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Volume 27, Issue 4

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By Mark Kedgley

December 15th is the anniversary that Target's infamous security breach was discovered; but has anything really changed in the year that has gone by? Retailer after retailer is still falling foul of the same form of malware attack. So just what is going wrong?

The truth is that there is never going to be a 100 percent guarantee of security: and with today's carefully focused zero day attacks, the continued reliance on prevention rather than cure is obviously not working. Organizations are blithely continuing day to day operations while an attack is in progress because they are simply not spotting the breaches as they occur.

If an organization wants to maintain security and minimise the financial fall out of these attacks, the emphasis has to change. Accept it: the chances of stopping all breaches are unlikely at best with a prevention only strategy. Instead, with non-stop, continuous visibility of what is going on in the IT estate, an organization can at least spot in real-time the unusual changes that may represent a breach, and take action before it is too late.

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/feature1251.html

Despite over half of companies wanting to retain control of their IT disaster recovery inhouse, a lack of frequent testing is putting these businesses more at risk of IT downtime than companies which outsource. The mismatch between the high levels of confidence that in-house disaster recovery yields and the high test failure rates indicates that either testing needs to be stepped up or companies would be better to outsource.

This was one of the key findings of research carried out by Plan B, through surveying 150 contacts that attended the BCI World conference in November 2014. All contacts interviewed were within an IT function of their business, with knowledge of the disaster recovery strategy and solution for their business.

Other findings include:

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http://www.continuitycentral.com/news07460.html

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 00:00

Current Australian Preparedness against Ebola

As efforts to contain and eliminate the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa continue, countries around the world are making preparations to be ready in case the virus arrives. The Australian government is also making plans to deal with such an event. Ebola already exists in Australia – but fortunately (so far) only as the subject of research in the high security Australian Animal Health and Research Centre in Geelong to develop a vaccine. But how does Australian preparedness compare with that if other countries? And what would happen if Ebola cases were declared in Australia in the way they have already occurred in Spain and in the United States?

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http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/current-australian-preparedness-against-ebola/

If you want to achieve an enterprise view of your data, your solution options basically fall into one of two camps:

  • Move it and integrate.
  • Leave it and virtualize.

Metanautix’s co-founder, Theo Vassilakis, contends that both add unnecessary complexity to enterprise data analytics.

“A lot of the times, that's where the complexity comes from: Oh hold on, let me do a little Informatica here, let me do a little virtualization here, and let me do a little Teradata there,” Vassilakis said during a recent interview. “So, solving the same business problem, some of the data sets you’ll have to move and some of the data sets you're not going to be able to move. Additionally, you end up having to do the moving with one system and then the querying with another system."

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/should-you-move-data-or-not-new-solution-lets-you-choose-as-you-go.html

One of the attributes of most advanced analytics applications is that they assume the organization or person invoking them actually knows which questions are worth asking. Most organizations, however, are still trying to figure out the questions they should be asking.

With that goal in mind, BeyondCore has made available a production release of BeyondCore V, an analytics application that is designed to discover patterns in data in minutes using new data visualization tools.

BeyondCore CEO Arijit Sengupta says while analytics applications can be helpful, most organizations need help framing the question to ask. The end result is major investments in hiring everybody from SQL programmers to data scientists.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/it-unmasked/beyondcore-uncovers-big-data-patterns-and-anomalies.html

One of the main problems in introducing scale-out architecture to legacy data environments is the sheer number of incompatible formats, platforms and vendor solutions that have infiltrated the data center over the years.

The drive to remove these siloes and federate the data environment under either a single proprietary solution or the myriad open platforms currently available is well underway. But in many cases the transition is happening too slowly given that the need to scale out is immediate as enterprises attempt to cope with issues like Big Data and the Internet of Things.

