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Tuesday, 03 November 2015 00:00

Three Words to Improve Disaster Outcomes

If I could say just three words to prepare someone for disaster it would be these: Disasters change things. All of the reasons for not being prepared, and for not following emergency instructions in a disaster (too hard, too expensive, no need), are tied to those words.

If you don’t believe disasters change things, you assume that you can handle whatever happens, and any investment into handling that better is unnecessary. This is our normalcy bias at work. Normalcy bias makes us believe that it won’t happen to us, and that if it does it won’t be that bad. That if we dial 911, help will come and that our actions will always have the same results, regardless of the circumstances.

Normalcy bias is more than believing that the rain will stop before the river floods; it’s assuming that there is nothing but smooth pavement under the water on the road, and being sure that your car can make it through. It’s thinking that the warning is probably overblown, and that you have plenty of time to evacuate because you know how long the route will take. Normalcy bias is not understanding that disasters change things.



ASIS International and RIMS have jointly announced the publication of the new ASIS/RIMS Risk Assessment ANSI Standard. This standard provides guidance on developing and sustaining a coherent and effective risk assessment program.

The ASIS/RIMS Risk Assessment Standard provides a framework and process for organizations to establish an ongoing program to evaluate risks and conduct individual risk assessments. The standard complements the ISO 31000 risk management standard and the ISO 31010 standard cataloguing risk assessment methodologies by providing a blueprint for the risk assessment process.

“Managing risk is about managing uncertainties in order to achieve strategic, tactical and operational objectives.  This includes identifying opportunities, minimizing potential losses, and building a more resilient organization and supply chain.  It is essential that decision-makers have accurate and dynamic information on uncertainties and their potential outcomes in order to help better assure their organizations thrive and survive,” stated ASIS Global Standard Initiative Commissioner Dr. Marc Siegel. “The ASIS/RIMS Risk Assessment Standard provides a blueprint for addressing enterprise-wide risk at all levels and regardless of the source.”

The standard presents a basis for a universal and integrated approach to risk management, including: building a risk assessment program; understanding the context for risk assessments; conducting a risk assessment, and using risk assessment outcomes for decision-making.

ASIS and RIMS members get one free download through their respective websites.  Others are welcome to purchase the standard through either organization’s online stores.

Attending BCI World? There's an app for that

With only a week to go until the BCI World Conference and Exhibition, have you decided what sessions you would like to attend yet? There are so many to choose from, it’s a difficult decision to make. To improve your conference experience, we have once again invested in an app to assist delegates with their planning, enabling them to stay up to date with the latest conference news, find out more about who is speaking or exhibiting, and network with fellow business continuity and resilience professionals.

The app includes biographies of speakers, details of exhibitors, and maps showing where everything is. The app can be used to take notes, create a calendar and bookmark those speakers, exhibitors or sponsors of interest. Over the two days there is a lot to take in so the app can be used to record all this.

Delegates can further enhance their networking opportunities by registering their details and so allow them and their colleagues to connect with one another during the conference and once it is over.

The app is available by visiting the App StoreGoogle Play or, if you don't have an Android phone or iPhone, you can still access it online.

Do you remember those days when IT administrators had to deploy enterprise applications and had to continuously monitor the health of the workloads to ensure they are running at optimal performance and had to manually scale to meet changing demands? Indeed, they must have been be really tough days!

But here comes Citrix Lifecycle Management (CLM), which is going to alleviate all of your pains.

Trust me, I said “all” of your pains, and that’s just what we mean. CLM automates the delivery of application workloads through out-of-the-box Citrix verified Blueprints, and monitors the health, performance and availability of application workloads in real-time.

Today I am going to show you briefly how to gain advantage from CLM through operations, monitored metrics, and alerts for these metrics. This blog is just a cursory overview to demonstrate the immense value which CLM offers.



Tuesday, 03 November 2015 00:00

Broker Survey: Insurers Writing More For Less

Business interruption, commercial property, general liability, umbrella, and workers’ compensation were the lines brokers most often noted had a decline in rates in the third quarter of 2015, according to the latest Commercial P/C Market Index Survey from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.

Broker comments came as The Council survey found rates decreased across all lines by an average of 3.1 percent in the third quarter, compared with a 3.3 percent decline in the second quarter of 2015.

Large accounts saw the largest decreases at 4.1 percent, followed by medium-sized accounts at 3.8 percent, and small accounts at 1.4 percent.



Tuesday, 03 November 2015 00:00

Hyperscale With CloudPlatform and HP Moonshot


HP’s Moonshot hardware is an interesting one. Each server by itself is a densely packed chassis with lots of microservers. And each can house as many as 1800 servers in a single 47U rack. It’s aimed workloads like IoTs, lightweight web serving and big data analytics.

Using CloudPlatform’s Baremetal capability, these servers can be provisioned with as much ease as spinning up a VM. Layered with the other orchestration capabilities like isolated networking and multi-tenanting that becomes one powerful solution that gives enormous flexibility to users who would like to make use of physical hardware directly for some of their workloads.



(TNS) - It’s a day etched into the memories of all who watched the tragedy’s progression, and it’s a day that has forever changed the lives of America’s first responders.

It was on that day – Sept. 11, 2001 – that New York City’s police and fire departments rushed to the scene of the greatest terrorist attack on American soil, anxious to save as many trapped and incapacitated residents as possible from the burning World Trade Center towers.

But there was one notably significant problem – the two agencies couldn’t communicate with each other.



October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and an excellent opportunity for MSPs and solution providers to educate their customers on how to protect their data, applications and IT infrastructure from cyber attacks.

One area that SMBs often struggle with is securing how remote workers access corporate data and applications. Many employees want and need access to company files while in the field, but if they access and transmit corporate data via an insecure device, server or network, they are placing the business at increased risk for a cyber security incident. So, what can SMBs do to curb this dangerous behavior, and how can MSPs help?

Here are four steps that will help MSPs create a more stable and secure remote workforce for their customers, without compromising flexibility or manageability.



Monday, 02 November 2015 00:00

The cyber threat to supply chains

The cyber threat to supply chains

Cyber threats to the supply chain have become increasingly prevalent due to the extensive sharing of digital information between organizations and their suppliers. With changing geopolitical landscapes and the rise of new global powers, outsourcing activities presents new and more complex challenges to businesses. In the latest edition of the Business Continuity Institute's Working Paper Series, Gianluca Riglietti investigates cyber supply chain resilience and highlights why business continuity is so important in helping to achieve this.

In an increasingly interconnected world, supply chains enjoy growing opportunities, while also being exposed to new threats. The paper outlines what these threats in the cyber field look like and how they can disrupt business, as well as demonstrating how to improve supply chain cyber security (SCCS) from a business continuity perspective. It highlights best practice to heighten security in SCCS, and makes suggestions for practitioners in order to practically apply this knowledge to everyday business.

The Paper concludes by emphasising that the business continuity profession can provide a significant contribution to overcoming the challenges, applying existing practices to a relatively new field and cooperating with other protective disciplines.

To download your free copy of ‘cyber supply chain resilience: a business continuity approach', click here.

Monday, 02 November 2015 00:00

MSPs: Moving Small Businesses to the Cloud

Many MSPs work to target larger companies or major public sector groups such as local or state governments. But you may be missing out on a potentially lucrative faction. Small businesses are an important market for MSPs looking to provide cloud services such as cloud-based file sharing. Most small businesses don’t have the room for large internal IT support needed to use other computer applications. Cloud services provide them with an easy-to-use platform that can be used to satisfy just about any IT need a small business would have.

As an MSP it’s easy to understand why a small business would benefit from cloud services, unfortunately it’s not as clear to the small businesses why the cloud is good for them. Here are a few points you should address when selling your cloud services to small businesses:



Monday, 02 November 2015 00:00

School Safety: A Shared Responsibility

As classes resumed at schools across the country this fall, the issue of school safety is once again at the forefront of the national debate. How best to address school safety, both at the K-12 and higher education levels, is a weighty issue with no easy answers.

Simply trying to assess the level of school and university preparedness is challenging.

“As a country, we don’t have a good handle on where schools stand today because there is no good evidence of how safe schools really are,” said Amanda Klinger, director of operations for the Educator’s School Safety Network, a nonprofit that works with K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. “Save the Children did a report on what states require of schools, but we don’t know how many schools are meeting those requirements. From the research we do here, we generally find that schools are sorely underprepared, but we can’t say that in a quantified way.”



As we approach Halloween, it seems appropriate to talk about some of the brain-dead stupid practices that can destroy projects and technology companies with evil glee. These monstrous practices can be mitigated by shining heroes armed with the mystical sword of common sense, but only if IT buyers and boards are skilled and brave enough to wield it. Without further ado, let’s talk about the Monsters of IT and Technology.



Monday, 02 November 2015 00:00

Six-County 911 Outage Remains Unexplained

(TNS) - Around 6 a.m. Tuesday, 911 systems in six southwestern Pennsylvania counties failed because of what one emergency official called a software glitch that affected part of the interconnected network overseen by CenturyLink, a Louisiana-based global communications company.

Calls to 911 weren’t going through. Some computer screens at emergency operations centers went blank. Backup systems engaged — and in some cases, backups to the backups had to be activated.

Officials in the counties — Armstrong, Butler, Cambria, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland — undertook various emergency measures, posting alternate phone numbers through social media, asking local TV stations to alert the public and contacting facilities that have frequent contact with 911, such as nursing homes, to give them a heads-up.



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters. Survivors of the California wildfires may have questions about the SBA.

Below are the most common along with the answers:

What is an SBA disaster loan?

SBA disaster loans are the primary source of federal long-term disaster recovery funds for disaster damage not fully covered by insurance or other compensation. SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance is working in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help business owners and residents recover as much as possible from this disaster.

Who is eligible for SBA low-interest loans?

When a federal disaster is declared, the SBA is authorized to offer low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private nonprofit organizations, and to individual homeowners and renters who have sustained damage in the designated counties – in this case  Calaveras and Lake counties.

What’s the most common misunderstanding about SBA disaster loans?

The most common misunderstanding about an SBA disaster loan is the assumption that they are only for businesses. While SBA offers loans to businesses of all sizes, low-interest disaster loans are available to individual homeowners, renters and to private nonprofit organizations alike.

Why should survivors apply?

Survivors referred to the SBA must apply with SBA even if they feel they cannot afford or do not want a loan in order to receive some FEMA assistance.

Whether a loan is wanted or not, the SBA loan application may trigger additional grant assistance through FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program, administered by the state of California.

Some of these additional FEMA grants could include reimbursement for lost personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, moving and storage expenses.

What is available as part of the SBA low-interest disaster loan programs?

Eligible homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for home repair or replacement of primary residences.

Eligible homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of all sizes can qualify for up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help cover physical damage.

Small businesses and most private nonprofits suffering economic impact due to the wildfires can apply for up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury under SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

What are the loan terms?

Interest rates for SBA disaster loans can be as low as 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters, 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years.

What if I decide to relocate?

You may use your SBA disaster loan to relocate. The amount of the relocation loan depends on whether you relocate voluntarily or involuntarily. If you are approved for an SBA disaster loan you should discuss relocation with your case manager for details on your specific situation.

Is there help available for refinancing?

SBA can refinance all or part of prior mortgages that are evidenced by a recorded lien, when the applicant:

  • Does not have credit available elsewhere,
  • Has suffered substantial uncompensated disaster damage (40 percent or more of the value of the property), 
  • Intends to repair the damage.

Homes: Homeowners may be eligible for the refinancing of existing liens or mortgages on homes, and in some cases up to the amount of the loan for real estate repair or replacement.

Businesses: Business owners may be eligible for the refinancing of existing mortgages or liens on real estate, machinery and equipment, and in some cases up to the amount of the loan for the repair or replacement of real estate, machinery and equipment.

When SBA loan officers discuss their approval recommendations they will include a discussion on refinancing if applicable to your application. 

What are the deadlines to apply?

California survivors have until Nov. 23, 2015 to apply for SBA disaster loans. This is also the deadline for survivors to register with FEMA.

Eligible small businesses applying for only the EIDL program have until June 22, 2016 to apply.

Disaster survivors who are notified by the SBA that they may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans should work directly with the SBA to complete the application.

How do I apply?

Disaster survivors should first register with FEMA by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). TTY users call 800-462-7585, with Video Relay Service survivors calling 800-621-3362. Or, register online at DisasterAssistance.gov. To apply for an SBA disaster loan survivors can apply in person at any of the State/FEMA/SBA recovery centers or directly online at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Where do I get specific information about the SBA process?

For questions about SBA or the process, or for help completing the SBA application, contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800) 877-8339. Survivors also may visit with an SBA representative at any Disaster Recovery Center. No appointment is necessary.

For more information on California’s wildfire recovery, survivors may visit: caloes.ca.gov or fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter@femaregion9 and Facebook.com/FEMA.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

(TNS) — WASHINGTON — Thirty-six members of Congress from Western states asked President Barack Obama on Wednesday for $16.1 million to complete an earthquake early-warning system being developed by scientists in Southern California and along the West Coast.

Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., led the members in a letter to Obama asking him to include the funding in the U.S. Geological Survey’s fiscal 2017 budget.

“Bottom line is, we want to get this done before we have a major quake. We don’t want to be kicking ourselves afterward because we could have saved lives and a lot of property if we had been able to get people some advance notice of the earthquake,” Schiff said.



Supermarket Morrisons is facing a lawsuit from members of its own staff, after a data breach saw the personal details of thousands of employees leaked by a disgruntled worker.

It comes after around 100,000 staff members were affected by a data breach perpetrated by Andrew Skelton, an auditor at the company. He was jailed for eight years in July after Bradford Crown Court heard how he sent the information to newspapers and placed it on data sharing websites.

Morrisons has already faced fees of around £2 million to rectify the problem, which included giving the affected employees free credit monitoring services.

The incident highlights the threat all companies face from internal individuals with a grudge against their employer, and the new lawsuit could determine whether enterprises can be held liable for the actions of such individuals who leak or destroy data.

Data Privacy lawyer at JMW Solicitors Nick McAleenan said: “Whenever employers are given personal details of their staff, they have a duty to look after them. That is especially important given that most companies now gather and manage such material digitally.”

Around 2,000 people are taking part in the group action, which will be heard at the High Court.

It is wise to choose a data recovery company who has a track record in recovering from the type of data loss you have experienced.

From:: http://www.krollontrack.co.uk/company/press-room/data-recovery-news/morrisons-sued-by-own-staff-after-data-breach619.aspx

Thursday, 29 October 2015 00:00

Is ‘Pretty Good’ Enough?

The question on the table today is whether “pretty good” is good enough when it comes to emergency management. Because some things are pretty good, after all. The Stafford Act, FEMA, the Incident Command System (ICS): They get the job done. 

But is that sufficient? There is grumbling throughout much of the emergency management community that each of these pillars of the profession can and should be improved upon.

They’re poorly structured, top heavy, fiscally irrational, inflexible — pick your poison. Changes must be made.

Despite the flaws, some say, the system runs as well as one might hope, and why tinker with (moderate) success? So what should and can be changed? How can Stafford, FEMA and ICS be made to perform to higher standards?



At the Oracle Open World 2015 conference this week, Oracle revealed what it describes as a major breakthrough in IT security that prevents attacks from being launched at the processor level.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says the latest generation of SPARC M7 processors now assigns numbers to units of code and memory on the processor that have to match before that code can be executed. If they don’t match, the processor will not only not run that code, it can also request patches in real time to fix vulnerabilities and send alerts to other systems, regardless of processor type, that the data center is under attack from a potential threat.

As part of this expanded focus on security, Ellison also committed to making certain that encryption is turned on in the Oracle cloud and that, going forward, Oracle will make it impossible to turn encryption off for two reasons. The first is that the impact that encryption has on application performance is now negligible. The second is that Oracle wants to assure customers that none of its employees can actually view customer data when running in cloud, which Ellison says is something no other provider of cloud applications and services can absolutely assure customers.



FEMA and the state of Texas are highlighting Texas communities that have taken steps to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property.

POTTER COUNTY, Texas – A multi-county initiative that began five years ago in the Texas panhandle provides residents an effective emergency alert system that helped save lives and property during the historic May 2015 floods.

The system, which has grown to include 150 counties, got its start in 2010 at the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission (PRPC). Funding was provided through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

“We found that only two of our 26 counties had any kind of mass notification capability,” said John Kiehl, regional services director of the PRPC. Established in 1969, the PRPC assists local governments in planning, developing and implementing programs designed to improve the general health, safety and welfare of the citizens in the Texas Panhandle.

“We discovered the other counties could not afford the cost of getting an alert system, much less maintain one,” said Kiehl, “but with help from FEMA and other partners, we were able to establish a reverse calling system to serve a wide array of emergency management purposes at a highly affordable cost.”

After considering different options, the PRPC decided to work with other jurisdictions that shared the need for mass notification. The result was the creation of the Alliance for Community Solutions (ACS), a group of stakeholders with a common interest in developing and implementing cost-effective, technology-based emergency management tools that benefit the group.

The PRPC applied for a grant from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to fund the project so that all counties in the region could affordably obtain and maintain notification capabilities.

“We submitted a proposal for a system that would serve the entire 26,000-square-mile region,” said Kiehl.

The PRPC received about $785,000 from FEMA toward the project cost of more than $1 million. Most of the balance came from donations from individuals and private foundations. HMGP funds were used to purchase licenses at a cost of $600 per license. Each jurisdiction contributed $200 toward the cost of its license.

“Initially, we had difficulty sending short message system (SMS) text messages. We’d send out the first 25 calls, which would go through without a problem,” said Kiehl. “But after that, they started bottlenecking and bouncing back. We went through a period of time where people were getting their severe weather alerts a day and a half after the storm had passed.”

The issue was resolved by installing a new smartphone application called Fully Connect. Because it bypasses cell phone service provider servers, Fully Connect lets local officials send messages more quickly and reliably.

Kiehl said the system has been improved beyond its original design with enhancements funded by the PRPC and other ACS members. In addition to the common suite of tools that can send alerts by text, voice and email, the PRPC has included an English-Spanish translation. Other ACS partners have added more language modules including French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and German to better serve their non-English speaking residents.

The PRPC is now working on the last major FEMA-funded improvement: integrating the PRPC system with the federal Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS). When that happens, there will be seven different ways for emergency managers and authorized users to send alerts and notices to residents when their safety is at risk.

In May 2015, historic storms swept through central and south Texas over Memorial Day weekend, dumping up to 10 inches of rain over parts of previously drought-stricken Texas.

Medina County, an ACS partner more than 500 miles from the Panhandle, had funded a system enhancement that connected the county’s flood gauges to the mass notification system. As the river rose, automated notices were sent to keep county responders and residents aware of the situation. The PRPC is now looking to take advantage of this enhancement in the Panhandle.

What the PRPC did in the region is now serving 150 other counties in Texas because they are all working with the same provider. Every enhancement put into the system by any one of the counties is available to all other counties and jurisdictions within those counties, at no additional cost.

“FEMA has invested a lot of money in this initiative and we wanted the return to be as great as possible,” said Kiehl. “One of the best outcomes of this project is the partnership that’s been forged through ACS.

“Together, we’ll continue to cost-effectively improve this system long after our HMGP project has been closed out,” Kiehl said. “And anytime an ACS partner adds a system enhancement, all ACS members will benefit from it.”

For additional information about the Texas Panhandle Partnership Regional Alert System, visit: Panhandle Regional Planning Commission.

To learn more about how cities and towns across Texas are building stronger, safer communities, visit Best Practice Stories | FEMA.gov.


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.

Embracing the future is usually more of a process than an event. Once the initial FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) passes, there is often a complete 180 in which all the problems of today are expected to be swept away. Once actual development and deployment kick in, however, the real-world practicalities become evident, leading to the realization that new issues invariably arise to take the place of the old.

You can see this dynamic playing out across a variety of data center initiatives these days. From software-defined infrastructure to cloud computing and even plain-old virtualization, the bloom eventually comes off the rose, albeit usually after it is too late to turn back.

ClearSky Data’s Laz Vekiarides recently turned the microscope on software-defined storage (SDS) and found a number of things to be wary of, although certainly nothing that would outweigh the benefits. For one thing, there is no standard definition of SDS, which gives free rein to vendors to slap the label on all manner of solutions without necessarily providing all the functionality that users expect. As well, SDS is often price compatible with legacy storage infrastructure only when deployed on commodity white-box hardware, and even then only when purchased in quantities that exceed the needs of most enterprises.



Thursday, 29 October 2015 00:00

Dynamic Bandwidth Allocation Capabilities Grow

Networks are transforming in a number of ways. At the highest level – one that is general and not tied to a specific technology – networks are becoming more dynamic; the amount and nature of bandwidth can be allocated on a fluid and real-time basis.

That’s a huge change. In a post at Vertical Systems Group, Rosemary Cochran points out that the agent of these dynamic capabilities may be software-defined networks, network functions virtualization (SDN and NFV), OpenFlow or others. In other words, the priority is to give customers what they want at a granular level. There are options. How it is done is secondary.

The post suggests that market leaders are taking their places:



Thursday, 29 October 2015 00:00

Business Continuity at the Edge of Chaos

Every now and again, a new theory of enterprise success appears. Business agility is one example, applying ideas drawn from agility in projects and industries like software development. To reap the benefits of the business version of agility, organisations should apparently operate at the “edge of chaos”. In this region, so the theory goes, the organisation is balanced between forces of change and constraints that work against change. The organisation is then “perturbed” enough to innovate and succeed. With this kind of vocabulary, how does business continuity fit in?



Thursday, 29 October 2015 00:00

TalkTalk hack a wake-up call for UK businesses

Cyber security and business experts have urged enterprises and the government to do more to prevent data breaches in the wake of last week’s talkTalk hack.

The communications provider initially warned the personal details of as many as four million customers could have been lost in the incident, though it has since said fewer people were affected than originally thought.

However, the scale of the breach has led to industry bodies and security professionals to call for more to be done to keep firms safe from such attacks.



The majority of small businesses, the ones most vulnerable to devastating outcomes in the event of an unplanned disruption, continue to ignore IT disaster recovery planning. Unfortunately, they do so at their own peril. As we witnessed with Superstorm Sandy, the “longer a business goes without getting back on their feet, the more likely it is that they will never get back on their feet,” said Michael Mullin, president of Integrated Business Systems. In the past, business continuity solutions were only within reach of businesses with hefty budgets; however, cloud computing has now made IT disaster recovery accessible to small businesses.

Proper Planning Can Protect Against Disaster Losses

A recent report from Databarracks revealed that just 27 percent of small organizations have a business disaster recovery plan in place, while their larger counterparts in medium and large businesses have a 68 and 73 percent readiness rate when it comes to having a documented plan. Some small businesses do have a plan in place, but the report confirmed that aren’t actively testing it.



Wednesday, 28 October 2015 00:00

10 Tips to Excel in ERM

CHICAGO—For many risk managers looking to implement enterprise risk management programs, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to do it properly. Unfortunately, as Steve Zawoyski, ERM leader at PwC, pointed out in a session at this year’s RIMS ERM Conference, you will never find the perfect ERM program—it’s basically as mythical as a unicorn. But there are certain key steps you can take to increase your chances for a successful ERM program. Zawoyski’s top tips are:



(TNS) - Emergency responders in Bay County have a new tool to fight contamination: electronic mist.

Emergency personnel trained earlier this month at the Bay County Emergency Operations center on using the e-mist surface management system (SMS). Representatives from the Bay County Health Department also attended the training session.

The Bay County Hazardous Materials Team can use the e-mist SMS to respond to meningitis and Ebola outbreaks, Bay County Fire Rescue Lt. and Hazardous Materials Team member Seth Imhof said. The e-mist SMS, which operates like a spray gun, was acquired through a federal grant.



Wednesday, 28 October 2015 00:00

Grant Will Give County Back-up 911 System

(TNS) - Butte-Silver Bow has secured a $185,000 grant to set up an alternative 911 call center at the Emergency Operations Center on the Flat should the one at the Sheriff’s Department in Uptown Butte go down.

The federal grant, administered through the state, will pay for the entire system and equipment. It was one of the priorities when construction on the emergency operations center building was completed nearly a year ago.

The $3.5 million state-of-the-art building also houses the Butte district of the Montana Highway Patrol and a driver’s license office.



Wednesday, 28 October 2015 00:00

Apple in the Enterprise: Is It Real This Time?

Apple has set its sights on the enterprise. This is nothing new, of course, as Apple has wanted to play a part in the world of professional data communications for decades.

But with its hold on consumer gadgets, and the idea that most knowledge workers would prefer to use a single client device for both their personal and professional lives, the company is now angling to invade the workplace in a big way.

Apple announced last month that the company earned about $25 billion in revenues from enterprise channels last year, which would be a stunning result for any other company but actually amounts to about 11 percent of Apple’s total haul. The company is busy working with IBM and others to make the iOS operating system more compatible with the enterprise back end, but as ZDNet’s Steve Ranger points out, rigid pricing and a high level of secrecy regarding future development paths make it hard for the enterprise to fully commit to the Apple platform. As well, business organizations are much less willing to pay the premium prices that Apple charges to consumers.



Wednesday, 28 October 2015 00:00

Hurricane Patricia and Severe Weather Planning

Monumental damage was averted this week as Hurricane Patricia narrowly missed the urban centers of Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo and Guadalajara and then downgraded when she reached the coastal mountains near Cuixmala in Jalisco state of southwest Mexico.

Strongest Pacific Hurricane on Record

With off-shore winds recorded at over 200 miles per hour, Patricia was recorded averaging 165 MPH when she hit land at 6:15 on the evening of 10/23.  The most powerful Pacific hurricane on record, Patricia, luckily resulted in considerably less damage than predicted and no loss of life.



Wednesday, 28 October 2015 00:00

Cloud Gateways in the Enterprise

In basic terms, cloud gateways translate block or file commands to the cloud via REST or SOAP APIs. They may be physical or virtual appliances, and in some cases, they are storage systems. Specific offerings vary. Some gateways are primarily caching mechanisms to speed up data transfers. Cloud gateways scale up the business food chain from SMB to the enterprise. For mid-sized businesses and enterprise, more advanced gateways offer robust features beyond simple caching.

Enterprise development is centering on gateways with added value, such as NAS storage systems with cloud enablement, native data protection, distributed file sharing and robust security. As of yet, gateways are not sufficient to translate high transaction commands to the cloud.

Some commenters put cloud storage gateways into the STaaS (storage as a service) category, but they aren't really the same thing. They require an on-premise appliance or storage system to work. Whether physical or virtual, the devices require IT optimization and maintenance time, as well as sufficient bandwidth to work. However, their value is clear when faced with the alternative of sending data to the cloud without a gateway.



