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Volume 29, Issue 4

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The weeks, hours and days following a home or business fire can present a difficult scenario. It is not easy to see the big picture when surveying the damage to precious possessions that are charred and covered with soot. While the most important thing is human safety, it can be disheartening to begin the task of cleaning up once the smoke clears and the hot spots cool down.

How to Begin

The most important part of the restoration process is organization. After surveying the destruction, a three ring binder should be utilized to take notes on all correspondence and conversations with the insurance company and the professional team hired to perform the restoration. Since the aftermath of the fire is highly stressful, it is easy to miscommunicate or forget vital details. The pockets of the binder can provide storage of all documentation and receipts, which can be photocopied if proof is required.

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http://nationaldisasterrecovery.org/after-the-fire-smart-steps-toward-fire-damage-restoration/

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 00:00

Along with Hurricanes Come Hackers

With hurricane season in full swing, supermarkets and electronic stores aren’t the only businesses in danger of looting. When defenses are down and attention is elsewhere during a natural disaster, critical data and intellectual property is just as vulnerable to looting as the shopping center down the street.

Each year, the amount of personal information targeted from data breaches only continues to grow. There was a new record set near the end 2015 when 191 million U.S. voters’ identities were exposed, surpassing the previous record for the largest single data beach. Personally identifiable information, including voters name, date of birth, gender, and addresses were exposed for more than a week before the database was officially shut down. Just imagine the opportunity for hackers during natural disasters when systems are down for a similar time frame.

Take “Superstorm Sandy,” back in 2012. Cyber criminals used confusion in the aftermath of the hurricane as part of a social engineering scheme to steal information. One organization received a call requesting an emergency download of sensitive personnel information needed to assist staff that had been affected by flooding. Lost internet connectivity as a result of the storm meant the help desk could not make a reasonable verification of who was making the request and sent the highly sensitive information to the bogus caller’s “backup site,” which was, as it eventually transpired, a system controlled by hackers. During times of crisis we are more susceptible to cyber criminals willing to prey on our good nature and eagerness to help.

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http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/along-with-hurricanes-come-hackers/

The enterprise is becoming obsessed with scale, and for good reason. With Big Data already well inside the horizon, organizations need to ramp up their data handling and storage capabilities in short order or find themselves on the losing end of the service-based economy.

The cloud, of course, has ample scale, but few organizations are willing to place all of their eggs in the basket of third-party resources, which means private and hybrid infrastructure will need to scale to new heights by the time the decade draws to a close.

The vendor community, always willing to step up in a crisis, has been pushing out a steady stream of scale-out cloud solutions, running the gamut from all-cloud to open source or integrated hardware/software solutions.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/theres-more-than-one-way-to-scale-your-storage.html

ATLANTA, Ga. – September is National Preparedness Month and as tropical storm activity increases this week, FEMA encourages residents in the Southeast to make disaster preparedness a priority.

“National Preparedness Month focuses on the need to be ready for disasters and emergencies,” said FEMA Region IV Regional Administrator Gracia Szczech. “September is also the peak of hurricane season, so preparing now is even more critical for families and businesses in the Southeast.”

Across the nation, disasters are occurring with greater frequency, and are larger and more complex. Severe weather and other emergencies can strike with little or no warning and can have disastrous impacts. Already this year, states across the Southeast have experienced destructive severe storms and flooding. Seven named tropical cyclones have formed this summer, and they serve as a reminder to be ready for hurricanes.

“Make preparedness a part of your everyday life,” said Szczech. “Prepare for the hazards that are most likely to occur where you live and work. Talk to your family and make a family disaster plan. But don’t stop there. Practice your plan. Practicing in advance of a disaster makes you better prepared to handle any emergency you may encounter.”

Download and use the free FEMA app, which provides valuable safety tips to help you prepare for and recover from more than 20 natural and man-made hazards. The FEMA app lets you receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the nation, making it easy to follow severe weather that may be threatening your family and friends.

The app also provides family communication plans, a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, and maps of open shelters and disaster recovery centers. The app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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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.

CHARLESTON, W. Va. — It has been just over two months since President Obama issued a major disaster declaration authorizing federal assistance for survivors of severe storms and flooding that hit southeastern West Virginia on June 22-29, 2016. The declaration, signed by the president on June 25, provides for assistance to individuals in these 12 counties: Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers, and Webster.

The deadline to register for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is Wednesday, Sept. 7, but already the agency has approved nearly $40 million in grants to survivors to help them through their recovery. Disaster assistance for individuals may include grants to help homeowners and renters with temporary housing, essential home repairs, personal property replacement, and disaster-related needs.

However, not all survivors qualify for FEMA assistance; others qualify for some aid, but for less than they need. Where can these survivors turn for help? Whom can they call? Where can they go?

It may surprise you to know that FEMA is not the only government agency that can assist you in a disaster. Many other state and federal agencies offer services that may be of help to you.

The good news is that finding and getting help from a federal or state government agency is easier than you might think.

You can get online access to scores of free programs, grants and services available to West Virginia survivors and their families. (No login or personal information required.) Working both independently and in cooperation with FEMA, nearly two dozen cabinet departments and agencies – in state and federal government – offer assistance.

Visit www.disasterassistance.gov/find-assistance , where you will be asked to answer nine simple questions about your living situation and the kind of help you need. One more click and you will be taken to a personalized list of agencies and programs specific to your needs.

Among the government entities that may be of help to you, if FEMA cannot meet all your needs, are these:

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

One of FEMA’s federal partners in disaster recovery, the SBA, offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters, as well as businesses of all sizes. SBA disaster loans may cover repairs, rebuilding and the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged real estate and personal property.

You must first register with FEMA (before the Sept. 7 deadline) to receive an SBA disaster loan application. If you do not qualify for an SBA loan, as a homeowner or renter, you still may be eligible for assistance from FEMA. You may register with FEMA by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362 (TTY users call 800-462-7585) or online at DisasterAssistance.gov .

If your SBA loan application is approved, you may be eligible to borrow additional funds to cover the cost of improvements that will protect your property against future damage. Examples include elevating utilities, water heaters and furnaces, and installing retaining walls and sump pumps.  Applicants may be eligible for an SBA loan increase, for mitigation purposes, of up to 20 percent of their physical damages.

For more information about SBA loans, call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster.  TTY users may call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. The deadline to file a physical disaster loan application with the SBA is Wednesday, Sept. 7.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Low-income survivors living in rural areas of West Virginia may be eligible for one of these USDA programs:  rural housing loans, rural housing repair loans and grants, or rural rental housing.

Rural housing loans offer a subsidy to help reduce your mortgage payments for a short time to get you through your recovery. Your family income determines the amount of the subsidy. You may use the loan to help buy, build, repair, improve, or relocate your primary home. You may also use funds to buy and prepare sites, including water and sewer.

Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants may be used to repair, improve, or modernize your home, or remove health and safety hazards. The program’s loans are available only to individuals over 62 years of age.

Rural rental housing and cooperative housing assistance is available in nearly every county in West Virginia. You can get listings of participating housing projects in the state by visiting http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/WV .

To qualify for any of these programs, you must live in a rural area and be considered low-income or very low income. For more information about these and other USDA programs, visit www.rd.usda.gov/wv .

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Section 203(h) Mortgage Insurance for Disaster Victims helps survivors get a mortgage to buy a new home or rebuild their damaged one. Section 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance gives homebuyers and owners two options:

  • Buy or refinance a house and its rehabilitation costs with a single mortgage, or

  • Finance the rehabilitation of their existing home.

Money may be used for rehabilitation work ranging from minor repairs to total reconstruction.

To qualify for Section 203(h) Mortgage Insurance for Disaster Victims, you must:

  • Own a one-family home damaged or destroyed during the June 22-29 storms, and
  • Live in one of the counties qualified in the presidential declaration of June 25.

Section 203(k)-insured loans can finance:

  • Residential section rehabilitation of a property that also has non-residential uses.

  • Conversion of any size property to a one- to four-unit structure.

To qualify for Section 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance, you must:

  • Be able to make monthly mortgage payments, and

  • Be rehabilitating a home at least one year old.

To learn more, visit http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src= . To apply, view http://www.hud.gov/ll/code/getllst.cfm? to find an approved lender near you.

   

U.S. Department of the Treasury

Do not let a disaster come between you and your money.

If you get federal benefit payments by paper check, you can switch to direct deposit so your money is directly deposited into a checking or savings account on payment day each month. Direct deposit removes the risk of a delayed payment due to a disaster event. You may choose from two electronic payment options:

  • Direct Deposit - Your monthly payments are deposited into your checking or savings account. Learn more about direct deposit online at www.godirect.gov.

  • Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® - A prepaid debit card you can use to make retail purchases, pay bills, and get cash back. Your government payments are loaded onto you card each month. It is a no- or low-cost alternative to paper checks. For more information on Direct Express, visit https://fiscal.treasury.gov/GoDirect .

Disaster deductions, faster refunds and additional time to file your tax return are among special tax law provisions that may be available to you to help you recover financially from the June 22-29 storms and flooding. Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes.

Both individuals and businesses in the 12 designated counties can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return. To find out if you qualify for this program and to learn how to use it, visit https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs and type “i4684” in the search box.

Redeem savings bonds early – before the end of the 12-month holding period. If you live in one of the 12 designated counties in West Virginia, you may be able to do this. You may also be able to get faster replacement of any paper bonds lost or destroyed in a disaster. For more about this program, visit www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/redeem_disaster.htm .

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA)

The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline is a national hotline that offers year-round disaster crisis counseling. If you feel distressed because of the June storms and flooding, you can use this

free service. It is toll-free, multilingual, crisis support, and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Helpline staff provides counseling and support, and can help you learn how to cope with common stress reactions. They can also provide information and referrals to local resources for follow-up care.

If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with the disaster, you are not alone; you can call the helpline at 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

To learn more, visit the SAMHSA website.

WorkForce West Virginia

Did the storms and flooding put you out of work? Are you looking for a job? Are you eligible for unemployment compensation? You may want to visit http://workforcewv.org .

WorkForce West Virginia is a state agency that oversees the state unemployment compensation
program and is a one-stop center for work force resources, including job opportunities and training. All its services are free and available at 13 comprehensive career centers throughout the state. (Click here for locations and hours.) In addition, WorkForce West Virginia has the state’s largest online database of job openings.

RISE West Virginia

Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin created RISE West Virginia in response to economic needs in the small business community resulting from the June storms and floods. RISE West Virginia is a state-operated, public-private mini-grant program providing assistance to small businesses that were operational before the flooding and are working to reopen while struggling with existing debt and limited capital. For more information about RISE West Virginia, visit http://wvflood.com .

More resources available to West Virginians who need help:

  • West Virginians seeking information about disaster-related services and unmet needs, as well as volunteering and donating, should visit the state’s Help for West Virginia Disaster website http://wvflood.com. West Virginians who wish to help with flood response and recovery may sign up with West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) at www.volunteerwv.org or wvvoad.org.

  • Contact West Virginia 211 ( for help finding food, childcare, crisis counseling, and many other resources available in your community. If you or someone you know is struggling with post-disaster stress, you are not alone. Help is as near as your phone. Call the Help for West Virginia Helpline at 844-435-7498. Also, you can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

  • Survivors with questions regarding FEMA registration or who have not yet registered for assistance should call the FEMA Helpline (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362. (TTY users should call 800-462-7585) or visit DisasterAssistance.gov . The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

  • West Virginia homeowners and renters who have registered for disaster assistance with FEMA are encouraged by recovery officials to “stay in touch.” If survivors change their address or phone numbers they should update that information with FEMA. Missing or erroneous information could result in delays getting a home inspection or in receiving assistance.

Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by visiting fema.gov/disaster/4273, twitter.com/femaregion3, twitter.com/FEMA, facebook.com/FEMA, fema.gov/blog and the flood information pages at http://wvflood.com/Pages/default.aspx .

ATLANTA, Ga. – What’s the most important app you have on your phone—the one you can’t live without? Facebook? YouTube? Snapchat? Google Maps? All of them? What makes any of these apps so important to us is they provide content, connection, and capability. Some apps are fun, some are useful, and some help us get things done.

What if there were an app to make you more aware of severe weather, help you prepare for an emergency and ultimately make you, your friends and family more disaster ready? Would you download it? According to a recent survey by Pew Research, 40 percent of Americans have used their smartphone to look up government services or information.

The FEMA app is free to download on the App Store and Google Play. It’s packed with features that make it useful and informative too, and allows you to:

  • Get weather alerts;
  • Get safety tips;
  • Prepare an emergency kit checklist; and
  • Get safety reminders.

Every minute counts when severe weather threatens. Nearly half a million Americans already have the FEMA app. So take a few minutes today, and download the FEMA App for free on the App Store and Google Play.

On any given day, you may just find it to be the most important app on your phone.

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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.

Anyone looking for a view of the historic flooding in Baton Rouge, La., probably has seen the map created by Warren Kron and his team. Kron is GIS Manager in the IT department of the City of Baton Rouge and the Parish of East Baton Rouge. He's charged with working with geographic information systems (GIS) within the greater framework of IT. The goal? To help government services such as law enforcement and emergency personnel function effectively and to provide more comprehensive visual information services to residents.

For example, Kron's GIS work as part of the government of Baton Rouge includes creating applications to help people identify their council district based on the street address of their house.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/software/productivity-collaboration-apps/baton-rouge-flood-map-using-it-know-how-in-emergency-situations/d/d-id/1326749

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 00:00

Risk Assessment For Business Continuity

In creating business continuity plans, every organization completes a series of risk assessment exercises. Without this general risk assessment, it would be impossible to prioritize what BCM plans are needed. Each time a specific threat arises, business continuity teams need a risk assessment process to determine if the event merits activation of BCM teams and plans.

Monitoring Early Warning Signs

The key to effective event-specific risk assessment is to have some early warning detection in place. To best manage unplanned incidents, it helps to have visibility into the potential disruptions before they occur. Obviously, certain types of disruptive events are more easily monitored than others. Weather, for example, can be monitored closely via the National Weather Service, Accuweather and other sources. Most major storms are predicted in advance, enabling close monitoring by BCM teams. Similarly, floods and fire warnings are often weather-related and threat levels can be monitored closely.

Company reputation is another threat that is easily monitored via social media, traditional media and call center feedback. Many organizations keep their finger on the pulse of these channels to determine when and how to respond to situations as they arise.

...

http://www.missionmode.com/risk-assessment-for-business-continuity/

Healthcare organizations – ranging from physician practice groups to large, multi-state hospital systems – face a variety of risks, including fraud and abuse, as well as HIPAA privacy issues. Starting from a baseline risk assessment, healthcare organizations are often juggling among competing risks and responding to enforcement threats.

The design and implementation of an effective healthcare compliance program is extremely difficult and requires dedication, resources, and a real leadership commitment. In many cases, healthcare organizations, big and small, have become complacent and fail to recognize the need for continuous assessment and improvements.

Healthcare organizations that ignore the importance of encouraging reporting of complaints and responding to those employee concerns are only asking for trouble. There are plenty of whistleblower lawyers encouraging potential clients to bring False Claims Act suits in order to earn significant payouts under the qui tam compensation program.

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http://blog.volkovlaw.com/2016/08/healthcare-compliance-juggling-risk-mitigation-strategies/

Tuesday, 30 August 2016 00:00

Can Data Centers Really Revive Rural Towns?

That’s the question a recent article in the New York Times asks. The conclusion is “negative.” While local officials often tout these projects as a way to boost rural economies that have been suffering as a result of the loss of manufacturing jobs, nobody can really claim that a data center, no matter how large, can offer anywhere close to the amount of jobs a textile or a furniture factory does.

There are other economic benefits, such as taxes on the enormous electricity and equipment purchases companies make for these facilities. But those benefits are often diminished by tax breaks local and state governments offer companies to lure their big data center construction projects in.

Yes, tax breaks expire over time. Also, it’s not uncommon for one major data center build to put a rural community on the map and attract more construction by other companies. Prineville, Oregon, is a prime example, where a data center built by Facebook was followed by a data center built by Apple.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/29/can-data-centers-really-revive-rural-towns/

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana recovery continues with the energy and work of businesses, voluntary, faith-based, and community-based organizations along with government agencies and committed citizens.

