Doug Bedell — May 27, 2022, 12:32 pm

• Two Sources of Information on U.S. School Shootings

The National Institute of Justice has created a database on school shootings. Its aim is “to  better understand the causes of school-related gun violence and identify intervention points.”

“When school shootings occur,” “the NIJ explains,  “they tend to be highly publicized events. Even so, little is known about the overall circumstances that lead to these tragedies because school shootings tend to be studied on an individual basis and in isolation rather than in concert with other shootings that have taken place on school grounds (or in close proximity) that did not result in mass causalities. A collective analysis of these types of events could shed light on larger trends.”

Unfortunately, in light of the latest shooting incident in Texas, the NIJ is likely to have a host of requests for access to its data. Wikipedia, incidentally, has a list of school shootings in the U.S. It’s appallingly long.

Doug Bedell — May 25, 2022, 3:59 pm

• Social Media Sites: Less Than Secure for Young People

Social media platforms are facing “the first wrongful death lawsuits,” Richard Dahl advises on the FindLaw site. “The first wrongful death lawsuits against social media companies are emerging, and federal and state lawmakers are considering further steps to require social media platforms to better safeguard children.

“Legal pressure began to mount last October when Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, told a U.S. Senate subcommittee that the tech giant knowingly employed damaging algorithms.

“Social media platforms use algorithms to measure users’ interests and guide them to content that may keep them online – so they see more ads. Part of Haugen’s testimony focused on Instagram, a platform popular with adolescents and owned by Facebook’s parent company, Meta. She leaked several of Meta’s own studies on the topic, including surveys that found:

” • 13.5% of girls in the United Kingdom said they felt suicidal after starting Instagram.

” • 17% of teenage girls said their eating disorders got worse after starting Instagram.

” • 32% of teenage girls reported that when they had negative feelings about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.”

“Social” media becomes a play on words when websites, inadvertently or not,  lead young people astray.

Doug Bedell — May 23, 2022, 1:08 pm

• Views of the Universe from the ‘Edge’ Blog

The American Military University Edge blog provides stunning photos of the Sun taken “from halfway between Earth and the Sun on March 7, 2022 by the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft.

“It’s a beautiful image that, if you zoom in, shows our star’s filaments and flares in stunning detail. Wow!

“There are some great photos coming to us from space all the time—including just a few days ago from NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter—but there are some others that you have just got to see.

“While we wait for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Vera Rubin Observatory’s 3.2 gigapixel camera (the largest digital camera ever created) to come online later this year,” writes Jamie Carter from Forbes, “here’s our pick of the best high resolution space images around—and where you can download them for free.”

The Edge post is a source locale for scanning the universe.

Doug Bedell — May 20, 2022, 4:26 pm

• Security Awareness and Training ‘Gaining Worldwide’

Security awareness and training have been improving worldwide, Sara Mosqueda advises on Today in Security, citing KnowBe4’s 2022 Security Culture Report.

“More than 530,000 employees at almost 3,000 different organizations were surveyed by KnowBe4 Research, which is part of the same organization that offers security awareness training.

“Researchers approached the issue with the understanding that regardless of an organization’s location or goal, its security awareness, behavior, and culture are demonstrated through its ideas, customs, and social behaviors.

“’Security culture involves how people think about and approach a more secure environment, and this report focuses on those key elements,’ Perry Carpenter, chief strategy officer for KnowBe4 and one of the authors of the report, said in a press release.

“The research measured seven aspects of security culture, including attitudes, behaviors, cognition, communication, compliance, norms, and responsibilities. The report is based on survey responses from more than 257,000 employees.”

Both reports make for some reassuring reading.

Doug Bedell — May 11, 2022, 10:48 am

• Cyber Crime Insurance a Necessity for Businesses advises that for business owners insurance against cybercrime “is no longer a luxury, it’s a must-have”.

“According to its 2021 Internet Crime Report, last year the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) got 3,729 complaints, identified as ransomware, with adjusted losses of more than $49.2 million. Last year, there was $6.9 billion in losses with 2,300-plus average complaints daily. Phishing scams continue to top the list. These alarming stats drive home the point that companies cannot forgo cyber insurance. But getting insured is not as straightforward as one would think. Plus, the industry is shifting to keep pace.”

