Schools have active shooter response, fire response, earthquake response… they need cybersecurity response

SC Magazine reports good news for some schools (none in MN) that have “won” cybersecurity support from IBM. In the process of inviting schools to apply for support, IBM gathered some disturbing information on school cybersecurity budgets…

Indeed, 50% of the more than 250 school districts that applied for the grant said in their applications that they have less than $100,000 allocated annually toward cybersecurity. “And that’s for an entire school district so when you get down to it, the school budgets are just incredibly low compared to the threats that they face,” said Rossman. Additionally, more than 55% of applicants said their districts don’t provide any security training to staff members, while 40% said they have previously experienced a ransomware attack.

In fact, the Newhall School District, with 10 elementary schools and approximately 5900 students, learned of the grant program after experiencing its own ransomware attack last fall. Jeff Pelzel, superintendent, told SC Media he remembers coming into work on a Monday morning and finding himself unable to access certain systems.

And IBM saw the need to make resources available to a wider audience…

Fortunately, even the districts that applied but weren’t selected for the grant were still given access to some of IBM’s resources. “We’re going to have resources available on ibm.org for them to use,” said Rossman. These interactive offerings include ransomware assessments, and a video-based training module that designed to teach faculty members and students some basic cyber concepts. The builds on previous work on IBM’s part to host an education security assessment event for schools as well as virtual cyber range exercise that helped superintendents understand “what’s it like to experience a ransomware attack.”

They have a number of classes available online and aimed for students 14 years and older.

4 of 10 Americans have experienced online harassment

Pew Research Center reports…

A Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults in September finds that 41% of Americans have personally experienced some form of online harassment in at least one of the six key ways that were measured. And while the overall prevalence of this type of abuse is the same as it was in 2017, there is evidence that online harassment has intensified since then.

Here is how they define online harassment…

This report measures online harassment using six distinct behaviors:

  • Offensive name-calling
  • Purposeful embarrassment
  • Stalking
  • Physical threats
  • Harassment over a sustained period of time
  • Sexual harassment

Respondents who indicate they have personally experienced any of these behaviors online are considered targets of online harassment in this report. Further, this report distinguishes between “more severe” and “less severe” forms of online harassment. Those who have only experienced name-calling or efforts to embarrass them are categorized in the “less severe” group, while those who have experienced any stalking, physical threats, sustained harassment or sexual harassment are categorized in the “more severe” group.

Younger people have more experience with harassment. Men report more harassment; women report a greater impact of harassment. Pew did offer up some views in helping curb the program…

About half of Americans say permanently suspending users if they bully or harass others (51%) or requiring users of these platforms to disclose their real identities (48%) would be very effective in helping to reduce harassment or bullying on social media.

Around four-in-ten say criminal charges for users who bully or harass (43%) or social media companies proactively deleting bullying or harassing posts (40%) would be very effective.

I look forward to their next survey and wonder how they will tackle harassment that starts online and move offline – especially when it’s a group targeted and not an individual.

FirstNet Network Expands Across Minnesota to Beltrami, Lake, Pine and Lake of the Woods Counties

AT&T reports

Minnesota’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of new, purpose-built FirstNet cell sites and other network enhancements. This new infrastructure is part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place across the state, bringing increased coverage, capacity and capabilities for public safety.

The five new sites – located across northern Minnesota in the counties of Beltrami, Lake, Pine and Lake of the Woods – are part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place across the state, bringing increased coverage, capacity and capabilities for public safety. The remote sites located near Blackduck, Grygla, Isabella, Finlayson and Williams Counties were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations for increased network coverage and capacity to better support emergency communications.

“Minnesota’s first responders deserve reliable coverage across the state to help them effectively and efficiently address incidents. And with FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting,” said Paul, Weirtz, president, AT&T Minnesota. “We couldn’t be more proud to support the public safety mission and bring the state’s first responders – and residents – greater access to the connectivity they need to do their jobs. Working with public safety, we’ve made FirstNet nimble, adaptable and ready to scale for even the most severe situations as we’re seeing currently with COVID-19.”

FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. It’s built with AT&T* in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government.

That’s why AT&T has a responsibility unlike any other network provider. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband when needed with always-on priority and preemption for first responders. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency.

Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable connectivity and modern communications tools they need. Currently well ahead of schedule, the FirstNet build has already brought Minnesota first responders:

  • Purpose-built network enhancements New FirstNet cell sites in Minnesota – located near Zerkel and Graceville – have also launched. These sites were identified by state and public safety stakeholders as priority locations. With FirstNet, it’s about where first responders need connectivity. That’s what is driving our FirstNet build. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. Band 14 has also been added on more than 450 existing sites across Minnesota as part of the initial FirstNet build, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Baxter/Brainerd area.
  • Reaching Rural Minnesota – FirstNet is built for all public safety. That means everyfirst responder in the country – career or volunteer; federal, tribal, state or local; urban, suburban or rural. That’s why connecting remote parts of America is one of our top priorities. We’re collaborating with rural network providers to help build out additional LTE coverage and extend FirstNet’s reach in rural and tribal communities.
  • Public safety-specific advanced capabilities – FirstNet is the only nationwide platform that gives first responders entire communication ecosystem of unique benefits including mission-centric devices, certified applications and always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data. This is like giving public safety communications the “lights and sirens” treatment so that they stay connected, no matter the emergency.
  • Unparalleled emergency support – Minnesota agencies on FirstNet also have 24/7 access to a nationwide fleet of 76 land-based and airborne deployable network assets. These portable cell sites can either be deployed for planned events or in emergenciesat no additional charge. FirstNet Response Operations – led by a group of former first responders – guides the deployment of the FirstNet deployable assets based on the needs of public safety.
  • Free smartphones for life for public safety agencies – We’ve also expanded the benefits of FirstNet for Minnesota agencies – spanning law enforcement, fire, EMS, healthcare, hospital emergency departments, emergency management and 9-1-1 operations. Now, they can stay up-to-date with free smartphones for lifeat no additional cost on their FirstNet Mobile—Unlimited plans.1 This means first responders across agencies of all sizes will have affordable access to their network for decades to come.

The COVID-19 health crisis illustrates precisely why public safety fought for the creation of FirstNet. Where public safety goes, we go. We’ve answered the call for tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters. But with COVID-19, it is like experiencing a perpetual emergency in every community across the country. Public safety’s network is being tested in a completely new way, and it’s hitting the mark.

“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Edward Parkinson. “We worked hand-in-hand with Minnesota’s public safety community to understand their needs for the network. And these network enhancements are a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality. We look forward to supporting Minnesota’s first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect communities.”

In addition to further elevating public safety’s connected experience in support of their emergency response, this new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.

For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com.

Broadband outages in Southern Minnesota yesterday (Jan 6, 2021): the case for redundancy

Yesterday was a strange day with what I heard one reporter call the “tumult” at the US Capitol. Here in St Paul, that was accompanied with some strange technology false alarms. At 1pm, we had the monthly testing of emergency sirens. Ill-timed but most of us remembered before going too grey. Then an amber alert later in the afternoon hit everyone’s phone and made us jump. (The lost child has been recovered.) However in other parts of the state, technology was failing in a bigger way.

Apparently there was a fiber backbone fiber cut between MN and WI that impacted a number of areas including Mazomanie, WI and Duluth, MN. A discussion on the Outages discussion list details what happened. Sounds like the cut happened while someone was doing underground utility work. Customers experienced issues and reported them. Technicians found and fixed the problem but it took a few hours. The discussion happens over a 6-hour space of time, which might indicate that was likely the (worst case) extent of the outage.

Stuff happens and it takes a minute to fix stuff; this is not a condemnation of any provider. Rather, I think this this makes the case for redundancy. A lot happened in our world from 1pm to 7pm yesterday – can you imagine losing connectivity from that time? Politics, security, safety are foremost in our minds this month – I just wanted to remind folks of the role technology plans in keeping informed and being able to communicate and engage.