Unfortunately, disasters also bring out criminals looking to prey on survivors who appear to be rich targets for their fraudulent services.

Being cautious is essential to preventing rip-offs.  Don’t offer personal financial information over the phone. Know who you are dealing with. Never be shy about asking for identification. Government workers will never ask for a fee or payment. They always wear an official government photo ID.

Homeowners and registered FEMA applicants should watch out for housing inspectors claiming to represent FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration. Inspectors already have each applicant’s nine-digit registration number and a FEMA inspector will not ask for this number. FEMA inspectors never require banking or other personal information. The job of FEMA housing inspectors is to verify damage. Inspectors do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. They do not determine eligibility for assistance.

Watch out for middlemen who promise you will receive disaster grants or money, especially if they ask for an upfront payment.

Many survivors have been living in damaged homes or in hotels and motels or other emergency accommodation while their primary residences are being repaired and rebuilt.

Keep these consumer safety tips in mind when working with contractors:

  • Verify the license or registration number with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors at www.lacontractor.org or call 800-256-1392.

  • Get three written estimates for repair work. Then check credentials and contact your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce to learn about any complaints against the contractor or business.

  • Before work begins, make sure you get a written contract detailing all the work to be performed, the costs, a projected completion date, and how to negotiate changes and settle disputes.

  • Louisiana, Attorney General Jeff Landryencourages you to use the following tips:

    • Take a picture of your contractor, his/her vehicle, and its license plate.
    • Take a picture of the contractor’s business card and his/her driver’s license.
    • Photograph or scan his/her contracting license and insurance.
    • Photograph or scan the contract made with him/her.
    • Photograph or scan all checks and money orders made as payments to the contractor.
    • Preserve all these photographs by emailing them to yourself and a trusted companion and/or by saving them in a cloud-based application.
  • If you suspect anyone – an inspector, disaster survivor, or someone posing as one of these – of fraudulent activities, call the FEMA toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or your local law enforcement officials.

  • To report a scam or sign up for consumer alerts, call Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-351-4889 or visit www.AGJeffLandry.com.

Charity scams take many forms, including emails containing links or attachments that direct users to phishing or malware-infected websites. Donation requests from fraudulent charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters.

US-CERT encourages users to take the following measures to protect themselves:

Review the Federal Trade Commission warning at FTC alert and its information on Charity Scams.

  • Do not follow unsolicited web links or attachments in email messages.
  • Keep antivirus and other computer software up-to-date.
  • Check this Better Business Bureau (BBB) list for helping Louisiana flood victims before making any donations to this cause.
  • Verify the legitimacy of any email solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number. You can find trusted contact information for many charities on the BBB National Charity Report Index.

There is no fee to apply for FEMA disaster assistance or to receive it. The only ways to register for FEMA help are to:

  • Call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585)

  • Visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or speak to a FEMA employee at a Discovery Recovery Center.

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    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 us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion6 and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.

    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.

    The U.S. Small Business Administration (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 Web site at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800)877-8339.

    Download the FEMA mobile app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. The app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the Nation. The latest feature of the app allows you to send notifications to your device to remind you to take important steps to prepare your home and family for disasters. Go to Ready.gov for more details.

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Dr. Stephen Redd, Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

Soumbedioune fish market in Dakar, Senegal

There’s a big difference between seeing something in a picture and experiencing it in 360-degree reality, saturated with sounds and smells. In the summer of 1987, I traveled to Senegal for three weeks. This was the first time I had really traveled and seen firsthand what the rest of the world was like.

In Dakar, fishermen brought their catches to beach on the edge of town. An open sewer drained directly into the ocean almost in the middle of where the fishermen landed their boats. In addition to the smells, that sewer pipe seemed guaranteed to make people sick. It also seemed that something simple, like moving the drain, could prevent illness. It might have been a naïve idea, but it struck me that there were many opportunities to make small changes that would improve people’s health.

Many of us came to public health because, at some point in our life, we had a similar realization. As a clinician, treating one patient at a time undoubtedly helps people and is rewarding, but working to protect and benefit the community as a whole can provide larger-scale benefits.

Preparedness at the forefront

This is why I’m passionate about being prepared. When an emergency hits, having trained people who know what to do, and having the resources in place to allow them to do their jobs, saves lives. And – as we have seen all too clearly – a lack of preparedness can turn an outbreak into an epidemic, or a natural disaster into a crucible for infectious disease.

Planning ahead and being ready are the most critical things we can do to keep people safe. The world recognizes this, which is why countries have signed international agreements like the International Health Regulations and the Global Health Security Agenda that commit them to being prepared for a public health emergency. We have a long way to go, but we have a clear roadmap for what needs to be done.

And, here in the U.S., we are doing our part to fulfill our obligation to the global community. Recently, we invited a team of international experts to evaluate the ability of the U.S. to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats. Looking at 19 different areas, they gave us feedback on where we are succeeding, and where we can do better. We will use the results of their report as we continue to build on our expertise.

Knowledge benefits everyone

The benefits of improving our expertise are twofold: not only do we protect ourselves, but we gain knowledge that we can share across the globe as other countries build their capabilities to respond to health threats. We are doing this every day.

CDC’s efforts in developing our Emergency Operations Center provide a great example. What we’ve learned is that the most important investment a country can make is having highly trained people at the ready. When people know what to do, a conference room and a few computers is all it takes to coordinate a response that can mitigate disaster and save lives.

CDC is able to share this kind of information with partners in countries around the world who may not have the resources to do everything at once. From working with Kenya on how to regulate the labs that handle the world’s deadliest germs and poisons, to working with Cameroon and Ethiopia on how to manage an emergency stockpile of medicines, we are helping others learn from our experience, and also learning from them as we go.

We are all connected 

Our connection to other countries is more important than ever. As we help build capacity across the globe, we also protect our health here at home. We have to think globally as we build the knowledge we need to prepare for, and respond to, emergencies.

We must keep in mind that, somewhere in the world, there is a draining sewer that might be ground zero for an outbreak. And, somewhere, there is a conference room we could fill with trained responders to help stop it.

(TNS) - Buffeted by hurricanes and tornadoes, inundated by floodwaters, Texas topped the list of states most affected by natural disasters in 2015.

A just-published study by InsuranceQuotes said the Lone Star State had 951 incidents of high winds, 783 incidents of hail and 228 reports of tornadoes last year. That put it first among the top five states experiencing natural disasters last year.

“Texas is getting a lot of weather: It’s big, there’s a lot of land and its size makes it a bigger target,” said Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst for InsuranceQuotes in a phone interview.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Texas-led-states-in-natural-disasters-last-year.html

Mehdi Paryavi says people from every walk of data center life he’s met over the years call him for advice, ranging from operations staff to senior-level execs. “I have chiller technicians call me that know me from 15 years ago,” he says, adding that he’s as likely to get a call from a facilities manager as from someone configuring core switches and routers.

Paryavi says he started his career as a management and information systems engineer, became an IT manager, then learned about things like power and cooling, and eventually became a businessman. He declines to name the companies he worked for in those roles however. “Honestly, I don’t want to get into that stuff,” he says.

He also declines to name customers of his data center consultancy, TechXact, which he co-founded in 2002. “Almost anybody you think about has been a customer of ours at some point,” he says. “I don’t want to name any customers. We have a boutique data center services company, and we don’t disclose references.” More often than not, companies like to keep their data center projects secret, and it’s common for contractors they hire for those projects to be bound by non-disclosure agreements.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/29/one-data-center-standard-to-rule-them-all/

According to new guidance from the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), released on July 11, 2016, there have been, on average, 4,000 ransomware attacks per day since early 2016. This represents a nearly 300 percent increase over the same period in 2015. Simply put, ransomware has become the go-to threat vector because it eliminates the middle-man and monetizes instantly. It is easier to get paid directly by the victim, in untraceable bitcoin, than to exfiltrate data and attempt to sell it on the dark web.

These statistics will not surprise most health care organizations.  What is surprising and perhaps concerning, is that the OCR’s guidance also claims ransomware attacks constitute not only a “security incident,” but also a “breach.” “[W]hen electronic protected health information (ePHI) is encrypted as a result of a ransomware attack, a breach has occurred because the ePHI encrypted by the ransomware was acquired (i.e., unauthorized individuals have taken possession or control of the information), and thus is a “disclosure” not permitted under the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/ocrs-new-guidance-rule-re-examines-ransomware/

When it comes to cybersecurity, there’s simply no place to hide any more. Up until a year or two ago, managed service providers could advise their clients to copy data to the cloud and store it there. As long as organizations had invested resources to defend their cloud infrastructures, the IT department could always count on retrieving clean backup copies just in case intruders had corrupted company files stored in on-premises equipment. That’s no longer necessarily true, as security executives have discovered after ransomware attacks wreaked havoc with their cloud installations.

In ransomware attacks, hackers encrypt files with malware and can hold the data hostage unless the victim pays a ransom, often in the form of Bitcoins. Ransomware has proved to be quite a successful way to extort money. In the United Kingdom, for instance, more than a third of ransomware victims pay up, according to a survey by the University of Kent.   

More than 120 types, or "families," of ransomware now exist, and the Department of Justice estimates that one popular ransomware strain, the CryptoLocker virus, has compromised more than 260,000 computers worldwide since its inception in 2013.

...

http://mspmentor.net/cloud-services/no-automatic-cloud-antidotes-ransomware

Monday, 29 August 2016 00:00

Creating a Valuable Training 'Program'

We all know the scene but choose to ignore it – a senior employee or manager is taking an online training course and is talking on the phone, writing emails and basically ignoring the training session. Why? Because it has no importance to the employee’s job. It is irrelevant but something he or she has to complete. A check the box task if ever there was one.

The picture becomes even more disturbing when in the aftermath of a bribery or price-fixing allegation outside counsel usually hears that the perpetrators attended the training, paid little attention to the training but continued to flout the law to carry out some illegal scheme. The training message clearly did not get communicated nor was it viewed as very important.

How does a company change this dynamic? How does a company use training as not only an important opportunity to inform employees about what the law requires or prohibits, but relies on training to reinforce a company’s commitment to ethics and compliance?

...

http://blog.volkovlaw.com/2016/08/creating-valuable-training-program/

Even with insurance coverage, disasters can shake the foundations of even the best-managed businesses. Regardless of the cause of the catastrophe, a company’s very survival often depends on responding quickly and efficiently, so a carefully constructed disaster recovery plan is one asset that every business needs. Before any calamity strikes, you should know what tasks need to be performed to get your company running again and who is responsible for accomplishing them. While there is no one-size-fits-all recovery plan, every business’ strategy should include some basics. Laying the groundwork by preparing to handle insurance claims, scouting viable options for temporary operations and considering the implications of various financial alternatives before trouble strikes can make the process of recovery much easier.

Insurance Considerations
Depending upon the details of the policy that you have selected for your business, commercial property insurance may cover damage or loss of the insured property, time element losses, loss mitigation costs, and loss adjustment expenses. It may also cover costs for public relations, research and development, and other necessities. When a disaster occurs, it is crucial to take the steps that preserve and maximize your insurance coverage. To ensure that you receive all the benefits that your business is entitled to, familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your policy before any problems arise. Work with your insurance company to create a checklist of your responsibilities after a loss to aid you in meeting deadlines and assembling documentation.

...

http://nationaldisasterrecovery.org/insurance-protect-your-business-with-a-disaster-recovery-plan/

An earthquake measuring 6.2 rocked central Italy in the early hours of Aug. 24, leaving more than 200 dead and hundreds missing in the rubble of the disasters.

Given the devastation earthquakes cause, seismologists and public officials have long wanted to know when earthquakes will happen, and after the powerful 1964 Alaska earthquake, U.S. scientists proposed a worldwide research program on earthquake prediction.

In covering the initiative, Science magazine emphasized that “carrying out the proposal (i) would offer a fair chance to develop a method of giving warnings ‘hours to days’ in advance of major earthquakes and (ii) would, through engineering research, provide means of minimizing loss of life and property damage, even if a warning system were not achieved.”

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Predicting-Earhtquakes.html

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana renters who experienced losses due to the severe storms and flooding beginning on Aug. 11, 2016, may be eligible for disaster recovery assistance from FEMA and the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA).

Renters may be eligible for grants from FEMA to help with such disaster-related expenses as:

  • Renting a new place to live when the renter’s previous home was lost due to the disaster.
  • Disaster related medical and dental expenses.
  • Replacement or repair of necessary personal property lost or damaged in the disaster, such as appliances and furniture, textbooks and computers used by students, and work equipment or tools used by the self-employed.
  • Repair or replacement of vehicles damaged by the disaster.
  • Disaster-related funeral and burial expenses.

FEMA grants are not loans and do not have to be repaid. They are not taxable income and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid, welfare assistance, SNAP benefits and several other programs.

Additionally, renters may qualify for a low-interest loan of up to $40,000 from the SBA to repair or replace personal property.

Renters who sustained losses can apply for assistance online with any computer, smart phone or tablet at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585.  Those who use 711 or video relay service can call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Download the FEMA mobile app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. The app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the Nation. The latest feature of the app allows you to send notifications to your device to remind you to take important steps to prepare your home and family for disasters. Go to Ready.gov for more details.

For more information about disaster loans, call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visit sba.gov/disaster.  TTY users may call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

For more information on Louisiana disaster recovery, visit fema.gov/disaster/4277, twitter.com/FEMA, facebook.com/FEMA and fema.gov/blog.

###

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 us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion6 and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.

Monday, 29 August 2016 00:00

The State Of Enterprise Big Data: Podcast

Hadoop may be 10 years old, but that doesn't necessarily mean that most enterprises have embraced and made the most of big data technologies yet. InformationWeek recently caught up with Bill Schmarzo, CTO for big data services at EMC to chat about the state of big data in the enterprise.

This podcast marks the second edition of InformationWeek's Expert Voice. In this new podcast series, InformationWeek editors talk with executives, consultants, and experts in areas that matter to IT professionals who want to build their skills and advance their careers.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/the-state-of-enterprise-big-data-podcast/d/d-id/1326737

(TNS) - New Orleans-based disaster-recovery nonprofit SBP has released an 11-page guide to help flood victims navigate FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s low-interest loan programs.

The guide includes tips, checklists, a flow chart of what applications to file when, the basics of each program as well as the important notes that lurk in the fine print. It also covers the appeals procedures and other resources disaster victims have at their disposal.

Zack Rosenburg, SBP’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said that while it’s understandable for disaster victims to get discouraged by the complexity of the process or by reports of low payouts in FEMA's individual assistance grant program, it’s crucial they understand a counterintuitive point about federal disaster aid: rejection is baked into process.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/New-Orleans-nonprofit-SBP-releases-how-to-guide-for-navigating-FEMA-other-federal-disaster-aid-programs.html

According to the results of a recent Tripwire survey of more than 220 information security professionals, just 30 percent of respondents said their organizations are prepared for the security risks associated with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and just 34 percent believe their organizations accurately track the number of IoT devices on their networks.

Still, 47 percent of respondents expect the number of IoT devices on their networks to increase by at least 30 percent in 2017.

"The Internet of Things presents a clear weak spot for an increasing number of information security organizations," Tripwire director of IT security and risk strategy Tim Erlin said in a statement. "As an industry, we need to address the security basics with the growing number of IoT devices in corporate networks."

...

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/just-30-percent-of-organizations-feel-prepared-for-iot-security-risks.html

The rapid digitization of business is driving a lot of changes in the way wireless and WAN technologies are utilized. The latest Cisco Cloud Index report estimates that the amount of data center traffic in 2014 was 3.5 ZB, which would will triple to reach 10.4 ZB by 2019, while the amount of global traffic crossing the Internet and IP WAN networks is projected to reach 2.0 ZB by 2019.

Traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for two-thirds of total IP traffic by 2020, and wired devices will account for 34 percent of it. Wired devices accounted for more than half of all IP traffic last year.

