Computer security should always be top-of-mind for food company executives, especially with the emergence of the Internet of Things. But is “computer security” a contradiction in terms? The Economist notes that in the past year alone cyberthieves stole $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh; the $4.8 billion takeover of Yahoo by Verizon was nearly derailed by two enormous data breaches; and Russian hackers allegedly interfered in the American presidential election. Away from the headlines, a black market in computerized extortion, hacking-for-hire and stolen digital goods is booming, and the problem is about to get worse as the Internet of Things (IoT) links not only abstract data like credit-card details and databases, but also the real world of physical objects (like airplanes) and vulnerable human bodies (like pacemakers and insulin pumps). There is no way to make computers completely safe, The Economist argues, but there are ways to mitigate the risk. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Are you aware of drones? Food defense managers should be aware of the potential for using drones to attack U.S. infrastructure. The emergence of terrorist drones flown by ISIS in Iraq has fueled interest in drone-defense technology, at the same time raising questions about whether the U.S. is ready for potential drone terrorist attacks on the homeland, Fox News reports. Over the last six months, ISIS has increased its use of weaponized and surveillance drones against Iraqi and U.S. forces. U.S. Central Command told Fox News coalition troops have as many as 30 encounters a week with unmanned aerial vehicles. These drones are inexpensive ones modified to drop grenades or to surveil troop movements. The drones are both accessible and affordable, Fox says. During the last two months, for example, the U.S. military has destroyed at least five ISIS drone facilities, including one factory and four storage facilities. READ MORE

A truck used as a weapon, again: Another vehicle used as a weapon serves as a reminder that operators of busy eating establishments, where large groups of people gather, need to be cognizant of the potential for attack. In the latest incident, a hijacked beer truck plowed into a department store in central Stockholm, Sweden, on Friday. The attack killed at least three and injured many in what the prime minister said appeared to be a terrorist attack. The casualties included the driver of the beer truck, who tried to stop the hijacking. Islamic State (ISIS) has outlined very specific instructions for inflicting damage in a crowd by using a vehicle as a weapon in the terrorist organization’s monthly English-language magazine, Rumiyah. The article suggested political rallies, congested downtown streets, outdoor markets, and “any outdoor attraction that draws large crowds” as targets, particularly “low security” gatherings that “are fair game and more devastating to Crusader nations.” ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Nice, France, last July, when a truck killed 86 people celebrating Bastille Day, and one in Berlin in December, when a truck smashed through a Christmas market, killing 12 people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Stockholm incident. Read more HERE and HERE.

Sarin used in Syria attack: The poison used in the deadly chemical bomb attack in a rebel-held part of northern Syria this week was the banned nerve agent sarin, the Turkish Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The statement said evidence from the autopsies of three victims, including “lung edema, increase in lung weight and bleeding in lungs.” Many of the stricken Syrians were taken to Turkey after the assault on Tuesday, and the statement was the most specific about the cause, notes promedmail.org, a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. The chemical attack is one of the worst atrocities so far in the six-year-old Syria war. The Syrian government, which signed a chemical weapons ban less than four years ago, has repeatedly denied responsibility. Production and stockpiling of sarin was outlawed as of April 1997 by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. Sarin can be lethal even at very low concentrations, with death occurring in one to 10 minutes after inhalation of a lethal dose. People who absorb a non-lethal dose but do not receive immediate medical treatment, may suffer permanent neurological damage. Read more HERE and HERE.

FOOD CONTAMINATION

Brazilian meat scandal, continued (again): Contamination by bacteria capable of affecting public health was found in eight meat samples from two processing facilities investigated in Brazil’s meat corruption probe, reports meatingplace.com. A total of 302 meat samples were tested in the special audit, and contamination by Salmonella was found in seven  hamburger samples. One sample of cooked sausage was contaminated by coagulase-positive Staphylococcus, according to the tests concluded on Thursday morning. The government ordered the collection and destruction of the contaminated batches, as well as the closure of the production lines for these products. In 31 other analyzed samples, the audit found products non-compliant with established technical standards, ranging from sorbic acid in sausages to excess water in poultry. In addition, unrelated problems found in three other meat processing facilities led the government to order the cancellation of their Federal Inspection Service registrations, closing them permanently. The special audit was triggered after the Federal Police announced an investigation on March 17 into potential irregularities committed by 33 public agricultural inspectors and 21 processing plants across the country.  READ MORE