Many British businesses have been lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to protecting their critical data from breaches, a new survey has found.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Ilex International found that many firms express high levels of confidence in the defences they have in place, despite the growing threat posed by cyber criminals.

Almost a quarter of IT decision-makers surveyed (24 per cent) described themselves as very confident in their solutions, while a further 59 per cent said they were fairly confident their business is protected against data breaches.

Thierry Bettini, director of International Strategy at Ilex, said that given the fact the UK is a major economic centre and therefore a key target for cyber attacks, this level of confidence is concerning and “completely misplaced”.



We’ve all had “that person” in our organization. The one who risks business security, who downloads information to personal accounts, who disregards IT policy and tries to save everything on a local device. So far in my lengthy career, I’ve worked with people who had these real incidents:

  • the CEO who dropped his mobile phone in the ocean during the company’s sales club trip to the Caribbean.
  • the sales manager who left her laptop at airport security — and flew across the country without it.
  • the engineering lead who lost his corporate phone in a New Orleans taxi during Microsoft TechEd.
  • the marketer who used a personal Dropbox account to share sales report data with his team – then left the company for a competitor.



Wednesday, 28 October 2015 00:00

The State of the Cloud 2015

Cloud technologies and services such as cloud-based file sharing are at or moving towards the forefront of today’s IT world. But some of the information we found may be surprising even to a knowledgeable MSP. Using data from a CDW report on all things cloud computing and a survey conducted by RightScale, we have selected some important facts and figures on the current cloud landscape.



Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

9 Questions to Ask During a Crisis

When an incident happens it is essential that the top management of an organization establish, define and document their policy for crisis management, which includes clear directions and expectations. It includes a statement of intent that clearly and concisely outlines their objectives, describes in broad terms how they intend to realize them and conveys their commitment and determination. The policy statement should include a definition of scope. It should identify who is to be responsible for various aspects of the response and recovery actions and its overall coordination. It should also establish priorities, timelines and standards for the delivery of the organization’s crisis management capability, as well as budget and other resource limitations as necessary. The document should address key questions that set the tone for the duration of the crisis such as:



Although we might have a baseline understanding and systems in place to handle a disaster, the reality is that most businesses will experience significant downtime as a result of an unplanned disruption. Three in four companies worldwide have inadequate disaster recovery plans according to the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council’s 2014 Annual Report. In the majority of cases, this is simply because companies do not have the time or resources to sufficiently safeguard all areas of their business. In order to secure your business, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to close the most typical gaps in disaster recovery preparedness.

Start with the Disaster Recovery Plan

Every company needs to have an effective disaster recovery plan documented. Many organizations may have started to write a plan, but it’s not comprehensive or possibly not entirely effective in the event of the worst-case scenario. Evaluate where your company is with its planning, and commit to making an improved plan as soon as possible.



In the rush to enact open data policies and dive into innovation projects, cities are seriously considering the value of chief data officers — and officials in Long Beach, Calif., are no different. But the city is taking a different approach: crowdsourcing.

The chief data officer role is an emerging one, encapsulated in a trichotomy of technical expertise, internal strategizing and community engagement. For cities, chief data officers often oversee the nuances in analytics projects and open data policies, coordinate department data initiatives, and vet potential tech partnerships in the private sector. For citizens, the role is most visible in their advocacy for civic apps and volunteer expertise.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

Bucking the Rating Trend

Broker Willis has just published its commercial insurance rate predictions for 2016.

What’s the outlook for insurance buyers?

Overall, the property/casualty insurance market continues to soften and Willis predicts further softening ahead, fueled by relatively benign losses and an oversupply of capacity from traditional and non-traditional sources.

For 2016, 10 lines of insurance—property, casualty, aviation, energy, health care professional, marine, political risks, surety, terrorism and trade credit—are expecting decreases.



When emergencies arise, one of the most difficult aspects of crisis management is accessing the most accurate and timely information available to drive effective response planning and decision making.  Whether the incident is happening across campus or across the globe, it’s unlikely that all of the people needed to determine next steps are on-site with a first-hand view of the situation. Real-time, interactive field communications are a key success driver.

Common Field Communication Challenges

MissionMode supports hundreds of organizations across a wide variety of industries many of which encounter frequent field-based situations that need rapid management.  Very often, the people on the spot when a situation arises don’t include all those who need to be involved in determining response. Some common customer examples we see include:



Sony (SNE) has reached a settlement related to claims from current and former employees over the theft of personal information in a cyber attack that took place last year.

And as a result, Sony tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by TalkTalk, G DATA and Xero

What can managed service providers (MSPs) and their customers learn from this week's IT security newsmakers? Check out this week's edition of IT security stories to watch to find out:



Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

BCI: The impact of losing an employee

Only four in ten small or medium sized businesses in the UK would be able to survive if their founder suddenly left. That is according to a study by Network ROI which also revealed that a third of respondents to their survey claimed their business would not even survive a month.

Of course it may not be the founder of an organization who is pivotal to its success, the lack of a suitable person to fill any key role could cause a crisis. The latest Horizon Scan Report published by the Business Continuity Institute revealed that the lack of availability of talents/key skills was considered a potential threat to organizations by a third of business continuity professionals who responded to a global survey, while 59% noted that the loss of a key employee was something to watch out for in the future.

This goes to show how valuable some people can be to their organization, either because of the figurehead role they provide, or perhaps because their skills are so niche. This study helps reinforce the importance of succession planning so that when someone leaves an organization, for whatever reason and whether temporary or permanent, their workload can still be carried out effectively, without disruption to the organization.

Sean Elliot, Managing Director of Network ROI, commented: "We carried out the business continuity and succession planning survey to get a better understanding of attitudes towards these issues within the UK small business community. The results show that business continuity is an area that requires a greater deal of investment and understanding, especially within the SME space."

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

Tornado Watch Issued for South Mississippi

(TNS) - South Mississippi was under a tornado watch until 2 a.m. Monday.

The National Weather Service issued the report Sunday evening and said a couple of tornados are possible in southeastern Louisiana, coastal Mississippi and coastal waters.

A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. The weather service said a gradual increase in tornado threat is apparent across the area through at least part of the overnight.

The area included in the watch is from 40 miles south of New Orleans to 50 miles east of Gulfport, which includes the three Coast counties and the waters to the south.



(TNS) - Greenfield Twp. firefighters were cutting a driver out of a Jeep last week when an elderly man from the other car involved in the wreck started having chest pains.

Firefighters tried to call for another ambulance, but the crash scene near the intersection of Route 247 and Greenfield Road was in a dead zone in the county radio network, Fire Chief P.J. Fortuner recalled.

“We had to call Susquehanna County to dispatch the ambulance,” Chief Fortuner said. “It took a good 10 minutes for the ambulance to get there because they couldn’t hear us.”



(TNS) - In the midst of powerful storms and heavy rains, Victoria set a new record Saturday, receiving 3.87 inches of rain.

The previous record for the most rainfall received on Oct. 24 was set in 1949 with a total of 2.17 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Although the city is not experiencing any major flooding at the moment, Richard McBrayer, coordinator of Victoria's Office of Emergency Management, said Sunday that the public should not let its guard down. The city received .3 inches of rain Sunday with most ending by 11 a.m. Sunday.

"Right now, we're at a mild to moderate flood rate, but we'll be monitoring it and know more later in the week," McBrayer said, as the rain continues to drain into regional creeks and the Guadalupe River.



EATONTOWN, N.J. -- When it comes to destruction, disasters like Superstorm Sandy don’t discriminate:  historic structures and environmentally sensitive areas that lie in the path of a storm are in just as much peril as less significant sites.

But when a historic structure or ecologically fragile area is damaged in a disaster, particular care must be taken to ensure that any repair or remediation that must take place is done in accordance with historic and environmental regulations.

To accomplish that, state, county and local officials in the impacted area are able to draw on the support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Environmental and Historic Preservation Specialists.

The EHP cadre plays a critical role in helping municipalities and agencies understand the importance of compliance with environmental and cultural regulations so they may make informed planning decisions.

A view of the damaged Liberty State Park pedestrian bridge
The Liberty State Park pedestrian bridge was destroyed in Sandy.
EHP provides expertise and technical assistance to FEMA staff, local, state and federal partners and applicants who are tasked with the challenge of preserving historic, cultural and natural aspects of our national heritage. They help applicants understand what is required under the law and how best to meet those requirements.

At Liberty State Park, which is adjacent to Jersey City, Superstorm Sandy destroyed a popular pedestrian bridge that provided access to the park for walkers and cyclists in the Jersey City area.

With the help of specialists from FEMA’s Environmental and Historic Preservation Department, city officials acted quickly to develop a plan for reconstructing the bridge.

The city applied for a FEMA Public Assistance grant which, if the project was approved, would reimburse the city for most of the reconstruction costs.

Because the original bridge traversed environmentally sensitive wetlands, it was important that any new construction be environmentally acceptable and that it occupy the same footprint as the previous bridge.

The park, an oasis of green space adjacent to the bustle of Jersey City, offers recreational facilities, a science museum, and several historic sites including the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal where new immigrants arriving from Ellis Island boarded the trains that would take them to new lives across America.

The park is also the site of a memorial honoring those who died in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, titled Empty Sky. It is the most heavily visited park in the state.

Located just across the river from lower Manhattan, Liberty State Park also played a critical role following the attacks of 9/11 as a staging area for first responders.

With so many reasons for area residents to visit the park, restoring access via the pedestrian bridge was a priority for Jersey City officials.

The cost of replacing the 120-foot-long, 10-foot-wide bridge replacement project was estimated at $834,600. Jersey City’s Assistant City Engineer Jeff Reeves chose a pre-fabricated bridge that could be lifted onto the foundation via a crane. The pre-made span cost $160,000.

Restoring the foundation cost an additional $650,000, which included the demolition of the remnants of the original bridge and the installation of necessary components such as foundation “riprap.”

The final cost for reconstruction of the foundation and replacement of the pedestrian bridge came in under budget at $755,642 which represents the 90% federal share of the total cost.

A view of the newly constructed bridge
The new Ethel Pesin Liberty Footbridge
Because the total cost of disaster recovery in New Jersey exceeded a benchmark set by the federal government according to a specific formula, the federal share of the cost of the bridge replacement was increased to 90 percent with the remaining 10 percent borne by the state and the City of Jersey City.

On June 20, 2013, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy dedicated the new bridge, which has been officially named the “Ethel Pesin Liberty Footbridge” in memory of the woman who, with her husband, Morris, worked tirelessly to  establish the park. A community leader and founding trustee of the Friends of Liberty State Park, Pesin died early in 2013.

“We know how important this piece of infrastructure is to our residents, and that is why we worked with OEM and our engineering staff to find a way to expedite the replacement of the Jersey Avenue footbridge,” the mayor said.

Today, walkers and cyclists are again able to enjoy the recreational facilities at Liberty State Park and visit the park’s historic sites via the Jersey Avenue Bridge.

And because of the teamwork between state and local officials and FEMA’s EHP experts, the environmentally sensitive wetlands that surround the bridge have been protected.

Please be sure to watch the video titled, “Apr 17, 2013- Liberty State Park - A Gift Worth Saving” at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/82646

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.

Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/FEMASandy,www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/FEMASandy, www.facebook.com/fema, www.fema.gov/blog, and www.youtube.com/fema.Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.”

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

The IT Security Risk on Your Wrist

Mobile computing devices used to be the challenge for many enterprises. IT departments found themselves tugged in several different directions at once. Employees insisted on using their tablets and smartphones to access company applications, while security officers threw up their hands in horror at the idea of unknown and uncontrollable devices having a way in to corporate data. Judging from statistics from a survey earlier in 2015 by BYOD security solutions provider SOTI Inc., security officers are right in their misgivings. Mobile device usage puts enterprises at risk, whether through sloppy networking or data storage practices or other. Yet what if the bigger security risk was now no longer in your pocket, but strapped to your wrist?



Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

Cobalt Enters the BCI Hall of Fame

Winning a BCI Award, whether regional or global, is a considerable achievement. It demonstrates your dedication to the industry and reflects the effort you have put in, either as an individual or as an organization. BCI Award winners act as a shining light to those around them, giving them something to aspire to and work towards. To win a BCI Award on a regular basis however, that takes something extra special.

The BCI is pleased to announce that the latest entry to the Hall of Fame is Cobalt. Cobalt have won three consecutive BCI Middle East Innovation of the Year Awards with three different solutions. This category is a particularity difficult category to win repeatedly as entrants must provide evidence that they are exploring new ground, delivering innovation, understanding current and future needs, and at the same time deliver tangible operational benefits for clients.

Jean-François Plante, Cobalt founder and CEO said: “To achieve entry into the BCI Hall of Fame is a realisation of our determination to develop world-class solutions and be a global leader in our industry. From day one, the Cobalt team has worked with a clear focus on innovation and quality, with the BCI and its members’ principal in our endeavours.

There is a lot of marketing strategy in our industry but for Cobalt, it starts and ends with talking to people. People, with their unique experiences, shared concerns and organisational needs, give us our market vision and enable us to listen and provide answers with our technology, this validation is testament to our vision and we are incredibly proud."

The Business Continuity Institute’s Hall of Fame, set up in 2015, is for those who have not only displayed a high standard of achievement, but have done so consistently. As such, only those who have won three BCI Awards within the same category will be permitted to enter.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

5 simple tools to help count the cost of IT

SaaS TCO Calculator

Buying a SaaS product is very different to paying for software in the traditional sense, with the latter tending to involve one-off licence fees rather than subscriptions, greater overheads in terms of setup and maintenance, and potentially demanding their own dedicated hardware. The Software Advice TCO Calculator allows users to make a side-by-side comparison of SaaS and on-premise software in terms of cost, taking into account a vast array of factors like the terms of their respective licences, their life expectancy, and any support and training that may be required. It also provides a useful visualisation of cost over time.



EATONTOWN, NJ. -- In the three years since Hurricane Sandy scored a direct hit on New Jersey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been actively engaged in the recovery effort, providing $6.8 billion to date to help the state recover and rebuild.

This money has helped to restore critical facilities, clear debris, replace boardwalks along the Jersey Shore, rebuild public infrastructure, and reimburse municipalities throughout the state for the enormous costs of clearing debris and restoring public safety in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

FEMA’s National flood Insurance program has paid out more than $3.5 billion in claims to flood insurance policyholders whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm. Through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP), the agency approved $422.9 million in payments to Sandy survivors.

FEMA Public Assistance, which provides funds for repair and rebuilding of infrastructure and public facilities as well as necessary work such as debris removal and emergency response, has obligated $1.809 billion in Public Assistance funds towards repair and rebuilding projects in New Jersey.

As the work of rebuilding continues, FEMA is helping to strengthen the state’s capacity to withstand a future disaster. Thirty-nine percent of all Public Assistance (PA) projects have accompanying mitigation projects. FEMA is funding projects that protect vulnerable facilities from inundation by storm waters, raise homes above the flood plain and convert neighborhoods that have experienced repeated and devastating flooding to public, open space. Eighty-six percent of all New Jersey PA projects over a half-million dollars have a mitigation component.

To date, the FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has obligated $258,456,164 million for a series of mitigation measures that includes voluntary property acquisitions in communities subject to repetitive flooding, energy allocation, retail fuel, infrastructure, home elevations and planning projects, including $30.9 million for home elevations in flood-prone areas and $9.7 million for the Retail Fuel Station Program. The RFS is a voluntary grant program designed to enhance the operational resiliency of retail fuel stations statewide by funding the installation of back-up generators capable of operating fuel pumps when power outages occur.

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.

Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/FEMASandy,www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/FEMASandy, www.facebook.com/fema, www.fema.gov/blog, and www.youtube.com/fema.Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.”

Monday, 26 October 2015 00:00

Alerts & Notifications

By Rick Wimberly

Can Earthquake Alerts Work?

With earthquake sensors evolving in the US, how far behind is a fast-acting system for delivering earthquake alerts to the public? A system for detecting earthquakes, then making alerts available for dissemination is being developed by the U.S. Geological Survey agency, the State of California, universities, foundations, and private companies. Oregon and Washington states are also involved. Apps and software systems are being developed to pick up the alerts from the new system, called ShakeAlert, and distribute them to the public.

One of the approaches would use FM radio signals to deliver alerts to special devices. The signals would be delivered through what’s called Radio Data System.  RDS is the same method used to send names of recording arts and other information to car dashboards. Global Security Systems/AlertFM (GSS) says its RDS/receiver system will deliver earthquake alerts faster than other alerting systems such as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) or the Emergency Alert System (EAS).   Read More

(TNS) - When Frederick County firefighters upgraded to the 800 megahertz radio frequency several years ago, not all of the county’s closest neighbors followed suit.

As a consequence, county firefighters found themselves unable to communicate directly with stations in Jefferson County, West Virginia, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and Washington County, all of which stayed in the lower, 400 MHz range, said Chip Jewell, chief of the Frederick County Division of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services.

“Essentially, the lower the frequency, the wider the penetration you get,” Jewell said of the outlying counties’ decision to stick with the lower frequency. “They get better penetration using the UHF 400 MHz frequencies due to the mountainous terrain that you see more of past Frederick.”



Over the course of the next few days, millions of tweeters will be given the option to create and respond to public polls in a few short steps.

The wildly popular social network announced its plans to roll out the feature in a blog post Wednesday and said the anonymized voting system would allow users to weigh in on the topics that matter most to them.

While we are sure to see a fair amount of pop culture-centric polls as a result of the new function, we are also likely to see governments putting it to work as a means of directly connecting with their citizens.



The University of Cambridge released research earlier this month that suggests that 88 percent of Android devices have been vulnerable to at least one of 11 critical security flaws during the past four years, according to eWeek.

The variables in the computations take into account the diligence of manufacturers in releasing patches and a number of other factors. The bottom line of the study suggests that manufacturers are not doing their jobs. A strategy was also suggested for assessing how the manufacturers are responding over time:

The researchers proposed a benchmark to measure the overall security of devices and the support of their manufacturers. The benchmark, dubbed the FUM score, uses three metrics: the proportions of devices free from critical vulnerabilities and running the latest version of the Android operating system, and the mean number of vulnerabilities still unpatched by the manufacturer.



Monday, 26 October 2015 00:00

Top 5 Cloud Adoption Barriers

Although cloud adoption is on the rise, with 35 percent of all IT services being delivered by cloud according to a CDW report, there are still many concerns from both private businesses and the public sector. The hesitancy toward adopting cloud services and cloud-based file sharing can be attributed to a myriad of reasons, but there a few barriers that stand above the rest. These are the top 5 cloud adoption barriers and what MSPs can do to move past them.

Although cloud adoption is on the rise, with 35 percent of all IT services being delivered by cloud according to a CDW report, there are still many concerns from both private businesses and the public sector. The hesitancy toward adopting cloud services and cloud-based file sharing can be attributed to a myriad of reasons, but there a few barriers that stand above the rest. These are the top 5 cloud adoption barriers and what MSPs can do to move past them.



(TNS) - A new phone app introduced by the Grundy County Emergency Management Agency [EMA] will allow users to be notified immediately of emergencies and give them a place to report damage.

EMA Director Joe Schroeder said the app provides an economical and user-friendly way to get emergency alerts out to residents.

“We used to use Reverse 911 service funded by the ETSB [Emergency Telephone System Board], we no longer use that and had to develop a plan to still get the information to the residents,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said Reverse 911 is a public safety communications system developed by Cassidian Communications that allows users to pick a geographic area to which to push alerts. The cost of the system is $17,000 a year and it dials home phones within the defined area.



(TNS) - The United Nations on Tuesday lauded the Philippine government’s preparedness for Typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu) that minimized the number of both casualties and affected communities compared to past typhoons that befell the country.

Although the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) expressed concern for children stranded in remote areas, the disaster risk reduction arm of the international organization credited the Philippine government’s preparedness program for minimizing the typhoon’s damage to life and property.

A statement from the Unicef and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said the country’s preparedness strategy “paid off.”



COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s historic floods affected people’s jobs, mental state or left them needing legal assistance. But help is still available. There are several programs to assist survivors with these issues as they work to recover from the floods:

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Disaster Unemployment Assistance application deadlines are approaching for several counties. DUA may be available to survivors who lost their jobs or businesses as a result of the recent floods. Survivors in any of the federally designated counties are eligible to apply. Apply by visiting mybenefits.dew.sc.gov or by calling 866-831-1724.

The deadline for survivors to file a claim is Nov. 4 in Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, and Williamsburg counties; Nov. 5 in Berkeley, Clarendon and Sumter counties; Nov. 6 in Calhoun, Darlington, Florence, Kershaw and Lee counties; Nov. 7 in Bamberg, Colleton and Greenwood counties; Nov. 12 in Newberry County; and Nov. 19 for Fairfield and Marion counties. Call 888-834-5890 for more information.

Disaster-Related Legal Assistance at No Charge

A free helpline is available for survivors who have disaster-related legal questions. A partnership between the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the South Carolina Bar, the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division and South Carolina Legal Services is providing the service.

Survivors who have flood-related legal issues and cannot afford a lawyer should call 877-797-2227 ext. 120 or 803-576-3815 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Crisis Counseling Available

Many survivors recovering from the floods are also recovering emotionally. Free help is available for flood survivors who feel overwhelmed, exhausted or unable to cope. Mental health professionals are available at disaster recovery centers. Survivors can find their closest recovery center by calling 800-621-3362 or by logging onto fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.

Survivors who sustained losses in Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Greenwood, Horry, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and Williamsburg counties are eligible to register for federal disaster assistance.

Apply for assistance by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362. Disaster assistance applicants who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities should call 800-462-7585 (TTY); those who use 711/VRS may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. Survivors may also choose to visit a disaster recovery center in their county. To find the nearest center log onto fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers.

Friday, 23 October 2015 00:00

FEMA: Hurricane Wilma: Ten Years Later

ATLANTA -- Ten years ago October 24, Hurricane Wilma slammed ashore near Naples, Fla., as a Category 3 storm with a 50-mile-wide eye. Wilma was the most intense hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin, with wind speeds reaching 175 mph over the Gulf of Mexico.

By the time Wilma exited the state near Palm Beach, it had spawned 10 tornadoes, left five people dead and six million people without power. Rainfall exceeded seven inches in some parts of the state. The President's Oct. 24, 2005, disaster declaration made federal funding available to disaster survivors in Brevard, Broward, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.

In addition, federal funding was made available to the state and eligible local governments for debris removal, emergency protective measures and other public assistance in Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, De Soto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Sarasota and St. Lucie counties.

To help disaster survivors FEMA obligated $342.5 million to 227,321 disaster applicants for the Individual and Household Program. Of that amount, $150.8 million was provided for housing (including temporary rentals and repairs) and $191.5 million for other serious disaster-related needs, such as personal property losses and moving and storage, medical or funeral expenses.    

FEMA also has obligated more than $1.4 billion in Public Assistance to the state of Florida, local governments and eligible nonprofit organizations for eligible projects. Of that amount:

  • $956.3 million reimbursed for debris clearance and emergency measures to protect public health and safety immediately after the storm;
  • $477.5 million reimbursed the work needed to make permanent repairs.

To date, more than $141.5 million has been obligated by FEMA for 119 Hazard Mitigation

Grant Program projects to build stronger, safer more resilient communities in Florida since Hurricane Wilma. A total of 111 mitigation projects are completed of which 90 are to retrofit public structures to protect against wind damage and 11 drainage projects to protect the public from flooding events.


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.

Friday, 23 October 2015 00:00

The Challenges of Reliable Tape Archiving

No matter whether we are talking about contracts, customer data or manufacturing plans and design diagrams, corporate data has a significantly longer half-life than the ephemeral IT systems on which it is stored. If legal retention periods are also taken into account, it is no wonder that companies are looking for a reliable and secure solution to archive their data. Tape archiving has proved to be the method of choice for decades, but there are some challenges and pitfalls lurking behind it that should be considered.

Archiving instead of saving

The most important basic rule in data archiving is that data may not simply be saved, but that it must be preserved in the long term so that it is accessible when necessary. Retention periods of 10 years and more cause companies to face problems over and over again, as proven by examples from everyday work at Kroll Ontrack. Thus, for example, a bank audit required the submission of 35,000 booking records from the 1980s. Since this bank takes its archiving responsibilities very seriously, the relevant data had been preserved on tapes, but the hardware and software required to run them was no longer operational.

At another company, the internal audit department ordered the restoration of all Lotus Notes email accounts from an AS/400 system. However, the hardware used at that time no longer existed at the company, thus lacking the ability to read the data needed.



Cyber criminals in the UK are increasingly targeting specific individuals, rather than simply casting a wide net and hoping to get lucky, according to a new report.

Research by internet security campaigners Get Safe Online found many people in the UK have been exposed to this new wave of targeted attacks. More than one in five individuals surveyed stated they believed they had been specifically targeted by criminals, with 37 per cent left feeling vulnerable as a result.

One of the most common ways in which victims were targeted was through ‘phishing’ emails, with 26 per cent of people saying they had fallen victim to this.

This type of attack – and in particular its more targeted ‘spear phishing’ sub-type – can include information highly specific to an individual or company in an effort to get them to part with personal data such as financial details or business login credentials, which can then be used to steal sensitive data.

However, Britons are becoming more alert to the risks posed by cyber criminals, with some 30 per cent stated they know more about online security now compared with a year ago, while a further 21 per cent say they know more than they did two years ago.

Get Safe Online found the growing number of high-profile data breaches has played a key role in this. Almost two-thirds of the public (64 per cent) have become warier about sharing personal details with businesses, with 23 per cent saying this was a result of the Carphone Warehouse hack, while 18 per cent cited the Apple iTunes email scam and 17 per cent stated the TalkTalk, Sony and Ashley Madison breaches.

Chief executive of Get Safe Online Tony Neate said: “As we spend more of our lives online, our digital footprints inevitably get bigger. Sadly, that means opportunist fraudsters will use information about us to make their scams more believable and difficult to detect.”

When looking for data recovery services, look for one with a track record of success. Ontrack Data Recovery services has 40,000 data recovery stories to tell every year.

From:: http://www.krollontrack.co.uk/company/press-room/data-recovery-news/uk-cybercrime-getting-more-personal,-study-claims847.aspx

(TNS) - Hartshorne Public Schools Superintendent Mark Ichord recalls a day when the city’s tornado sirens blared as a violent thunderstorm approached.

“I was going through town and the sirens were going off,” Ichord said. His thoughts immediately flashed to the safety of the students — but they had nowhere to go.

