As G. Gordon Liddy would say, here is my review of and comment upon the news...
From the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center - Open Source Report
(U) Got Internet?
For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer. Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. After July 9, infected users won't be able to connect to the Internet. Hackers infected a network of probably more than 570,000 computers worldwide. In November, The FBI arrested 5 Estonians who were running a part of the scam. They took advantage of vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows operating system to install malicious software on the victim computers. This turned off antivirus updates and changed the way the computers reconcile website addresses behind the scenes on the Internet's domain name system. Basically, the virus is inflicted on a computer through advertisements which customers were tricked into visiting; the fake website reprogrammed victim computers so that they must rely on rogue, hacker servers for Internet service. This means that hackers can redirect victims‟ computers to fraudulent versions of almost any website. The hackers earned profits from advertisements that appeared on websites that victims were tricked into visiting. The scam netted the hackers at least $14 million, according to the FBI. It also made thousands of computers reliant on the rogue servers for their Internet browsing.
Analysis Note: Most of the victims are probably individual home users, rather than corporations that have technology staffs who routinely check the computers. The malicious software probably has slowed their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems. The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, http://www.dcwg.org/ that will inform them whether they're infected and explain how to fix the problem. The number of victims is hard to pinpoint, initially the FBI believed that at least 568,000 unique Internet addresses were using the rogue servers. As of this March, FBI estimates that the number is down to at least 360,000. The U.S. has the most, about 85,000. Other countries with more than 20,000 each include Italy, India, England and Germany. Smaller numbers are online in Spain, France, Canada, China and Mexico.
If It Hits The Fan's Note: In the overall scheme of things, it is pretty unlikely that you have been affected by this virus, but it might be worth it to visit the FBI partner site. Then again, I don't know that I want to invite the FBI's partner into my computer.
(U) Planning Traffic Routing in No-Notice Disasters
Spontaneous evacuations of New York City and Washington, D.C. following the 9/11 terrorist attacks demonstrated that U.S. cities are not prepared to manage the sudden influx of traffic into roads and highways following a no-notice disaster. The Mineta Transportation Institute has released its newest peer-reviewed research report, A Framework for Developing and Integrating Effective Routing Strategies within the Emergency Management Decision-Support System. It describes the modeling, calibration, and validation of a multi-modal traffic-flow simulation of the San Jose, California, downtown network. It also examines various evacuation scenarios and first-responder routings to assess strategies that would be effective during a no-notice disaster. Other cities can use the models to plan their own emergency traffic routings.
“Spontaneous evacuations of New York City and Washington, D.C. following the 9/11 terrorist attacks demonstrated that U.S. cities are not prepared to manage the sudden influx of traffic into roads and highways following a no-notice disaster,” said Dr. Anurag Pande, one of the study‟s authors. “For many years, anticipated events such as hurricanes have been the basis for evacuation planning. Now we see increasing interest in evacuation planning based on hypothetical no-notice events.” Pande noted that advances in computing technologies have made it possible to simulate urban transportation networks in great detail with programs such as VISSIM, which was used in this study. These traffic simulation models can be used to devise strategies for evacuation and emergency response in the event of a disaster.
The modeled network required a large amount of data on network geometry, signal timings, signal coordination schemes, and turning-movement volumes. Turning-movement counts at intersections were used to validate the network with the empirical formula-based measure known as the GEH statistic. This measure is used in traffic engineering and traffic modeling to compare two sets of traffic volumes. Once the base network was tested and validated, various scenarios were modeled to estimate evacuation and emergency vehicle arrival times. Based on these scenarios, a variety of emergency plans for San Jose's downtown traffic circulation were tested and validated.
The study's authors say that by entering their local data, other communities can leverage this framework to evaluate their own emergency scenarios. The models also can be used to help train emergency responders, who can see the immediate results of specific decisions. They can also help communities plan traffic flow for road closures, construction, major events, and other situations that affect mobility.
Analysis Note: Evacuating major municipal areas efficiently and effectively during emergencies and disasters is a critical task for public safety planners and emergency response leaders. A 2011 study by Texas A&M University finds that the DC metropolitan area is number one in traffic congestion. Last week the INTRIX Traffic Scorecard ranked the DC area as number six in traffic congestion.
If It Hits The Fan's Note: Here in Va. there are preinstalled roadblock gates on the I-64E entrance and exit ramps between the beach and Richmond, about 100 miles. If an evacuation of the coast is ordered, it needs to be decided a couple of days out, and the lane reversal will stop 8 hours before the hurricane makes landfall. That will leave miles of bumper to bumper traffic stopped and stranded on the highway.
