Blogs

US Places Nicaraguan Military Chief, Finance Minister on Sanctions Blacklist

first_imgBy Steven McLoud/Diálogo June 10, 2020 With the intent of increasing pressure on the regime of Daniel Ortega, the United States announced sanctions against Nicaragua’s military chief and finance minister.General Julio César Aviles, commander of the Nicaraguan Armed Forces, and Iván Adolfo Acosta, minister of Finance and Public Credit, were placed on the U.S. sanctions blacklist on May 22. The U.S. Treasury Department froze the assets of both men and banned all Americans and U.S. companies from doing business with them.According to the Treasury Department, the Nicaraguan military under Aviles’ command is alleged to have provided support to the police and paramilitary gangs that carried out crimes against the Nicaraguan people, including attacks on protesters during the unrest that began in April 2018 that lead to the deaths of 300 protesters. The Treasury added that Acosta used his role to arrange financial support for Ortega and threatened banks so that they would not support opposition strikes in 2019.“The Ortega regime’s continued violations of basic human rights, blatant corruption, and widespread violence against the Nicaraguan people are unacceptable,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The United States will target those who prop up the Ortega regime and perpetuate the oppression of the Nicaraguan people,” he added.The U.S. has already slapped sanctions on Ortega, his wife, and two of his sons, with the U.S. Treasury calling Ortega’s son, Rafael, as the “key money manager” for his family. The Nicaraguan National Police as well as its chief and three commissioners have also been blacklisted by the U.S. as well as the European Union.U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that these sanctions aimed to hold the Nicaraguan officials “accountable” for supporting Ortega.last_img read more

Williams: ‘Innovation drives growth’

first_imgAuthor, innovator gives CU leaders tips on how to embrace innovation in the workplaceTurn on the television and chances are you’ll find a cooking show exploring how to take ingredients from the cupboard and combine them into a tasty dish.Innovation is no different.While the final product isn’t a delectable dish, the ideas that are created from innovative thinkers can lead to growth, Luke Williams said during an Executive Series session breakfast Tuesday, at the America’s Credit Union/World Council of Credit Unions Conference in Denver.“Innovation is taking the ingredients we have and looking for a different arrangement,” said Williams, the executive director at the NYU Stern School of Business, a fellow at the innovation company frog, and author of “Disrupt.”Leadership is about leading an organization through innovation, Williams said. While some may be hesitant to embrace change and new ideas, Williams said everyone should. continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

How to outsmart ransomware

first_imgHave $175? Then it doesn’t matter if you utterly lack technical skills, you can become a cybercriminal. That’s because a malware strain called Karmen – potent ransomware – has been on sale on the dark web for $175.  That’s how bad this has gotten and it very well may cost your credit union money.In mid-May a ransomware attack infected thousands of organization in 70+ countries.  It all happened in the space of a few days. Some 200,000 are said to have been victimized.  Ransomware now is just about the fastest spreading malware out there.  The tools that spread it are slick and, as Karmen shows, they are also cheap.Little to no technical skill is needed to unleash ransomware via phishing emails on an unwary public and, increasingly, the targets of choice are businesses – especially American businesses – and that’s because businesses often are willing to pay up to rid themselves of malware. Symantec, in fact says the average ransomware payout in 2016 was $1077, up from $294 in 2015.Symantec also said that the payout rate in the US reached 64%, compared to 34% globally.  That means about two in three US victims pay up.Data from NTT Security also said that the US is by far the most common victim of ransomware.  The news gets worse.  Symantec said ransomware attacks were up 36% year over year.  Probably there will be still more this year.Ransomware is bad. There are various flavors but a common format is that the criminal mass mails out links that, when clicked on, download apps that lock files, preventing the user’s access. The files could be just about anything, from email to the entire computer.Know this: There are steps you need to take to protect yourself against being a ransomware victim. A key secret: the best self-defense is assuming you will be a victim and preparing accordingly. How? Read on.Also know: credit unions have already fallen victim to ransomware. How many? Nobody knows. Victims – especially ones likely to feel exceptional embarrassment and that includes financial institutions – do not advertise that they fell into a trap.  But credit union security experts talk of “at least several dozen” credit unions that have fallen victim to ransomware, paid ransoms, and sometimes regained access to their data.Small and medium sized credit unions are believed to be especially vulnerable because – unlike the mega credit unions – they typically lack sophisticated malware detection tools that stop malware from penetrating the organization.Probably more credit unions will fall victim. That’s because savvy criminals now are doubling down on attacks on businesses. Said Symantec: “a small number of groups have begun to specifically target businesses with ransomware attacks designed to infect multiple computers on a single network and encrypt valuable data.”Won’t a small payment result in the files being unlocked – so maybe this isn’t such a big deal? Not necessarily. Cyber crooks are crooks and that means they may not always live up to their word. Just because a ransom is paid does not mean full access to data is restored.  Said Symantec: “Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee decryption of the victim’s files. According to the Norton Cyber Security Insight team, only 47 percent of victims who paid the ransom reported getting their files back.”Symantec also – worryingly – reported that smart criminals are beginning to try to attach ransoms that take into account the value of the data that has been locked. It pointed to a $70,000 ransom paid by San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency which had seen its light rail system disrupted.A credit union’s files might well be perceived as highly valuable.What can a credit union do to protect itself? Several things and it starts by training employees not to click on links in phishing emails – and retraining them frequently.But probably the single biggest step a credit union can take is to make sure its data are backed up and can be easily retrieved and put to use. Do just that – assume you will be victimized and prepare your defenses now – and you put yourself on safe ground.Savvy smartphone users generally aren’t ready ransomware victims because an iPhone user often has most of his/her data backed up to iCloud. An Android user also often will have lots of data automatically backed up in Gmail, etc.  When the data is on hand, it’s easy to tell the criminal to buzz off.The very same idea works for a credit union. Backup all critical data and that’s the antidote to ransomware.Accept this: very probably your institution will be assaulted this year by ransomware criminals.  How you fare is up to you.Take a few steps, now, and very probably you will do well indeed. 43SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Robert McGarvey A blogger and speaker, Robert McGarvey is a longtime journalist who has covered credit unions extensively, notably for Credit Union Times as well as the New York Times and TheStreet, … Web: www.mcgarvey.net Detailslast_img read more

