Merry Christmas From Anwar Al-Awlaki

Once again, just in time for our holiday enjoyment, al-Qaeda master propagandist Anwar Al-Awlaki is busy spreading Islam’s message of peace and tolerance. And, as usual, he has plenty of brainwashed jihadi murderbots ready and willing to cause carnage at his command.

Anti-terror police arrest 12 people in nationwide raids

Twelve men were arrested in Cardiff, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and the capital following intelligence that a terrorist cell was at an advanced stage of planning co-ordinated attacks on shops, banks and “iconic targets” in the capital, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The dawn raids followed months of surveillance by MI5. Police moved in when intercepted communications suggested that the bombers were ready to act.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, said the raids had been “absolutely necessary” to keep the public safe. The cell was said to have been made up of young British men, largely of Bangladeshi origin, who were influenced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who is based in Yemen.

See also:
Anti-terror raids lead to 12 arrests over multiple bomb attack fears
Anti-terror raids lead to 12 suspects being held
British Police Arrest 12 Terror Suspects
British police hold 12 on suspicion of terror plans
Arrested terror suspects ‘were targeting shoppers’
Police in UK arrest a dozen young men accused of plotting Christmas attacks in Britain
Major Bomb Plot Disrupted in England, Say Police
Counter terrorism arrests ‘absolutely necessary’
12 men arrested in suspected UK terrorism plot
Graphic: Arrests made in U.K. terror plot

I would be extremely surprised if their weren’t similar attacks being planned here in the United States.

/so, stay tuned, there’s still four more terrorism days until Christmas

The Cyberwar Rages 24/7

Corporations’ cyber security under widespread attack, survey finds

Around the world, corporations’ computer networks and control systems are under “repeated cyberattack, often from high-level adversaries like foreign nation-states,” according to a new global survey of information technology executives.

The attacks include run-of-the-mill viruses and other “malware” that routinely strike corporate defenses, but also actions by “high-level” adversaries such as “organized crime, terrorists, or nation states,” a first-time global survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington has found. More than half of the 600 IT managers surveyed, who operate critical infrastructure in 14 countries, reported that their systems have been hit by such “high-level” attacks, the survey concludes.

A large majority, 59 percent, said they believed that foreign governments or their affiliates had already been involved in such attacks or in efforts to infiltrate important infrastructure – such as refineries, electric utilities, and banks – in their countries.

Such attacks, the survey said, include sophisticated denial-of-service attacks, in which an attacker tries to so overwhelm a corporate network with requests that the network grinds to a halt.

But they also include efforts to infiltrate a company. Fifty-four percent of the IT executives said their companies’ networks had been targets of stealth attacks in which infiltration was the intent. In two-thirds of those cases, the IT managers surveyed said company operations had been harmed.

The IT managers also believed that these “stealthy” attacks were conducted by “nation states” targeting their proprietary data, says the survey’s main author, CSIS fellow Stewart Baker, in a phone interview. Mr. Baker is a cybersecurity expert formerly with the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.

“It’s all the same kind of stuff – spear-phishing, malware, taking over the network and downloading-whatever-you-want kind of attack,” he says. “Over half of these executives believe they’ve been attacked with the kind of sophistication you’d expect from a nation state.”

The CSIS report describes such attacks as “stealthy infiltration” of a company’s networks by “a high-level adversary” akin to a “GhostNet,” or large spy ring featuring “individualized malware attacks that enabled hackers to infiltrate, control and download large amounts of data from computer networks.” The GhostNet attacks, which Canadian researchers attributed to Chinese state-run agencies, bear similarities to recent attacks on Google and other high-tech companies, Baker says. Google attributed attacks on it to entities in China.

Read the report:
In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber War

See also:
In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber War
Report: Critical Infrastructures Under Constant Cyberattack Globally
Utilities, Refineries and Banks Are Victims of Cyber Attacks, Report Says
Critical Infrastructure under Siege from Cyber Attacks
Critical Infrastructure Vulnerable To Attack
Critical Infrastructure Security a Mixed Bag, Report Finds
Report shows cyberattacks rampant; execs concerned
Key infrastructure often cyberattack target: survey
Critical infrastructure execs fear China
SCADA system, critical infrastructure security lacking, survey finds

Ironically, the more dependent we become on interconnected network technology, the more vulnerable we become too.

/so keep your fingers crossed and your computers patched against hacking and intrusion, at least you can do your part to avoid being part of the problem

Bad Bank

Plan for Banks’ Toxic Debt May Be Unveiled Next Week

The Obama administration is close to deciding on a plan to purchase bad—or non-performing and illiquid—assets from banks, according to industy [sic] sources. The plan could be announced early next week.

The so-called “bad bank” plan, would address the key problem of how to price the assets by using a model-pricing mechanism.

The model would take account of the government’s ability to hold onto assets, even to maturity, and pay for the them with cheap funding. Result: the government might end up paying more than current market prices for the securities.

On the other hand, if the government paid less than the value at which the asset is carried on the bank’s books, the bank would issue common equity to the government.

In previous Troubled Asset Relief Program deals, banks issued preferred equity to the federal government. But the conclusion is growing within government circles, sources say, that preferred equity is not sufficient to make the banks healthy.

See also:
Key US senator says “bad bank” must be considered
FDIC May Run ‘Bad Bank’ in Plan to Purge Toxic Assets

In my opinion, unlike the pork bloated $825 billion “stimulus” bill, this “bad bank” proposal, a variation of the successful Resolution Trust Corporation of the late 1980s and early 1990s, makes good sense and gets at the heart of the problem, stabilizing the banking system. We’re not going to dig out of this economic downturn until the toxic assets are removed from the banks’ balance sheets and the financial markets recover and resume functioning normally. So, let’s just get on with it and get it done, we’ve wasted too much time already.

/besides, George Soros doesn’t like the idea, so it’s got to be the right thing to do

UPDATE:

A Big, Bad Bank

/IBD likes the idea