Internet outage in Red Wing brings us a new form of “snow day”

RiverTowns.Net reports…

Call it a cable day instead of a snow day late start. Shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, [Red Wings School]Superintendent Karsten Anderson called for classes to start at least two hours late because one of the community’s two internet companies suffered a line break.

Hiawatha Broadband’s outage reportedly involves a portion of southeastern Minnesota.

“As a result of that outage, many students and staff members do not have access to the internet or to the school learning platform,” Anderson said.

The disruption affects classes for all K-12 students, who are in full distance learning, regardless of whether they still have internet access.

At 9:45 a.m., he issued a second stating that the internet had been restored. K-6 students could log in at 9:50 a.m. High School students were notified how their four-block schedule was revised.

On the one hand this is a fun story on how “snow days” may not be entirely gone. And if you’ve grown up in a cold climate, you probably have a place in your heart for snow days. One the other hand, this is a reminder of how important secure, reliable broadband is at every level. If you’re Internet went out today – what could your family do and not do. The list is different since the pandemic and I think that list is changed permanently.

Was your internet down or spotty last Sunday (Aug 30)?

I had several friends asking me about their Internet access Sunday morning. I was able to find the initial Tweet from CenturyLink at the time. I was hoping there’d be more details available later. [Added 5pm – someone sent me a great description and I’ve added it in the comments below. Thanks David Farmer!] It looks like we have confirmation but not much in terms of how it happened or could be prevented. Gizmodo reports…

Widespread internet outages knocked down Cloudflare, the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Amazon, Hulu, and a slew of other sites on Sunday morning, and it’s apparently all because of a single internet service provider: CenturyLink.

CenturyLink Tweeted about the problem…

CenturyLink confirmed on Twitter that its technicians were working to fix an IP outage, which was resolved shortly before noon.

“We are able to confirm that all services impacted by today’s IP outage have been restored. We understand how important these services are to our customers, and we sincerely apologize for the impact this outage caused,” the company tweeted.

EVENT July 15: Cyberinfrastructure: Moving Beyond Broadband at HBCUs and TCUs

From the folks at BroadbandUSA…

Topic: Cyberinfrastructure: Moving Beyond Broadband at HBCUs and TCUs

Date:   Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Time:  2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET

Overview: Cyberinfrastructure differs from traditional web and broadband access in its focus and magnitude. The high-performance computing and networking resources of cyberinfrastructure enables educators, scientists and students opportunities to create and collaborate in entirely new ways—experiencing processes and results even if the technologies and data sets are thousands of miles away.  Many institutions of higher education are engaged in this new kind of scholarly inquiry and education, empowering their communities to innovate and to revolutionize what they do, how they do it, and who participates.   Broadband, though necessary, is not sufficient for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to be competitive in the 21st Century.   Please join BroadbandUSA’s webinar on July 15, 2020 to hear from panelists who will highlight the cyberinfrastructure at HBCUs and TCUs, as well as the importance of partnerships with national organizations such as Internet2 and EDUCAUSE in achieving the common goals of diversity and inclusion.

Please note: This webinar will run from 2:00 to 3:30 EDT.

Speakers:

  • Jason Arviso, Director of IT, Navajo Technical University
  • Curtis Bradlee, Interim Director of University Computing and Information Technology Systems (UCITS), South Carolina State University
  • Deborah F. Dent, CIO, Division of Information Technology, Jackson State University
  • Al Kuslikis, American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC)

Moderators:

 

  • Dr. Francine Alkisswani, Broadband Communication Specialist, NTIA
  • Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, NC A&T


Please pre-register for the webinar using this registration link.   After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Want to access past Practical Broadband Conversations webinars? Visit our webinar archives for past presentations, transcripts and audio recordings.

______________________________________________________________________________

Who are we?

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the principal advisor to the administration on telecommunications and information policy issues.  NTIA, through its BroadbandUSA program, works to further the deployment and use of broadband and other technologies across America.

