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Winter Journal

Volume 28, Issue 1

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Jon Seals

If an organization’s backup system was designed before data volumes began to grow exponentially – or before IT infrastructures became highly virtualized – the company may find itself in a tight spot. Modernization is the key, and Logicalis US has identified six benefits CIOs can realize by updating their organization’s data storage and backup infrastructure.

"Working with an outdated backup system can create significant challenges in IT service levels,” says Bill Mansfield, solution architect, Logicalis US. “One sign it’s time to modernize your storage and backup/recovery infrastructure is when it’s too difficult to manage - you have to add staff to manage different backup products for physical and virtual servers, or you have to constantly fight fires to keep backups working. Another sign is when it’s just not working anymore. You can’t meet backup windows or recovery objectives because your backup techniques or storage are outdated, or your virtual environment’s performance degrades during routine backup operations. These are warning signs that you are working too hard to maintain an infrastructure that isn’t up to par, and that you could experience a significant loss if a disaster were to occur.”

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http://www.continuitycentral.com/news07571.html

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 00:00

Survey highlights DDoS impacts

DDoS attacks are now one of the most common and affordable cyberweapons. They are used by unscrupulous competitors, sinister extortionists or just everyday cyber-vandals. More and more companies, regardless of their size or business, are encountering this threat. And, according to the results of a survey conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, the majority of companies believe that revenue and reputation losses are the most damaging consequences of a DDoS attack.

According to the figures, companies regard lost business opportunities – the loss of contracts or on-going operations that generate guaranteed income – as the most frightening consequence of a DDoS attack. 26 percent of companies that encountered DDoS attacks regarded this as the biggest risk.

Reputational risks (23 percent) were viewed as the next most frightening consequence, likely to be since a negative customer or partner experience can drive away future contracts or sales. Losing current customers who could not access the anticipated service due to a DDoS attack was in third place: named by 19 percent of respondents. Technical issues were at the bottom of the pile: 17 percent of respondents identified a need to deploy back-up systems that would keep operations online as the most undesirable consequence, followed by the costs of fighting the attack and restoring services.

The research also revealed that respondents from companies in different fields take different views of the consequences of DDoS attacks. For example, industrial and telecoms companies, as well as e-commerce and utilities and energy organizations, tend to rate reputational risks ahead of lost business opportunities. In the construction and engineering sector there is more concern about the cost of setting up back-up systems, perhaps because larger companies face higher expenditure on this kind of system.

DDoS attacks on company resources are becoming a costly problem but only 37 percent of the organizations surveyed said they currently have measures in place to protect against them.

“People who have not yet faced a particular threat often tend to underestimate it while those who have already experienced it understand which consequences might be the most damaging for them. However, it makes little sense to wait until the worst happens before acting – this can cost companies a lot, and not only in financial terms. That is why it is important to evaluate all possible risks in advance and take appropriate measures to protect against DDoS attacks”, said Evgeny Vigovsky, Head of Kaspersky DDoS Protection, Kaspersky Lab.

www.kaspersky.co.uk

In 2010, Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt gave a presentation at the annual Techonomy conference. He told attendees about Android’s incredibly phenomenal growth rate, but the real bombshell he shared was an interesting fact about data management.

From the beginning of human history--cave paintings until 2003--human beings created 2 exabytes of data. Total. That’s all the symphonies, all the movies, all the books--everything. Now we are replicating that every two days. That’s “Big Data.”

Even more staggering, about 80% of all the data we’ve ever created was generated in the past two years, and 90% of that is file, or unstructured, data. With data volumes expected to double every two years over the next decade, many IT leaders are feeling the pain of an infrastructure that isn’t scaling for capacity and performance.

...

http://mspmentor.net/blog/how-modern-smbs-can-ride-big-data-wave

No drought relief in sight for California, Nevada or Oregon this spring

U.S. Spring Flood Risk Map for 2015. (Credit: NOAA)

U.S. Spring Flood Risk Map for 2015. (Credit: NOAA)

According to NOAA’s Spring Outlook released today, rivers in western New York and eastern New England have the greatest risk of spring flooding in part because of heavy snowpack coupled with possible spring rain. Meanwhile, widespread drought conditions are expected to persist in California, Nevada, and Oregon this spring as the dry season begins.

“Periods of record warmth in the West and not enough precipitation during the rainy season cut short drought-relief in California this winter and prospects for above average temperatures this spring may make the situation worse,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief, Operational Prediction Branch, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

NOAA’s Spring Outlook identifies areas at risk of spring flooding and expectations for temperature, precipitation and drought from April through June. The Spring Outlook provides emergency managers, water managers, state and local officials, and the public with valuable information so they will be prepared to take action to protect life and property.