Follow that last sentence? Wireless devices are about to eclipse wired devices as the major carrier of IP traffic. This means it’s time to take a hard look at your WAN, how you deploy critical resources, and what you can do to optimize it all.

Your Wide Area Network has become the distributed carrier for critical data points supporting a truly distributed user. Let’s look at some ways you can support a new kind of digital user and how you can better control all of that wireless traffic coming into your data center.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/26/data-center-connectivity-why-your-wan-is-more-critical-than-ever/

(TNS) - Surveying the devastation of centuries-old villages pummeled by a major earthquake in central Italy this week, it’s easy for Californians to think that the more modern buildings here would better survive the shaking.

But seismic experts and structural engineers say there remain many buildings across California that could not withstand the type of magnitude 6.2 temblor that on Wednesday hit Amatrice and other rural villages in the Apennine Mountains that form Italy’s spine.

The structural flaw in those ancient stone homes is not so different from unreinforced brick buildings built in California before 1933, they say. That year, the Long Beach earthquake flattened many structures and left 120 people dead.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Destruction-from-Italy-quake-is-a-grave-warning-for-Californias-old-brick-buildings.html

Data is the lifeblood of today’s economy. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of a customer’s preferences to offer them more personalised deals, or real-time updates on a business’ performance to inform their future direction, there’s almost no part of the modern business that doesn’t rely on digital information to some extent.

But having data is only the start. If firms want to make sure they’re using this successfully, they need to be able to get it to the people who need it most. For many solutions, this means that applications will need to effectively talk to one another, share data seamlessly and deliver instant results.

At the heart of this is application programming interfaces (APIs). You may have heard a lot of talk about these in recent years, and with good reason, as they’re set to become the backbone of many key online services in the coming years. Therefore, if you’re not familiar yet with what these tools can do, you need to learn quickly.

...

http://blog.krollontrack.co.uk/the-world-of-data/5-cool-things-people-have-done-with-data-and-an-api/

Friday, 26 August 2016 00:00

The Case Against Biometrics

Two related pieces of commentary on biometrics may put the security and development community at odds.

The first is that mobile developers like biometrics; an Evans Data study released last month and reported upon this week at eWeek says that developers’ preferred approach to security is biometrics. It was favored in the Evans survey by 36 percent of developer respondents. On-device hardware encryption followed at 25 percent, near field communications (NFC) at 18 percent, and on-device software encryption at 14 percent.

The problem with biometrics is simply that it isn’t seen as the most effective option; the second piece of commentary is in a piece at BetaNews pointing to significant security issues and concerns with the biometrics technique.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-and-telecom/the-case-against-biometrics.html

Microsoft and the FBI in 2013 joined forces to break up a nasty botnet called Citadel that stole more than $500 million from bank accounts in multiple countries. Police forces, tech companies and banking organizations in 80 countries participated in the effort to take down the botnet.

With cybercriminals becoming more sophisticated in how they run their operations, such joint efforts between law enforcement agencies and security researchers will become increasingly necessary, said Jornt van der Wiel, a security researcher with the Global Research and Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky has teamed up with Intel Security, Europol and the Dutch National Police to launch an online portal called No More Ransom that both aims to inform the public about ransomware and to help some ransomware victims recover their data without paying ransoms.

...

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/hackers/tech-vendors-law-enforcement-team-to-take-on-ransomware.html

Spear phishing has become great sport for cyber criminals. It offers a simple but highly effective cyber attack vector that takes advantage of the most vulnerable of prey – humans!

Unlike regular phishing emails, which are sent out in great numbers to victims who have no relationship to each other, spear phishing emails are highly targeted and sent to only a few select victims at a specific organization; for example, select employees working in a particular department at a particular company.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation warned of a dramatic rise of a form of spear phishing known as a “business email compromise” or “CEO imposter” scam. Hackers send emails posing as a company executive – often, a CEO – and ask users to provide sensitive information or initiate wire transfers. The number of victims of CEO phishing scams has risen by 270% since January 2015, totaling $2.3 billion in losses to 17,642 organizations.

...

http://mspmentor.net/msp-mentor/five-ways-prevent-your-organization-being-speared-ceo-phishers

There was a time when having a digital strategy was a sideline, much like installing new office carpeting or designing employee appreciation events. It was a low-priority afterthought — a good, but non-essential business action item.

In today’s digital atmosphere, the integration of technologies and automation is more prevalent. Financial services businesses embed digital technologies into existing channels for a more personalized, timely customer experience. Insurance and banking customers can carry on everyday finance maintenance with less time required and no travel necessary. While the ability to make consumers happy can translate into larger market shares and a competitive edge for financial institutions, the journey does not come without challenges. At the top of that list of challenges is security. Financial services applications are especially hot targets for hacking because highly sensitive personal data is involved.

In a recent Forrester research study* of 134 IT executives in the financial services and insurance industry, more than 50 percent indicated they had had a breach in the past 12 months, with 42% of them having had three or more breaches in the past 12 months. The top three external methods of attack were user interaction, exploitation of vulnerable software, and use of stolen credentials.

Especially when financial services institutions extend their digital business to the Internet of Things, the need for security becomes even more real due to the increased number of potential data breach points. More than 51 percent indicate that IoT is an initiative that concerns them. The top two initiatives noted were external hackers and privacy violations*.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/08/25/the-security-implications-of-digital-finance-business/

(TNS) - Lots of flood insurance prices are being tossed around since high water overwhelmed tens of thousands of properties and their owners across south Louisiana.

The cost varies depending on location, but in low- to moderate-risk areas about $450 a year buys coverage for $250,000 worth of damage on a person’s primary residence and $100,000 worth of contents, said Terri Forsman, flood-risk coordinator for Louisiana Companies in Baton Rouge. The policies also carry two deductibles, $1,250 for the structure and $1,250 for contents.

"Everybody's in a flood zone. If it rains where you live, you're in a flood zone,” Forsman said. “The difference is if you're in a preferred-risk zone, which everybody is calling a no-flood zone ... it just means you're less likely to flood. If you're in a high-risk zone, you're more likely to flood.”

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Costly-misconception-Insurance-rates-can-vary-greatly-but-everybodys-in-a-flood-zone.html

The way people research and make purchase decisions has changed drastically during the past few years.

Just look at what’s happening in the retail industry: online shopping is decimating iconic brands that have thrived for decades. It’s all about an empowered buyer getting exactly what they want, when they want on their terms.

And it’s not just the disruption of traditional retailing. iTunes transformed the music industry. Netflix has effectively made the video rental store industry irrelevant. SiriusXM Radio is redefining broadcast media. The Internet of Things (IOT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are almost certain to accelerate this kind of disruption.

Closer to the data center industry, in particular on the cloud side, there’s enormous pressure on many smaller providers coming from Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/25/your-data-center-brand-is-no-longer-what-you-say-it-is/

In 2005, cybercrime cost the average company $24,000. In 2015, the average cost jumped to $1.5 million. Certainly some of that is due to inflation – everything costs more today – but the skyrocketing costs are also in line with the overall increase in cybercrime. According to BTB Security, in 2005, there were only four data breaches that affected more than 30,000 records, compared to 26 breaches in 2015. That still seems like a low number, but how about this: In total records compromised, the numbers went from 44 million to 190 million. In a TechRepublic interview, Ron Schlecht, a managing partner at BTB Security, added one of the concerns he envisions for the future:

Hackers will continue to not just target large organizations, but target smaller and smaller organizations, and failure of organizations and countries to build up security talent will be a huge problem.

The more organizations that are targeted, the more those numbers posted above will rise – and we can expect them to rise by a lot. According to a new Cybersecurity Ventures report, global cybercrime is expected to hit $6 trillion by 2021, doubling in costs since 2015.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/the-increase-and-impact-of-cybercrimes-costs.html

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia is taking significant steps toward recovery following the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred June 22-29, 2016.

Recovery takes the Whole Community. Affected communities and disaster survivors are repairing and rebuilding better, stronger and safer with the help of neighbors, friends, family members, voluntary groups, faith- and community-based organizations and local, county, state and federal governments.

The following highlights recovery progress made in the 60 days since the June 25 presidential disaster declaration and how disaster survivors and affected communities are overcoming challenges:

Initially three counties were designated as eligible for federal assistance. Since then, the presidential disaster declaration has been amended six times, making survivors in 12 counties eligible to apply for help under FEMA’s Individual Assistance (IA) program.

The deadline for survivors to register for federal aid under the IA program is Wednesday,     Sept. 7, 2016.

In addition, local, county and state government infrastructure and certain private nonprofit organizations in 18 counties became eligible to receive funding through FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program to repair and rebuild certain eligible disaster-damaged facilities. Local, county and state government expenses related to debris removal, saving lives, providing security, and managing the immediate response also became eligible for reimbursement.

The PA program benefits everyone in the affected communities because essential services like roads, utilities, schools and hospitals are often restored stronger than they were before the disaster. FEMA relieves burdens of local and county governments and the state by paying 75 percent of the eligible costs.

So far, more than 8,732 West Virginia households have contacted FEMA for IA help.

To date, survivors have received more than $111 million in federal disaster assistance for a variety of recovery purposes.

  • More than $32.7 million in grants has been approved for a place to stay for homeowners and renters whose residences were uninhabitable and to make essential repairs for homes to be safe, secure and functional.

  • More than $6.2 million in grants has gone to homeowners and renters to repair and replace certain household items and for disaster-related burial, medical and dental expenses.

  • Homeowners, renters and businesses have received more than $44.2 million in low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to repair, rebuild and replace damaged property and contents. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other sources.

  • NFIP policyholders have received more than $20 million in claims to repair and rebuild flood-damaged property.

  • The total Public Assistance Grants obligated as of Aug. 23 is more than $7.8 million

The SBA may call you after you register with FEMA. If they do, advise SBA on how you want to apply and submit your disaster low-interest loan application.  As a business, homeowner or renter, you can submit your SBA disaster loan application in one of three ways: 

FEMA and SBA encourage homeowners, renters and business owners to submit your SBA loan application to help fund recovery and to ensure the federal disaster recovery process continues.

If your SBA loan application is approved, you may be eligible to borrow additional funds to cover the cost of improvements that will protect your property against future damage. Examples

include elevating utilities, water heaters and furnaces, and installing retaining walls and sump pumps. Applicants may be eligible for an SBA loan increase, for mitigation purposes, of up to 20 percent of their physical damage.

If SBA determines you aren’t eligible for a home loan, they will refer you back to FEMA. This could make you eligible for FEMA aid.

Disaster recovery officials are still on the ground in West Virginia and interacting with survivors in a variety of ways to help them recover:

  • FEMA specialists have attended more than 30 community organization events in West Virginia to discuss and answer questions about federal disaster assistance.

  • More than 9,100 survivors have visited 15 Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs). The first centers opened three days after the presidential disaster declaration.

  • More than 7,100 FEMA housing inspections have been completed.

  • FEMA disaster survivor assistance specialists canvassed the affected communities to encourage survivors to register for help, provide recovery information and listen to their concerns.

  • Free consultations on building hazard-resistant homes have been given to more than 2,800 survivors at DRCs and more than 5,300 at West Virginia home improvement stores.

The West Virginia Chief Recovery Officer, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer of the National Guard; the West Virginia State Disaster Recovery Officer, Keith Burdette, who is Secretary of Commerce for the State of West Virginia; and Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator Kevin Snyder are coordinating a team of state and federal disaster recovery specialists to restore, redevelop, revitalize and better prepare affected communities.

Recovery has significantly progressed because of voluntary, faith and community-based groups that are donating their time and skills to help survivors muck out, repair and rebuild their homes. These groups are always the first and last presence to help disaster survivors recover.

Whole community partners continue to collaborate to find solutions to enable West Virginia’s recovery and will be here as long as it takes.

Registering with FEMA is the first step in qualifying for assistance. Sept. 7 is the last day for survivors to file an application. FEMA encourages all survivors who sustained disaster-related damage or losses to apply by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362 (TTY users should call 800-462-7585) or online at DisasterAssistance.gov. The toll-free lines are open         7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by calling the FEMA Helpline 800-621-3362 or visiting: www.DisasterAssistance.gov; www.WVflood.com; fema.gov/disaster/4273; twitter.com/femaregion3; and fema.gov/blog.

It’s a fact; business continuity management programs (BCM) that consistently perform well-planned exercises get better results when dealing with real crisis situations. After all, you never know when a disruption will take place, so ensuring you run business continuity management drills can greatly improve your team’s ability to adequately respond when they need to.

BCM Drills: Practice Makes Perfect

Running business continuity management drills is a key role for any business continuity program leader. Drafting BCM plans and making sure they work effectively in a crisis are two wildly different things. Plan testing is critical from a number of standpoints:

...

http://www.missionmode.com/business-continuity-management-drills/

As business continuity and emergency response professionals look to the future, many see a need for increased investment in emergency planning. In fact, 24 percent of organizations expect to increase spending on their business continuity programs in 2016, according to the Business Continuity Institute. For those looking to step up their emergency planning efforts, is an integrated contingency plan worthwhile?

An integrated contingency plan, also known as ICP or One Plan, is a single, unified emergency response plan that is meant to help organizations comply with multiple federal planning requirements put in place by various regulatory agencies. While many organizations are still using contingency plans as a separate strategy, this is starting to be seen as an outgoing trend. Contemporary best practices suggest incorporating contingency plans into your larger emergency preparedness and business continuity initiatives.    

The idea behind an integrated plan came from the U.S. National Response Team (NRT), which in 1996 published guidelines for consolidating multiple emergency response plans into one core document. Although an integrated plan is not required, the tactic can certainly be helpful for certain organizations, particularly those in the public sector.

...

https://www.rockdovesolutions.com/blog/4-reasons-you-need-an-integrated-contingency-plan

According to the results of a recent survey of 704 IT operations and security managers, 66 percent of respondents believe privileged users access sensitive or confidential data simply out of curiosity, and 74 percent think privileged users believe they're empowered to access all the information they can view.

Still, the survey, commissioned by Forcepoint and conducted by the Ponemon Institute, also found that just 43 percent of commercial organizations and 51 percent of federal organizations currently have the capability to monitor privileged user activity, and a majority of respondents said just 10 percent or less of their budget is dedicated to addressing the issue.

Only 18 percent of respondents are very confident that they have enterprise-wide visibility for privileged user access, and 46 percent believe malicious insiders would use social engineering to obtain privileged user access rights.

...

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/66-percent-of-it-pros-say-privileged-users-access-sensitive-data-simply-out-of-curiosity.html

If yours is like many IT organizations, with growing concerns about native email security risks, including unencrypted email messages, contacts, and attachments, you’ve probably had to ask employees to stop using native email. Instead, they should be using an email client that is included in your Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Suite. Unfortunately, when employees begin using the new EMM mobile email client they often give you the “deer in headlights” look, due to the challenging user experience.

You may be wondering whether, despite the security risks, you should allow users to revert back to native email. Certainly, with newer versions of iOS and Android for Work, the security risks are lower, but risks still exist.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/08/25/worx-mail-setting-the-bar-higher-for-enterprise-class-mobile-email/

A lot about data center connectivity, WAN, and how businesses utilize the cloud will change between now and 2020. Cisco’s recent Visual Network Index report outlined some of the biggest changes that are coming your way:

  • Global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next five years.
  • Smartphone traffic will exceed PC traffic by 2020.
  • Traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for two-thirds of total IP traffic by 2020.
  • The number of devices connected to IP networks will be more than three times the global population by 2020.
  • Globally, virtual reality traffic will increase 61-fold between 2015 and 2020, potentially serving up hundreds of petabytes of traffic per month.

Square in the middle sits the business and the users they’re trying to support. This is why, over the next four years, organizations are going to use data center connectivity and WAN technologies to create real-world competitive advantages. With this in mind, let’s examine how companies can use WAN technologies to their benefit and where they can create even more optimization.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/25/data-center-connectivity-how-to-use-wan-for-competitive-advantage/

Thursday, 25 August 2016 00:00

Your Strategy for Shadow IT Sourcing

Wait a moment, does it actually make sense to talk about shadow IT and sourcing strategy in the same breath?

