OUR PICKSChinese Spies Infected Dozens of Networks | Air Ports Inside Threats | Flesh-Eating Bacterium Is Creeping North, and more

Published 21 September 2023

·  U.S. Will Allow Nearly 500,000 Venezuelan Migrants to Work Legally
472,000 Venezuelans who arrived in the country before July 31 will allow to work legally in the U.S. for 18 months

·  Biden Plan Seeks to Keep Migrants Away from the Border. Will It Work?
By opening migration processing centers in three Latin American countries, the Biden administration is trying to coax people not to make a harrowing trek to the border

·  Elon Musk’s Anti-Semitic, Apartheid-Loving Grandfather
The billionaire has described his grandfather as a risk-taking adventurer. A closer read of history reveals something much darker.

·  A Flesh-Eating Bacterium Is Creeping North as Oceans Warm
The Vibrio vulnificus pathogen thrives in hot coastal waters, and beachgoers can contract it via a small cut or scrape. It can also kill them in two days.

·  Chinese Spies Infected Dozens of Networks with Thumb Drive Malware
Security researchers found USB-based Sogu espionage malware spreading within African operations of European and US firms

·  GAO Wants CBP to Address Cultural and Natural Resource Impacts from Barrier Construction
From 2017 through January 2021, federal officials and stakeholders didn’t get enough information from DHS to offer meaningful input on the impact of the border wall

·  TSA Officers at Philadelphia International Airport Stop Flight Attendant with a Loaded Gun
Flight attendant tried to board a plane with a loaded .380 caliber handgun

U.S. Will Allow Nearly 500,000 Venezuelan Migrants to Work Legally  (Nicholas Fandos, New York Times)
The move, announced late Wednesday, followed intense lobbying by New York Democrats before and during President Biden’s visit to New York City this week.

Biden Plan Seeks to Keep Migrants Away from the Border. Will It Work?  (Genevieve Glatsky and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times)
As the Biden administration struggles to tackle a humanitarian and political crisis at America’s doorstep, it is focusing increasingly on keeping migrants far from the U.S.-Mexico border by establishing migration processing centers in Central and South America.
But the program is off to a rocky start, with demand for appointments far outstripping supply, leading to periodic shutdowns of the online portal, and some countries’ limiting applicants over concerns that the centers will cause migrants to overwhelm their own borders.

Elon Musk’s Anti-Semitic, Apartheid-Loving Grandfather  (Joshua Benton, The Atlantic)
An examination of Joshua Haldeman’s writings reveals a radical conspiracy theorist who expressed racist, anti-Semitic, and antidemocratic views repeatedly, and over the course of decades—a record I studied across hundreds of documents from the time, including newspaper clips, self-published manuscripts, university archives, and private correspondence. Haldeman believed that apartheid South Africa was destined to lead “White Christian Civilization” in its fight against the “International Conspiracy” of Jewish bankers and the “hordes of Coloured people” they controlled.

A Flesh-Eating Bacterium Is Creeping North as Oceans Warm  (Maryn McKenna, Wired)
If you were planning on a shore vacation this year, you might have kept track of great white sharks. The apex predator made famous by Jaws (and, OK, by The Meg and Sharknado) has been spotted on East Coast beaches from South Carolina up past Cape Cod, leaving potential beachcombers worried by accounts of close encounters and attacks.
But many marine biologists are worried about a much smaller—in fact, microscopic—threat. They are tracking an unprecedented surge in ocean-going bacteria known as Vibrio, which recently killed three people and sickened a fourth in Connecticut and New York, at least two of them after swimming in the coastal waters of Long Island Sound.
For swimmers and fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico, Vibrio is a known summer foe. It is one of the reasons for the old saying that you shouldn’t eat oysters in months that don’t have an R in their name: Warmer water encourages bacterial growth, and oysters accumulate these organisms when they feed. The bacteria is also an infection hazard for anyone who gets a cut while cleaning up soaked debris after a hurricane. But Vibrio appearing in the waters of the upper East Coast is a new and unfamiliar problem, fueled by the rapid ocean warming of climate change.

Chinese Spies Infected Dozens of Networks with Thumb Drive Malware  (Andy Greenberg, Wired)
For much of the cybersecurity industry, malware spread via USB drives represents the quaint hacker threat of the past decade—or the one before that. But a group of China-backed spies appears to have figured out that global organizations with staff in developing countries still keep one foot in the technological past, where thumb drives are passed around like business cards and internet cafés are far from extinct. Over the past year, those espionage-focused hackers have exploited this geographic time warp to bring retro USB malware back to dozens of victims’ networks.
At the mWise security conference earlier this week, researchers from cybersecurity firm Mandiant revealed that a China-linked hacker group they’re calling UNC53 has managed to hack at least 29 organizations around the world since the beginning of last year using the old-school approach of tricking their staff into plugging malware-infected USB drives into computers on their networks. While those victims span the United States, Europe, and Asia, Mandiant says many of the infections appear to originate from multinational organizations’ Africa-based operations, in countries including Egypt, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, and Madagascar. In some cases, the malware—in fact, several variants of a more than decade-old strain known as Sogu—appears to have traveled via USB stick from shared computers in print shops and internet cafés, indiscriminately infecting computers in a widespread data dragnet.

GAO Wants CBP to Address Cultural and Natural Resource Impacts from Barrier Construction  (Kylie Bielby, HSToday)
Before building, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assessed some potential effects of the construction. But federal officials and stakeholders have told the Government Accountability Office that they didn’t get enough information from DHS to give meaningful input.

TSA Officers at Philadelphia International Airport Stop Flight Attendant with a Loaded Gun  (TSA)
TSA officers at Philadelphia International Airport prevented a flight attendant from boarding a plane with a loaded .380 caliber handgun on Friday, Sept. 15, two weeks after they prevented a man who worked at one of the airport retail concession shops from bringing his loaded handgun through the security checkpoint. Both individuals were arrested by police.