“They didn’t have anything except a concrete block building,” he said. Fortunately, the storm passed, but it left a persistent feeling that Hartshorne students are too vulnerable to extreme weather.

Ichord and other members of the Hartshorne school administration and board of education would like to see that changed — not only for the students, but also for the entire community.



Friday, 23 October 2015 00:00

Making Visual Evidence Manageable

In the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the Boston Police Department encouraged anyone who had taken smartphone photos or video at the scene to send their footage to investigators. The public response was so strong that the department was soon overwhelmed by the volume of potential evidence it received, requiring the FBI to step in and help sift through it all.

The Vancouver, British Columbia, Police Department was similarly inundated by citizen-recorded photos and video after the city’s 2011 Stanley Cup riot — 5,000 hours of video alone had to be examined during the investigation. This job was too big for the department to handle. Luckily its personnel were aided by a team of experts assembled by the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA).

In both instances, the citizen-supplied evidence was attached to a cloud of extensive IT resources and manpower demands, and all of this potential evidence had to be collected, accessed and stored somewhere. This can make citizen-sourced visual evidence an unmanageable nightmare for most police departments.



While plenty of organizations are decommissioning their datacenters in favor of the cloud model, many are not comfortable with a leap to big public cloud providers. 

That’s why Breakthrough Technology Group (BTG) is finding success with private cloud – the sweet spot for customers that no longer want to manage their own on-premises datacenters, but have reservations about moving their infrastructure to mass-market public cloud services.

“We often hear from customers that they don’t want to be in the datacenter business anymore,” said Joey Widener, vice president of business development.

“However, they are wary of public clouds, for example, because they have no control over where their data resides and don’t want to compete with other customers for resources.”



Friday, 23 October 2015 00:00

Why MSPs are Failing Compliance Tests

Regardless of how efficient your cloud-based file sharing infrastructure is, having proper compliance is still essential.  If you’re the type of ambitious managed service provider (MSP) that plans on introducing your services to highly-regulated industries like healthcare, banking, or retail, compliance becomes even more important.

Sure, there is a lot of money to be made, but the barriers-to-entry for these coveted grounds are also pretty high. Manning these barriers are the compliance auditors, the gatekeepers that possess an array of methods with which they can figure out whether or not you are worthy of being let in.

Not only are the audits grueling, but failing to pass their scrutiny can lead to detrimental consequences for your company.  Not being compliant is as dangerous for your clients, as it is for you. So tread carefully, enterprising MSPs, because the penalties for not meeting standards can range from $500 to $1,500,000!



Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm ever measured in the eastern Pacific, is on track to devastate southwestern Mexico starting Friday afternoon. The National Hurricane Center is warning about a "potentially catastrophic landfall," and authorities are scrambling to evacuate the area:

The storm's current size is shocking. Just 30 hours ago, Patricia was an ordinary hurricane with maximum winds of 60 miles per hour. Since then, Patricia has grown into a monster Category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds nearing 200 miles per hour. The current storm appears to be unprecedented in the historical record.



Thursday, 22 October 2015 00:00

Is Your Firm Compliant or Complacent?

How contracting processes are harming compliance efforts.

Almost everyone I know has a story about the financial crisis of 2008. Lost homes. Investment losses. Impact on retirement. Since then, federal regulators have been hard at work ensuring banks pass stress tests, aren’t “too big to fail” and that their operational processes can survive another financial disaster.

But are they looking in the wrong place?

Banks are, in large part, firms with money under contract with another firm to do something with that money. Swaps. Derivatives. Commodities. Mutual funds. Hedge funds. All of these firms have contracts to manage their businesses, and every contract has to be drafted, negotiated and signed.  While most compliance efforts are focused on business risk, very few are focused on contract risk.



With profit margins continually under pressure, MSPs are looking to value-add services such as backup and disaster recovery as a means of boosting profitability. A recent survey by Zetta.net demonstrated that almost one-third of businesses are actively planning to add another form of backup to supplement their existing approach.

But many MSPs have not yet assembled the platform required to offer enterprise-class backup or disaster recovery to customers. So should they invest months in erecting their own infrastructure? Such a decision should never be taken lightly. It is essential to achieve a full understanding of the costs involved.

The primary expense, of course, is the acquisition cost of the storage itself. Once that purchase had been made, you will need to factor in more expenditures than you at first realized. It is best to tally up all of these costs to come up with an internal price per GB overall. But be careful to take into account the price of hardware, software, support costs, personnel, power usage, cooling, networking and everything else that goes into storing data.




EATONTOWN, N.J. – The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy left survivors and businesses in New Jersey with large-scale recovery needs. In the three years since, the state’s private sector has made significant contributions to strengthen recovery efforts.

Immediately after Sandy struck, Private Sector specialists with FEMA’s External Affairs division deployed to New Jersey to work with chambers of commerce, industry associations, individual companies, colleges and universities, the medical industry and other organizations.

An outside shot of the Panini Bay Restaurant
Panini Bay Restaurant in Tuckerton built an innovative elevator for wheel chair accessibility 

Response was immediate. Utility companies inserted disaster assistance information in utility bill inserts, reaching 3.3 million customers. The South Jersey Transportation Authority featured registration information on its Vehicle Messaging Systems at toll plazas as well as on its website ticker messaging system, reaching an estimated 2.9 people a month.

Through utility bill inserts, newsletters, signage, advisories and other means, FEMA’s Private Sector specialists successfully distribute some 14 million disaster assistance messages to New Jersey residents.

One fast food chain that requested anonymity handed out disaster assistance messaging along with 7,000 sandwiches they distributed at 32 locations throughout New Jersey. “That’s just one example of how essential the private sector is to a strong recovery effort,” noted Gracia Sczech, who served as Federal Coordinating Officer for FEMA’s Joint Field Office in Lincroft during the early days of the disaster.

Chambers of commerce, associations and businesses shared FEMA’s electronic newsletter, the E-News Update, with their memberships and contacts. This access to recovery information proved invaluable to their members and had far-reaching effects.

FEMA’s Private Sector worked with The New Jersey Association of Realtors to present a series of seminars and question and answer sessions on recovery issues. These events updated and advised the real estate community on issues pertinent to Sandy recovery, including, Flood Mapping, the National Flood Insurance Program, Home Elevation, Business Continuity, Federal and State recovery programs, and grant and loan opportunities.

In all, more than 2,000 realtors received the latest information regarding Sandy recovery. “To have the opportunity to interact directly with FEMA representatives, ask questions and get answers has helped not only members, but their clients as well,” said New Jersey Association of Realtors Chief Executive Officer Jarrod Grasso. “The recovery process in the aftermath of Sandy has not been easy, but getting the correct facts to our members has relieved a great deal of uncertainty related to flood maps, insurance and elevation that so many New Jersey residents felt.”

Two FEMA program areas, Private Sector and the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination group, facilitated an Insurance Industry Roundtable, forming a public-private partnership that resulted in a series of four meetings to explore how to enhance and expedite the disaster assistance process. A roundtable work group identified issues impeding the process and then developed recommendations that were submitted to President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

A view of the info tables at Home Depot on Preparedness Day
FEMA’s Mitigation and Private Sector teams man tables at Home Depot's Preparedness Day 

The private sector reached out in more basic ways as well. Sometimes, it was as simple as speaking at a local chamber of commerce meeting or a single business, staffing information tables at business and industry functions or offering work space for businesses displaced by the storm.

Operation Photo Rescue, a nonprofit organization of volunteer photojournalists from around the nation, came to New Jersey to help Sandy survivors restore treasured photos. The organization began helping disaster survivors during the Hurricane Katrina recovery in Louisiana.  Operation Photo Rescue volunteers needed to set up a temporary site close enough for survivors to access their free services.

“Finding a place for us to host our copy run was turning into a major problem as we could not secure a building close enough to where Sandy hit,” recalled Operation Photo Rescue President Margie Hayes.

“We were coming up empty-handed until Chris Spyridon, regional pro sales manager for Home Depot, offered us a space at Home Depot in Seaside Heights.”

Another area in which the private sector played an important role was in the academic arena. FEMA offers a disaster preparation program to elementary schools titled “FEMA for Kids,”  which helps children recover from the stress and uncertainty of the unknown that a disaster can bring by teaching them skills that serve to alleviate that uncertainty, including developing a family communications plan for disasters and determining what items their family should plan to have on hand to prepare for disaster, such as canned food, medications, water and pet supplies.

With the success of FEMA for Kids came a similar prepared program aimed at high school and college-age students titled “Ready, Steady, Strong.” Designed and developed by a FEMACorps team at the NJ Sandy Joint Field Office in Lincroft, Ready, Steady, Strong teaches the same principles as FEMA for Kids at a more sophisticated level, including a tabletop exercise simulating a disaster in which the students practice emergency management skills.

Thousands of students throughout New Jersey participated in the two programs, gaining the attention of the Mayor of Newark, who invited FEMA to present the program in the Newark school system. More than 45,000 elementary and high school age students as well as teachers and administrators participated.

The business of recovery is long-term, and an important part of recovery is preparedness, which not only helps individuals survive a disaster but can help businesses endure as well. FEMA’s Private Sector specialists have traveled throughout the state to help executives and officials understand the need for a business continuity plan to implement in an emergency to ensure the business can survive and continue once the emergency is over. Montclair State University recorded FEMA’s preparedness webinar to share with all of New Jersey’s colleges and universities.

As we mark the third year of Hurricane Sandy Recovery, the work of our Private Sector partners continues to benefit residents and businesses throughout New Jersey.

“We are proud of the contributions that members of New Jersey’s business communities made toward the goal of recovery,” said NJ Sandy Recovery Office Director Christopher Hartnett. “Their efforts have made a difference for thousands of residents and businesses across the state.”

Please be sure to watch the following video-links for two success stories: Partnering for Preparedness:  Jenkinson’s Aquarium Continuity Plan Works at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/81998#details and Serenity Spa Open for Business at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/82055.

You may also enjoy two FEMA links called Ready Steady Strong Visits East Side High School at www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/99359 and First Avenue Elementary School is Prepared for Emergencies at www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/99488.

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.

Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/FEMASandy,www.twitter.com/femawww.facebook.com/FEMASandywww.facebook.com/femawww.fema.gov/blog, and www.youtube.com/fema.Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.”

Thursday, 22 October 2015 00:00

Cyber Insurance: Growing and Innovating

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding rapidly—even permeating the minds of five-year olds.

My own Kindergartener’s query from the back of the car during a routine drive to swim class the other day is a good example:

“Mummy, how did God know to create all these things that we need?” As I paused to consider the appropriate response, he answered for me: “You can just ask Siri, or Google it.”

Just how far we’ve come in our technological transformation is reflected by the development of innovative insurance products to cover the associated—and growing—risk.



Thursday, 22 October 2015 00:00

Managing Containers in the Cloud

With so many technology initiatives hitting the enterprise these days, it’s getting difficult to see exactly how they will come together to shape the data environment of the future.

A case in point is containers and the public cloud. On the one hand, containers make it easier for the enterprise to support emerging applications and services within private cloud infrastructure, but on the other, they also allow public providers to tailor their generic infrastructure to targeted workloads.

According to InfoWorld’s Eric Knorr, one of the most significant under-the-radar projects at the moment is the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which is looking to turn the Google Kubernetes container management stack into a multi-cloud foundation for distributed workloads. The group is headed up by Craig McLuckie, who founded the Kubernetes project at Google and is now setting his sights on incorporating Facebook, Twitter and other hyperscale providers into the Kubernetes fold. If successful, it means enterprises may soon be able to launch containerized applications and scale them to unprecedented levels using cloud infrastructure across the globe.



NEW YORK—At yesterday’s Advisen Cyber Insights Conference, Zurich and Advisen released the fifth annual Advisen Cyber Survey of U.S. risk managers, finding a 9% acceleration in cyber liability insurance purchasing from 2014 to 2015. The firm has seen a 26% increase in the number of respondents who have coverage since the first survey in 2011.

Companies are taking cyberliability more seriously, Zurich reports, with the number of organizations developing data breach response plans up 10% from last year. What’s more, companies appear to be better recognizing the sheer amount of value at risk, with two-thirds of respondents saying they have either increased their policy limits or are considering doing so. While Zurich found that more organizations view information security as an organizational challenge rather than the purview of the IT department alone, and respondents said that boards and executive management are taking cyberrisk more seriously, those who have not yet obtained cyber coverage say it is because their superiors still do not see the need. There is also still a considerable difference in take-up rates among large corporations and small and mid-sized businesses, with Catherine Mulligan, senior vice president and national underwriting manager of specialty E&O, telling the audience there is an approximate 20-point spread between the groups.



As you would expect, the opening of Dell World had a lot to do with the announced EMC merger. The goal is for Dell to build the biggest IT infrastructure company in the world. Michael Dell’s opening keynote focused on the power of the EMC merger for the company’s future and present success. It remains one of the few firms that has found a way to become successful while building a company that can anticipate the future.

Interestingly, the final guest at the keynote was Satya Nadella from Microsoft, who talked about their joint project in the cloud. The two companies announced a combination of Azure and CPS to provide hybrid cloud solutions for organizations of all sizes. Dell and Nadella also spoke about how they both were excited about Windows 10 and then spoke to the fact that both firms now build competing PCs (some of which Dell will resell). So, as big as Dell plus EMC will be, the point is that the company’s future will still be largely defined by some of its largest partners. This showcases a breadth from client to cloud that is currently unmatched in the market.

Let’s talk about the specifics of the rest of the keynote.



In advance of the breakup of Hewlett-Packard that is scheduled to go into effect in a little over a week, Trend Micro revealed today that it has acquired the TippingPoint security business unit from HP.

Trend Micro COO Wael Mohamed says the acquisition comes after years of collaboration and joint product development between the two companies. By acquiring TippingPoint, Mohamed says that Trend Micro is now venturing into the realm of network security as a complement to its existing endpoint and data center security offerings.

Valued at $300 million, Mohamed says Trend Micro had previously preferred to partner with providers of network security technologies. But with the rise of cloud computing, he says it has become apparent that IT organizations are increasingly looking for a more holistic approach to IT security that spans the entire IT environment.



Thursday, 22 October 2015 00:00

The Internet You Never Knew Existed

Could you imagine doing business without the Internet today? From ecommerce to online CRM, and from social networks to cloud disaster recovery, the Internet has been grafted onto most existing businesses and is built into the DNA of new ones. That, of course, means the Internet that most people know, the one with Facebook, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Gmail and Microsoft Office 365. There is however another part of the Internet that remains hidden to anybody using a “normal” browser like Chrome, Edge, Firefox or IE. Also known as the Tor Network, it includes about 50,000 websites that live in a cyber business space all of their own. Is this a new commercial opportunity – or a security nightmare you should avoid like the plague?



America's Thrift Stores recently were victimized by malware.

And as a result, the thrift store chain tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by Bit9 + Carbon BlackESET and the Dridex malware. 

​ What can managed service providers (MSPs) and their customers learn from these IT security newsmakers? Check out this week's edition of IT security stories to watch to find out:



Are passwords a dying breed? With every other organization getting hacked, many S&R pros would argue that if passwords aren’t dead yet, they should be. Yet many companies such as LogMeIn and LastPass continue to make strategic acquisitions, proving that interest in password management solutions remain high among enterprises and consumers (check out their press release, here.) It’s hard to have any confidence in a method that appears to be ineffective, frustrating, and highly outdated. Many companies are attempting to gain back consumer trust by offering voice biometrics, multi-step authentication methods, or other authentication alternatives to supplement or replace their existing policies.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are getting smarter and customers don’t want to spend more than 30-seconds logging into their accounts. With the addition of the multiple banking accounts, online shopping IDs, and social media platforms that almost every consumer uses daily, the challenge for these companies to keep all online accounts secure while also providing the painless log-in that customers are demanding can quickly turn into a catch-22. What is easy and convenient for customers is also incredibly insecure, thus making them the perfect bait for cybercriminals.



Nine out of 10 health care organizations have been breached since 2013.

That is a mind-boggling statistic. And it gets worse. According to Trustwave’s 2015 Security Health Check Report, hackers are causing some costly damage:

[T]he number of individuals who have had their medical records compromised has doubled in the past five years. All told, cybercriminals are wreaking $6 billion in annual damage on America’s largest private-sector industry.

The Trustwave study is just the latest one to report on the serious security issues within the health care industry. An eSecurity Planet article reported on a health care study conducted by Raytheon/Websense, which found that:



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

The Many Flavors of Data Infrastructure

It seems that with each passing day, the software-defined data center (SDDC) becomes more of a fait accompli. Data infrastructure will consist of advanced software architectures resting atop commodity hardware, and all but the largest of organizations will shift their entire data environment to the cloud.

This is both cheaper and easier to do, and it will also provide for much greater flexibility and scalability to meet next-generation workloads.

There is nothing wrong with this vision, of course, and with the advent of software-based networking architectures to supplement virtualized server and storage environments, the dream of implementing a fully abstracted data ecosystem is closer than ever. But just because we can do this, does that mean we should? And does that then mean it is the appropriate infrastructure for every organization or every workload?



The potential for big problems on the Internet of Things (IoT) makes for scary reading. Last week, The Internet Society released a document titled, “The Internet of Things: An Overview - Understanding the Issues and Challenges of a More Connected World.” It puts security at the top of the list of vital IoT topics, according to a blog at the society’s website by Karen Rose, the society’s senior director, Office of Strategy & Research:

As you will see in the document, we believe the security in the Internet of Things is perhaps the most significant challenge and we believe ensuring security in IoT must be a fundamental priority. Poorly secured IoT devices and services can serve as potential entry points for cyber attack and expose user data to theft by leaving data streams inadequately protected. A proliferation of poorly secured devices also has the potential to impact the security and resilience of the Internet globally.

The challenge must be faced at several levels. Lev Lesokhin, the executive vice president of Strategy at CAST, makes a very important point at Dark Reading. The IoT, he writes, is not introducing security vulnerabilities. Rather, it is increasing the possible damage that will occur when long-known vulnerabilities are multiplied by the huge increase in sensors and other elements that are deployed.



Watching the Dell/EMC story, as with any big merger, a lot of misinformation is being tossed about, particularly with regard to what is going to happen to parts of EMC once Dell buys them. Much of this is coming out of the various research firms and is being authored by folks that I know and respect. However, most of it that I’ve seen is poorly founded, because it doesn’t start with Dell’s acquisition process, which is unique within the industry. Granted, that process has largely been used for small acquisitions, but it does scale. Given how successful it has been for Dell and how unsuccessful the more traditionally invasive acquisition processes that firms like HP use are, it would seem unlikely that for any acquisition, let alone one of this scale, Dell would throw out the process that works in favor of one that doesn’t work.

The most recent report I’ve seen suggests that within a few months of the acquisition, Dell will effectively blow up VCE (despite commitments to the contrary), because it competes with Dell’s own converged infrastructure unit. VCE is profitable, growing in the double digits, and a multi-billion dollar business, so any suggestion that Dell would off the venture makes Michael Dell seem like an idiot. I assure you he isn’t, I know the guy. Let me explain.



Sacramento, CA – The California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are continuing to encourage Lake and Calaveras county residents with disabilities, or any survivor with additional needs, who were affected by the recent wildfires, to utilize the many available accessible resources to register for assistance. 

People with disabilities are eligible to receive the same services and assistance that are offered to everyone in the declared disaster area, and both CalOES and FEMA are committed to ensuring services and assistance are available for people with disabilities. 

A direct telephone hotline is operational to process any requests from survivors who may need additional assistance. 

  • 916-381-0330
  • TTY CALL 711

In addition, to serve the whole community, certain accommodations are available at Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs).

  • For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, the DRCs are equipped with captioned phones and iPads that can access video remote sign language interpreters.  On-site interpreters are also available upon request.
  • For those survivors who are blind or have low vision, documents are available in large print and Braille.
  • DRCs have accessible parking, ramps, and restrooms.
  • If a survivor cannot transport themselves to the DRC, FEMA will arrange a home visit. 

The first step for any survivor is to register with FEMA. While one-to-one registration assistance is available at a DRC, survivors may also register online or over the phone. 

  • Online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by smart phone or tablet at m.fema.gov
  • The number to register for assistance is 1-800-621-3362
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362
  • Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week 24 hours a day.
  • FEMA representatives can also register survivors at a location of their choosing if needed.

The application deadline is November 23. For those survivors with a disability, and others with additional needs who require assistance, should not hesitate to contact FEMA and ask for help.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362).  If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

Should you review your tape archives?

If your only exposure to the world of data storage has been in the context of a small to medium-sized business or a startup, you’d be forgiven for thinking that magnetic tape is a relic from another era of enterprise computing. Once the de facto standard for long-term data retention, the format no longer gets much airtime in an age of cloud backups and tumbling HDD prices.

Nonetheless, rumours of the magnetic tape’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. According to an Information Age article from September 2014, all ten of the world’s biggest banks and telecoms firms, as well as eight of the world’s ten biggest pharmaceutical companies, are tape users. And as trends like big data pick up steam, there’s more interest than ever for organisations to invest in low-cost, high-volume storage for offline data.

For all their advantages, though, tape archives need to be looked after. It can be tempting to think that business records are out of sight, out of mind once they’re filed away in a format proven to last upwards of decades, but this is a mistake. The reasons for creating a tape archive aren’t trivial – regulatory compliance, mainly, and disaster recovery – and you don’t want to discover at the critical moment that your records are patchy.



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

Do OSHA and HIPAA Rules Stand at Odds?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Act[1] requires most employers with 10 or more full-time employees to keep a yearly log of all work-related injuries and illnesses[2].  OSHA prefers that employers subject to the law use its Form 300 to record the required information.  The OSHA Form 300 is an actual, fillable form for employers to record all reportable injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace, with spaces to report where and when the incidents occur, the nature of the case, the name and job title of the employee injured or made sick and the number of days away from work or on restricted or light duty, if any.

OSHA requires employers to record all new cases of work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses if they involve death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness or of significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional.  Each recordable injury or illness must be recorded on the 300 log and OSHA Form 301 Incident Report within seven calendar days after the employer receives notice the injury or illness occurred.  The OSHA 300 log requires employers to check one of six boxes to categorize the illness or injury:  injury, skin disorder, respiratory condition, poisoning, hearing loss or “other.”  Employees, former employees and employee representatives are authorized to review the OSHA 300 logs.



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

Use of Cloud Service Brokers on the Rise

Traditionally, when an enterprise is looking to make a transition to cloud services they go on search to find an MSP that meets their needs. Now however, there is an emerging role in the business of cloud services, the Cloud Service Broker (CSB), a middle man of sorts. Whether a business is looking to move applications to the cloud or invest in cloud-based file sharing, they are increasingly looking to CSBs for help.

Gartner predicts that by 2016, 25 percent of enterprises will secure access to cloud-based services using a cloud application security broker (CASB) platform, reducing the cost of securing access by 30% in the process.

The reason CSBs are becoming so popular probably has something to do with how fast the market itself is growing.  Cisco predicts that by 2018 approximately 59 percent of companies will be using software-as-a-service in some form. On top of that, research shows that employees use an average of 28 different apps for work. In order to provide the necessary services for the enterprise, there needs to be a middle man to facilitate the transition. The good thing for MSPs is that they are already among the most qualified to take on the responsibilities of a cloud service broker. Even if you choose not to add these functions to your business, you should be best equipped to work with CSBs to find the best solutions on behalf of your clients.



WASHINGTON —The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Continuity Programs’ Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Division has begun to assess the feasibility of a public alert and warning capability that is being developed in the private sector.   

New technologies could deliver detailed emergency information to the public with pictures and videos of evacuation routes, storm tracks, and shelter information – increasing community preparedness before, during, and after a disaster. The media alerts will be able to include multilingual and multi-format information to warn non-English speaking populations and people with access and functional needs.  

“FEMA is committed to working with the private sector to examine and improve future alerts and warnings,” said Roger Stone, Acting Assistant Administrator for National Continuity Programs. “New systems could someday include pictures and video as part of the advanced alert and warning information provided to the general public.”

One such technology being considered is the Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN).  AWARN works by using advanced capabilities in the next generation of digital television broadcast system called ATSC 3.0 being standardized by the Advanced Television Systems Committee.  The emerging television broadcast standard provides for the transmission of large media rich, data messages over-the-air to mobile, portable, and fixed television and video devices without interrupting ongoing television shows.   

FEMA’s IPAWS is a national system for local alerting. IPAWS enables authorities at all levels of government to alert and warn people in areas endangered by disasters. IPAWS is used by federal, state, and local authorities to send emergency alerts to cellular phones as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), to radio and television as Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcasts, to NOAA Weather Radios, and to an All-Hazards Alert and Information Feed for Internet applications, services, and websites.

For more information on IPAWS, go to www.fema.gov/ipaws


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.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

LabTech Software is now offering the Symantec (SYMC) Endpoint Protection solution to its managed service provider (MSP) partners. 

The remote monitoring and management (RMM) software provider said Symantec Endpoint Protection now integrates with LabTech and is available for purchase directly through LabTech Software.

"We are excited to begin offering this solution from Symantec," LabTech Software CEO Matt Nachtrab said in a prepared statement. "Through the integration of this product, LabTech Software continues to set the standard for RMM platforms by delivering unparalleled security, allowing administrators to focus on providing their customers with an excellent user experience."



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

National Pre-Disaster Standards Called For

Establishing state and local building codes would insure resilient construction and stop the cycle of spending to rebuild after disasters such as hurricanes, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). The organization said it supports the BuildStrong Coalition’s National Mitigation Investment Strategy, which calls for a comprehensive federal plan to improve disaster resilience across the U.S.

The plan focuses on investment in pre-disaster funding using unspent, non-FEMA grant program funds to reduce damage caused by natural disasters—funds that were established in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, IBHS said.



National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCAM) got off to a bit of a bumpy start, with three major data breaches announced shortly after the event’s October 1 start date.

Of course, those breaches happened before October, so there is hope that NCAM will make an impact and both companies and consumers will begin to take cybersecurity more seriously. For that to happen, however, security leaders need to promote NCAM within their organizations and get employees to buy in on the idea of better security practices. Here’s how three security officers are approaching NCAM and what they hope their efforts will achieve.


Zuora is a billing platform for subscription services like Netflix, and this is the first year the company will be participating in NCAM. Security awareness is critical for the company and, according to Pritesh Parekh, chief information and security officer, NCAM is the perfect starting point to further ingrain security into the culture of the company.

“It is important that our employees are safe and secure not only at work, but also in their personal online lives,” said Parekh. “Our primary goal is to embed security awareness and best practices in our workforce as they go about their day to day activities.”



(TNS) -- Middletown police are asking homeowners and businesses for some extra help with criminal investigations by registering their privately owned surveillance or security cameras with the department.

