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AMU Cyber & AI Editor's Pick Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Cybersecurity Giant FireEye Is Hacked

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 9, 2020: Cybersecurity giant FireEye reveals the company was hacked and suspects it was perpetrated by a sophisticated nation-state; less than a week after full containment of the Cameron Peak Fire, a new blaze broke out amid high fire danger levels in Colorado; amid dangerously high fire conditions, thousands were affected by PSPS in Southern California; Hawaii has now received more than half a billion dollars in federal relief aid following the 2018 eruption of Kilauea; a new study alleges that hurricane decay after landfall has decreased by at least 25%; schools were closed across Southern California amid Red Flag Warnings on Tuesday; human-caused wildfires are reportedly more destructive than those caused by lightning; and research reveals that dust storms have increased across the Great Plains over the last 20 years.

1) The nation’s leading cybersecurity giant announced Tuesday that their state-of-the-art system had been hacked. A nation-state is suspected of perpetrating the sophisticated, high-level attack on FireEye, who has been a leader in the fight against cybercrime. The company is known for aiding companies and government agencies that are targeted by nation-state hackers and issues regular intelligence reports covering nation-state hacking.  

2) Less than one week after firefighters achieved 100% containment of the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado, another blaze broke out nearby. The fire broke out on private property and only consumed about one-quarter of an acre before firefighters were able to contain the blaze. The cause of the fire is unknown; however, fire danger remains high in Colorado, with relative humidity levels of less than 10% and a dew point of -39 degrees Fahrenheit.  

3) Fire danger prompted Southern California Edison to begin Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) to thousands of residents on Tuesday. As of Tuesday morning, there were 54,774 people without power, but that number had dropped to about 12,543 by Wednesday morning. Humidity levels averaged between five and 10% on Tuesday, with wind gusts in the Santa Clarita Valley at around 55 mph and higher gusts in the mountains. However, the winds are expected to decrease throughout the day on Wednesday.

4) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will disperse approximately $9.3 million dollars to Hawaii to help cover operational costs for HI-EMA (Hawaii Emergency Management Agency) for the 2018 eruption of Kilauea. To date, the state has now received more than half a billion dollars in relief aid for the months-long eruption of Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. The state also received money to repair Ahalanui Park, which was damaged by lava flows, as well as $61 million for the repair of several roads such as Highway 137, Leilani Avenue, Pohoiki Road, and Lighthouse Road and another $30 million in federal relief funds.  

5) New research allegedly shows that hurricanes do not decay as quickly after landfall as they once did. According to the study, hurricanes previously decayed by at least 75% in the first 24 hours post-landfall, but now during the same timeframe, the decay is only about 50%. The slower rate of decay is allegedly due to warmer sea surface temperatures which increases the stock of moisture within the hurricane.  

6) The Red Flag Warning that extended from San Diego County to San Luis Obispo County on Tuesday prompted school closures across Southern California. Schools were closed due to potential Public Safety Power Shutoffs amid elevated fire danger across the region. San Diego Gas & Electric cut power to thousands of residents in the area, but it did open a resource center which offered Wi-Fi, ice, snacks, charging stations, and water for livestock.  

7) Analysis of high-resolution satellite data allegedly revealed that human-caused wildfires spread faster than those caused by lighting. The data further revealed a greater number of trees being killed when the fires were human-caused. Human-caused fires account for 84% of all wildfires across the United States, with 97% of those blazes threatening homes.  

8) A new study shows that dust storms have allegedly increased across the Great Plains. Data from NASA satellites, along with dust sensors across the region, revealed that wind-blown dust levels have doubled over the past 20 years. According to research, the expansion of cropland, along with more frequent droughts, have contributed to the increased dust and more frequent — and more intense — dust storms.  

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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