WASHINGTON – More than 1,000 U.S. retailers could be infected with malicious software lurking in their cash register computers, allowing hackers to steal customer financial data, the Homeland Security Department said Friday.
The government urged businesses of all sizes to scan their point-of-sale systems for software known as Backoff, discovered last October. It previously explained in detail how the software operates and how retailers could find and remove it.
This month, United Parcel Service said it found infected computers in 51 stores. UPS said it was not aware of any fraud that resulted from the infection but said hackers may have taken customers’ names, addresses, email addresses and payment card information.
Backoff was discovered in October, but according to the Homeland Security Department the software wasn’t flagged by antivirus programs until this month.
Officer to face trial on prostitution ring
A noncommissioned sexual abuse prevention officer accused of operating a prostitution ring at a central Texas Army base will face a military court martial.
Initial charges were filed in March against Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McQueen alleging 21 criminal charges including pandering, adultery and sexual assault. During a June hearing, two soldiers said that McQueen recruited them and other cash-strapped female soldiers at Fort Hood to join a prostitution ring.
Another soldier, Master Sgt. Brad Grimes, was already demoted and reprimanded in the case.
Chinese fighter jet intercepts US plane
The Obama administration on Friday accused a Chinese fighter jet of conducting a dangerous intercept of a U.S. Navy surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of China in international airspace – the fourth such incident since March.
The Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Washington protested to the Chinese military through diplomatic channels, calling the fighter pilot’s actions unsafe and unprofessional. And U.S. officials said this is at least the second formal complaint American diplomats have filed with the Chinese over these military actions in recent months.
Murder sentence tossed over science
A former New York businessman whose arson-murder conviction was overturned in the death of his daughter was freed from prison Friday after 24 years, following a judge’s ruling that the case against him was based on now-debunked arson science.
Han Tak Lee, 79, walked out of a federal courthouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, after U.S. District Judge William Nealon threw out Lee’s state conviction and sentence of life without parole this month.
The judge gave prosecutors 120 days to decide whether they want to retry him in the 1989 death of his daughter, 20-year-old Ji Yun Lee.
Prosecutors have conceded the arson science used to convict Lee was faulty but insist that other evidence points to his guilt.
Spouses of victimís caregivers infected
Two alarming new cases of Ebola have emerged in Nigeria, widening the circle of people sickened beyond the immediate group of caregivers who treated a dying airline passenger in one of Africa’s largest cities.
The outbreak also continues to spread elsewhere in West Africa, with 142 more cases recorded, bringing the new total to 2,615 with 1,427 deaths, the World Health Organization said Friday.
Most of the new cases are in Liberia, where the government was delivering donated rice to a slum where 50,000 people have been sealed off from the rest of the capital to try to contain the outbreak.
The two new cases in Nigeria were infected by their spouses, both medical workers who died of Ebola after having direct contact with Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, who flew into Nigeria from Liberia and infected 11 others before he died in July. Authorities are now trying to identify and monitor everyone they have been in contact with.
Colombia military meets rebel leaders
Members of Colombia’s military met face-to-face Friday with Marxist rebel leaders for the first time as talks aimed at ending a half-century war enter a decisive phase.
Peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia taking place in Cuba’s capital the past two years still face a number of obstacles. Among those is widespread concern in Colombia that atrocities committed by the FARC will go unpunished, and Colombians are likely to be given the right to vote on any deal in a referendum.
Critic of Pakistanís leader quits post
The party of Pakistan’s famed cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who has led a week of anti-government protests in the capital, resigned from parliament Friday in its latest bid to drive Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power over alleged election fraud.
The move came a day after parliament presented a united front against Khan, with opposition parties backing a resolution rejecting his calls for Sharif’s resignation as unconstitutional – while thousands of protesters stood just outside.