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Volume 28, Issue 3

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Jon Seals

 
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A survey by eHosting DataFort (eHDF) in partnership with the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and Continuity and Resilience (CORE) has revealed an increased take up of IT Disaster Recovery in the Middle East over the last two years demonstrating that organizations are starting to take the threat more seriously.

The 2014 Middle East Business Continuity Management Survey, the third of its kind, showed that 73% of respondents had IT Disaster Recovery in place and 22% were considering implementation. The increased take up is compared to the 2012 survey which showed that nearly 63% of the respondents stated their organization did not have a dedicated IT Disaster Recovery or BCM team, and that Business Continuity Management was being driven by Information Security Unit, Quality Management, IT and Operational and Overall Risk teams.

While this is positive, there is still a long way to go as 56% of the respondents rated their organization’s IT DR readiness as average or below average.

A huge shift is already underway in the way organizations look at BCM. This year’s survey highlighted that 59% had a budgets greater than US$100,000 in order to implement and sustain their BCM program, while 32% allocated budgets in excess of US$250,000. Large organizations such as those in the banking, oil and gas, telecoms, government and e-commerce sectors, accounted for 11% of organizations that had set aside BCM budgets of more than US$1 million.

Yasser Zeineldin, CEO at eHosting DataFort, said, “The results are indicative of how the industry and business environment is evolving. Everything is driven by technology and it is imperative that organizations look closely at what is ‘crucial data’ and how it can be safeguarded in the instance of downtime caused either by a natural disaster or simply because of an IT outage.”

“eHDF has been at the forefront of stressing on the importance of Disaster Recovery and BCM, and this year’s survey shows that our efforts have reaped dividends. The increase in the number of organizations, both large corporations and SMEs, investing in disaster recovery and making contingency plans by adopting business continuity management programs look encouraging. We have seen a huge uptake for Disaster recovery services and have implemented high end DR projects for a number of organisations over the last year.”

Lyndon Bird, Technical Director at the BCI, commented: “The Business Continuity Institute’s  annual Horizon Scan survey showed just how seriously BC professionals take the cyber threat so it is encouraging to see that this is now being recognised at the Board level. Organizations are beginning to realise the value of having an effective business continuity management programme and the return on investment this can provide.”

The results from the survey show that 47% of BCM budgets in the region are being spent on IT disaster recovery infrastructure, seats, software and licensing. This can be further reduced by working with specialized service providers who can implement IT disaster recovery at a fraction of the cost of doing it in-house. In fact, 30% of the survey respondents have indicated that they plan to outsource the enhancement of IT DR plans to specialist external service providers.

Lack of a robust business continuity plan can result in financial loss that may have a negative impact on bottom line profits of an organization. 30% of the respondents who have indicated the financial impact of disruptions as per their Business Impact Analysis (BIA) estimate that a two-day disruption could set the organization back by US$3 million and more.

66% of the respondents reported at least one significant business disruption in the last year and the top three causes for disruptions in the Middle East have been identified as applications and network infrastructure failure, power outage and human error. Businesses today are vulnerable to diverse natural or man-made disasters such as fire, earthquakes, cyclones, cyber threats, as well as network and power failures. Implementation of robust BCM planning can help enterprises effectively respond to challenges without defaulting on commitments towards retaining the trust, faith and confidence of key customers and stakeholders.

eHDF had released the first such survey in 2009, seeking to analyze DR and BCM trends and raise BCM awareness for organizations in the Middle East.

MERS

You’re flipping through the channels on your car radio and you hear the tail end of story about something called MERS.  You think you’ve heard the phrase before – it’s got something to do with the Middle East, right?  You’re correct – but there is more you need to know.

Setting the Stage

So, let’s talk about MERS – what it stands for, what kind of disease it is, what we know about the disease, what we still have to learn, and what we recommend at this time to protect yourself.

MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).  It is a viral respiratory illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus, a common type of virus infecting humans and animals, known as MERS-CoV (the long version is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Conornavirus).

Since April 2012, there have been over 500 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).  Countries are reporting their cases and case information (like age and sex) to WHO, and you can find the latest case count hereExternal Web Site Icon.  All of the cases thus far have been linked to seven countries in the Arabian Peninsula (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen).  This means that either the patient got sick and tested positive in one of those countries, or lives in or visited one of those countries, got sick, and tested positive elsewhere.

Countries With Lab-Confirmed MERS Cases

Countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula with cases:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Qatar
  • Oman
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Yemen
  • Lebanon

Countries with travel-associated cases:

  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Tunisia
  • Italy
  • Malaysia
  • Turkey
  • Greece
  • Egypt
  • United States of America
  • Netherlands

Currently, we know this virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is no evidence of sustained person-to-person spreading in a community setting. Most people who have been confirmed as having MER-CoV infection have showed signs of severe respiratory illnesses, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  More than 30% of those who have been infected have died. 