Spring Outlook 2015. (Credit: NOAA)

Spring Flood Risk

Record snowfall and unusually cold temperatures in February through early March retained a significant snowpack across eastern New England and western New York raising flood concerns. Significant river ice across northern New York and northern New England increase the risk of flooding related to ice jams and ice jam breakups. Rivers in these areas are expected to exceed moderate flood levels this spring if there is quick warm up with heavy rainfall.

There is a 50 percent chance of exceeding moderate flood levels in small streams and rivers in the lower Missouri River basin in Missouri and eastern Kansas which typically experience minor to moderate flooding during the spring. This flood potential will be driven by rain and thunderstorms.

Moderate flooding has occurred in portions of the Ohio River basin, including the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers from melting snow and recent heavy rains. This has primed soils and streams for flooding to persist in Kentucky, southern Illinois, and southwest Indiana with the typical heavy spring rains seen in this area.

Minor river flooding is possible from the Gulf Coast through the Ohio River Valley and into the Southeast from Texas eastward and up the coast to Virginia. The upper Midwest eastward to Michigan has a low risk of flooding thanks to below normal snowfall this winter. Though, heavy rainfall at any time can lead to flooding, even in areas where overall risk is considered low.

Drought Outlook

El Niño finally arrived in February, but forecasters say it’s too weak and too late in the rainy season to provide much relief for California which will soon reach its fourth year in drought.

Drought is expected to persist in California, Nevada, and Oregon through June with the onset of the dry season in April. Drought is also forecast to develop in remaining areas of Oregon and western Washington. Drought is also likely to continue in parts of the southern Plains.

Forecasters say drought improvement or removal is favored for some areas in the Southwest, southern Rockies, southern Plains, and Gulf Coast while drought development is more likely in parts of the northern Plains, upper Mississippi Valley and western Great Lakes where recent dryness and an outlook of favored below average precipitation exist.

Current water supply forecasts and outlooks in the western U.S. range from near normal in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, and Upper Colorado, to, much below normal in California, the southern Rockies, and portions of the Great Basin.

If the drought persists as predicted in the Far West, it will likely result in an active wildfire season, continued stress on crops due to low reservoir levels, and an expansion of water conservation measures. More information about drought can be found at www.drought.gov.

Temperature and Precipitation Outlook

Above-average temperatures are favored this spring across the Far West, northern Rockies, and northern Plains eastward to include parts of the western Great Lakes, and for all of Alaska. Below normal temperatures are most likely this spring for Texas and nearby areas of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

For precipitation, odds favor drier than average conditions for parts of the northern Plains, upper Mississippi Valley, western Great Lakes, and Pacific Northwest. Above average precipitation is most likely for parts of the Southwest, southern and central Rockies, Texas, Southeast, and east central Alaska. Hawaii is favored to be warmer than average with eastern areas most likely wetter than average this spring.

Now is the time to become weather-ready during NOAA’s Spring Weather Safety Campaign which runs from March to June and offers information on hazardous spring weather -- tornadoes, floods, thunderstorm winds, hail, lightning, heat, wildfires, and rip currents -- and tips on how to stay safe.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/20150319-risk-of-moderate-flooding-for-parts-of-central-and-eastern-united-states.html

Zetta.net's "The State of Backup Survey" of 425 IT professionals revealed nearly 97 percent of respondents said they currently are using some form of disaster recovery (DR). Additionally, 31 percent said they plan to leverage a new DR method in the future, and more than half of these respondents intend to use cloud-based DR solutions. Here's everything you need to know about Zetta.net's new survey.

New research from Zetta.net showed that the demand for cloud-based backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions from managed service providers (MSPs) could increase soon.

Zetta.net's The State of Backup Survey of 425 IT professionals revealed nearly 97 percent of respondents said they currently are using some form of DR. Additionally, 31 percent said they plan to leverage a new DR method in the future, and more than half of these respondents intend to use cloud-based DR solutions.

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http://mspmentor.net/backup-and-disaster-recovery/031915/zettanet-most-it-pros-are-using-dr-solutions

Think you know it all when it comes to business continuity? That’s great. Think you can store all that knowledge? Think again. The way most information technology has developed, it’s great for storing information (bunches of related data), but not so hot for knowledge (insights and deeper relationships). There is no shortage of information to define business continuity, list its component parts, describe planning methodologies and offer case studies. You can access that information, transfer it and store it on your PC or mobile computing device. The problem is in storing your understanding of that material, and the model you develop to see them as a connected whole.

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http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/the-problem-of-storing-everything-you-know-about-business-continuity/

Premera Blue Cross, a health insurer based in the Seattle suburbs, announced Tuesday it was the victim of a cyberattack that may have exposed the personal data of 11 million customers — including medical information.

