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January 2013 Archives
January 01, 2013

We need to keep learning about all aspects of cyber security. For the next seven days I'm going to extract one short segment out of the Cyber and Physical Security Special Report to highlight an aspect of cyber security that you need to be aware of.  The sixth cyber tip  on early-warning systems is below:

 

Intrusion Detection and Intrusion Prevention Systems

What they are: An early-warning system for suspicious activities.
What they do: Look for communications with machines or
networks known to be associated with hackers. These solutions can
also analyze internal activities to flag possible breaches.
Bottom line: ID/IP solutions can either warn administrators
or automatically block actions, depending on the preferences established by security officials. 
In addition to their real-time safeguards, these solutions also gather and report on
ongoing activities to give security professionals insights into agency staff
members who may not be fully complying with security policies.


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January 02, 2013

See announcement below on the appointment of Dave Fukutomi.  Dave and I worked together when we both were are ICF International.  He is a smart guy.  The last time I saw him he was up here in Washington State with mobile training team doing a couple of sessions on disaster recovery planning.

 

David Fukutomi, 47, of Camarillo, has been appointed assistant director and superintendent of the California Specialized Training Institute at the California Emergency Management Agency. Fukutomi has been a consultant at the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute since 2009 and a self-employed emergency management and homeland security consultant since 2005. He has been a senior consultant at the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security since 2007 and was a vice president at ICF International from 2006 to 2008. Fukutomi was a federal coordinating officer at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security from 1998 to 2005. He is a board member of Pier Into the Future. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $108,636. 


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January 02, 2013

We need to keep learning about all aspects of cyber security. For the last seven days I have shared one short segment out of the Cyber and Physical Security Special Report to highlight an aspect of cyber security that you need to be aware of. The seventh and final cyber tip on email content filters is below:

 

Email Content Filters

What they are: A protective barrier against attacks delivered via email
messages.
What they do: I dentify and block malware in email messages and
attachments before they can infect agency resources.
Bottom line: Email messages remain one of the biggest vulnerabilities
for agencies. Sophisticated “spear phishing” attacks, which mimic
messages from trusted sources, lure people to click on infected
attachments or links to malevolent websites. Without effective
content screening, these actions could result in rootkits,
key loggers and viruses infiltrating agency IT operations.
Unfortunately, because these filters work by identifying
characteristics of known malware, they aren’t effective
against new “zero day” threats that haven’t yet been
fully documented by security groups.


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January 03, 2013

Garry Briese shared the link to this blog posting from a mother who's house exploded in Castle Rock, Colorado.  The blog is titled The Day My House Exploded

 

There are several things that struck me about this event and the narrative. The ordinariness of our lives as we get up, go to work, come home, sleep, get up, go to work, etc.  The shuffle of kids sleeping in different beds and how for this family it was ordinary, but on one particular morning very extraordinary.  

 

Then there is the randomness of who is where and the timing of events.  Lastly, what happens when your world explodes and it happens when you are least expecting it.

 

I've read many a report of wartime experiences when soldiers, sailors or airmen are caught by surprise and their world comes apart.  Making sense of what just happened, what is where and when things are out of proportion.  In this case a little child on top of the roof which is out your window, but the child was in your bed with you.  How can this be?

 

Then the panic of family reunification.  Where nothing matters more than knowing that those you love are safe and well.  How people telling you things  and kids are OK is not enough.  You want to touch, feel, hug and verify their well being.

 

It doesn't say what happened exactly, I'm guessing it was a gas explosion that tore the house apart.  I'm sure that people in a tornado or experiencing a plane crash on top of them will have had similar experiences.  The reminder for us in the emergency management business is how it might feel to people impacted by a disaster and experiencing trauma and loss.  

 

Seeing it from their perspective and what is important might guide our efforts and what we say and do immediately following unforeseen and individually catastrophic events.


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January 03, 2013

Disasters are political events, there is no doubt about it!  One only had to watch the political machinations around the Fiscal Cliff and then the non-vote on Hurricane Sandy on the same night  to understand how things can go sideways quickly.

 

Watch the NBC Nightly News segment on the reaction of even the Republicans when the House Leadership did not bring the Hurricane Sandy disaster funding up for a vote.  There was a mini revolt with name calling and angry words coming from fellow republicans who represent New York and New Jersey.

 

By today everything has been patched over and a vote on Friday, January 4th has been promised to get the funding bill passed.  I'm guessing it won't be the full $60B that was originally proposed, but perhaps a smaller $9B to keep the checks coming to individuals and to governments impacted by the storm.

 

I still say the hardest days are ahead of the disaster survivors who have not yet figured out that they will not be made whole.  This isn't going to be a matter of weeks, but months and in some cases years before things are really settled.  My earlier prediction Bureaucracy will be FEMA's Downfall will come true soon enough as the clock ticks and the paperwork files get bigger and bigger with still not action and no checks.

