Monday, January 08, 2018

Cyber Storm VI: National Cyber Exercise

The Cyber Storm exercise series is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) national, biennial distributed exercise entirely focused on cyber incident response. Mandated by Congress, these exercises are part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to assess and strengthen cyber preparedness, examine incident response processes, and enhance information sharing among federal, state, international, and private sector partners. Each Cyber Storm event builds on lessons learned from previous exercises and real world incidents, ensuring that participants address relevant and timely challenges.
Cyber Storm exercises give the cyber incident response community a safe venue to coordinate and practice plans, response mechanisms and recovery tasks, as well as to build and maintain relationships. Most importantly, the exercises provide the community with the opportunity to identify strengths and areas for improvement, incorporating those lessons into operations to help reduce cyber risks to the nation.
The high-level objectives of Cyber Storm VI include:
  • Exercise the coordination mechanisms and evaluate the effectiveness of the National Cyber Incident Response Plan (NCIRP) in guiding response.
  • Assess information sharing to include thresholds, paths, timeliness, usefulness of information shared, and barriers to sharing both internally and externally within the cyber incident response community.
  • Continue to examine the role, functions, and capabilities of DHS as the Department coordinates with impacted entities during a cyber event.
  • Provide a forum for exercise participants to exercise, evaluate, and improve the processes, procedures, interactions, and information sharing mechanisms within their organization or community of interest
Cyber Storm VI is scheduled for Spring 2018. The exercise will focus on the critical manufacturing and transportation sectors, with participation from the information technology and communications sectors; law enforcement, defense, and intelligence agencies; state, local, and territorial governments; and international partners. For more information, email
To review the final reports from previous Cyber Storm exercises, visit

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Public sentiment and discourse about Zika virus on Instagram

The Aedes aegypti mosquito spreads the Zika virus, as well as dengue fever and chikungunya.

Instagram can be used to identify incorrect information about health issues and help health professionals correct misleading or incomplete information. University of Pennsylvania researchers in the September 2017 issue of Public Health showed how using keywords or hashtags public health professionals can get real-time information about public preparedness and response to diseases.

The researchers used the keyword #zika to identify 500 images posted on Instagram from May to August 2016 about public sentiment on the Zika outbreak. They found that 60% of relevant posts included misleading, incomplete or unclear information about the virus and many images (51%) expressed fear and negative sentiment.

Of the 500 images tagged with #zika, 342 (68%) contained content actually related to Zika. Of the 342 images, 299 were coded as ‘health” and 193 were coded as ‘public interest’. 

Health images related mainly to transmission (43%) and prevention (48%). Transmission-related posts were more about mosquito-to-human transmission rather than human-to-human transmission. Mosquito bite prevention was more of a concern than safe sex prevention. The most targeted audience were women (36 of 38 images).

Images were coded by three reviewers who collected contextual information about sentiment, image type, content, audience, geography, reliability and engagement.

Reference: Seltzer, E.K., E. Horst-Martz, M. Lu, R.M. Merchant. (2017). Public sentiment and discourse about Zika virus on Instagram. Public Health. Vol. 150, pp. 170-175. DOI:  Retrieved from


Friday, July 21, 2017

Preparedness tips for a wildfire and for people with disabilities

Prepare Your Home for Wildfire

How Prepared Are You For WildfireWhere there is smoke, there could be fire! Wildfires can occur anywhere, any time of the year, and destroy homes, businesses, and natural resources.

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities Program, more than $1.9 billion was spent on wildfire suppression in 2016.

·         Watching the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s wildfire animation – When the Fire Starts.
·         Reviewing your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to ensure you have the adequate coverage for your property and personal belongings.
·         Removing flammable items, such as firewood piles and portable propane tanks, within 30 feet of all structures and discarding any dry or dead vegetation from up to 100 feet around your home.
·         Learning and practicing evacuation routes from your home or business to an area that is not affected by the wildfire. The best action to protect yourself and your family is to evacuate early and avoid being trapped.  

Wildfires can occur any time of the year, but are especially prevalent during the dry season. Make sure you prepare ahead of time by checking out Prepareathon's How to Prepare for a Wildfire Guide.

Preparedness for Parents

Family Fills Out Emergency PlanHave you heard? National Parents’ Day is Sunday, July 23. In observance of this occasion, we encourage family members to help parents prepare for emergencies. Prepareathon and the Ready Campaign highlight several ways to prepare for the unexpected.

Some of these actions include: 
·         Creating a family emergency communication plan - Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan for how you will connect with each other.
·         Preparing infants and young children for emergencies - Learn the emergency plans for their daycare or school.
·         Getting college-age kids Campus Ready - Gather information on the emergency procedures for their school or dorm.
·         Practicing your emergency response plan - Making emergency plans is great, but practicing your plan by conducting drills will help your family’s response time when seconds count. 

