NATO launches Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum

NATO on Friday, June 12, launched its first ever Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum (CTRC). It supports interested Allies and partner countries in enhancing their capacities to develop national skills and improve counter-terrorism strategies.


NATO on Friday, June 12, launched its first ever Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum (CTRC). It supports interested Allies and partner countries in enhancing their capacities to develop national skills and improve counter-terrorism strategies.

The Curriculum will also serve as a reference document to address partner nation defense educational institution requirements and will provide helpful guidelines for relevant existing NATO courses. Drawing on historical examples, the CTRC provides an overview of terrorist ideologies, motivations and methods, as well as contemporary counter-terrorism practices and potential future projections.

Launching the Curriculum, Dr. Antonio Missiroli, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges stated: “Security challenges like terrorism are not diminishing because of the global pandemic. Terrorism undermines our safety and the very values that underpin and inspire our societies. The Alliance is committed to address this threat with all available means. Supporting improved awareness, strengthening resilience and building counter-terrorism capacity of both Allies and partners are all part of this effort, and the CTRC perfectly fits these objectives. I would like to thank all those who helped make this Curriculum possible, including the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).”

Partners can significantly benefit from using the CTRC for the development of their own tailored courses on Counter-Terrorism. This support will be provided and facilitated in the framework of NATO’s Defense Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP). Dr. John Manza, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Operations, highlighted: “The Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum will be available to all interested partners and Allies. DEEP will work diligently to help partners who request support in implementing tailored versions of the curriculum for their professional military education institutions. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reflecting other longer-term trends, NATO will also work to implement the Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum as a distance course, available to all partners who wish to use it in their institutions. Supporting our partners in this way makes us all stronger in the face of a common threat.” 

Dr. Sajjan M. Gohel, the CTRC’s co-editor and academic project lead from the Asia-Pacific Foundation and the London School of Economics (LSE) added: “The CTRC is designed to provide users with a robust, holistic and nuanced comprehension of terrorism as well as improve potential counter-terrorism outcomes for NATO members and partners. The curriculum reflects NATO’s innovative best.”

The NATO Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum is the result of close cooperation between the Defense Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) and NATO`s Counter-Terrorism Section, as well as the Partnership for Peace Consortium. Over 100 experts from nations across five continents, including from Tunisia, Jordan and Mauritania, as well as multiple international organizations contributed to the writing, drafting, and editing of the final product.

NATO.int (June 2020) NATO launches Counter-Terrorism Reference Curriculum

CISA RELEASES NEW CYBER ESSENTIALS TOOLKIT

As a follow-up to the November 2019 release of Cyber Essentials, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released the first in a series of six Cyber Essentials Toolkits.


As a follow-up to the November 2019 release of Cyber Essentials, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released the first in a series of six Cyber Essentials Toolkits.

This is a starting point for small businesses and government agencies to understand and address cybersecurity risk as they do other risks. CISA’s toolkits will provide greater detail, insight and resources on each of the Cyber Essentials’ six “Essential Elements” of a Culture of Cyber Readiness.

Today’s launch highlights the first “Essential Element: Yourself, The Leader” and will be followed each month by a new toolkit to correspond with each of the six “Essential Elements.” Toolkit 1 focuses on the role of leadership in forging a culture of cyber readiness in their organization with an emphasis on strategy and investment.

“We thank all of our partners in government and the private sector who played an essential role in the development of CISA’s Cyber Essentials Toolkit,” said CISA Director Christopher Krebs. “We hope this toolkit, and the ones we are developing, fills gaps and provides executives the tools they need to raise the cybersecurity baseline of their teams and the organizations they lead.”

Developed in collaboration with small businesses and state and local governments, Cyber Essentials aims to equip smaller organizations that historically have not been a part of the national dialogue on cybersecurity with basic steps and resources to improve their cybersecurity.

Cyber Essentials includes two parts – guiding principles for leaders to develop a culture of security, and specific actions for leaders and their IT professionals to put that culture into action.

