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FRESH IDEAS IN PUBLIC SAFETY


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      • Neglected Security Patches Making You WannaCry? Next Time Don't Wait

        Published May 16 2017, 5:40 PM by Kelly Miller
        • System Management
        • Cybersecurity
        • Law Enforcement

        Thousands of articles, videos and blogs have been written about the importance of software security patching. The simple fact is that most cyber-attacks are based on known system and software vulnerabilities. Patching can correct these vulnerabilities and safeguard your network from intrusions.

        And yet around the world, many of us fail to make security patching a priority. This became eminently clear over the weekend in the largest cyber-attack ever. A ransomware known as “WannaCry” resulted in more than 45,000 attacks in at least 100 countries over a 48-hour window. Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin stated, “The reason this is hitting so many computers at once is they [the hackers] discovered a vulnerability in the most popular operating system in the world...in Microsoft Windows.”

        Companies that were up to date on their patching were not affected by the cyber attack that shocked not only private organizations such as telecom giant Spain's Telefonica, but also government and public safety mission-critical entities such as hospitals and clinics across the United Kingdom and the Andhra Pradesh police in India.

        “The fact that so many organizations were vulnerable to this was quite a surprise,” said cyber expert and CEO of Capital Alpha Security in the United Kingdom Matt Tait. “This patch came out three months ago."  Yes, Microsoft did announce a fix for the vulnerability, but not everyone acted or even took note when the announcement was made. Some were unaware. Others had budget or resource constraints or simply waited to address due to other priorities.

        The main lesson from WannaCry outbreak? Don't delay patching--ever. The political, public relationship and most important, civilian ramifications are enormous, especially for mission-critical organizations that depend on sophisticated IP-based communication networks. Our dedicated security experts help our customers mitigate cybersecurity threats with validated security patches through our Security Update Service (SUS). We analyzed, vetted and released the patch which addressed the WannaCry vulnerability to our customer base shortly after its initial release by Microsoft. We installed it and others for customers who opt for remote security patching and encourage those with our self-install patching option to do so immediately and reboot servers if you already haven’t.

        The good news is that a security researcher inadvertently discovered a 'kill switch' which has halted the spread of the initial worm that took the world by surprise. In our modern world of cyber-threats, none of us can afford to be complacent any longer. Security patching is one of the core, fundamental steps needed to safeguard your system from cyber threats. For more information, visit our cybersecurity services page.

        Kelly Miller is Software and Security Product Manager at Motorola Solutions.

      • Insights from a Live Hacking Demonstration - Why Security Patching is Critical

        Published May 02 2017, 4:44 PM by Wendell Robinson
        • EMS
        • Cybersecurity
        • System Management
        • Fire
        • Law Enforcement

        I recently attended IWCE, a conference focused on educating end-users and operators on the trends and evolving technologies taking place with Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems. My mission at the show was to increase cybersecurity awareness. LMR systems are no longer entirely closed networks or immune from cyber threats. If anything, serving as a mission-critical, communication component for government and public safety agencies, they have a propensity of gaining the attention of hackers. Government entities are being attacked at twice the rate of other industries across the board.

        My goal was to raise awareness about the importance of proactive cybersecurity measures for LMR systems with a live hacking demonstration. From my demos, here were the common insights I gleaned from the LMR end-users and system operators I met:  

        Cybersecurity education is still needed. Only a small subset of those I spoke to had a sound understanding of their LMR system’s level of risk. Others were aware that their systems are now vulnerable to cyber threats. However, they were not knowledgeable of how their system can be compromised; their risk posture; or how to protect their systems from and respond to cyber intrusions.

        Hackers aren’t that sophisticated. Most of the individuals I spoke to weren’t aware that you don’t have to be a brilliant hacker to create something that can comprise a system. Without a great deal of knowledge, hackers can create an exploit that can work on a LMR system. Everything needed is available through a few clicks of the button. A conference attendee that person I spoke to said, “I had no idea it was that simple!”

        Chaos and disruption is the end goal. During my demo, I reviewed various examples of the actions hackers can take once in their systems. I explained how a hacker can upload code to overwrite operating software files to disrupt the network, launch web browser that redirect system users to a malicious website, and execute commands that can remotely shutdown and reboot a system server. Most system assaults are directed at disrupting communication at some level.

        Most successful attacks are based on known vulnerabilities. The “A Ha!!” moment came when I pointed out that most attacks are based on known system vulnerabilities – 75% according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. However, the good news is that these vulnerabilities have patches that can be applied to systems. Security patching is one of the first and important steps anyone can take to mitigate cybersecurity threats.