Police say security camera footage is one of the best ways to catch crooks and convict them in court. That's why a number of police agencies around the nation are developing local networks of homes and businesses that have security cameras. By voluntarily registering with the police department, if a camera captures evidence such as a suspicious person lurking around cars or homes, passing vehicle or an actual crime in progress, police can request the footage from the owner.

"There are a lot of cameras out there and this can be a resource that we can reach out to," said Maj. Mark Hoffman, assistant police chief with the Middletown Division of Police. "Often a neighbor who has a security camera might not realize that they may have valuable evidence and may be able to help find the person who stole a lawn mower from their neighbor's shed."



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

Data loss inevitable, Brits say

The majority of workers in the UK agree that the loss or theft of their digital data is inevitable at some point.

This is according to a survey of 2,000 Brits conducted by Citrix, which found 71 per cent of respondents have accepted the fact they will fall victim to this problem sooner or later.

Younger individuals were found to be more alert to the risks, with a third of 16 to 25-year-olds saying they felt more vulnerable to attacks than in the past, compared with just 15 per cent of over-65s.

However, despite this, a large number of people are still relying on outdated solutions when it comes to backing up their most valuable data.



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

Villanova Universary to Arm its Police Force

Villanova University announced Monday that it will add armed police officers starting next fall in response to rising nationwide concerns about campus safety.

The Catholic university now has a 75-member public safety department, responsible for patrol, investigations, parking enforcement, residence hall and building security, and crime prevention, but the officers cannot arrest suspects or carry guns or batons.

However, under the new arrangement, 19 members of the department -- about 20 percent -- will become armed police officers who will have completed police academy training, the university said.

The decision comes as college campuses across the country face increasing security threats. Villanova spokesman Jonathan Gust said there had been about 100 college campus shootings since the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech that left 32 dead and 17 wounded.



Dell World 2015, one of the most well-known events for industry leaders, is being held at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. Dell World 2015 brings together some of the top professionals with important insight into topics vital to the ever-evolving world of technology and business. Above all, Dell World 2015 helps MSPs achieve a higher level of success as they stay ahead of the most innovative ways to boost profits and better serve their customers.

During his keynote address, Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell discussed what has been touted as the most comprehensive merger in IT history—Dell's acquisition of EMC and its satellite properties including VMware (VMW).

“If you look at the current major areas of IT, this combined company has a leadership position in four of the most critical areas: servers, storage, virtualization, and PCs with incredible strength and scale in those areas,” Dell said. “This company also has a very strong position in the IT of tomorrow: digital transformation, the software-defined data center, converged infrastructure, hybrid cloud, security and mobility. They have incredible go-to-market strength across customers of all sizes, an incredible breadth and reach across customers around the world, an innovative engine and a long-term focus.”



After a couple of decades with one of the oldest road weather sensor networks in the U.S., Pennsylvania is once again looking to jump ahead of the curve on technology meant to reduce accidents in bad weather. And that move, now a trend among states, is emblematic of a broader shift to bring new data and much broader insights into what the weather is doing at any given moment.

It used to be that state departments of transportation installed little hockey puck-like discs -- sensors that transmitted information through dial-up connections -- directly into the asphalt of roads. These days, states like Pennsylvania are augmenting those in-road sensors with roadside towers that can provide better information. Using lasers, heat sensors and other equipment, Pennsylvania’s new system will reveal things like the friction level on the roads. The network will consist of 64 stations, about half of which don’t involve any sensors placed directly into the roadway.

That system, set up by Vaisala, allows the state to better assess road conditions, which makes for better decision-making about how to treat the roads.



PD ISO/TS 22318:2015 - Overview of new ISO Supply Chain Continuity Guidance

An Introduction by Lead author Duncan Ford MBCI

BSi has just published the UK edition of the recently released ISO Technical Specification 22318 Guidelines for Supply Chain Continuity. The title describes where this document fits in with the established BCM standards 22301 and 22313.  A technical specification is not a full standard; its purpose is to amplify not undermine the established standards.

Every organisation has a supply chain which may range from the purchase of basic resources to complex outsourcing arrangements for the delivery of a core service including both external suppliers and internal support such as the provision of IT services.  Each of these arrangements presents a risk to the organisation if it is unavailable, which needs to be properly understood and appropriate contingency measures put in place to protect against disruption of that product supply or service. 22318 provides guidelines on how to manage Supply Chain Continuity challenges.



(MCT) - When the Sleepy Hollow Fire hit an industrial area in Wenatchee in June, the state Department of Ecology’s spill response team came armed with a new tool: their cellphones.

Equipped with a new smartphone app, their cellphones give immediate access to the latest data showing exactly what chemicals and how much of each are being stored at facilities across the state.

Still in its pilot phase, the free app is now available to fire departments and other emergency responders, said Ecology spokesman Andrew Wineke.

The app was launched just a few days before Sleepy Hollow broke out, so few emergency responders even knew about it, he said. Now, both Chelan and Douglas county emergency management departments have downloaded the app, but it hasn’t yet gotten to individual fire departments or other emergency agencies in those counties, he said.



Monday, 19 October 2015 00:00

Memphis Trying to Improve 911 Service

(MCT) - Under scrutiny for slow response times to emergency calls, the city of Memphis is hiring new 911 operators and is looking at whether it should build a new call center.

Memphis Chief Administrative Officer Jack Sammons said a host of problems are causing the delays, including public misunderstandings about when to call 911, understaffing and cramped and rundown offices in the Shelby County Justice Complex in Downtown.

"Memphis has kept putting Band-Aids on the one we've got," he said of the call center.

Those issues can have devastating effects on response times, and on the amount of time it takes for operators to answer calls. Sammons said the city is answering 911 calls within 20 seconds about 37.2 percent of the time — far short of its goal of 95 percent.



Risk management is maturing and is playing a larger role in insurance companies, both strategically and with their compliance objectives. As a result, the key task for chief risk officers is to help their company achieve balance between upstream and downstream activities, according to Accenture’s 2015 Global Risk Management Study of risk management in the insurance sector.

“Neither an unfettered approach to growth, nor an excessive focus on compliance, will deliver the desired outcomes. Instead, the risk function should steer a course between an informed, connected risk agenda, and the need for a sustainable and innovative strategic business direction,” the survey found.

While organizations mostly agree that risk management has helped their long-term business growth (85%), a large number believe that silos of business functions are hindering the effectiveness of their risk management programs.



Monday, 19 October 2015 00:00

Disruption for the Data Center’s Sake

Most people, when asked if they favor or are oppose to disruption, will say they are opposed to it. Disruption is scary, produces a lot of unknowns and generally requires a great deal of work as new processes and skill sets take hold in the workplace.

In reality, however, these attitudes depend largely on whether you are the disruptor or the disruptee. For those who are ready to embrace change, disruption is cathartic in that it sheds old problems and ushers in new opportunities.

When we’re talking about disruption in the data center, the ideal is to implement disruptive technologies in a non-disruptive way; that is, to welcome new technologies and new ways of doing things without completely severing ties to legacy systems until you are ready. Part of it is discerning between good disruption and bad, says tech analyst Dan Kuznetsky, and unfortunately the IT industry is rife with systems and platforms that require a lot of rip-and-replace but then do not provide adequate replacement of all that has been ripped. The reason technologies like the mainframe have had such long shelf-lives is because of the value they bring to the enterprise, so the first criterion for any replacement is that it must provide equal or superior value to those who rely on the legacy system.



In news that will be welcomed by companies hiring young people, a survey of about 2,000 16- to 35-year-olds in the United Kingdom and the United States, conducted by Atomik Research at the behest of identity management firm Intercede, found that millennials indeed care about cybersecurity.

Eighty percent of respondents, according to Dark Reading’s report on the research, said that the sharing of important personal information only with people holding authorized access is important or very important to them. Seventy-four percent said the same about location data, 58 percent for social media content, and 57 percent for purchasing preferences, the story said.

The bottom line is that the kids are alright. Intercede CEO Richard Parris was quoted suggesting that millennials are not that different from their parents after all:

Yes, they do share a bit more - but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t concerned with privacy or that they aren’t uncomfortable by the idea of that privacy being compromised.



(MCT) - At 3:45 a.m., Jerry Hardy’s wife wakes him. He downs a cup of coffee, slips on his rain boots and together they climb into a small camouflage boat docked by their front steps.

The couple drifts into the darkness, keeping an eye out for mailboxes as they head down Waccamaw Drive to the landing near U.S. 501. Since the flood, each workday commute begins with a short voyage.

But Hardy offers no complaints. The 60-year-old carpenter is grateful to have a dry home where he can wait for the Waccamaw River to recede.

That wasn’t the case in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd dumped more than 20 inches of rain upstream and sent the Waccamaw spilling over its banks. Back then, the Hardys lived in a block house that sat squarely on the ground. The river rose 6 feet in their abode and the currents pushed the small dwelling off its foundation. Rather than move, the family rebuilt, this time more than a dozen feet above the earth.



Monday, 19 October 2015 00:00

The Worst Day of Their Lives

(MCT) - Keeping a 911 caller calm is often the hardest job of being an emergency dispatcher.

“People that call 911 are having the worst day of their lives. Whether someone knocked over their mailbox or because they have a loved one with a medical condition, they are needing help now,” said John Ziegler, 54, who has been a Salina dispatcher for 19 years.

“One of the hardest things is to calm them down enough to make sure we are sending the right people to the right place and getting descriptions of who it is,” he said. “When you scream into a phone, it is hard to understand, especially cellular, and know where you are. We get a description so when there are 20 people there, they can look for the guy in the red shirt and khaki shorts who was hitting people.”



Destroyed homes and rubble in Haiti after the 2010 Earthquake

By Caitlyn Lutfy

On a cold January night in an icy church in Boston, I stood amongst more than a hundred Haitian community members feeling a strange proximity to the tragic earthquake that struck earlier that day in a hot distant island about which I knew little at the time. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti occurred when I was exploring the field of public health and working in the Commissioner’s Office at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH).

New to public health at the time and with the events unfolding so rapidly, there were many aspects of the response that hold a lot more meaning to me now that I more regularly engage in emergency response work. From this experience I gained new perspectives and lessons on the impact of a local response to the international disaster. The impact of the Haiti earthquake on Boston’s Haitian community offered a unique view of how a state health department can respond to an international emergency to serve diaspora populations within its borders, the importance of mental health in emergency preparedness and response, and community resilience.

The Initial Role of the State

Reporters covering the international response to the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti.

Reporters covering the international response to the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti.

It was unclear at first what role the state should have. Massachusetts has one of the largest Haitian diaspora populations in the US with about 150,000 Haitian Americans. It also has some of the nation’s top hospitals and international organizations, including Partners in Health, which was already an established medical entity in Haiti. Within 24 hours of the earthquake, key public officials in Boston began emergency coordination meetings discussing options for airlifting victims to Boston hospitals and for sending supplies and volunteer health workers to Haiti. Ultimately, MDPH took a coordination and communication role in the first 48 hours. The Health Department answered questions from the public and from potential donors and volunteers and coordinated responses with other federal agencies. But as more and more calls came in from Haitians living in Massachusetts, it quickly became clear that this was an international emergency impacting the local population. It was not the conventional type of emergency for which states typically plan and are funded.

The Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and my boss at the time, John Auerbach, summed up the experience saying, “We needed to be responsive to the behavioral health and other immediate needs that were associated with an event outside of our state and outside of the nation. We hadn’t anticipated that a global event could require this type of internal state-specific emergency response. But that was the case.”

Creating Communication Networks

woman working at a call center

Call center volunteer.

Haitian Americans desperately tried to locate friends and family members in Haiti and, in some cases, get them medical care. Working with CDC and HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), MDPH reallocated emergency funds to address the needs for this unique situation, where the event occurred in another country but assistance was needed at home. A complex data system was established that allowed individuals to enter the name of a missing person in an attempt to match records on the ground and locate the missing. A hotline of volunteers speaking Creole, French, and English provided mental health counseling and answered questions about the situation in Haiti. Haitian community-based organizations received mini-grants to provide onsite support to grieving community members, hold support groups, and build community resiliency. The state collaborated with Haitian-American groups to give daily briefings in Creole to keep the community informed.

Medical Care and Relocations

Another aspect of the response was to coordinate reunification, transport and housing for long-term medical care for Haitian American victims of the earthquake. Additionally, an influx of Haitian children orphaned by the earthquake were adopted by relatives in Massachusetts. MDPH worked with federal authorities to approve cases for transport and worked with schools and communities to maintain vaccination records and address mental health and cultural needs in the classroom.

Lasting Impressions

This was my first experience as a professional working on an emergency response, and it inspired my career path and my approach to cultural competence and working with vulnerable populations in a crisis. The earthquake highlighted how mental and behavioral health needs to be included in emergency planning–trying to address these needs in the midst of a crisis is challenging and potentially harmful. It also demonstrated the importance of adaptability when responding to an emergency. There was not a set plan for a local response to an international emergency, but a response was needed in this case. In addition, all aspects of the response needed to match Haitian culture, heritage, and language.

I think Mr. Auerbach said it best in his reflection of MDPH’s response to the Haiti Earthquake, “We prepare for all-hazards but need to be flexible and aware that work plans can completely change. The response is more important than the plan.”


Google has quickly become one of the most recognized companies in the world. Incorporated in 1998, it now employs more than 50,000 people and has a market value that exceeds $350 billion. That is some amazing growth considering it has not even reached its 20th birthday.

What I find even more amazing is that Google remains on the forefront of so many amazing innovations. It still feels like a small company in many aspects and that has allowed it to navigate an ultra-competitive landscape without getting bogged down by bureaucracy, politics or the status quo.

Sure, having a nearly endless supply of cash doesn't hurt, but there are plenty of other companies with just as much capital as Google that have not seen nearly the success. There are a lot of things Google does well, and this article will delve into these with a focus on how they can be used in the public sector. Since Google is a company, not everything will translate directly, but considering how Google operates, there's much we can learn from the search giant turned innovation machine.



Friday, 16 October 2015 00:00

The Future of Flash Storage

In a world that already has close to 5 ZB of data in existence and will arrive at 44 ZB within a decade, it is clear that to stay ahead of burgeoning storage demands, flash will have to get faster, cheaper, denser and have greater longevity.

“The combination of trends such as BYOD, the proliferation of mobile devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), and higher-resolution photography and video (to name a few), are leading to massive data growth for on premise storage as well as cloud-based storage,” said Steve Bohac, director, product management and strategy at Violin Memory.

Part of the problem is that the storage industry got a little lazy when solid state drives (SSD) burst onto the scene. Flash was packaged in SSDs that fit nicely into the existing form factor of hard disk drives (HDDs). They then slotted perfectly into the slots of storage arrays, providing a fine boost in performance with a minimum of effort.



Individuals would do well to develop a positive attitude towards Information Governance (IG) and Records and Information Management (RIM), regardless of the environment established by their company (see: The Psychology of Records Management – Energize Compliance by Changing the Company Attitude). The question sometimes asked, but always present, when it comes to Records Management compliance is: “Why should I? or as often phrased “What’s in it for me?” The summary answer to that question is “Plenty!” Plenty – even if the company has not adopted the best practice of including an individual’s management of, and performance with, records as a formal part of their annual performance review. - See more at: http://blogs.ironmountain.com/2015/service-lines/records-management-and-storage/the-psychology-of-records-management-whats-in-it-for-me/#sthash.JS45eR2X.dpuf

Businesses are moving toward personalization, which means they’ll increasingly collect personal data to get a better idea of what their customers want and need. In the age of the customer, defined by Forrester as a 20-year business cycle when successful enterprises will reinvent themselves as digital businesses in order to serve their increasingly powerful customers, protecting customer data is a critical aspect of fostering trust and building long-lasting relationships.

Regardless of location, all countries should have this goal in mind, but privacy regulations vary from country to country and often conflict with each other. For global organizations, navigating these laws can be daunting. To help businesses tackle this challenge, Forrester published its 2015 Data Privacy Heat Map. Originally created in 2010, the tool leverages in-depth analyses of the data privacy-related laws and cultures of 54 countries around the world, helping security leaders and decision-makers better design their own approaches to privacy and data protection.



Criminals go where they can do the most damage with minimal effort. It’s why, for years, hackers targeted Windows rather than Macs – it was where the users, and in turn the data, were. And now we’re seeing a steady migration from one platform to the next as popularity grows. Hackers moved from Windows to Apple’s OS to mobile. Now, unsurprisingly, they are targeting the cloud.

According to new research from Alert Logic, there has been a 45 percent year-over-year increase in attacks on the cloud. In its Cloud Security Report 2015, the researchers pointed out that nearly 90 percent of companies are now utilizing cloud computing, meaning more people than ever are turning to the cloud. And that means hackers now have an even greater pool from which to steal information.

And as Rahul Bakshi, Alert Logic's senior director of product management, stated in CSO, the more workflow is put into the cloud, the bigger the target it becomes. He added:



FEMA and the state of Texas are highlighting Texas communities that have taken steps to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property.

HOUSTON – For the last 25 years, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has consistently ranked among the top two cancer care hospitals in the nation, according to a survey published by U.S. News & World Report. The hospital’s staff of more than 19,000 treat an average of 114,000 patients each year from around the world.

The center’s ranking reflects the expertise and accomplishments of the physicians, researchers, nurses, staff and volunteers in treating patients. Safeguarding staff, patients and property is essential and the reason for multiple disaster mitigation and notification initiatives at the facility.

“It’s important that we be here for the patients. We don’t want to close. If there is a significant event, we want to be up and running as soon as possible to minimize down time,” said MD Anderson Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety Matthew Berkheiser. “Patients wanting their treatment are literally knocking on our door as soon as the storm is over. If you have a broken leg, you could probably wait a few days to get it checked. Our patients are very serious and committed to getting in here.”

In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison caused catastrophic damage to the center. They undertook a major mitigation project to protect the center from another flood. “We came up with a list of things that we felt we could do better. Money was made available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to enhance mitigation already in place.

“We used the funds to enhance our floodgate system,” said Director of Environmental Health and Safety Devina Patel.  “Now we have 70-80 floodgates, a combination of different kinds of gates as well as submarine doors.”

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program helped to fund the flood mitigation project. The work consisted of building interior and exterior flood walls and relocating critical mechanical and electrical life-saving equipment above the 50-year floodplain – floods that have a two percent probability (1 in 50) of being equaled or exceeded in any year. A concrete wall was constructed around the entire facility.

The project also called for the installation of 25 floodgates (located at entrances and drives), submarine doors, and a series of valves and lift stations to isolate the sanitary and storm systems.                                                                                                

“We have annual unannounced drills to test the flood gate system as well as the competency of the people who are installing the gates,” said Patel.

“A lesson learned from Tropical Storm Allison was that we needed a stationary command center,” said Patel. “Depending on who was in charge, the command center kept moving making communication an issue. Now we have one that’s stationary and fully staffed.”

To learn more about how cities and towns across Texas are building stronger, safer communities visit Best Practice Stories | FEMA.gov.


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. 

New research into earthquake activity in the United States has revealed that nearly half of all Americans are at risk of potential ground shaking from earthquakes. This is almost twice the previous estimate of 75 million, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

“The new exposure estimate is nearly double the previous 2006 estimate of 75 million Americans in 39 states, and is attributed to both population growth and advances in science,” William Leith, USGS senior science advisor for earthquake and geologic hazards and co-author of the study said in a statement. “Populations have grown significantly in areas prone to earthquakes, and USGS scientists have improved data and methodologies that allow for more accurate estimates of earthquake hazards and ground shaking.”





Temperature - U.S. Winter Outlook: 2015-2016
(Credit: NOAA)

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued the U.S. Winter Outlook today favoring cooler and wetter weather in Southern Tier states with above-average temperatures most likely in the West and across the Northern Tier. This year’s El Niño, among the strongest on record, is expected to influence weather and climate patterns this winter by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream.

“A strong El Niño is in place and should exert a strong influence over our weather this winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player. Cold-air outbreaks and snow storms will likely occur at times this winter. However, the frequency, number and intensity of these events cannot be predicted on a seasonal timescale.”


Precipitation - U.S. Winter Outlook: 2015-2016
(Credit: NOAA)

Other factors that often play a role in the winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation, which influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South and nor'easters on the East Coast, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can impact the number of heavy rain storms in the Pacific Northwest.

The 2015 U.S. Winter Outlook (December through February):

Precipitation Outlook:

  • Wetter-than-average conditions most likely in the Southern Tier of the United States, from central and southern California, across Texas, to Florida, and up the East Coast to southern New England. Above-average precipitation is also favored in southeastern Alaska.  

  • Drier-than-average conditions most likely for Hawaii, central and western Alaska, parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, and for areas near the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

Temperature Outlook:

  • Above-average temperatures are favored across much of the West and the northern half of the contiguous United States. Temperatures are also favored to be above-average in Alaska and much of Hawaii. Below-average temperatures are most likely in the southern Plains and Southeast.

Drought Outlook:

  • The U.S. Drought Outlook shows some improvement is likely in central and southern California by the end of January, but not drought removal. Additional statewide relief is possible during February and March. Drought removal is likely across large parts of the Southwest, while improvement or removal is also likely in the southern Plains. However, drought is likely to persist in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, with drought development likely in Hawaii, parts of the northern Plains and in the northern Great Lakes region.

VIDEO: Winter Outlook for 2015-2016

Video: Winter Outlook 2015-2016. (Credit: NOAA)

While it is good news that drought improvement is predicted for California, one season of above-average rain and snow is unlikely to remove four years of drought,” said Halpert. “California would need close to twice its normal rainfall to get out of drought and that's unlikely.”

This seasonal outlook does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or provide total seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.

NOAA produces seasonal outlooks to help communities prepare for what's likely to come in the next few months and minimize weather's impacts on lives and livelihoods. Empowering people with actionable forecasts and winter weather tips is key to NOAA’s effort to build a Weather-Ready Nation.

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.


SolarWinds N-Able launched a new remote control access and support platform this week designed to help MSPs deliver support and repairs to customer systems from a central location.

The remote monitoring and management software vendor’s new platform, called SolarWinds N-able MSP Anywhere, is a cloud-based solution that allows users to manage incoming requests and collaborate with other technicians to solve customer problems in real time. The platform is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android based devices, according to the announcement.



Friday, 16 October 2015 00:00

Get Ready for the New Age of IT Governance

Following the current economic turmoil, today’s business environments are focused toward establishing a solid enterprise governance framework in order to reach objectives, set adequate direction and ultimately create stakeholder value. As the majority of businesses processes are now performed through information technology systems, the importance of information technology enterprise governance has reached the agenda of the Board, committees and major business stakeholders.

There’s a common misconception of the term “governance:” that it is associated solely with the Board and executive management. This is despite the fact that the majority of governance activities also reside with middle management and operational levels; they play a major role in the implementation and success of the governance framework as the parties directly involved with its application, under the direction of the Board and executive management.



In one of our previous posts, we made a jovial reference to an infographic that detailed some of the most common myths surrounding cloud-based file sharing services, including how some people believe the weather can have an adverse effect on cloud computing. While the staggering volume of misinformation surrounding cloud computing is, well, staggering, the weather and other natural elements can in fact leave you and your services high and dry (or wet) if you are not adequately prepared for them.

Let’s take a look at what precautions you should consider taking if you want your cloud infrastructure to outlast the next hurricane.



(MCT) - In November 2014, a Florida State University graduate opened fire outside the campus library with a .38-caliber handgun, wounding two students before heading inside and shooting a student receptionist in the leg.

Although Florida State has one of the nation's most advanced emergency-alert systems — sending alerts on 37 platforms including text, Twitter and Instagram — no notice was sent until police had arrived and killed the gunman.

"If you're the first person to get shot, there's really no warning," said David Bujak, the university's director of emergency management. "It's like a bolt of lightning."



Although a cyberattack doesn't have the same financial impact on a small business as it does on a large company, it still makes a significant dent on a small business's bottom line, new research finds.

The average direct costs of a security breach on small businesses are $38,000, according to a study from Kaspersky Lab. This total includes the costs of downtime, lost business opportunities and the professional services small businesses hire to mitigate the security breach.

The research shows that, on average, small businesses can expect to pay $10,000 in professional services following a cyberattack. These services can include the hiring of IT security consultants, risk-management consultants, lawyers, physical security consultants, auditors and accountants, management consultants, and public relations consultants.

- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8475-cost-of-cyberattack.html#sthash.HVJohbF7.dpuf

Hurricane Sandy represented one of the largest-scale evacuations declared in recent history in the country. That included plucking 250 people from their flooded homes, and evacuating two major hospitals, according to Edward Schneyer, director of emergency preparedness for Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management.

Schneyer said he was able to do this effectively because his agency has storm surge maps created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New York District. Storm surge is when a significant amount of water is pushed by a hurricane from the sea onto the land.

These maps provide emergency managers in all hurricane-prone states an understanding of the potential for the extent of storm surge that could occur for worst-case Category 1 to 4 storms, identifying areas from which people should evacuate if faced with a storm surge threat.



Headlines about large-scale data breaches are an almost expected occurrence in mainstream media today, but a new study shows that IT professionals are just as concerned about the less publicized and more prevalent data leaks.

While not as attention-grabbing as malicious data breaches, data leaks offer their own set of concerns and challenges for organizations handling sensitive and confidential information.

The study, the 2015 State of File Collaboration Security, conducted by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) on behalf of file security company FinalCode, reported that 80 percent of information security professionals have experienced a data leak.



On-demand, cloud-based services aren’t just the future of IT—they’re what people demand today, and what businesses need to provide in order to help people work better. Enterprises interested in Citrix Workspace Cloud are looking at cloud-based solutions to help drive the scalable, secure workspaces needed in business today.

Today disruptions are happening in every business – line-of-business app purchases are being made outside of IT, people are looking to access work information on their personal devices, and your firm’s revenue now driven by buyers who want the easiest and most pleasant experience.

A tech industry guru summed it up well:



Regardless of whether you think the enterprise will retain its own data facilities going forward or simply port everything to the cloud, the fact remains that the data center of today will bear only the slightest resemblance to those in the very near future.

Not only will it be more modular, but architectures will become specialized for highly targeted applications while lending support to more traditional business functions. According to a recent report by Deloitte, most mid-sized organizations are turning their attention to security, cloud and analytics applications, with an aim toward producing reliable infrastructure that can influence business strategies and the operational direction of the organization. In this world, simple business intelligence and customer relationship management must share infrastructure with emerging applications like data warehousing/analytics, salesforce automation and supply chain management.



