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Volume 28, Issue 2

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Jon Seals

It seems that small to midsize businesses (SMBs) around the world should begin beefing up their cybersecurity initiatives. Cybertinel, an Israeli security company, has verified the enigmatic Harkonnen Trojan on the network of one of its German clients in August, where attackers had taken full advantage of the often lax or lacking amount of network security in place in many SMBs.

According to TechWorld, around 300 SMBs in Europe may have been used as “fronts” for stealing data for as long as a decade. TechWorld’s John E. Dunn reported:

From the details released to the press, this looks like a rare example of a professional hacking-for-hire attack of long standing that possibly also targeted firms beyond the known target list, including in the UK.



Wednesday, 03 September 2014 14:48

Fake spokespersons find it easy to prank the media

As if crisis and emergency communicators don’t have enough to worry about. In today’s instant news world, without the care journalists once showed to get it right, it’s becoming increasingly common for fake spokespersons to prank the media.

Imagine the nightmare–your organization is in the middle of a major news crisis. While you are working hard to get your authorized spokesperson prepared to go live on national or regional TV, your TV monitor shows a live report going on with someone posing as a spokesperson for your organization.

Think it won’t happen?



Nags Head, N.C., barely skims the ocean surface, a town of about 3,000 people built on sand just 10 feet above sea level. Over the decades, hurricanes have cut a rough path here, taking down homes, roads and piers.

As city planners look toward the inevitable next big blow, they’re thinking about infrastructure. What happens when emergency phone lines no longer function or when the data center goes down? To meet that challenge, Nags Head is teaming up with other municipalities to create inter-city backup arrangements.

“[If] we should have a storm and the area has to be evacuated, essential personnel generally would be required to stay here. But [if] we have a very severe storm, essential personnel would be evacuated, and this arrangement gives us a place to set up shop,” said Allen Massey, IT coordinator of Nags Head.

The arrangement he refers to involves Cary, a city of 146,000 people that’s much farther inland. For call services in particular, Cary is Nags Head’s fallback position.



(MCT) TOKYO — In a nondescript government building near the Imperial Palace, a team of Japanese seismologists stands ready to predict an earthquake.

All day, every day, they monitor data from dozens of tiltmeters, strain gauges and other instruments deployed along a stretch of coastline southwest of Tokyo. The region, called Tokai, was last rocked by a major quake in 1854. Scientists fear it’s overdue for a repeat.

Since 1979, federal scientists have been watching for ground motion that might herald an impending rupture on the fault zone. If their instruments ever detect an ominous bulge, Japanese law requires the prime minister to issue warnings that will shut down schools, hospitals, factories, roads and trains across one of the country’s most populous areas.

The Pacific Northwest is subject to the same type of seismic disaster that Japan hopes to predict, but neither the U.S. nor any other nation has such an ambitious program to nail down an earthquake before it happens. That’s because most experts are convinced it can’t be done.



(MCT) — As Clark County, Wash., families get ready to settle back into the routine of the school year, local officials are hoping residents are also preparing for something less expected: a disaster.

September is National Preparedness Month, and on Monday the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency kicked off its annual disaster preparedness game, called the "30 Days, 30 Ways Preparedness Challenge."

The game, played over social media, assigns one readiness task for each day for the month of September.

After participants have completed the task, they are asked to post their results to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the game's blog or send in the result by email. More details can be found at the game's website, www.30days30ways.com.



Wednesday, 03 September 2014 14:43

3 Simple Steps to Protect Your Family

A brutal snowstorm strikes at mid-day. Roads grow increasingly congested as commuters across the city scramble to get home before conditions worsen. Ice begins to jam roads, and resulting accidents turn interstates into parking lots and neighborhood roads into skating rinks. Some parents grow increasingly desperate to reach their children as roads become impassable, leaving students stranded on buses and at school. Other parents pick up their children only to become stuck in their cars.

Once safely reunited, families remain stuck indoors for days. Childhood excitement at the sight of snow quickly turns to cabin fever. Parents’ relief to have the family reunited turns to hope for the power to remain on and schools to reopen soon.

This scenario became reality for cities across the southeastern U.S. in January 2014, highlighting the importance of preparedness, especially for families. Natural disasters affect about 66 million children each year. Keeping children safe in emergency situations starts in the home, whatever the emergency may be.

Get a Kit

“If you could take one thing with you on a desert island, what would it be?” This popular children’s question game is not too far off the mark for putting together an emergency kit for your family. Maintaining a routine in an emergency will help your children cope.

Putting together a good kit is the first step in helping you do that. Let your children pick things that make them feel secure, such as a favorite book or food. Your children will enjoy helping create a kit of all the things they are sure they could not live without in case of an emergency. Be sure to include your children in the process. Make it a game, and they will find it fun!

Ready Wrigley Prepares for Hurricanes

Some basic items to include in your kit include:

  • Flashlight
  • Radio (hand-crank or battery-powered with extra batteries)
  • Water
  • First-aid kit
  • Can opener
  • Canned goods

You should also know your child’s medications and keep a small supply in case of emergency. Consider a small identification card with information on key medications and emergency contacts for your child to keep at all times.

Think of your family’s specific needs. For example, if you have an infant, keep any special foods or extra diapers on hand.

Keep a similar kit in each car, along with a blanket, nonperishable food, and a charger for your phone or other essential electronics.