        From my conversations at the show, the LMR end-users and operators I spoke to are more aware that their systems are vulnerable to cyber intrusions. However, it’s important that everyone understands their system’s risk posture and how to proactively address cyber threats. There isn’t room for complacency when safeguarding a mission-critical, LMR system. While there are many strategies and options available, there is one action everyone should take to mitigate cyber threats—regular security patching. For our customers, we offer this service with rigor by pre-testing and validating all required patches to ensure they don’t cause any disruption when installed. If you don’t patch, you’re at greater risk to get hacked. Why let that happen? Learn more at motorolasolutions.com/cybersecurity.

        Wendell Robinson is Lead Cybersecurity Services Manager at Motorola Solutions. 

      • SOME THINGS CAN BE MADE EASIER! – SAVE TIME AND RESOURCES WITH EXPERT APX DEVICE MANAGEMENT SERVICES

        Published Apr 17 2017, 1:53 PM by Robert Buethe
        • EMS
        • Services
        • System Management
        • Fire
        • Law Enforcement

        If you’re operating a mission-critical network with hundreds to thousands of APX radios, you already know that device management is an arduous undertaking. With all the maintenance, programming and changes you make, it still doesn’t guarantee you’ll maximize performance. How can you ensure your devices operate effectively and that every critical call gets through?

        If you don’t have the time and resources to adequately support your mission-critical devices, you should seek experienced resources that can help. You can now enlist device management experts at Motorola Solutions who can expedite programming, ensure correct connectivity, help you take advantage of all the applications available to you, and provide the right hardware and software support needed.

        Top Three Reasons To Seek Expert Device Management Services:

        1. You need an intelligent hardware and software maintenance plan. This includes full reporting and analysis of your radio performance to know precisely which radios need to be maintained. With better prioritization, you could save significant time and money with more accurate support rather than conducting routine mass updates.
        2. You will experience expedited programming and configuration changes. With enhanced radio technology comes more complexity in programming. Deploying new radios—without disrupting your service—is always a challenge. Your daily routine tasks to add and remove subscribers, or to adjust talk groups is time consuming. Additionally, if you don’t assess the device and network interdependencies, your radio communications may be negatively impacted. By transferring this responsibility to a team dedicated to your radios, you can free up your resources to keep focus on your core mission.
        3. You can take full advantage of all radio capabilities. If you’re using APX radios, no one knows your radios better than us. Freeing you from the time and hassle in programming and showing you how to improve the use of your radios can be a game changer for your organization. 

        If minimizing downtime, increasing operational readiness and lowering your costs related to managing your two-way radio fleet sounds appealing, discover how we can help you today with APX Services.

        We also held a webinar on Improving Device Management that expands further on how you can take action to improve your land mobile radio performance.

        Robert D. Buethe is MSSSI Global Vice President for Managed and Support Services.

      • OVER 60% OF NETWORK OUTAGES ARE FROM NATURAL DISASTERS - BE PREPARED!

        Published Apr 06 2017, 7:13 PM by Robert Buethe
        • EMS
        • National Government Security
        • Services
        • System Management
        • Fire
        • Law Enforcement

        Though built for resiliency, land mobile radio (LMR) systems are not exempt from faults. And, with weather getting more unpredictable and extreme throughout the U.S., critical network events can multiply during catastrophes. Mission-critical operations require having a disaster management plan to ensure network uptime.  

        Plan for the unpredictable. Most cities, states and countries have emergency management plans. Become familiar with the plans outlined for varying degrees of emergencies and how your network operations team should function in these situations. Your plans should include specific procedures for redundancies, provisioning, onsite support, power supply failures, spare parts management and much more. Catastrophes happen with and without notice. Having a set plan, and more importantly, conducting periodic drills based on that plan, makes you better prepared for either situation.

        Assess your overall system management. Outages can put public safety at risk.  Do you have all the necessary skills required to plan, operate and optimize your system performance? Leveraging a strategy that augments your operations with the right mission-critical expertise can help you maximize your technology investment, improve resiliency and ensure proper redundancies exist for the best coverage and connectivity in any situation.

        Preparing for network issues as they arise is imperative to public safety ground operations during catastrophes. Read more about how our managed services team ensures communication among first responders in South Carolina during the 1000-year flood in our Mission-Critical Disaster Management Use Case.

        Robert D. Buethe is MSSSI Global Vice President for Managed and Support Services.

