Contact Us For A Demo

Archive for the ‘Computer Equipment’ Category

Cyber Safety in College

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Part 3 of a 3-Part Series 

Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. It also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies.

Campus Safety Recap

In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety. Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus. To help college students stay safe while attending college, we are doing a three-part blog series about campus safety.

Password protection is crucial to cyber security.

In part one, we offered helpful tips for keeping students safe relative to fire. Part two focused on personal safety while in college. For this final entry, we cover college safety relative to cyber security.

Cyber Safety

Each year, college IT departments deal with hundreds or thousands of new and returning students who show up with laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets—all of which need to connect to the campus network. This is a scary proposition where online security is concerned, so students should prepare to eliminate risks, both for their own safety as well as that of their college.

Most college students today are infinitely more familiar with computer equipment than most of their parents and grandparents. Unfortunately, this familiarity can breed contempt, as most assume that cybercrime happens to other, less computer-savvy people. In fact, they are often referred to as “the click generation,” because they are so quick to click on website links and social media before considering the consequences. Another habit that puts them and their computers at risk is the sheer number of hours they spend online.

Cyber The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has an aggressive cyber security branch, which focuses on cyberspace and its underlying infrastructure, both of which are vulnerable to a wide range of risk—stemming from both physical and cyber threats and hazards. Sophisticated cyber actors and nation-states exploit vulnerabilities to steal information and money and are developing capabilities to disrupt, destroy, or threaten the delivery of essential services. The DHS current cyber security campaign, Stop. Think. Connect encourages Internet users of all ages to take responsibility for their own cyber safety.

Here are five tips to follow, to help keep college kids cyber safe:

  1. Keep a Clean Machine—Utilize malware software. Run regular security scans. Scan every device before inserting into a computer. Think twice before inserting an unknown flash drive into any computer. Not only should the source who provided the flash drive be trustworthy, but his or her cyber habits should be beyond reproach.
  2. Protect Personal Info—Secure accounts with strong passwords. Change passwords often. Don’t write them on Post-it notes placed next to the machine. Set stringent security protocols on laptops, tablets, phones and desktop computers. Hackers and identity thieves can only access information provided over the Web. Stick to online activity that doesn’t require full name or contact information unless you are using a trusted site for online purchases, such as PayPal, eBay or and Amazon. Be skeptical of an unknown site that asks for email, credit card number or home address.
  3. Connect with Care—Refrain from clicking hyperlinks sent in emails. Avoid doing anything of a personal nature while using a public hotspot. Make sure connections are secure (encrypted) whenever doing online banking or paying bills. And even while using a trusted social media platform, avoid revealing items of a personal nature such as school name, favorite hangout spot, and make/model of your car.
  4. Be Web Wise—If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Students should think twice before ordering online from an unknown vendor. Trust your gut. Use only trusted websites. Keep abreast of known Internet threats. Think before typing or clicking.
  5. Be a Good Online Citizen—Apply the *Golden Rule to everything done online. Help fight cybercrime by reporting anything unusual to the Department of Homeland Security .
  6. Check your school’s systems. Students should also contact campus safety department and IT department for best practices and tips recommended for their specific institution’s systems.

*Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Remember that safety in the 3D world, as well as cyberspace, is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Would you be prepared for a Cyber Attack?  

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Cyber Security on the Mechanism of Metal Gears.

While we usually cover safety issues relative to incidents such as falls, earthquakes, or fire, the damages of failing to observe cyber-security safety protocols—which although not life threatening— can be equally devastating. Cybersecurity Awareness Month is observed in October, and is designed to raise awareness about the risks of electronic data and information breaches that can happen to individuals, companies and organizations.

Last week, the focus of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015 was on the “smart world,” meaning all of the internet-connected devices that exist — from phones to thermostats. This week looks at building the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, with an emphasis on promoting education and awareness to spark interest in the field. Education is essential for companies that want to protect their critical data from hackings and/or breaches.