“When it comes to costs,” the post continues, “expect them to keep inching north. Premiums are up, about 30-50%, depending on the sector. Some industries, such as healthcare, are seeing increases in the triple digits. Other sectors that can expect to be impacted include manufacturing and construction due to supply chain issues.”

Adjusting to internet crime trends is getting increasingly expensive for business owners, but it’s advisable.

Doug Bedell — April 30, 2022, 8:12 am

• Ukrainians Can Find Temporary Refuge in the U.S.

President Biden and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are making it possible for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion to find temporary refuge in the United States.

“Uniting for Ukraine,” DHS explains, “provides a pathway for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States to come to the United States and stay temporarily in a two-year period of parole. Ukrainians participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States.”

“The first step in the Uniting for Ukraine process is for the U.S.-based supporter to file a Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support, with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The U.S. government will then vet the supporter to ensure that they are able to financially support the individual whom they agree to support.”

Yes, there’s always a form to be filled out, but this is a welcoming one at a time of great hardship for Ukrainians.

Doug Bedell — April 29, 2022, 8:56 am

• ‘Road Rage’ Making for Unsafe Highways

Richard Dahl on the FindLaw site advises that “America’s roads and highways are becoming ever more dangerous places.

“Death rates are escalating at frightening levels, largely due to reckless driving. So is road rage and, perhaps unsurprisingly, deadly road rage involving guns.

“Police don’t necessarily keep track of whether road rage is the cause of a shooting. Many states don’t recognize road rage as a criminal category and instead charge offenders with other violations or crimes like homicide or assault, often several in connection with a single incident. These can include speeding, unsafe lane changing, assault, or manslaughter.

“However, the gun violence prevention organization Everytown for Gun Safety has been maintaining a database of road rage shooting incidents since 2016 and reports that they are skyrocketing.”

There are many ways in which we need to calm down.

Doug Bedell — April 27, 2022, 10:40 am

• Should Russian Cyber Warfare Occur…

The Rand blog warns of the possibility of cyber warfare with Russia. But Russia aside, Rand cites “the devastating toll of ransomware on hundreds of hospitals in recent years—compromising access to vital payroll and electronic health records and patient monitoring equipment. Attacks have also impacted U.S. oil and gas infrastructure and crippled the police, telephone, and public transportation systems of many cities.

“These attacks could cost lives; in extreme cases, patients in critical condition have died when they had to be transferred to different hospitals or otherwise had delayed treatment because of the impacts of cyberattacks. And disruptions to other infrastructure could also be incredibly dangerous, like hackers’ (fortunately thwarted) attempts to poison the water supply of a water treatment plant in Florida.

“We don’t know if, when, or how cyberattacks on the United States will occur, but we know that the threat is increasingly real. In the context of a heightened cyber threat environment, emergency managers should actively prepare for cyberattacks and learn to expect the unexpected.”

May the unexpected not occur.

Doug Bedell — April 25, 2022, 11:32 am

• Nevada Luring Tech Companies – Not Only Gamblers

Casinos only? Not by a longshot. Nevada, Reliance Foundry reports, is becoming an alternative to California for technology companies.

“Nevada evokes images of glitzy stage shows, bright lights and flashy casinos, but there’s much more to this state than gambling, glitter, and sparkles.

“The state has increasingly become an attractive alternative to California for tech companies looking for lower tax rates and reduced operating costs and to tech workers looking for a lower cost of living. Along with cheaper housing costs, tech companies in Nevada also offer workers flexible, highly competitive benefits, putting the state in the perfect position to become a major tech hub.”

Yes, we’re a continually changing nation, in many ways.

Doug Bedell — April 22, 2022, 8:58 am

• Who’s In Charge of Public Health Policies?

The Centers for Disease Control has been flummoxed by a ruling by a Trump-appointed federal judge that passengers on airplanes, trains and other public transportation don’t have to wear masks any longer. You’d think that’s the CDC’s responsibility.

In response, the US. Transportation Security Administration and the CDC “said that orders requiring masks on public transportation would no longer be enforced, although both agencies recommended their continued use”.

“The five largest U.S. carriers — American Airlines Group Inc., Alaska Air Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Southwest Airlines Co. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. — said they were dropping their mandates effective immediately. Use of masks will be optional for both passengers and staff, they said.”

It’s as though COVID has vanished, which, unfortunately, it hasn’t.