Disasters can be stressful for kids. Try to make emergency planning fun for children in your family. Visit for exciting games, quizzes, and other resources to help young children and teens understand the importance of emergency preparedness. 

Preparedness for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs

Make an Emergency PlanThe 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is Wednesday, July 26. Individuals and caregivers for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs are encouraged to evaluate their necessities in the event of an emergency and create an emergency plan unique to them.

The Ready campaign shares several easy ways to create an emergency plan tailored for specific needs:
·         Collect information – Create a paper copy of the contact information including phone, email, and social media information for your family, friends, caregivers, neighbors and other important people or service providers.
·         Share your emergency plans – Tell your employer and trusted people in your support networks where you keep your emergency supplies, what you need, and how to contact you if the power goes out.
·         Practice Your Plan – Dedicate time to practice your emergency plan with your support network, just as you would with a fire drill.

For more great information on how to make your emergency plan, visit Ready’s Individuals with Disabilities page. 

This information is from the FEMA's Individual and Community Preparedness e-Brief  for July 20, 2017.

HSDL Critical Releases in Homeland Security [July 2017]

Every two weeks, the Homeland Security Digital Library identifies a targeted collection of recently-released documents of particular interest or potential importance. [Login to the HSDL is necessary to open some documents.*]
·         Bad Bots: The Weaponization of Social Media
College of William and Mary; Project on International Peace and Security

·         Big Data: A Twenty-First Century Arms Race
Atlantic Council of the United States. Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security; Thomson Reuters

·         Fentanyl: A Briefing Guide for First Responders
United States. Drug Enforcement Administration

·         How Do Education and Unemployment Affect Support for Violent Extremism?: Evidence From Eight Arab Countries
Brookings Institution. Global Economy and Development

The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) is the nation’s premier collection of homeland security policy and strategy related documents. It supports local, state and federal analysis and decision-making needs and assists academics of all disciplines in homeland defense and security related research. The HSDL provides quick access to thousands of important U.S. policy documents, presidential directives, and national strategy documents as well as specialized resources such as theses and research reports from various universities, organizations and local and state agencies.

*If you received this message and do not have an HSDL account, you may request one. Those with access are automatically subscribed to Critical Releases in Homeland Security.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Prepare your family financially for a disaster

Is Your Family Financially Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

Emergency Financial First Aid KitDeveloping plans and participating in drills are essential emergency preparedness activities. Taking steps to be financially prepared for an emergency is a critical activity in any planning effort.

The Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), a joint publication from Operation Hope, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contains information for you to prepare now for a financial emergency. The guide includes information on obtaining insurance, planning tips and resources to help you manage your finances, and accessing important records to help you recover more quickly should you be affected by a disaster.

Financial Preparedness Resources
·         The EFFAK in EnglishSpanish, and a reader enabled English version that is fillable online. (2015 version)
·         An EFFAK overview slide presentation in English and Spanish.
·         EFFAK checklists and forms in standard and reader enabled/fillable versions.
·         Find out how prepared you are with the Disaster Financial Recovery Score from Operation Hope.

Financial preparedness is one of the many ways to participate in Prepareathon. Register your preparedness actions today at

Get Tech Ready

FEMA App FeaturesHow would you find out if there was an alert in your area? While watching television or listening to the radio may be effective, mobile technology and the Internet have become one of the quickest and most popular ways for Americans to receive emergency information instantly. 

Smartphone alerts and warning apps can make it easier than ever for families, businesses, and individuals to effectively prepare for and recover from disasters. Visit the Ready Campaign’s Get Tech Ready page for tips, such as:
·         Sign up to receive preparedness tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) text message program: text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA).
·         Download the FEMA App to access disaster preparedness tips, obtain weather alerts for up to five locations, and look for open Disaster Recovery Centers along with open shelters. 
·         Store your important documents such as personal and financial records on a secure flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones by having preparedness at your fingertips. Learn more at  

Prepare for Flash Flooding

Prepare Now. Flooding Can Happen Anywhere.Flash floods happen quickly; it is important to recognize whether or not you live in an area prone to flash flooding and how you can prepare in advance.

According to the National Weather Service, the causes of flash flooding include heavy rain, ice or debris jams, and levee or dam failure. These floods exhibit a rapid rise of water over low-lying areas. In some cases, flooding may even occur away from where heavy rain initially fell.

Follow these tips from to make sure you, your family, and your home are prepared for a flash flood:
·         Know your flood risk.
·         Make a flood emergency plan.
·         Consider buying flood insurance.
·         Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there should you need to get to higher ground, the highest level of a building, or to evacuate.
·         Stay tuned to your phone alerts, TV, or radio for weather updates, emergency instructions, or evacuation orders.

For more flood safety information, download Prepareathon’s How to Prepare for a Flood guide.

Important Dates to Remember

·         July 31-August 1: Campus Safety Conference West
·         August 1: National Night Out

Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services, or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting

Friday, March 24, 2017