Two weeks ago, the ExxonMobil complex in Baytown, Texas caught fire after a petrochemical unit exploded. This was the latest in a series of incidents at petrochemical units in the area: in March and April a series of fires occurred at the same ExxonMobil complex and nearby petrochemical storage facilities, releasing pollutants. Harris County, the county where these facilities are located, conducted an analysis of how local agencies and officials were responding to these incidents. As a result, the county decided to focus on improving communications during incident response—specifically, improving communications between agencies responding to the incidents and keeping the public informed.
With over 106 million customers and applicants’ personal data exposed, the Capital One breach is one of the biggest breaches of a financial institution in US history. A former employee of Amazon’s cloud-computing unit was able to exploit a vulnerability in Capital One’s cloud service provider AWS,exposing some 140,000 Social Security Numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers of US customers.
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.
A historically industrial area, Marshall County, West Virginia is accustomed to the occasional industrial emergency. So, when a gas pipeline exploded in June of 2018, people knew exactly what to do. As first responders handled over 37 calls in 3 minutes, they dispatched resources to the site of the emergency. No fatalities, injuries, or property damage was reported as a result of the emergency and damage was contained to 1,100 feet around the site. This was in part thanks to Marshall County’s oil and gas task force, which brings together emergency management officials, first responders, local schools, and representatives from the oil and gas industry to address potential emergencies. Marshall County’s oil and gas task force and its impact on emergencies highlights the importance of engaging multiple stakeholders via regular communications when it comes to incident response.
After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Department of Energy (DoE) asked the National Petroleum Council (NPC) to provide specific actionable steps to better prepare the oil and natural gas industry’s response to natural disasters. In response, the NPC released “Enhancing Emergency Preparedness for Natural Disasters” in 2014, which included a series of recommendations for emergency preparedness, response and recovery in the oil and natural gas industry. A key finding? That effective communications during emergency response is a major challenge for the industry and that a standardized, rehearsed approach toward communications that addresses escalated and expanding responses as an event unfolds is critical.
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.
In February 2018, the United States Department of Energy established the new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER), focused on cybersecurity, energy security and emergency response with $96 million in government funding – and not a moment too soon. One month later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert alleging that Russian hackers mounted a methodical, long-term campaign to infiltrate and surveil critical US energy and utility infrastructure.
Communicating critical information when it comes to public health can quickly become stressful. For health departments facing public health emergencies, there must be consideration over how to communicate and with whom—as they need to communicate quickly about the situation and involve the right stakeholders without leaking information that could cause hysteria.
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.
The challenges people face during a natural disaster are often multiplied for seniors and their care takers. Decisions about whether to evacuate are complex as many seniors are mentally or physically not in a condition to move from location to location. So, how can these challenges be addressed?
If you are a healthcare provider or supplier that engages with Medicare and Medicaid programs, it’s urgent that you understand and comply with new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) healthcare emergency preparedness regulations (“EP Regulations”) to protect your access to Medicare and Medicaid programs. Under the new rules issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services providers must comply by November 15, 2017. That is this calendar year folks. Are you ready?
The biggest cyberattack in history has been spreading the globe since last Friday. Spanning across 150 countries, the 300,000 victims have included government agencies, hospitals, manufacturers and universities. When ransomware attack affects your organization how can you keep a secure line of communicaiton with your team? Read on to learn why ephemeral messaging should be a part of your incident response plan.