Isn’t shadow IT all about undisciplined end-users bypassing the IT department to sign up with the first shark, sorry, cloud vendor who comes along – end-users who wouldn’t know an IT sourcing strategy if it bit them in the hard drive?

People in enterprises are going to use shadow IT whatever happens, even if it’s a personal app on their personal mobile computing device, into which they then start to enter corporate data.

So, if you can’t beat them, maybe you should join them, as follows.

...

http://www.opscentre.com/strategy-shadow-sourcing/

The Business Continuity Institute’s Australasian Awards aim to recognise business continuity and resilience excellence. They will be presented on 8th September at a ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

The BCI has now published the shortlist of individuals and organizations that have been shortlisted for the awards. This is as follows:

Continuity and Resilience Consultant
Anita Gover CBCI, Technology Manager, RiskLogic (Pty) Ltd
Oliver Pettit AMBCI, Director, Crisis Management, Deloitte
Paul Trebilcock FBCI, Director, JBT Global
Roger King MBCI, IT SCM Consultant, TasNetworks
Simon Jordan AMBCI, Consultant and Director, Resilient IT Ltd

Continuity and Resilience Professional (Private Sector)
Dale Cochrane AMBCI, Senior Consultant Business Continuity, NAB
Wasim Malik MBCI, DR/BCP Specialist, Bravura Solutions

Continuity and Resilience Newcomer
Madeleine Gin CBCI, Business Continuity Consultant, RiskLogic
Tammie Horton AMBCI, Business Continuity Manager, Shared Services Centre
Tarah Unn CBCI, Analyst – Business Resilience & Crisis Management, Deloitte Risk Advisory (Pty) Ltd

Continuity and Resilience Professional (Public Sector)
Ognjen Stricevic, Senior Risk Analyst, Family & Community Services NSW
Roger King MBCI, IT SCM Consultant, TasNetworks

Continuity and Resilience Team
Dekin University, Critical Incident Management Team & Business Recovery Team
NBN Business Continuity & Resilience Team, NBN
Telstra Business Continuity Program Office, Telstra Corporation Ltd
Westpac NZ Business Continuity and Security Risk Team, Westpac New Zealand Ltd

Continuity and Resilience Provider (Service/Product)
Avalias, Avalanche TTX
Interactive (Pty) Ltd
RiskLogic, BC-3 Business Continuity Software

Continuity and Resilience Innovation
Riskcloud.NET PocketBCP
Westpac Group Protective Services, Education & Awareness Team, The Westpac Group
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) The Business Continuity Team

Industry Personality
Andrew Darby MBCI, Managing Director, Darby BCM (Pty) Ltd
Brendan Jones MBCI, Director, Business Continuity Management, Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
David Tickner FBCI, Independent Business Continuity Consultant & Strategist

More details.

Thursday, 25 August 2016 00:00

What You Need to Know About Mold

Mold has been around for millions of years. It is everywhere. It floats in the air and lurks on surfaces, flourishing whenever is comes in contact with moisture. Even indoor spaces are not safe. Mold can infiltrate homes through doorways, windows and vents left open to allow in fresh air. It can be carried in on clothing, shoes or pets. It can also gain access were particularly vulnerable to heating and cooling systems.

Mold and Your Home
Once inside, mold quickly makes itself at home. This unpleasant invader can grow on a variety of common surfaces, including paper, paints, ceiling tiles, carpet, fabric, upholstery, drywall, insulation, and wood. Even dust can provide a welcome harbor. Areas that have a lot of dampness or moisture like bathrooms and kitchens are at greater risk for mold issues. Locations where a leak has occurred, and any areas that have flooded are especially vulnerable to infestation.

...

http://nationaldisasterrecovery.org/what-you-need-to-know-about-mold/

AUSTIN, Texas—Three major disaster declarations affecting dozens of Texas counties—some on multiple occasions—will result in nearly one quarter-billion dollars in federal assistance to repair or replace damaged infrastructure.

FEMA said today that combined federal aid for severe weather disasters in May-June 2015; October 2015, and January 2016 will help fund recovery efforts for 3,087 individual projects among 569 applicants for Public Assistance.

Public Assistance is an element of FEMA’s disaster response that benefits everyone—neighborhoods, cities and states, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations—by reimbursing eligible work on damaged publicly-owned infrastructure.

PA dollars:

  • clean up the community and repair bridges

  • put water systems and utilities back in order

  • repair hospitals and emergency services

  • rebuild libraries and replace damaged books

  • rebuild schools and universities and

  • restore damaged public parks so families can enjoy them again.

FEMA provides a minimum of 75 percent of the cost to repair or replace disaster-damaged infrastructure.

PA projects are developed and approved by local, state, and federal officials and work is continuing on many. Payments are usually made on a reimbursement basis.

Public Assistance funding applicants can include:

  • state agencies

  • local and county governments

  • private nonprofit organizations that own or operate facilities that provide essential government-type services

Recovery work also continues on disasters resulting from storms this year in March, April and May-June.

Summary of Public Assistance to Three Texas Disasters

Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds and Flooding

Counties

Applicants

Projects

Federal Share*

May-June 2015

110

381

2,265

$175.9 million

October, 2015

57

85

486

$40.1 million

January, 2016

51

103

336

$32.5 million

TOTALS

178

569

3,087

$248.5 million

*Current estimate

# # #

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.

(TNS) - Emergency response teams from across the state were in Sedalia on Tuesday to help fake victims of a fake earthquake as part of a National Mass Care Series Exercise.

From Monday through Wednesday, teams are testing plans for evacuating and sheltering potential victims of a New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake. The zone, located in New Madrid, Missouri, in the southern part of the state, has not produced a major earthquake since 1812, but the exercises are meant to help responders be prepared in case another ever occurs.

“What I understand is that they have been able to look back, digging in the ground, and they think it goes off in a big event once every 250 years,” said Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency Director Dave Clippert. “Now will that happen like that, no one really knows, the thing about earthquakes is there is no warning. A big quake happens, then a large number of aftershocks after that. It is more we needed to put a plan together and understand what we are facing with this … This is the ground floor, it will go on for a number of years adding on to (the plan).”

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/-Sedalia-practices-for-earthquake-response.html

(TNS) - With particularly heavy rains that have fallen in recent nights just north and south of Las Cruces, and in Sierra, Rio Arriba and Eddy counties, Gov. Susana Martinez ordered the New Mexico Emergency Operations Center to be activated Tuesday.

The center's activation will be used to assist with a coordinated response to any flooding that could occur across the state, according to a news release from Martinez's office. Doña Ana, Sierra, Rio Arriba and Eddy counties, and other areas of the state, have been hit with heavy rain, which is expected to continue throughout the week.

“Our emergency response professionals will continue to communicate and work with local partners in areas that have been affected by monsoon flooding to help ensure that all available resources can be coordinated to keep New Mexicans safe,” Martinez said.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Preparations-underway-for-possible-statewide-flooding.html

Thursday, 25 August 2016 00:00

Planning for Extreme Floods

Companies in the United States should begin preparing now for climate change, which is predicted to cause extreme weather conditions, according to FM Global’s report, The Impact of Climate Change on Extreme Precipitation and Flooding. As the climate warms, areas that are dry will become drier and moist areas will see higher precipitation. The characteristics of precipitation will also change. “We feel cli­mate change not so much through subtle changes in the mean, but through changes in the extremes,” MIT Prof. Kerry Emanuel said in the report.

While the overall amount of precipitation might remain the same, it will become less frequent but more intense. A specific region of the country that has historically seen 10 inches of rain each May might see the same volume that month, for example, but those 10 inches may occur in a much shorter period of time, increasing the risk of flooding, according to the study.

By the end of the century, as temperatures rise, it is possible for precipitation to change by 8%, which could exacerbate wildfires in some areas and flooding in others. The danger is that, because these extreme events are infrequent, they lack urgency, so planning can easily be put off. Risk managers are advised to check their facility’s resilience in terms of the building’s ability to withstand flooding, focusing on 500-year flood levels rather than 100-year.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/planning-for-extreme-floods/

The size and makeup of an organization’s Business Continuity Management (BCM) team depends on how you plan to roll out the project. It is best to start out small in the beginning and then progress in size. The initial team will lay the groundwork for the project by setting up oversight, coordinating training, building disaster plans, and helping to sharpen the focus of what each plan should contain. This core team should consist of the following:

...

http://www.mha-it.com/2016/08/forming-the-business-continuity-management-team/

Louisiana has been utterly wrecked once again, and all anybody can talk about is how nobody is talking about it.

In the aftermath of flooding in and around Baton Rouge that began two weeks ago, 13 people have lost their lives. The deluge has destroyed or seriously damaged more than 60,000 homes, and so far more than 100,000 residents have registered for federal assistance. That last statistic certainly factored into one recent estimate that put flood-related losses at upwards of $20 billion. Nearly one-third of Louisiana has been declared a disaster area. (President Obama visited the state on Tuesday.)

It’s being called the worst natural disaster the country has seen since Hurricane Sandy. And yet—as many have already noted—one of the most remarkable aspects of the calamity is how scant the coverage has been relative to other “major” stories dominating the news cycle over the past two weeks. While flood victims need much, much more than publicity at the moment, their indignation isn’t misplaced. If you were forced to wallow through waist-deep water, all the while trying to avoid snakes and alligators and floating coffins, you, too, might wonder why reports of Donald Trump’s campaign staff shakeups or Ryan Lochte’s drunken exploits were knocking your story off the front page or the evening news.

...

https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/why-arent-we-more-freaked-out-about-louisiana

What good is protecting your data center from every possible incursion, from any known or unknown source, on account of any known or foreseeable vulnerability, if the greatest threat it faces today is a spark of electricity?

An arc flash study could become at least as valuable to your data center as a vulnerability assessment or a penetration test, says Joe Furmanski, the veteran facilities director for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“An arc flash study looks at all the electrical components, from the source at the power company, the whole way through to the plugs that you plug into your IT equipment,” Furmanski told us in an interview.  “They look at how all the circuit breakers are set up — it’s called a coordination study — and they look at the power going through.  They punch in all these formulas to figure out, will these breakers move fast enough if there’s an electrical short, or will they move too slowly and let the capability of an arc flash be created?”

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/24/ark-flash-the-real-data-center-security-hazard-is-just-a-spark/

Best Practices for Tracking Exam & Audit Findings

An emergency room (ER) is a place where chaos is organized. Patients are triaged by need. Staff uses electronic records to keep medical histories. Interactions, tests and prescriptions are carefully tracked.

They’re designed this way because the stakes are high—no patient can be overlooked.

But what happens when a bank’s compliance program has an emergency? Too often, it doesn’t get the attention it needs, and the consequences can be dire.

...

https://ncontracts.com/articles/compliance-emergency-room-tracking-exam-audit-findings/

2016 Individual and Community Preparedness Award Winners Announced
 

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today the winners of the 2016 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of individuals, programs, and organizations throughout the country working to prepare their communities for emergencies.

“We are more prepared for disasters when everyone in the community works together,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “FEMA is proud to honor individuals and organizations who are building communities that are more prepared for emergencies through creativity, innovation and collaboration.”

This year’s award recipients developed innovative practices and programs that contributed to making communities safer, better prepared, and more resilient.

The 11 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Award recipients will be recognized on September 13, 2016 in Washington, D.C. During the recognition ceremony, recipients will share their experiences, success stories, and lessons learned with fellow emergency management leaders.

This year’s winners of FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Awards are:
 

  • Outstanding Inclusive Initiatives in Emergency Management:Notify NYC (New York)
  • America’s PrepareAthon! in Action: Serenity Hospice (Texas)
  • Outstanding Citizen Corps Council Award: Delaware State Citizen Corps Council
  • Community Preparedness Champions Award: Jamie D. Aten, Ph.D.
  • Awareness to Action Award: The HALTER Project (California) and Jenny Novak of California State University, Northridge Emergency Management
  • Technological Innovation Award: SUNRNR of Virginia, Inc.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness Award: Mart High School Teen CERT (Texas)
  • Sixth Annual Recipient of the John D. Solomon Whole Community Preparedness Award: San Francisco Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (California)
  • Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team Initiatives Award: CaliforniaVolunteers
  • Outstanding Citizen Corps Partner Program Award: Burleigh County Snowmobile Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) (North Dakota)

Visit www.ready.gov/citizen-corps/citizen-corps-awards for more information on this year’s award recipients and to see the honorable mentions.

###

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.

It will take a full year for areas of Louisiana to come back from the past week's devastating floods, an LSU economist said Monday (Aug. 22) in a forecast that drew quick skepticism from one of the figureheads of the Hurricane Katrina recovery.

James Richardson made his projections after more than 60,000 homes were damaged in what some are calling the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Nearly 3 feet of rain fell in two days, leading to 20 Louisiana parishes being declared federal disaster areas. That does not including subsequent rainfall that exacerbated high water conditions in areas that historically have not flooded.

So far, 120,000 Louisiana residents have applied for federal disaster recovery. Retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré, who coordinated military response in New Orleans after Katrina, anticipates they will be waiting some time for assistance judging by FEMA's track record. Full recovery could take eight to 10 years he said, pointing to New Orleans where storm scars remain nearly 11 years later.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Louisiana-flooding-Economist-predicts-1-year-recovery-Honore-says-8-10-years-more-realistic.html

With the outsourcing of microchip design and fabrication worldwide, cyber criminals along the supply chain have many opportunities to install malicious circuitry in chips. These ‘Trojan horses’ look harmless but can allow attackers to launch future cyber attacks. To address the issue, Siddharth Garg, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and fellow researchers are developing a unique solution: a chip with both an embedded module that proves that its calculations are correct and an external module that validates the first module's proofs.

While software viruses are easy to spot and fix with downloadable patches, deliberately inserted hardware defects are invisible and act surreptitiously. For example, a secretly inserted ‘back door’ function could allow attackers to alter or take over a device or system at a specific time. Garg's configuration, an example of an approach called ‘verifiable computing’ (VC), keeps tabs on a chip's performance and can spot telltale signs of Trojans.

The ability to verify has become vital in an electronics age without trust: gone are the days when a company could design, prototype, and manufacture its own chips. Manufacturing costs are now so high that designs are sent to offshore foundries, where security cannot always be assured.

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/index.php/news/technology/1356-cybersecurity-researchers-design-a-chip-that-checks-for-sabotage

Today we’re pleased to publish an interview between Maurice Gilbert, Corporate Compliance Insights’ Founder and CEO, and Manuel Martinez-Herrera, VP of Legal and Compliance at Namely.  Namely is the leading HR platform for midsize companies and an all-inclusive solution for HR administration and compliance.  Manuel offers insight into some of the greatest threats facing corporations today and explains how the Namely platform helps to mitigate those risks. 

Maurice Gilbert: How did you get started on a career in law and compliance?

Manuel Martinez-Herrera: It all happened in a very serendipitous way. I’m originally from Madrid, Spain. When I was 17, I spent a summer in Nantes, France, learning French. While there, I met an older friend who was going to law school. I should point out at this point that law in Spain, as in many other countries, is an undergraduate degree. At the time, I was undecided on what to study in college. This friend convinced me that law school was the way to go. As my parents can attest, even before entering kindergarten, I already had a special talent at arguing any case, especially my own. Thus, law school seem like a good fit.

Now, almost 20 years after, I can proudly say that that decision allowed me to embark on an international journey, thanks to which I have studied or worked as a lawyer on three different continents and in six cities (in chronological order: Madrid, Dijon, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Boston and New York).

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/maintaining-hr-compliance-in-a-shifting-regulatory-environment/

It’s no secret that bigger data centers benefit from economies of scale. It costs less to provide X amount of data center capacity in a massive warehouse-scale facility than it does in a small data center.

The number of factors influencing total data center cost is almost countless, but that economies of scale are real is generally accepted as a fact. However, little data has been available publicly on exactly how much of a difference those economies of scale can make. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute, funded by Emerson Network Power, aims to quantify this difference.