 

Then, what might happen is the pressure will be on to shovel money out the door and ill advised payments will be made.  Then, in a couple of years, the FEMA Inspector General will come knocking and asking for a repayment of funds that should never have been gifted to the recipients of the recovery dollars.  It is a vicious cycle! 


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January 04, 2013

The National Weather Service (NWS) is fielding new equipment that will aid them and us in the detection of severe weather.  Check out the EMForum session described below to get a background briefing on what this will mean for you.  Severe weather is a constant hazard.  I'm waiting for the first tornado of 2013 to be reported.  It used to be later in the Spring, but they have been coming earlier and earlier every year.

 

The NOAA/NWS Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB)
On-line Training Resources for Emergency Managers & Intro to Dual-Polarization Radar

 

As our first program of the new year, EMForum.org is pleased to host a one hour presentation and interactive discussion Wednesday, January 9, 2013, beginning at 12:00 Noon Eastern time (please convert to your local time). Our topic will be the NOAA/NWS Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB) whose primary goal is to increase expertise among National Weather Service personnel and their core partners so that they can better serve the public during warning operations. The new dual-polarization radars that are being deployed at Weather Forecast Offices across the country will also be introduced, as well as additional on-line training resources. Our guest will be Andrew Wood, on assignment with WDTB from the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS).

 

Please make plans to join us, and see the Background Page for links to related resources and participant Instructions. On the day of the program, use the Webinar Login link not more than 30 minutes before the scheduled time. 


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January 04, 2013

The news headline says, 1/3 of employees will be job hunting in 2013, survey shows which initially to me sounds like bad news for the people who are unemployed and still looking for work.  This is because people who "already have jobs" will be in the job market looking to change positions, therefore creating more competition.

 

These people, using emergency management as an example, already have seniority and experience that comes from being in the workplace and in the job market.  This is, of course, the bad news.

 

The good news is that creates movement in the workforce.  People changing jobs means that their old jobs are open.  If they more senior it opens up opportunities for junior people to move up within the organization.  More good news is that these junior level positions are now open which provides individuals with less experience in a profession or the workplace to compete and be hired.

 

Good luck to everyone in their job hunt in 2013!


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January 04, 2013

I found this listing to be right on the money.  It reflects the challenges and the duration of an event.  Someone sent me this via an email so I'm using the attribution that came with it.

 

Look at your own disaster preparations and see what you need to do to "improve" on what has been done already.  And, if you have not done anything, see Tip #3!

 

By Frantz Ostmann on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 7:13 am ·

1. The excitement and coolness wears off around day 3
2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water etc. Never!
3. Yes it can happen to you.
4. Just because your generator runs like a top, does not mean its producing electricity.
5. If you do not have water stored up you are in trouble.
a. A couple of cases of bottled water is “NOT” water storage
6. Should have as much fuel as water:
a. Propane       b. Gas  c. Kerosene     d. Firewood    e. Fire starter, (kindling, paper, etc)
7. Even the smallest little thing that you get from the store should be stocked up.. (spark plug for the generator, BBQ lighter, etc)
8. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is either.
9. I was surprised how quickly normal social behavior goes out the window. I am not talking about someone cutting in line at the grocery store.
a. 3 people were killed at gas stations within 50 miles of my home.
b. I did not say 3 fights broke out, 3 people were killed.
10. Cash is king (all the money in your savings means nothing)
11. Stored water can taste nasty.
12. You eat a lot more food when you are cold
13. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for 2 weeks
14. Kids do not like washing their face in cold water.
15. Your 1972 Honda civic gets to the grocery store as well as your 2012 Escalade… but the Honda allows money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, fire wood, a backup water pump, you get the idea..
16. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.
17. Think of the things that are your comfort, your escape, a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a ding dong before bed, etc. Stock up on those too. You will need that comfort after day 3.
18. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel, directly wire the furnace to a small generator, or get the well pump up and running on inverter power or you are the guy whose Master’s degree in Accounting suddenly means nothing. (Love you Steve!)
19. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth her weight in gold. And women, whose weight in gold, would not add up to much, usually die off first. Sorry skinny women.
20. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the evening for heat.
21. All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it.
22. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door?
23. Some people shut down in an emergency. There is nothing that you can do about that.
24. Your town, no matter how small is entirely dependent on outside sources of everything.
a. If supply trucks stop rolling in due to road damage, gas shortages or anything else you could be without for a long time.
25. In an emergency Men stock up on food, Women stock up on toilet paper.
26. I was surprised how many things run on electricity!
27. You can never have enough matches.
28. Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage. You need to know how you are going to handle that. It is really easy to be Bob the guy who shares on Day 3, not so easy on Day 11. This is just reality speaking.
29. Give a man a fish he eats for that day, teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again.. Now I get it.
30. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don’t keep you warm.
31. Same goes for shoes… Love you Honey!!!!
32. You cannot believe the utility companies. They are run by politicians!! Or so it seems,
33. Anything that you depend on someone else for is not avail anymore.
34. Quote “A man with a chainsaw that knows how to use it is a thing of beauty” lol