Tips for Business Owners

Up to 95% of breaches are caused by human error. So, it is vitally important to train employees, first by giving them context, so they understand the consequences of data breaches and hacking incidents. Then, employers can guide them about best practices such as protecting passwords, carefully guarding data relative to outside agents, avoiding phishing scams, and adhering to data storage policies. Empower employees to alert management when something seems suspicious or odd such as when someone from graphic design requests company financial data for something other than an infographic. Also, make sure staff members are careful not to post sticky notes with passwords on their monitors.

Additional best practices include:

  • Set automatic updates. Instruct IT to program automatic operating system and software updates, so the latest virus definitions and security protocols are always in place. Asking staff to perform these tasks manually opens you up to risks.
  • Establish login tracking. Login monitoring should be in place to spot external access attempts and identify employees who are accessing sensitive information or data outside their purview.
  • Set a security “fence” around sensitive data. A company’s most important data (for example, personal customer information) should be protected behind a company firewall at all times. Restrict access to this data to a select few staff members. Also, make sure it is protected from potential download to personal devices or hard drives.

Tips for individuals to protect data and avoid cybersecurity issues:

  • Follow password procedures. Using “12345” or “password” for computer passwords is not recommended. Staff members should be trained about methods for selecting strong passwords and protecting sensitive documents.
  • Avoid storing data locally. News stories often recount employees losing laptops or thumb drives, with the device contents being used for illegal purposes. Discourage individuals from storing sensitive data directly on their devices. For greater security, instruct them, instead, to access data online.
  • Protect mobile devices. Employers increasingly allow employees to use their own devices to check email and access work data. Before approving this practice, instruct employees about methods for wiping their devices if they are lost or stolen. For maximum protection, establish and follow written “bring-your-own-device” procedures.
  • Don’t download unapproved software. Malware and other nasty computer bugs often reside in seemingly innocuous software. Beware of employees downloading free PDF-maker tools from the web. This software could be a launching pad for an attack. Staff should only download IT-approved software or apps to either their computer or mobile devices.
  • Don’t click on unknown links. Many businesses are targeted with official looking emails that provide an “important link.” Clicking on the link could infect the user’s computer, which can then travel throughout the employer’s network. Encourage employees to run suspicious emails by the IT department for a thorough review and safe deletions.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think about disaster planning all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Allied Universal Corp Blog Announces Exciting Development

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

SnipImage

Allied Universal Online Training Now Compatible with an iPad

Property managers and fire life safety professionals spoke and we have listened, by implementing noteworthy changes to our online training software. Subscribers can now easily access safety training via iPads in addition to their laptops and desktop computers.

With the mission to “save lives through training,” the Allied Universal System was developed to help building owners and property managers provide a cost effective, user friendly way to comply with fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly (with display-quality certificates) for completing online safety training. Thanks to our new update, this training is accessible not only via desktop or laptop computer but also on an iPad, or even an iPhone!

 “We are thrilled to be able to provide a tool that helps property managers get the job done! Offering iOS-compatible modules will improve safety training options for property managers, offering tenants accessible life-saving training for their employees who would otherwise go unprepared,” says Director of Allied Universal Kimber Westmore. “We are passionate about training because it saves lives.”

SnipImage (1)By and large, millennial and entrepreneurial tenants tend to prefer open concept working environments. The Allied Universal Training System is perfect for this professional trend for several reasons:

      • When users are sharing space and do not want to cause a distraction to their colleagues, the animated training can be muted and the text-on-screen option can be chosen.
  • Millennials typically do not hold to a 9-5 workday, choosing to use iPads in a coffeehouse or otherwise out of the office. Access to material that’s available via iPad around the clock makes our training more user-friendly.
  • Millennials typically prefer training online and on demand videos to attending expensive seminars or reading textbooks or training manuals. The Allied Universal Training System enables users to learn on-demand in short, entertaining modules.

Upper view of business people around table

Rest assured, however, that the Allied Universal Training System is not geared exclusively to the younger generation.

