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June 26, 2013
3:23 pm

Originally posted by the U.S. Coast Guard on June 25, 2013

        Coast Guard crews work year-round to ensure they are ready to support their community in the aftermath of disaster. In keeping with the service’s proud tradition of preserving life, the Coast Guard has plans in place to protect communities from manmade or natural disasters and one of the most important elements of these plans is communication. When disaster hits, communication is essential among first responders to coordinate rescue and recovery efforts. Traditionally, the Coast Guard has utilized radios, emails, telephones and basic computer systems to communicate, store, and share information. Members of the Port of New Orleans Harbor Police Department conduct safety and security patrols with a Coast Guard response boat for Super Bowl XLVII on the lower Mississippi River, Jan. 31, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bill Colclough.

While the Coast Guard will always rely on traditional telecommunications such as radios, emails and telephones, it also has a powerful tool to coordinate response efforts with federal, state local and private sector partners – the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Information Network. Known as HSIN, this innovative network is a secure system providing real-time collaboration tools, including a virtual meeting space, instant messaging and document sharing. In short, this network allows the Coast Guard to share information with other agencies instantly, regardless of their location, to communicate, collaborate and coordinate. This tool is invaluable for units involved in hurricane response efforts, including law enforcement, emergency management and humanitarian agencies.“

HSIN allows government agencies at all levels to directly collaborate and share information with others including the private sector like energy companies and private rail while maintaining proper information security,” said Lt. Joel Kurucar of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, who has worked to incorporate HSIN into Coast Guard operations. “During event and incident responses, information from responders is passed through operational command centers. While those are still critical to response efforts, HSIN cuts out the ‘middle man’ and allows information from the source to be shared with all responders faster and more effectively than ever before.”

The network has been used in most hurricane response efforts in the Southeast since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When Hurricane Katrina made landfall, New Orleans’ 911 system was knocked offline and calls were re-routed to Baton Rouge, La. HSIN was used to relay information from thousands of emergency calls to first responders in New Orleans, resulting in lives saved. But responders are constantly improving their capabilities. For the first time this year, live video feed was shared through HSIN during the Super Bowl to assist with surveillance efforts.

“HSIN is able to fill in the gaps when it comes to emergency response and provides the flexibility to modify tools used for response efforts,” said Kurucar. “We were able to leverage the tools available in HSIN to meet the needs of vastly different responses including oil spills, marine casualties, hurricane responses and mid-to-large planned events. Each response or event is different and the ability to adjust the information sharing tools available to meet mission demand is critical to success.”

This year, the Coast Guard plans to coordinate response efforts not only online, but also on the go with the roll out of a Coast Guard-developed mobile interface. The mobile interface will allow information to flow through HSIN from almost any location. This means more real-time information, even for those out in the field responding. The value of the mobile interface was seen firsthand during this year’s Super Bowl, where more than 500 first responders were able to communicate directly with seven operations centers, drastically increasing transition speeds, accuracy of data and security.

“The HSIN mobile interface played a prominent role in deconflicting reports and speeding the response to the power outage during the Super Bowl,” said Kurucar. “As soon as the power outage took place, City of New Orleans officials were posting updates on HSIN, and first responders in the field were able to check these updates on their mobile devices allowing them to efficiently concentrate their efforts in the field and reduce calls to the city’s operations center who was handling the incident.”

Quick communication is key in response efforts – from posting information about evacuation shelters and routes to requesting assistance from neighboring states or counties to sharing on-the-ground information about search and rescue efforts. Preparing U.S. ports and cities for disaster is a year-round effort that often goes unnoticed. In the face of disaster, however, the plans developed by local, state and federal agencies will save lives. No one knows what this year’s hurricane season will be like, but with tools like the Homeland Security Information Network the Coast Guard remains ready to respond.

June 20, 2013
11:30 am

Today, the Administration unveiled the 2013 Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Joint Strategic Plan which will help guide the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to combat intellectual property theft in the next three years.  Over the past four years, DHS has worked closely with the White House Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) and our interagency partners to further strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement, and promote American innovation and economic growth. 

The 2013 Joint Strategic Plan builds on our progress and lays out 26 specific Action Items to strengthen our intellectual property protections, increase enforcement efforts against counterfeiting networks, and encourage multi-national cooperation to protect intellectual property.  

The release of the Strategic Plan today coincides with the three-year anniversary of “Operation In Our Sites,” the first coordinated and sustained law enforcement effort to target websites that distribute counterfeit merchandise and pirated goods. Since its inception, Federal law enforcement agencies, have conducted 13 operations, resulting in the seizure of more than 1,700 domain names of infringing websites and over $3 million from targeted sites.

Our work combating intellectual property theft is strengthened through our collaboration with our international law enforcement partners. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are working with the World Customs Organization (WCO) to develop a Cargo Targeting System (CTS), and build on the success of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) operation to expand enforcement efforts to cover counterfeit pharmaceuticals and electronic components. 