What does BroadbandUSA do?

BroadbandUSA serves as a trusted and neutral strategic advisor, working with federal, state and local government, community, and industry leaders working to advance smart community and broadband public-private partnerships designed to attract new employers, create quality jobs, improve educational opportunities, increase health outcomes and advance public safety.  Check out the BroadbandUSA website for more information.

Turns out T-Mobile had IP traffic issues that slowed service on Monday (June 15)

I mentioned network outages on Monday when I wasn’t able to reach either of my parents, who are both on T-Mobile. Fierce Wireless reports on what happened…

The outages, which started June 15 just after 12 p.m. ET and continued for about 13 hours, were an “IP traffic related issue” that “created significant capacity issues in the network core throughout the day,” according to an update around midnight from T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert.

Looks like voice and text were down, but not data…

While voice and texting were down, Sievert said data services were working throughout the day, so customers could use apps and services like FaceTime, iMessage, Google Meet, Zoom, and Skype to reach people.

Still, the duration of the T-Mobile’s outage was not insignificant. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the outage “unacceptable” and said the agency is launching an investigation.

And it looks like T-Mobile was the issue…

There were complaints that AT&T and Verizon customers were also experiencing problems with service, but both carriers confirmed Monday that their respective networks were working normally. A Verizon spokesperson at the time said it was aware another carrier was having network issues and “calls to and from that carrier may receive an error message.”

Networks down all over the US June 15

I wondered why my dad was ignoring me. Then I tried to call my mom and couldn’t get through.  I had to remember my childhood home phone number, which thankfully worked. My parents are OK.

Their networks are not. I looked to find one article that spoke to issues with several carriers. WCVB (ABC TV out of Boston I think) reports…

If you’re having problems with your cell phone, it seems you’re not alone. Customers of multiple cell phone carriers are reporting widespread outages.

According to Downdetector, a website that tracks outage reports, the outage is impacting customers of T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon.

“Our engineers are working to resolve a voice and data issue that has been affecting customers around the country,” Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s president of technology tweeted. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience and hope to have this fixed shortly.”

In a statement to CNET, a spokesperson from Verizon said, “Verizon’s network is performing well. We’re aware that another carrier is having network issues. Calls to and from that carrier may receive an error message.”

AT&T says their network is working properly, but users of the carrier continue to report problems with their devices.

“Our network is operating normally, but it’s possible some customers are unable to reach people on other carriers’ networks,” AT&T said on Twitter.

My limited experience pointed to T-Mobile but again my experience is very limited. No cause was listed here. I will keep an eye out. It’s been such a strange year, I don’t even dare to imagine what’s going on.

I checked out Downdetector. They track downtime for providers and websites. The graphic of their homepage take at 6:17pm CST says it all. Lots of places experiencing problems still – a few seem to be on the mend…

Cyberattacks hitting Minnesota and local governments

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports of cyberattacks in Minnesota…

Hackers forced the Minnesota Senate website offline Tuesday, the latest in a series of cyberattacks targeting state and local computer systems. …

Ludeman said the security breach came from the same hacker group that targeted 10 state agencies, including the governor’s office, in recent days.

It’s unknown whether the attacks are related to demonstrations and unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd. But Gov. Tim Walz said at a weekend news conference that “a very sophisticated denial-of-service attack on all state computers was executed” as the state readied its response to riots on Saturday.

Such denial-of-service attacks send high levels of external traffic to a website’s servers, causing the site to freeze or crash.

“That’s not somebody sitting in their basement,” Walz said at the time.

City of Minneapolis websites also experienced outages due to a cyberattack early Thursday morning. A city spokeswoman said there was no evidence of a data breach and that most of the sites were back online by 9 a.m. that day.

It reinforces an important layer to digital inclusion – cybersecurity. Back in 2012 there was a national push (Stop Think Connect) to promote and encourage cybersecurity. I know the MN Broadband Task Force learned about cybersecurity in 2018 (and earlier). And there were discussions and tips shared even at the onset of the COVID move to work at home – but I think people are probably ready for a more detailed discussion and expecting more coverage especially given the tumultuous times and Minneapolis coverages in the news.

