THE LATEST SCAM Cyber criminals are getting more and more devious. The most recent scam to separate you from your money is called Ransomware. The criminals take control of your computer using Malware. You will be unable to access your files and will receive a screen message—with logos and names from a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice or the FBI—stating that you have been involved in illegal activities and that you need to send money via a Moneypak card to avoid prosecution. Do not pay the ransom. Take your computer to a professional and get the Malware removed.
WHAT IF? If your house sustained major water damage, knocking out your power, you’d be greatly inconvenienced. But if the same thing happened in the fire department facilities it could mean the difference between life and death. This summer, Mt. Lebanon Fire Department conducted a business continuity plan to see what would happen if an emergency prevented them from using the public safety building. The scenario involved significant water damage in the building that disabled the electrical system and generator. During the four-hour drill, the department’s administrative services moved into the former 9-1-1 center in the Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building’s basement. Trucks were moved to the municipality’s public works facility off Cedar Boulevard and the Medical Rescue Team South Authority’s building on Cypress Way off Castle Shannon Boulevard.
The exercise went off without a hitch, and the municipality’s IT department was able to get the fire department’s phone lines, record management system and computers up and running within an hour. The fire department uses Firehouse software on its computers, which cannot be installed on personal computers. The software contains their day-to-day reports, training and maintenance records and information they need to respond quickly to a call.
Fire Chief Nick Sohyda was pleased by how the exercise played out and is relieved to know that in a worst-case scenario, the fire department will be able to offer basically uninterrupted service. “I’m glad we did it,” he says. “I’m glad we planned ahead.”
HOLIDAY SAFETY REMINDER As you prepare for the holidays, keep these simple tips in mind… Watch your valuables—don’t leave your purse in the shopping cart to investigate a sale one aisle over. Don’t leave packages in an unlocked car. In fact, don’t leave your packages in sight at all—use your car’s trunk. Remember that the night before Thanksgiving is the biggest bar night of the year—find a designated driver and don’t let your friends leave the bar after having a few too many. While setting up the Christmas tree, toss any lights with worn or frayed cords and keep the tree well watered. Place those pretty candles away from flammable items and out of the reach of curious children, cats and wagging dog tails. And please, please don’t try to discard your old Christmas tree or dried out wreaths in your fireplace. Put it curbside for pickup.