This is why many researchers are looking to move the concept of virtualization to an entirely new level. Rather than focus on infrastructure like servers, storage and networking, virtualization on the data plane introduces a level of abstraction that allows data and applications to sit on any hardware, and thus interact with other data sets across the enterprise and into the cloud. And as tech author Anne Buff points out, it would also optimize hardware utilization and reduce system complexity, as well as offer more centralized security and control.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/data-virtualization-to-storage-infinity-and-beyond.html

(TNS) — Signs were already brewing for last week’s devastating lake effect snowfall as early as Nov. 15, when the National Weather Service issued its first watches for a couple of feet of snow — and maybe more.

Over the following two days leading up to the storm, the watches were upgraded to warnings as weather service forecasts called for “near blizzard conditions” across Erie County with “around two feet in the most persistent bands” that could leave “some roads ... nearly impassable.”

The weather service also accurately pegged accumulating snows at almost unheard of “rates of 3 to 5 inches per hour in the most intense portion of the band.”

But, according to state and Erie County officials, not only did the information come too late for them to adequately prepare, the national forecasting service also failed to project the ferocity and exact locations of the tandem lake-effect storms that dumped 7 feet or more of snow in just 72 hours.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/New-York-Continues-Plans-State-Weather-System.html

(TNS) — Officials are planning the first major rollout of California's earthquake early warning system next year, providing access to some schools, fire stations and more private companies.

The ambitious plan highlights the progress scientists have made in building out the system, which can give as much as a minute of warning before a major earthquake is felt in metropolitan areas.

Until now, only academics, select government agencies and a few private firms have received the alerts. But officials said they are building a new, robust central processing system and now have enough ground sensors in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas to widen access. They stressed the system is far from perfected but said expanded access will help determine how it works and identify problems.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Major-Rollout-California-Earthquake-Early-Warning-2015.html

Improved model, new surge forecast products and research projects debuted

NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Arthur, July 3, 2014. (Credit: NOAA.)

NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Arthur, July 3, 2014. (Credit: NOAA.)

The Atlantic hurricane season will officially end November 30, and will be remembered as a relatively quiet season as was predicted. Still, the season afforded NOAA scientists with opportunities to produce new forecast products, showcase successful modeling advancements, and conduct research to benefit future forecasts.

“Fortunately, much of the U.S. coastline was spared this year with only one landfalling hurricane along the East Coast. Nevertheless, we know that’s not always going to be the case,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The ‘off season’ between now and the start of next year’s hurricane season is the best time for communities to refine their response plans and for businesses and individuals to make sure they’re prepared for any potential storm.”

How the Atlantic Basin seasonal outlooks from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center verified:

 

Actual

August Outlook

May Outlook

Named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher)

8

7-12

8-13

Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher)

6

3-6

3-6

Major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

2

0-2

1-2

“A combination of atmospheric conditions acted to suppress the Atlantic hurricane season, including very strong vertical wind shear, combined with increased atmospheric stability, stronger sinking motion and drier air across the tropical Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Also, the West African monsoon was near- to below average, making it more difficult for African easterly waves to develop.”

Meanwhile, the eastern North Pacific hurricane season met or exceeded expectations with 20 named storms – the busiest since 1992. Of those, 14 became hurricanes and eight were major hurricanes. NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook called for 14 to 20 named storms, including seven to 11 hurricanes, of which three to six were expected to become major hurricanes. Two hurricanes (Odile and Simon) brought much-needed moisture to the parts of the southwestern U.S., with very heavy rain from Simon causing flooding in some areas.

“Conditions that favored an above-normal eastern Pacific hurricane season included weak vertical wind shear, exceptionally moist and unstable air, and a strong ridge of high pressure in the upper atmosphere that helped to keep storms in a conducive environment for extended periods,” added Bell.

In the central North Pacific hurricane basin, there were five named storms (four hurricanes, including a major hurricane, and one tropical storm). NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook called for four to seven tropical cyclones to affect the central Pacific this season. The most notable storm was major Hurricane Iselle, which hit the Big Island of Hawaii in early August as a tropical storm, and was the first tropical cyclone to make landfall in the main Hawaiian Islands since Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Hurricane Ana was also notable in that it was the longest-lived tropical cyclone (13 days) of the season and the longest-lived central Pacific storm of the satellite era.