Broadband is transforming school thanks to groups like ECMECC that support the network

Ed Scoop reports on digital learning based on a recent webinar hosted by edWeb.net

Digital learning not only plays a crucial role in preparing today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, it also has an important role in providing more equitable access to education, especially in smaller and remote school districts.

The webinar featured Minnesota’s own Marc Johnson who spoke about the role for an organization such as ECMECC

Marc Johnson, executive director of the East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative, who joined Fox on the webinar, said Minnesota has 18 regional networks, most of which now use leased fiber-optic networks. This provides the state with a scalable infrastructure, he said, and by monitoring disruptions and usage levels, administrators can buy additional bandwidth to accommodate future growth.

The ECMECC staff provides instructional technology support for districts, which is especially important for smaller ones that may not have full-time tech support people of their own. The staff also manage the network’s shared firewall and other security features that help to prevent cyberattacks. A data center, meanwhile, provides off-site storage and backup.

Moving forward, Johnson and his team will be facilitating schools’ implementation of 1:1 device initiatives, and the introduction of more 21st century digital courses. Districts can make their own through a process he called “curriculum adaptation,” rather than curriculum adoption.

A key aspect of this type of teaching and learning is the increased use of interactive video for online field trips or other activities. Examples include the opportunity for high school students taking health classes to observe and interact with medical personnel as they perform procedures, or observe a musician in a distant city teaching classes and leading rehearsals.

This type of distance learning can be especially valuable for smaller rural districts, but also for underfunded districts in urban areas that may not have the resources to send students to other parts of the city.

Greenwood Town Board officials question value of broadband

I have been working in broadband for 20 years. I remember introducing people to the internet. I was the first person to show them the WWW. I was like a magic librarian. And back then I spoke to CEOs, City Officials and others about the value of Internet. But it has been years since I’ve heard of community meeting that shifted from “how can we get broadband” to “why.” But apparently that was the shift at the Greenwood Town Board meeting on May 14, as the Timber Jay reports

Several Greenwood Town Board officials, at their meeting on May 14, questioned the township’s participation in the ongoing regional broadband project. The Blandin Foundation has awarded a $75,000 grant to several local communities consisting of representatives from Tower, Breitung, Eagles Nest, Vermilion Lake, and Greenwood to use for smaller community projects to increase broadband availability.

The group has allocated $5,000 of the grant to allow Greenwood to purchase a public computer for use at the town hall. The township is required to provide a match for the grant, but the township’s contribution could be in-kind services, such as providing rent-free use of the town hall space, use of the township’s printer (at a per copy charge) and oversight by township staff. The plan calls for the computer to be available only during the clerk’s regular office hours, 20 hours a week. The grant would also cover additional costs for higher speed internet service.

But town board members, who had approved the project at last month’s meeting, had more questions, and some seemed unwilling to participate at all.

It seems like part of the issue is the cost of technology…

Treasurer Pam Rodgers appeared to support the project, but she questioned the computer and software set-up from Mark Wilcox Computer Services that had been included in the proposal, at a cost of $3,278. She said she had talked with Wilcox and felt a lower cost computer would be more than adequate. She estimated that annual maintenance costs for the computer would be $300 a year.

Chairman Carmen DeLuca wondered why the public couldn’t use the old fire department office computer. Board members told him that computer was outdated, and probably wouldn’t be suitable.

I understand the desire to get the best deal but computers for home and business (or industrial-strength shared) use are different. It’s difficult to understand that if you don’t work in IT; I think the correlation might be home versus an industrial oven.

The bigger issue might be assumption that satellite will make fiber obsolete, or not worth the investment…

DeLuca also questioned the project’s commitment to installing broadband service. He said that in five years that technology would be outdated and satellite technology would be in use.

