October is More than a Month about Earthquakes...It's about Cyber Security, too

October 19, 2012 in

The Loma Prieta Earthquake anniversary and ShakeOut (the annual statewide earthquake drill that takes place the third Thursday of October) make October a very earthquake-hazard-centric month. However, much like the nature of life, there many walks of hazard--including man-made ones like cyber terrorism. So, along with earthquake month, October also is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. In this em4SF Blog, our DEM Division of Emergency Services Assistant Deputy Director, Bijan Karimi, shares his thoughts about the importance of cyber security, and what we can do to keep our cyber-world secure.

Cyber-attackers are at it again; yet another report was released that banks were hacked. But here’s the thing, they are not ‘at it again’, they never went away. You only heard about it because another story was released by the media. Cyber-attacks happen all the time. I don’t mean one or two, I mean thousands, tens of thousands. All day, every-day, around the world.

Your phone, TV, DVR, tablet, laptop, computer and maybe even your refrigerator are now connected to the internet. Many corporations have parts of their operations infrastructure connected to the internet. Private infrastructure providers rely extensively on internet connections to manage their production, transmission and distribution networks. Each connection is a point of vulnerability. Maybe someone wants to change your channel, steal your credit card information, or dispense ice from the freezer. Then again, maybe they want to steal corporate secretes or shut the power off to 500,000 people.

man wearing a ski mask looking at a laptop


The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense recognize the expanding vulnerability that exists in our interconnected world. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and DHS is calling on all Americans to ACT—Achieve Cybersecurity Together. Do you have a personal firewall? What about antivirus? More than one antivirus? If not, why not? You may have a virus and not even know it. Encryption, private networks, and firewalls are all ways for individuals and organizations to protect themselves, but they have issues of their own. Individuals, corporations and the telecommunications companies that transmit internet traffic need to coordinate to promote safe online practices.

There are many different resources available to learn more about cyber terrorism, ways to protect yourself and how you can contribute to a more cyber-secure nation. Of the many books and articles I have read, I found Cyber War by Richard A. Clarke particularly helpful in outlining the issues, challenges and identifying some possible solutions.

About the Author:

Whether it be pandemic, earthquake, or a zombie apocalypse, Bijan Karimi is prepared for just about anything. He is passionate about walking the walk as emergency manager, volunteer search and rescuer, and urban farmer (his back yard bears a garden thriving with fruits and vegetables that would keep him and his family set (and healthy) in the event of an emergency). Just check out the stuff in his trunk!