Our system has been designed to meet the needs of property managers and their tenants in all age groups and from all walks of life. In fact, it allows property management companies to manage a single site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system. It can also be used to train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. All user training and testing is documented, and material is always readily available, offering quick access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources.

“People love our training,” says Director of Operations Lora Sargeant. “We continue to grow and we add modules and features on request because we want to make sure that we continue to remain at the forefront of online safety training. The more people who take advantage of our training, the more lives that can be saved.”

We hope this blog post will motivate you to do whatever it takes to #BeSafe. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about our system, or to subscribe, click here.

Smartphone Apps for Disaster Preparation and Recovery

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Worldwide, disasters affect an average 450 million people at a cost of $17.6 billion. If we’ve learned nothing else from recent disasters such as the Colorado floods, Hurricane Sandy, and active shooter incidents at Sandy Hook and the Naval Shipyard, we’ve discovered that one of the most important tools for preparing for and recovering from disasters is two-way communication.

So, while social media platforms such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest were originally conceived as ways for people to interact socially, they have emerged as integral tools for emergency management and disaster response. The newest social media tools and arguably, the most cost effective for managing disasters and emergencies are Smartphone apps.

According to social media guru Zoe Fox of Mashable:

  • One in five Americans has used an emergency app.
  • 76% of Americans affected by natural disasters have used social media to contact friends and family
  • 44% have asked their online communities to contact responders
  • 37% have used social media to help find shelter and supplies
  • 24% used social media to let loved ones know they’re safe
  • 25% have downloaded disaster apps

Here is just a small sampling of the thousands of disaster preparedness and emergency management Smartphone apps available to download for a maximum price of $5.99:

  • Are You Ready? Helps prepare users to pass the FEMA IS-22 exam so they can receive an official FEMA certificate of completion.
  • BioAgent Facts from the Center for Biosecurity of the University Pittsburgh Medical Center provides facts about pathogens that could cause serious disease resulting from a natural epidemic or use as a biological weapon.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) app and web page provides health and safety information related to emergencies and disasters.
  • Clinicians’ Biosecurity Resource from the Center for Biosecurity of the University Pittsburgh Medical Center provides clinicians with detailed information and recommended treatments for the most dangerous potential bio weapons.
  • Disaster Alert developed by Pacific Disaster Center provides access to information in both a list and on an interactive map about active hazards occurring around the globe.
  • Disaster Prep features an Emergency Preparedness Checklist and Guide. The app provides users a means to collect necessary information.
  • Disaster Preparedness for the Family is an eGuide which has an all-hazards overview of disaster information to help families prepare so they can provide for their family’s most basic needs during a disaster.
  • Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mobile enhanced web page identifies nearby industrial facilities and toxic chemical releases as reported through the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program.
  • ERS: Emergency Response and Salvage from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training outlines critical stages of disaster response for damage to collections and significant records.
  • FEMA app and mobile enhanced web page provide government disaster response information.
  • First Aid from the American Red Cross provides free lifesaving first aid instruction and disaster preparedness information including videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice.
  • FluView developed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks influenza-like illness activity levels across the U.S.
  • Hands-Only™ CPR from the American Heart Association provides quick instructions for CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths.
  • JusticeMobile gives officers direct access to criminal information. The app was tested by 600 San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers and will soon be available across the state, including 3,600 Los Angeles Police Department officers.
  • Know Your Plan features property protection guidance from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety which contains disaster preparedness checklists for hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, severe winter weather and evacuations. It also gives the option of setting up reminders to complete a task, tracking progress and customizing and sharing checklists with social networks.
  • LactMed from the National Library of Medicine app provides access information about maternal and infant drug levels and possible effects of vaccines and radiologic agents on lactation and on breastfed infants.
  • LibraryFloods from the National Library of Medicine covers basic steps for recovering collections after a water emergency in your library.
  • MedlinePlus mobile enhanced web page from the National Library of Medicine provides access to consumer-oriented health information on disaster topics in English and Spanish.
  • Mobile Medical Unit Field Operations Guide was developed for the Northern New England Metropolitan Response System but is applicable to other response teams such as MRC, CERT, DMAT and others. The app contains access to packing lists, deployment guidelines, treatment reference, and more.
  • National Weather Service mobile enhanced web page provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States.
  • NFPA 1600 developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), provides a foundation for disaster and emergency management planning. The entire text is fully searchable and contains active links and phone numbers for NFPA and other agencies involved with emergency management programs, risk mitigation and response.
  • OutbreaksNearMe provides real-time, searchable disease outbreak information for your neighborhood on interactive maps.
  • Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association provides quick, concise and clear first aid and CPR instructions from a user’s Smartphone.
  • PubMed Mobile from the National Library of Medicine provides access to more than 21 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.
  • REMM (Radiation Emergency Medical Management) from the National Library of Medicine provides guidance about clinical diagnosis and treatment of radiation injuries during radiological and nuclear emergencies.
  • Shelter Finder displays open Red Cross shelters and their current population on an easy to use map interface.
  • SOS app from the American Red Cross provides step-by-step video narration and follow demonstrations allowing people to quickly and confidently respond to common emergency situations with the goal of saving lives.
  • UbAlert — Disaster Alert Network is a global social network that operates to save lives by sharing the knowledge of the world’s citizens with those in danger.
  • WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) from the National Library of Medicine assists first responders in Hazmat incidents, with features including substance identification support, containment and suppression advice, and medical treatment information.