DeLuca isn’t alone in wanting satellite to be a solution but experts have repeatedly said that high orbit satellite will not work for rural areas…

Everyone is looking for a cheaper, easier, better way to bring broadband to rural Minnesota. 5G isn’t it. Industry experts have confirmed that 5G isn’t a solution for rural areas and a speaker at a recent US House Energy and Commerce Committee confirmed it.

And recently Doug Dawson explained how/why low orbit satellite isn’t likely to be a viable solution either…

At this early stage, it’s nearly impossible to know what impact these companies might have. We don’t know anything about their download and speed capacity, their pricing strategy, or their targeted market so it’s impossible to begin to predict their impact. We don’t even know how long it’s going to take to get these satellites in space since these three companies alone have plans to launch over 10,000 new satellites – a tall task when compared to the 1,100 satellites currently active in space. …

I foresee a different future for the satellite industry. Let’s start with a few facts we know. While 10,000 satellites is an impressive number, that’s a worldwide number and there will be fewer than 1,000 satellites over the US. Most of the satellites are tiny – these are not the same as the huge satellites launched by HughesNet. Starlink has described their satellites as varying in size between a football and a small dorm refrigerator. At those small sizes these satellites are probably the electronic equivalent of the OLT cabinets used as neighborhood nodes in a FTTH network – each satellite will likely support some limited and defined number of customers. OneWeb recently told the FCC in a spectrum docket that they are envisioning needing one million radio links, meaning their US satellites would be able to serve one million households. Let’s say that all of the satellite providers together will serve 3 – 5 million homes in the US – that’s an impressive number, but it’s not going to drive other ISPs into a pricing panic.
I also guess that the satellite providers will not offer cheap prices – they don’t need to. In fact, I expect them to charge more than urban ISPs. The satellite providers will have one huge market advantage – the ability to bring broadband where there isn’t landline competition. The satellite providers can likely use all of their capacity selling only in rural America at a premium price.

Choosing fiber today isn’t like choosing an 8-track player in the 1970s. Fiber will never become defunct. For broadband transport outside of satellite, a key aspect of the equation is how close you can bring the last mile to a fiber connection.

Dedicated Broadband for MN Responders is now available

Good news from the press release…

DEDICATED BROADBAND FOR MINNESOTA RESPONDERS NOW AVAILABLE
Approved Contract Will Provide Priority and Preemption in Emergencies

ST PAUL – Minnesota’s law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services personnel and sovereign nations now have the opportunity to sign up for the dedicated nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), known as FirstNet. The State of Minnesota finalized the contract with FirstNet and AT&T. The pair has partnered to build and deploy the network at no cost to taxpayers for 25 years.

FirstNet’s dedicated public safety network, devices and apps will allow first responders to send and receive mission-critical information without experiencing delays. Minnesota first responders currently use wireless networks that can become overwhelmed or lack coverage in rural areas, especially during emergencies.

“FirstNet offers priority, preemption and reliability during emergencies like the Interstate 35 bridge collapse or the recent refinery explosion in Superior, Wisconsin,” said Emergency Communication Networks Director Dana Wahlberg. “Duluth responders provided mutual aid to the refinery explosion and experienced congestion on the wireless network during the incident.”

In October 2017, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the agreement after the Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Communication Networks (ECN) division partnered with public safety stakeholders to draft Minnesota’s State Plan. ECN is coordinating with FirstNet and AT&T as they begin to build and develop a quality network across the state.

“By opening up this avenue for Minnesota’s public safety agencies to adopt FirstNet service, the State is ensuring that lifesaving technology quickly gets into the hands of first responders to help them save lives and protect communities,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. “FirstNet is the only wireless communications platform for emergency response built with the feedback and input of Minnesota’s public safety community and we look forward to our continued partnership with the State as we deploy public safety’s network.”

It is up to each individual public agency and sovereign nation to determine if they want to subscribe to FirstNet. ECN has provided an online workbook to help agencies with project planning and considerations such as coverage, capacity and cost.

What is FirstNet?