Each of the six Cyber Essentials includes a list of actionable items anyone can take to reduce cyber risks. These are: 

  • Drive cybersecurity strategy, investment, and culture; 
  • Develop heightened level of security awareness and vigilance; 
  • Protect critical assets and applications; 
  • Ensure only those who belong on your digital workplace have access; 
  • Make backups and avoid loss of info critical to operations; and 
  • Limit damage and restore normal operations quickly. 

To learn more about the Cyber Essentials Toolkits, visit www.cisa.gov/cyber-essentials.

CISA.gov (June 2020) CISA RELEASES NEW CYBER ESSENTIALS TOOLKIT

Weekly Update: DHS Response to COVID-19


For months, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken on the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Thanks to our workforce’s efforts across its components DHS has facilitated a speedy, whole-of-government response to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

As the nation prepares to reopen the economy the Department and its components continue to ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous Homeland for the American people.

“The Secret Service is steadfastly working with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners to protect the public and the nation’s financial infrastructure, especially the healthcare and medical sector, from criminals exploiting the Global Pandemic to commit cyber enabled financial crimes,” said Secret Service Director James Murray. “The Secret Service strongly encourages caution when considering Coronavirus relief or response solicitations requesting financial information, social security numbers, date of birth, or other personal identification information via the internet, text or SMS messaging.”

Below is a list of some of DHS’s efforts against COVID-19 last week:

United States Secret Service (USSS)

Protecting The American People From Related Scams. On May 21st, Secret Service released a Smishing Public Service Announcement via Secret Service social media platforms in response to an increase in COVID- 19 related scams. Smishing is a form of phishing via text or SMS messaging and has been used to defraud individuals by asking for donations related to Coronavirus.

Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD)

Enhanced Screenings at Airports. CWMD contract personnel are continuing to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with enhanced screenings for travelers through 13 specially designated airports. As of May 23rd, CWMD has processed more than 304,319 travelers for enhanced screening, including 1,523 who were referred to CDC for further medical evaluation.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Delivering Life Saving PPE. As of May 22nd, FEMA, HHS, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping: 84.4 million N95 respirators, 144.2 million surgical masks, 12.0 million face shields, 28.9 million surgical gowns, over 1 billion gloves, 10,708 ventilators and 8,450 federal medical station beds.

Remaining Ready for the Hurricane Season. On May 20th, to address the challenges of managing disaster response and recovery efforts during this year’s hurricane season, FEMA released the “COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season” to help emergency managers and public health officials best prepare for disasters, while continuing to respond to and recover from coronavirus (COVID-19). The guidance can also be used by private sector and non-governmental organizations to gain an understanding of the government’s posture, planning and readiness efforts.

Coordinating Air Flights to Address Medical Supply Shortages. Since March 29th, through Project Air-Bridge, FEMA continues to expedite the movement of critical, life-saving supplies by utilizing its partnership with the private sector. As of May 22nd, there has been a total of 166 flights with an additional 56 scheduled or in transit for a total of approximately 222 flights.

Office of Operations Coordination (OPS)

Ensuring Situational Awareness. The DHS Crisis Action Team (CAT) continues to work 24/7 solely on Departmental COVID-19 response, managing information, and situational awareness. The CAT supports the Department’s efforts to share information internally and externally during the pandemic. Between May 17th and 23rd, the CAT team produced more than thirty COVID-19-related reports covering Departmental actions and impacts on the DHS workforce.

Science and Technology (S&T)

Driving Evidence-Based Policymaking. On May 21st, S&T updated its Master Question List (MQL), a compilation of available research on operationally-relevant questions to aid decision makers in the COVID-19 response. The MQL is a quick-reference guide covering what is known about the virus, what additional information is needed, and who may be working to address these fundamental questions. New entries include references to work showing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening may be ineffective early on in recently exposed individuals, and African green monkeys develop symptoms consistent with severe human disease when exposed to 500,000 plaque-forming units (PFUs) of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Delivering Actionable Information Through Applied Research. On May 20thS&T’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) published a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases titled “Simulated Sunlight Rapidly Inactivates SARS-CoV-2 on Surfaces.” SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This research provides the first evidence that sunlight may rapidly inactivate SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces. Findings in this research inform our understanding of the virus and help shape the operational response to COVID-19.

