Catherine Hooper's Blog
Airline Black Boxes
Friday, 28 March 2014 19:33

The infamous airline black box is one of the most misunderstood pieces of airline technology. The Verge thinks that the boxes could...and...should be drastically improved. The current boxes are using technology developed in the 1950s and have not undergone any significant updates.

Mudslide Death Toll Rises
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 19:21

CNN is reporting that the 16 deaths due to the Washington mudslide are likely to increase. Upwards of 176 people are still reported as missing. The massive mudslide rolled over two towns this past Saturday; pictures show what appears to be a very difficult search and rescue operation.

Challenging Security Assumptions
Friday, 21 March 2014 16:45

The past few weeks have seen several challenges to widely held assumptions about our personal safety and security. These assumptions include:

By following world news, we’ve learned that, in reality, planes are not always monitored by ground control and they do vanish. Here’s a great map/infographic from Bloomberg on all the planes that have vanished since 1954. Also, it would be reasonable to assume that 1 WTC in NYC has several layers of advanced security. This was proven false when a high school student was able to sneak to the top of the building. Even more surprising is the fact that the building has no working security cameras.

These two small examples show how we often make reasonable assumptions about our safety and security. It’s important to challenge those assumptions from time to time.

Power Grid Preparedness
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 20:40

Power grid security seems to be the hot-button preparedness issue of 2014, following the WSJ story about the possible terrorist attack on a transformer station in California last year (as well as the long lead time on building new transformers).

Now industry experts are admitting that they have a lot of work to do in the preparedness arena. This past November, nearly 2,000 utilities took part in a joint exercise that tested their vulnerability to physical and cyber attacks. Nearly all agreed that their planning and preparedness are not at acceptable levels.

Gerry Cauley, president of NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation, tasked with enforcing standards of conduct on the power grid), discusses some of the physical security concerns outside of terrorism:

“Utilities are hardening their systems against big storms like Hurricane Sandy and are working on determining their vulnerability to solar activity that changes the earth’s magnetic field.”

Movie Ad Draws FCC Fine
Friday, 14 March 2014 10:00

The movie Olympus Has Fallen featured a terrorist takeover of the White House (Secret Service codename: Olympus).  The media campaign for the film, which was released in March 2013, utilized the above trailer that featured an emergency alert tone and the THIS IS NOT A TEST graphic.

The FCC was less than pleased and issued a $1.9 million dollar fine against the cable providers who broadcast the ad.

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