On Tuesday, May 7, Baltimore city employees came into work to find that their computer screens were locked. “We’ve been watching you for days,” the message on their screens read, “We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up!” The city of Baltimore had been hit by a ransomware attack; the hackers were demanding $100,000 in bitcoin to release their files.
It’s been forty years since the infamous Three Mile Island accident, an incident made famous bythe confusion and panic it spawned in its wake. But while the incident is remembered for the fear it stoked about nuclear energy, it also set the stage for the US nuclear industry to become the safest in the world. To this day, the Three Mile Island accident impacts the nuclear industry and provides valuable lessons about incident response and communication.
It’s more important than ever that every business be prepared to handle a crisis. A 2017 survey of 164 CEOs showed just how prevalent they are: 65% of the CEOs surveyed reported experiencing at least one crisis since 2013. In the same survey, 40% expected to experience a crisis in the next three years and an additional 33% expected multiple crises. When it comes to crises, everyone in an organization needs to be on board with how to respond. Unfortunately, many organizations are not adequately prepared or aware of the appropriate steps they need to take to respond to a crisis.
In emergency situations, speed is key for first responders. Law enforcement agencies need to have the tools in place to be able to communicate and coordinate quickly. Using old and clunky tools—like desktops and laptops—are simply not sufficient for teams to make decisions quickly and securely. And, the traditional radio system can present interoperability problems.
Natural disasters, mass shootings, and cyber-crimes are on the rise, and it isn’t just sensationalism. According to NOAA, (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), there are 10 – 15 disasters per year with costs in the billions, up from 1 or 2 in the 1980s. Not only that, but according to the LA Times, mass shootings are becoming more frequent, and deadlier. Add that into the pot with the numerous cyber-crimes against big and small businesses alike, and it’s time to create a plan.
The California wildfires have been especially devastating this year, with fires reaching unprecedented sizes. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned and it may take until September to contain the fiercer fires. When it comes to emergencies like wildfires, strong incident response is important for protecting those affected.
On March 22nd the Atlanta Municipal government was targeted by a ransomware cyberattack. As governments become more reliant on technology, cyber security must be priority number one in ensuring that your services remain operational and the public you serve, and their data, remains safe.
Situations like acts of nature, data breaches, or other unforeseen events, require planned responses in case they happen. Different situations may require a different chain of events to occur, but there is one thing that all incident response plans have in common: the need for ongoing communication throughout the course of the event.
Do you have an emergency preparedness plan in your household? Many families do—whether because they live in an earthquake or hurricane prone area, or because they want to be prepared for a personal emergency just in case. A smartphone can provide critical support during an emergency but—like your emergency kit and home vehicle—it needs to be prepared. There are several ways you can prepare your smartphone for an emergency.
This past year has been riddled with crisis from wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, to global cyber-attacks at a scale unlike what we’ve seen before. The one thing that all of these events have shown us is that accurate and constant communication is critical. Proper notification and continual communication during the event and during response set the tone for how quickly we can recover. Florida and Texas are no strangers to hurricanes.
We are seeing much discussion about encryption and encrypted communications in the news in the wake of the Paris attack. The intelligence community did not intercept the communication between the attackers leading up to the attack, and this leads many to believe that encrypted communications must have been used.