And, as it turns out, the difference is huge. Even if you compare a data center that is 500 to 5,000 square feet in size to one that is between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet, it costs as much as 64 percent less on average to provide 1kW of IT capacity in the larger facility, the researchers found.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/23/what-is-the-data-center-cost-of-1kw-of-it-capacity/

CHARLESTON, W.Va.If you registered for help from FEMA and got a letter (often called a “determination letter”), you may want to appeal the decision made regarding your application for federal assistance. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Every disaster survivor has a right to appeal. Read your letter carefully all the way through to understand FEMA’s reason for its decision. This will allow you to know exactly why to appeal. Appeals must be made in writing and sent by mail or fax to FEMA within 60 days of receiving the letter.

  • It’s important to submit insurance information. If your coverage is not enough to make essential home repairs, provide a place to stay, or replace certain contents, FEMA can review your application. But you must provide documents from your insurance company that detail your settlement. Remember also that FEMA cannot duplicate homeowners’ or renters’ insurance benefits.

    • Contact your insurance company if you need settlement documents.

  • Prove occupancy. If you’re a homeowner or renter, FEMA can reconsider you for grants if you provide documents that prove the damaged structure was your main residence. You can prove this was your main home with utility bills, a driver’s license or a copy of your lease. You cannot receive federal disaster assistance for secondary or vacation homes.

  • Prove ownership. If you can prove you own the home, FEMA can reconsider you for grants to make a structure safe, sanitary and functional. Documents you can submit to prove ownership may include mortgage or insurance documents, tax receipts or a deed. If you don’t have a deed handy, speak to your local or county officials about obtaining a copy.

  • There are many other reasons you may disagree with a decision. If you registered you should have received a booklet called “Help after a Disaster” that details how FEMA determines who’s eligible for assistance. You can also access the booklet online at www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster. The booklet lists what information you need to include when appealing.

Mail or fax appeal documents within 60 days of receiving your FEMA determination letter to the address below:

  • FEMA National Processing Service Center
        P.O. Box 10055
        Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055
  • Fax documents to 800-827-8112.

If you have any questions about your determination letter or any other disaster recovery issues you may always call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711 or video relay services) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT seven days a week until further notice. Or you may:

West Virginia disaster survivors are reminded that the deadline to register for FEMA assistance is Wednesday, Sept 7.

Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by calling the FEMA Helpline 800-621-3362 or visiting: www.DisasterAssistance.gov; the flood pages at wvflood.com; fema.gov/disaster/4273; twitter.com/femaregion3; and fema.gov/blog.

(TNS) - Obama administration emergency managers are proposing to toughen the requirements for federally funded construction projects to try to make flood-prone communities more resilient to the increased risks of flooding expected to be caused by global warming.

The Federal Emergency Management on Monday proposed the rules, which would require federally funded construction to take place on higher ground, farther from floodplain areas.

“Flooding is the most common and costly type of natural disaster in the United States, and floods are expected to be more frequent and more severe over the next century due in part to the projected effects of climate change,” the agency said in its proposal, published in the Federal Register. “This proposed rule would ensure that FEMA Federally Funded Projects are designed to be resilient to both current and future flood risks.”

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/FEMA-seeks-to-move-construction-away-from-flood-zones.html

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 00:00

7 Database Security Best Practices

Databases - by definition - contain data, and data such as credit card information is valuable to criminals. That means databases are an attractive target to hackers, and it's why database security is vitally important.

Here are seven useful database security best practices that can help keep your databases safe from attackers.

Ensure Physical Database Security

In the traditional sense this means keeping your database server in a secure, locked environment with access controls in place to keep unauthorized people out. But it also means keeping the database on a separate physical machine, removed from the machines running application or web servers.

...

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/6-database-security-best-practices.html

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 00:00

FEMA: Begin Flood Cleanup as Soon as Possible

It’s not too early to begin cleaning up from Louisiana’s severe storms and floods that began Aug. 11.

Flood-damaged items like carpeting, bedding, furniture and other household items can be serious health hazards as well as eyesores. Here are some tips to dispose of these items safely and jumpstart your recovery:

File an Insurance Claim then Register with FEMA

  • Contact your insurance company and file a claim. Get your company’s contact information online at the Louisiana Department of Insurance: www.ldi.la.gov/onlineservices/ActiveCompanySearch.                                     

  • If you have flood insurance questions call 800-621-3362 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and select option 2. Call center staff are available to assist with information regarding your policy, offer technical flood guidance to aid in recovery and answer other flood insurance questions. You can be transferred to your insurance carrier for additional assistance if you have further questions.

  • Register for federal disaster assistance. If you had severe storm or flood damage in Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington and West Feliciana parishes you may apply for FEMA help online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362. Lines are open every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Survivors who use TTY may call 800-462-7585.

Start Cleaning Up Now

  • Mold may be a serious health risk so don’t wait for a visit from FEMA or your insurance company before you start cleaning up. FEMA inspectors and insurance claims adjusters will still be able to verify flood damage.

  • Because mold may be a serious health risk, it’s important to remove flood-damaged valuables from your home. Take lots of pictures before your insurance adjuster visits.

  • Be sure to consult with your local officials for instructions before setting out debris. If you don’t have local emergency management contact information, it can be found online at gohsep.la.gov/about/parishpa.

  • Place debris curbside. Debris cannot be collected on private property.

  • Do not prop up debris against trees and utility poles or place in the vicinity of fire hydrants and utility boxes. That makes it more difficult for cleanup crews to collect.

  • Debris should be separated into the following six categories:       

    • Household garbage such as discarded food, packaging and papers.

    • Construction debris such as building materials, carpeting, furniture and mattresses.

    • Vegetation debris such as tree branches and leaves.

    • Household hazardous waste such as batteries, paints and cleaning supplies.

    • White goods such as refrigerators, washers/dryers, water heaters and air conditioners.

    • Electronics such as televisions, stereo equipment and computers.

  • Go online to this link to see a graphic that explains how to sort debris:

www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/images/110554

  • Other tips to speed up debris collection include:

    • Try to combine debris piles with your neighbors.

    • Secure refrigerator and freezer doors with duct tape.

    • Limit curbside household garbage to two 32-gallon containers or eight trash bags.

    • Get more and tips on flood clean up, repairing, and rebuilding at www.fema.gov/Louisiana-disaster-mitigation.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 00:00

Zika and Business Interruption Insurance

As the Zika virus continues its rapid spread and amid travel warnings, including one advising pregnant women not to travel to popular tourist destination Miami Beach as well as advice to postpone non-essential travel to Florida’s Miami-Dade County, questions on business interruption insurance are bound to arise.

So this is perhaps a good time to review what a business interruption insurance policy covers.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reminds us that business interruption coverage, sometimes known as business income insurance, covers financial losses resulting from a business’s inability to operate because of property damage due to an insured event.

...

http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=4553

BATON ROUGE, La. –You may find yourself frequently moving if you’re a survivor of Louisiana’s recent severe storms and floods.

If you’ve had any changes to your contact information it’s important to let FEMA know so the disaster assistance process stays on track.

FEMA may need to contact you to schedule an inspection or to get additional information to help process your application. That’s why it’s important to let them know as soon as possible if you’ve moved or have a new phone number.

You may update contact information two ways:

  • Online at DisasterAssistance.gov

  • By calling 800-621-3362

    • People who use TTY may call 800-462-7585

    • Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362.

If you had storm or flood damage in Louisiana you may also use those resources to apply for FEMA help if you haven’t done so already. Survivors in Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington and West Feliciana parishes may be eligible.

It’s important to note that FEMA disaster assistance checks cannot be forwarded. If you cannot access your home address, you can request the postal service to hold your mail. You can also have the funds sent via direct deposit to your financial institution.

Residents are urged to contact their insurance company to file their flood insurance claims. For flood insurance policyholders who may have questions, FEMA has streamlined its process to better service claims and answer questions. Policyholders may call 800-621-3362 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and select Option 2. Call center staff are available to assist policyholders with information regarding their policy, offer technical flood guidance to aid in recovery, and respond to general as well as complicated questions about the NFIP. Policyholders with questions specifically about an insurance claim can be transferred to their insurance carrier for additional assistance.

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also may be available to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. The loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

###

We urge everyone to continue to use caution in areas where floodwaters remain. Monitor DOTD’s www.511la.org website for updated road closure information. Look for advisories from your local authorities and emergency managers. You can find the latest information on the state’s response at www.emergency.la.gov. GOHSEP also provides information on Facebook and Twitter. You can receive emergency alerts on most smartphones and tablets by downloading the new Alert FM App. It is free for basic service. You can also download the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide and find other information at www.getagameplan.org.

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 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 us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion6 and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (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 SBA.gov/disaster Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800) 877-8339.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 00:00

Creating Business Continuity Plans

While globally, the level of maturity of business continuity programs continues to rise, there are still many organizations that do not feel fully prepared. And, there is confusion when it comes to creating business continuity plans. On average, respondents to MissionMode’s Readiness survey rate themselves at 58/100 in overall preparedness, and a recent disaster preparedness benchmark survey found that 75% of companies worldwide are failing in terms of IT disaster readiness. According to our Readiness Survey, 60% of organizations have underdeveloped plans as follows:

  • 6.9% currently have no business continuity plans in place
  • 21.6% have preliminary plans created but not trained
  • 31.9% have plans created and trained for some event types
  • 39.7% have plans created and trained for all event types

...

http://www.missionmode.com/creating-business-continuity-plans/

If you’ve archived backups of data for contractual or regulatory reasons, do you also need to back that data up?

Or if you make backups of your current data, should those backups be archived?

When it comes to data retention, it’s essential to be clear about requirements. Take data archiving for example.

Company projects executed with contractual guarantees to the customer may mean that project data must be retained for years afterwards, in order to determine liability in case of a defect coming to light (think of large construction or engineering projects).

...

http://www.opscentre.com/archived-backups-backups-archives-need/

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 00:00

What will big data mean for your data centre?

In the next few years, every business in the UK will need to make some big decisions about how they approach their data. With the amount of information gathered and processed by businesses growing all the time, legacy data centres may struggle to cope under the strain.

The era of big data will therefore demand a new approach for the data centre, which will need to be faster and more flexible than in the past in order to handle the ever-growing volume and variety of information.

So what are the key issues IT managers will have to contend with when it comes to modernising their infrastructure and ensuring that it works as efficiently as possible?

...

http://blog.krollontrack.co.uk/the-world-of-data/will-big-data-mean-data-centre/

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 00:00

Employees Continue to Fall for Phishing Bait

What would you do if nearly a third of your employees were making mistakes that could cause serious harm to the company?

According to findings by Duo Security, that’s exactly what is happening with employees and phishing attacks. About 31 percent of employees were clicking on phishing links, opening up the company to potential malicious activities. Another 17 percent willingly gave up their username and password combination when asked. As Jordan Wright, R&D engineer at Duo Security, told eWEEK:

The main thing to take away from this is that even if only 17 percent provided their username and password, 31 percent clicked the link, which in itself can lead to a breach through an outdated endpoint.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/employees-continue-to-fall-for-phishing-bait.html

The enterprise is very eager to move applications to the cloud, implement Big Data and the IoT and, in general, engage in all of the other advanced technologies that are driving digital transformation.

At the same time, however, the enterprise has quite a bit of legacy data infrastructure to support, and it would be a waste to simply scrap this investment just because something new has come along.

This is why conversion of existing facilities has become such a hot topic of late. On the one hand, today’s applications running on today’s infrastructure will still support a good portion of the enterprise workload going forward, and on the other, there are myriad ways in which these resources can be made more efficient and more effective within the broader scope of cloud and converged infrastructure development.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/data-center-conversion-making-the-most-of-what-you-have.html

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 00:00

BCI: Death of the Business Impact Analysis?

The Business Continuity Institute - Aug 24, 2016 16:01 BST

What’s in a name? Acronyms, common parlance, methodologies, business name... all very useful things as they enable us to identify objects, process and aid communication.

The downside of these particular benefits in communication and identification are that they also provide boundaries which may in themselves be restrictive. And once this becomes ingrained in the business psyche, it is very difficult to disentangle.

Let’s take the humble Business Impact Analysis. Acknowledged by professionals as a key element in the end to end process of building a robust business continuity structure, it is a process; a step that has evolved over time from best practice and for very good reason. As such is it is now viewed as a distinct object, something that forms part of a wider process, is undertaken at a given point in that process, connects with other elements and is readily identifiable as such.

But some of our clients are starting to look at this particular element from another perspective. Question - if it is but one part of a BC work-flow process, why should it be undertaken often in glorious isolation? Isn’t the BC structure simply a process of gathering data, making value judgements to corporate methodologies based on the information revealed and then create an output in a form and format that can be used by individuals at time of need?

So, this data capture process can start at risk assessment, follow with impact analysis and then move on to the plan development and testing. Why should this not be done in one fluid workflow process as a single ‘entity’ rather than discrete sections? Why do we have this specific entity called a plan which may contain such a huge amount of information that it only confuses at time of need? Why does the BIA often form an entirely separate and disconnected entity, often languishing and forgotten, even though all parts of the structure are supported by the same data – indeed, clarity and accuracy of data is an absolute pre-requisite to an effective continuity programme. Why can’t we create our own break-points in the work-flow process and define access permissions/user controls to our own corporate methodologies, to suit our own internal best practices whilst maintaining consistency with external standards and best practice?

The answer is that yes, you can. For some this leap of faith makes sense and is embraced. For others, it is a bridge too far, at this point in time at least. ClearView enables clients to have single-entity management of process and some of our largest clients have recognised that this makes absolute sense. This is particularly appropriate for large, complex organizations where there are a large number of stakeholders, each with individual touch-points and requirements. So, for these organizations, there is no concept of a separate BIA per se. There is a single information capture process, the output of which is a simple, clear list of actions and key reference data/communication items that can be tested rigorously and which supports effective incident and crisis management through a range of devices.

In this new world, I see the information that I need to see and want to see. I am involved in the parts of the end to end process where I add value or need to make decisions. With a flexible role-based permissions structure I can create reports, undertake gap analysis, monitor compliance, view dependencies, manage and manipulate data in all parts of the BCM progamme. I see simple, clear outputs that help me at the real time of need during an incident.

And the counter side of this is that I don’t have to wade through information that I don’t need or want to see just because it is bound up in a huge unwieldy document or in different reference documents in disparate locations. Indeed, I don’t have the fear that information is inaccurate because it is drawn from multiple sources and then replicated in isolation, rather than originating from golden sources and being managed centrally. And I know that all of this information in a single entity means that it is actively managed in its entirety i.e. the BIA is not left, unloved, in isolation waiting for the next overdue review. And, of course, I don’t have to be either sitting in front of my desk or laptop or happen to be carrying a printed paper version of a plan when there is an incident because this is the way that it has always been done.

So, is this the death of the BIA? Well, let’s say a technological reincarnation …..

ClearView Continuity, provider of an award-winning Business Continuity Management software platform, are Platinum Sponsors of the BCI World Conference where you can visit them on Stand 43 to find out more of the software and arrange a demonstration. The BCI World Conference and Exhibition takes place on the 8th and 9th November at the Novotel London West Hotel. The largest business continuity conference and exhibition in the UK, BCI World has a packed programme as well as an exhibition hall promoting all the BC products and services you need. Don't miss out, book your place today.

The Business Continuity Institute - Aug 22, 2016 16:46 BST

Recently SunGard Availability Solutions released their availability trends report. One of the more significant stats shows a marked decline in the number of invocations - during 2015 there were just seven across in the UK (that's at Sungard sites, of course). In fact, over a 10 year period the number of invocations has gone down by 90%. But like most statistics, it raises more questions than answers, such as:

Question 1: is business continuity overhyped? Bear in mind this is taken from an overall population of several hundred if not thousands of customers in the UK, so seven is a tiny proportion. So do we have to ask ourselves is all this fuss about business continuity 'over the top'?

Question 2: is it because we are getting better at business continuity? Another explanation of the downward trend in invocations could be is that we are getting better at business continuity - that's why we are having less failures. Remember Year 2000? When it went off with hardly an incident there was a general outcry that it was all a damp squib and that the risk had been completely exaggerated. But maybe all the testing and systems upgrades that had gone on before mitigated the risks. So, in this context, we are invoking less because we are doing better at business continuity. (Unfortunately surveys on the state of organizations' business continuity plans don't reflect this - there is still significant inertia in this area).

