September 29, 2022

ACN Center

Area Control Network

USAO hosts roundtable on cyberintrusion safety measures

13 min read

HOUSTON – Local critical infrastructure partners and area business owners have participated in a training session to increase cybersecurity posture and awareness on how to tackle such cyberattacks, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.   

The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), hosted the roundtable training today in order to educate private industry partners on what to do in the event of a cyberattack upon their businesses. 

“We are excited to partner with HSI and other federal agencies to help protect Houston’s often vulnerable critical infrastructure assets,” said Lowery. “From our international airports, unique power grid and robust oil and gas sector, Houston is home to some of the country’s most valuable assets.”

“As criminal organizations and other bad actors become more sophisticated in their ability to launch cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure and private business, it is crucial for HSI to work closely with our federal partners and the private sector to develop resilient and adaptive defenses against malicious cyberspace activity and network intrusions,” said HSI Houston Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson. “Hosting today’s roundtable with the USAO was an important step, and we will continue to seek opportunities to enhance collaboration with our law enforcement partners and other stakeholders to prevent potential network intrusions and ensure greater unity of effort in response to cyber incidents.”

On a weekly basis, numerous cyberattacks occur on businesses all across the Southern District of Texas. There must be a quick response team in place to immediately address the intrusion in order to circumvent major damage and losses. The USAO routinely works with other prosecutors and law enforcement in the district to stay ahead of potential cyber threats. 

As the global economy enters day 35 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, businesses must be reminded to be diligent about their networks and to know their response plans, have a paper copy available and review their cyber-related insurance policies.

The USAO has established contact lines for assistance 24 hours a day. If you have fallen victim to an intrusion, inadvertently diverted funds to an unknown third-party or suffered a ransomware attack, please email (usatxs-cybersecurity@usdoj.gov) directly or call the hotline at 713-542-5213.  

More from: March 31, 2022

  • Rebuilding Iraq: Status of Competition for Iraq Reconstruction Contracts
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 2003, Congress has appropriated more than $20 billion through the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) to support Iraq rebuilding efforts. The majority of these efforts are being carried out through contracts awarded by the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). When awarding IRRF-funded contracts for $5 million or more noncompetitively, agencies are required by statute to provide notification and justification to Congress. In June 2004, GAO found that agencies generally complied with laws and regulations governing competition to award new contracts, but did not always comply with competition requirements when issuing task orders under existing contracts. As mandated by Congress, this report (1) describes the extent of competition in Iraq reconstruction contracts awarded by DOD, USAID, and State since October 1, 2003, based on available data, and (2) assesses whether these agencies followed applicable documentation and congressional notification requirements regarding competition for 51 judgmentally selected Iraq reconstruction contract actions. In written comments, State and USAID concurred with the report findings. DOD provided a technical comment.While no single, comprehensive system currently tracks governmentwide Iraq reconstruction contract data, available data showed that from October 1, 2003, through March 31, 2006, DOD, USAID, and State collectively awarded the majority of Iraq reconstruction contracts competitively. Based on competition information we obtained on $10 billion of the total $11.6 billion in IRRF obligations by these agencies during the period of our review, we found that about $9.1 billion–or 91 percent–was for competitively awarded contracts. While our ability to obtain complete competition data for all DOD Iraq reconstruction contract actions was limited because not all DOD components consistently tracked or fully reported this information, we obtained information on approximately $7 billion, or 82 percent, of DOD’s total Iraq reconstruction contract obligations, and of this, we found that competition occurred for nearly all of the obligations. Additionally, based on complete data for the period of our review we found that USAID competitively awarded contract actions for 99 percent of its obligations, while State awarded contract actions competitively for only 10 percent of its obligations. GAO reviewed the files for 51 contract actions totaling $1.55 billion–22 of which were awarded noncompetitively and 29 of which were awarded competitively–almost all of which contained proper documentation. One contract file–for a noncompetitively awarded task order issued by State–did not contain justifications or other required documentation. DOD was also unable to provide documentation for 4 of the competitively awarded contract actions. Of the 22 noncompeted contract actions in GAO’s review, State should have notified Congress of 2 actions awarded using other than full and open competition in accordance with notification requirements but did not. State officials told GAO that they have taken steps to address the problem. GAO did not identify any DOD or USAID contract actions within the sample that required notification.

    [Read More…]

  • U.S. Policy Toward China: Deputy Secretary Biegun’s Remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    Stephen Biegun, Deputy [Read More…]
  • Gilead Agrees To Pay $97 Million To Resolve Alleged False Claims Act Liability For Paying Kickbacks
    In Crime News
    Pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Gilead), based in Foster City, California, has agreed to pay $97 million to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by illegally using a foundation as a conduit to pay the copays of thousands of Medicare patients taking Gilead’s pulmonary arterial hypertension drug, Letairis, the Justice Department announced today. 