At this time, we are unsure of the source or host that MERS-CoV comes from. It’s likely an animal host, and while MERS-CoV has been found in camels in Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it has also been found in a bat in Saudi Arabia. Camels in a few other countries have also tested positive for antibodies to MERS-CoV, meaning that they were previously infected with MERS-CoV or a closely related virus. When we and others look at the virus in the lab, the virus infecting humans has similarities to the virus infecting camels.

What’s Happening in the United States

On May 2nd, CDC announced the first imported case of MERS in the US, a health care worker who also traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana.  CDC sent a team of experts to Indiana to help assist with the investigation.  The patient from Indiana has since recovered and was released from the hospital. On May 12, CDC confirmed the second imported case of MERS in the U.S. – a health care worker who lives in and traveled from Saudi Arabia to Florida.  CDC and the Florida Department of Health are currently working on a contract tracking – in which we work with the airlines to identify and notify the people who were on the planes that the patient traveled on (the patient traveled from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to London, England to Boston, Massachusetts to Atlanta, Georgia to Orlando, Florida). 

These two cases represent very low risk to the general public.  You can always help protect yourself by washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.  

At this time, we don’t recommend that you change your travel plans to the Arabian Peninsula.  However, if you are traveling to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula, we recommend you pay attention to your health during and after your trip. Call a doctor right away if you develop fever and symptoms of respiratory illness and let your doctor know of your recent travel.

CDC continues to closely monitor the MERS situation globally and work with partners to better understand the risks of this virus, including the source, how it spreads, and how infections might be prevented. CDC recognizes the potential for MERS-CoV to spread further and cause more cases globally and in the U.S.  

For the latest information from CDC on MERS, visit the MERS website.

Computerworld - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to warn the public not to rely on text messages to reach 911 in emergencies because the technology is only available to 59 of the more than 6,000 emergency communications centers nationwide.

On its official website, the FCC notes that "the ability to contact 911 using text is only available on a limited basis in a few markets. For this reason, you should not rely on text to reach 911."

The agency instead urges calling 911 in an emergency, "even where text-to-911 is available."

...

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9248399/FCC_warns_that_it_s_still_better_to_call_911_instead_of_texting

Monday, 19 May 2014 15:19

Weekly Disaster Update

Fires in Southern California:

In response to the multiple fires in San Diego County, American Red Cross disaster workers are continuing shelter operations at Mission Hills High School as a shelter site (1 Mission Hills Ct., San Marcos 92069). The Temporary Evacuation Point at Escondido High School (1535 N Broadway, Escondido, CA 92026) is now being transitioned into a shelter. The shelter at La Costa Canyon High School located at 1 Maverick Way in Carlsbad also remains open. All shelters will remain open until there is no longer a need.

Since Tuesday, May 13, the Red Cross has provided approximately:
- 3,400 meals
- More 2,000 snacks
- More than 275 overnight shelter stays, and expected to increase this evening
- More than a dozen canteen operations, supporting various Temporary
Evacuation Points, as well as providing snacks and hydration to first responders
at several Incident Command Posts.

For more information about this incident please visit the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter’s Website

Award highlights the core expertise of WhiteSpider team in designing, managing and implementing large-scale data centre projects

WhiteSpider, a leading specialist in IT enterprise architecture, was named as Overall Data Centre Company of the Year 2014 at the DCS Awards ceremony in London last night. The company was singled out for the coveted accolade because of its passion for delivering technology solutions that meet the business needs of its customers. The award also recognises the company's unique ea4 framework for creating applied architectures that deliver tangible, measurable results in terms of performance and cost savings.

"We are delighted to have won this award in such a distinguished gathering of outstanding data centre companies," said Phil Lees, CTO and co-founder of WhiteSpider. "This is further proof of our growing recognition as leaders in the provision of data centre professional services and - after less than two years of trading - is a truly tremendous achievement by our talented team of experts, gathered from across the industry."

The company is honoured by winning this award as it highlights the company's success in delivering creative and effective data centre solutions for major clients, such as Parsons Brinckerhoff. The ea4 framework WhiteSpider developed help global enterprises reduce the complexity of providing and managing IT services and applications by using reference models and standards to consolidate disparate IT systems and global networks. Using ea4 WhiteSpider helped Parsons Brinckerhoff - a global construction consulting firm - to audit, redesign and rationalise its enterprise architecture, enabling significant efficiency gains and reductions in overall costs.

The DCS awards are designed to reward the product designers, manufacturers, suppliers and providers operating in the data centre arena. The Awards recognise the achievements of vendors and their business partners and address all main areas of the data centre market in Europe.

The DCS Awards citation states a number of reasons for WhiteSpider's success:

  • WhiteSpider is a relatively new company that brings together a group of experts with many years of experience and the passion and commitment to make a difference to their customers
  • WhiteSpider's experts make a point of really understanding their customers and their operations, resulting solutions reduce complexity and create efficiency
  • Within the first year of operation the company has achieved around £1M turnover - testament to the quality of service and the market for WhiteSpider's expertise
  • WhiteSpider's ea4 approach is bringing tangible, measurable results in terms of performance and cost savings to its customers

The award follows the company's recent success in winning the Global Business Excellence award for Outstanding New Service, and further strengthens the industry recognition that WhiteSpider services are meeting the needs of enterprises.

