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Spring Journal

Volume 29, Issue 2

Full Contents Now Available!

Jon Seals

As we close out the year, it is now time to begin the retrospective reviews and predictions for the New Year. I will try to keep them to a minimum but I find it important to reflect and look forward to new challenges.

Compliance is a fast moving profession. More attention is being paid to the compliance function, and more companies are embracing the importance of compliance. The last twenty years has seen an explosion in enforcement, and the natural response of compliance.

As compliance begins to mature and establish itself on the governance landscape, there are many important challenges and trends. Compliance has to continuously evaluate itself as a function and as a profession. More structure is needed around training, professional standards and formal education programs. Until these issues are addressed, compliance is a profession in search of subject-matter experts.



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Reporting DR & BCM Program Status as Red

I’ve noticed recently that many individuals working on various projects and programs, including Disaster Planning and Business Continuity, seem afraid to actually communicate some of the difficulties they’re encountering.  With most projects and programs, executives and sponsor expect to receive a regular update on the efforts and whether there are any major issues they need to be aware of.  In the majority of cases projects are reported on as either being;

1. GREEN – all is well and tracking to schedule, scope and budget;

2. AMBER (Yellow) – some minor hiccups and need to deal with some smaller issues or risks, which may need some participation by the sponsor to ensure scope, budget and schedule get back on track; and,

3. RED – all heck’s has broken loose and we’ve got a major problem.



Microsoft made a data analytics acquisition. IBM expanded its IoT Watson efforts with new APIs. Apple shut down its Twitter analytics acquisition. For this week's big data roundup, let's start with the threat of evil algorithms and robot overlords.

Well, maybe it's not that drastic, but if that dystopian future is coming, we may be better prepared now, thanks in part to Tesla founder Elon Musk.

Musk, together with several other tech firms and entrepreneurs, are pooling their fortunes to launch OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research company. The aim is to advance digital intelligence in a way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by the drive for financial return.



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Has ISIS Become The Top Cyber Threat?

The media coverage and public debate following the November terror attacks in Paris might give one the impression that ISIS has suddenly become the top cyber threat to Western countries. Officials in France, the U.K., and Canada have seized on the Paris attack to promote a number of cyber security initiatives. In the United States, we have seen a renewed debate over encryption, as well a calls from both leading Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to censor the Internet to combat the threat that ISIS poses there. This is despite the fact that the Paris attacks were not cyber attacks and were planned “in plain sight” and without widespread use of sophisticated encryption technologies by the attackers.

We should ask two questions: First, has our attention really shifted towards ISIS as a cyber threat? Second, if so, is this shift warranted? In short, my answer to these questions is yes, there is reason to believe our attention has shifted, and no, this shift is not warranted.

As I have argued in my previous work, close observers of the history of the U.S. cyber security debate have noted a tendency for cyber threat perceptions to mirror larger national security concerns. That is, the perception of cyber threat actors can be influenced by other perceived threats that are not primarily about cyber security. Paris seems to provide an example of this phenomenon.



A new hazard mitigation plan lays out how local community officials can reduce vulnerability to natural and man-made hazards in Chatham County. That reduced vulnerability, in turn, can lead to lower flood insurance rates.

Emergency planners explained the latest edition of Chatham County's hazard mitigation plan at a public meeting Thursday afternoon at Garden City City Hall.

For the first time, the 2015 plan includes the threat of sea level rise, a reality that's becoming more apparent as high-tide flooding more frequently swamps area roads.

"In all coastal counties we're seeing a lot of that," said Margaret Walton, project manager for Atkins, the consulting company that helped produce the plan.



(TNS) - Ohio ranks in the bottom tier of states when it comes to preparing for and handling outbreaks of infectious disease, according to a new report.

The state received points for just three of 10 indicators examined in the report, “Outbreaks: Protecting Americans From Infectious Diseases.”

That means Ohio tied six other states — Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah — for last place.

The five highest-scoring states — Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, New York and Virginia — received points for eight of 10 indicators.



Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Man-made Disaster Losses Increase in 2015

Natural catastrophes made up the lion’s share of global insured disaster losses in 2015, but a man-made loss was the year’s costliest.

Preliminary estimates from Swiss Re sigma put insured losses from disaster events at $32 billion in 2015, of which $23 billion were triggered by natural catastrophes and $9 billion by man-made disasters.