New & improved products this year

As part of its efforts to provide better products and services, NOAA's National Weather Service introduced many new and experimental products that are already paying off.

The upgrade of the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model in June with increased vertical resolution and improved physics produced excellent forecasts for Hurricane Arthur’s landfall in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and provided outstanding track forecasts in the Atlantic basin through the season. The model, developed by NOAA researchers, is also providing guidance on tropical cyclones in other basins globally, including the Western Pacific and North Indian Ocean basins, benefiting the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and several international operational forecast agencies. The Global Forecast System (GFS) model has also been a valuable tool over the last couple of hurricane seasons, providing excellent guidance in track forecasts out to 120 hours.

In 2014, NOAA's National Hurricane Center introduced an experimental five-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook to accompany its text product for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. The new graphics indicate the likelihood of development and the potential formation areas of new tropical cyclones during the next five days. NHC also introduced an experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at risk of storm surge from an approaching tropical cyclone. First used on July 1 as a strengthening Tropical Storm Arthur targeted the North Carolina coastline, the map highlights those geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and the height above ground that the water could reach. 

Beginning with the 2015 hurricane season, NHC plans to offer a real-time experimental storm surge watch/warning graphic for areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States where there is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation from an approaching tropical cyclone.

Fostering further improvements

While this year’s hurricane season was fairly quiet, NOAA scientists used new tools that have the potential to improve hurricane track and intensity forecasts. Several of these tools resulted from research projects supported by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which was passed by Congress in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Among the highlights were both manned and unmanned aircraft missions in Atlantic hurricanes to collect data and evaluate forecast models. NOAA and NASA’s missions involving the Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft that flies at higher altitudes and for longer periods of time than manned aircraft, allowed scientists to sample weather information off the west coast of Africa where hurricanes form, and also to investigate Hurricane Edouard’s inner core with eight crossings over the hurricane’s eye. NOAA launched a three-year project to assess the impact of data collected by the Global Hawk on forecast models and to design sampling strategies to improve model forecasts of hurricane track and intensity.

While the Global Hawk flew high above hurricanes, NOAA used the much smaller Coyote, an unmanned aircraft system released from NOAA’s hurricane hunter manned aircraft, to collect wind, temperature and other weather data in hurricane force winds during Edouard. The Coyote flew into areas of the storm that would be too dangerous for manned aircraft, sampling weather in and around the eyewall at very low altitudes. In addition, NOAA’s hurricane hunters gathered data in Hurricanes Arthur, Bertha and Cristobal, providing information to improve forecasts and to test, refine and improve forecast models. The missions were directed by research meteorologists from NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, a part of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, and the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa.

In addition, increased research and operational computing capacity planned in 2015 will facilitate future model upgrades to the GFS and HWRF to include better model physics and higher resolution predictions. These upgraded models will provide improved guidance to forecasters leading to better hurricane track and intensity predictions.

The 2015 hurricane season begins June 1 for the Atlantic Basin and central North Pacific, and on May 15 for the eastern North Pacific. NOAA will issue seasonal outlooks for all three basins in May. Learn how to prepare at hurricanes.gov/prepare and FEMA’s Ready.gov.

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 TwitterFacebookInstagram and our other social media channels.

(TNS) — Police officers have become as visible on college campuses as students and professors, as schools respond to the early Thursday morning shooting at Florida State University.

The incident, in which FSU alumnus Myron May injured three students in a campus library before being killed by police, has alarmed students and employees at colleges throughout the state. Schools are now reviewing their own security procedures.

"Incidents like this remind us we can never be too cautious," said Alexander Casas, police chief at Florida International University, west of Miami.

Campus safety has been a high priority for most Florida colleges and universities since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Many schools have added sirens with speakers as well as text, email and social media alert systems. They've also increased the number of counselors to deal with mental health issues.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Colleges-Review-Security-after-Florida-State-University-Shooting.html