EDM Monday Briefing: Cyclone Winston Devastates Fiji, Kalamazoo Shooter Kills 6, Cyber Ransom Concerns Grow
Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 22, 2016: A tropical cyclone leaves a trail of destruction in Fiji, a confusing and deadly shooting rampage in Kalamazoo, MI results in at least six dead, and cyber security experts fear that an escalation of ransonware attacks is forthcoming.
- Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated Fiji this weekend, leaving at least 10 people dead and hundreds of homes destroyed. The Category 5 storm, which made landfall in Fiji on Saturday, is being called the most powerful storm on record in the Southern Hemisphere. In Fiji, a month-long state of disaster has been declared and schools will be closed for a week.
- A gunman in Kalamazoo, MI killed at least six people and injured at least two more Saturday night, in a rampage that reportedly involved the shooter targeting victims seemingly at random. The suspect is reportedly an Uber driver who may have been picking up passengers in between shootings during the four-hour shooting spree.
- Police have yet to identify a motive in the Kalamazoo rampage, as it is unclear what may have precipitated the series of shootings. The suspect reportedly shot people at random at various locations -- an apartment complex, a car dealership and outside a restaurant -- while ferrying passengers throughout the night. Police arrested the suspect early Sunday morning and reportedly recovered a semi-automatic gun from his vehicle.
- Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California paid $17,000 in ransom to hackers to regain control of its computer system and end the standoff that paralyzed the hospital's network -- and slowed its operations -- for more than 10 days. While the ransom paid to regain network access was much less than the originally reported $3.6 million amount, cyber experts still have concerns about the escalation of ransonware attacks in recent years and fear that the problem will only worsen in the near future.
- The battle of privacy vs. national security pitting the FBI against Apple continued to drag on without a clear resolution. FBI Director James Comey made a personal plea on the subject through a published open letter in what he says is a situation solely about the victims and justice. Apple has said that they were called too late and that the current situation could have been avoided had San Bernardino county officials not reset the iCloud password associated with the gunman's iPhone.
- Another twist in the ongoing clash between the FBI and Apple is that the county government that owned the cell phone in question reportedly had software that would have unlocked the phone easily but never installed it. Had the county installed this $4-per-month software, officials would have been able to remotely unlock the iPhone and the current public battle pitting privacy rights against national security concerns could have been avoided entirely.
- Secretary of State John Kerry announced yesterday that an agreement with Russia on a partial truce in Syria was very close. But a series of bombings the same day left upwards of 130 people dead, clouding the talks of a cease-fire.
- Maryland Governor Larry Hogan requested federal disaster assistance to help the state recover from the historic January 22 snowstorm. Hogan asked for the presidential declaration of a disaster after the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) estimated $34.2 million in damages from the storm that dumped as much as three feet of snow in parts of the state.
- A standoff near the rural town of Iuka, MS ended with two dead -- one law enforcement officer and the gunman himself. The incident began as a domestic disturbance, as suspect Charles Lee Lambert reportedly holed himself up in his house with his wife and 10-year-old daughter. It ended as a fatal gunfight, and three other officers were also injured. Lambert's wife and daughter escaped the standoff unharmed.
— Fiji Red Cross (@FijiRedCross) February 20, 2016