IBM Watson is moving quickly. Just five years after it first made headlines, the cognitive computing platform has been cloud-enabled and expanded into multiple industry verticals. What began as essentially a very cool parlor trick has become central to Big Blue’s business model.

The next phase is here. The commercialization of Watson to date has been at the broad organizational level. The clients for the most part have been big players. Now, IBM is making Watson available to much smaller organizations and even individuals. PCWorld reports that IBM is introducing Expert Storybooks, a series of data discovery models that can help everyday people solve problems:

With baseball statistics from AriBall, for example, Watson Analytics is offering an Expert Storybook to build predictions of player performance for users to get an edge against their fantasy baseball competitors. A Storybook built with The Weather Company is designed to help users incorporate weather data into revenue analysis; a Twitter Storybook helps analyze social data to, among other things, measure reputational risk.



To many companies and their IT departments, hyperconvergence in IT systems looks like a blast from the past. It moves storage back to individual machines, whereas recent efforts have been focused on dissociating storage from separate services, and bundling it all up in storage area networks and the like. However, hyperconvergers (what else would you call them?) put their concept forward as a better way to handle business and IT requirements in general, and business continuity in particular. Indeed, with one or two additional items (see below), there is a case to be made for hyperconvergence helping BC in both the short term and the long term.



The National Grid has published its Winter Outlook 2015/16 report, which looks ahead at the picture of supply and demand for UK gas and electricity systems over the coming winter.

The report predicts that gas supplies will be ‘comfortable’ for the Winter period but that electricity supplies will be ‘tight but manageable’.

Resiliency measures in place for electricity supplies include additional balancing services of 2.4 GW which have been contracted for the winter period to be available to manage periods of peak demand. This includes 133MW coming from businesses who have signed up for reducing demand at peak periods if called on, in return for payment. These contingency balancing services may be required to be used on occasion during the winter to prevent the risk of blackouts.

Two weeks in particular will be more marginal for electricity supply, these being the week commencing the 26th October and the week commencing 11th of January.

Read the Winter Outlook report in full

Thursday, 15 October 2015 00:00

Show Us Your Dedupe, Because Size Matters

That’s right. Size matters. And in the case of the data you’re backing up, smaller is definitely better. So what is the best way to combat the exponential growth of data? True global deduplication.

That is what we provide through Arcserve Unified Data Protection (UDP) and we’re ready to shut down all the naysayers. Help us prove that Arcserve UDP’s global, source-side deduplication and compression is market leading by showing us yours. And you’ll be greatly rewarded.



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

Navigating Data Breach Regulatory Requirements

Amidst the gridlock on Capitol Hill and in State Houses across the country on many policy priorities, there seems to be one issue related to corporate governance that brings both parties together. In response to a tidal wave of security incidents, both policymakers and regulators are passing and debating new rules regulating how companies must respond to a data breach.

Along with managing internal expectations from the rest of the C-suite and board on how a data breach needs to be handled, risk managers now face a continually shifting regulatory landscape. It is essential that risk managers are up to speed on the latest policy developments and understand how they will influence how a company responds to an incident.

In a policy white paper released by Experian, we found the following to be some of the most significant trends changing the regulatory landscape.



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

The New Enterprise: More at Home in the Cloud?

All of the talk surrounding the transition from traditional data centers to the cloud tends to focus on one thing: When will the enterprise feel comfortable about porting mission-critical applications and workloads to third-party infrastructure?

This is a valid question, to be sure, but increasingly it seems to be missing the mark. Rather than wondering how the cloud will support today’s enterprise applications, we should be thinking in terms of emerging cloud-facing applications and how they will change the enterprise as we know it.

This was one of the messages at Amazon’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last week. As Senior VP Andy Jassy noted, the company is seeing increased adoption of key platforms like the MySQL-compatible relational database service, eclipsing even the company’s RedShift warehousing service. The company has long touted its ability to support enterprise functions like raw storage and business intelligence, but lately it has been focusing on advanced analytics and other emerging functions that are starting to play an increasingly vital role in enterprise competitiveness in the new century.



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

EMC and Dell: Secret Synergies

Last week, I wrote about the back story that was likely driving EMC and Dell together. This included the need for a CEO who could take EMC forward, better product breadth and depth, a removal of breakup pressure for EMC, a stronger enterprise channel that would allow the company to better go after the huge HP opportunity in the near term, and a massive increase in software capability for Dell. I didn’t mention, but should have, that this will also improve sharply EMC’s capability in the mid-market and may provide Dell with a stronger solution for resellers. In addition, Dell and EMC have some very unique skills that, combined, could be really interesting.

Let’s talk about that in the shadow of what could be the most powerful and successful merger ever in tech, as Dell buys EMC.



A rash of hacking attacks on U.S. companies over the past two years has prompted insurers to massively increase cyber premiums for some companies, leaving firms that are perceived to be a high risk scrambling for cover.

On top of rate hikes, insurers are raising deductibles and in some cases limiting the amount of coverage to $100 million, leaving many potentially exposed to big losses from hacks that can cost more than twice that.

"Some companies are struggling to find the money to buy the coverage they want," said Tom Reagan, a cyber insurance executive with Marsh & McLennan Co's Marsh broker unit.

The price of cyber coverage - which helps cover costs like forensic investigations, credit monitoring, legal fees and settlements - varies widely, depending on the strength of a company's security. But the overall trend is sharply up.



Dow Jones & Co. said a recent data breach involving unauthorized entry into its systems may have affected 3,500 individuals. 

And as a result, Dow Jones tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by UberHumana and PwC US.

What can managed service providers (MSPs) and their customers learn from these IT security newsmakers? Check out this week's edition of IT security stories to watch to find out:



In an effort to make analytics more readily accessible, today SAP unfurled its Big Data analytics application running in the cloud running on top of the SAP HANA in-memory computing platform.

Nic Smith, senior director of marketing for analytics at SAP, says rather than requiring IT organizations to stand up their own instances of Big Data applications running on top of SAP HANA, organizations can now take advantage of the SAP Cloud Analytics service, codenamed Project Orca, which is available on demand.

Just as significantly, Smith notes that the SAP service combines all the functionality of an analytics application with data visualization and business intelligence reporting tools that previously would have required IT organizations to deploy and manage three separate stacks of software.



The Internet, specifically social media, changed the way local governments and their residents interact. On one hand, the instant connection can mean the positive exchange of ideas and opinions. On the other, popular online networks are the perfect incubator for bad information and nasty rumors.

Like most cities, Glendale, Calif., has been on both sides of this digital predicament. But unlike many other cities, they get ahead of problems and shut them down before things have a chance to get out of hand.

When a major California newspaper incorrectly reported that the city was ticketing residents for browning lawns despite crippling drought conditions in the state, it ignited a firestorm on social media — and a tsunami of angry calls and emails to the city.



(MCT) - The same day last week the Marysville Joint Unified School District, in Northern California ran a drill at Edgewater Elementary School to test its new communication system, school shootings took place in Arizona and Texas.

They came on the heels of a shooting two weeks ago at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where nine victims were killed.

The incident prompted many officials to review emergency preparedness plans.

Working closely with the sheriff's and police departments, MJUSD is reviewing emergency response plans, running practice drills with new software and preparing staff for any event that would require teachers to lock their doors or evacuate students. The drills, while not state- mandated, are similar to fire or earthquake drills, which are required.



(MCT) - Someday the ground beneath Central Washington will begin to undulate and continue for several minutes.

Distinct, but not strong enough to be destructive, the rolling vibrations will be our region’s first indication that the Big One — a potential magnitude 9.0 earthquake — has struck along the Pacific Coast.

Power could be lost, but structural damage would be minimal in the Yakima area. However, the other effects here could be profound. Hospitals and shelters would be pressed into service to help refugees and the injured from the destruction west of the Cascades. Local police, firefighters and doctors would be dispatched to the Puget Sound and the coast, and the entire region’s economy would be in chaos.

It’s not a matter of if, but when.



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

The Speed Factor Behind Big Data

It is widely recognized that Big Data must also be Fast Data if it is to provide any real value to the enterprise. But many organizations are just now starting to realize what a significant challenge this will be. After all, storage capacity is always available somewhere to absorb data loads. But getting to that data, searching it, analyzing it and producing actionable results is another matter, and it is all more difficult when you consider the ephemeral nature of much of that data and the need for the entire system to function on a real-time or near-real-time basis.

From an infrastructure perspective, the biggest danger is following “cookie-cutter” best practices for Big Data, says IT analyst Wayne Kernochan. Capacity and speed often work at cross purposes, so satisfying both within a common architecture will require a significant amount of fine-tuning. Big Data, for instance, places a premium on in-house Hadoop support, cloud-enabled software and massive storage capacity. Fast data is all about handling reams of sensor-driven traffic, so it requires rapid database updating and initial analytics capability that can best be supported by NVRAM and SSD storage. Combining the two, therefore, will require on-disk separation of Big Data and Fast Data, as well as common access to Fast Data stores by Big Data databases and analytics tools.



SACRAMENTO – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) plays a unique role in helping all disaster survivors recover. It provides low-interest recovery loans to businesses and residents, if they can afford to repay. By registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), most survivors are automatically referred to the SBA.

SBA low-interest disaster loans, up to $200,000 for repair or replacement of a homeowner’s primary residence and $40,000 for personal property of renters and homeowners are the federal government’s intended source of recovery funds beyond limited FEMA resources.

The SBA also makes low-interest disaster recovery loans available to help businesses of all sizes and private non-profit organizations. Businesses and private non-profits may borrow up to $2 million for physical damages or economic injury.

The easiest way to apply for an SBA disaster loan is to visit a Disaster Recovery Center and meet with an SBA representative in person.

Individuals and households who do not meet the SBA’s financial requirements for a disaster recovery loan may be referred back to FEMA, where they may qualify for an Other Needs Assistance grant to help them pay for some recovery costs other than housing. They also may qualify for a FEMA Individual Assistance grant for housing losses. Businesses are not eligible for FEMA assistance.

FEMA Other Needs Assistance may be used for:

  • Disaster-related child care expenses.
  • Disaster-related medical and dental expenses.
  • Disaster-related funeral and burial expenses.
  • Disaster-related damages to essential household items (room furnishings, appliances); clothing; tools (specialized or protective clothing and equipment) required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies).
  • Fuels for primary heat source (heating oil, gas).
  • Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier).
  • Disaster-related damage to an essential vehicle.
  • Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster (moving and storing property to avoid additional disaster damage while disaster-related repairs are being made to the home).
  • Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.
  • Other expenses that are authorized by law.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure Web site at: disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. For information about SBA disaster programs, businesses and residents can go to sba.gov/disaster or call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at: 800-659-2955,  TTY 800-877-8339 or Video Relay Service (VRS) 800-659-2955.

Survivors can apply for disaster assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or (VRS), call 800-621-3362. FEMA has made it a priority to reach survivors who need help – including people with disabilities and/or access and functional needs, senior citizens and people with limited English proficiency.

For more updated information on California’s wildfire recovery, survivors may visit: caloes.ca.gov or beta.fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 and at Facebook.com/FEMA.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. FEMA has made it a priority to reach survivors who need help – including people with disabilities and/or access and functional needs, senior citizens and people with limited English proficiency.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

CA Discusses the Future of the MSP Market

In this FastChat, CA Technologies' Global MSP Lead Justine Harris' sits down with Penton Technology's Contributing Editor Ryan Morris to discuss the future of the MSP market. Hear Harris' perspective on what opportunities are available for service providers.



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

5 Mistakes MSSPs Should Avoid

MSSPs, or managed security service providers, are at an exciting point where market acceptance, awareness and demand have converged. I view this as a positive for a potential MSSP but also for the customers and businesses they will protect, enhancing security for everyone. However, excitement and the prospect of profits can create haste, and with haste comes an increased risk of mistakes.

In my role at AlienVault, I've been fortunate enough to work with and help ensure the success of a number of our MSSPs. Following are five mistakes that I recommend every MSSP avoid in order to be successful:



I continue my series on why I believe that compliance is at the ‘Tipping Point’ with a discussion of the Volkswagen (VW) emissions-testing scandal and its effect on the greater compliance world. Myself and many other commentators have written about the VW scandal from a variety of angles, which I will not repeat here, except to note that the VW emissions-testing scandal was not a failure of the company’s compliance program but an intentional fraud to evade emissions testing standards for a wide variety of jurisdictions, including the United States. The cost of this fraud cannot begin to be estimated at this point but VW has already lost 40% of its market cap or approximately €15 billion.

VW is now beginning its internal investigation and not surprisingly, it claims to be focusing on a small group of ‘rogue’ engineers who acted outside the knowledge of senior management. Not too surprising folks with their heads on the line would make such a claim. Perhaps that speaks to the true culture of the company. However the reason I think that the VW emissions-testing scandal is data point 3 in the tipping point for compliance goes beyond the company engaging in an intentional fraud and then trying to blame it on the engineers.



Typhoons, as we witnessed with Soudelor, are a double threat. They can produce both dangerously high winds and widespread torrential rains.

Slow moving storms and tropical storms moving into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. This not only damages or destroys homes directly with water and wind, but can also produce damages indirectly with landslides or mud slides. Flash flooding is also a possibility, and flooding near streams or low lying areas may persist for several days or more after a storm.

“With another storm approaching the CNMI, there are still things you can do in this last day or two to protect yourself, your family and your property,” said Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer Ryan Brown.

“Securing loose objects around the house and/or removing and securing objects to prevent them from being picked up and propelled by possible, strong winds,” said Marvin Seman, Special Assistant for Homeland Security & Emergency Operations. “Also, residents living in tents, damaged homes, or homes with compromised safety are strongly encouraged to take precautionary measures and to anticipate heavy rain, strong winds, and possible flooding.”

Other protective actions include:

  • Make sure you have enough food and water for all family members and pets for three days.

  • Fill your car’s gas tank, both in case evacuation becomes necessary and in case gas stations are disabled after the storm.

  • Secure your property.

    • Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows.

    • A second option is to board up windows with 5/8 inch marine plywood.

    • Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.

  • Install straps or clips to fasten your roof to the frame structure more securely.

    • This will reduce roof damage.

    • It may reduce overall damage, because homes that lose a roof usually suffer serious subsequent damage.

  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.

  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.

  • If you have a boat, secure it.

More on these and many other preparedness topics can be found at ready.gov, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website dedicated to helping people and businesses prepare for whatever Mother Nature may throw at them.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

The Doctor to Cure Your Cloud Woes

I’d like to introduce you to a fairly new tool to add to your Citrix CloudPlatform administrative toolbox.

Meet the doctor. CCPDoctor–or ‘The Doc’ as I like to refer to it–is a powerful tool that can highlight potential issues in your CloudPlatform environment.

The doc works on all major code lines (as of this writing; 3.0.7, 4.2.1, 4.3, 4.5 and soon to be released 4.7). It also comes baked in with some sweet features that make certain tedious administrative tasks a breeze.'



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

Cost of Cyber Crime Up 19% For U.S. Businesses

In its annual Cost of Cyber Crime study, the Ponemon Institute found that the average annual cost of cyber crime per large company is now $15.4 million in the United States. That figure has increased 19% from last year’s $12.7 million, and presents an 82% jump from the institute’s first such study six years ago. This year, losses ranged from $307,800 to $65,047,302.

Globally, the average annual cost of cybercrime is $7.7 million, an increase of 1.9% from last year. The U.S. sample had the highest total average cost, while the Russian sample reported the lowest, with an average cost of $2.5 million. Germany, Japan, Australia, and Russia experienced a slight decrease in the cost of cyber crime over the past year.

To try to benchmark the complete cost of cyber crime, the Ponemon Institute examines the total cost of responding to incidents, including detection, recovery, investigation and incident-response management. While it is virtually impossible to quantify all of the losses due to reputation damage or business interruption, the researchers did look at after-the-fact expenses intended to minimize the potential loss of business or customers.



For almost a decade, the cyber community has said it’s all about the data. The systems, the networks and the hardware devices are important, but if you can secure the data, you are protecting your organization’s most important asset, beyond people of course.

Federal News Radio Executive Editor Jason Miller dove deeper into this issue and others during the panel discussion, “Cybersecurity vs. Data Security: Government’s Two-Pronged Challenge,” in recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Guests included Ann Barron-DiCamillo, director of the Homeland Security Department’s US-CERT; Bill Lay, the State Department’s deputy chief information officer for Information Assurance and chief information security officer; Dr. Ron Ross, a fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Eddie Garcia, chief security architect in the Office of the CTO at Cloudera.

Many organizations, agencies and the private sector spend much of their resources on cybersecurity. And with the recent data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management, Target, JP Morgan Chase and a host of other large organizations, are agencies and companies focusing on the wrong issues?



Monday, 12 October 2015 00:00

California Wildfires: A Billion Dollar Loss

Wildfires in 2015 have already caused more damage and financial loss in the United States than in any other year since 2007.

Aon Benfield’s latest Global Catastrophe Recap report reveals that California wildfires during September destroyed more than 2,000 homes and resulted in estimated insured losses of at least $1.1 billion—the costliest since 2007.

The Valley Fire, northwest of San Francisco, and the Butte Fire, southeast of Sacramento, were the most destructive of the fires.

In its report, Aon notes that the Valley Fire left four people dead, destroyed 1,958 residential and commercial structures and damaged 93 others. It is the third-most damaging wildfire in state history.



(MCT) - The Los Angeles City Council is poised today to pass the most sweeping mandatory earthquake retrofit law in California, requiring as many as 15,000 seismically hazardous buildings be fixed in the state’s largest city.

Written by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the ordinance targets two of the most dangerous types of buildings: brittle concrete buildings and wood apartment complexes with weak first stories, which have killed more than 65 people in Los Angeles’ last two major earthquakes.

The mandatory upgrades will be costly. Many wood apartment retrofits can cost between $60,000 to $130,000, and taller concrete buildings can cost millions of dollars to strengthen.



Research to focus on improved prediction of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, snow
NOAA awards $5.7 million to improve hazardous weather forecasts (map).

(Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan announced today $5.7 million in cooperative research agreements and grants to improve the forecasting of hazardous and extreme weather including tornadoes, hurricanes, heavy rainfall, floods and snowstorms.

“These research investments are designed to accelerate the development and use of advanced observing systems, forecast models, and other decision-support tools that will improve our nation’s resilience to hazardous weather,” said Sullivan during remarks at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Norman, Oklahoma.

She added, “By engaging with a broad array of academic and other research partners, we aim to improve scientific understanding of these hazardous and extreme weather phenomena to solve the real problems our citizens, businesses, and leaders face every single day. Congressional leadership was instrumental in making these projects a priority."

The funding, provided by NOAA Research, will support collaborative work between NOAA and 27 academic, government and industry research institutions located in 16 states across the nation for these four major programs:

NOAA funding will support research to improve tornado prediction. This photo shows a tornado, which struck Smith, Jasper and Clarke Counties in Mississippi, and Choctaw County in Alabama on April 27, 2011 during a tornado outbreak. (Credit: NOAA).

NOAA funding will support research to improve tornado prediction. This photo shows a tornado, which struck Smith, Jasper and Clarke Counties in Mississippi, and Choctaw County in Alabama on April 27, 2011 during a tornado outbreak. (Credit: NOAA)

Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment in the Southeast U.S. (VORTEX-SE), $1.9 million – a new research program to improve tornado forecasts and warnings in the Southeastern United States, building upon the best practices and knowledge gained from earlier projects in the Great Plains. This new research program will advance our understanding of how environmental factors in the region affect the formation, intensity, structure, and path of tornadoes in this region. The research will also determine public perceptions of tornado risk, the best methods for communicating forecast uncertainty to the public, and differences in the way various demographic groups receive and respond to tornado warnings. This work will not only help inform storm prediction in the southeast U.S., but also in other regions such as the southern Great Plains and Texas.

  • Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT), $1.4 million – This testbed brings together world-class researchers and forecasters online and in person to develop, test and verify improvements to forecast computer models with the goal of moving hurricane research into day-to-day operations. This year’s funding from the U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP) will support new projects to better use satellite data to improve computer model forecasts of the genesis and rapid intensification of tropical cyclones, improve analysis tools and the forecast products posted online to inform the public. Projects will also support the transition of a new coastal storm tide forecast model to operational use by NOAA hurricane forecasters.
  • Hydrometeorology Testbed, (HMT) $1.2 million –This testbed focuses on quantifying and forecasting rain and snow, improved forecasting of streamflow and flooding, and improved decision-support tools for NOAA forecasters.  This year’s USWRP funding supports new projects that will evaluate high-resolution streamflow forecast models that provide new uncertainty information, improve representation of cloud droplets and assimilation of other data into high-impact weather forecast models and ensembles of models, and provide new flash flood products for forecaster evaluation.
  • Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT), $1.2 million –This funding from USWRP will support new projects in this testbed focused on improving ensembles of high-resolution storm forecast models and data assimilation techniques, hail forecasting tools, and estimation of one-hour probabilities of near-term severe weather using real-time environmental data. This could lead to improvements in real-time analysis and forecasting of hazardous weather that accompanies thunderstorms, such as tornadoes, hail, damaging wind, and lightning.

More information about these projects is available online.

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 , , and our other.



(MCT) - Last Friday, a day after a gunman killed nine people on an Oregon college campus, Cobb County school police got a tip that a middle school student had threatened to “shoot up” a school.

Officers went to the student’s home. The student denied he made a threat. No weapons were found. No charges were filed.

In today’s world, where school shootings are not uncommon, you have to take threats seriously, explained Ron Storey, the school district’s chief of police. “You never know how it’s going to turn out,” he said.

Authorities at Georgia’s college and public school campuses are constantly on alert for the potential of mass shootings or violence, and they try to prepare themselves. Carroll County officials, for example, were planning an “active shooter” drill this morning at Villa Rica High School.



(MCT) - A team of local first responders set out Thursday to do what they do best: rescue the people of Columbia, Tenn. Only this time, they were dispatched to Columbia, South Carolina.

The firefighters — John Hardy, Cody Alexander, Nick Risner, Joey Norman and team leader Eric Hileman — left Tennessee to spend about a week assisting in relief efforts following devastating floods on the East Coast.

“They’ll be working with other water teams, assisting residents in finding a safe place, and doing water rescues,” Columbia Fire Chief Tommy Hemphill said. “This is a second wave of rescue teams. A week is about as long as you want to be deployed.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley requested Gov. Bill Haslam send help from Tennessee, Hemphill said.



(TNS) - One student was killed and another person was seriously injured after someone opened fire outside a Texas Southern University dormitory on Friday morning, prompting a lockdown at the Houston school, officials said.

It was the second fatal shooting on a U.S. college campus on Friday.

The gunfire outside the University Courtyard dormitory occurred at 11:35 a.m. local time, according to Eva Pickens, the school’s associate vice president of communications.

The dead student was an 18-year-old freshman from Houston, according to Pickens. His identity is being withheld pending notification of his family. The second victim was in stable condition at a Houston-area hospital, she said.

“It’s crazy,” Pickens said. “It’s broad daylight.”



Mergers in the high-tech industry, or any industry for that matter, are usually driven by two factors: financial considerations and market opportunities. When it comes to a mega-merger like the one brewing around Dell and EMC, both factors are kicked into overdrive.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Dell has stepped up as a potential buyer for EMC (subscription required) which, based on the latter’s estimated market cap of $50 billion, would make it the second largest M&A of the year, behind the Time Warner/Charter Communications deal valued at $78 billion. Negotiations are very fluid, however, with the WSJ reporting that the deal could come together within a week, or not at all. If successful, the deal would eclipse the largest pure-tech deal to date – Avago’s $37 billion buyout of Broadcom. Failure, however, would put EMC in a bad way considering potential buyers like Oracle, HP and Cisco are said to have already passed on acquiring the company.

On the financial side, the big factor is debt, says the New York Times’ Amie Tsang. Dell already has a fairly sizable debt load resulting from owner Michael Dell’s move to take the company private. At a time when equity markets are becoming stingier, an EMC buyout would require a cool $40 billion at least. Part of that could come from selling additional shares of VMware, 80 percent of which are owned by EMC. If Dell were to sell, say, 20 percent of that stake, that would generate about $7 billion to help finance the deal. And, of course, there is the little matter of Elliott Management, the activist hedge fund that owns only about 2 percent of EMC but carries enough clout to quash any deal if it doesn’t feel the numbers add up.



Washington D.C. - More than 40 U.S. states have some potential for earthquakes. To increase earthquake preparedness, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages all Americans to participate in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill happening on Thursday, October 15, at 10:15 a.m. local time.

“Residents in California aren’t the only ones threatened by the potential of a catastrophic earthquake,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “From the Cascadia subduction zone in the Pacific Northwest to the New Madrid seismic zone in the South and Midwest, millions of Americans live and travel to areas that can be impacted by a major earthquake. All of us – regardless of where we live – should be prepared by knowing what to do: drop, cover, and hold on.”

In most situations during an earthquake, one would drop to the ground, take cover under a nearby sturdy table or desk, and hold on to it until the shaking stops. People who have mobility disabilities and are unable to drop, should still cover and hold on. If seated they should cover their head and neck with their arms or a pillow until the shaking stops. Individuals who use wheelchairs should lock their wheels, and cover and avoid transferring from their wheelchair until the shaking stops.

More than 20 million people worldwide are registered to participate in next Thursday’s Great Shakeout drill. Anyone can register their involvement and learn how to participate at www.ShakeOut.org.

FEMA supports Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills as part of America’s PrepareAthon!, a community-based campaign that asks everyone to take an action—such as a group discussion or disaster drill—to increase their preparedness. Information on America’s PrepareAthon! is available at www.ready.gov/prepare.

Additional tips for preparing for earthquakes are also available at www.ready.gov/earthquakes.

The Great ShakeOut is an annual public earthquake drill coordinated and supported by the Southern California Earthquake Center and the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). NEHRP is a partnership of the United States Geological Survey, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Ready Campaign advocates four universal building blocks of preparedness—Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit, and Get Involved—and continues to raise awareness about the importance of preparing. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation.

America’s PrepareAthon! was established to provide a comprehensive campaign to build and sustain national preparedness as directed by Presidential Policy Directive-8. The campaign is coordinated by FEMA in collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations.



Mistakes made by employees are the leading cause of data loss incidents within UK organisations, new research has found.

A survey of over 400 IT decision-makers conducted by Databarracks found almost a quarter of respondents (24 percent) admitted to experiencing a data loss as the result of human error in the last 12 months.

This was the most common cause of such incidents overall, followed by hardware failure (21 percent) and corrupted files (19 percent).

Small businesses were found to be particularly badly affected by human error, as when the survey results were broken down by business size, larger companies were revealed to be more susceptible to hardware failure, whereas employee mistakes were the number one issue for less-sizeable firms.



