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Winter Journal

Volume 28, Issue 1

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Jon Seals

GENEVA — The number of people falling victim to the Ebola virus in West Africa has dropped to the lowest level in months, the World Health Organization said on Friday, but dwindling funds and a looming rainy season threaten to hamper efforts to control the disease.

More than 8,668 people have died in the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which first surfaced in Guinea more than a year ago. But the three worst-affected countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — have now recorded falling numbers of new cases for four successive weeks, Dr. Bruce Aylward, the health organization’s assistant director general, told reporters in Geneva.

Liberia, which was struggling with more than 300 new cases a week in August and September, recorded only eight new cases in the week to Jan. 18, the organization reported. In Sierra Leone, where the infection rate is now highest, there were 118 new cases reported in that week, compared with 184 in the previous week and 248 in the week before that.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/24/world/africa/ebola-infections-dropping-in-west-africa-world-health-organization-says.html

Monday, 26 January 2015 00:00

How Chicago Solved Its Open Data Dilemma

In New York City, obtaining a public data set required an open records request and the researcher toting in a hard drive.

So grab a notepad, Big Apple, and let the Windy City show you how to do open data.

A recent GCN article describes how Chicago simplified the release and updating of open data by building an OpenData ETL Utility Kit.

Before the kit, the process was onerous. Open data sets required manual updates made mostly with custom-written Java code.

That data updating process is now automated with the OpenData ETL Utility Kit. Pentaho’s Data Integration ETL tool is embedded into the kit, along with pre-built and custom components that can process Big Data sets, GCN reports.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/how-chicago-solved-its-open-data-dilemma.html

Monday, 26 January 2015 00:00

Counterintuitive

“I always knew I was going to be somebody. But now I wish I had been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin

In April 2014 at a conference on “Redefining Roles: Embracing the Patient as Partner,” one of the speakers, a Ph.D. and President of a division of UnitedHealthcare Corporation, began by taking a step back in time to recount the historical evolution of risk management practiced by the leading doctors of the past.

During the early settlement of the United States, the principal medical treatment consisted of “blood letting.”  In the 1700s, during the Yellow Fever epidemic, Benjamin Rush, a physician signatory of the Declaration of Independence, bled 100 to 125 people per day. Other treatments included “purging,” “sweat boxes,” “mercury ointments” and “medicinal hanging.”  The treatments sound worse than the illnesses.

Before anesthesia, medicine was a horror show, with surgery often resulting in death from shock.  Successful amputations were based on the speed and strength of the surgeon often at the expense of the fingers of surgical assistants.

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http://www.corporatecomplianceinsights.com/counterintuitive/

The hybrid cloud is now the new normal in cloud computing. The whole point of a hybrid cloud is to design and customize cloud capabilities that address your customer’s unique needs. But today – MSPs typically offer a one-size-fits-all service level agreement. Customers will demand a service provider that is willing and able to customize the service level agreement to meet those unique needs of their organization so that they can take advantage of the flexibility, scalability, cost reductions, and resiliency that cloud computing offers. 2015 will be the year that customers demand customized SLAs.

Service Level Agreements (SLA) serve as a roadmap and a warranty for cloud services offerings. All cloud providers offer some type of standard, one-size-fits-all SLA that may or may not include the following, depending on your requirements:

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http://mspmentor.net/cloud-computing/012315/hybrid-cloud-new-normal-customers-will-demand-custom-slas

Friday, 23 January 2015 00:00

Sharing the plan with employees

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A new study titled ‘An inside look at disaster recovery planning’ has revealed just how little employees know about their organization’s planned response to a crisis. In a survey by HOB, 40% of respondents stated that their company either does not have systems in place to protect data in an emergency, or they are not aware of the existence of these procedures.

The report also revealed that, even if a plan does exist, 52% of employees are unaware of the details. This study shows just how important it is for the details of any plan that involves employees to be shared with them. The worst time to find out what to do in a crisis is once the crisis has occurred.

Over the last decade we have seen a tendency towards more flexibility working environments and a greater trend towards working remotely, however 45% of respondents noted that they either do not have the ability to access company information that will enable them to do so, or they just don’t know if they have access.

If working remotely is one of your possible responses to a crisis, does your organization have the capability to do this? If your office is out of action and Plan B is for employees to work from home, you might be in for a surprise if 45% of your employees suddenly find out they can’t.

