Weely Update: FTC Hack, 2012 Disaster Insurance Predictions, Drug Shortages, 911 Outages

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CONTINUOUS BREAKINGAnonymous Continues Attacks – Targets US and Foreign Government Websites – Symantec warns: Disable pcAnywhere

 This story stream is powered by the Firestorm Storify account, and will be updated as new information and events unfold.  Check back often.

Anonymous targets OnGuardOnline.gov: In a post on Twitter by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which runs OnGuardOnline.gov, the FTC stated that their partnership site was hacked and that they take this malicious act seriously. In a follow up tweet they stated that the site was taken offline and would be brought back up once they were satisfied that the vulnerability has been addressed > Story Stream


This week’s contributors:



HEADLINE: Anti-infective drug shortages pose threat to public health and patient care 

SUMMARY: A review published in Clinical Infectious Diseases stated that shortages of key drugs used to fight infections represent a public health emergency. Frequent anti-infective shortages can substantially alter clinical care and may lead to worse outcomes for patients, since physicians are forced to use other drugs that may not work as well. Of the 193 medications unavailable in the United States at the time of the analysis, 13 percent were anti-infective drugs. “Anti-infectives often represent irreplaceable life-saving treatments,” the authors noted, and hospitalized patients are particularly vulnerable in an era when such shortages often last months and are occurring more frequently.

STORY LINK: http://esciencenews.com/articles/2012/01/22/anti.infective.drug.shortages.pose.threat.public.health.and.patient.care

ANALYSIS: Anti-infective drugs are described by the FDA as those used for “treatment of infectious diseases and disorders.”  These range from well known antibiotics to over the counter topical medications available in most every supermarket.  The specific concern here is over those antibiotics used to combat life-threatening diseases.  The reality is the market does not adequately support the uninterrupted supply of some medications.  Strict but necessary manufacturing standards, challenges in maintaining quality, and the unpredictable nature of the need (disease outbreaks do not follow a production schedule) contribute to this situation.  Many drugs are produced in a single or dual location; a disruption in manufacturing at one locale can produce a global shortfall.

This conundrum lies at the heart of the debate about healthcare reform.  How do we ensure availability while controlling costs?  What role should the government play?  Can a profit making entity be forced to produce product at cost or at a loss?  It will be a long time before these issues are resolved, if ever.  In the interim, guidelines on staying healthy and preventing disease can reduce the risk of needing these drugs.  The oft-repeated advice on healthy eating, adequate rest, good nutrition, staying home when ill (and allowing that if you are a school or employer), proper food preparation, and frequent hand washing and surface cleaning will limit the possibility of needing one of these drugs.

HEADLINEHow Gen X Reacted to the H1N1 Pandemic

Study: More Educated About Influenza Most Likely To Get Vaccinated Against H1N1

SUMMARY:  In April 2009, the CDC identified a new virus in humans: H1N1, or what was then called swine flu. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global H1N1 pandemic in June, and by October 2009, the first doses of an H1N1-specific vaccine were administered. A study published Tuesday looks at how Americans in their thirties reacted to the availability of a vaccine. In all, about one in five of those in Generation X got the H1N1 vaccine during the 2009-2010 pandemic, according to the researcher’s analysis of survey data.  The CDC estimates that between April 2009 and February 2010 approximately 265,000 people were hospitalized and 12,000 died in the United States alone due to H1N1 influenza.

STORY LINK: http://www.ktvz.com/health/30285054/detail.html

ANALYSIS: There used to be a television advertising campaign that featured the tag line “the more you know…”  This is the case for immunization in general and for influenza vaccinations specifically.  The numbers clearly speak for themselves.

Tens of millions vaccinated worldwide with very few adverse reactions, versus between tens of thousands and millions (depending on the strain) dying globally from influenza and flu-related causes.  Reasons for avoiding vaccinations range from religious objections to faulty information to a general suspicion of government and industry.

The 2009 H1N1 outbreak had a relatively small impact.  Other pandemics have exacted a far greater toll (the worst being the 1918-9 so called “Spanish Flu” pandemic).  The question remains would a 20% vaccination rate be sufficient to stop the spread of a deadly virus?  Individually, faced with a highly deadly strain – the death rate for H5N1 exceeds 50%, would you choose to be that one in five or among the 80% with no protection?


HEADLINE: Nevada County loses 911 connections

SUMMARY:  Much of Nevada County, California, lost cell phone and Internet service January 21 after a fiber optic cable was damaged when a car knocked down a telephone pole. The fibers carried cellular phone calls, Internet service, and some phone landlines. The outage also crippled 911 services. Emergency calls from working land lines were routed to the Placer County Sheriff Department, where dispatchers relayed information to local authorities by two-way radios. Grass Valley police, the California Highway Patrol, and Nevada County Sheriffs set up an impromptu communication center in a grocery store parking lot to share information and coordinate responses. Cal Fire’s dispatch center in Grass Valley was also impacted. The center dispatches fire and ambulance services for Nevada County, Truckee, and Tahoe, plus portions of two other counties. AT&T estimated the damage would be repaired January 22.

