Services blackout a danger
Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano gave her farewell speech last week. She had quite a bit to say, but there was one thing that caught my attention: She warned that a major cyberattack is on the way.
I believe it. Most major U.S. companies have been under siege by hackers during the last 18 months.
Of course, Napolitano wasn't just talking about American business. She was talking about America's infrastructure: power grid, communications, banking and so forth.
Every one of these services relies on computers.
The Northeast blackout of 2003 started at a single power center. A computer bug disabled an important alarm. The operators couldn't react in time to a downed power line, and it blacked out 55 million people for several days.
Imagine waking up one morning with no power. Cellphones can't connect, banks are closed, the Internet is down and credit cards don't work.
A cyberattack could affect wide regions of the country, overwhelming the available manpower. It could take days, weeks or months for basic services to be fully restored.
Now, a cyberattack might not take down everything, but it could make basic services unreliable. You won't be able to trust technology to always work.
That's why you need a backup plan. Plan for at least 30 days of limited to nonexistent services.
Keep a supply of water and canned food on hand, along with a first-aid kit. Knowing exactly what other survival tools to include can be difficult. Fortunately, the government has a site — at www.ready.gov — to help you plan your disaster kit.
Your emergency kit should contain cash. Credit cards may not work.
Keep important documents within easy reach, too. You may not be able to get to documents stored on your computer.
Being separated from your family is worrying, particularly in emergencies. So, your family needs to determine a gathering point. You might not have Facebook, Twitter or texting available to help you coordinate.
In a disaster, remember it's better to text than to voice call. Texts use less information, so they don't overwhelm local cellular towers. Plus, texts can wait to send, so they'll get through without your constant attention. However, as we saw in Hurricane Sandy, cellular towers aren't as robust as traditional landlines. So don't count on your cellphone working reliably.
I would have one or more sets of two-way radios. They'll work in any situation. Be sure to choose a channel to use in advance. Choose a second one in case the first is in use. And be sure to stock up on batteries.
An AM/FM radio is another essential for any emergency kit. Radio stations have generators and can keep broadcasting important information when other communication systems fail.
Choose a radio that can be powered by hand crank or solar power. Make sure the radio is capable of receiving NOAA weather alerts, as well.
Whether or not a cyberattack ever happens, these are still good planning ideas. You never know when another kind of disaster might strike. A little preparation now might save your life — or a loved one's life — later.
Email Kim Komando at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Just wait until Ben comes back
- Federal authorities say they’ve solved botnet scheme that stole millions from Penneco Oil, targeted Sharon City School District
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin dismisses clock run-off near end of Chargers game
- Tomlin on Bell’s late TD: ‘We were going to go for it’
- North Union woman, 2 juveniles charged in theft of gun
- Russian-made ‘warhead’ blamed for downing flight
- Steelers defense displays resiliency in victory over Chargers
- A farewell party for Pittsburgh’s Greenfield Bridge, then the headaches that follow
- Downtown Pittsburgh project would create high-end apartments
- Classes at PSU branch campus to resume after power outage
- Turkish president says intelligence suggests blasts originated in Syria