Think Information. Think Security.
You wake up late one morning because your alarm didn't go off. Puzzled by the lack of electricity, you reach for your phone to call the power company. You don't even get a dial tone. Your cellphone can't connect either, despite four full bars and a charged battery. You try to go online with your laptop. No dice. It dawns on you that something is really wrong

This scenario sounds like the beginning of a Hollywood disaster movie. It isn't that far off. This is just one way a cyberattack against our country could play out. A cyberattack is a politically motivated attack on computers that control critical infrastructures. It can also affect government and financial websites.

Cyberattacks can take many forms. It could be a physical attack on computer systems. It could involve a virus designed to take down networks. Or it could be sabotage, the work of a company insider.

In truth, we don't know what a cyberattack would look like. It could have limited or widespread effects. It depends what systems are targeted and how the attack spreads. But one thing is clear: You can't count on anything that relies on modern technology in a cyberattack.

Sadly, the United States (and for any other country in-fact) is ill-prepared for the threat. Security experts believe that viruses are already hiding on computers controlling the power grid. And recent attacks by hacker group LulzSec show how vulnerable we are. It has attacked the CIA, the U.S. Senate, broadcasters and businesses.

You need a family plan to guide you through an attack. It's unclear how long the effects would last. In localized emergencies, workers from other areas help to restore services quickly. A cyberattack could affect wide swaths of the country; outside help may not be a possibility. So plan for 30 days.

Keep a supply of water and canned food on hand, along with a first aid kit. Knowing exactly what other survival tools to include can be difficult. Fortunately, the government has a site to help you plan your disaster kit.

Your emergency kit should contain cash. After all, debit and credit cards may not work. Keep important documents within easy reach, too. You may not be able to get to documents stored on your computer. Store physical copies with your disaster kit. I recommend keeping them in a safe.

Being separated from your family is worrying, particularly in emergencies. So your family needs to determine a gathering point. You can use Facebook or Twitter to check in. However, they could be down or overloaded.

You can't count on cellphones working. However, in localized disasters, it is often easier to call outside the area. So designate an out-of-town relative as a contact person.

You'll also want to have a set of two-way radios, along with batteries. They'll work in any situation. Be sure to choose a channel to use in advance. Choose a second one in case the first is in use.

An AM/FM radio is essential for any emergency kit. Make sure it is capable of receivingNOAA weather alerts. Choose one that can be powered by hand crank or solar power. Some can even charge other gadgets, like cellphones.

Remember that even when cellular networks are down, texting may still work. Free smartphone apps may also help in a disaster. Emergency Distress Beacon for the iPhone sends your GPS coordinates via text message or email. Send My Position is a similar app for Android phones. They can help you locate family members.

If you have young children, be sure to write instructions down for them. This can help if they're at school when disaster strikes. For kids old enough to have a cellphone, make a note with the instructions and store it on their phone as a file or picture. Don't count on them remembering where to meet or what to do.

Do I think a cyberattack is possible? Absolutely. That's why it's best to prepare now.

Source: USA Today

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