So, as regards the statistics in the Sungard report, is there a signal in the noise or is the signal just noise?

IMHO, here's what I think is happening:

We are becoming more resilient without knowing it. Cloud, virtualization and remote working technologies, investments in national infrastructure and a trend towards 'stuff as a service' are creating a level of resilience that was not there before. In other words, industry development and strategic choices in the way we run IT and communications on a business as usual basis are making individual organisations more resilient as a result.

So where does this leave business continuity people - should they be looking for new pastures? Will the BCM function become irrelevant? I think the answer is 'no' although adaptation is inevitable because the landscape is changing. I believe we will shift our focus from following the traditional process based approach of creating BIAs, Dependencies, Departmental 'plans' to an approach of developing and assuring overarching strategies for maintaining operational resilience and protecting the 'customer experience'.

The real message coming out of SunGard's report is that things are changing and we need to respond to that.

Steve Dance is the managing partner of RiskCentric, which specialises in the automation and rapid deployment of compliance and standards management systems.

While secondary data center markets don’t often garner headlines, they certainly must be profitable.

Since 2000, Charlotte-based Peak 10 has evolved with its customers to provide infrastructure, cloud, and managed services. The company has national partner alliances and continues to expand service and support offices. However, Peak 10 remains focused on serving small and medium-sized enterprise with 27 data centers located in 10 secondary markets.

In 2014, the company was sold to GI Partners, a private equity firm that specializes in companies that lead in “fragmented or overlooked markets” and can grow via acquisition. In other words, strong consolidators in secondary markets.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/22/peak-10-finds-winning-formula-in-tier-2-data-center-markets/

Monday, 22 August 2016 00:00

Playing the Long Game with Short-Timers

Though rebounding job numbers are no doubt a positive development for the nation and economy, they actually pose a mixed blessing for corporations and business enterprises.

Why? When employees succeed in finding a new job someplace else, their job performance and commitment often lag after they’ve given notice. In a sense, it’s human nature to take your foot off the gas and your eyes off the road when you’ve a new destination in mind. Furthermore, it’s likely that the professional leaving no longer considers the brand and reputation of the organization his/her priority. And, like a distracted or disinterested driver, that lack of attention and care may result in some serious damage — to their duties and to the reputation and brand of their employer.

That’s why I believe focusing on “conduct risk,” or “culture risk,” should be placed near the top of a business’ priority list. In my experience leading a division focused on corporate risk-sensing and reputation management, I’ve observed a “90/10” rule: that 90 percent of the hazardous workplace and professional behaviors arise or are magnified when an employee has set their sights on a new job and their focus dips.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/playing-long-game-short-timers/

Forgive me for overusing the term “convergence” but when the shoe fits, I say “wear it.”   If you are managing corporate risks and responsible for securing export licenses, ensuring that you are complying with OFAC sanctions requirements, interacting with customs and immigration officials around the globe, and conducting third party due diligence to onboard a new agent or distributor, , there is no question that there should be “convergence” among the various functions responsible for managing these risks.

Unfortunately, companies do not necessarily organize around efficiencies when creating procedures, and very often you will see a department responsible for export and sanctions compliance functions separate from the anti-corruption function. By ignoring some practical benefits, companies may be losing administrative efficiencies.

I am not suggesting that there is a substantive overlap but it appears to me that some of the information collection and analysis for compliance in these areas does overlap.

...

http://blog.volkovlaw.com/2016/08/anti-corruption-sanctions-export-import-risks/

(TNS) - At first, it seemed like nothing more than a good late-summer rain.

But hard rain kept falling late Friday night, and soon the calls started coming in to Butler County, Kan.,  Emergency Management.

“They were saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got water over here and water over here,’ and I was, like, ‘We’ve never had water there before,’ ” said Jim Schmidt, Butler County Emergency Management director.

Rain gauges near Rose Hill indicated more than 9 inches of rain fell in the area over the span of a couple of hours, spawning flash flooding that swept vehicles off rural roads in the black of night.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Torrential-rains-trigger-unprecedented-flooding.html

Cyberattacks have become so common that they tend to fade from view. But for head-in-the-sand executives who believe they have better ways of spending their time and money, here’s a wake-up call.

The attacks keep coming. They’re getting more sophisticated. And in spite of all the advancements the cybersecurity technology community is making, the bad guys continue to have the edge.

Here are just a few of the more notable cybersecurity dangers to hit the news in just the last week. Ignore them – and all the others – at your peril.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbloomberg/2016/08/20/five-cybersecurity-dangers-to-worry-about-this-week/#56449dca51d3

(TNS) - At least five people, including two local residents and three tourists, have contracted Zika virus from mosquitoes in Miami Beach, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday as he identified a 1.5-square-mile zone of active transmission in the heart of the region’s tourism engine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly followed up with a new travel advisory for pregnant women, telling them to consider avoiding “all non-essential travel” to all of Miami-Dade County due to evidence of widespread transmission of Zika, which can cause birth defects.

“If you’re concerned about Zika,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said, “you may consider postponing all non-essential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.”

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Five-Zika-cases-in-Miami-Beach-CDC-advises-pregnant-women-to-stay-away.html

Monday, 22 August 2016 00:00

Big Data's Impact On Cybersecurity

With more of our daily tasks, purchases, and social interactions being pushed onto connected devices, it only makes sense that copious amounts of data is being produced by these interpersonal transactions. According to recent statistics from IBM, upwards of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is produced from internet users in a 24-hour period alone. Not only is this a staggering amount of raw data that needs to be processed, it creates an 'elephant in the room' in terms of cyber security and how we protect ourselves from individuals with malicious intent.

Although these statistics may seem somewhat intimidating, data science experts and big data enthusiasts are excited and prepared for a future that's becoming increasingly connected to the web. Some techniques used to harness this raw information, such as data mining, help give us an insight into the future of cyber security and what areas may pique interest moving forward.

...

https://channels.theinnovationenterprise.com/articles/big-data-s-impact-on-cybersecurity

Turn off Water Valves to Prevent Damage in Commercial Buildings

When plumbing leaks occur in a multi-story building such as office buildings or hotels, turning off the water supply at the main valve is vital to avoid additional damage. Identify where the broken pipe is located to determine if a water valve is near the source rather than on a lower floor or utility closet. Turning off water valves as quickly as possible prevents primary damage to surfaces in addition to secondary damage from mold and mildew. Business owners can prevent slow leaks in buildings by tracking water bills each month and maintaining safety protocols in boiler and water heater rooms.

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http://nationaldisasterrecovery.org/protect-your-commercial-buildings-from-water-damage-due-to-plumbing-leaks/

A fire can cause real damage, but whether or not your business survives the disaster is often determined by the actions that you take after the flames are out. Following these 10 tips can help your business recover from the devastation of a fire.

1. Document Everything

Disaster scenes are chaotic places. Avoid costly mistakes by documenting everything. Maintain a log of all contacts and phone calls so that you can keep track of everyone you had spoken with when you talked with them, and why you were in touch with them. Begin collecting receipts to document any expense that you incur during your business’s recovery period.

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http://nationaldisasterrecovery.org/after-the-fire-what-to-do-to-help-your-business-recover/

Another round of federal officials visited the sites of the Louisiana Flood of 2016 on Thursday.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was taken to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center and some of the flooded areas in Ascension Parish. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate came to Louisiana earlier this week.

Here's what you need to know about the disaster:

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Louisiana-flooding-10-things-you-need-to-know-Friday-morning-Aug-19.html

Monday, 22 August 2016 00:00

Flooding Support: Real Time Updates

Esri is supporting organizations that are responding to flooding disasters with software, data, imagery, project services, and technical support. If you are in need of software or support, complete the Request Assistance form. All requests should be justified in the message section of the form and are subject to approval.

Public Information Map

Continuously updated US flooding information from the National Weather Service shows observed flooding locations and statistics, flood warning areas, as well as current precipitation. See the real-time effects of the flooding via social media posts. To change the search terms, go to the Media Layers menu, click the settings icon, and update the keyword.

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http://www.esri.com/services/disaster-response/flooding

The digital business of banks and insurance companies are at a crossroads today.

For years, business focus has been on consumer self-service using the web and, now, mobile channels. However, contrary to some predictions, these digital channels have not replaced the traditional channels such as branch offices and call centers.

Given the confluence of technology and culture shifts, consumers are expecting even more personalized and timely experience from both the digital and traditional channels that cannot be solved by simply arming service employees with mobile devices.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/08/19/extending-customer-service-beyond-your-walls/

Friday, 19 August 2016 00:00

Can Space Weather Kill the Cloud?

Last year, when he learned about the potential of a strong electromagnetic pulse from the sky doing real damage to electrical infrastructure, Rich Banta stopped what was then an early-stage data center project his company was doing. The design was complete, and construction was about to commence.

But Banta now wanted to redesign the facility to protect it from an EMP (in the jargon of the electromagnetic pulse community), caused by space weather or human wrongdoers. The new design added about 60 percent to the project’s cost and extended its timeline by about 12 months. “Not a game,” he says.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/19/electromagnetic-pulse-can-space-weather-kill-the-cloud/

When you think about your security strategy, firewalls, endpoint protection, insider threats, external attackers, malware and vulnerabilities all come to mind. It’s rare that your backup and disaster recovery (BDR) comes into the conversation. It’s probably that your organization, like most, thinks of BDR as being a business continuity thing and not a security thing.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Your security strategy, no doubt, is a defense-in-depth model, where you have multiple solutions, initiatives, processes and policies in place--each one providing another tier of protection around your organization’s most precious data, applications and systems. But, with attack vectors like the ever-growing threat of ransomware--that if given the opportunity will turn the tables and keep you out of your own data--it becomes evident that you also need to know: “Can we recover if all this security stuff fails?”

...

http://mspmentor.net/blog/layered-security-strategy-should-start-and-end-bdr

With car purchases there is often a warranty that offers buyers the assurance that if something doesn't work, they can get it fixed. The same is true throughout much of modern consumer society, with products and services backed by warranties that simply affirm to users that products should work as they should. A glaring example where warranties are not common is in software, specifically security software.

Jeremiah Grossman is on a mission to help change that.

Grossman first introduced the concept of guaranteeing security in 2015, with former employer WhiteHat Security. The basic premise with WhiteHat's guarantee is that if the software and service provided by the company don't help prevent a breach, WhiteHat would pay for breach-related costs. Grossman changed jobs this year, joining security firm SentinelOne, and launching a $1 million ransomware guarantee program with that company.

...

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/should-enterprise-security-software-be-under-warranty.html

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – If you were affected by the severe storms, landslides and mudslides that occurred June 22-29 and haven’t registered for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), why wait? Do it now!

Take the first step toward getting federal assistance. Don’t miss out! Once you register with FEMA, you may be eligible for a federal grant to help you with your recovery. You may also qualify for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

If you haven’t registered yet and are a homeowner or renter with disaster-related damage in the designated counties, do it now before it’s too late.

Did you not register because:

  • You simply didn’t know that FEMA offers help to homeowners and renters whose homes were damaged?

    • Once you register with FEMA you will learn about the help that may be available to you.

  • You kept putting off registering because you were too busy and didn’t remember to register until the evening, and thought everything would be closed?

    • Registering is a very important first step to getting help. The FEMA helpline is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT every day of the week.

    • Or go online anytime to DisasterAssistance.gov.

  • You are confused about the process of registering with FEMA?

    • FEMA is there to help you. Make the phone call (800-621-3362) or go online to the website (DisasterAssistance.gov). Ask questions and you will get answers.

  • You thought talking with your county officials or the American Red Cross, or calling2-1-1 would automatically make you eligible for FEMA aid?

    • The only way for you to be eligible for federal help is for you, the homeowner, renter or as the business owner, to register with FEMA.

  • You thought the damage to your property would not be eligible for federal help?

    • Let FEMA make the decision to determine if you qualify for federal assistance.

  • You thought that since you already cleaned up and made repairs you couldn’t apply for assistance?

    • You can register with FEMA even after you make repairs. It is helpful to have photographs of the damage. It also helps if you keep all repair receipts.

  • You thought others needed the federal aid more than you?

    • No one is denied aid because of someone else’s need. If you are eligible for assistance, FEMA will provide funds to help you start the recovery process.

  • You thought you’d have to repay a FEMA grant?

    • FEMA assistance is a grant, not a loan. It does not have to be repaid. It is not subject to income tax.

  • You thought that getting disaster assistance from FEMA would affect your government benefits, such as Social Security, Medicaid or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)?

    • You will not have to pay additional income taxes or see any reduction in your Social Security checks or any other federal benefits.

  • You didn’t think you were eligible for FEMA help because you are not a U.S. citizen?

    • If you are in the United States legally or are the parent of a U.S. citizen in your household, you need not worry about applying for federal disaster assistance.

None of these reasons will prevent you from getting help from FEMA. Here’s what to do to get the correct information:

  • Call the FEMA helpline (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362; (TTY users should call 800-462-7585). The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

  • Go online at DisasterAssistance.gov.

  • Visit a Disaster Recovery Center near you. To find the closest one, go to www.fema.gov/drc.

If you have questions about how you may qualify for a low-interest SBA disaster loan for homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes:

Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by calling the FEMA Helpline 800-621-3362 or visiting: www.DisasterAssistance.gov; the flood pages at www.WVflood.com; fema.gov/disaster/4273; twitter.com/femaregion3; and fema.gov/blog.

I’m often asked to provide an example of an insider threat. I think it is because no one likes to believe that someone inside would be so cruel as to purposely do harm to a business, to customers and to fellow employees. Mistakes made by an insider that result in compromised data are certainly bad, but rarely malicious.

But we know that malicious insiders are there, and an incident this week shows how much damage they can cause. It happened to a UK accounting software firm called Sage when an insider logged into an account for which he did not have authorized access. As Reuters reported:

The personal details of the employees of about 280 British companies were potentially exposed in the breach, a company source said. It was working to ascertain whether any data had been stolen, the source added.

As of this writing, I haven’t seen anything that clarified what the insider intended to do, if she was just curious and looking or if there was a more nefarious intent, as it appears that the company has not yet released any of that information. The insider was arrested, incidentally, at Heathrow Airport, giving the story a movie-style plot twist.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/sage-breach-illustrates-damage-malicious-insiders-can-cause.html

If the average food safety crisis or product recall forces companies to weather a storm, Chipotle has spent the past year trying to weather a category 4 hurricane. Now months into their recovery effort, it seems they are still seeing significant storm surges.
Last week, a group of Chipotle shareholders filed a federal lawsuit accusing executives of “failing to establish quality-control and emergency-response measures to prevent and then stop food-borne illnesses that sickened customers across the country and proved costly to the company,” the Denver Post reported. The suit accuses executives, the board of directors, and managers of unjust enrichment and seeks compensation from Chipotle’s co-CEOs, while also asking for corporate-governance reforms and changes to internal procedures to comply with laws and protect shareholders.

Sales remain significantly impacted by the series of six foodborne illness outbreaks last year. The company reported in July that same-store sales fell another 23.6% in Q2, marking the third straight quarter of declines for performance even lower than analysts had predicted. The company’s stock remains drastically impacted, currently trading at about $394 compared to a high of $749 before the outbreaks came to light a year ago.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/chipotle-provides-yet-more-reminders-of-do-and-food-safety-risks/

Friday, 19 August 2016 00:00

What It Means To Be A Data Scientist

Good data scientists have been called "unicorns" because it is so rare to find professionals who possess all the required skill sets. When a company seeks to hire a data scientist, it's typically seeking someone with skills in advanced programming and statistical analysis, along with expertise in a particular industry segment, such as healthcare, finance, or marketing.

The proliferation of data, and the potential for organizations to turn data into something valuable that didn't exist before -- think Uber and Netflix -- has increased demand for such professionals.