It would be virtually impossible to compile a list of each and every available disaster preparation or emergency management app, as new applications are in development each and every day. But the point is that apps aren’t going away. If you have a Smartphone, you have access to a virtually unlimited number of resources to help you before, during and after a manmade or natural disaster.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Global Law Enforcement Tweet-a-thon

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Since being founded in 2006, Twitter has evolved from a virtual gathering place teenagers casually discuss fashion and celebrity news to a 175,000,000-member platform used by law enforcement and emergency management professionals worldwide to share best practices and educate the public about disaster preparedness and recovery. Celebrating the medium, police agencies around the world will connect via Twitter on March 22 to participate in a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon beginning at 8 a.m. EST.

The Global Police Tweet-a-thon is sponsored by Cops.net. So far, 90 agencies have signed up to participate. And there is still plenty of time for interested parties to register. All that’s required to enter is submission of agency name, contact information and time zone. Just email the founder of LAWS Communications, lauri@lawscomm.net. All agencies will use the same hashtag, which is yet to be determined, in order to call attention to police work and issues that police officers face as well as promote the use of social media in police work.

“We hope to send (a message) to non-law enforcement that their police officers are up to speed with social media, and that they should use social media to talk with police officers and to be stewards of public safety,” explained event organizer Lauri Stevens.

Over the years, numerous police agencies have held tweet-a-thons or tweet-the-beat events to create awareness of police work and call attention to related issues. So far, early entries are from all across the United States as well as Canada and the UK.

One state that understands the importance of relying on social media in times of crisis is Louisiana, where the Chief of Police in Thibodaux said he’s promoting transparency in policing actions and furthering proactive social media integration. A 2012 University of Maryland report called “Social Media Use during Disasters,” revealed detailed information about the public’s use of social media, both generally and during specific disasters, and addressed what prompts the public to use social media during disasters as well as what deters such consumption.

The report includes specific examples of social media consumption during key catastrophic events including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The case studies provide insights into how the public uses social media and other media, including preliminary lessons learned from these notable events. Most experts agree that if Hurricane Katrina had occurred after Twitter caught on, the exchange of information between victims and public agency officials likely would have been greatly improved.

Louisiana Police Chief Scott Silveri said his agency “will participate in the tweet-a-thon because (we) hope that other agencies break from the reactive isolationist nature of traditional law enforcement, and begin realizing the benefits of sharing timely and relevant information through social media.”

