Our picksThe Problem with ShakeAlert | ISIS Recruitment | Ransomware Rages, and more

Published 17 July 2019

·  L.A.’s ShakeAlert Earthquake Warning App Worked Exactly as Planned—That’s the Problem

·  Cyberattacks Inflict Deep Harm at Technology-rich Schools

·  As Ransomware Rages, Debate Heats up on Response

·  Lawmakers, Experts See Combating Russian Disinformation as a “Battle”

·  Parents say Border Patrol Asked Migrant Toddler to Pick Which Parent Got to Stay with Her in U.S.: Report

·  The End of the Caliphate and Its Consequences for Islamist Recruitment

L.A.’s ShakeAlert Earthquake Warning App Worked Exactly as Planned—That’s the Problem (Emily Baumgaertner, Los Angeles Times)
More than 500,000 people have downloaded Los Angeles County’s new ShakeAlertLA app to warn them of impending earthquakes.
So when the two strongest earthquakes in almost two decades hit Southern California this month, those residents were surprised by what they saw on their smartphones: nothing.
Officials were quick to explain to outraged app users that the shaking in the county wasn’t strong enough to trigger an alert.
But that rationale hasn’t mollified the public.

Cyberattacks Inflict Deep Harm at Technology-rich Schools (Michael Melia, AP)
Over six weeks, the vandals kept coming, knocking the school system’s network offline several times a day.
There was no breach of sensitive data files, but the attacks in which somebody deliberately overwhelmed the Avon Public Schools system in Connecticut still proved costly. Classroom lesson plans built around access to the internet had come to a halt.
The kind of attacks more commonly reserved for banks and other institutions holding sensitive data are increasingly targeting school systems around the country. The widespread adoption of education technology, which generates data that officials say can make schools more of a target for hackers, also worsens an attack’s effects when instructional tools are rendered useless by internet outages.

As Ransomware Rages, Debate Heats up on Response (Rob Lever, AFP)
City services in Baltimore, Maryland, were paralyzed earlier this year when a ransomware attack locked up computer networks and made it impossible for residents to make property transactions or pay their municipal bills.
Officials refused to meet hacker demands for a ransom of $76,000 to unlock the systems, but have been saddled with an estimated $18 million in costs of restoring and rebuilding the city’s computer networks.
The dilemma in Baltimore and in a similar case in Atlanta a year earlier highlight tough choices faced by cities, hospitals and corporations hit by ransomware, which can shut down critical services for organizations with dated or vulnerable computer networks.

Lawmakers, Experts See Combating Russian Disinformation as a “Battle” (Maggie Miller, The Hill)
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey(D-N.Y.) is describing the fight against Russian efforts to spread disinformation on social media as a conflict that the U.S. has “got to win.”
At a Wednesday hearing, Lowey referenced the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup win, saying: “We won the USA soccer match, I can’t believe that how difficult it is that we can’t win this battle.”
The comments came during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on countering Russian disinformation and malign influence on social media and other communications platforms, particularly attempts to interfere in U.S. elections. 

Parents say Border Patrol Asked Migrant Toddler to Pick Which Parent Got to Stay with Her in U.S.: Report (Zack Budryk, The Hill)
A Honduran couple said a Border Patrol agent asked their toddler to choose which of her parents she and her two siblings would be allowed to remain with her in the U.S., accordingto NPR.
“The agent asked her who she wanted to go with, mom or dad,” Tania, the three-year-old girl’s mother, told NPR through an interpreter. “And the girl, because she is more attached to me, she said mom. But when they started to take [my husband] away, the girl started to cry. The officer said, ‘You said [you want to go] with mom.’”
The family is subject to Migrant Protection Protocols, a program introduced by the Trump administration that requires thousands of Central American migrants to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases are adjudicated in the U.S., according to the outlet.

The End of the Caliphate and Its Consequences for Islamist Recruitment (Robin Simcox, Heritage)
ISIS’s declaration of a caliphate governed by sharia law was a draw for radicalized individuals who lamented living in a political system where sovereignty lay with man over God. Yet the caliphate was not the primary Islamist cause of radicalization in the first place. Rather, it was a draw for those already immersed in Islamist ideology. While the destruction of the caliphate was necessary, few if any of the factors that initially draw individuals towards Islamist ideology in the first place—from both a theological and political perspective—have diminished. Therefore, even though foreign-fighter travel will exponentially diminish post-caliphate, that does not mean the threat from violent Islamism is guaranteed to do the same.