Sharing Decontamination Best Practices. On May 19th, S&Ts COVID-19 Response Team released a Reference Guide for Operating in Environments where SARS-CoV-2 may be Present, which serves as a knowledge repository of actionable information for those operating within environments where there is risk of exposure. This guide features a comprehensive overview of material and example products intended to assist the Department with developing component-specific Concept of Operations (CONOPS) plans tailored to their unique operational considerations. Decontamination is an important aspect of reducing risk, and must be coupled with effective screening and detection, effective PPE use, and adequate testing.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Keeping Americans Safe While Ensuring Continuity of U.S. Travel and Commerce. TSA continues to follow CDC guidance to protect Americans, its workers and the nation’s transportation system, in support of air travel and all other modes of transportation. Between May 17 and May 23, TSA screened more than 1,839,139 passengers, who have all reached their destinations safely.

Ready To Ensure Safety During The Summer Travel Period. On May 21st, TSA issued a press release announcing updated security procedures for summer travelers. The agency begun to implement changes to the security screening process to reduce the potential for cross-contamination at the security checkpoint in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As procedure changes begin to rollout in the coming weeks, travelers should expect to see some changes at the airport checkpoint including, the need keep hold of their boarding passes, separating food containers for X-ray screening, and social distancing.

United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Monitoring Vessels that Pose a Risk to Public Health. The Coast Guard continues to monitor the presence of multiple ships anchored in U.S. territorial waters to ensure they observe the 14-day minimum wait time required by President Trump’s EO before docking at a U.S. port to help reduce the spread of foreign-originating COVID-19. As of May 21, the Coast Guard is tracking more than 82 cruise ships anchored, moored, or underway in U.S. waters, carrying approximately 47,900 crew members from various countries.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Keeping the public safety from COVID-19-related fraud. ICE’s Operation Stolen Promise (OSP) targets fraudulent activity stemming from the pandemic. The initiative combines HSI’s expertise in global trade investigations, financial fraud, and cyber investigations with robust private and public partnerships to disrupt and dismantle this criminal activity and strengthen global supply-chain security. Through May 22, as part of OSP, the agency has made 18 criminal arrests, analyzed 31,058 COVID-19-related domains, seized more than $3.5 million in illicit proceeds, disrupted 35 instances of illicit activity, sent 733 leads to domestic and international field offices, executed 37 search warrants and made 597 COVID-19-related seizures to include prohibited test kits and pharmaceuticals, counterfeit masks and more.

Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

Keeping Our Critical Infrastructure Safe Criminal Fraud. On May 21st, CISA along with the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and United States Secret Service (USSS) issued a joint alert warning Americans to be on the lookout for criminal fraud related to economic impact payments—particularly fraud using Coronavirus lures to steal personal and financial information, as well as the economic impact payments themselves—and for adversaries seeking to disrupt payment efforts. The alert contains several resources to help defend, mitigate, and report suspicious cyber activity, especially emails that could be an attempted phishing attack.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Getting American Citizens Home Safe. As of May 22, CBP has assisted State Department in repatriating 93,930 U.S. citizens on 1,001 flights from 138 countries. An additional 69 repatriation flights are scheduled to occur.

DHS.gov (May 2020) Weekly Update: DHS Response to COVID-19

Microsoft Releases Security Updates for Multiple Products


Microsoft has released security updates to address multiple vulnerabilities in products that use the Autodesk FBX library.

These include Office 2016, Office 2019, Office 365 ProPlus, and Paint 3D. A remote attacker can exploit these vulnerabilities to take control of an affected system.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) encourages users and administrators to review Microsoft Advisory ADV200004 and apply the necessary updates.

Availability of updates for Microsoft software utilizing the Autodesk FBX library

Microsoft is announcing the release of updates to address multiple vulnerabilities found in the Autodesk FBX library which is integrated into certain Microsoft applications.

Details about the vulnerabilities can be found here – https://www.autodesk.com/trust/security-advisories/adsk-sa-2020-0002

Remote code execution vulnerabilities exist in Microsoft products that utilize the FBX library when processing specially crafted 3D content. An attacker who successfully exploited these vulnerabilities could gain the same user rights as the local user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

To exploit the vulnerabilities, an attacker must send a specially crafted file containing 3D content to a user and convince them to open it.