To participate in the Tweet-a-thon, email Lauri Stevens at lauri@lawscomm.net with agency name, contact name and email address. Then mark your calendar for March 22 and don’t forget to tweet! When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

More Smartphone Security Tips

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series

This week, we continue our coverage about Smartphone security by focusing on the final five steps you should take to safeguard your cellphone. For the first five tips, check out our previous post. Most people guard their computers more carefully than their mobile phones. So a good rule of thumb is to treat your Smartphone as a very powerful mini-computer that makes phone calls.

Most Smartphone owners store lots of sensitive data. And chaos ensues if a thief gets his or her hands on the data. If you take steps to protect your phone, losing it will be a minor annoyance instead of a major catastrophe.

Here are the final 5 steps you should take to safeguard your Smartphone (the first five tips appear in last week’s post):

6. Close Bluetooth connections.

When a hacker exploits an open Bluetooth connection, it’s called Bluejacking, Bluesnarfing or Bluebugging. This type of hack requires intruders to be in close proximity to the phone they are hacking (within 30 feet of the device). But be aware that your Smartphone could be hacked via the active Bluetooth connection whenever you’re in a busy airport, hotel lobby, restaurant, or hotel…to name a few hacker hotspots.

7. Make sure the free apps you download are actually free.

Some Apps that are labeled “free,” but are actually thinly-disguised data theft devices. Downloading one of these applications gives the app complete access to your phone. Thieves can use the app to steal data such as credit card and bank account info. What’s more, these apps can turn your phone into a launch pad which scammers use to attack other peoples’ data relative to SMS text messages and Smishing scams. Be smart and discreet about what you download. Read reviews first. And make sure the apps you download come from reliable sources.

8. Don’t store sensitive data.

Do you store passwords, pins, Social Security numbers, credit card or bank account information on your Smartphone? If so, delete it all today. Whether you have created a document expressly for this purpose, or sent yourself an email from your home computer, you should never store important information on your phone. Criminals are adept at detecting hidden information such as credit card numbers hidden inside Contact notes or entered as phone numbers.  Believe it or not, even if you try to disguise sensitive data, adept thieves will be able to crack the code. So make sure you delete all documents and emails containing sensitive information.

9. Clear browser histories.

Not clearing the browser history on your phone can be just as dangerous as staying logged into the website of your bank or your favorite online store. Phone thieves could use your browsing history to hijack accounts, steal your money and wreak havoc on your financial future. Here are links that walk you through deleting your history on an iPhone or an Android.

10. When in doubt, purge it out.

You might be surprised by how many people fail to remove sensitive personal data from their Smartphones before exchanging, donating or selling it. The only way to entirely eliminate the data on your phone would be to physically shred the device. If this sounds a little severe to you, you may prefer securely deleting the data, which is relatively easy to do.

Your identity is your most important asset. So take precautionary steps to vigorously defend and protect it. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

How to Avoid Spear Phishing Cyber Attacks

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Is your computer information secure?

According to Fox News, White House sources “partly confirmed” an alarming report that U.S. government computers—reportedly including systems used by the military for nuclear commands—were breached by Chinese hackers earlier this month.

“This was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network,” a White House official assured FoxNews.com. “These types of attacks are not infrequent and we have mitigation measures in place.”

Although a law enforcement official who works with members of the White House Military Office confirmed the Chinese attack to FoxNews.com, as of the writing of this blog post, it remains unclear what information, if any, was taken or left behind in the attack, which occurred through an opened email.

TechTarget.com defines a “spear phishing attack” as “an e-mail spoofing fraud attempt that targets a specific organization, seeking unauthorized access to confidential data. Spear phishing attempts are not typically initiated by “random hackers” but are more likely to be conducted by perpetrators out for financial gain, trade secrets or military information.”

While we have devoted previous Allied Universal blog space to discuss cyber security as it relates to password encryption and security software, we have yet to share information to help our clients and friends take precautions with technological protection as it pertains to email. So, today, in an effort to continue providing helpful information for disaster preparation, let us take a few minutes to offer a few helpful hints which, if observed, should keep your computer running smoothly and safeguard proprietary information.