COLUMBIA, S.C. – Registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency is the first step to getting federal disaster assistance.

After you apply, FEMA will send you a copy of your application and a copy of “Help After a Disaster: Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program,” which will answer many of your questions.

This publication explains how FEMA’s disaster assistance program works; describes additional kinds of help you may qualify for from other federal, state and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how best to make all these programs work for you.

After You Register

If your home or its contents are damaged and you are uninsured or underinsured, verifying disaster damage is part of the process to establish the amount and type of damage you suffered.

You will get a call from an inspector who has construction background and is fully qualified to do the job. Inspectors are private contractors who wear official FEMA ID badges. If you have concerns with the legitimacy of a FEMA housing inspector, you should contact your local law enforcement as they will be able to validate their identification. 

Authorized inspectors will only confirm personal detailed information that you previously provided during the registration process, such as your registration number. They never charge for an inspection.

The U.S. Small Business Administration and various insurance companies also have inspectors in the field. You may also see preliminary damage assessment teams in your area.

Inspector's Call

After you register – either online at DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) or visiting a disaster recovery center – a nine-digit application number is assigned. An inspector will then call to schedule an appointment to visit your damaged property – generally no longer than 10 days after registration.

Inspector's Visit

Keep the scheduled appointment to make sure the assistance process moves quickly. The inspection should take typically 10 to 20 minutes. You – or someone who is 18 or older and lived in the household prior to the disaster – must be present for the scheduled appointment. Inspectors will review both structural and personal property damage and file a report, but they do not determine eligibility or determine the value of damage or losses.

A FEMA inspection is not an insurance inspection. If you are covered by insurance, you should contact your insurance company immediately as FEMA cannot duplicate payments.

Proof of Ownership or Occupancy

The inspector will ask for identification and proof of ownership and occupancy (for homeowners) and occupancy only (for renters). You can speed up the process by having the appropriate documents on hand:

  • A photo ID to prove identity, such as driver’s license or passport.
  • Proof of occupancy, such as a lease, rent payment receipt or utility bill.
  • Proof of ownership, such as a deed, title, mortgage payment book, property insurance policy or tax receipts.  

After the Inspector’s Visit

You will receive a letter from FEMA containing a decision within 10 days of the inspector’s visit. If you are eligible for assistance, the letter will be followed by a check or an electronic funds transfer. The letter explains how the money can be used. You may receive a low-interest disaster loan application in the packet from the SBA. You do not have to accept a loan. However, you must complete the application and return it to SBA to remain eligible for other types of federal assistance, such as FEMA grants.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Solid State Drives are making serious in-roads into the enterprise datacentre, with enhanced read/write operations offering significant performance improvements. This speed boost coupled with consistent price reductions per gigabyte now means that datacentre arrays build around SSDs are a practical option for business.

But does the use of SSD storage present any new challenges that DBAs and network engineers need to be aware of?



Monday, 12 October 2015 00:00

The Strategic Risk of Tunnel Vision

… how to detect it and how to avoid it

As much as we admire those who inspire us with a gripping idea of tomorrow – the people we like to refer to as “visionaries” – we dismiss and condemn those whose vision turns out to have been an illusion. We claim that we knew all along that their perspective was mistaken. But with the benefit of hindsight, anyone can identify tunnel vision. The important question is, how could we have detected it before it happened?

The stories of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Jack Welch and – let’s not forget – Steve Jobs: they all make our mouths water. Unconventional ideas, great foresight, captivating visions and (mostly) huge successes. Or take the story of Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford Motor Company, who miraculously saved the company from the brink of bankruptcy. In 2012, Mulally told Forbes: “What I have learned is the power of a compelling vision.” And this wasn’t book knowledge; Mulally’s forward-oriented leadership style steered Ford back onto the path of success.



Leaders in the textile industry and community members participate in preparedness

“It was four years ago this April that we saw one of the strongest, most intense tornadoes in Georgia’s history strike just down the road, in Ringgold,” said meteorologist Keith Stellman of the National Weather Service’s Peachtree City office. “It’s those things that tell us we need to be prepared and have a plan. That’s why a preparedness campaign in Whitfield County is so important.”

Between 1990 and 2014, Whitfield County, located in northwest Georgia, experienced 82 weather events with high winds, two tornadoes, 14 flash floods, and 21 winter weather events or storms that caused moderate to severe disruption in the communities.

On February 2, 2015, Whitfield County Emergency Management launched Whitfield County’s PrepareAthon!SM in partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, the National Weather Service’s Peachtree City office, the local CBS affiliate WDEF-TV, and Whitfield County’s Local Emergency Preparedness Committee. The county joined the millions of participants in registered activities during the spring 2015 America’s PrepareAthon!

Whitfield County’s PrepareAthon! engaged businesses and residents in a communitywide tornado drill on April 24, 2015, and promoted registration for the county’s CodeRED emergency notification system.

The City of Dalton - The Carpet Capital of the WorldFocus on Textile Companies

The campaign focused on the many major textile manufacturers in Dalton, GA, which employ approximately 25,500 people. Considered the “Carpet Capital of the World,” the world’s four largest carpet companies have facilities headquartered in the county, and there are more than 150 carpet plants in the area. All of the textile manufacturers and their employees participated in the tornado drill.

County’s PrepareAthon!SM Launches Preparedness Campaign in the “Carpet Capital of the World”Gary Kelley, Deputy Director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, spoke during Whitfield County’s PrepareAthon! press conference, advising residents to take action

“We launched the campaign to encourage our community to take action to increase their response to a tornado event,” said Claude Craig, Director at Whitfield County’s Emergency Management Agency. “A recent FEMA survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of American adults

had not practiced what to do in an emergency or a disaster by participating in a disaster drill or preparedness exercise. We need to prepare."

Whitfield County’s Local Emergency Preparedness Committee organized the PrepareAthon! with support from the Northwest Georgia Public Health District, county and city school districts, the County Hospital Group, and the County Public Information Office.

“The goal of Whitfield County’s PrepareAthon! is simple,” said Craig. “Build a more resilient community by increasing the number of individuals who understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase their preparedness, and participate in community resilience planning.”

Engaging the Local Community

Gary Kelley, Deputy Director at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, encouraged all Georgians to identify the hazards most common in their community, and to visit the Ready Georgia website to stay informed about potential threats.

Whitfield County’s Office of Emergency Management partnered with WDEF-TV to include news coverage, public service announcements, and morning news show interviews about preparedness. WDEF-TV’s chief meteorologist, Patrick Core, highlighted the importance of social media and mobile apps in preparing for extreme weather situations, including the Ready Georgia and American Red Cross Tornado apps. Core cited the importance of having a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio. Core also stressed the importance of having an emergency preparedness kit handy not only in the schools, churches, and recreational areas, but also in car trunks and especially at home.

High school students in a TV production class supported the campaign by developing public service announcements in English and Spanish. School interpreters assisted the students with this project.

“Emergencies can happen at any time and any place,” Craig said, “but practicing what to do in advance makes you better prepared to handle the emergency. Being prepared for disasters is a shared responsibility. It takes the whole community, all of us, working together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disaster emergencies.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  – People in California who have been affected by the recent wildfires may see Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in their neighborhood, knocking on doors.

DSA teams can help connect homeowners, renters, business owners, faith-based and community organizations with the necessary resources to start the recovery process.

The teams offer survivors registration assistance; up-to-date information on their application status; on-the-spot needs assessment; and referrals to help fill outstanding needs.

“The DSA teams are here to help,” said Timothy J. Scranton, FEMA federal coordinating officer. “They will all be carrying FEMA photo identification badges and may ask for some critical information to help speed your case along. Survivors can rest assured that when they share personal information with DSA team members it is a part of the registration process and that the information shared is secure.”

To help survivors register for FEMA assistance, DSA teams may ask for the following information:

  • A phone number where you can be reached;
  • Your social security number;
  • Your current mailing address;
  • The address of the affected property;
  • A brief description of the damage; and
  • Insurance information including your policy number.

DSA teams are currently visiting neighborhoods and businesses in Calaveras and Lake counties.

The teams offer survivors registration assistance; up-to-date information on their application status; on-the-spot needs assessment; and referrals to help fill outstanding needs.

“The DSA teams are here to help,” said Timothy J. Scranton, FEMA federal coordinating officer. “They will all be carrying FEMA photo identification badges and may ask for some critical information to help speed your case along. Survivors can rest assured that when they share personal information with DSA team members it is a part of the registration process and that the information shared is secure.”

To help survivors register for FEMA assistance, DSA teams may ask for the following information:

  • A phone number where you can be reached;
  • Your social security number;
  • Your current mailing address;
  • The address of the affected property;
  • A brief description of the damage; and
  • Insurance information including your policy number.

DSA teams are currently visiting neighborhoods and businesses in Calaveras and Lake counties.

When DSA teams arrive at a home, business or any other organization, they will display official photo identification. To prevent fraudulent activities, if photo identification is not displayed, survivors should ask to see it.

Survivors can apply for disaster assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. FEMA has made it a priority to reach survivors who need help – including people with disabilities and/or access and functional needs, senior citizens and people with limited English proficiency.

For more updated information on California’s wildfire recovery, survivors may visit: caloes.ca.gov or beta.fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 and at Facebook.com/FEMA.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

The other day I made a passing reference to the financial consequence of the Experian breach, which was its tumble in value on the stock market.

Most SMBs don’t have to worry about their businesses crashing on Wall Street, but the costs involved in a breach and its aftermath are very real. According to a new study by Kaspersky Lab, enterprises can expect to spend, on average, a half million dollars to recover from a breach. For small businesses, that dollar amount is around $40,000, but that may as well be a half million or more. For smaller businesses, it’s a devastating amount.

Downtime is the biggest loss when looking purely at the financial side of a breach. The study also broke down the areas you might not be thinking about during the aftermath—the costs of the professional services needed to clean up the mess, upgrades to the security infrastructure and employee training, which can also add up to tens of thousands of dollars. No wonder so many smaller businesses have to shut down after a breach!



DENTON, Texas — More than $1.7 million has been awarded to agencies in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma to maintain up-to-date flood hazard maps and other flood hazard information.

These grants are made possible by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Cooperating Technical Partners (CTP) program.

The cities and agencies that received the grants include:

•    The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission - $573,804;
•    The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development - $75,000;
•    The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management - $515,000;
•    The University of New Mexico - $556,875; and
•    The Water Institute of the Gulf in Louisiana - $25,000.

The CTP program is an innovative approach to creating partnerships between FEMA and participating National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) communities, regional agencies, state agencies, Tribal Nations and universities. These groups have the interest and capability to become more active participants in the FEMA flood hazard mapping program. Fundable activities include program management, base map acquisition, scoping and outreach.

For more information on the CTP program, visit http://www.fema.gov/cooperating-technical-partners-program.
Follow FEMA Region 6 on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion6.


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.                                    

Friday, 09 October 2015 00:00

Dell and EMC Merger: The Likely Back Story

Today the Wall Street Journal and other outlets broke the speculation that Dell and EMC were looking to merge. I don’t think people get how incredibly powerful this would be or how difficult. However, this would clearly solve huge problems that both companies are facing, and unique synergies and relationships make this whole effort, if true, incredibly interesting.

We’ll first talk about the unique problems both firms are trying to address and then how the merger would help mitigate them.



SACRAMENTO, Calif.  – Recovery from the Butte Fire in Calaveras County and Valley Fire in Lake County is underway. More than $6.1 million in state and federal assistance grants to individuals and households has been approved.

Destruction of most dwellings in the fire paths, plus the small town and rural nature of the areas creates a difficult challenge for finding temporary housing for survivors while they rebuild.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the Butte Fire burned 70,868 acres and destroyed 475 homes. The Valley Fire burned 76,067 acres, destroyed 1,280 single-family homes and 27 multi-family residences. The worst of the Butte Fire was confined to Calaveras County and the worst of the Valley Fire was in Lake County.

Shelters sprang up in churches, casinos, a Moose Lodge and campgrounds, with the American Red Cross operating some, while others were managed by their hosts.

Even as the fires continued to burn, President Obama, at the request of California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., issued a major disaster declaration for the two most impacted counties, Calaveras and Lake. 

Individuals and households were immediately able to begin registering for assistance from FEMA. To date, nearly $4.4 million for rental assistance, housing repair or replacement has been awarded to over 800 households and individuals as of close of business Wednesday, Oct. 7.  Direct deposit into survivors’ bank accounts hastens assistance distribution when possible.

Those who are uninsured and have unmet needs have received nearly $1.8 million so far from FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program (ONA) for replacement of basic personal property, including clothing, basic furnishings, medical equipment and even automobiles. California, through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, bears 25 percent of those costs. ONA is limited to those without insurance and other resources to pay for their needs.

Personal contact with residents of the disaster areas to encourage and help them register with FEMA is conducted by the Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) program. It is staffed by a combination of seasoned part-time “reservist” employees and members of FEMA Corps who range from 18 to 24 years of age.

Overall, the DSA staff have visited 1,068 homes and interacted with 4,043 survivors to assist them in registering with FEMA and providing them other essential information.

As of close of business Oct. 7, more than 3,000 individuals and households in the affected areas have contacted FEMA for recovery assistance or information. FEMA has telephone service at its three disaster recovery centers to enable survivors to register for FEMA assistance and/or set up appointments with inspectors. Telephone service has been interrupted in many areas.

FEMA housing inspectors have visited 1,944 dwellings to verify and record damage, which is 86 percent of those eligible for an inspection.

In addition to FEMA grants for individuals and families, other forms of disaster assistance are provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and other partner agencies such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. (FEMA will make referrals as needed.) All businesses that contact FEMA are referred to the SBA.

SBA low-interest disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners. Renters, as well as homeowners, are eligible for low-interest loans up to $40,000 to replace personal property. Businesses and  private nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million at low interest rates to cover structural, inventory and economic losses.

Other federally-funded recovery programs including disaster unemployment assistance, crisis counseling and disaster legal services are being launched.

Because rental housing is scarce in both counties, FEMA is making Manufactured  Housing Units (MHU) available to eligible registered survivors in the designated counties. For survivors with disabilities, some MHUs come equipped with modifications which could include a ramp.

Where conditions permit, an MHU may be placed on the survivor’s property. MHUs also can be placed in existing mobile home parks. If no other option within a reasonable commuting distance is available, an MHU group park established and maintained by FEMA may be constructed.

Occupancy of a MHU is limited to the time required to rebuild the original home or until permanent housing is found or to a maximum of 18 months. MHUs are manufactured to Department of Housing and Urban Development standards. Installation complies with local requirements including permits and inspections. The units include basic furnishings and equipment to make them livable upon move-in. Washers and dryers are not included, but connections are provided.

Federal partners have been tasked with special recovery missions suited to their expertise. Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are assessing whether there are commercial sites available where MHUs could be installed for survivors’ use. Experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are recovering and properly disposing of household hazardous waste remaining after the fires.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development branch has several assistance programs that may benefit some survivors of the Valley and Butte fires.

  • Homeowners age 62 and older may be eligible for disaster assistance grants up to $7,500 and loans up to $20,000.
  • Rural Housing Direct Loan Program provides loans to low-income individuals for home purchase or repairs.
  • Existing USDA borrowers who lost jobs or had hours reduced as a result of the fires might qualify for payment reductions, payment moratorium or other arrangements.
  • Contact the USDA at 707-526-6797, extension 102 or 107 for information on any of these programs.

All emergency shelters have been closed.

There have been approximately 1,750 combined visits made to three disaster recovery centers in San Andreas, Clearlake and Middletown. Two additional disaster recovery centers will open Friday, Oct. 9, in Calaveras County in the communities of Mountain Ranch and Rail Road Flat. The mobile DRCs are operated by Cal OES and FEMA in partnership with the county and local agencies. Locations for all DRCs, including the two new locations are: 

Calaveras County:    The Calaveras County Disaster Recovery Center in San Andreas

           891 Mountain Ranch Rd., San Andreas, CA 95249

The Calaveras County Disaster Recovery Center in Mountain Ranch

7867 Whiskey Slide Rd., Mountain Ranch, CA 95246

The Calaveras County Disaster Recovery Center in Rail Road Flat

250 Railroad Flat Rd., Rail Road Flat, CA 95248

Lake County:              The Lake County Disaster Recovery Center in Clearlake

                                     14860 Olympic Dr., Clearlake, CA 95422


            The Lake County Disaster Recovery Center in Middletown

             21256 Washington St., Middletown, CA 95461

Hours of operation for all DRC locations are:

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Saturday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sunday: Noon – 4 p.m.

All DRCs are equipped with assistive technologies to help survivors with disabilities register for assistance. FEMA equipped each center with accessibility kits to ensure all people have full access to FEMA information and assistance programs.

The kits include devices to help people with a range of disabilities such as assistive listening devises, materials in large print and Braille. American Sign Language Interpreters are available upon request. If you need assistance, just ask.

Survivors can apply for FEMA assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other sources and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s website at SBA.gov. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

For updated information on California’s wildfire recovery, survivors may visit: caloes.ca.gov or beta.fema.gov/disaster/4240  and follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 and at Facebook.com/FEMA.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362).

If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. FEMA has made it a priority to reach survivors who need help – including people with disabilities and/or access and functional needs, senior citizens and people with limited English proficiency.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

Ipswitch has announced the findings of its 2015 Wearable Technology Survey which polled IT professionals from businesses and organizations within the United Kingdom. The survey reveals concerns about wearable technology in the workplace.

Almost half (49 percent) of IT professionals are running networks that have smart watches connecting to them via Wi-Fi. 43 percent have fitness bands connecting, almost a fifth (17 percent) have health monitoring devices and 12 percent have recording and photography gear.

Only seven percent of all respondents say that their company provides wearable technology to its own workers. This is despite a quarter (25 percent) of IT professionals saying in a similar survey in October 2014 that they expected to introduce wearable technology within the next year.

The top concerns for IT professionals relating to high adoption of wearable technology in the workplace were:

1. Security breaches (71 percent)
2. More work to support more devices (48 percent)
3. Decreased network bandwidth (32 percent).

However, when asked if they had IT policies in place to manage the impact of wearable technology, over two-thirds (69 percent) did not and only one-fifth (21 percent) did have such a policy.

Read the full survey report here.

Continuity Central is pleased to announce that the winner of the Business Continuity Paper of the Year competition has been judged to be Ian Ross, FBCI.

Ian’s paper was entitled ‘A systematic approach to managing a crisis: the value that technology can bring to the crisis management environment’ and can be read here.

The other shortlisted papers can be read here.

Judging was carried out by a panel of FBCIs who considered three main criteria:

1)    Did the paper offer anything new to the business continuity body of knowledge?
2)    Did the paper offer practical and useful assistance to business continuity professionals?
3)    Would you consider the paper as ‘advanced level’ business continuity information?

Continuity Central has now launched its next Business Continuity Paper of the Year competition. The aim is to discover the best new business continuity articles and papers and a £500 or $800 prize will be presented to the winner.

Authors of any status, whether business continuity professionals, academics, students, or journalists, are invited to submit articles and papers written since 1st January 2015.

Entries must meet the following criteria:

  • They must have been written during 2015;
  • Copyright must be owned by the person submitting the entry and in submitting the article or paper the author gives permission for its publication;
  • Entries can be between 800 and 5,000 words long;
  • The subject matter of an entry can relate to any of the following topics: business continuity, disaster recovery, resiliency, crisis management, enterprise risk management, or technology continuity, resilience and availability.
  • Multiple entries from individual authors will be accepted.
  • Entries must be written in English.
  • The closing date for entries is 31st January 2016.

To submit an entry or request further information email editor@continuitycentral.com  Entries should be emailed as an attachment in any Word processing format or as an unlocked PDF. PowerPoint will not be accepted.

When it comes to securing businesses against data loss, key considerations may include reducing human error and preventing hacking intrusions into servers and databases. But one growing problem for firms both large and small may be the risk posed by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

This type of cybercrime involves criminals flooding a server with data requests in order to render it inaccessible to genuine users. It’s typically thought of as a way for hackers to knock a website offline or disrupt a company’s operations, but new research has found the collateral damage of these incidents could be far more wide-ranging.

As well as leading to long periods of downtime and high recovery costs, a study by Kaspersky revealed that more than a quarter of DDoS attacks (26 per cent) now also result in the loss of sensitive data.

The problem is particularly prevalent for less-sizeable firms, as 31 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) reported data loss in the aftermath of DDoS attacks, compared with 22 per cent of larger enterprises.

Evgeny Vigovsky, head of Kaspersky DDoS Protection, commented: “Businesses have to re-evaluate their perception of a DDoS attack. The report clearly shows that the damage scope from such attacks goes far beyond the temporary downtime of a corporate website.”

However, a large number of companies are still overlooking the potential risks of these incidents, with a common sentiment being that a mitigation strategy will be too costly and difficult to implement.

SMBs in particular have limited resources to devote to the problem, and as DDoS is an umbrella term that covers several different attack technologies, methods to avert them can be hard to understand. As a result, only around half of SMBs think investing in prevention solutions is worth the effort.

However, with SMBs typically paying upwards of $50,000 (£32,600) in recovery bills, and almost one in ten attacks causing up to a week of downtime in addition to potential data loss issues, the consequences of not preparing can be severe.

Complex data recovery requires expertise. Speak to the data recovery industry pioneers at Kroll Ontrack for free advice to investigate options to recover from any data loss type, system or cause.

From:: http://www.krollontrack.co.uk/company/press-room/data-recovery-news/data-loss-a-growing-side-effect-of-ddos-attacks,-study-says612.aspx

Hardly a day goes by without IT professionals hearing about some new horror story on how digital espionage is wreaking havoc throughout the world. Whether it is the hacker threat that grounded Polish Airlines or the cyber security issues boiling between the US and China. IT security is becoming a top concern across company boardrooms and parliaments alike. So, where does all this lead managed service providers (MSPs) and their cloud-based file sharing services? Undoubtedly, all the fear mongering is going to present a challenge in securing more prospect signups. Yet, provided you play your cards right, this just might be the biggest opportunity yet!



(MCT) - Lucy Jones, Southern California’s “earthquake lady” and a driving force behind Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s ambitious seismic safety plan, was awarded the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal in Citizen Services, officials announced Wednesday.

Often referred to as the "Oscars" of government service, the “Sammies” recognize federal workers who have made a notable impact in the United States and around the world. Judges considered nearly 500 nominations and selected eight winners out of 30 finalists.

Jones, who joined the U.S. Geological Survey in 1983, is recognized across Southern California for her research and ability to explain earthquakes to the general public.



(MCT) - Recent heavy rains and floods across South Carolina that broke multiple dams and destroyed hundreds — if not thousands — of homes have turned a spotlight on the state’s dam safety program.

South Carolina has for years had one of the nation’s weakest dam safety programs, consistently ranking near the bottom of rankings in federal and state government reports.

In 2013, the state spent less than $200,000 on its dam safety program, employing a handful of people devoted specifically to inspecting and regulating the structures. That’s roughly the same amount the state spent on the program in 2010, when a national report rated South Carolina 45th nationally in financial resources committed to dam safety.

Lori Spragens, executive director of the national Association of State Dam Safety Officials, said resources for inspecting the state’s dams remain low in South Carolina. All told, South Carolina has 2,300 dams, most of them privately owned and made of earth.



(MCT) - York County Office of Emergency Management on Tuesday unveiled a new way to contact them in an emergency and new software to make their response better prepared.

The Text-to-911 system first detailed in August 2014 and the Smart911 emergency profile database signed onto by the county in August 2015 will both come online Wednesday.


In an emergency, residents will now be able to text 911 to reach a dispatcher, though the office stresses that voice calls are still preferred.



Additional data, animation features added to popular coastal product


NOAA's nowCOAST web portal, shown here with a prediction of surface water currents, has 60 layers of data the user can click on or turn off. (Credit: NOAA).

NOAA's nowCOAST web portal, shown here with a prediction of surface water currents, has 60 layers of data the user can click on or turn off. (Credit: NOAA).

NOAA has upgraded nowCOAST, a GIS-based online map service providing more frequently updated ocean observations along with coastal and marine weather forecasts. The new version, which went live on September 21, also offers a visual point-and-click access to 60 NOAA data products and services. Users can reach the site at nowcoast.noaa.gov.

“NOAA’s nowCOAST gives the public a one-stop-shop look at coastal conditions — real-time and forecast — before they do or plan anything on the water,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “Are you sailing? Look at the winds and currents. Are you a commercial shipper? Get your high seas marine weather forecast, on the same animated map where you can check the tides before you approach your port.”

The original version of nowCOAST, available since 2003, has provided the public with information on the latest observed and predicted coastal weather, marine weather, and oceanographic and river conditions. The updated map viewer allows users to animate observations for the past four hours and forecasts for the next seven days.

The new version also adds significant data from NOAA’s National Ocean Service and National Weather Service, including watches, warnings and advisories for hazardous marine weather conditions, even far offshore. It also provides near-real-time lightning strike density data for land and over water, and hydrologic conditions and predictions from ocean forecast models.

“The new time-enabled map services go beyond traditional navigation uses,” said Luis Cano, director of the NWS dissemination office. “For instance, during coastal storms, emergency managers are now able to overlay National Weather Service watches, warnings, and forecast products on top of critical infrastructure and evacuation maps, for better response.”

NowCOAST is an ArcGIS-based web mapping application developed by the Office of Coast Survey’s Coast Survey Development Laboratory, with technical assistance and IT support from National Weather Service’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

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.



Is resilience really the next big step forward for the business continuity profession? Betty A. Kildow, FBCI, CBCP, attempts to separate the hype from the reality when it comes to this controversial subject.

There are great time demands on business continuity professionals who are developing and managing programs, often to the extent that we seldom have time to stop and consider the bigger picture of where our profession stands, where we are going, and the relevancy of new developments and trends.  A case in point is the increasing interest in resilience and its relationship to business continuity management programs. 

This article is a combination of facts, opinions, and musings on the condition of BCM and also resilience, written from one person's perspective with the hope that it will initiate thought, reflection, and discussion of these two related topics. 

Things change, and generally speaking, that is a good thing. Quoting Bertrand Russell, "In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted."  W. Edwards Deming made an even stronger call for change, "It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory."  Over the thirty-year history of business continuity (previously business recovery) we have seen significant changes and improvements as our profession has evolved, as we have risen to the challenges of increased requirements and a growing list of risks and threats.



In a blog earlier this year, I sounded an alarm about the dangers of investing in companies with no internal audit functions. Ultimately, the goal was to raise awareness of the risks that accompany the absence of internal audit in publicly traded companies.