STORY LINK: http://www.kcra.com/r/30271333/detail.html

ANALYSIS: The January 21st incident that resulted in much of Nevada County, California, losing lifesaving 911 Call Center service, following an automobile accident that damaged fiber optic cable which provided the essential IT backbone for connectivity, suggests Nevada County should place greater emphasis on call center redundancy that focuses on keeping the 911 Call Center on-line in the face of an emergency, or having a contingency plan that would enable the 911 calls to be transferred to a neighboring call center with the capacity to seamlessly manage the increased emergency call volume. Continuity in call center operations requires foresight and deliberate planning to build redundancy into standard operations. Call center directors and managers, with the support of elected officials charged with public safety, must establish and cultivate relationships that are formalized with a Memorandum of Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding, with neighboring call centers to share resources should one call center become disabled.

When cultivating a relationship with a neighboring or back-up call center, consideration must be given to ensure the back-up call center has the infrastructure and capacity to manage the increased call volume. Transferring 911 calls to a back-up call center that does not have the capability to manage increased calls may ultimately result in both call centers being catastrophically disabled.

Call center staff and operators must be involved in call center contingency planning and training to effectively implement contingency operations and procedures in the event of a crisis or disaster that results in a transition of calls to a back-up or neighboring call center. Staff members must be cross-trained to work with neighboring call centers, and as Hurricane Katrina taught us, disaster plans must be developed to allow staff members to plan for the well-being of their families, as well as, developing organizational disaster and emergency plans.

The planning assumption for a disaster is that available staff will likely be reduced to 50% of the required operational strength. Logistics planning must also be considered to ensure staff members who work for extended periods have the necessary life support resources to ensure their effectiveness. The standard or routine level of service should not be diminished upon transitioning to a redundant capability. The goal is to ensure the level of service remains the same; no unanswered 911 calls, or interruptions in service.


Suzanne Rhulen Loughlin, Co-Founder, Firestorm

HEADLINEPolice: Joliet man threatened to kill Social Security staff

SUMMARY: A Joliet, Illinois man upset with reductions to his benefits allegedly threatened to kill employees at a Social Security Administration (SSA) office in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, the Joliet Herald-News reported January 22. The DHS took the man’s reported threats seriously enough to have local police obtain a warrant for his arrest. SSA employees notified the DHS and because of the man’s criminal history, federal agents asked Joliet police to pursue the case. A detective obtained an arrest warrant against the man with a $100,000 bond. He was being sought for harassment by telephone, a Class 4 felony that can carry a 1- to 3-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine.

STORY LINK: http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/news/10139661-418/police-joliet-man-threatened-to-kill-social-security-staff.html   

ANALYSIS:  Social Security employees prevent violence in their workplace”

That could have been the headline for the story below. It wasn’t.  It is rare that we see such “disaster averted“ headlines.  What was the real headline?

“Police: Joliet man threatened to kill Social Security staff”

OK. So I don’t like the headline, but I do like the story.  Employees at the Social Security Administration took a caller’s threats seriously, after he called to complain about a reduction of benefits in his pay check. He became irate at the answers he received.

The employee reported their concern and DHS was notified.  A background check was performed which revealed a criminal history. Although we don’t know the circumstances surrounding his background, undoubtedly that history, combined with the facts that were being assessed by DHS, led them to deem this individual a high risk. Based on this risk assessment, an arrest warrant was obtained and the individual was pursued.  The outcome is unknown at this point, but if such a scenario were to occur in your workplace– with an employee, a customer, a vendor– there are some actions we recommend taking. There are also some lessons to be learned.

While the suspect is being pursued, the employer needs to take security precautions in the workplace to safeguard their workplace and the people within it. Those precautions include having a security plan and monitoring system in place. Additionally, employees need to be trained on how to communicate in the event there is a breach in security. Front desk/visitor reception training is crucial—particularly deescalation techniques to be used both in person and on the phone. Coordination with law enforcement is vital.

The employees at SSA are to be commended for recognizing the threat posed by the caller, and most importantly, for taking steps to report it.  Only where employees at every level are trained on what the warning signs of impending violence are, and what to do when they recognize them, will disasters be averted.

As to how to get the media to write better headlines—that will only happen when our society starts to value ‘good news’ over ‘bad news’—but for now,  only the former sells papers.


HEADLINE: Disaster insurance – Insurance companies predict increase in premiums

SUMMARY: Though all the flood waters have receded and power has been restored, New Jersey homeowners will still have to suffer the consequences of Hurricane Irene. According to insurance industry representatives and analysts, homeowners and businesses will likely see their insurance premiums increase over the next several years as a result of the storm. 

STORY LINK: http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20120126-insurance-companies-predict-increase-in-premiums

ANALYSIS: It ain’t over till it’s over.  Last year’s flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and storms are history. The human and financial impacts remain. It ain’t over. The impacts will last for years to come.

Look for a tightening/hardening market in 2012 with coverages contracting, deductibles rising, and rates/premiums increasing. This change is not an east coast or west coast trend. It is national and global.

2011 set records for damages from disasters in the US and globally. The Homeland Security NewsWire story shows the Hurricane Irene flooding impacts in New Jersey as one example. There are thousands more from 2011. The Red Cross identifies over 70,000 disasters annually in the US alone. The ones that matter most are the ones that happen to you, your family, and your company.

Plans, preparations, training, and exercises will mitigate impacts. Now is the time to measure your company’s status versus best practices and industry standards. Insurance companies’ rates are not the only increase faced. Regulators are increasing pressure on companies to comply. Are you ready? Are you sure? How do you know?

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