First, it is worthwhile to note that routine email phishing schemes differ from spear-phishing attacks in that spear phishing messages appear to come from a trusted source such as a large and well-respected company or website with a broad membership base, such as eBay or PayPal. On the other hand, with spear phishing, the source of the email is constructed to look as though it came from within the recipient’s own company…usually a person of authority within the organization.

The Computer Crime Research Center reports that a West Point teacher and National Security Agency expert named Aaron Ferguson emailed a message to 500 cadets asking them to click a link to verify their grades. Ferguson’s message appeared to come from a West Point colonel. More than 80% of recipients who received the message clicked through, receiving a notification that they had been duped and their failure to exercise caution before clicking could have resulted in downloads to the West Point computer system of spyware, Trojan horse and/or other malware.

Although most people have learned enough about computer use to proceed with caution when opening emails from unknown sources and in responding to unexpected requests for confidential information. We’ve all heard horror stories about Nigerian emails asking for large cash deposits to “help rescue loved ones from African prisons.” We’ve also learned, by and large, to avoid divulging personal data inside email messages—which can be hacked or clicking on links in messages unless we are positive about their source.

However, the average person is ill-equipped to recognize forged emails that seemingly come from people we trust because spear phishing is sophisticated. That’s how employees of Sony managed to unwittingly give away private information regarding their PlayStation Network, Epsilon data was recently breached, and several credit card companies and financial institutions have had to mail apologetic notices to their customer base.

The success of any spear phishing scam generally depends on three things:

  1. The apparent source must appear to be known and trusted.
  2. The information within the message supports its validity.
  3. The request makes sense.

So what can you do to avoid being caught unaware?

  • The FBI recommends that you keep in mind that most companies, banks, agencies, etc., don’t request personal information via e-mail. If in doubt, give them a call instead of clicking through the email link. (But don’t use the phone number contained in the e-mail which is usually phony.)
  • Do not provide personal information, such as a password, a credit card number or any data that can be used to unlock an application or network, in reply to an email.
  • Use a phishing filter. Many of the latest web browsers have built-in security software or offer the utility as a plug-in.
  • Learn to recognize what your security software warning messages look like. If you get something that looks similar but appears to be a bit “off,” delete the email and block the sender.
  • Never follow a link to a secure site from an email. Instead, enter the URL manually into the address bar of your web browser.
  • Report suspicious emails to your tech department on a regular basis. Tell employees to call security about anything suspicious and train them not to forward bogus emails.
  • Do not open suspicious attachments. When it doubt, block it out.
  • If your firm is ever victim to a successful spear phishing attack, assess the damage and recover. Eradicating the malicious software won’t be easy. You will have to backtrack to a clean starting point of your system before it was corrupted.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system.

The Use of Robots in Disasters

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires and hurricanes are part and parcel for life on planet Earth. Experts handle the threats of these emergency situations with careful preparation as well as immediate mitigation and abatement. Nevertheless, as evidenced by devastation resulting from the recent tornadoes and wildfires in Colorado, hurricanes in the Atlantic and earthquakes along the Pacific Northwest, we are already well on our way to a dangerous tipping point in our ability to sufficiently and safely respond to and recover from disasters.

To address the problem, engineers have built special tools to manage disasters of many kinds…via robots. Robots of many kinds are already widely used in certain emergency situations:

