EDM Friday Briefing: Cyber Attack Hits Power Grid, Oregon Standoff Continues, Texas Recovers From Tornadoes
Emergency and disaster management Friday Briefing for January 8, 2016: A cyber attack that caused widespread public blackouts in Ukraine might be tied to Russian hackers, law enforcement officials seek a peaceful end to the Oregon standoff, and Texas continues its recovery from devastating December tornadoes.
- U.S. officials are investigating a December cyber attack on the power grid in Ukraine. The first known cyber attack to cause widespread public blackouts is believed to have occurred in Ukraine on December 23, 2015, and intelligence agencies and cyber security experts are now looking to Russia as the likely source of the attack.
- There are concerns among cyber security experts that the hacking-caused blackout in Ukraine could cause a global spike in similar aggressions in the near future. U.S. power companies were urged to review network defenses against potential similar attacks and take a closer look at cyber security. Experts have long been warning utility companies that old systems and an "increasingly connected grid" may ultimately result in leaving vital U.S. infrastructure vulnerable to cyber attacks like the one reported in Ukraine.
- Oregon Sheriff David Ward called a meeting with the militants occupying a wildlife refuge in an attempt to end the standoff in a peaceful manner. The armed militants, who are occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest of federal land rights issues, rejected the bid to end the standoff because the Sheriff "had not addressed their grievances."
- Law enforcement response to the armed takeover of the wildlife refuge is being questioned, with some asking why the gun-toting protestors are getting 'soft treatment' from the authorities. Questions persist about whether the cautious approach taken by authorities thus far is the correct one. With the militants claiming that they will "stay for years," authorities are weighing standoff solutions.
- Emergency crews report that more than 1,100 homes are unlivable, have major damage or were completely destroyed by the disastrous series of tornadoes that hit northern Texas the day after Christmas and resulted in at least 11 deaths. Residents are working to get kids back to school and some storm victims are getting matched up with volunteers to help out with various aspects of the continuing recovery.
- Mudslides, flooding and even tornado sightings have all been reported in California as powerful storms drench the state. El Nino is being blamed for the ongoing storms that are pummeling the coast from San Diego to Los Angeles to San Francisco. Forecasts call for weakening storms and drier weather for the state today.
- Thousands of South Carolina residents affected by the historic rains and floods that occurred in October 2015 applied for federal disaster aid just before deadline of January 4, 2016. All told, more than 101,600 South Carolina residents registered with FEMA due to the October flooding, and FEMA has approved nearly $80 million in aid thus far.
- Federal authorities said that terror-related arrests occurred in two states yesterday. An arrest occurred in California and another in Texas. The arrest in Sacramento involved an Iraq refugee who reportedly lied to federal investigators about his travels to Syria. Authorities say that the suspect communicated on social media about his intent to fight for terrorist organizations in Syria. The two men were not involved in a single plot, authorities say, but they may have been in contact with each other.