“For most businesses, access to and the sharing of information is critical to ongoing successful operations,” said Klaus Brandstätter, CEO of HOB. “The survey revealed that most companies are unprepared to withstand the negative consequences of disrupted operations, as many employees won’t have access to the resources and information needed to remain functional in emergency situations. In today’s world with so many unforeseen pending disasters, it is clearly paramount that companies implement comprehensive disaster recovery plans as part of their overall business continuity strategy.”

http://www.thebci.org/index.php/about/news-room#/news/sharing-the-plan-with-employees-103954

Cosentry has expanded its disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) offering to help customers improve their data recovery times.

The data center services provider said its expanded DR service is designed to meet a full range of business recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO), with targets ranging from less than 15 minutes to several days based on application importance and budget.

"We anticipate that our customers will be able to implement a disaster recovery solution that meets their own specific requirements as it pertains to availability and the potential for data loss at a price that meets their budget," Craig Hurley, Cosentry's vice president of product management, told MSPmentor. "Our service expansion also looks to address the reality that many of our customers are looking to protect both virtual and physical servers."

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http://mspmentor.net/backup-and-disaster-recovery/012215/cosentry-revamps-dr-service-expands-draas-offering

The September arrests/detentions in Australia of suspected Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) supporters who had allegedly been planning to kidnap random people, decapitate them and then drape their bodies in the group’s flag and post the entire horrific event live to the Internet has brought to the forefront one of the most serious yet least discussed scenarios in counterterrorism. We term it “Main Street terrorism” and by that we mean terror attacks not on a grand scale, but multiple small attacks carried out by individuals or very small groups in environments where we have traditionally felt safe.

The December hostage situation in Australia is another example. It was an attack on a soft target, a target that would not fit the “traditional” profile of being highly visible or connected to government or military operations, carried out by an individual espousing extremist beliefs but acting essentially alone.

Who remembers the pipe bombs placed in mailboxes throughout the American Midwest during spring 2002? A total of 18 bombs were placed with six of those exploding (injuring four U.S. Postal Service mail carriers and two residents) and 12 others discovered without exploding. Until the suspect was apprehended, how many of us changed our routine for something as mundane as getting the mail because, suddenly, that everyday activity had become potentially deadly?

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Main-Street-Terrorism.html

(TNS) — Despite high-profile computer attacks on Target, Sony and other major corporations, Idaho's director of homeland security said cyberthreats remain the "most important and least understood risk" to government and the private sector.

In a presentation Tuesday to the Senate State Affairs Committee, Brig. Gen. Brad Richy said the potential threats range from defaced or misleading websites to data theft and disruption of public services.

"The vulnerabilities are extreme," Richy said. "A breakdown in IT [information technology] services could take it from that sector into our industrial sector, to our water supply or electrical supply."

Cyberattacks are "a trend that's been going in the wrong direction for quite some time," said J.R. Tietsort, who heads up Micron Technology's global security efforts.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Idaho-Emergency-Operating-Plan-Cyberattack-Procedures.html

Friday, 23 January 2015 00:00

Cyber Value-At-Risk

Measures and methods widely used in the financial services industry to value and quantify risk could be used by organizations to better quantify cyber risks, according to a new framework and report unveiled at the World Economic Forum annual meeting.

The framework, called “cyber value-at-risk” requires companies to understand key cyber risks and the dependencies between them. It will also help them establish how much of their value they could protect if they were victims of a data breach and for how long they can ensure their cyber protection.

The purpose of the cyber value-at-risk approach is to help organizations make better decisions about investments in cyber security, develop comprehensive risk management strategies and help stimulate the development of global risk transfer markets.

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http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=3914

Thursday, 22 January 2015 00:00

Putting the Cloud inside Your Company Firewall

Some enterprises are attracted by the potential advantages of the cloud for disaster recovery and business continuity. However, they fear the possibility of information being spied on, stolen or hacked after it leaves their own physical premises. A little lateral thinking suggests another possible solution. Instead of moving outside a company firewall to use cloud possibilities, how about implementing cloud functionality inside the firewall? A number of vendors now offer private cloud solutions and they have some customers whose identity may surprise you.

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http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/putting-the-cloud-inside-your-company-firewall/