Linda Burtch, an executive recruiter who has specialized in quantitative professionals for 30 years, told InformationWeek the demand for data scientists is at the highest level she has ever seen.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/what-it-means-to-be-a-data-scientist/d/d-id/1326620

Friday, 19 August 2016 00:00

South Bend Floodwaters Pose Health Risks

(TNS) - Local health officials warn residents to be wary of floodwaters — in their basement, in the street and even in the rivers — for possible contamination with bacteria and water-borne illnesses.

This is especially true for people with sensitive immune systems and the elderly.

Case in point: Diane DeCleene, who couldn’t afford to get sick — again — from floodwaters. There must have been something in the black, silty wastewater that backed up into her basement during a storm in June that had triggered vomiting and diarrhea. Even her dog got sick. Maybe they mucked around in it too much.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/South-Bend-floodwaters-pose-health-risks.html

(TNS) - The deadly flood that has swamped south Louisiana this week will likely mean more mosquitoes this summer as the floodwaters start to recede.

State health leaders say that also could mean an increase in West Nile cases and even potentially a bigger threat of Zika virus.

"We're going to have standing water all over south Louisiana," Gov. John Bel Edwards said this week, warning about the additional pitfalls that lie ahead as the flood-affected areas transition to recovery mode. "We're going to have more than our share of mosquitoes."

The historic flooding, which is the result of what experts are calling a one-in-1,000-year rain, has prompted federal disaster declarations in 20 parishes. Edwards has said he expects that declaration will grow to cover even more as the flood waters shift southward and local officials tally up the damage their areas have sustained.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/West-Nile-Zika-concerns-heightened-as-floodwaters-create-mosquito-breeding-grounds.html

Friday, 19 August 2016 00:00

Cyber Security's New World Order

Researchers this week revealed the discovery of computer malware so sophisticated that it managed to hide undetected within enterprise and government computers for five years.

Named after an omnipotent Lord of the Rings character, Project Sauron is an unusually well crafted piece of software. Once installed, it lives entirely in computer memory, leaving no predictable trail of server domain names or IP addresses. It can even infect “air gapped” computers not granted access to the network. Then it simply lies dormant, a sleeper cell of sorts, awaiting further instruction.

Sauron has been siphoning information from some of the world’s most fortified networks in Russia, China, Belgium, Iran and Sweden since 2011. And that makes researchers very nervous they can’t keep any digital data safe from determined actors.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmarkman/2016/08/18/cyber-securitys-new-world-order/#6f6b16ee6d4c

Although workplace health and safety is already a focus at many organizations, there is always plenty of room for improvement. Consider the number of workplace injuries that occur every year: In 2014, there were nearly 3 million nonfatal injuries and an additional 4,679 fatal injuries in workplaces, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These numbers are staggering. However, they do not necessarily mean that workplace injuries are inevitable. In fact, there are several important steps that your own organization can take to mitigate its workplace health and safety risks:

...

https://www.rockdovesolutions.com/blog/4-tips-to-mitigate-workplace-health-and-safety-risks

Willie Sutton, an infamous bank robber from the 1920s through the 1950s, denied ever saying that he robbed banks "because that's where the money is." Nonetheless, this apocryphal declaration of the obvious could equally well apply to hackers and data centers.

After providing computing infrastructure and the power to run it, data centers have to prioritize security. Without security, a data center is a data breach, and that's not an enduring enterprise.

Information technology professionals know this well. Anyone who has visited data center of any size can attest to the evident security measures. These are not places you can just walk into for a tour of the server racks.

But not all data centers handle their responsibilities to clients with equal diligence.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/devops/project-management/it-asset-protection-how-one-colocation-provider-does-it/d/d-id/1326563

(TNS) - The federal government on Wednesday warned the nation's railroads, including Chicago's Metra, not to wait until the last minute to install a new high-tech safety system that can prevent crashes and save lives.

The Federal Railroad Administration also urged Congress to provide more funding to help commuter railroads implement the program, known as Positive Train Control. The technology uses GPS, radios, computers and antennas to slow or stop speeding trains, prevent collisions and override human errors.

"Positive Train Control should be installed as quickly as possible," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a statement provided by the FRA. "This is lifesaving technology available now, and railroads should continue to aggressively work to beat the deadlines Congress has put in place."
...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/-Metra-other-railroads-warned-Dont-delay-on-high-tech-safety-system.html

Can you imagine living in a property that has flooded 10 times? How about 20 times? It’s hard to fathom enduring that kind of situation, yet owners of 2,109 properties across the United States experience just that. Not only has each of these properties flooded more than 10 times, but the National Flood Insurance Program has paid to rebuild them after each flood. One home in Batchelor, Louisiana flooded 40 times and received a total of $428,379 in flood insurance payments. 

These properties—and more than 30,000 others that have flooded multiple times—illustrate the current problems of the National Flood Insurance Program and also provide some insights into how challenging it will be to cope with sea level rise, flooding due to extreme weather, as well as other impacts of climate change. It is anticipated that between 4 and 13 million people’s homes could be inundated due to sea level rise by 2100.

How many of these homes will be in the same situation, repeatedly damaged by floods, and the main assistance provided is to repeatedly rebuild? How the nation—and the National Flood Insurance Program—face this dilemma is a key question we need to answer if we are going to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. That’s why NRDC decided to take a close look at how we’re already addressing properties that have been repeatedly flooded.

...

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/rob-moore/flood-rebuild-repeat-need-flood-insurance-reforms

Thursday, 18 August 2016 00:00

Understanding Due Diligence Data and Insight

Since the United States Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission required companies to conduct adequate due diligence on third parties in order to meet their compliance obligations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other similar legislation, there has been an explosion of due diligence providers entering the market.

These providers have come from all walks of life – from ex-police officers and military intelligence to magazine and newspaper publishers – who have vast amounts of data that they have repackaged as “due diligence.” It is very tough for a company to really understand what they are buying and how to sort out the best fit for their company.

In most large companies, the legal and compliance departments will ask the procurement department to help select a new provider for this due diligence. While involving procurement can be beneficial from certain perspectives, it does create some challenges, as typically the department doesn’t really understand the depth of advice that they are purchasing or how to differentiate between various providers.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/understanding-due-diligence-data-insight/

Thursday, 18 August 2016 00:00

Why Model Risk Matters

Model risk management gained traction in the risk landscape with the issuance of the Joint Supervisory Guidance on Model Risk Management in 2011: SR 11-7/OCC 2011-12.  This guidance differed from the initial OCC Circular 2000-16 in that it mandated that financial institutions begin to think of model risk management as a risk similar to existing major risk areas: credit, market and operational risks.  Eventually this led to the creation of a new risk function, the Chief Model Risk Officer (CMRO); a new risk policy, the Model Risk Management Policy; and a new department, Model Governance, separate from individual model validations.  A virtual lexicon of risk terms came into use: model definition, model risk management policy, model inventory, model life cycle, access controls, model change controls, etc.

Model Risk Fundamentals

The definition of a model was articulated as “consisting of three components: an information input component, which delivers assumptions and data to the model; a processing component, which transforms inputs into estimates; and a reporting component, which translates the estimates into useful business information.”[1] Therefore, at its core, a model is a computational process with three components.

Model risk arises through errors in the individual components, through the way they are put together or in the way they are used.  Thus, data input errors can result in errors in model outputs.  Errors in model specification, either due to inappropriate conceptual design, methodology or inaccurate implementation, can also result in inaccurate model outputs.  Finally, even if data quality is both reliable and sufficient, and the algorithms are accurate and properly implemented, model risk can still arise through misuse of model outputs.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/model-risk-matters/

You’re probably familiar with phishing, in which hackers try to trick users into unsafe practices by sending phony emails. Popular lore suggests that “phishing” is derived from “fishing” and the idea that hackers, for some reason, like to replace the letter “f” with the letters “ph”.

A more recent addition to the hackers’ arsenal is whaling. In this case, hackers try to imitate the email style of a high ranking member of a company, like a CEO, and trick another employee into transferring company funds (or is that “phunds”) to a bogus account. What then is the best way to fight such tactics?

Whaling emails usually contain few or no indicators that conventional anti-virus software can pick up.

...

http://www.opscentre.com/whaling-security-smells-fishy-probably/

Emily Wilson, CEO of decade old Computer Troubleshooters of Greensboro, NC, shares three suggestions she'd apply if she were launching an MSP from scratch right now.

1. Carefully choose products and vendors - It’s really important to figure out what products and solutions you want to offer by evaluating what is most important to your target market. Backup and security are probably the most important things that your client will be looking for. They must have a way to protect and recover their information. Once you decide what solutions you want to offer your clients, selecting appropriate vendors to partner with is critical. You want to find a reliable vendor that offers a quality product and is "channel-friendly." They should not sell directly to your client, but should understand the importance of your role.

...

http://mspmentor.net/msp-mentor/if-i-were-launching-msp-now-emily-wilson

It’s no secret that many businesses have high hopes for using big data. With few exceptions, big data analytics has been subject to some massive hype. The promises have been many, from greater capabilities, more efficient operations, better understanding of customers, new product ideas, and so much more. Big data can certainly deliver on all that, but recent surveys and studies have found that living up to that hype has proved challenging. It’s mainly a case of organizations not seeing the type of returns they hoped for. In other words, the payoffs aren’t showing up as expected. For obvious reasons, this has been the cause for concern among businesses as the amount of investment being spent on big data analytics continues to grow. Getting to the root of why they’re not seeing those payoffs then becomes a priority.

In one report from Mu Sigma, it was shown that many executives have become dissatisfied with the results they’re having in the analytics realm. They’ve put a lot of resources and effort into making big data analytics lead to a substantial return on investment, only to see the payoffs come up lacking. There’s no single reason for this failure, but a number of factors have appeared to offer good explanations for payoff woes. Part of the problem stems from placing so much emphasis on the technology being used for analytics rather than the role that decision-making plays in the process. The technology plays a pivotal role, no doubt, but a failure to understand how to properly use it to achieve business goals means much of that technology is going to waste.

Some businesses were quick to embrace big data in the early days when many organizations were still skeptical. Investors at the time had high expectations, but it’s possible that those expectations missed the mark. It wasn’t that they were wrong to have certain milestones and goals in mind, it was more a problem of underestimating the challenges businesses would face. They may have even completely overlooked some possible issues altogether. It all comes down to analytics performance. They may have all the right technology on hand, but it analytics is performed in the wrong way, the results will reflect that.

...

https://channels.theinnovationenterprise.com/articles/why-some-businesses-aren-t-seeing-the-data-payoffs-they-want

Developing a high-performance business continuity program is hard work and requires significant resource commitments and upper-management support. Respondents to the MissionMode Readiness Survey report varying levels of readiness with under 40% claiming to have business continuity management (BCM) plans in place across a wide number of potentially disruptive event types:

  • 38% – Comprehensive BCM plans developed and trained across a wide variety of event types
  • 37% – Plans developed and trained across a limited number of event types
  • 25% – No plans or preliminary plans drafted but not trained

These respondents were most likely to be prepared for weather, power and IT-related incidents and least prepared to manage physical security threats, theft and product safety-related events. Developing and training a wide variety of BCM plans can seem like an insurmountable challenge, but MissionMode can help you both prioritize and prepare your plans.

...

http://www.missionmode.com/business-continuity-preparation/

The ongoing flooding in Louisiana is being described as the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy of 2012.

Latest reports indicate that at least 11 are confirmed dead and more than 30,000 have been rescued. An estimated 40,000 homes have sustained flood damage statewide, but local reports put that figure higher.

Some 20 Louisiana parishes have now received a federal disaster declaration.

Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies, but available as a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and some private insurers.

...

http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=4548

Depending on your organization’s resources and size, using risk transference to mitigate your risk may be a good option.  

In a recent blog we discussed the acceptance of risk. When accepting risk is not appropriate, the strategies for risk mitigation include: developing and implementing strategies in house; using third parties to develop and implement the solutions, with in-house maintenance; or turning the entire solution over to a third party. For most organizations, some use of risk transference is appropriate.

Risk Transference: Risk transference is handing risk off to a willing third party.

The most frequently used and easiest method of risk transference is insurance. Insurance is the financial transfer of risk. When using insurance for risk mitigation, it is important to remember:

...

http://www.mha-it.com/2016/08/risk-transference/

Thursday, 18 August 2016 00:00

FEMA Offers Tips for Hiring Contractors

(TNS) — As survivors begin the repair phase of flood recovery, FEMA and the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office are warning about unscrupulous contractors who often prey on those down and out.

FEMA said incompetent and even criminal contractors will cause more challenges to victims, so officials offered a number of tips to help avoid such a situation.

“Disasters bring out the best in many people who unselfishly help others. Unfortunately, they also attract scam artists who seek to take advantage of disaster survivors,” FEMA officials said recently.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said unlicensed contractors often will canvass neighborhoods offering to repair damaged property with deals that seem too good to be true. All too often, he said, they are. Work is never completed despite payment made.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/FEMA-offers-tips-for-hiring-contractors.html

Just how important is cyber security awareness in today’s digital age? An entire, month-long observation has been dedicated to shining the spotlight on this hot button issue. But raising awareness about cyber security can be easier said than done—especially when many people mistakenly assume the onus lies entirely with IT. As we approach October’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), the following three tips can help you overcome the obstacles, increase awareness, and ultimately fortify both your cyber security strategies and your organization at large.

...

http://blog.sendwordnow.com/three-top-tips-for-increasing-organizational-cyber-security-awareness

The quickest way to stick a dagger in the heart of a succession planning strategy is for the CEO to delegate it to human resources. Doing so delivers a flashing message to the organization that leadership development is a low priority that doesn’t warrant serious attention.

That was my key takeaway from an interview last week with Michael Timms, a leadership development consultant and author of “Succession Planning That Works: The Critical Path of Leadership Development.” Timms shared some great information during the interview, which began with my asking him what letter grade he would give corporate America on succession planning. Without hesitation, he said it would have to be an F:

There’s actually a percentage on that. About a year ago, Deloitte did a global survey that asked executives in organizations big and small if they feel succession planning, or leadership development, is a top strategic priority. Eighty-six percent said succession planning is a top priority, so clearly, everybody knows it’s a big deal. And then the next question asked how many them feel they actually have a succession plan that works, and only 10 percent said they felt they did. So they’ve graded themselves, and given themselves a letter grade of F.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/from-under-the-rug/kiss-of-death-in-succession-planning-delegating-it-to-hr.html

Storage technology is evolving extremely rapidly but our file systems are not. Is it time to re-think files systems so we can take advantage of this new technology?

Enterprise SSD - And Much More

Perhaps it's because I'm getting older but it seems like things are changing faster every year (my wife tells me it's because I'm getting older).

Regardless of the cause, things are changing quickly, particularly in storage world. SSD's are becoming very popular, pushing out spinning drives. We even have SSD's coming with 60TB's of capacity (link). Enterprise SSD's are quickly impacting enterprise storage designs. Spinning drives are now coming in massive capacities courtesy of Shingled Memory Recording (SMR) technology that come in 10TB and 12TB capacities. Non-Volatile memory is on the horizon. Yet, some aspects of storage are not changing or not changing much at all to adapt to these new technologies.

...

http://www.enterprisestorageforum.com/storage-technology/enterprise-ssd-and-much-more-can-file-systems-keep-up-1.html

Wednesday, 17 August 2016 00:00

Creating a Value-Oriented Sustainable Business

As the world becomes more and more globalized by the day, the importance of maintaining it in mint condition has gained awareness from all actors in society. A responsibility to conduct business in a sustainable and value-oriented manner has been vested on businesses by international actors – one of the leading actors being the United Nations Global Compact Initiative (UNGC). The UNGC has focused on four main areas in which businesses are to fulfill fundamental responsibilities for maintaining sustainable operations: human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption[1].

