Most US school districts as of 23 March 2020 are and will remain closed until the end of the academic school year or “until further notice” because of COVID-19, according to data provided by a Maryland-based online publication that provides scholastic news and analysis. This Article assumes that while pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools, institutions of higher education, and business and trade schools are closed, many are relying on internet-enabled distance learning (eLearning) alternatives in place of traditional classroom instruction.
(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: APT Actors Likely View Zoom Vulnerabilities as Opportunity to Threaten Public and Private Sector Entities
APT actors likely will identify new or use existing vulnerabilities in Zoom to compromise user devices and accounts for further exploitation of corporate networks. This judgment includes critical infrastructure entities using Zoom. We base this judgment on recent public exposure of Zoom’s numerous vulnerabilities. While vendors regularly publish patches for vulnerabilities, reports indicate there are instances in which users and organizations delay updates. The patching process is undermined by APT actors who often capitalize on delays and develop exploits based on the vulnerability and available patches.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Escalating Tensions Between the United States and Iran Pose Potential Threats to the Homeland
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial counterterrorism, cyber, and law enforcement officials, and private sector partners, to effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to incidents, lethal operations, or terrorist attacks in the United States that could be conducted by or on behalf of the Government of Iran (GOI) if the GOI were to perceive actions of the United States Government (USG) as acts of war or existential threats to the Iranian regime.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Appears in Video for the First Time in Nearly Five Years
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide information on the recent video appearance by the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video addresses the group’s territorial defeat in Syria, discusses the acceptance of pledges of allegiance from ISIS supporters, and praises recent attacks in Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia. This JIB is provided by the FBI, DHS, and NCTC to support their respective activities and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners in deterring, preventing, or disrupting terrorist attacks against the United States. All video details described in this JIB are taken from the translated transcript of Baghdadi’s speech.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Attacks on Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand May Inspire Supporters of Violent Ideologies
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide information on Australian national and violent extremist Brenton Tarrant’s 15 March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. These attacks underscore the enduring nature of violent threats posed to faith-based communities. FBI, DHS, and NCTC advise federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners responsible for securing faith-based communities in the Homeland to remain vigilant in light of the enduring threat to faith-based communities posed by domestic extremists (DEs), as well as by homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) who may seek retaliation.
Cross-border gangs play a unique role in the illicit transfer of people and goods across the southwest border. According to law enforcement reporting. Mexican cartels utilize US gangs to smuggle drugs and illegal aliens northbound. and smuggle cash. stolen automobiles. and weapons southbound. US gangs often freelance their work and seek profit-making opportunities with multiple cartels.
(U//FOUO) DHS Intelligence Note: Unidentified Cyber Actor Attacks State and Local Government Networks with GrandCrab Ransomware
An unidentified cyber actor in mid-March 2018 used GrandCrab Version 2 ransomware to attack a State of Connecticut municipality network and a state judicial branch network, according to DHS reporting derived from a state law enforcement official with direct and indirect access. The municipality did not pay the ransom, resulting in the encryption of multiple servers that affected some data backups and the loss of tax payment information and assessor data. The attack against the state judicial branch resulted in the infection of numerous computers, but minimal content encryption, according to the same DHS report.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)/Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (OCIA) assesses that unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) provide malicious actors an additional method of gaining undetected proximity to networks and equipment within critical infrastructure sectors. Malicious actors could use this increased proximity to exploit unsecured wireless systems and exfiltrate information. Malicious actors could also exploit vulnerabilities within UASs and UAS supply chains to compromise UASs belonging to critical infrastructure operators and disrupt or interfere with legitimate UAS operations.
The American people are increasingly dependent upon the Internet for daily conveniences, critical services, and economic prosperity. Substantial growth in Internet access and networked devices has facilitated widespread opportunities and innovation. This extraordinary level of connectivity, however, has also introduced progressively greater cyber risks for the United States. Long-standing threats are evolving as nation-states, terrorists, individual criminals, transnational criminal organizations, and other malicious actors move their activities into the digital world. Enabling the delivery of essential services—such as electricity, finance, transportation, water, and health care—through cyberspace also introduces new vulnerabilities and opens the door to potentially catastrophic consequences from cyber incidents. The growing number of Internet-connected devices and reliance on global supply chains further complicates the national and international risk picture.