US antiterrorism rules restrict vaccine exports

first_imgOct 17, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – A recent Associated Press (AP) report revealed that, in the name of preventing biological attacks, the United States has rules barring the exportation of vaccines for avian influenza, smallpox, yellow fever, and many other pathogens to five countries classified as sponsors of terrorism.Under Department of Commerce rules, vaccines for a long list of viruses, bacteria, and biological toxins cannot be exported to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria unless they obtain a special export license, which can take weeks.Pandemic flu vaccines are not restricted under the rules. But the Department of Commerce confirmed that—as reported by the AP—Cuba, Iran, and Sudan are subject to a ban on pandemic flu vaccines as part of general US trade embargoes covering nearly all products. Those embargoes are based on “broader foreign policy reasons,” said Kevin Kurland, a spokesman for the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.The list of pathogens subject to the rules includes many viruses, some of which are little known and some of which there is no vaccine for. Examples, besides those mentioned, are the viruses that cause dengue fever, Ebola fever, Marburg fever, Rift Valley fever, and monkeypox. A list of animal pathogens covered by the restrictions includes highly pathogenic avian flu viruses.Bacterial pathogens on the restricted list include anthrax and the microbes that cause tularemia and plague. Not on the list are the causes of common vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and seasonal influenza.It can take up to 40 days for a country to obtain an export license for a restricted product, Kurland told CIDRAP News. But he said humanitarian needs are considered, and licenses can be granted much faster in emergencies.Rules go back to 1990sThe AP report said the restrictions were quietly established in the mid 1990s and were strengthened after the Sep 11, 2001, attacks and subsequent anthrax mailings. Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were not even aware of the regulations until the AP asked about them, the story said.Disease and bioterrorism experts say there is little reason to think that exporting the vaccines would increase the risk of biological attacks, but a Commerce Department official quoted in the AP story defended them.”Legitimate public health and scientific research is not adversely affected by these controls,” Assistant Commerce Secretary Christopher Wall told the AP.Concerning avian flu vaccines for poultry in particular, Wall declined to explain what kind of threat they pose, but said there are valid reasons for taking steps to ensure they “do not fall into the wrong hands,” according to the story.In response to questions from CIDRAP News, Bill Hall, an HHS spokesman in Washington, DC, said HHS is not usually consulted about trade sanctions, even when they involve medical products. “The United States government currently requires a license for the export from the US of a wide range of goods, products, and services to Cuba, Iran, and Sudan as part of its overall foreign policy,” Hall commented by e-mail.”Although these licensing requirements cover exports of medical products such as human influenza vaccine, HHS is not routinely consulted on the foreign policy decisions to impose sanctions on exports of U.S. goods to state sponsors of terrorism, even including medical products such as vaccines.”In the meantime, HHS is working closely with the Department of Commerce and other government agencies to determine the most effective and humane actions the US government could take to help protect global public health, regardless of the nation or nations involved.”Vaccines into weapons?Scientists quoted in the AP report said the idea that vaccines could be used to make biological weapons makes little sense. Vaccines typically contain inactivated viruses or bacteria or pieces of a virus or bacterium, though some vaccines use live but weakened microbes. Smallpox vaccine contains live vaccinia virus, a less dangerous relative of the smallpox virus.Referring to avian flu vaccines, Ian Ramshaw, an immunology and biosecurity expert at Australian National University in Canberra, told the AP, “I can think of no scientific reason how a terrorist organization could use such a vaccine for malicious intent. I personally think it’s a rather silly attitude and the U.S. is probably going overboard as it has in the past with many of its bioterrorism initiatives.”Infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, said he doesn’t see the logic behind the restrictions either. He is director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, which publishes CIDRAP News.”There really isn’t any reason that using the vaccine to create the agent would be a concern,” he said. “The only potential implication is if you had individuals working on [weaponizing] the agent, by vaccinating them you could protect them so they could work on it.”He observed that the idea of weaponizing the H5N1 avian flu virus, for example, is not a concern, since the virus does not easily infect humans or spread easily from person to person. The virus could be used as a weapon against poultry, “but that’s not about the vaccine,” he said. “So I don’t understand the logic about this at all.””Anywhere in the world you can reduce the potential for these diseases, we should do that,” Osterholm said.Kurland said countries subject to the restrictions can get export licenses fairly quickly in emergencies.”By executive order, the process for reviewing licenses can take up to 40 days, although this can be expedited in emergency situations,” he said via e-mail. “Humanitarian issues are considered in license applications. During recent hurricane relief efforts in Cuba, for example, license applications for such humanitarian efforts were processed in 4 days or less.”See also: Commerce Department regulations supplement listing pathogens whose vaccines are subject to export restrictions for countries classified as sponsors of terrorism (see pages 57-60, 70)http://www.access.gpo.gov/bis/ear/pdf/ccl1.pdflast_img read more