NaviSite takes home the top prize following a public vote for its work with Fashion GPS

LONDON – NaviSite Europe Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of NaviSite, Inc., a Time Warner Cable company, today announced that it has been awarded the Datacentre Hosting/co-location Supplier of the Year by the DCS Awards, for its work with Fashion GPS, a leading digital solutions provider whose services include sample inventory tracking and event management for the fashion industry.

The DCS awards are designed to reward the product designers, manufacturers, suppliers and service providers operating in the data centre industry. NaviSite was recognised for providing highly secure, resilient colocation facilities to Fashion GPS. By implementing NaviSite’s colocation services, Fashion GPS was able to deliver a higher level of integration and faster response times for their customers, who have already experienced enhanced performance. One of its largest clients, an international e-tailer, reported seeing up to 50 per cent improvement in processing speeds with data upload speeds increasing by over 80 per cent.

“It’s a great honour to be recognised by the DCS Awards” said Sean McAvan, managing director, NaviSite Europe Ltd. “We work hard to ensure that our solutions meet the requirements of our customers, and our experience of working with the fashion industry meant that we understood the needs of Fashion GPS. We’re honoured to be working with them and we look forward to building on our successful partnership to deliver even more innovative solutions to support their global business.”

“We’re really pleased to be accepting this award with NaviSite,” said Eddie Mullon, founder and CEO, Fashion GPS. “We’ve seen great business results working together and we’re looking forward to expanding that partnership in the future to continue driving great results on behalf of our clients.”

For more information about NaviSite and its range of services, visit www.navisite.com.

The DCS Awards is an event administered by Angel Business Communications Limited. For more information on this year’s winners, visit www.dcsawards.com.

About NaviSite Europe Limited

NaviSite Europe Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of NaviSite, Inc., a Time Warner Cable company, is a leading international provider of enterprise-class, cloud-enabled hosting, managed applications and services. NaviSite provides a full suite of reliable and scalable managed services, including Application Services, industry-leading Enterprise Hosting, and Managed Cloud Services for organisations looking to outsource IT infrastructures and lower their capital and operational costs. Enterprise customers depend on NaviSite for customised solutions, delivered through a global footprint of state-of-the-art datacentres. For more information about NaviSite’s services, please visit www.navisite.com

Friday, 16 May 2014 16:58

One Word Too Many

A short article here: http://www.continuitycentral.com/news07205.html reports on a recent conference in the UK, where ‘Cyber Security is being superseded by Cyber Resilience’.  I think that a little care and sense is required here, mainly to avoid adding another sub-discipline and piece of jargon to an already crowded world of (deliberately?) confusing terminology.

My reading of the sense of the article is that it makes sense in terms of what is necessary.  Purely protective security – putting up barriers to stop an attack impacting on an organisation – is not enough.  However, that is not just true for cyber risks.

...

http://buckssecurity.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/one-word-too-many/

OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to assist the state of California combat the Cocos Fire burning in San Diego County, in the San Marcos community.

On May 14, 2014, the State of California submitted a request for a fire management assistance declaration for the Cocos Fire.  The authorization makes FEMA funding available to reimburse up to 75 percent of the eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire.

At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 1,500 homes in and around the community of San Marcos with a population of 86,752.  Mandatory evacuations due to the Cocos fire are in effect for approximately 6,000 people. The fire started on May 14, 2014 and has burned in excess of 200 acres of state and private land.

The President’s Disaster Relief Fund provides funding for federal fire management grants made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. Eligible costs covered by the grant can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.

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.

If you have implemented or used either application wrapping or containerization technologies, please COMPLETE THIS SURVEY.

Application wrapping versus containerization: Which technology provides better security to an enterprise mobile deployment? What are the use cases for each technology, and which technology has a longer shelf life when it comes to being the de facto standard for enterprise mobile security? Are there times when containerization provides a better user experience than application wrapping? And more simply speaking . . . what the heck is the difference between these two technologies, and which one should you purchase?

...

http://blogs.forrester.com/tyler_shields/14-05-15-containerization_vs_app_wrapping_the_tale_of_the_tape

Friday, 16 May 2014 16:55

California Wildfire Risk

Images of wildfires burning in suburban neighborhoods in Southern California are a reminder of the risk faced by many homeowners.

Nearly 2 million, or 14.5 percent, of the 13.7 million homes in California face severe wildfire risk, according to the most recent FireLine State Risk Report by Verisk Underwriting Solutions.

Some 417,500 of these high-risk homes are located in Los Angeles County, while 239,400 are located in San Diego County.

Check out this snapshot from the Verisk report illustrating California’s wildfire risk:

...

http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=3662