      • AVOID THE NIGHTMARE OF NETWORK DOWNTIME

        Published Feb 21 2017, 10:43 PM by Robert Buethe
        • System Management
        • Services

        Let’s start with a stat: 80% of government IT leaders experienced at least 1 critical network outage in the last 3 months.1

        Public safety mission critical systems have to stay available 24 x 7 x 365.  Period.  A public safety system is not a “normal” IT network. Your technology needs to keep first responders safe and needs to be uniquely supported and managed to operate under all circumstances and events – planned or unplanned. You have to prepare to fail.

        Understanding how your system operates in various failure modes is critical. How well can you identify an outage versus a maintenance check? What types of contingency plans do you have defined in your organization and with third-party vendors and agencies? How often are you accessing wireless coverage information to ensure you don’t have any new blind spots from when the system was first installed? If and when a failure does happen, how responsive you are to minimizing the downtime can make a significant difference in the outcome you experience.

        Mission-critical network management takes rigor and expertise that requires a comprehensive approach with the right team, processes and tools. Read more about best practices you need to adopt in our whitepaper: Critical Steps to Prevent Network Downtime.

        SOURCES: 1. 2016 Survey by the Center for Digital Government.

        Robert D. Buethe is MSSSI Global Vice President for Managed and Support Services

      • PREPARE TO FAIL – 5 QUESTIONS TO ASSESS YOUR PERFORMANCE

        Published Feb 13 2017, 5:56 PM by Robert Buethe
        • System Management
        • Cybersecurity
        • Services

        Like it or not, even the best technology is destined to fail. With the rapid increase of demands placed on your mission-critical communications infrastructure -- such as adding new applications, expanding users, changing coverage needs or prioritizing data requirements -- outages are inevitable. Fortunately, organizations don’t have to be crippled in handling these challenges. 

        Developing continuity plans or disaster management plans is not a new concept; yet many tend to delay addressing this need until something bad happens. 

        What are you doing differently this year to stay better prepared? Applying best practices to maintaining and operating your critical communications system can provide better outcomes to improve your staff performance, system continuity and your bottom line.  

        How are you evaluating your risk of cyber attacks? Land mobile radio systems are not an exception to hacking and malware.  Ransomware continues to be an increasingly costly threat and expected to remain the top cyber malware threat in 2017. Are you vigilant with monitoring this constantly-evolving cyber landscape and incorporating effective situational awareness into your resilience plan? If not now…when?  Cybersecurity remains a top challenge and priority for CIOs – don’t ignore your land mobile radio system. By understanding which threats can impact your system, you can plan the appropriate response to cyber attacks. Plan an assessment to help you discover vulnerabilities and best practices to employ. And, invest in a streamlined patching process to help mitigate the threats. 

        Do you understand your system’s performance indicators and how to take action? Knowing what factors can influence call processing, coverage, equipment stability, false alarms, etc. provides an opportunity to analyze trends and optimize performance.  What if you could correlate system information with external data sources to predict how your critical communications system will operate in various operating scenarios?  Our recent webinar on Leveraging Performance Data for Operational Excellence explains more about how we’re working with customers to leverage data analytics and improve their system performance for better uptime and connectivity. 

        Is your network management fully automated? One of the easiest areas to improve network management efficiencies is with proper network monitoring and alerting to detect and diagnose problems. Not all system alerts are created equal. While there is a plethora of monitoring tools available on the market, it requires a combination of tools and skills to understand system behaviors.  Knowing which alerts are important and having the knowledge database to effectively prioritize and respond correctly the first time can save thousands of staff hours in a year. 

        What’s your maintenance process? If you’re applying the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy and letting your system run on auto-pilot, you’re increasing your chances to experience something bad happening that’s going to potentially be even more costly.  Routine preventive maintenance is worth the investment to extend the lifespan of your technology and ensure optimal interoperability. Planned upgrades are also critical to ensure your system is able to support the increasing volume of data from the myriad of applications adopted. 

        Are you facing staffing challenges? Radio network management expertise is retiring faster than it can be replaced. Hiring comprehensive Cybersecurity expertise may be budget constraining in today’s competitive market.  No one knows Motorola Solutions’ mission-critical networks better than Motorola Solutions. We are ready to assist you with over 4,000 specialists worldwide dedicated to ensure our customers’ mission critical systems are reliably operating 24x7x365 – spanning 100+ countries managing over 500,000 devices and over 10,000 sites.

        I could go on with the list of questions to consider. It’s always a good practice to take some time and reflect how your organization is changing this year and ensure you have the right support in place.

        Robert D. Buethe is MSSSI Global Vice President for Managed and Support Services