The company said it discovered the attack on Jan. 29 but that hackers initially penetrated their security system May 5, 2014. The attack affected customers of Premera, which operates primarily in Washington, Premera's Alaskan branch as well as its affiliated brands Vivacity and Connexion Insurance Solutions, according to a Web site created by the company for customers. "Members of other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans who have sought treatment in Washington or Alaska may be affected," according to the site.

The company said its investigation has not determined if data was removed from their systems. But the information attackers had access to may have included names, street addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, medical claims information and bank account information, according to the company's Web site. The company said it does not store credit card information.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/03/17/cyberattack-at-health-insurer-exposed-data-on-11-million-customers-including-medical-information

It seems like the breach cycle goes in full circles.

When data breaches began to make the news, the health care industry was hardest hit. Eventually, attacks against the health care industry, while they didn’t disappear, moved off the headlines in order to make room for breaches against the financial industry and retail and entertainment. But then came the Anthem breach, and now the announcement that Premera Blue Cross was hacked, with possibly millions of customers’ medical data exposed. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a flurry of news on health care-related attacks in the coming months, either.

The reasons are simple. First, health care organizations hold so much data that is valuable on the black market. You are looking at names, birthdates, addresses, Social Security numbers, insurance numbers, medical records and more.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/health-care-industry-returns-as-a-prime-data-breach-target.html

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 00:00

Making a Norovirus Vaccine a Reality

Have you ever experienced severe diarrhea or vomiting? If you have, it’s likely you had norovirus. If you haven’t, chances are you will sometime in your life. Norovirus is a very contagious virus that anyone can get from contaminated food or surfaces, or from an infected person. It is the most common cause of diarrhea and vomiting (also known as gastroenteritis) and is often referred to as food poisoning or stomach flu. In the United States, a person is likely to get norovirus about 5 times during their life.

Norovirus has always caused a considerable portion of gastroenteritis among all age groups. However, improved diagnostic testing and gains in the prevention of other gastroenteritis viruses, like rotavirus, are beginning to unmask the full impact of norovirus

For most people, norovirus causes diarrhea and vomiting which lasts a few days but, the symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults. Each year in the United States, norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths.

Protect Yourself and Others from Norovirus.

While there is hope for a norovirus vaccine in the future, there are steps you can take now to prevent norovirus.

Additionally, norovirus is increasingly being recognized as a major cause of diarrheal disease around the globe, accounting for nearly 20% of all diarrheal cases. In developing countries, it is associated with approximately 50,000 to 100,000 child deaths every year. Because it is so infectious, hand washing and improvements in sanitation and hygiene can only go so far in preventing people from getting infected and sick with norovirus.

This is why efforts to develop a vaccine are so important and why in February 2015 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC Foundation, and CDC brought together norovirus experts from around the world to discuss how to make the norovirus vaccine a reality. Participants were from 17 countries on 6 continents and included representatives from academia, industry, government, and private charitable foundations.

Important questions remain regarding how humans develop immunity to norovirus, how long immunity lasts, and whether immunity to one norovirus strain protects against infection from other strains. There are also relevant questions as to how a norovirus vaccine would be used to prevent the most disease and protect those at highest risk for severe illness. These are all critical questions for a vaccine, and this meeting was a step toward finding answers to these questions and making a norovirus vaccine a reality.

For more information on norovirus visit CDC’s webpage: http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/.

We all know that we need to exercise our business continuity plans, it’s the only way to find out whether they will work. Of course that’s with the exception of a live incident, but during a disaster is never a good time to find out your plan doesn’t work. But what type of exercises should you run, how often should you run them, how to you plan them and how do you assess them?

These are all important questions and are all vital to ensuring that you have an effective business continuity programme in place, one that will provide reassurance to top management that, in the event of a crisis, the organization will be able to deal with it.

This is why the Business Continuity Institute has published a new guide that will assist those who have responsibility for business continuity to manage their exercise programme. ‘The BCI guide to… exercising your business continuity planexplains what the main types of exercises are and in what situation it would be appropriate to use them. It explains how to plan an exercise and what needs to be considered when doing so, from the setting of objectives to conducting a debrief and establishing whether those objectives have been met.

Following feedback from those working in the industry, testing and exercising was chosen as the theme for Business Continuity Awareness Week and the BCI is keen to highlight just how important it is to effective business continuity. A recent study showed that nearly half of respondents to a survey had not tested their plans over the previous year and half of those had no plans to do so over the next twelve months. This guide is intended to make it easier for people to develop an exercise programme and demonstrate that it does not have to be an onerous task to do so.

To download your free copy of the guide, click here. Visit the BCAW website for further guidance and tips on how to develop an exercise programme.