FirstNet was created by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 following a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Its mission is to create a dedicated public safety interoperable, nationwide mobile broadband network to enable continued communication during a disaster, emergency or large-scale event. The State of Minnesota initiated the FirstNet Consultation Project in January 2014. For more information on FirstNet, visit: www.firstnet.gov.

[FACT SHEET] Learn more about how FirstNet will help Minnesota first responders.

Klobuchar, Kennedy Introduce Bipartisan Privacy Legislation to Protect Consumers’ Online Data

From Senator Klobuchar’s website

April24, 2018

Legislation would increase transparency by strengthening disclosure requirements, ensure the right to control one’s own data by allowing people to opt out of data collection and tracking, and require notification of a privacy violation within 72 hours

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA) today announced privacy legislation that will protect consumers’ online data. Social media and other online platforms routinely capture users’ behavior and personal information, which is then used to help advertisers or other third parties target those users. The bipartisan legislation would require companies to make privacy disclosures clearer and more transparent, give consumers the right to control their own data by allowing people to opt-out of having their data collected, and require companies to notify consumers of a privacy violation within 72 hours.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Requires terms of service agreements to be in plain language,
  • Ensures users have the ability to see what information about them has already been collected and shared,
  • Provides users greater access to and control over their data,
  • Gives consumers the right to opt-out and keep their information private by disabling data tracking and collection,
  • Mandates that users be notified of a privacy violation within 72 hours,
  • Offers remedies for users when a privacy violation occurs,
  • Requires that online platforms have a privacy program in place.

“Every day companies profit off of the data they’re collecting from Americans, yet leave consumers completely in the dark about how their personal information, online behavior, and private messages are being used.” Senator Klobuchar said. “Consumers should have the right to control their personal data and that means allowing them to opt out of having their data collected and tracked and alerting them within 72 hours when a privacy violation occurs and their personal information may be compromised. The digital space can’t keep operating like the Wild West at the expense of our privacy.”

“I don’t want to hurt Facebook, and I don’t want to regulate them half to death, either. But I have a job to do, and that’s protecting the rights and privacy of our citizens,” Senator Kennedy said. “Our bill gives consumers more control over their private data, requires user agreements to be written in plain English and requires companies to notify users of privacy violations. These are just simple steps that online platforms should have implemented in the first place.”

In October, Klobuchar introduced the Honest Ads Act with U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.

 

Network Resiliency and Security Playbook for local government

Someone shared this with me, I wanted to pass it on. It’s from November 2017 – it’s a Network Resiliency and Security Playbook written to help local and state governments adopt best practices for preventing significant communications infrastructure failures and stopping or mitigating intrusions, hacking, and other disruptions of communications networks.

Intended audience…

The target audiences for this Playbook include information technology (IT) leaders and staff—the government employees who are responsible for implementing, operating, and maintaining IT systems—and the users of those government networks, including first responders. Because these audiences have a range of IT knowledge and expertise, this document includes high-level introductory information and links to useful background resources, as well as detailed technical descriptions of best practices.

Why you need it…

This Playbook addresses some of the key reasons that local and state government entities need to routinely include security and resiliency in their infrastructure development processes:

  • Local governments are attractive targets for cyber threats because they are often easy targets—especially those that do not have sufficient security resources and expertise

  • Local government networks can also be attractive targets in their own right, given their maintenance of sensitive data such as tax and voter rolls, contracts, procurements, traffic data, public-run utilities, etc.

  • Smaller governments often experience difficulty funding and staffing critical IT functions; as a result, those local governments might delay updating systems and applications, or even patching known issues, due to worry about proper functioning of legacy systems and risk of unintended impacts

  • Poor or inadequate segmentation of government networks can lead to large impacts from modest intrusion efforts

  • Local governments’ networks are increasingly interconnected with other systems, including those of other local governments, federal agencies, and private sector partners

  • Ransomware attacks make any target attractive regardless of size or sensitivity of data

  • Storms, floods, and other natural threats are a constant concern for any network, but especially for mission-critical public safety and government communications networks

If you’re still reading this may be a great tool for you!