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Spring Journal

Volume 28, Issue 2

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Jon Seals

(MCT) — Saying California’s emergency responders need more training to handle major calamities, state and local leaders are pitching plans to build a world-class $56 million training facility in eastern Sacramento County that would pit fire crews against a variety of realistic, pressure-packed simulated disasters.

Emergency crews would be required to douse a real 727 jet as it lies in pieces across a field after a simulated crash at the training site; or make split-second decisions on how to approach a derailed train leaking crude oil; or figure out how to quickly pull survivors out of a partially demolished and unstable building after a terrorist bombing or earthquake.

Initial construction on the Emergency Response Training Center has begun on 53 acres east of Mather Field in Rancho Cordova. The facility, billed as one of the most varied, modern and sophisticated training sites in the country, would be “a total disaster city,” said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Chief Kurt Henke, one of the officials behind the push.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/training/California-Total-Disaster-City-for-Training.html

Organizations invest hundreds of thousands of dollars of redundant hardware and software into their data centers to ensure high availability (the five 9s, again) and resiliency. These same companies hire IT professionals with very specialized experience and certifications to ensure their capital investments maintain high availability and data security on a day-to-day basis.

High availability within the organization shouldn’t just be identified with a Server failure or outage. Serious impacts to your business can be caused by natural disasters (like hurricanes or floods), strikes, major highway closures, terrorist events, all without a single server ever going down! Loss of sales, regulatory fines, contract penalties, getting employees to your business, loss of suppliers, branding, reputation, can all easily be affected, and for very long periods of time, without directly touching the five 9s.

Yet these very same companies often overlook the fact that these same IT professionals sometimes aren’t trained or experienced in recovering from a disaster and ensuring business continuity. Business continuity planning requires a high-level view of IT, but more importantly, a rock-solid understanding of business processes and the potential consequences of natural disasters, strikes, highway closures, terrorist events (and so on) on the business. FEMA has some very valuable information on Business Impact Analysis (BIA) as well as operational and fin­­ancial impacts. Ironically, IT doesn’t even make the list!

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http://www.strategicbcp.com/blog/the-five-9s-not-just-an-it-issue/

With the referendum on independence for Scotland not far away, the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) has published a paper to help organisations on both sides of the border consider what the impact of independence could be for them and provide links and resources that will help organisations further understand the debate.

Whether it is a new government being elected or an international treaty signed, political change happens all the time and this will invariably have an impact on organisations. Priorities, budgets and regulations all change, resulting in organisations having to rethink their strategies. If disruption can occur when something relatively routine happens, what could happen when there is an entire change of sovereignty?

The BCI remains neutral in this debate but highlights that, whatever the outcome, there will be change in Scotland that will require organisations to reconsider their business continuity plans and strategies. Some of the key findings of the paper include:

  • The decision could significantly influence the conduct of business across the Anglo-Scottish border and organisations may have to adapt to a possible independence settlement.
  • Policy divergence in key areas such as taxation, business regulation and labour laws is likely to significantly affect highly regulated professions such as the finance and banking industries. For other sectors, policy divergence may result in an increase in operational and logistics costs.
  • A monetary union with rUK that allows an independent Scotland to use the pound sterling will keep transaction and borrowing costs to a minimum. However, this may come at the expense of setting independent Scottish monetary policy that may have effects on some businesses. Meanwhile, adopting a different currency for an independent Scotland carries costs so organisations need to have financial safeguards in either case.
  • Both sides of the border enjoy interconnected infrastructure and this is not likely to change following independence. However, two sets of policies for critical infrastructure are likely to emerge due to inherent strategic differences of both countries and this may influence the operational terrain for businesses operating on both sides of the border.
  • Differences in energy production/consumption may influence sourcing arrangements and cause variations in fuel and energy costs for sectors such as manufacturing, logistics and retail.
  • An independent Scotland’s admittance to the EU is uncertain and the indefinite timescale of the accession process may introduce short-term uncertainty over the continued access to benefits provided by EU membership.

A change in the Anglo-Scottish relationship will carry far-reaching consequences to organisations and the way they operate across the border. Independence in itself carries potential opportunities and both Scotland and the rUK remain excellent markets with the highly interlinked trade between these countries not likely to change following independence. However, the change in their relationship will inevitably influence changes in business operations albeit to differing degrees. This is something that organisations must understand as they wait for the results of the independence referendum, and must plan for either way.

Lyndon Bird, Technical Director at the BCI, commented: “This is a big decision for the people of Scotland that could have far reaching consequences for organisations on both sides of the border and further beyond. Like with any major event however, looking ahead, establishing what the impact could be and making sure plans are in place to deal with these should allow any organisation to operate as normal during abnormal circumstances.”