BOD 17-01 requires all federal executive branch departments and agencies to (1) identify the use or presence of “Kaspersky-branded products” on all federal information systems within 30 days of BOD issuance (i.e., by October 13); (2) develop and provide to DHS a detailed plan of action to remove and discontinue present and future use of all Kaspersky-branded products within 60 days of BOD issuance (i.e., by November 12); and (3) begin to implement the plan of action at 90 days after BOD issuance (i.e., December 12), unless directed otherwise by DHS in light of new information obtained by DHS, including but not limited to new information submitted by Kaspersky.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) reviewed the Independent Assessment, titled Information Security Risks of Anti-Virus Software (hereafter “BRG Assessment”), prepared by Berkeley Research Group, LLC (BRG), and dated November 10, 2017. Kaspersky Lab (hereafter “Kaspersky”) submitted the BRG Assessment to DHS as an exhibit to Kaspersky’s request for DHS to initiate a review of Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 17-01. The BRG Assessment, in part, responds to the NCCIC Information Security Risk Assessment (hereafter “NCCIC Assessment”) on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) anti-virus software and Kaspersky-branded products, dated August 29, 2017. The NCCIC Assessment was attached as Exhibit 1 to an Information Memorandum from the Assistant Secreta1Y for DHS Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) to the Acting Secretary of DHS, dated September 1, 2017 (hereafter “Information Memorandum”). This document is a Supplemental Information Security Risk Assessment and will similarly be attached to an Information Memorandum from the Assistant Secretary for CS&C to the Acting Secretary of DHS.
This assessment presents the inherent information security concerns and security ramifications associated with the use of any commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) antivirus solution in devices with access to a federal network. It also addresses specific risks presented by Kaspersky-branded products, solutions, and services (collectively, “Kaspersky-branded products”).
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Online Information May Provide Potential Roadmap for Crude Chemical-Biological Attacks
The late 2016 arrest of two California teenagers for allegedly planning a “mass casualty event” by carrying out a chemical attack at a local high school pep rally highlights how individuals can use online resources to plan crude chemical or biological attacks. Violent extremists continue to circulate often ineffective or misleading how-to instructions for producing and disseminating poisons, crude biological toxins, and toxic industrial chemicals that in many cases are commercially available and easy to obtain. While we have no indication the suspects in this case subscribed to or consumed material related to violent extremist ideologies, their activity highlights one path to conducting a potential chemical or biological attack.
There is continued terrorist interest in attacking the rail system either as the primary target or as an attack mechanism. The US railroad system includes 800 railroads, 144,000 miles of track, and 212,000 railroad crossings. First responders should work closely with railroad police departments and other security partners to better protect rail assets—including freight rail (railcars loaded with commodities or hazardous materials), passenger rail (Amtrak, regional, or commuter rail), heavy rail (metro, and subway), and light rail (street cars, tramways, or trolleys)—from terrorist attacks and criminal activities. This product was developed to provide general rail safety tips and resources to help increase first responder awareness of the rail environment.
In the pluralized, multipolar world, in which military and economic sources of power are widely distributed and technologies are making nation states increasingly more porous, the US and its partners face significant challenges on how best to adapt and thrive in a period of revolutionary changes. These factors may change the way US analysts, planners, and operators evaluate approaches in order to affect and direct the outcomes of military operations. To date, such courses of actions to a large extend have focused on compelling adversaries through the threat or application of force to achieve victory (i.e., “control”). In this changing geopolitical/technical landscape, it is increasingly clear that the DOD needs complement “control” with an explicit focus upon “influence” factors and forces that produce desired behavioral outcomes across complex and intermeshed human and technical systems.
Food and agriculture infrastructure is a $1 trillion industry, almost entirely under private ownership and comprises an estimated 2.1 million farms, 935,000 restaurants, and more than 200,000 registered food manufacturing, processing, and storage facilities. Intentional contamination of the food supply could have significant public health and economic consequences depending on the commodity, the agent used, and where in the supply chain the contaminant was added. This product provides first responders and private-sector stakeholders an awareness of the complex operating environment that may result from intentional contamination of the food supply and identifies key collaborative partners and indicators to minimize the risk of an intentional attack on the food supply.
assesses the increase in the number of vehicle-ramming attacks since January 2016 indicates Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) messaging efforts are probably resonating with violent extremists and will most likely continue in the near term. FTO-inspired violent extremists will probably continue to plan and engage in vehicle-ramming attacks against Western-based mass gathering and public venues since this tactic often requires minimal training, expertise, and preoperational planning. Since January 2016, eight FTO-inspired vehicle-ramming attacks have occurred in Western countries. OCIA identified three common characteristics among these attacks: targeting of public venues or mass gatherings; use of secondary weapons; and lack of observable indicators immediately before the attack.
