Critical Perspective in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and South Sudan – Djibouti Regional Security Briefing


Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 people and arrested tens of thousands during unrest in the Oromia region.

Ethiopian security forces used tear gas and blocked roads in the capital Addis Ababa and other major towns on Saturday to try to quell protests against alleged rights abuses

2- Al-shabaab mortars attacks targeting Children and residential areas
A 15-year old girl was killed and four other family members were wounded after al-Shabab militants fired mortars on Baidoa early Saturday morning. Al-shabaab  fired 11 rounds of mortars on several targets in the town including the airport and residential areas according to witnesses.

 3- Regional Security:  Rwanda, “No Country Can Ensure Security Without Working Closely With Others”
The Rwandan President, made the remarks while opening, the 13th Ordinary Session of the Conference for the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services, in Africa (CISSA), ongoing in Kigali. The Conference started on August 1 and will run up to August 6.

4- Turkish prime minister hosts security meeting in Ankara to reform its security apparatus

The latest development in a sweeping crackdown following the failed coup in the country that killed over 270 people. 90 staff members of special forces personnel were arrested in Turkey, after being identified by a commission established by the Special Forces Command following the July 15 coup.

Update: Prime Minister Binali Yildirim hosted a security summit of high-level government and military officials in Ankara,  including the country’s foreign, justice, interior and defense ministers, the chief of general staff and the heads of Turkey’s national intelligence agency and the national police.

5- German Attacks in Bavaria: Daesh masterminds via a mobile messenger from Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is ready for comprehensive cooperation with Germany on investigating terror attacks in Wurzburg and Ansbach, a high-ranking Saudi government’s official confirm to intel sources. The Daesh terror group, outlawed in Russia, claimed responsibility for both attacks through mobile messenger from Saudi Arabia.

 6-Obama Says ISIS Still Has Ability to Inspire Attacks as it Loses Ground

The Islamic State group will probably continue to be a threat to the United States even after it is ousted from key strongholds in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama said Thursday, warning that lone-wolf believers will still be inspired to launch attacks that are harder to detect and prevent. Speaking after meeting with his top national security advisers in the Pentagon, Obama said the United States has to do a better job disrupting terror networks and intercepting the internet messages that can get to troubled individuals and inspire them to act. “What ISIL has figured out is that if they can convince a handful of people or even one person to carry out an attack on … some … public venue, and kill scores of people as opposed to thousands of people, it still creates the kinds of fear and concern that elevates their profile,” Obama said. Obama has beefed up the U.S. military fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, recently authorizing more troops to help Iraqi forces prepare to take back the northern city of Mosul, which has been under IS control since 2014. But he noted that ousting the terror group from Mosul, and from its headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, will not eliminate its networks or its ability to encourage the smaller, more individual attacks. The United States and its allies, said Obama, must “keep on grinding away” against the group, and take key operatives off the battlefield, and “eventually we will win.”

7- Terrorist Suspects in Europe Got Welfare Benefits While Plotting Attacks

Belgian financial investigators looking into recent terror plots have discovered that some of the suspects were collecting welfare benefits until shortly before they carried out their attacks. At least five of the alleged plotters in the Paris and Brussels terror attacks partly financed themselves with payments from Belgium’s social-welfare system, authorities have concluded. The main surviving Paris suspect, Salah Abdeslam, reportedly collected unemployment benefits until three weeks before the November attacks. At the time, he was manager and part-owner of a bar, which Belgian officials say should have made him ineligible. Many of the participants in a disrupted Belgian terror plot also had been on the dole, according to the judge who sentenced more than a dozen people in the so-called Verviers cell last month. The revelations raise a difficult conundrum for Europe. On one hand, the modern welfare state is a primary tool for combating poverty as well as integrating immigrants. On the other, officials are working hard to find and stop potential sources of revenue for those bent on committing terrorist atrocities. “We’ve identified that the benefit system is vulnerable to abuse for terrorist financing purposes,” said Tom Keatinge, director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “What are we going to do about that?” European governments may want to give benefits in the form of vouchers, or re-examine their hands-off approach to how people spend their benefits, Keatinge said.

8- Brazil Makes Eleventh-Hour Push on Olympics Security

Brazil’s government is still scrambling to patch together a team of weapons screeners for Olympics venues, this time using retired police officers with little experience operating X-ray machines, many of whom just arrived in the host city in recent days. On the eve of the opening ceremonies, they are being trained in the use of metal detectors and other equipment and have yet to be posted at some venues, the government has said. Moreover, some are being taught to use the equipment by inexperienced, low-wage private contractors whom the veteran security pros are replacing, according to several of the screeners. Brazil’s Ministry of Justice said last week that a contingent of several thousand members of Brazil’s Força Nacional, made up of police and firefighters, would take over the screening effort from a small human-resources company, Artel Recursos Humanos, which has no experience in security or megaevents. The change came after the company failed to hire enough staff needed to pat down spectators and screen for weapons and contraband outside dozens of Olympics venues, according to the Ministry of Justice. Brazilian officials have guaranteed that visitors and competitors would be safe, and that their security measures for the Games are adequate.

9- North Carolina Man Accused of Recruiting for Islamic State, Planning Training Compound

A man who had lived in Charlotte about a month was arrested Thursday, accused of trying to recruit domestic terrorists for the Islamic State group and claiming to be planning a secret training camp on U.S. soil. Erick Jamal Hendricks, 35, used social media networks to contact and recruit Americans for the cause of the Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS and ISIL, federal authorities said, and he appeared to have ties to a 2015 attack at a Texas event mocking pictures of the prophet Muhammad. Hendricks was obsessed with security while connecting on social media sites, unbeknownst that he’d been communicating with an FBI undercover operative and others who’d agreed to cooperate with investigators, according to an affidavit by Scott Hare, an FBI counter-terrorism agent. In a March 2015 meeting in Baltimore with others he believed to be part of his ISIS ring, Hendricks said he had land in Arkansas where he could “get off the grid” and prepare for bloody battle with law enforcement. In communications with others, he claimed to have 10 operatives in the United States and hoped to raid military depots for weapons, authorities said. Until being charged Thursday with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a crime that carries a sentence up to 15 years, Hendricks only had minor traffic infractions on his record.