Whilst the outcome of the vote remains uncertain, maintaining continuity amidst political change is a constant. The Scottish independence referendum is a unique event that may influence the conduct of business on both sides of the border. It is essential that organisations know what is at stake as their capacity to adapt will determine their viability regardless of independence or continued union.

To read the full report, click here.

Based in Caversham, United Kingdom, the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) was established in 1994 to promote the art and science of business continuity worldwide and to assist organizations in preparing for and surviving minor and large-scale man-made and natural disasters.  The Institute enables members to obtain guidance and support from their fellow practitioners and offers professional training and certification programmes to disseminate and validate the highest standards of competence and ethics.  It has circa 8,000 members in more than 100 countries, who are active in an estimated 3,000 organizations in private, public and third sectors.

For more information go to: www.thebci.org

HEREFORD – Xytron Ltd, a leading data recovery services company, reports today that many consumers and businesses are attempting DIY retrieval of their data to failed media and physically opening the disk enclosure in non clean room conditions, thus compounding any potential recovery. Further to this it has been noted that the PCBs (Printed Circuit Board) are also being replaced in an attempt to gain access to data.

All magnetic storage media are manufactured in clean room conditions and to exacting tolerances, often less than 1 Micron tolerances. Opening the disk in standard room conditions will introduce airborne particulate into the drive. If the HDD is powered back up following the non clean room opening it will cause the heads to crash, that is scrape or damage the drive surface (platter(s)) and head stack assembly, which in extreme cases could render the data unrecoverable.

The PCB holds very specific information relating to the disk it is controlling, and so swapping or exchanging this will not help; in fact in some instances this could destroy any chances of data recovery completely, as the NV_RAM and or adaptive data could be written to the hard drive.

Why risk it?

The internet is a huge resource and a wonderful place for information and knowledge, however there has to be a caveat applied here, where or how can you qualify, what information is correct and from a trustworthy source? Anecdotal evidence should not be applied, here are just a few dangerous suggestions found online that should NOT be applied;

  1. Open hard disk up
  2. Replace PCB
  3. Bang or knock drive
  4. Format or system restore
  5. Place in freezer
  6. Download software from the internet
  7. Let friends or colleagues investigate

With 10 years and thousands of procedures carried out, Xytron has the skills and the engineers to attempt the very complex work of data retrieval which includes physical work inside the clean room, electronic failure, firmware failure and logical failure; in all instances the firm has the equipment and knowledge to tackle data failures professionally.

“The process at Xytron is; diagnosis, this establishes whether the media has logical, firmware, physical and or electronic failure”, comments Richard Cuthbertson head technician at Xytron, “from here the device is moved to the relevant department for the next stage, such as the clean room if the HSA (head stack assembly) has failed and the disk has physical issues, the hot air station for electronic work, and a recovery station for firmware and logical issues, following this work a write blocking full bit by bit clone is made of the device, it is this image that the engineers work with to retrieve the data”.

The final part of the process is to email the client our IntegriCheck software which is a folder and file listing of recovered data; this allows the client to check all information has been retrieved.

Here are a few key points from Xytron services;

1. 10 years successful trading

2. Tens of thousands of cases handled

3. In house clean room

4. No outsourcing of any cases

5. Free to join partner programme

6. Huge inventory of parts stock

7. Satisfied testimonial database

8. Have seen your issue and dealt with it successfully

9. Data held securely and promptly erased securely following the case

About Xytron Ltd.

Xytron data recovery is a provider of professional IT services, servicing consumers, organizations, SOHO and corporate retrieving inaccessible data from a variety of media such as disks, drives, USB pen, SSD and all backup devices, established in 2004 with an in house clean room facility, further information can be found here: http://www.xytron.co.uk

Further Contacts:

https://twitter.com/WeAreXytron

https://www.facebook.com/XytronDataRecovery

Friday, 25 July 2014 14:00

More Data, More Profit

Given the high profile of Big Data, mobile and data analytics, marketing should be a huge fan of data integration. “More data, more profit,” should be marketing’s motto.

However, if you happen to be working with the most backward marketing division in the world, you might want to send them this recent post, “How Data Integration Tools can Turbocharge Your Marketing.”

The post, by a freelance writer who boasts some programming experience, makes an excellent case for the value of data integration. The post casts a wide net, touting data integration’s ability to:

  • “Reduce friction” in sales cycles.
  • Develop a “customer-centric approach to data.”
  • Improve relationships with customers by maximizing demographic information.
  • Combine basic demographic data with sentiment data to help create calls-to-action.
  • Break down data silos, so you know more about life-long customers.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/more-data-more-profit.html

BURLINGTON, Wash. – RSA has now completed The Complete Guide to Cleaning and Restoration, a comprehensive textbook for its restoration, cleaning and remediation classroom courses.