    [Read More…]

  • Additional General License Involving Afghanistan or Governing Institutions in Afghanistan
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Three Individuals Charged with $3.5 Million Scheme to Collect Contributions for Fraudulent Political Action Committees
    In Crime News
    Two California men and one Texas man have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Austin, Texas, for their alleged involvement a scheme to operate two fraudulent political action committees (PACs) during the 2016 federal election cycle. The indictment was unsealed yesterday after being returned on Nov. 2.

    [Read More…]

  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist of MSNBC’s Morning Joe
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • The Politically Motivated Convictions of Belarusian Opposition Figures
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Former Attorney for Municipalities in Puerto Rico Sentenced for Bribery
    In Crime News
    A former attorney for three municipalities in Puerto Rico was sentenced today to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of four counts of bribery with respect to programs receiving federal funds.

    [Read More…]

  • Mauritius Travel Advisory
    Do not travel to [Read More…]
  • Disaster Response: Agencies Should Assess Contracting Workforce Needs and Purchase Card Fraud Risk
    In U.S GAO News
    The efforts of selected agencies to plan for disaster contracting activities and assess contracting workforce needs varied. The U.S. Forest Service initiated efforts to address its disaster response contracting workforce needs while three agencies—the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Coast Guard, and Department of the Interior (DOI)—partially addressed these needs. The Environmental Protection Agency indicated it did not have concerns fulfilling its disaster contracting responsibilities. Specifically, GAO found the following: USACE assigned clear roles and responsibilities for disaster response contracting activities, but has not formally assessed its contracting workforce to determine if it can fulfill these roles. The Coast Guard has a process to assess its workforce needs, but it does not account for contracting for disaster response activities. DOI is developing a strategic acquisition plan and additional guidance for its bureaus on how to structure their contracting functions, but currently does not account for disaster contracting responsibilities. Contracting officials at all three of these agencies identified challenges executing their regular responsibilities along with their disaster-related responsibilities during the 2017 and 2018 hurricane and wildfire seasons. For example, Coast Guard contracting officials stated they have fallen increasingly behind since 2017 and that future disaster response missions would not be sustainable with their current workforce. GAO’s strategic workforce planning principles call for agencies to determine the critical skills and competencies needed to achieve future programmatic results. Without accounting for disaster response contracting activities in workforce planning, these agencies are missing opportunities to ensure their contracting workforces are equipped to respond to future disasters. The five agencies GAO reviewed from above, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), collectively spent more than $20 million for 2017 and 2018 disaster response activities using purchase cards. GAO found that two of these six agencies—Forest Service and EPA—have not completed fraud risk profiles for their purchase card programs that align with leading practices in GAO’s Fraud Risk Framework. Additionally, five of the six agencies have not assessed or documented how their fraud risk for purchase card use might differ in a disaster response environment. DOI completed such an assessment during the course of our review. An Office of Management and Budget memorandum requires agencies to complete risk profiles for their purchase card programs that include fraud risk. GAO’s Fraud Risk Framework states managers should assess fraud risk regularly and document those assessments in risk profiles. The framework also states that risk profiles may differ in the context of disaster response when managers may have a higher fraud risk tolerance since individuals in these environments have an urgent need for products and services. Without assessing fraud risk for purchase card programs or how risk may change in a disaster response environment, agencies may not design or implement effective internal controls, such as search criteria to identify fraudulent transactions. The 2017 and 2018 hurricanes and California wildfires affected millions of people and caused billions of dollars in damages. Extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and intense due to climate change. Federal contracts for goods and services play a key role in disaster response and recovery, and government purchase cards can be used by agency staff to buy needed items. GAO was asked to review federal response and recovery efforts related to recent disasters. This report examines the extent to which selected agencies planned for their disaster response contracting activities, assessed their contracting workforce needs, and assessed the fraud risk related to their use of purchase cards for disaster response. GAO selected six agencies based on contract obligations for 2017 and 2018 disasters; analyzed federal procurement and agency data; reviewed agencies’ policies on workforce planning, purchase card use, and fraud risk; and analyzed purchase card data. FEMA was not included in the examination of workforce planning due to prior GAO work. GAO is making 12 recommendations, including to three agencies to assess disaster response contracting needs in workforce planning, and to five agencies to assess fraud risk for purchase card use in support of disaster response. For more information, contact Marie A. Mak at (202) 512-4841 or makm@gao.gov.

    [Read More…]

  • Justice Department Settles with the State of New Jersey’s Student Lending Authority for Alleged Violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) has agreed to enter into a settlement and pay $50,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by obtaining unlawful court judgments against two military servicemembers who co-signed student loans.

    [Read More…]

  • Justice Department Defends Health Care Workers from Being Forced to Perform Abortions with Vermont Lawsuit
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division today filed a civil lawsuit in Vermont federal court against the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) for violating the federal anti-discrimination statute known as the “Church Amendments.” That statute prohibits health care entities like UVMMC from discriminating against health care workers who follow their conscience and refuse to perform or assist with abortions.