10- How the Nation’s Largest Security-Guard Firm Adapts to Changing Threats

Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones in an interview describes how his private security guard company and his clients’ security needs have evolved with growing safety threats such as terrorism and workplace violence. Allied Universal, created this week with the merger of AlliedBarton Security Services and Universal Services of America, is the nation’s largest provider of guards. Jones says his company’s security professionals are responsible for access control and deterring crime, and are the first to respond in any type of emergency. Over the past 20 to 30 years, Jones says workplace violence, active shootings, and the ongoing threat of terrorism have dramatically changed the industry. Allied Universal has responded by keeping employees updated with information from the police, Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI. In addition, a terrorism course is now part of employee orientation.

11- Researchers Identify New Techniques Used to Target Business Email

An internet-security firm has offered new insights into the perpetrators behind an increasingly popular type of cyberfraud targeting small businesses, tracing the attacks to Nigerians involved in earlier types of email scams. In one variant of the scheme, SecureWork said criminals break into email accounts and change bank account information to capture payments intended for suppliers. The increasing prevalence of the schemes has drawn the attention of law enforcement. Attackers who once pretended to be executives directing subordinates to transfer money are using new techniques, including malicious software to break into email systems and redirect the payments, said Rick Alwine, a supervisory special agent with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Cyber Division. In an alert to businesses last month, the FBI said the frauds “may be harder to detect,” because the wire-transfer requests involved are legitimate. In an analysis of 44 recent fraudulent transfers, 84 percent of the transfers went to accounts in China and Hong Kong, where it is more difficult for victims to recover their money, the FBI alert said. The FBI says it has logged nearly 18,000 reports of business email scams since 2013, accounting for US$2.3 billion in losses, while complaints about these scams more than tripled last year, compared with 2014.

12- White House Cyber Czar: No Contradiction Between Cyber Resiliency Efforts and Encryption Push

The White House can balance the need to spread encryption with law enforcement’s desire to access secured devices by developing a multifaceted relationship with industry and the private sector as a whole, according to Michael Daniel, President Obama’s top cybersecurity adviser. Daniel described the back and forth between law enforcement officials and tech community critics as “a very robust debate.”

13- Expect Delays in Data Act Financial Reporting

The DATA Act calls for federal agencies to make their spending information public by May 2017, but the mechanics of reporting that data are challenging, according to a GAO report. It notes that as agencies submit new spending information, their contract award data will be entered into the system from whatever software agencies currently use, which could impact data quality. Adding to findings from a report published earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office found the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget — tasked with implementing the DATA Act for federal agencies —face significant hurdles including data accuracy. GAO examined the DATA Act broker system, designed to validate and standardize the data submitted by federal agencies, and the technical guidance given to agencies describing how and what information to submit. “The continued reliance on existing source systems with known data quality challenges … raises concerns about the quality of the data submitted to,” GAO wrote.
Delays in releasing the schema could also postpone agency implementation, GAO found. Treasury released the first version of the schema in April 2016, four months after it was originally planned. Officials said the delay was because of “ongoing deliberations” with OMB and other groups, “specifically whether to leverage award data from existing award reporting systems or to obtain these data directly from agencies.”

14- Security Software That Uses ‘Code Hooking’ Opens the Door to Hackers

Researchers have found multiple security issues affecting software using the code hooking method to inject code into a process in order to monitor or modify third-party processes. enSilo found six vulnerabilities affecting more than 15 products, allowing attackers to bypass anti-exploit mitigations and exploit vulnerabilities that would otherwise have been more difficult to crack. Other flaws allowed attackers to remain undetected and spread more malicious code. Code hooking is used primarily among antivirus products, but has also been used by anti-exploitation and virtualization applications. Microsoft, AVG, Kaspersky Lab, and McAfee/Intel are among the vendors affected by the security flaws. Some vendors have patched these vulnerabilities, and Microsoft plans to release patches for Microsoft Detours in August. “Companies using affected software should get patches from the vendors, if available,” the enSilo researchers say. “Customers using software from the affected vendors should contact their vendors and demand that the software be patched.”

15- Critical Infrastructure in the Crosshairs

When Kaspersky Labs examined the world of industrial controls systems (ICS), the 189 ICS vulnerabilities it found in 2015 represented a similar total to what it found in the past few years, but it was 10 times more than were discovered in 2010. The higher numbers can likely be attributed to increased attention on ICS security, but it also means those vulnerabilities likely had been present for years before they were discovered and open to exploit that whole time, according to Kaspersky researchers. Slightly fewer than 50 percent of the vulnerabilities in 2015 were considered critical by , and most of the rest were rated “medium severity,” but exploits for 26 of the vulnerabilities are already available, and for many of the others no exploit code was necessary to get unauthorized access to the vulnerable systems. In addition, Kaspersky found only 85 percent of the published vulnerabilities had been completely fixed. In order to combat attacks on critical infrastructure, several U.S. senators recently proposed legislation that aims to guard against that by replacing some of the digital components in the U.S. power grid with analog versions. Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will soon launch its Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation, and Characterization Systems program, which aims to develop automated systems that will help utilities restore power within seven days of a cyberattack.



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