Additionally, DHS is working in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Postal Service, to develop and implement a program to obtain advance data from international postal operators and express carrier companies to improve targeting. 

  • Since FY 2009, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has significantly increased its enforcement activities, including a 71% increase in intellectual property cases, 159% increase in arrests, 264% increase in indictments, and 103 %  increase in convictions. 
  • Since FY 2010, ICE’s IPR Center’s number of inves­tigative leads submitted by field offices and partner agencies increased by 764%. 
  • Since FY 2009, CBP and ICE HSI intellectual property seizures have increased by 53 %, with 24,792 seizures carried out in FY 2011—the highest total number of seizures in a year to date. 
  • To date, 21 agen­cies, including four international partners, have partnered together through the IPR Center to leverage their combined resources, skills, and authorities to better combat intellectual property theft and dismantle the criminal organizations seeking to profit from the manufacturing, importation, and sale of counterfeit merchandise and pirated works. 

Further details can be found here.

June 19, 2013
3:07 pm

This morning, Secretary Napolitano sat down for an interview on the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Secretary Napolitano talked about the DHS Blue Campaign, the Department’s unified voice to combat human trafficking. Working in collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations, Blue Campaign strives to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.

The Blue Campaign recently re-launched, and is now offering new, comprehensive resources for recognizing the indicators of human trafficking and knowing how to report suspected instances of human trafficking to law enforcement, as well as resources for potential victims. Please visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign to learn more, take the training, print the posters, and share the PSA to educate yourself and your community about human trafficking.

June 18, 2013
10:30 am

Amidst all the trips to the beach, family vacations, and picnics this summer, children will also spend an increased amount of time on the Internet. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, children and teenagers aged 8-18 spend almost 8  hours a day on electronic devices. This summer, the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign is encouraging parents to take a few minutes to talk with their children about Internet safety.

While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk.  For children, this includes cyber bullying, cyber predators, and other threats. The Cyber Bullying Research Center says that about half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly. The Internet makes it easy for rumors, threats, and photos to be easily disseminated, without realizing the harm it can cause someone else.

Parents, teachers, and guardians can begin taking steps to protect children online by creating an open environment where they  feel comfortable reporting abuses over the Internet. Here are some additional tips from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign:

  • Be aware of what social networks your kids and teens use and how much information they share. They should never share addresses, birthdays, schools, and last names with strangers;
  • Teach your kids how to conduct searches safely, by using specific and narrow search terms on commonly-used search engines to prevent unwanted and malicious results;
  • Install filters and firewalls to manage what sites your kids can access;
  • Set strong passwords that are different on every site; and
  • Remind your children not to say anything online about someone else that they would not  want them to said about them. 

At the end of the day, cybersecurity is ultimately about people and is a shared responsibility.  We are all called on to ACT or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

 

 

June 6, 2013
11:22 am

DHS is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace for all our employees.  Diversity makes us better as a Department, and the contributions of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) employees strengthen DHS in many different ways every day.  As we mark the 10th anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security, we are taking the opportunity to consider just how much has changed in that time. 

I’m proud of the progress this Department has made to advance LGBT equality.  In the past year alone, with the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, DHS extended additional benefits to same-sex domestic partners of U.S. Coast Guard service members and, where applicable, to the children of same-sex domestic partners.  Last October, as part of our use of prosecutorial discretion to close removal cases that are outside our priority areas, we included same-sex couples when considering family relationship as one of the factors relevant to the assessment of a person’s ties and contributions to the community.  

We have also incorporated LGBT awareness training into basic courses at our Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and we have created the first DHS Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan to help us promote a diverse workforce and foster an inclusive workplace for all DHS employees.  

The work we’ve done over the past decade provides a strong foundation to address the inevitable challenges we will face, and an ever-changing threat landscape. Working as One DHS means we benefit from the talents and experiences that all of our people bring with them. This is about more than just integrating different components and offices.  It is about bringing together our workforce and building an open, inclusive culture.  Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is essential to executing our missions. 

June 5, 2013
9:49 am

Today, I am proud to announce the launch of the redesigned Blue Campaign, the Department of Homeland Security’s unified voice for combating human trafficking.

Human trafficking is often hidden in plain sight, even in our own communities. Everyone has a role to play in combating human trafficking. Increased awareness and training will lead to more tips, which will result in more victims being identified and rescued.

Working together with law enforcement, government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector, the Blue Campaign strives to protect the basic right of freedom and bring those who exploit human lives to justice. Together, we can take comprehensive action to stop this horrible crime, to rescue its victims, and to put its perpetrators behind bars.

