Some Hurricane Technology Tips

Published: 2011-08-26
Last Updated: 2011-08-27 00:23:09 UTC
by Johannes Ullrich (Version: 1)
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As we are looking at hurricane Irene taking aim at major population and technology centers on the east coast, here a couple of tech tips:

- Cell phone batteries last longer if you turn off non essential services like 3G, bluetooth, wifi.
- keep a hard copy of important phone numbers handy
- make sure all batteries are charged (including spare batteries you may have)
- electricity and water don't mix. If there is a threat of flooding, you may want to turn off the main breaker of your house (not if it is outside and it is wet / raining)
- hurricanes tend to come along with power outages. If you experience a power outage, disconnect major appliances, in particular sensitive ones like computers. During the recovery phase, irregular power and power spikes are likely (you may want to flip the main breaker)
- power suggest caused by lightning can travel over network cable. Unplug networks, in particular cable/DSL modems or other devices that connect to the "outside"
- in most cases, you will be safer at home in your house then on the road once the storm started. If you want to get out, get out now before it is too late
- to contact others, use SMS vs. voice calls. Most cell phone networks will deal with SMS much better then voice

The Red Cross is operating a site that you can use to leave brief "safe and well" messages : . Twitter and Facebook can also be handy to leave quick messages for friends telling them that you are fine.

Security issues and Scams:

- if you evacuate your home, consider taking hard drives with other valuables (but they are not always easy to remove)
- frequently, the need arises to make quick system configuration changes to mitigate the impact of a location that is down. Document them carefully even if you appreciate normal change control.
- compromised social networking accounts could be used to send fake pleas for help (and money)
- only donate to reputable organizations that you know and trust. Don't donate to organizations you never heard about
- disaster movies and pictures are likely going to be used to spread malware

We will move this to a "disaster recovery" section that we are about to built. Let me know if you have additional tips. Also: What is in your "jump bag" of stuff that you would take with you?



Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D.
SANS Technology Institute

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