DHS-FBI Guide: Handling Threats to Private Citizens and Locations Named Online by Violent Extremists
The fusion center has no information to indicate specific or credible threats to people whose names have been published online by violent extremists. You are being provided this advisory to assist your agency in responding to queries from members of the public or other concerned parties. This information, which often includes personally identifiable information (PII) obtained maliciously via the Internet, most likely represents aspirational threats. Its primary purpose is likely to heighten anxiety and a sense of vulnerability. It is unlikely that violent extremist-inspired individuals in the United States will target people identified online, but this cannot be ruled out entirely.
The number of criminal and gang-related assaults involving acid or other corrosive substances has risen sharply in some Western countries. As of July 2017, police statistics in England indicate assaults and threats involving corrosives have risen from 183 in 2012 to more than 500 this year, according to open source reporting. Although there has been minimal specific interest by terrorists in acid attacks to date, we judge the increase in criminal incidents coupled with recent English-language terrorist messaging encouraging attacks using acid may spur opportunistic terrorist use of the tactic, underscoring the potential threat and importance of an immediate on-scene emergency response.
Electric vehicle (EV) usage continues to increase in the United States, along with its supporting infrastructure. As EVs increase in market share, issues like charging speed and battery capacity will drive future development of EV charging technology. As EV demand increases, manufacturers will continue to develop, build, and deploy additional Internet-connected charging stations and new connected technologies to satisfy demand.
(U//FOUO) DHS Reference Aid: Overview of Recently Successful or Arrested HVEs’ Radicalization to Violence
This Reference Aid is based on I&A’s review of the radicalization to violence of 39 US homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) who either successfully carried out or were arrested before attempting to carry out attacks in the Homeland between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2016. It is intended to inform federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial counterterrorism, law enforcement, and countering violent extremism (CVE) officials. For additional information about these HVEs, please see the classified I&A Intelligence Assessment “(U//FOUO) Commonalities in HVEs’ Radicalization to Violence Provide Prevention Opportunities,” published 10 February 2017.
This case study is an examination of behaviors that resulted in a disrupted terrorist attack, revealing a cycle of planning and preparation that could provide indicators for preventing similar attempts. The terrorist attack planning cycle is not a static, linear process but rather could begin in any of the several stages with variances in details, sequence, and timing. An individual’s mobilization to violence often provides observable behavioral indicators such as, pre-attack surveillance, training, and rehearsal. The indicators potentially allow third-party observers and law enforcement to identify individuals moving to violence, circumstances that may allow for disruption of planned attacks. This product is intended to cultivate an awareness of the planning cycle among stakeholders for identification, mitigation, and disruption of attack planning.
DHS-FBI-NCTC Guide: International Partnerships Necessary To Mitigate ISIS’s Organ Harvesting for Terrorist Funding
The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) is attempting to obtain money from organ harvesting, including from its own injured members, captives, and deceased individuals. Identification, prevention, and interdiction of organ harvesting and trafficking is a highly complex issue which may be effectively addressed through international partnerships among governmental, health, law enforcement, legal, and private-sector entities.
We assess with moderate confidence that cyber actors, including those who support violent extremism, are likely to continue targeting first responders on the World Wide Web, including by distributing personally identifiable information (PII) for the purpose of soliciting attacks from willing sympathizers in the homeland, hacking government websites, or attacking 911 phone systems to hinder first responders’ ability to respond to crises.
The EMP protection guidelines presented in this report were initially developed by Dr. George H. Baker, based on his previous work where he led the Department of Defense program to develop EMP protection standards while at the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). He is currently serving as a consultant to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is emeritus professor of applied science at James Madison University (JMU). He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Resilient Societies, the Board of Advisors for the Congressional Task Force on National and Homeland Security, the JMU Research and Public Service Advisory Board, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation GMD Task Force, the EMP Coalition, and as a Senior Scientist for the Congressional EMP Commission.