35. Most folks don’t have any emergency storage. They run to Wal-Mart and get water and batteries and then fill their tubs with water. That is it. A lucky few will get a case of ramen and a box of pop tarts. That will be your neighbors supply. (Especially if you live outside of Utah)

36. Fathers, all the money you have ever made means nothing if you can’t keep your kids warm.
37. Mothers, everything you have ever done for your kids is forgotten if your kids are hungry. 
38. You really do not want to be the “Unprepared Parents” The kids turn on you pretty quick.
39. Small solar charging gadgets will keep you in touch. Most work pretty well it seems.
40. Most things don’t take much power to operate.
a. Computers,              b. Phones         c. Radios         d. TV   e. lights
41. Some things take a ton of power to operate.
a. Fridge          b. Toaster        c. Freezer         d. Hot plate     e. Microwave
42. When it gets dark at 4:30 pm the nights are really long without power.
43. Getting out of the house is very important, even if it is cold outside. Make your home the semi warm place to come home to, and not the cold prison that you are stuck in.
44. Someone in your family must play or learn to play guitar.
45. Things that disappeared never to be seen again for a very long time.
a. Fuel, of all kinds     b. Matches, lighters of any kind etc.   c. Toilet paper    d. Paper plates, plastic forks and knives            e. Batteries, didn’t really see a need for them. (How about flashlights??? I guess)               f. Milk             g. Charcoal          h. Spark plugs (generators)
i. 2 stroke motor oil, (chainsaws)        j. Anything that could be used to wire a generator to the house.
k. Extension cords      l. Medicines (Tylenol, Advil, cold medicine etc)
46. There was a strange peace to knowing all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm, and fed, but my peace was someone else’s panic.


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January 05, 2013

Back when I was a teenager we would play "Kick the Can" which entailed running through backyards in the dark, getting "hung up" on cloths lines and trying to be first to Kick the Can.

 

This same game is what Congress is engaged with.  One tough decision after another is kicked down the road for another day.  Postponing difficult decisions only compounds the negative impacts that are expected to finally come.  I guess they think it won't happen on their watch and they can keep getting elected and blaming others for the legislative impasse they keep putting themselves into.

 

Sequestration Not Addressed in Fiscal Cliff Deal; DHS Faces Spending Cuts Without Further Action lays out some of the financial issues in play for the Department of Homeland Security and it's agencies (near the end of the article).  When we look at Greece and other European countries and their budget woes we can get a foretaste of what is to come.  The piper must eventually be paid.

 

The Great Generation that lived through the Depression and World War II are just about all dead.  We, their children (especially us Baby Boomers) and our children have never developed the attitudes and behaviors of personal sacrifice for the greater good.  All the so-called Patriots who love their country so much seem to love their personal perks that come from government spending even more.  The only sacrifice we are willing to provide is that of our collective financial well being for future generations of Americans.  What Boomers might not recognize is the outside rear view mirror that predicts that "the future could be closer" than it looks!

 

While sequestration cuts may look dramatic, the impending gloom with no short-term legislative action is predictive of long-term doom for everyone as individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits and yes, governments.  

 

It is hard to be hopeful when all indications are that we remain locked in ideological positions with no relevance to zero based budgeting.


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January 06, 2013

Everyone has predicted an exodus of baby boomers from the workforce.  This silver tsunami of people with gray hair or no hair was expected to start happening about three years ago--and then the Great Recession hit the economy hard on.  People watched their 401K accounts dwindle by a minimum of 50% and most put the breaks on any early retirement due to the economic conditions.

 

Today, while the overall economy is not perfect there is hope for the future and people will want to eventually retire.  See the Governing Magazine's article from last December, Government Unprepared for Boomers’ Mass Exodus  It highlights the expected departures, the risks and some ideas of how to achieve some succession planning and knowledge transfer.

 

I expect that both in the private sector and government we do not have a good track record of passing along the institutional knowledge that walks out the door when a long serving employee departs.  A few years back I saw hundreds of years of experience and knowledge walk out the door with only a few fleeting thoughts about, "Gee these people are leaving, shouldn't we have a methodology for capturing what they know?"

 

A few toolbox solutions mentioned in the article include:

 

  • Temporarily rehire a retiree
  • Phased retirement
  • Cross training
  • Expert interviews with people scheduled to retire
  • Internship programs

Steve Bailey, Pierce County, Washington State Emergency Management's Director is hanging up the (?) (what is it that we hang up when we walk out the door and retire as emergency managers?) next week Friday.  In his case he has done a wonderful job of preparing for his departure.  Jody Woodcock is the Deputy and through different job experiences, getting a masters degree in emergency management and homeland security, and a slow hand-off of responsibilities she is well prepared to be the interim Director and compete for the permanent position.  It is a great example of how to do succession planning and then execute it so that the organization does not suffer the loss of a longtime leader.

 

Remember Steve, that fifth wheel is not a trailer when turning sharp!


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