    [Read More…]

  • Two Owners of New York Pharmacies Charged in a $30 Million COVID-19 Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering Case
    In Crime News
    The owners of over a dozen New York-area pharmacies were charged in an indictment unsealed today for their roles in a $30 million health care fraud and money laundering scheme, in which they exploited emergency codes and edits in the Medicare system that went into effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to submit fraudulent claims for expensive cancer drugs that were never provided, ordered, or authorized by medical professionals.

    [Read More…]

  • Former employee sentenced for stealing over $400,000
    In Justice News
    The former controlling [Read More…]
  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend.  Today’s case is out of the Western District of Missouri.  Operation Legend launched in Kansas City on July 8, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.

    [Read More…]

  • Nepali Constitution Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Identifying Organizations Engaged in Anti-Semitic BDS Activities
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Compacts of Free Association: Implications of Planned Ending of Some U.S. Economic Assistance
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The U.S. contributes to trust funds provided pursuant to Compacts of Free Association with the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and Republic of Palau. These funds are meant to provide long-term budgetary support after certain grant assistance ends after fiscal year (FY) 2023 for FSM and RMI and after FY 2024 for Palau. GAO previously found the FSM and RMI trust funds may not provide sustainable income and recommended that the Department of the Interior work to develop a trust fund distribution policy to address the funds’ sustainability. For this report, GAO was asked to project the effects of the ending of certain assistance under the compacts as well as the sustainability of compact trust fund disbursements to replace grants and financially support the three nations. GAO found the following: FSM. FSM relied on compact sector grants and a supplemental education grant (SEG) ending in FY 2023 for 28 percent of expenditures in FY 2019. GAO projects that disbursements from FSM’s compact trust fund will not cover all of the value of these grants, resulting in annual fiscal gaps. Because of rules governing the compact trust fund, FSM faces a 36 percent likelihood of zero disbursements from its compact trust fund in 1 or more years before FY 2034, even though the fund may have a substantial balance. RMI. RMI relied on compact sector grants and a SEG ending in FY 2023 for 21 percent of expenditures in FY 2019. GAO projects that disbursements from RMI’s compact trust fund will not cover all of the value of these grants, leading to annual fiscal gaps. Because of rules governing the compact trust fund, RMI faces a 12 percent likelihood of zero disbursements from its compact trust fund in 1 or more years before FY 2034, even with a projected increasing fund balance. Palau. Palau relied on compact grants as well as disbursements from its compact trust fund for 13 percent of expenditures in FY 2019. GAO projects minimal disbursement risks to Palau’s compact trust fund before FY 2044. As of September 2021, the Department of State, working with Interior, had not established timeframes to constitute the Palau Advisory Group on Economic Reform, which the Palau Compact Review Agreement stipulates is to recommend reforms to enhance long-term economic sustainability. FSM’s, RMI’s, and Palau’s Total Government Expenditures, by Revenue Source, Fiscal Year 2019 Why GAO Did This Study The U.S. has provided economic assistance pursuant to its compacts with FSM and RMI since 1986 and with Palau since 1994. This assistance—grants overseen by the Department of the Interior as well as programs and services provided by various U.S. agencies—is intended to promote FSM’s, RMI’s, and Palau’s economic advancement and self-sufficiency. The Department of State is responsible for bilateral relations. The U.S. has also provided contributions to each country’s compact trust fund. FSM and RMI compact trust fund earnings are intended to provide revenue after compact grant assistance ends. Palau is receiving disbursements from its compact trust fund, which is designed to provide revenue until 2045. GAO was asked to provide an update on U.S. assistance to FSM, RMI, and Palau. This report examines, among other things, (1) the use and role of the U.S. funds and programs in each country’s budgets and (2) the projected fiscal effects of the ending of compact grants and certain programs and services. This report also examines the implementation of the Compact Review Agreement for Palau. GAO reviewed compact agreements, U.S. law, and country documents; modeled future compact trust fund performance; and interviewed FSM, RMI, Palau, and U.S. government officials.

    [Read More…]

  • United States Joins Intergovernmental Forum on Mining
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Requires Divestiture of Credit Karma Tax for Intuit to Proceed with Acquisition of Credit Karma
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it is requiring Intuit Inc. and Credit Karma Inc. (Credit Karma) to divest Credit Karma’s tax business, Credit Karma Tax, to Square Inc. in order for Intuit, the creator of TurboTax, to proceed with its $7.1 billion acquisition of Credit Karma.  The department said that without this divestiture, the proposed transaction would substantially lessen competition for digital do-it-yourself (DDIY) tax preparation products, which are software programs used by American taxpayers to prepare and file their federal and state returns.

    [Read More…]

Source: Network News
Area Control Network

Copyright © 2022 ACN
All Rights Reserved © ACN 2020

ACN Privacy Policies
ACN TOS
Area Control Network (ACN)
Area Control Network
Area Control Network Center