The Blue Campaign is offering new, comprehensive resources for recognizing the indicators of human trafficking and knowing how to report suspected instances of human trafficking to law enforcement, as well as resources for potential victims.

I encourage you to take a moment to learn more about human trafficking and how everyone can join in the fight. Please visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign to learn more, take the training, print the posters, and share the PSA to educate yourself and your community about human trafficking.

May 28, 2013
11:39 am

Originally posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday, May 27
 

hurricane winds

This week, we’re kicking off National Hurricane Preparedness Week! Once again, we’ve teamed up with our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to encourage all Americans to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, which officially starts this Saturday, June 1 and lasts until November 30. Above all, hurricanes are powerful forces of nature that not only cause damage to coastlines, but also hundreds of miles inland as well because of flooding.

The impact of Hurricane Sandy was felt in Puerto Rico, Florida and other parts of the East Coast, and this video shows just how much damage Hurricane Sandy caused in the Northeast:

All week long we’ll be posting hurricane safety resources and information, encouraging everyone to take two simple actions:
 

  • Pledge to prepare – It’s an easy step as you take action to prepare your home, family, and business against hurricanes and other severe weather. By taking this pledge, you’re taking the first step in ensuring you’re ready for severe weather.
  • Share your pledge with someone you know - Once you pledge, encourage other family members, friends, and neighbors to take the pledge and prepare for hurricane season. We hope you join us in spreading the word this week and encouraging everyone you know to prepare. Having a plan and being prepared for can make a world of difference during an emergency and severe weather.

And in case you missed it, you can also receive hurricane safety tips directly to your phone, by texting HURRICANE to 43362 (4FEMA). And of course, standard message and data rates apply.
 

May 24, 2013
12:58 pm

Posted by: Margaret H. Graves, DHS Acting Chief Information Officer

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as part of the Administration’s Digital Government Strategy, has reached key agency milestones to enable a more efficient and coordinated digital service delivery.

DHS has launched new mobile-enabled websites and Open Data Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), making our data easier to find and more accessible, allowing us to better serve the needs of the American public and help fuel entrepreneurship. To this end:

DHS has also launched www.dhs.gov/developer which allows the public and software developers easier access to DHS-maintained open data APIs, web services, mobile apps, mobile-enabled sites, and developers forums. 

The Digital Government Strategy will align public government services with 21st century capabilities. DHS is committed to enabling better utilization of departmental data to improve the quality of services to the American people, as we strengthen the delivery of our digital services.

You can learn more about DHS’ implementation of the Digital Government Strategy by visiting DHS’ Digital Strategy site (www.dhs.gov/dhs-digital-strategy).

May 24, 2013
11:47 am

In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign initiated a project to help law enforcement more effectively identify human trafficking victims, traffickers, and accomplices, in collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center. The project uses state-of-the-art technology to help federal investigators and prosecutors build stronger cases against human trafficking organizations. 

The project led to ICE HSI’s recent arrest of 13 individuals in New York involved in human trafficking.  The defendants are believed to be linked to larger, transnational networks of sex traffickers which lure women from Mexico by engaging them in romantic relationships and promising a better life in the United States. After the women are recruited, they are then forced into prostitution and become victims of human trafficking .

"With promises of a better life, the members of this alleged sex trafficking and prostitution ring lured their unsuspecting victims to the United States and then consigned them to a living hell – forcing them to become sex slaves living in abhorrent conditions, and using threats, verbal abuse, and violence – sexual and otherwise – when they resisted and even sometimes when they didn’t," said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "With their arrests Tuesday, the barbaric conduct in which these defendants allegedly engaged in order to make a profit has now been put to a stop, and they will be prosecuted for their alleged crimes and the women they enslaved will be able to put their lives back together."

Read more about this investigation at:  http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1305/130501newyork.htm.

May 24, 2013
11:03 am

In the aftermath of the devastation caused by severe weather in Moore, Okla., the support and generosity shown by the American people for those in need underscores our compassion and resilience as a nation. Unfortunately, cyber criminals and hackers often exploit tragedies and other high profile news stories, reminding us of the importance of staying safe online.

Following incidents such as this, cyber criminals may use phishing attacks to capitalize on the number of users interested in finding out more information about the event. Newly created websites and Twitter accounts may try to take advantage of those looking to contribute to fundraising efforts while others could target individuals interested in simply learning more about the incident. 

Here are a few ways you can protect yourself from online scams and phishing techniques:

  • Exercise caution when clicking on email links or interacting with social media accounts that claim to represent the best interests of those involved in this incident.
  • Only donate money to known, credible fundraising charities.
  • When searching for updates on the story, it is safest to go directly to trusted news sources rather than conducting general search engine queries.

If you suspect you have received a phishing email, please send it to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) at phishing-report@us-cert.gov.

For more information on protecting yourself and your information online, visit www.dhs.gov/StopThinkConnect.

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