Just another example of why it is so important to have your own multiple escape routes rather then depend on official detours.
(U) New Law Allows Mobilizing Reservists to Respond to Natural Disasters
New authority in this year's Defense Department authorization act allows reservists in Air Force Reserve Command and other reserve components to be called to duty in response to natural disasters or emergencies in the homeland. The law also permits mobilizations for extended periods to support theater security missions around the world. An Air Force Reserve Commands release reports that except for a crisis involving a weapon of mass destruction, the reserves historically have been prohibited from providing a homeland disaster response.
State governors can call up the National Guard if a natural disaster is too large for civil authorities to handle. If more forces are needed - as when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005 — active-duty service members became the federal default force. “Our reservists have been asked and often volunteer to assist after disasters hit the homeland,” said Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., chief of Air Force Reserve and AFRC commander. “Mobilizing needed reservists will help sustain their support for longer periods and make operations more efficient. We mobilize reservists to handle contingencies overseas, so it makes sense that we do that to take care of our own country.”
Air Force reservists possess special skill sets to deal with disasters. For example, Hurricane Hunters from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., fly WC-130 reconnaissance missions into tropical storms before the destruction strikes land. After areas are swamped by storms, specially equipped AFRC C-130s can spray for harmful insects that thrive in stagnant waters. C-130 airborne firefighters from Peterson AFB, Colo., in conjunction with three Guard C-130 units, battle wildfires when commercial resources are overwhelmed. In addition to these units, the Air Force Reserve has other reservists and aircraft to shuttle response personnel, supplies and equipment into disaster areas as well as take victims out of harm‟s way. “With this new authority, we will be able to make greater contributions to our nation in times of need,” Stenner said.
The release notes that the inability to help communities has frustrated the chiefs of the reserve components, who see no sense in bypassing local reservists simply because they operate under federal “Title 10” authority and not state “Title 32” authority. “In a lot of cases, there were reserve-component Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who were close at hand with the capabilities needed, but they didn‟t have the authority to act,” said Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of Army Reserve. “Finally, we got the law changed. This new legislation says that now we can use Title 10 reserves.” For these forces to be used, the law specifies that the president must declare an emergency or disaster, and a state governor must request the assistance. Under the new law, some aspects of disaster relief will not change. Civil authorities will remain the first responders. Moreover, if military support is needed, National Guard forces will be the first to step in when called by their state governor. However, if a situation also demands a federal response, reserve forces can step in to assist for up to 120 days.
In order for this new authority to work, “We just have to make sure we have the procedures and processes worked out,” Stultz said. Now, before the authority is actually needed, is the time to get that resolved, he said. “Let‟s not wait until a hurricane hits to say, „How do we do it?‟” he said. Another change in the 2012 authorization act allows Title 10 reservists to be called to duty to support unnamed overseas contingencies. The reserve components have a long history of deploying members for medical, engineering and other missions to support theater engagement and security cooperation efforts. Typically, they perform these missions as part of their annual tour and on a rotational basis with reservists from other units. “With this new authority, now we can send them down for much longer periods of time,” Stultz said. As operations wind down in Afghanistan, Stultz said, he hopes reservists will be more available to support combatant commanders‟ theater engagement campaigns. A hospital unit, for example, could potentially spend three months rather than a few weeks supporting a medical mission in Central or South America, Africa or Asia. In addition, at the end of that three-month period, another reserve unit could rotate in to replace them. This additional capability, Stultz said, would give combatant commanders far more assets to support their engagement strategies across their areas of responsibility, even at a time of dwindling resources. SOURCE
Analysis Note: Civil authorities will remain the first responders. When they need military support, National Guard forces will be the first to step in when called by their state governor. When a situation also demands a federal response, reserve forces can step in to assist for up to 120 days.
If It Hits The Fan's Note: This gives me concern. I am very proud of my service as a U.S. Marine Corps reservist. My unit was activated and served with distinction in combat operations during Desert Storm. Quite a few of us were cops or firefighters for our civilian jobs. We would have been much more useful to our communities during a disaster by staying in service with our local agencies. This article does not mention anything about how reservists will be used in disasters. I see this as an end run around Posse Commitatus, which prohibits U.S. military personnel from being used for civilian law enforcement. It seems to be conveniently left out.