That effort took an important step forward in September when The Institute of Internal Auditors formally recommended to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that all publicly traded companies be required to have an internal audit function.

There have been a number of high-profile financial and corporate governance scandals of late that should hammer home the absolutely necessity of good corporate governance, and it should go without saying that internal audit adds value to that process by providing effective oversight of the control environment.



Thursday, 08 October 2015 00:00

Local Colleges Always Prepared for the Worst

(MCT) - It happens within seconds.

One moment the professor is lecturing about any given topic and the next moment an alert on a cellphone reads there is an active shooter on campus.

It’s a scenario that students keep in the back of their minds, many on college campuses.

It’s also a situation that became real life for students at Umpqua Community College in Rosebury, Oregon, when 26 year-old Chris Harper Mercer killed nine people before killing himself and injuring seven more last Thursday.

It’s situations like these that the Monroe County higher education institutions prepare for, go over frequently, and have rules to protect their students from.

To start, carrying concealed weapons is not allowed on either campus, according to the spokeswomen.



Thursday, 08 October 2015 00:00

Flood's Aftershocks Rock Columbia, S.C.

(MCT) - The aftershocks from the weekend’s historic rain storm continued to shake the Columbia area Wednesday with more dams breaking, more flooding fears and more people dying.

Two employees of a Kentucky-based company who were repairing railroad tracks damaged in the storm died early Wednesday after their vehicle became submerged in flood waters in lower Richland County.

The bodies of Robert Bradford Vance, 58, of Lexington, Ky., and Ricky Allen McDonald, 53, of Chesapeake, Ohio, were pulled from the vehicle in Cedar Creek, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said.

Vance and McDonald were traveling with three co-workers from a job site about 3 a.m. Wednesday when their vehicle drove through a barricade, near the 2100 block of Congaree Road, and fell into the creek, which had washed out the road, Watts said.



Wednesday, 07 October 2015 00:00

How Soon to Full Cloud Dominance?

The cloud is putting up some big deployment numbers in recent months, leading many analysts to ponder not whether it will become the dominant form of IT, but when.

According to IDC’s most recent forecast, the total cloud infrastructure spend will top $32.6 billion this year, a 24.1 percent increase over 2014. This includes the server, storage and Ethernet switch markets without even double counting server/storage deployments as additions to both servers and storage. In total, this accounts for about a third of all IT infrastructure spending, up from about 28 percent last year. Even more telling, though, is the 1.6 percent drop in non-cloud spending, which indicates that even money going into legacy data centers is being earmarked for private and hybrid clouds.

Also interesting is that this is happening at a time when there are still some serious roadblocks when it comes to enterprise cloud adoption. As Bracket Computing’s Navneet Singh noted recently, security, control and performance consistency remain the largest drawbacks. Practically every day, however, these issues are becoming less intractable as hybrid infrastructure, unified management stacks, software-defined networking and a host of other advancements make it easier to run multiple cloud deployments as a single data ecosystem.



Newly minted Vice President and Principal Analyst, Rick Holland, is one of the most senior analysts on our research team. But for those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to get to know him, Rick started his career as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, and he went on to hold a variety of security engineer, administrator, and strategy positions outside of the military before arriving at Forrester. His research focuses on incident response, threat intelligence, vulnerability management, email and web content security, and virtualization security. Rick regularly speaks at security events including the RSA conference and SANS summits and is frequently quoted in the media. He also guest lectures at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Dallas.

Rick Holland Image

Rick holds a B.S. in business administration with an MIS concentration (cum laude) from the University of Texas at Dallas. Rick is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and a GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH).

Check out this week’s interview with Rick for his take on the threat intelligence market and on a  few innovative companies in the spaces that he covers.



Wednesday, 07 October 2015 00:00

Trends in Travel Risk Management

Managing health, safety and security risks to workers on international travel and assignment is the subject of a new paper from the Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) and International SOS.

A survey earlier this year led by FERMA and International SOS, found that travel risk management is on the agenda for 79 percent of the risk and insurance managers polled.

The document identifies the risk manager as a pivotal influencer in evaluating effective travel risk management solutions. As noted in the paper: "The risk manager's holistic perception of the medical, security and insurance aspects is critical to considering efficient solutions and practical responses to any situation an organization might face when sending workers abroad." 

The paper includes:  

  • A legal review of duty of care for organizations in Europe;  
  • Best practices and practical experiences from leading risk practitioners;
  • A travel risk management toolbox that outlines health and travel security measures that organizations can implement to help reduce risks for their travellers and international assignees;
  • A review of the transposition of the EU legislation in 15 Member States which shows that national laws vary always toward greater health, safety and security responsibilities for organizations towards their workers.

Read a copy of the paper here.

The complexity of today’s business environment threatens to overwhelm the compliance function in many organizations as they struggle to respond to questions from regulators, executive committees and Boards. Unfortunately, one common panacea for organizational complexity—technology—has not won an overwhelming number of supporters in the risk and compliance space. According to a recent survey Deloitte conducted with Compliance Week, only 32 percent of compliance executives were confident or very confident in their IT systems, a rate that has actually dropped from 41 percent since the survey was conducted in 2014. This may be why the majority say they primarily depend on desktop software and in-house tools such as spreadsheets to perform most compliance tasks. Reliance on these tools is one reason many compliance functions tend to spend the preponderance of their time gathering data rather than analyzing it.

One technology solution that has begun to have an impact in the compliance space is the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) tool set. While not perfect, these tools have improved enormously over the past five years and have the potential to automate such activities as data collection, control testing, issue management, workflow and reporting. As with any tool set, implementation of appropriate governance processes and procedures are critical to overall success.

Experience gathered while working with compliance professionals on numerous GRC initiatives has led to the identification of five critical success factors:



EATONTOWN, N.J. - Among the most devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey was the storm’s impact on sewage treatment facilities along the coast.

During and after the storm, sewage plants and pump stations were inundated by flood waters and without power for as long as three days, resulting in the discharge of some two billion gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage into New Jersey waterways (New York Daily News, 4/30/2013).

The environmental damage was unprecedented – and the financial impact was devastating.  Total costs to repair and reconstruct the damaged sewage treatment facilities now top more than $100 million.

With the help of FEMA Public Assistance Grants, sewage treatment authorities throughout the state have acted to reduce the risk of a similar disaster through mitigation measures that include constructing flood walls, elevating sensitive equipment, and relocating vulnerable facilities out of the flood zone.

In southern Monmouth County, the Southern Monmouth Regional Sewerage Authority owns, operates and maintains 11 sewage pump stations in Belmar, Brielle, Lake Como, Manasquan, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights and Wall Township. FEMA has obligated more than $5.3 million in federal funding for the Southern Monmouth Regional Sewerage Authority to date

The majority of the Authority’s sewage pump stations were constructed and placed into operation in the 1970s. But in Sea Girt, the authority converted an existing facility constructed in the 1900s. By 2006, that facility had outlived its useful life and the Authority made plans to replace it. The Sea Girt pump station had been flooded in the past, and the likelihood was high that it would experience repeated flooding.

While the Authority considered relocating the facility, that idea was not feasible because of the cost, permitting restrictions and the lack of available land in the heavily residential community.

Instead, the project team comprising Authority officials and project engineers worked together to design a facility that could remain within the footprint of the old plant but that would be better equipped to function and survive during a major storm.

View of the outside of the mobile trailer that houses the Sea Girt Pumping Station's most sensitive equipment.
A mobile trailer houses the Sea Girt Pumping Station's most sensitive

The plan they decided upon called for a mobile trailer for the pumping station’s most sensitive equipment. The trailer can be moved out of harm’s way when flooding threatens.

The enclosure consists of two rooms, one sound-attenuated room for the emergency generator and another climate-controlled room for the electrical equipment, including controls, alarm systems, variable speed drives and various other components. Electrical and control connections between the enclosure and the pump station and its equipment are made with cables and plugs that can be opened to permit removal of the enclosure.

The trailer can be removed when emergency management officials notify the Authority of an impending storm.

When the trailer is removed, an expendable portable generator and transfer switch is put it in its place, allowing the pump station to operate even when utility power is lost. A secondary, sacrificial electrical and control system, permanently mounted on the site, powers the pumps and other equipment on utility or generator power.

Once the storm subsides, the mobile trailer can be moved back into place and put back on line. The mobile trailer plan minimizes any damage to the station’s electrical equipment and significantly reduces downtime for the station.

The station is then able to return to normal operation within hours of the passing storm, rather than days, weeks, or months, thus reducing the public health risk that can result when untreated sewage is discharged into waterways.

An outside view of the portable trailer that houses an emergency generator in Sea Girt pump station.
Portable trailer houses an emergency generator in Sea Girt pump station before Superstorm Sandy struck. R. Arias

The Sea Girt pump station is also in harmony with Governor Chris Christie’s goal to make New Jersey energy resilient and is considered a model for Best Management Practice for sewage and water authorities, enabling continuous operation during adverse weather events, thus eliminating or substantially reducing the potential for an environmental disaster caused by the release of untreated sewage.

As a result of the steps the Authority took to mitigate the facility, the Sea Girt Pump station withstood the assault by Hurricane Sandy, a 100-year storm.

Today, the Authority is implementing the mobile trailer plan at its Pitney pump station and will relocate its Spring Lake station outside of the 100-year flood zone, preventing a repeat of the environmental damage and expense that occurred as a result of Sandy.

See related video: http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/86134

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.

Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/FEMASandy,www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/FEMASandy, www.facebook.com/fema, www.fema.gov/blog, and www.youtube.com/fema.Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.”



If IT professionals are to maintain their relevance as influential, strategic leaders in an organization, they need to do a lot more than just ensure that the lights are kept on—they need to be drivers of innovation. And the best way to accomplish that just might be to crowdsource it.

That’s the message being advocated by James Gardner, CTO of Mindjet, a mind mapping and innovation management software provider in San Francisco. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Gardner in his capacity as the technology leader of Spigit, which was acquired by Mindjet in 2013 to become the innovation management software arm of Mindjet. Gardner opened the conversation by explaining Spigit’s role as a platform for crowdsourcing idea generation to drive innovation:



Wednesday, 07 October 2015 00:00

MSPs: How to Educate Non-IT Staff

In many instances, the IT world seems out of reach to people beyond its realm. To most people, it is a place with its own lingua-franca, rules, and perhaps even extremely elaborate secret handshakes. Now, while the difference between the techie and the sales rep has provided us with many a laugh over the past few years, we are actually beginning to see damages resulting from this fumbling. Cloud-based file sharing services such as yours are perceived as part of the tech macrocosm that automatically draws an invisible barrier between you and your non-tech clients – an unnecessary barrier which you must overcome before their patronage can be won.

For instance, a recent report by BH Consulting reveals that most non-IT professionals simply have no idea about data breaches and other information security threats. This even encompasses some of the most popular attacks, such as the one against Sony and the Heartbleed vulnerability.



A corn crop in Arkansas is stunted and sparse due to drought conditions. (Credit: USDA NRCS Photo Gallery, Tim McCabe).

A corn crop in Arkansas is stunted and sparse due to drought conditions. (Credit: USDA NRCS Photo Gallery, Tim McCabe)

NOAA’s Climate Program Office (CPO) today announced it has awarded $48 million for 53 new projects. Research will be conducted by NOAA laboratories and operational centers, universities, and other agency and research partners to advance the understanding, modeling, and prediction of Earth’s climate system and to improve decision making.

The results of research funded by these grants are expected to have impacts far beyond individual projects. Some of the anticipated results include more accurate weather and climate prediction, early warning of drought hazards, more robust decision-support services, enhanced community and drought preparedness, and improved ability to respond and adapt to public health impacts.

States with institutions receiving NOAA CPO funding from the FY2015 Competition.

The funds will be distributed over the life of the projects, many of which span one to five years. All awards were selected through an open, highly competitive process.

"Every day, communities and businesses in the U.S. and around world are grappling with environmental challenges due to changing climate conditions and extreme events," said Wayne Higgins, director of the Climate Program Office. "People want timely and relevant scientific information about where and why climate variability and change occur and what impacts that has on human and natural systems. CPO's competitive grants play a vital role in advancing understanding of Earth's climate system and in transitioning our data, tools, information, and operations to applications the public can use to improve decision making.”

Great Lakes Regional Sciences and Assessments (A RISA program) hosts workshop in St. Paul, Minnesota connecting local governments with climate adaptation science. (Credit: With permission from Daniel Brown).

Great Lakes Regional Sciences and Assessments (A RISA program) hosts workshop in St. Paul, Minnesota connecting local governments with climate adaptation science. (Credit: With permission from Daniel Brown).

  • The projects will support these priorities:
  • Provide high-quality, long-term global observations, climate information and products, $5.1 million for projects to produce global and regional indices to help monitor climate, weather, and sea ice trends, which provide information to forecasters, researchers, and decision makers in communities across the country.
  • Provide leadership and support for research, assessments, and climate services to key sectors and regions, $24.4 million — including $19.5 million for Regional Integrated Sciences & Assessment Programs from Hawaii to New York — to improve the ability of local communities to prepare for and adapt to climate change. 
  • Improve critical forecasts and bolster earth system models, $10.2 million to improve predictions and projections on a range of time scales from weeks to seasons, to decades, and centuries in the future.
  • Improve prediction of drought and other extreme events, $8.4 million to improve earth system models and predictions through the North American Multi-Model Ensemble System (NMME), a state-of-the-art seasonal prediction system, and help fund the creation of a new task force and improved software infrastructure for NOAA weather and climate models.
A farmer in the Midwest struggles with drought conditions. (Credit: Climate.gov and U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit photo).

A farmer in the Midwest struggles with drought conditions. (Credit: Climate.gov and U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit photo)

CPO manages competitive research programs that fund climate science, assessments, decision-support research, modeling improvements, and capacity-building activities. While each program has its own focus, together they demonstrate NOAA’s commitment to advancing integrated climate research and enhancing society’s ability to plan and respond to climate variability and climate change. CPO’s network of partners, specialists, and principal investigators will broadly integrate research findings from these projects to help build resilience in the face of climate challenges. 

A full list of awards, as well as individual announcements for each program, is available online.

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.



(TNS) -- Hurricane Joaquin will give federal officials a chance to test a new system designed to provide real-time information about water conditions on Long Island and beyond during a storm, allowing emergency agencies to respond more quickly.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Surge, Wave and Tide Hydrodynamic Network reaches from Virginia to Maine, with dozens of sites on Long Island.

While Joaquin is expected to veer east of Long Island, the agency plans a scaled-back deployment of the system on Long Island, said Ron Busciolano, supervisory hydrologist with the USGS New York Water Science Center in Coram.



National Cybersecurity Awareness Month certainly started with a bang, and not in a good way. My inbox was blowing up on Friday afternoon with alerts about the Experian breach involving T-Mobile wireless customers, and before I could catch up on that news, the emails shifted direction to the Scottrade breach. Today, as I was searching for more information about the breaches, I saw an announcement that the American Bankers Association’s website was hacked.

Even in this breach heavy (and weary) world, that’s a lot of bad news all at once. In fact, this comment that Ryan Wilk, director, customer success, NuData Security, sent to me seemed to sum up the news of the past few days quite well:

Data breaches don’t occur in a vacuum. The repercussions are widespread and often have a ripple effect.



They last a lifetime and they never change. Fingerprints, irises and even gaits (as in walking) are immutable, if you discount the use of surgery. That is what makes them such reliable identifiers and the basis of different biometric security systems. From science fiction and spy films, we now have smartphones (iPhones for example) that have integrated fingerprint recognition. Users no longer have to remember or reset those ID/PIN combinations. Yet recently, hackers recently stole a file with 5.6 million fingerprints of US government employees. And of course, unlike ID/PIN combinations, those fingerprints cannot be reset. Now what?



A proper understanding of risk tolerance is one of the key factors that can help the risk function demonstrate that it is much more than a cost centre, and truly adds value to the organization. This is according to John Merkovsky, Head of Willis Risk & Analytics, writing in the seventh edition of Resilience, the leadership journal from Willis Group Holdings. 

For risk professionals, there is no more important consideration than understanding the amount of risk an organization is a) able to take, b) willing to take and c) desires to take, according to Merkovsky in his article entitled ‘Risk Tolerance: The Risk Manager's Compass’.

The paper explains that a proper understanding of risk tolerance can help organizations in a number of ways. It can, for example, afford a deeper understanding of whether or not the organization is adopting the desired level of financial protection. Additionally it can help the risk function understand whether risk transfer is supporting the organization's overall strategic goals. "To make better decisions about insurance, an organization's risk tolerance needs to be reflected," said Merkovsky.

Merkovsky goes on to say that despite the benefits, risk tolerance is rarely engrained in risk management processes and structure. This is because the concept is often difficult to apply in practice and the nomenclature is not used consistently across the industry. Moreover, executives within the same organization often have very different views on the level of risk the organization should be willing to take.

Merkovsky commented: "This unsettled environment presents a terrific opportunity for a truly strategic risk manager to lead. But first, a risk manager needs to be able to demonstrate the value accretion that a well-defined view of risk tolerance can add to decision making."

He added: "Many organizations are looking to advance their thinking about their approach to risk tolerance yet they lack the consistent nomenclature, tools and focus to do so. Risk managers are well positioned to provide leadership here. Their experience in thinking across a broad range of risk topics and doing so in both financial and organization terms is unique in most organisations.

"And, if leading an organizational initiative on risk tolerance is not for every risk manager, it is still a great opportunity to ensure that their own insurance and risk management activities are built with a clear alignment of organizational goals. In this way it will be clear to senior management and other risk stakeholders that the risk management function is much more than a cost centre, and truly adds value to the organization."

Read the complete article.

(MCT) - Even those who went through Hurricane Hugo a quarter-century ago said they had never seen anything like this, the deadly torrents that crumbled roads, submerged houses and cars and killed at least 12 people — 10 in South Carolina and two in North Carolina.

“They’re saying it’s a once-in-1,000-year rainstorm, and I’m inclined to believe it,” said Sean Brennan, a real estate broker who had just checked on a colleague’s house in South Carolina’s capital, Columbia.

“It looked like a river ran through it,” Brennan said.

Even though the house was built 4 feet above ground, the water came up nearly 2 feet into the garage, he said. The backyard was a lake.



In a quest for improved efficiency, higher performance and maximized storage utility, organizations operating in increasingly demanding IT environments continue to deploy expensive proprietary products or ineffective heterogeneous hardware/software solutions to gain the necessary IOPs and/or capacity required for their particular compute needs.  Companies can better maximize their storage investment while outperforming alternative solutions by following these five tips:

1.	Ditch the “legacy” equipment – Too often companies look to save money by repurposing their existing data center hardware using software-defined solutions that are then supposed to maximize performance and capacity lacking in their current infrastructure.  The problem is that while software solutions look to optimize how data flows through any particular hardware architecture, the results will be less than if the hardware itself is optimized to provide the highest speeds and peak performance, without the reflections, throughput bottlenecks and signal loss inherent in underperforming legacy solutions.

2.	Avoid vendor lock-in – Purpose-built solutions in which both hardware and software are designed by a single company to work in perfect harmony can be an ideal solution for organizations needing the performance oftentimes lacking in heterogeneous environments.  However, the costs of such solutions are often prohibitive, with expenses incurred from purchasing the hardware and the ongoing software licenses, maintenance contracts and upgrade expenses.  Implementing an Open Storage Platform allows customers to integrate hardware in any configuration, with the software solution of their choice to maximize flexibility while minimizing costs.

3.	Adopt a hardware storage platform that complements the software solution of choice – Whether using open-source software or proprietary software-defined storage solutions, a company’s use case should determine which protocol and “flavor” of storage they implement.  Whether they need DAS, NAS, SAN or other protocols, a mechanically flawless hardware architecture that overcomes software incompatibilities is a necessity to satisfy the ruthless IO requirements of cloud storage, big data analytics, HPC, enterprises and remote sites.

4.	Mitigate the “either or” dilemma of choosing between performance or capacity – By implementing a hardware solution that increases the storage density of both SSD and SAS/SATA storage solutions, companies can gain the benefits of both traditional Tier 1 and Tier 2 storage in a flexible, customizable and fully scalable single storage solution.  Through the combination of storage and compute resources in a single storage solution, organizations can cut data center space requirements, while increasing performance at a lower TCO compared to disparate systems. 

5.	Implement hardware that utilizes top-of-the-line components from audited suppliers – State-of-the-art software solutions need state-of-the-art storage servers built to the highest specifications for speed, performance and reliability.  By using top-of-the-line components from audited suppliers rather than cheaper mass-produced parts to omit cross talk, packet loss and power jitter, companies can assure themselves maximum throughput and reliability not available in standard, off-the-shelf hardware products.

Choosing a storage solution is a business-critical decision for many organizations faced with the capacity and performance needs of today’s data-hungry environments. Storage incumbents continue to offer the same hardware configurations regardless in improvements in media or software available, claiming that their equipment is capable of handling the changes.  The reality is that only by implementing a high-performance storage server system designed to maximize the utility of software solutions can organizations truly meet the demanding storage needs of their particular industry.

Designed without the inherent physical bottlenecks or software incompatibilities of other storage products, SavageStor is an all-in-hardware (server, networking and storage) solution that satisfies the ruthless capacity and IO requirements of cloud storage, big data analytics, HPC, enterprise and ROBO environments.  
Monday, 05 October 2015 00:00

Deadly Places To Place Portable Generators

By Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Portable generators are a godsend when a storm kills your power or your RV needs some juice to keep food cold.
But portable generators, if not operated or placed correctly, can be a curse, too. Carbon monoxide, an odorless and invisible killer found in fuel emissions, can lull you into a permanent sleep. In fact, carbon monoxide exposure is the chief cause of death due to poisoning in the U.S., according to the New York State Health Department; carbon monoxide from portable generators caused 800 U.S. deaths from 1999 through 2012.
Carbon monoxide is insidious and can sneak into your home through windows cracked a smidge to accommodate extension cords, under entry doors, and into HVAC vents and pet doors.
I wish I had known that when a freak storm battered our Virginia home a few years ago knocking out power for days. I purchased my first generator and dutifully placed it 10 feet from the house. What I didn’t do was close our garage door, where extension cords snaked into the house, or side windows, which we opened to exploit a rare breeze.
The generator could – and probably did – send carbon monoxide fumes into the house; we were lucky that levels didn’t build and sicken or kill us.
Take home lesson: Never run a portable generator in risky places, like the ones below.
Indoors: Don’t even think about running a portable generator inside, even if you throw open windows for increased ventilation, which will not protect you against deadly carbon monoxide accumulation. Inside includes garages, crawl spaces, attics, and basements. To be extra safe, install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector/alarm or a plug-in detector with battery backup, which can alert you to rising levels of the deadly gas. Some home security systems include a carbon monoxide detector that will alert you and its monitoring station of rising gas levels.
Outdoors Near Openings: Even parts of the outdoors are unsafe places for portable generators. Unfortunately, just how far your generator should to be from doors and windows is debatable. Some authorities say place the generator 10 to 15 feet from the house. However, wind direction, house and generator particulars all affect how much carbon monoxide could seep into your house. New research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology indicates that at least 25 feet from a house is a safer distance. Wherever you put the generation, make sure 3 or 4 feet of space surrounds it to ensure proper ventilation.
Wet Weather: It’s ironic: Wet weather makes you need a portable generator; but you should never run portable generators in wet places, which could cause electrocution. The solution is placing the generator under an open-sided shelter or covering it with a GenTent canopy, which will keep it dry.
In/Near a Vehicle: You cannot operate a portable generator safely in an enclosed vehicle or even nearby. When tailgating, keep the generator as far away as possible, and direct exhaust away from you and your neighbors.

Portable generators are a great source of emergency power supplywhen and where you need it. But they can also be a health hazard if not properly operated or placed. Just be careful to place generators in open areas and away from your home to prevent carbon monoxide fumes from seeping into your house and causing harm or death.



As cyberrisks evolve, enterprises have begun to focus on the insider threat by adding specialized capabilities for behavioral analytics on top of endpoint and network monitoring. In order for these tools to be most successful, there must be a fundamental understanding of the role an insider plays in a breach. Not every employee-caused breach is malicious, but they certainly are numerous. In fact, according to Verizon’s most recent Data Breach Investigation Report, 90% of breaches have a human component, regardless of intent.

Insider threats are a rampant problem exemplified by several recent headline-making incidents: the indictment of six Chinese nationals on suspicion of stealing intellectual property worth millions from two U.S. technology firms; accusations from financial giant Morgan Stanley toward an employee believed to have stolen client information with the intent to sell it; and claims from wearable-maker Jawbone that its competitor Fitbit regularly courted its privileged employees, enticing several of them to switch companies and bring sensitive details on its products. The uncertainty around all of these cases begs a couple of important questions: how can intent be determined, and how can employee privacy be maintained while ensuring business security?



I frequently help Forrester clients come up with shortlists for incident response services selection. Navigating the vendor landscape can be overwhelming, every vendor that has consultant services has moved or is moving into the space. This has been the case for many years, you are probably familiar with the saying: "when there is blood in the water." I take many incident response services briefings and vendors don't do the best job of differentiating themselves, the messages are so indistinguishable you could just swap logos on all the presentations.

Early next year, after the RSA Conference, I'm going to start a Forrester Wave on Incident Response services. Instead of waiting for that research to publish, I thought I'd share a few suggestions for differentiating IR providers.



Monday, 05 October 2015 00:00

A Cyber Security Confession

I’m going to hold my hands up right now and tell you that as resilience professional in 2015 I still feel like I know very little about cyber security and it really concerns me.

I was recently listening to a very interesting discussion during an interview with Ken Simpson and the wonderfully insightful Lyndon Bird (a guy who I’m constantly asked if he’s my father because of our similar name) on the Beyond the Black Stump Podcast Series (I highly recommend a listen) where Lyndon, who is often described as one of the founding fathers of BC, touches on a point that I’ve been contemplating for a long time. In summary he says…

“Has business continuity gone through its lifecycle of conventional Business Continuity Management Systems into a wider arena called resilience and are our traditional skills ready for that?…Business continuity has a limitation in so far as where it goes to next…Cyber to some extent doesn’t fit our model.”



Creative abstract mobility and digital wireless communication technology business concept: group of tablet computer PC and modern touchscreen smartphones or mobile phones on wooden table

By: Sarah Leary

Online communication and social networks are changing the way that people communicate. Today, people are able to relay messages to those around them and those across the world nearly instantly. This instant communication is playing a critical role in emergency communication.