Liverpool Welcome Tottenham in Re-enactment of Champions League Final

first_imgThe marquee fixture of the Premier League weekend will have Liverpool playing hosts to Tottenham Hotspur, looking to continue their unbeaten start to their league campaign.Mauricio Pochettino’s struggling side confirmed “they have not forgotten how to play football”, as Jürgen Klopp put it, when they demolished Red Star Belgrade in midweek but a reunion with Liverpool may reopen insecurities.Tottenham faced Liverpool three times last season and lost on each occasion, with no reminder needed of what happened in the Champions League final in June. The leaders are unbeaten in 44 league games at home and Spurs have won only once in their last 25 league visits.Liverpool look like a team on a mission after missing out on winning the Premier League title last season by just one point. The Reds have been the runaway leaders in the top-flight this term, having not been beaten yet in their first nine fixtures.In fact, the only time they were unable to win a game was last weekend, when they held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw.Tottenham, on the other hand, have been in disarray in the first two months of the season. After a sub-par start to the season, things have only gone from bad to worse for the North Londoners, who have failed to win six of their last eight games, although Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be buoyed by their 5-0 win in the UEFA Champions League over Crvena Zvezda earlier this week.Liverpool and Tottenham clashed three times last season, the latest being the Champions League final, wherein the Reds had triumphed. The Merseyside club also won the corresponding fixture last season.Jurgen Klopp has only provided positive updates on the team news front ahead of the visit of Tottenham. Today, the Liverpool boss is only likely to be without two first-team players, namely Nathaniel Clyne (knee) and Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), although Joel Matip is a major doubt heading into the fixture.The Cameroonian defender missed the midweek fixture against Genk due to a knee injury and will face a late fitness test to determine his availability for Sunday. But, first-choice full-back pairing Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are fit and likely to start.Alexander-Arnold did not travel to Belgium for the Champions League excursion due to an illness, but has recovered to make himself available for the visit of Tottenham. Robertson, on the other hand, has shrugged off a knock and will take up the left-back slot for Liverpool.If Matip is not risked, Dejan Lovren could be the man to partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence once again, just as he did at Genk. Behind the defensive line, Alisson Becker will take his place in goal once again.Up ahead in midfield, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in contention to start a second successive game following his superb brace in the Champions League. But, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson should replace his compatriot in the starting lineup, with Georginio Wijnaldum expected to come into the side in place of Naby Keita.Fabinho will hold the fort in front of the backline and will look to set the tempo of the game as well. The attacking unit, meanwhile, picks itself, with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane being certain starters for Liverpool.Liverpool have dominated the recent history of this fixture, winning 10 and losing just one of the last 15 meetings across all competitions.That includes victories in all three games last season, and should Klopp’s side win today then it would be the first time they have won four games in a row against Spurs since 2015.You have to go back to 2011 for Tottenham’s last winning visit to Anfield – a run of eight games which includes five defeats.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more