Posted at 11 a.m.
There have been numerous incidents in the last several days of suspicious packages being mailed to prominent officials or reports of unattended or suspicious packages.
We all play a role in protecting our community and each other.
One key way is to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings – from your neighborhood to a mall, and from public transportation to a public venue such as a stadium. Remember, “If you see something, say (or send) something.”
How to Report
If there’s an ongoing emergency, call or text 9-1-1.
If you see something suspicious, here’s how to report it:
- Visit the new iWatchNOVA reporting website or download the app for your Apple or Android phone (search “iWatchNOVA”) to easily report something suspicious. iWatchNOVA is a collaborative effort among Northern Virginia law enforcement agencies.
- You may also call the Fairfax County non-emergency line at 703-691-2131, TTY 703-877-3715.
When reporting suspicious activity, it is helpful to give the most accurate description possible, including:
- Brief description of the activity.
- Date, time and location of the activity.
- Physical identifiers of anyone you observed.
- Descriptions of vehicles.
- Information about where people involved in suspicious activities may have gone.
Protect Your Every Day
Homeland security begins with hometown security. It’s all about empowering everyday residents to protect their neighbors and the communities they call home by recognizing and reporting suspicious activity.
Posted at 8 a.m.
This morning at 10:18 a.m., it’s time to “Shake Out. Don’t Freak Out.” as you practice how to Drop, Cover and Hold On during the annual Great Southeast Shakeout earthquake drill.
If you have time before the drill you can register your participation. But if you’re not registered, don’t worry. You can still participate. Participating is a great way for your family or organization to be prepared to survive and recover quickly from big earthquakes — wherever you live, work or travel.
Learn more about the Southeast Shakeout earthquake drill at www.shakeout.org/southeast.
Meanwhile, the county’s Office of Emergency Management is partnering with Greenspring Retirement Community in Springfield during the drill. Throughout the month, Greenspring residents have learned how to protect themselves from an earthquake by learning step-by-step methods to adapt for individual situations.
If you have difficulty getting on the ground or getting back up, you should adapt “Drop, Cover and Hold On” for your situation.
- If you are in a recliner or in bed, cover your head and neck with your arms or pillow until the shaking stops.
- If you use a cane, you can sit on a chair or bed and cover your head and neck with both hands until the shaking stops. Keep your cane near you so you can use it when the shaking stops.
- If you use a walker or wheelchair, lock your wheels and cover your head and neck with your arms, book or pillow until the shaking stops.
To see a demonstration of what you can do to protect yourself, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards-earthquake.
Posted at 2:30 p.m.
National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is commemorating its 15th year as an annual initiative to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. It’s a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure everyone has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online, while increasing the resiliency of the nation during cyber-threats.
Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors will also declare October as Cyber Security Month in Fairfax County with an official proclamation at the board’s Oct. 16 meeting.
The STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Campaign is one such effort aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering residents to be safer and more secure online. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. We each have to do our part to keep the Internet safe. When we all take simple steps to be safer online, it makes using the Internet a more secure experience for everyone.
Here are a few tips and advice for staying safe online.
- Secure key accounts and devices. Use strong passwords, passcodes, or other features such as touch identification to lock your devices. Review these tips for passwords and securing your accounts.
- Lock down your login – Protect accounts with strong authentication.
- When in doubt, throw it out – Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, delete it.
- Back it up – Protect against data loss by making electronic copies of important files.
- Manage your privacy – Information about you, such as your purchase history and location, is valuable. Protect your data by being cautious about how your information is collected by apps and websites.
- Respond to identify theft, fraud and crime – If you are the victim of cybercrime, you need to know what to do and respond quickly.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots – Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your devices.
- Protect your money – When banking or shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with https:// or shttp://, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. Http:// is not secure.
In recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, join the U.S. Small Business Administration (@SBAgov) and industry experts for a Twitter chat on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 3 p.m. on how to protect your business from cyber threats. The SBA will be sharing tips and resources to help keep your business safe. Follow along with the hashtag #SBAchat.
The SBA also offers a self-paced training exercise that provides an introduction to securing information in a small business. Topics include: Defining cybersecurity; Explaining the importance of securing information through best cybersecurity practices; Identifying types of information that should be secured; Identifying the types of cyber threats; Defining risk management; and Listing best practices for guarding against cyber threats. Access the course here.
Information technology and high-speed Internet are great enablers of small business success, but with the benefits comes the need to guard against growing cyber threats. As larger companies take steps to secure their systems, less secure small businesses are easier targets for cyber criminals. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provide a Small Biz Cyber Planner, an online resource to help small businesses create customized cybersecurity plans. Use this tool to create and save a custom cyber security plan for your company, choosing from a menu of expert advice to address your specific business needs and concerns. The FCC also offers a Cybersecurity Tip Sheet (PDF).
Remember, cybersecurity is our shared responsibility and we all must work together to improve our nation’s cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of governments, companies, groups or individuals. Everyone shares the responsibility for cybersecurity – from the average smartphone user to a corporate CEO. So, let’s all do our part!
Posted at 12:30 p.m.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 3. The WEA portion of the test, which will be sent to consumer cellphones, will begin at 2:18 p.m. EDT. The EAS portion of the test, sent to radio and television, will follow at 2:20 p.m. EDT.
This will be the fourth nationwide EAS test and the first nationwide WEA test.
The purpose of the test is to ensure that EAS and WEA are both effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems helps to assess the operational readiness of alerting infrastructure and to identify any needed technological and administrative improvements.
The EAS and WEA test messages will be sent using FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), a centralized Internet-based system administered by FEMA that enables authorities to send authenticated emergency messages to the public through multiple communications networks.
FEMA will administer the test, in cooperation with the FCC and the National Weather Service, and with the participation of the communications industry.
For more information, visit our article prior to the originally scheduled test on Sept. 20, which was postponed due to Hurricane Florence.