Monthly Archives: August 2020

Security in a Corona-virus crisis

security

For most of us, the Corona-virus crisis meant keeping distance and working from home. But, what impact has the crisis had on areas such as terrorism and cybercrime? See the Danish trends here. 

Cybercrime
The Corona-virus crisis has facilitated the ‘work’ of cybercriminals, who have been exploiting the current situation to create various scams.

– There have been numerous cyberattacks, particularly at the beginning of the crisis. Perpetrators analysed the context and adapted their language and wording to match the tone of the authorities. They tried to get people to log on to fake sites using e-mails that looked like they came from the authorities and were important and correct, says Anja Kivac, Project Manager at the security department of the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology (DBI).

Clever use of the right language combined with our hunger for news about the Corona-virus resulted in more people than usual clicking on false links. But working from home is also part of the explanation.

– Things are done in a particular way in the workplace, and at the dining table at home, you don’t feel as if you’re at work, so you drop your guard. When you’re in an unfamiliar situation, you’re more likely to make mistakes, e.g. click on links that you wouldn’t normally click on. At the same time, many people have had their children at home, which can also be distracting, says Anja Kivac.

The same applies to mobile phones where fraudulent text messages have become rampant. Lots of people have ordered more parcels than usual and have, therefore, been more susceptible to text messages about parcel collection. When the person clicks on the link, it turns out to be malicious.

– As many people have not been on the company’s network, but their own, it is primarily private individuals who have been affected, and not companies as a whole. In general, however, the authorities have been quick to detect and warn the public about threats from e-mails and text messages, says Anja Kivac.

Burglaries
It has not just been in the digital world that the Corona-virus has had an effect. Burglars also accepted the advice to stay at home, albeit probably less willingly than everyone else. In Denmark, burglary rates have fallen by a quarter compared to the same period last year. As someone known to the police said during questioning:

– It’s hard to find a house where there isn’t someone at home.

Terrorist threat
On 20 March, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service, PET, issued a new assessment of the threat from terror against Denmark, and this remains at a serious level.

– During a crisis like the Corona-virus, terrorists who may be planning attacks against our country are still out there. But society’s focus changes during a crisis. The intention of terrorism is to attract attention and hit symbolic target or populations. Many public places have been closed and gatherings have been limited, so one would imagine that they are saving their energy and will hold off carrying out terrorist attacks until the crisis has passed, says Jesper Florin, head of the security department at DBI.

However, there has been a slight increase in terrorist-related propaganda online, as many people have been at home and searched for information and knowledge. Various terrorist organisations have tried to exploit this by increasing the flow of information in their online forums.

Container puts out inextinguishable fires in electric cars

 

container-fire2

The lithium-ion batteries in electric and hybrid cars present a challenge to the emergency services if the cars are involved in a traffic accident or burst into flames.  Now, the emergency services in Denmark have developed their own solution.

Cars can burst into flames a long time after they have been damaged. They can be exceptionally difficult to extinguish. They can flare up again and again. They emit combustible and harmful gases.  Water is contaminated and damaging to the environment due to chemicals. Yes, the batteries in electric and hybrid cars present numerous challenges when you look at it from the point of view of the emergency services. This is the conclusion of a new report from the Swedish organisation RISE, which has taken a closer look at lithium-ion batteries in vehicles.

The numerous factors specific to electric and hybrid cars present the emergency services with a number of challenges, which the emergency services in Copenhagen are now tackling. They have designed a container specifically for handling damaged electric and hybrid cars.

– We are seeing more and more electric and hybrid cars in the municipalities we cover. And, it would appear that there will be many more in the future. That is why we must be able to deal with the chemical fires they can cause, says Michael Kim Andersen, Deputy Director of Emergency Services in Copenhagen.

A well-equipped container
The individual cells in a lithium-ion batter can be damaged in the event of a traffic accident or if there is a fire in the car. This can result in the development of heat in the cell, which then spreads from cell to cell – also known as thermal runaway.  A chemical fire in a lithium-ion battery can develop very quickly with shooting flames and harmful flammable gases. Heat can develop several hours after an accident has occurred, and if one cell has thermal runaway, the heat from that cell can cause the neighbouring cell to develop heat too. This way, a single cell can start a chain reaction which can cause the battery to burst into flames a long time after an accident has taken place. The effects of heat from, for example, a fire, can result in the same effect in a cell.

– Batteries are difficult to extinguish, and they can burst into flames again several hours later – in some cases, right up to a week later.  We can’t close roads and motorways for several hours, so if it isn’t possible for us to extinguish the fire in the battery, we may have to remove the car. That’s why we have developed a container for that very purpose, says Michael Kim Andersen.

The container is constructed in such a way that you lift or tow an electric car into it, place the container on the bed of a tow truck and remove the car.  The container has nozzles in the floor and on the walls which can be used to both extinguish any flames and cool the battery – which more often than not, is located under the car – to hamper the development of heat. The water for the nozzles flows round a circuit, which reduces water consumption significantly and makes it easier to collect the water later and send it for cleansing if it has been contaminated by chemicals from the battery. In addtion, there are installations with inert gas in the container.

– A fire in an electric car battery is a chemical fire and does not require oxygen. Therefore, inert gas has no effect on the battery but is intended for the other parts of the car. Indeed, the development of heat from the battery can potentially cause the cabin to burst into flames. And since it’s a confined space – at least until the windows burst – the water can’t get in there. Therefore, inert gas is required to smother the flames, explains Michael Kim Andersen.

Extended period of isolation required
With the container, the procedure in the event of an accident with an electric or hybrid car will be more or less the same as an accident involving conventional cars. It is cleared up quickly and the traffic can keep flowing. However, an electric car can’t be taken to a car breaker or a workshop where it is placed indoors next to other cars, which a fire could potentially spread to. Instead, it can now be left in the container until the risk of it flaring up has subsided.

– We are in dialogue with other authorities to determine where we can put the container when it contains a damaged electric or hybrid car. It must be kept in an isolated and closed area where it can remain undisturbed for a time, says Michael Kim Andersen.

Requires extra vigilance
The container is the only one of its kind in the Nordic region, and the interest in it is high from neighbouring emergency services, who can requisition it on an equal footing with other cars and from abroad. However, it doesn’t meet the challenges presented by electric and hybrid cars on its own. Poisonous gases from the batteries mean that special procedures are required when the fire brigade arrive at fires in electric cars.

– If there is a fire in an electric or hybrid car, we are acutely aware that the smoke may contain hydrogen fluoride, which is extremely harmful. Even small doses can result in water in the lungs. Therefore, we also take the precaution of using fresh air breathing apparatus from a greater distance than we would in a normal car fire, says Michael Kim Andersen.