Make a Plan


Knowing what to do in an emergency is just as important as having a kit. Most important is ensuring you have a way to reunite your family if they are separated at the time of the emergency. Children do better in these situations when they are with their families. As a start, teach your children important names, phone numbers and addresses. Most children can memorize a phone number by age four or five. Make it a game—it could help keep your children safe.

Protecting your family will involve others, as well. Pick a family member out of town to be a common contact for everyone to call or text. Sometimes local telephone networks can be jammed. If someone else cares for your children during part of the day, always make sure they know what to do and who to contact in an emergency, too. Lastly, make sure you have a plan for what to do with your pets. They are part of the family, too!

Staying Informed

Rear View Of Family Taking Dog For Walk In Countryside

Being informed of your family’s situation when everyone is separated during the day is important. Know the emergency plan in your children’s schools and keep your emergency contact information up to date. Delegate a close family friend as an alternate contact who could pick your children up if you or your spouse is not able to do so. Consider using a word that only you and your children know, and make sure your children know only to leave with someone who can tell them what the code word is. This word can be anything, like a favorite book character, and can serve as the “password” or the “code word.”

In an emergency, talk to your children about what is happening. Be honest and explain the situation; it’s better to learn about it from you than from the media, since information from the media may not be age-appropriate. Set an example with your own actions by maintaining a sense of calm, even when you are distressed. This will help your family cope in any emergency.

Events and information can change quickly in an emergency. Pay attention to local leaders, like your town’s mayor or police department, so you can make the best, most informed decisions for you and your family.


AAP’s Children and Disasters

CDC’s Caring for Children in a Disaster

Real Stories of Emergency Preparedness

CDC’s Ready Wrigley (Preparedness Activities for Kids)

FEMA’s “Ready Kids”

Wednesday, 03 September 2014 14:42

CA Workers Comp Earthquake Cat Bond Launched

Earthquake exposure is one of the biggest risks to workers compensation insurers, so it’s interesting to read that the California State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) is once again looking to the capital markets to provide reinsurance protection for workers comp losses resulting from earthquakes.

This is a repeat of the first catastrophe bond sponsored by the SCIF in 2011 – Golden State Re Ltd sized at $200 million — which is due to expire in January 2015.

Artemis blog says:

The unique transaction, which has not been repeated by anyone else until now, links earthquake severity to workers compensation loss amounts demonstrating a new use of the catastrophe bond structure.”

The Golden State Re II catastrophe bond issuance is expected to be sized at $150 million or more, and will cover the SCIF until January 2019.



The ongoing shortage of Big Data talent is a serious problem for companies whose business increasingly relies on data analytics to remain competitive. You can imagine how difficult it must be for IT staffing firms whose clients are clamoring for Big Data skills when this country’s colleges and universities simply aren’t churning out enough graduates to meet the demand. Where do you look to find those highly skilled people? Overseas? Perhaps. But what if you looked at the existing pool of IT workers who are already inside those companies?

That’s one of the approaches being taken by Collabera, an IT staffing firm based in Morristown, N.J. I discussed the shortage of Big Data talent in an interview earlier this week with Nixon Patel, senior vice president and head of the technology competency units at Collabera. When I asked him about the extent to which Collabera relies on foreign talent, like individuals here on H-1B visas, to fill these roles for its clients, I was blown away when Patel said Collabera has taken a different approach:



Less than three-quarters of the way through 2014 and we have already seen a slew of regulatory changes and increased audit demands. First, we saw the Supreme Court significantly extend whistleblower provisions to include private companies. Then, we saw Walmart hit with $439 million in compliance enhancements and investigation costs due to its recent FCPA probe.

Needless to say, compliance officers have been dealt a tough hand – something that’s not expected to lighten up throughout the remaining months of 2014. Here are five challenges compliance officers can expect to face throughout the remainder of this year:



A new study relies on a complex systems modelling approach to analyse inter-dependent networks and improve their reliability in the event of failure.

Energy production systems are good examples of complex systems. Their infrastructure equipment requires ancillary sub-systems structured like a network: including water for cooling, transport to supply fuel, and ICT systems for control and management. Every step in the network chain is interconnected with a wider network and they are all mutually dependent.

A team of UK-based scientists has studied various aspects of inter-network dependencies, not previously explored. The findings have been published in The European Physical Journal B by Gaihua Fu from Newcastle University, UK, and colleagues. These findings could have implications for maximising the reliability of such networks when facing natural and man-made hazards.

Previous research has focused on studying single, isolated systems, not interconnected ones. However, understanding inter-connectedness is key, since failure of a component in one network can cause problems across the entire system, which can result in a cascading failure across multiple sectors, as in the energy infrastructure example quoted above.

In this study, interdependent systems are modelled as a network of networks. The model characterises interdependencies in terms of direction, redundancy, and extent of inter-network connectivity.

Fu and colleagues found that the severity of cascading failure increases significantly when inter-network connections are one-directional. They also found that the degree of redundancy, which is linked to the number of connections, in inter-network connections can have a significant effect on the robustness of systems, depending on the direction of inter-network connections.

The authors observed that the interdependencies between many real-world systems have characteristics that are consistent with the less reliable systems they tested, and therefore they are likely to operate near their critical thresholds. Finally, ways of cost-effectively reducing the vulnerability of inter-dependent networks are suggested.

Reference: Fu, G. et al. (2014). Interdependent networks: Vulnerability analysis and strategies to limit cascading failure. European Physical Journal B.

Read the paper (PDF).