The explosions at the Port of Tianjin, China in August are expected to lead to claims of at least $2 billion, making it the costliest event of the year and the biggest man-made insured loss in Asia ever, sigma said.



Given the fact that most IT organizations are now storing orders of magnitude more data than they ever did in the past, it should not come as a surprise that usage of data deduplication tools is on the rise. The challenge is that different types of data respond better to different types of data deduplication algorithms.

To make it simpler for IT organizations to invoke those algorithms at the right time, Exablox this week announced that it is adding support for variable-length deduplication to its OneBloxstorage appliances alongside existing support for fixed-length deduplication and inline compression.

Sean Derrington, senior director of product management for Exablox, says that means within the context of a single storage pool, IT organizations can now apply policies to data that automatically invoke the most appropriate approach to data deduplication based on the type of data being stored.



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have approved more than $30 million in disaster recovery grants and loans for survivors of the Butte and Valley wildfires.

“The job isn’t finished,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Tim Scranton. “We continue working with all of our recovery partners through the holiday season to help the survivors and communities in Calaveras and Lake counties recover and rebuild.”

“We have excellent teams who are dedicated to the mission,” said Cal OES State Coordinating Officer Charles Rabamad. “I’m continually inspired by the hard work and focus everyone has on trying to get those who were burned out of their houses into homes for the holidays."

Here is a snapshot of state and federal disaster assistance approved to date:

  • The registration period for federal assistance ended Nov. 23, 2015. During that timeframe, more than 3,700 Californians contacted FEMA for information or registered for assistance with FEMA.
  • $940,000 approved for survivors through California’s State Supplemental Grant Program.
  • More than 1,500 survivor households have been approved for a total of more than $11.5 million in FEMA Individual Assistance grants.
    • Of that, nearly $7.5 million was approved in Housing Assistance, which can include grants to help cover home repair and replacement costs as well as financial rental assistance.
    • 833 survivor households are receiving rental assistance. Of that number, 606 are renters and 227 are homeowners.
    • More than $4 million was approved for Other Needs Assistance, which helps survivors cover the cost of replacing lost contents and other disaster-related expenses.
  • SBA has approved $19.2 million in low-interest disaster loans to help business owners and residents with their recovery.
    • $16.9 million approved for 190 homeowners and renters.
    • $2.2 million for 34 businesses.
  • 35 survivor households are currently sheltering at hotels and motels through FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program. The program is designed to provide temporary sheltering until alternative housing accommodations are made available.

Helping survivors find a safe, secure temporary place to live is the number one priority of the state and federal recovery team. FEMA is working with eligible survivor households in both counties to ensure their temporary housing needs are met. When it comes to temporary housing for survivors, the first option is always rental assistance as it is the fastest and most efficient form of temporary housing.

FEMA continues connecting eligible survivors with available rental resources within a reasonable commuting distance from their community. For survivors in areas where rental resources are not available, the agency is working to provide Manufactured Housing Units on both private sites and commercial sites.

FEMA, the state and the counties are coordinating to complete debris removal, secure utilities and complete required local licensing to move more Manufactured Housing Units onto feasible private sites. FEMA is also working with property owners at various commercial sites to complete required upgrades and move more units onto those locations.

Survivors can make changes or track their grant status online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

Although the deadline has expired to apply for property damage loans from SBA, small, non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may continue to apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage. These loans help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

EIDL applicants may apply online via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.  Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-877-8339. For more disaster assistance information, or to download applications, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

For more information on California’s wildfire recovery, go to caloes.ca.gov and fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 and @Cal_OES, and on Facebook at facebook.com/FEMA and facebook.com/CaliforniaOES.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino serve as reminders that man-made disasters are a growing reality in today’s world. Business resiliency, security and information technology professionals know they have a responsibility to prepare their organizations for frightening and disruptive events such as these. Further, these preparations must include methods for communicating across the organization in a secure, rapid and accurate way.

While typical mass notification methods such as SMS, telephony and email are viable channels in many cases, they each have their limitations. Take, for example, SMS service in Paris after the terrorist attack. The volume of SMS spam traffic into France compelled the government to block the delivery of certain types of international text messages (particularly two-way messages). This move negatively impacted the ability of certain businesses to communicate with employees and other stakeholders in the region via this widely-used channel.

Resiliency managers can’t control the actions of foreign or domestic governments. However, they can deploy the latest communication technologies that minimize or eliminate communication barriers, while gaining a greater degree of control over stakeholder interactions.