The security updates address these vulnerabilities by correcting the way 3D content is handled by Microsoft software.

US-cert.gov (April 2020)Microsoft Releases Security Updates for Multiple Products

SchoolSafety.gov Launches to Help Educators, Administrators, Parents, and Law Enforcement Prepare for Threats

The Trump Administration on Monday launched the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse website: SchoolSafety.gov.


DHS, ED, DOJ, HHS team up to provide government-wide resources for local schools and educators

The Trump Administration on Monday launched the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse website: SchoolSafety.gov.

This website is a one-stop-shop of resources for Kindergarten through Grade 12 (K-12) administrators, educators, parents and law enforcement to use to prepare for and address various threats related to safety, security, and support in schools.

President Trump established the Federal Commission on School Safety to review safety practices and make meaningful and actionable recommendations of best practices to keep students safe.

“School safety is the number one priority of parents across the country, which is why the President directed DHS and other federal agencies to form a taskforce and provide schools, teachers, parents, and law enforcement with resources to identify, prepare for, respond to, and mitigate threats, “said Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. “The Department provided expertise and resources on a range of school safety issues including threat assessments, physical security, emergency planning, and trainings and exercises designed to help schools and local law enforcement prepare for incidents. With these resources, schools and law enforcement will be better equipped to handle a crisis.”

“All students deserve a safe learning environment, and the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse is an essential resource for information and best practices,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, chair of the Federal Commission on School Safety. “Because every school community has its own unique needs, SchoolSafety.gov equips decision makers with resources for developing, customizing, and implementing actionable school safety plans.”

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“Every child should feel safe at school, and every parent should feel their child is safe each day, too,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “SchoolSafety.gov will help equip schools with the tools they need to create safe, healthy environments, including resources for how to provide mental health services in schools. This new one-stop shop complements the evidence-based technical assistance HHS provides to local communities around mental health treatment, and we hope to see more and more schools explore these opportunities.”

“The Department of Justice has no higher priority than making sure our schools are safe and secure for our nation’s students, teachers and administrators,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “I am grateful for President Trump’s leadership in this cause and am honored to stand with the rest of the leadership of his Administration as we continue our efforts to promote school safety through schoolsafety.gov. The Department of Justice is deeply grateful for the sacrifice and commitment of our nation’s school resource officers and police officers who are on the front lines of keeping our schools and country safe every day.”

SchoolSafety.gov is a resource for the American public, primarily K-12 school administrators, to access free information, guidance, best practices, and tools that make school safety initiatives more actionable in schools. Today’s launch represents the first phase of SchoolSafety.gov and we look forward to continually expanding and refining resource materials in coordination with our partners and stakeholders.

The Federal School Safety Clearinghouse and SchoolSafety.gov were developed to fulfill one of the key recommendations from the Federal Commission on School Safety.

SchoolSafety.gov includes:

  • The School Safety Readiness Tool, an assessment that assists users in evaluating their respective school’s safety posture across ten foundational elements of school safety. After completing the assessment, users are provided an action plan with task prioritization, options for consideration, aligned resources, and grant opportunities specific to individual needs;
  • A Secure Information Sharing Platform for designated school personnel to share school safety ideas, practices, plans, and tactics in a protected environment; and
  • A wide array of resources and best practices on key school safety topics to assist with building awareness within the school community to promote vigilance and build capacity to respond to incidents.

SchoolSafety.gov empowers districts and schools to improve safety and security. Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida in March 2018, President Trump established the Federal Commission on School Safety by Executive Order to make meaningful advancements in keeping students safe.

The Trump Administration and DHS also released the 2019 strategy for targeted violence that defines ways that the Department will enhance security with increased preparedness, promoting community readiness, and enhancing defensive measures. The Department will continue to develop new techniques in protective practices.

DHS.gov (February, 2020) SchoolSafety.gov Launches to Help Educators, Administrators, Parents, and Law Enforcement Prepare for Threats