  • Specially designed robots have legs built to navigate mountainous terrain and move injured firefighters out of harm’s way.
  • Some robots are built to treats oil spills on the spot, without using harsh chemical dispersants. Robots release bacteria which gobble up oil and use a sonic emitter to keep ocean wildlife away from the fray.
  • Researchers are working to network the various robots and sensor systems first responders use so that they can react more quickly and efficiently in emergencies to search for victims and survivors.
  • MIT researchers Jean-Jacques Slotine and Patrick Bechon coordinated the behavior of eight dancing humanoid robots by having the bots send information to—and get information from—an external computer server. This development is important because it will allow robots to work together, in teams, for emergency response in places that are unsafe for humans.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers boasts a team which has built a highly maneuverable robotic bomb detection system, which is capable of distinguishing between a grenade and a tin can.
  • Drug-dispensing robots can quickly prepare intravenous medications in sterile environments. This technology is useful in cases of quarantine.
  • Specifically-designed mining robots lead search & rescue efforts following mining cave-ins.
  • Japanese officials deployed wheeled and snake-like robots to assist emergency responders in the search for survivors of the 2011 earthquakes and tsunami.
  • Researcher Eiji Koyanagi of the Chiba Institute of Technology’s Future Robotics Technology Center created a robot called Quince that can probe hazardous sites after a disaster. The robot rolls on treads and can sense chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear dangers in areas that firefighters can’t reach. With an onboard camera, Quince can move about 5.2 feet per second.
  • The Institute of Technology in Tokyo designed a serpentine machine that is capable of slithering around debris. The robot uses a thermographic camera designed to detect body heat under rubble.
  • The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced in April the creation of an ambitious robotics program aimed at revolutionizing disaster response robots.
  • The United States’ military has created a water-to-land machine which is capable of moving cargo containers and a support module with ready-made electricity. The vehicles are called Captive Air Amphibious Transporters.
  • American military personnel count future disaster relief operations to include parachuting robots and swimming tractors capable of delivering huge cargo containers to shore. Such technologies designed by the U.S. military could offload needed humanitarian supplies from cargo ships without nearby ports or specialized military ships.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW Allied Universal Property Messaging System is included FREE for all Allied Universal Online Training System users. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information.

Disaster Recovery for Electronic Data

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Have you included your computer files in disaster planning?

To recover from any type of disaster, the best prescription is often done on the front end—with proper planning. But when it comes to disasters such as major earthquakes or hurricanes, there is only so much you can do to prevent damage. On the other hand, when it comes to your electronic data, there are many concrete steps you can take to safeguard your data. Unfortunately, many businesses do not take these steps in order to back up their data.

Before you begin to plan, you need to establish what types of data you possess and where it is:

  • Talk to IT and other departments to sort through all of the data that you possess. For some businesses, the data can be strewn all over the place. Sales contact information might be kept on a manager’s thumb drive while product specs are simply on an engineer’s local hard drive. Work out what you have and then give each subset of data a priority number.
  • Once the data is identified, appoint some staff members to be in charge of monitoring and caring for the data.
  • A next step is to review your current capabilities. Do you have any type of backup system for files, intellectual property or email?

Creating a sound disaster recovery plan is the next crucial step:

  • Think about the various likely types of disaster in your area and how they relate to your technical infrastructure. If you have an on-premises data center, make sure it has backup power and other safeguards.
  • Your data recovery plan should be flexible to account for changes in your business as well as new technologies. If you merge with another company or open a new division, would your IT staff be able to quickly integrate new data?
  • Replacement of hardware is an important part of your plan. Talk with your IT staff about the likely usable life of servers and computers and put them on a schedule for replacement in order to prevent failures.
  • Practice makes perfect!  Find ways to simulate the loss of data to properly test both your IT staff and any third-party vendors.

Over the course of business, it’s very likely you have heard about companies and services moving their disaster recovery needs “to the cloud:”

  • Cloud computing simply means that data and services are stored and powered by off-site servers, so companies don’t need on-premises equipment. It can cut down on costs and is able to provide storage on the fly.
  • Backing up your data to a cloud platform allows it to be securely accessed even if your company’s physical location is destroyed.
  • Do some research and pick a cloud provider that has its own backup data center. If they only have one, and it goes down, then your protection is limited!
  • Another option is to hire a company to pickup backup tapes on a regular basis and transport them offsite. But this method is outdated. Companies need information immediately following disasters. Unfortunately, retrieving data from backup tapes can take days.

With disaster recovery planning, it’s important to consider your data. As more and more companies become internet-based, their data and intellectual property is often many times more valuable than their physical assets.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.