When the largest earthquake since 1989 hit Napa, California, and the greater San Francisco Bay Area in August 2014, neighbors and local agencies were quick to turn to social media to communicate updates and information about the damage and safety precautions. One of the social networks utilized was the private social network for neighborhoods, Nextdoor, which creates social networks and communication channels specific to individuals’ neighborhoods.

Within minutes of the earthquake, residents used Nextdoor to send urgent alerts out to their communities, warning their neighbors to take cover in doorways, watch out for crumbling chimneys, and keep an eye out for scared and flighty pets. In the days following the quake, neighbors continued to use this new social network to share neighborhood-specific tips on clean-up efforts, offer shelter to neighbors in need, and report sightings of lost pets in the area.

Several Nextdoor agency partners, including both the City of Napa and the City of American Canyon, used social media to inform residents of damages, advice for contacting emergency personnel, school closures, and more. In many areas, social media was used to advise residents to keep an eye out for the sound or smell of leaking gas lines and provided road closure updates.

An incredible number of social media conversations in the greater San Francisco Bay Area that day were related to the earthquake– demonstrating that a connected community is indeed a stronger community. Neighbors connected with neighbors, passing along the latest information on power outages, road closures, and damage reports.

Similarly, during the flash flooding and historic rainfall in Houston, Texas this May, the Houston Office of Emergency Management also turned to social media to send out important safety updates and urgent safety alerts to residents across the city.

“During times of emergency and natural disasters, it is often neighbors who are able to best help each other,” said Rick Flanagan, Emergency Management Coordinator at the Houston Office of Emergency Management. Social media “has played a vital role in, not only helping our residents connected, but giving us an effective way to work directly with residents to make Houston a more resilient, prepared city.”NextDoor_UrgentAlert

The ability to connect with the community online rapidly closed the communication gap that previously existed between residents and emergency services.

For towns that have experienced more than their fair share of natural disasters, like the City of Moore, Oklahoma, which has been plagued by tornadoes, social media platforms offer a way to connect communities and increase resiliency.

“The more connected you are to your neighbors, friends, and family, the more invested you are in your community. We have people that have gone through disaster and destruction and they have chosen to stay,” said Jayme Shelton, marketing specialist for the City of Moore. “I think Moore citizens choose to stay because of the people.”

Shelton noted, “We come together as a community during times of disaster, and it would be great if we kept that going throughout the year. We don’t have to have a disaster hit us to know your neighbors.” Social media platforms play a big part in connecting neighbors, community leaders, and emergency management resources.

In 2010, the Pew Research Center released a report stating that 28 percent of Americans do not know a single neighbor by name, and only 29 percent know one neighbor by name.

Social media has enhanced how public agencies and residents work together to build more resilient communities. Public safety agencies across the country are increasingly combining the power of social networks with the power of connected neighbors to help create safer more resilient communities – whether the emergency is a flooding in Texas, an earthquake in California, or a tornado in Oklahoma.

If neighbors are able to be better connected, they will be much more resilient and prepared for anything that comes their way.

Nextdoor's icon a white house in a green boxSarah Leary is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing and Operations at Nextdoor, a free and private social network for neighborhoods.


Monday, 05 October 2015 00:00

BCM & DR: Mergers & Acquisitions (Part 1)

As many of you may know, I work in Program and Project Management, as well as Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. I find the Program/Project Management aspects help build and manage activities needed in BCM & DR and communicate buy-in and need with executives. If you haven’t had any Project Management training, I suggest you attend a course (Note to self: New Post about Project Management). So, it came as something interesting the other day when during a program meeting, the topic of a merger and acquisition with regards to BCM & DR came up during a meeting – and not at my urging either.

If you work for a large corporate entity, you may have gone through a merger/acquisition – as the either purchaser or the one who was acquired. If you work in the IT or DR/BCM role, then you’ve probably had some hair pulling moments trying to figure out how new – or old – technologies work and how they need to work together in the event of a disaster. But it’s doesn’t have to be that difficult…at least if the newly acquired company will still operate as a ‘separate entity’.



DENTON, Texas – More than $5.6 million in federal funding was recently awarded to the state of Louisiana to fund wind damage and flood protection measures in Jefferson and Terrebonne parishes.

In Jefferson Parish, more than $2.8 million covers mitigation measures taken to protect government facilities such as fire headquarters and the police department from wind and debris damage. The measures include 571 impact-resistant screens and roll-down shutters.

In Terrebonne Parish, more than $2.8 million pays for the elevation of 23 storm-damaged properties to one foot above the 100-year flood level. This significantly reduces the effect of future flooding on those structures.

The funding for these projects originates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs. HMA, specifically the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program, provides funds for hazard mitigation planning and projects that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future damages. For more information on HMA, visit http://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-assistance.

FEMA’s contribution represents a 72 to 75 percent federal cost share. FEMA awards funding for projects directly to the state of Louisiana; the state then disburses the grant to the eligible applicant.

Follow FEMA Region 6 on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion6.

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.

Using business continuity management to protect against data breaches

Organizations that involve their business continuity management teams in data breach planning and response can reduce the likelihood of data breach and lessen the cost and impact of any breach that should occur. These findings were uncovered in the 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: Impact of Business Continuity Management, sponsored by IBM and conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

Ponemon has been charting the cost of data breaches for the last 10 years and in 2014 began examining the correlation between the cost of data breaches and business continuity management’s involvement with cyber security teams in responding to them. This year, the study found that such involvement reduces breach costs by an average of US$14 per compromised record, from US$161 to US$147. Because data breaches can affect thousands of records, overall savings can be significant: BCM involvement can reduce the total cost of each data breach from US$3.8 million to US$3.5 million.

Identifying and containing a data breach quickly is instrumental to limiting its impact and the study found that business continuity involvement can reduce the mean time to identify a data breach from 234 to 178 days, and the mean time to contain a data breach from 83 to 55 days.

Perhaps most important, the study found that BCM involvement with security operations can actually reduce the likelihood of data breach. According to the Ponemon study, the likelihood of a data breach involving 10,000 or more records striking a company that involves BCM in security operations is 21.1%, compared to 27.9% for organizations that have no BCM involvement with security. And if a breach does occur, it will negatively affect the business operations of only 55% of organizations that involve BCM with security, compared to 80% of organizations with no such involvement.

Clearly, BCM involvement with security operations can help limit the instances of data breach and mitigate the damage caused if a breach does occur. Organizations now understand this, and are finding ways to coordinate security and BCM response to breach. According to the Ponemon study, roughly 50% of the companies polled now have BCM involvement in data breach response planning and execution, up from 45% in 2014.

For further information on how business continuity management and security operations can work together to limit the impact of a data breach, read the IBM White Paper - Business continuity management: security can work together to safeguard data.

The technology industry today is transforming its approach to assessing and managing third parties for bribery and corruption risk. As if it wasn’t already a massive challenge for organizations to keep up with new and ever-changing legislation and regulations, FCPA enforcement has elevated to a whole new level of intensity with the DOJ putting heavy resources behind taking action.

But fines are just the tip of the iceberg, and even greater expense may be incurred in pre- and post-enforcement activity. Investigations and their associated legal fees often far exceed the actual fines. In many cases, they can run to five or 10 times more. Post-enforcement costs – updating policies, increased training and dealing with monitors – can also be significant and may last years. In addition, FCPA violations can have a damaging and public effect on a company’s reputation and long-term revenues.

The reality is that the many FCPA risks arise from relationships with third parties — agents, brokers, distributors, suppliers, etc. who may interact with foreign governments or agents. The following points are red flags that require input from your third parties:



(MCT) - A slow-moving storm that has left parts of Charleston underwater dumped a foot of rain on the Columbia area since midnight.

The historic rainfall submerged low-lying traffic intersections around Columbia including Devine Street and Rosewood Drive and areas around Decker Boulevard.

Richland County declared a state of emergency Sunday, which allows the county to seek help from state emergency officials and buy emergency equipment and supplies.



Global assets under management (AuM) are set to swell to US$102 trillion in 2020 and according to a new report from PwC, the tax function, which is about to undergo significant change, will be critical in determining those players in the market who will be best positioned to win greater share of business in the lead up to it.

According to the report, ‘Asset Management 2020 and beyond: Transforming your business for a new global tax world’, as banks and insurers retreat from many business lines, asset managers are becoming more influential across a range of products, creating a new breed of global mega-managers. This is attracting huge focus from tax authorities, who, come 2020, will have specialist teams with the capabilities to carry out much more detailed enquiries than in the past, and the powers to request real-time investor-related information.

Investors, therefore, will expect asset management providers to have robust and efficient tax infrastructures. They will have minimal tolerance of tax uncertainty or tax adjustments and gravitate towards providers that offer products reflecting investor-specific tax profiles. Prospective investors will ask about tax disclosures even taking their individual tax charge into account before they consider investing in a fund. They will seek more certainty with respect to tax issues.

Portfolio taxation will become a key battleground

When launching new products, therefore, asset managers will routinely have to carry out full assessments to make them competitive in all channels. With more transaction taxes, local withholding and self-assessment capital gains regimes, every asset purchase and sale will have to be carefully examined from a tax risk and reporting perspective. This will require asset managers to have real-time access to data on global tax regimes.

PwC expects a number of integrated businesses combining asset management, wealth management and private banking activities with the ability to provide a full tax advisory service to clients, to emerge.

“In the lead up to 2020, investors’ evaluation on how their portfolios perform will focus predominantly on post-tax yields.  Asset managers therefore, will have little choice but to respond by dispersing their strategic tax resources throughout their business operations to give front, middle and back office staff access to real-time expertise,” says PwC’s William Taggart, Global  Tax Leader, Asset Management.

“In tandem in-house asset management tax teams will need to evolve to deal with perpetual audits and to engage with tax authorities on a frequent basis to influence policy and help guide the implementation of tax rules.”

Tax technology will be key to performance and client satisfaction

Technology for tax will enable investment firms to make timely tax-informed investment decisions and provide investors and tax authorities with the transparency and reporting they demand. It will also create the ability to differentiate between the alpha - the return in excess of a benchmark index or "risk-free" investment, created by the portfolio manager and that created (indirectly) by the capability of the tax team, to manage tax leakage and tax risk.

Technology will not only be close to the heart of asset managers – the tax authorities will also have made significant investments by 2020 too hence the age of selected paper-based reporting by asset managers to the tax authorities will be over. Tax authorities will request whatever information they want from asset managers through having direct access to their IT systems rather than asset managers pushing data to them.

Taggart concludes:

“Tax and reputation in the world of asset management, will be inseparable. The increased complexity of the tax function will require that it spends significant periods of time with operational activities in order to be able to act as a trusted advisor internally and to key executives. Asset managers will need to ensure highly-skilled tax people are brought into the heart of the business. The tone needs to be set at the top. The tax function is critical to the entire operation and senior management will need to make sure this is well understood.”

Notes to Editors

To help asset managers plan for the future, PwC’s report ‘Asset Management 2020 and beyond: Transforming your business for a new global tax world’ sets out a vision of what the tax landscape will look like in 2020 and beyond, and examines what it means for asset managers and their clients. The report recognizes that change will come incrementally, but should be started soon with a long term strategic vision of how the tax function should operate, how it is resourced, and its role within the overall business, in mind.  The report then sets out the characteristics of such a vision.

About PwC

PwC helps organisations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 195,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

© 2015 PwC. All rights reserved

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure​​ for further details.

Scientists working off west Africa in the Cape Verde Islands have found evidence that the sudden collapse of a volcano there tens of thousands of years ago generated an ocean tsunami that dwarfed anything ever seen by humans. The researchers say an 800-foot wave engulfed an island more than 30 miles away. The study could revive a simmering controversy over whether sudden giant collapses present a realistic hazard today around volcanic islands, or even along more distant continental coasts. The study appears in the journal Science Advances.

"Our point is that flank collapses can happen extremely fast and catastrophically, and therefore are capable of triggering giant tsunamis," said lead author Ricardo Ramalho, who did the research as a postdoctoral associate at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where he is now an adjunct scientist. "They probably don't happen very often. But we need to take this into account when we think about the hazard potential of these kinds of volcanic features."

The apparent collapse occurred some 73,000 years ago at the Fogo volcano, one of the world's largest and most active island volcanoes. Nowadays, it towers 2,829 meters (9,300 feet) above sea level, and erupts about every 20 years. Santiago Island, where the wave apparently hit, is now home to some 250,000 people.



(MCT) - Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina obliterated the political career of then-Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown with the same savage brutality that it crushed the city of New Orleans.

“Truthfully, it was devastating,” said Brown, a Guymon native who resigned as director of the agency that coordinates federal disaster relief efforts in 2005 after being pilloried in the media for the government's response to Hurricane Katrina's destruction.

“People blame you for the deaths of people. ... It was the low point of my life,” said Brown, who has an undergraduate degree from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma) and a law degree from Oklahoma City University.



FEMA and the state of Texas are highlighting Texas communities that have taken steps to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property


DALLAS – After years of serious flooding, Dallas officials made a decision to reduce flood risk by redesigning an important ecosystem located in the heart of the city. The outcome not only solved a major problem, it resulted in a beautiful outdoor recreation area.

Historically, Dallas relied on dams and levees with grass-carpeted floodways to lower flood risk. But a problem that was unique in origin had become an obstacle that was demanding a non-structural solution.

The significant contributor to the flooding problem was that the Great Trinity Forest was coming back to life. This 6,000-acre forest stretches from the edge of downtown Dallas along the Trinity River to Interstate 20.

Much of it had been lumbered, ranched and farmed. However, over the last century, farmers and ranchers gradually abandoned the croplands and pastures. As a result, the trees and brush grew back into an increasingly dense forest, impeding Trinity River drainage through the city.

Six thousand square miles of watershed exist above downtown Dallas. That area drains through the half-mile-wide Dallas floodway in a levee-lined channel near downtown skyscrapers. When the river exits the levee system it immediately enters the Great Trinity Forest, which acts as an impediment.

Floodwaters would slow and back up the downtown levee system, occasionally claiming lives and damaging or destroying homes and businesses. In the early 1990s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the city of Dallas and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborated on a plan to solve the problem. The agencies arrived at an environmentally-friendly, comprehensive flood risk management solution that avoided traditional concrete lined channels or a sterile grass-carpeted floodplain.

Called “the chain of wetlands,” the proposal was to build a pathway through the Great Trinity Forest to efficiently carry floodwaters through the upper reaches of the forest and an old landfill and golf course to alleviate the backup. The project to construct the manmade chain of interconnected wetland ponds called for the removal of 271 acres of woody plants, including many trees, which would give clear passage for floodwaters.

Then, the bottomland forest would be replaced with richer and far more diverse wildlife habitat. Under National Environmental Policy Act requirements, removal of the woody plants required planting take place elsewhere. Consequently, the tree removal was offset by planting a higher-value habitat in the southern portion of the Great Trinity Forest farther downstream.

Trees, bushes and vines were specifically selected to provide food and cover for wildlife. Directed by the USACE Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility, students from the University of North Texas, Texas A&M University, Collin Community College and North Texas Central College helped plant native Texas plants in the new wetlands ecosystem and in the mitigation area downstream.

Although this comprehensive project is a work in progress, the initiative has already shown impressive results. The project helped transport floodwaters from the record May 2015, rains that were followed weeks later by the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill. The waters flowed effectively through the Dallas system as designed, reducing the risk to life, safety and property damage in the Trinity River watershed.

The Corps of Engineers estimates its integrated flood-risk reduction system, which includes reservoirs in the Upper Trinity River basin, prevented $6.7 billion in damages from the spring storms.

“Without the trees, the water now flows more efficiently through the upper reach of the Great Trinity Forest,” said Jim Frisinger, public affairs specialist, Fort Worth District USACE. “This new wetlands complex, which included planting trees downstream, proves ecosystem restoration paired with flood risk reduction can help solve challenging urban flooding issues. There is no doubt that Dallas would have been in far more trouble without this solution.”

The Upper Chain of Wetlands Fact Sheet  has additional information about this project.

To learn more about how cities and towns across Texas are building stronger, safer communities visit Best Practice Stories | FEMA.gov.


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. 

Seeking public comments on proposed 15-year ecosystem plan


The BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010. Approximately 3.19 million barrels (134 million gallons) of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico, making it by far the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. (Credit: US Coast Guard)

The BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010. Approximately 3.19 million barrels (134 million gallons) of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico, making it by far the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. (Credit: US Coast Guard)

NOAA and the other Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Trustees today released 15-year comprehensive, integrated environmental ecosystem restoration plans for the Gulf of Mexico in response to the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill. Implementing the plan will cost up to $8.8 billion. The explosion killed 11 rig workers and the subsequent spill lasted 87 days and impacted both human and natural resources across the Gulf.

The Draft Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement allocates Natural Resource Damage Assessment  monies that are part of a comprehensive settlement agreement in principle  among BP, the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of federal agencies, and the five affected Gulf States announced on July 2, 2015. The Department of Justice lodged today in U.S. District Court a consent decree as part of the more than $20 billion dollar settlement. 

In the draft plan, the Trustees provide documentation detailing impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to:

  • wildlife, including fish, oysters, plankton, birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals across the Gulf
  • habitat, including marshes, beaches, floating seaweed habitats, water column, submerged aquatic vegetation, and ocean-bottom habitats
  • recreational activities including boating, fishing, and going to the beach

The Trustees determined that “overall, the ecological scope of impacts from the Deepwater Horizon spill was unprecedented, with injuries affecting a wide array of linked resources across the northern Gulf ecosystem.” As a result of the wide scope of impacts identified, the Trustees “have determined that the best method for addressing the injuries is a comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem restoration plan.”

Both the consent decree and the draft plan are available for 60 days of public comment. The Trustees will address public comment in adopting a final plan. For the consent decree, once public comment is taken into account the court will be asked to make it final.

Bottlenose dolphins, who had to swim through heavily oiled waters, suffered serious reproductive and adverse health effects from the oil., some of which are still being determined. (Credit: NOAA)

Bottlenose dolphins, who had to swim through heavily oiled waters, suffered serious reproductive and adverse health effects from the oil., some of which are still being determined. (Credit: NOAA)

Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted at eight public meetings to be held between October 19 and November 18 in each of the impacted states and in Washington, DC. Comments will also be accepted online and by mail sent to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 49567, Atlanta, GA 30345. The public comment period will end on December 4, 2015.

The Trustees are proposing to accept this settlement, which includes, among other components, an amount to address natural resource damages of $8.1 billion for restoration and up to $700 million for addressing unknown impacts or for adaptive management. These amounts include the $1 billion in early restoration funds which BP has already committed. 

“NOAA scientists were on the scene from day one as the Deepwater spill and its impacts unfolded. NOAA and the Trustees have gathered thousands of samples and conducted millions of analyses to understand the impacts of this spill,” said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The scientific assessment concluded that there was grave injury to a wide range of natural resources and loss of the benefits they provide. Restoring the environment and compensating for the lost use of those resources is best achieved by a broad-based ecosystem approach to restore this vitally important part of our nation’s environmental, cultural and economic heritage.”

NOAA led the development of the 1,400 page draft damage assessment and restoration plan, with accompanying environmental impact statement, in coordination with all of the natural resource Trustees. The draft plan is designed to provide a programmatic analysis of the type and magnitude of the natural resources injuries that have been identified through a Natural Resource Damage Assessment conducted as required by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and a programmatic restoration plan to address those injuries. Alternatives approaches to restoration are evaluated in the plan under the Oil Pollution Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Specific projects are not identified in this plan, but will be proposed in future project-specific restoration proposals. The Trustees will ensure that the public is involved in their development through public notice of proposed restoration plans, opportunities for public meetings, and consideration of all comments received.

The draft plan has an array of restoration types that address a broad range of impacts at both regional and local scales. It allocates funds to meet five restoration goals, and 13 restoration types designed to meet these goals.

  • The five overarching goals of the proposed plan are to:
    restore and conserve habitat
  • restore water quality
  • replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources
  • provide and enhance human use recreational activities
  • provide for long term monitoring, adaptive management, and administrative oversight of restoration

The 13 proposed restoration activities are:

  1. Restoration of wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitats
  2. Habitat projects on federally managed lands
  3. Nutrient reduction
  4. Water quality
  5. Fish and water column invertebrates
  6. Sturgeon
  7. Submerged aquatic vegetation
  8. Oysters
  9. Sea turtles
  10. Marine mammals
  11. Birds
  12. Low-light and deep seafloor communities
  13. Provide and enhance recreational opportunities

Together, these efforts will restore wildlife and habitat in the Gulf by addressing the ecosystem injuries that resulted from the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Once the plan is finally approved and the settlement is finalized, NOAA will continue to work with all of the Trustees to plan, approve, and implement restoration projects.  NOAA will bring scientific  expertise and focus on addressing remedies for living marine resources — including fish, sturgeon, marine mammals, and sea turtles — as well as coastal habitats and water quality. NOAA scientists developed numerous scientific papers for the NRDA case including documentation of impacts to bottlenose dolphins, pelagic fish, sea turtles, benthic habitat and deep water corals.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is available for public review and comment through December 4. It is posted at www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov and will be available at public repositories throughout the Gulf and at the meetings listed below.


Time (local times)      


Mon., Oct. 19, 2015

5:00 PM Open House
6:00 PM Public Meeting

Courtyard by Marriott – Houma
142 Library Boulevard
Houma, LA 70360

Tues., Oct. 20, 2015

5:00 PM Open House
6:00 PM Public Meeting

University of Southern Mississippi,
Long Beach
FEC Auditorium
730 East Beach Boulevard
Long Beach, MS 39560

Thurs., Oct. 22, 2015

5:00 PM Open House
6:00 PM Public Meeting

Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans
Convention Center, Garden Ballroom
10001 South Peters St 
New Orleans, LA 70130

Mon., Oct. 26, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

The Battle House Renaissance
Mobile Hotel
26 N Royal St
Mobile, AL 36602

Tues., Oct. 27, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

Pensacola Bay Center
201 E Gregory St
Pensacola, FL 32502

Thurs., Oct. 29, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
333 1st Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Tues., Nov. 10, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

Hilton Galveston Island Resort
Crystal Ballroom
5400 Seawall Boulevard
Galveston, TX 77551

Wed., Nov. 18, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

DoubleTree by Hilton
1515 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

All public meetings will begin with an interactive open house where the public can learn details of the assessment and proposed restoration activities. The open house will be followed by a formal presentation and opportunity for the public to provide comments on the draft plan, as well as on the proposed settlement with BP.

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.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – If you live in Calaveras or Lake counties and were affected by the recent wildfires and are insured, you may still be eligible for FEMA assistance.

By law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance or other benefits. However, FEMA may be able to help survivors with uninsured or underinsured losses or if their insurance settlement is delayed. Applicants should notify FEMA of their situation and provide insurance company documentation.

If a survivor received a settlement from their insurance company and still has unmet disaster-related needs, they may be eligible for a grant.

If a survivor has exhausted the settlement from their insurance for Additional Living Expenses (ALE for loss of use) FEMA may be able to assist with disaster-related temporary housing.

If an insurance settlement is insufficient to cover disaster-related needs, survivors may be eligible for grants to cover emergency home repairs, disaster-related medical, dental and funeral costs and other disaster-related expenses.

If a survivor’s insurance settlement has been delayed longer than 30 days from the time they filed the claim, they should contact FEMA. After providing the necessary documentation – the claim number, date applied, and an estimate of how long it will take to receive a settlement – a survivor may qualify for an advance that would have to be repaid to FEMA once the insurance settlement is received.

Survivors can register for FEMA assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.



A new survey has shown a profound lack of confidence among the UK public surrounding the ability of public and private sector organisations to protect their personal data from hackers.

According to the Bit9 + Carbon Black research, which comprised a poll of over 2,000 consumers, more than four in five Britons (81 percent) fear that unreported data breaches may already have put their information in the hands of hackers.

What’s more, almost three-quarters (73 percent) believe the time it takes for organisations to detect and report a breach is “unacceptable”.



Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

IT Colocation Services and the Neighbours

Can’t afford your own data centre? Want to grow a small business and looking for somewhere else to put your IT servers? Colocation services might be the solution. The idea is that for a monthly fee, providers will give your company space in a purpose-built facility with cooling, redundant power supplies and resilient, high-speed network connectivity. Naturally, service levels and quality may vary, but colocation should be a cost-effective way of relocating your servers for security and square footage. What’s not to like? The neighbours, perhaps…



Boards, regulators and leadership teams are demanding more and more of risk, compliance, audit, IT and security teams. They are asking them to collaboratively focus on identifying, analyzing and managing the portfolio of risks that really matter to the business.

As risk management programs evolve to more formal processes aligned with business objectives, leaders are realizing that by developing a proactive mindset in risk and compliance management, teams can provide added value to help the organization gain agility by identifying new opportunities as well as managing down-side risk. Organizations with this new perspective are more successful in orchestrating change to provide a 360-degree view of both risk and opportunity.



This article provides an overview of GPG Professional Practice 3 (PP3) – Analysis, which is the professional practice that “reviews and assesses an organization in terms of what its objectives are, how it functions, and the constraints of the environment in which it operates”.


PP3 introduces and addresses the business impact analysis (BIA) as a primary means of analysis, leading to appropriate business continuity requirements.  PP3 identifies the following beneficial outcomes from the BIA:



Almost a quarter of businesses reported annual cumulative losses of at least $1.05 million (CAD $1.4 million) due to supply chain disruptions, and 76% of businesses reported at least one instance of supply chain disruption annually, according to a survey conducted by the Business Continuity Institute and Zurich. The top causes of supply chain failure among businesses surveyed were ones that will likely get even more frequent in the coming years: unplanned IT outages, cyberattacks, and adverse weather.

As the supply chain continues to grow ever longer, adding more potentially disruptive risks along the way, businesses are learning some painful lessons about the financial and reputational damages that can result from failures to ensure supply chain resilience.

Check out the infographic below for some Zurich’s top insights on supply chain visibility, including the biggest sources of damage and key steps to mitigate losses:



(MCT) - A man walked into a biology lab at Lamar University and sprinkled food into a fish tank, sustaining Trinidad-plucked guppies while the professor monitoring them was unable to tend to the subjects of his life's research.

It was a minor happening, but a win nonetheless while worry and stress gripped the Beaumont university reeling from $50 million in damage by Hurricane Rita, a storm that a top official said highlighted deficiencies in emergency preparedness and threatened to derail students' lives.

Ten years later, people across the entirety of Lamar's spectrum -- alumni, professors, officials and maintenance workers -- remembered how everyone came together to solve the most-pressing issue: resuming classes as quickly as possible to avoid canceling graduation.

They also point to structural changes they said alleviated some of the problems three years later during Hurricane Ike and should help Lamar University the next time a major storm strikes southeast Texas.