A successor to the New Guide to Restorative Drying published in 2006, the new 600-page full-color book covers all courses offered by RSA. This includes courses in trauma scene cleanup, water restoration and applied structural drying, upholstery cleaning, fire and smoke restoration, odor control, microbial remediation, and carpet cleaning.

Extensively peer-reviewed by industry experts before publication, the book will be provided to all paid class participants, a valuable bonus. Participants in the July 31 Trauma Class will be the first to use it, then it will be rolled out to all other RSA classroom courses over the next couple of months.

“The Complete Guide is a summary of everything we’ve learned in the past 40 years about cleaning, restoring and remediation,” notes Kevin Fisher, Legend Brands Technical Education Manager. “We decided to make the entire book available to every class to show our commitment to the professionalism and growth of our industry.”

The original restorative drying book, first published by Dri-Eaz in the 1980s, was written by Dri-Eaz Founder Claude Blackburn and Dri-Eaz education staff. In 2006 the book was updated and expanded quickly became the standard reference for the restorative drying industry. In 2009, Purdue University selected the New Guide to Restorative Drying to be one of the textbooks for its newly established disaster restoration and reconstruction program.

“The Complete Guide is the definitive collection of RSA expertise,” says John Ormsby, president of Dri-Eaz Products. “It stands alone as the premier guide for today’s restoration, remediation and cleaning challenges.”

For more information about The Complete Guide and RSA’s course offerings, visit www.restorationsciencesacademy.com

About RSA

Restoration Sciences Academy provides real-world restoration training in dynamic and engaging learning environments taught by industry experts. RSA offers both classroom-based training courses and online courses. RSA courses teach proven techniques that help restorers work more efficiently and grow their businesses.

As compelling an IT opportunity as Big Data can be, it’s not without its challenges—not the least of which is securing all that data.

Looking to make it easier to apply encryption to distributions of Hadoop, Zettaset today announced it is making its encryption software available independently of the Orchestrator platform it created to manage Big Data security.

Zettaset CEO Jim Vogt says the Big Data encryption tools that Zettaset developed are compatible with Apache-based Hadoop distributions available from Hortonworks, Cloudera, MapR, Pivotal, Teradata, and IBM as well as Cassandra and Couchbase NoSQL databases. The tools can also now be accessed via third-party management consoles. That’s critical, says Vogt, because it allows IT organizations to apply encryption to Big Data at rest using the management tools in which they have already invested.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/it-unmasked/zettaset-simplifies-big-data-encryption-management.html

Last winter heavy rain, storm force winds and large waves combined with high spring tides presented England with unprecedented flooding from the sea, rivers, groundwater and surface water.

Thousands of properties were flooded, infrastructure was damaged and tragically, eight people lost their lives. The full impact of these events has not yet been calculated but we do know that 175,000 businesses in England are at risk of flooding.  

In 2012 flooding cost affected businesses an average of £60,000, so it is not surprising that flooding is a national priority. In fact the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies cites coastal flooding as the second highest priority risk after pandemic flu and ahead of catastrophic terrorist attack (taking both likelihood and impact into account) .

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http://www.continuityforum.org/content/news/178430/business-continuity-role-adapting-climate-change

No news is good news, or so the saying goes. But when equipment malfunctions and services are interrupted, no news can mean intense frustration for customers and end-users. In today’s quality and satisfaction-oriented business world, you might think that major corporations had understood the importance of good crisis communication. And to be fair, many now make efforts to keep customers informed of the causes of business interruption, the solutions being put in place, and the estimated time when normal service will be resumed. That’s what makes behaviour around a recent outage by one of the top IT and cloud service vendors so hard to fathom.

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http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/crisis-communications-and-when-no-news-is-not-good-news/

Ted Julian describes five steps that will help ensure that your incident response plans work when they are required.

Even in the most carefully thought out incident response (IR) plans, there is room for continual improvement. Anyone who has put a response plan into action knows there is a gulf between the theoretical plan and what actually happens given all the variables and complexities that inevitably occur. Because of this, plans often break down; particularly if they haven't been stress-tested based on different real world scenarios.

Whilst not everything will go according to schedule, a thoroughly tested and validated plan will minimise the impact of an incident which, in turn, leads to faster business recovery times. Indeed, no plan is complete until it has been tested with fire drills and functional exercises that assess its effectiveness and identify potential gaps.

Here we outline some practical steps to improving your incident response plan:

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http://www.continuitycentral.com/feature1207.html