoiding local storage could benefit anyone concerned for their privacy while crossing U.S. borders. In a letter addressed to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and reported by NBC, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) clarified that its policy allowing warrantless border searches is apparently… Read More

Nuclear facility hacks remain fairly superficial for now, say DHS and FBI

 A new report from the New York Times sheds some light on ongoing cyber threats to U.S. nuclear facilities. According to the report, a number of manufacturing and energy facilities have been penetrated in attacks that began in May. The Times obtained a joint DHS and FBI joint report which names Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation in Kansas as a specific target, though the story suggests… Read More

Trump might kill next month’s new startup visa before it takes effect

 According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Trump administration may rescind or indefinitely delay the International Entrepreneur Rule, widely regarded as the U.S. version of a startup visa. Overseen by the Department of Homeland Security the rule is intended to “increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States.” Anxiously… Read More

Homeland Security says there is “no timeline” for European laptop ban, but it’s still an option

 Business travelers between the U.S. and Europe can breathe a small sigh of relief and clutch their laptops a little closer, for now, anyway. Following a call between Secretary John Kelly and defense leads in Europe, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a statement clarifying that it would not seek to ban laptops from the cabin on commercial flights from Europe at this time.… Read More

Trump Administration Bans Small Electronic Devices on Certain Overseas Flights

The Trump Administration is banning personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone on flights to the U.S. from 10 overseas airports, the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security announced early Tuesday.

The government issued an Emergency Amendment/Security Directive to affected airports and airlines at 3 a.m. Tuesday, giving them 96 hours to ensure compliance. All passenger electronics larger than a smart phone will be required to be placed in checked baggage, the agencies announced. There is no impact on domestic flights or on flights originating from the U.S., officials said.

“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” a senior Administration official told reporters late Monday.

Officials refused to say whether the announcement was made regarding a specific threat, but indicated it came as part of a broader review of security measures. “As a matter of policy we don’t publicly discuss intelligence information,” the official said.

“The United States remains concerned about terrorist groups’ continued interest in targeting civil aviation,” another senior Administration official said.

The ban affects 10 airlines that fly direct service to the U.S. from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Kuwait.

The airports are Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). Nine airlines are affected, including Emirates and Etihad.

The State Department has notified foreign governments of the restrictions, an official said.

The disruptive electronics ban, which will include laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, and gaming devices larger than a smartphone, is not permanent, but nor is there a date for its expiration. Officials said they regularly reevaluate security concerns and would update the policy if warranted.

Officials pointed to the attempted 2016 downing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159, in which a suicide bomber tried to bring down a Somali airliner with what was believed to be a bomb concealed in a laptop. Egyptian officials also revealed in December that traces of explosives were found on the bodies of the passengers of EgyptAir Flight 804, which was downed last year.

Airlines that fly to the U.S. are subject to strict security requirements and must comply with TSA directives.

Officials said they coordinated with the FAA about the placement of additional lithium ion batteries in aircraft cargo holds and determined that the risk of a potential attack outweighed the potential risk of battery fire—an emerging FAA concern.

News of the ban first emerged on social media Monday in postings from Royal Jordanian Airlines, one of the affected carriers, though it mistakenly suggested that the restrictions would be imposed on flights originating from the U.S.

Notably the restrictions include Abu Dhabi International Airport, where U.S. Customs and Border Protection maintains a “preclearance” facility for U.S.-bound travelers. Officials said it was included out of an “abundance of caution.”

Privacy hawks in Congress call on Homeland Security to warn Americans of SS7 hacking threat

 Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and California Representative Ted Lieu are pressing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a mobile network vulnerability that they consider to be a systemic digital threat. In a new joint letter, the two members of congress questioned DHS Secretary John Kelly about flaws inherent in Signaling System 7 (SS7), a global telecommunications protocol that allows… Read More