However, guidelines, principles and other international standards or documents are not per se binding on businesses. In other words, “binding” sanctions cannot be enforced on businesses directly by the relevant international organization in case of violations. Therefore, these guidelines, principles, standards or documents are referred to as “soft laws.” Within this context, some “soft laws” have become enforceable “hard laws” in instances when national regulators have adopted national laws governing the areas of the said documents. In this sense, the fundamental aspects of the principles foreseen by UNGC have been regulated to a certain extent by a majority of national regulators, whereby the underlying principles are also emerging worldwide. Nevertheless, national laws and “standalone” sanctions foreseen thereunder are not enough to provide for sustainability in the operation of businesses; in order to create a long-term sustainable corporate culture, businesses also need to take a stand and adopt internal procedures through corporate compliance programs. For example, in the area of human rights and labor standards, regulators have provided for protection regarding present violations. However, in order to create a long-term “sustainable” business, these principles should be institutionalized by businesses and values should be incorporated into corporate compliance programs.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/creating-value-oriented-sustainable-business/

A number of high-profile terrorism attacks worldwide have raised people’s fears this year, but the reality is that the number of attacks and deaths from such attacks actually decreased in 2015, according to Marsh’s 2016 Terrorism Risk Insurance Report.

The report summarizes terrorism risk insurance trends, benchmarks terrorism insurance take-up rates and pricing, and offers risk management solutions for terrorism exposures.

The more current attacks, often perpetrated by a single individual or small group, are different from those carried out in the 1990s and 2000s when high profile locations were targeted. Individuals carrying out the more recent attacks may have no direct contact with a known terrorist organization, but could be drawn to them through writings and video, particularly on the internet, Marsh said.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/terrorism-incidents-down-disruption-up-in-2015/

Wednesday, 17 August 2016 00:00

In the Cloud, You Really Can Have It Your Way

To go private or not to go private; is that really the question?

A few weeks ago, I posted some thoughts on the public vs. private vs. hybrid debate, concluding that it won’t really make much difference in the long run because both public and private infrastructure is becoming less costly and more easily manageable, and the rise of software-defined architectures will shift the focus to the services that are provided, not the infrastructure they sit upon.

Since then, the news for the private cloud seems to only have gotten worse. As ActiveState Software’s VP Bernard Golden pointed out to cio.com this week, Amazon and Microsoft are eating the IT world while OpenStack struggles to find itself, and all the while Google is forging ahead with advanced machine learning and streamlined frameworks to makes its cloud easier and more capable of meeting emerging enterprise needs than anything they can hope to do on their own. In Golden’s view, this will lead to a long, slow but inevitable death for the private cloud.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/in-the-cloud-you-really-can-have-it-your-way.html

Wednesday, 17 August 2016 00:00

BCI: Raising awareness of cyber resilience

The Business Continuity Institute - Aug 17, 2016 09:24 BST

Chosen by those working in the industry, the theme for Business Continuity Awareness Week 2017 will be cyber resilience, and the event itself will be held between the 15th and 19th May 2017.

As the world becomes more and more digital, so do the threats that it faces. Just as we need to protect our organizations from the disruptions that occur in the physical world, we also have plans in place to deal with disruptions in the virtual world.

We have witnessed large organizations like eBay, Target and Sony all suffer the consequence of a data breach. We have seen an increase in the magnitude of DDoS attacks like the one that brought down the BBC's website over the new year. We are experiencing an increase in the occurrence of ransomware attacks on all sizes of organizations including hospitals and local authorities. No longer can we think "it will never happen to me".

As the Business Continuity Institute's latest Cyber Resilience Report showed, two-thirds of organizations had experienced at least one cyber security incident during the previous twelve months, and 15% had experienced at least ten. Given the prevalence of the threat, it perhaps no surprise that the BCI's Horizon Scan Report noted that, of all the possible causes of disruption, cyber attacks and data breaches were the top two concerns for business continuity professionals. It is therefore extremely fitting that this will be the theme for BCAW next year.

The BCI will soon start to publish some helpful resources for you to use, but in the meantime, make sure you save the date. Also think about how you could get involved, and how you will help to raise awareness of the need for business continuity and the importance of cyber resilience.

The theme was chosen following the results of a feedback survey published after BCAW 2016. Of all the suggestions made for a theme for BCAW 2017, one-third related to cyber resilience, making it the clear favourite. The survey also asked whether people preferred BCAW being held in May, whether it was better when it was held in March, or whether another month should be chosen. An overwhelming four-fifths preferred the May date.

From where IT professionals sit, these are early days for industrial IoT. Still, the software, hardware, and network ecosystem required for delivering on the promise of IoT will eventually transform the way enterprises think about running everything. Here are four cloud-based industrial IoT startups worth knowing.

Who are the most promising internet of things (IoT) startups? Venture capitalists, sensing the opportunity, are looking for companies to invest in. Millions of dollars are available for technologies with a track record and a good idea. One particular area of interest for us here at InformationWeek is the activity around cloud-based industrial IoT platforms.

From where IT professionals sit, these are early days for industrial IoT. Still, the software, hardware, and network ecosystem required for delivering on the promise of IoT will eventually transform the way enterprises think about running everything.

Industrial operations, supply chain, commerce, and customer service are some of the enterprise environments expected to be dramatically transformed by IoT.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/iot/4-industrial-iot-startups-taking-development-to-the-cloud/d/d-id/1326613

With our recent successes demonstrating NetScaler CPX to developer audiences at DockerCon in Seattle and StackWorld in San Francisco, Citrix is getting ready for LinuxCon in Toronto on August 22.

Stop by the Citrix booth for demos of NetScaler CPX and NetScaler MAS and more. And be sure to catch the keynote on “New Requirements for Application Delivery in a Microservices Application World” from Abhishek Chauhan, Delivery Networks VP and CTO.

The number of attendees and the level of excitement at these shows demonstrate that one of the biggest disruptions in the IT world is happening now. This is the shift to microservices application architectures and the transformation of the server architecture to Linux containers.

Microservices applications are made up of many independent processes that are loosely linked together. New features can be added to an application by installing a new microservice and making it a part of the application infrastructure.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/08/16/getting-to-a-multi-cloud-application-delivery-architecture/

Six in 10 organizations say they must demonstrate compliance and auditing of privileged accounts indicating that privileged account management (PAM) security is now a firm requirement to comply with government and industry regulations.  This is just one of the many findings from a Benchmark Global Survey with responses from more than 500 IT security professionals from organizations around the world.  The findings indicate that privileged account management is not just a security issue, but also a regulatory compliance issue within their organization or industry.

The Survey is part of a new Report, 2016 State of Privileged Account Management that exposes several, significant security gaps in how organizations manage and secure their privileged account passwords and access and shows the extent to which privileged account management security is rising in priority and required for regulatory compliance.

The main reason privileged accounts are so critical to both industry and regulatory compliance is that privileged accounts contain what are known as the “keys to the kingdom.” These accounts have full permissions to computer systems and environments that typically have access to the locations where sensitive data like financial records, classified data or personal identifiable data like email addresses and credit card and social security numbers are stored.  It is ultimately crucial that organizations monitor and track any unauthorized modifications, theft, sabotage and privacy breaches of privileged accounts.  The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) has published several recommendations on how to reduce the risk of insider abuse of accounts. To ensure security controls of privileged accounts are much more secure than regular accounts, they recommend applying a “Least Privilege” approach and implementing security policies and controls with strict password creation and management.  Audit and Track Changes and Continuously Discover and Update Accounts are amongst other security recommendations from CERT.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/cybersecurity-compliance-regulations-tougher-privileged-accounts/

Storage systems have become their own unique and complex computer field and can mean different things to different people. So how can we define these systems? Storage systems are the hardware that store data.

For example, this may be a small business server supporting an office of ten users or less – the storage system would be the hard drives that are inside of that server where user information is located. In large business environments, the storage systems can be the large SAN cabinet that is full of hard drives and the space has been sliced-and-diced in different ways to provide redundancy and performance.

...

http://blog.krollontrack.co.uk/pieces-of-interest/make-big-avoiding-data-loss-large-storing-systems/

Geary W. Sikich and Joop Remmé pose three questions which aim to enable organizations to explore the relationship between corporate social responsibility and governance risk and compliance activities/obligations.

Introduction

In this article we posit three questions.  The first question is: “Is it a social responsibility of companies that they undertake a comprehensive risk assessment?”  The second question: “Does the notion of conscience and its application to the generation and use of risk information and information in general, create an obligation for the organization to disclose the results of the comprehensive risk assessment?”  The third question: “How do the people in the organization communicate the information from the comprehensive risk assessment to stakeholders and yet preserve security and protect the organization?”

The three questions may, at first, appear simple and straightforward.  However, as we dissect each, we find that there is significant complexity intertwined in these questions.  While this article does not attempt to provide a rigid framework or hard and fast answers to the above questions, it is our intent to set in motion a dialogue regarding corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its relationship with governance risk and compliance (GRC) activities/obligations that form a social contract between the organization and its stakeholders.

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/index.php/news/erm-news/1333-the-unintended-consequences-of-risk-reporting

I’ve been working with Citrix products for 13 years and a part of Citrix Consulting for almost 5 years. In that time, I’ve realized that the technical challenges have changed from time to time, but the organizational and administrative challenges remain unchanged.

Topics like infrastructure layout, application delivery methods, project, change and release management are often not defined all that well. These circumstances lead to issues like quality constraints and human resources bottlenecks, which have impacts that are often bigger than the technical problems.

As such, I decided to write a blog series about the importance of business processes as they relate to Citrix virtualization products. Given that such processes are specific to every company, please don’t expect to receive a full set of definitions that you can copy and paste into your environment. The intention of this series is to give you a direction and an idea of what such processes might look like.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/08/15/the-importance-of-business-processes-part-1-release-management/

How do you think your company fares in cybersecurity readiness?

This question came to my mind today after reading two articles. The first was a Tech Target article that discussed what every company should know about cybersecurity readiness. One of the points in this piece covered identity management:

This is made up of various plans, policies, procedures and technology aimed at providing appropriate access to information resources and an understanding of how those resources are used and by whom.

Identity management includes areas such as authentication, authorization and access control. And that leads to the second article I read. eSecurity Planet reported on a recent Ponemon Institute and Varonis Systems study found that more than 60 percent of end users are accessing data that they shouldn’t be, but at the same time, less than a third of IT departments are ensuring that only authorized people have access on a need-to-know basis.
 
...
 

(TNS) — The greatest danger to Pennsylvanians is less likely to come from terrorists plotting attacks halfway around the world than a homegrown extremist in their own backyard, the state's homeland security chief said Monday.

"The 'lone wolf' doesn't need ISIS," Homeland Security Director Marcus Brown said at a terrorism awareness and response symposium in King of Prussia. "They're much less pushing the organized attack from ISIS to the United States, they're saying, go do something, don't wait for us to tell you."

Brown was among the more than 600 law enforcement personnel gathering at the Valley Forge Sheraton for the daylong conference put on by the state. The speakers included a London-based detective trained in bomb scene management, the director of facility security for the Philadelphia Eagles and the inspector of counterterrorism for the New York City police department.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/State-Homeland-Security-Chief-Calls-Lone-Wolf-Biggest-Threat.html

(TNS) — Chances for a quiet hurricane season just went down, federal forecasters reported Thursday.

“Forecasters now expect a 70-percent chance of 12 to 17 named storms, of which five to eight are expected to become hurricanes — including two to four major hurricanes,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a season update.

It may be the most active season since 2012, the agency says. “NOAA now calls for a higher likelihood of a near-normal or above-normal season.” Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

The federal report “shows the environment is conducive for more storms and there is a slight elevation of risk,” said Marty Senterfitt, an emergency-management veteran now heading Monroe County Emergency Management.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/NOAA-Increases-Chances-for-Busy-Hurricane-Season.html

Tuesday, 16 August 2016 00:00

Make Way for the Edge Data Center

Cloud computing is leading to a massive centralization of IT resources. If current trends progress, the vast majority of data infrastructure will be housed in giant regional cloud facilities, with only highly converged systems remaining in corporate settings around the world.

This will undoubtedly be more efficient and less costly, but it presents a problem: Centralized resources are not great for time-sensitive applications, since the data center is now some miles away from the user. This is why future data architectures will rely on massive centralization and legions of automated mini data centers on the edge.

These facilities will be crucial for both the content-streaming services that populate the web and emerging Big Data/IoT workloads that need to gather data and produce analytical results in a moment’s notice in order to capitalize on fast-moving market opportunities. As IHS Markit analyst Lucas Beran noted in a recent series of blogs on Data Center Journal, the typical edge facility will process loads drawing between 10 and 100 kW and will provide services like data aggregation and content-caching to reduce latency and network congestion across wide-area infrastructure. At the same time, organizations can use these facilities to provide targeted, regional services to give a more local feel to national and even international product offerings.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/make-way-for-the-edge-data-center.html

Tuesday, 16 August 2016 00:00

How to Mitigate Fourth-Party Security Risks

While security threats resulting from exposure to third-party partners are serious, security pros face an even tougher challenge from fourth-party security risks.

What do we mean by fourth-party risks? Think of fourth parties as the "vendors of your vendors." Everyone from Amazonian giants to small businesses uses subcontractors.

According to a recent BitSight report of over 35,000 companies, one in four technology companies link to Amazon Web Services (AWS). One disruption on that service could impact multiple vendors.

"Service providers can experience an outage and they can also experience cyberattacks," said Stephen Boyer, CTO and co-founder of BitSight. "When they do, it brings down many organizations and can also severely impact an organization's vendors."

...

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/how-to-mitigate-fourth-party-security-risks.html

Tuesday, 16 August 2016 00:00

BCI: Securing IT equipment in the workplace

The Business Continuity Institute - Aug 16, 2016 12:12 BST

Most people (clearly not all given the results of this study) are often very protective of their laptops, tablets and smartphones when they're out and about, and that's no surprise given that most thefts of these devices occur when they are so. According to a new study by Kensington, a quarter of thefts take place in cars or other transportation, 15% in airports and hotels, and 12% in restaurants.

What is perhaps surprising however, is that the IT Security and Laptop Theft Survey also revealed that the second most common location for thefts is our own offices, with 23% occurring there. These findings are significant as people can be lulled into a false sense of security that IT equipment is safe on the premises when users are working in the office.

The study showed that IT professionals across industries are not taking the necessary steps to ensure the security of their enterprise environment. According to the survey, more than a third (34%) of IT personnel do not have a physical security policy in place to protect their companies’ laptops, mobile devices, and other electronic assets. More than half (54%) of survey participants do not currently utilize physical locks for IT equipment.

When we think of data breaches, the number two concern for business continuity professionals according the Business Continuity Institute’s latest Horizon Scan Report, we often think of hackers getting into our networks from a remote location and stealing data, but data can be stolen using far less sophisticated methods than that. Of course it is not just an information security issue for business continuity professionals, as they will also need to consider how employees can continue working when their equivalent is unavailable.

With research showing that a surprisingly high percentage of IT theft occurs in-house, IT directors and purchasers need to implement a formal physical security policy and take steps to secure their devices and the sensitive data they contain,” said Rob Humphrey, Director of Global Product Management, Security, Kensington. “Since studies confirm that well implemented security can significantly decrease laptop theft by as much as 85%, it’s important for IT personnel to consistently utilize physical locks for computing and mobile equipment to provide resistance to tampering and theft.

stream restoration  

The purpose of these job aids are to help communities applying for CRMA activities under Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants comply with the technical feasibility and effectiveness, and environmental and historic preservation requirements of the application. The job aids provide a checklist of information required by FEMA to determine grant eligibility and to complete a thorough review of the application.  The available job aids include:

Aquifer Storage & Recovery

Floodplain & Stream Restoration

Flood Diversion & Storage

If you have any questions or comments on the CRMA Job Aids, please contact the HMA Grants Policy staff at fema-hma-grants-policy@fema.dhs.gov

The Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities are available for HMPG funding resulting from a major disaster declared on or after September 30, 2015, and for competitive PDM and FMA funding for which the application period opened on or after September 30, 2015.


FIMA Releases Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities Job Aids

stream restoration  

The purpose of these job aids are to help communities applying for CRMA activities under Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants comply with the technical feasibility and effectiveness, and environmental and historic preservation requirements of the application. The job aids provide a checklist of information required by FEMA to determine grant eligibility and to complete a thorough review of the application.  The available job aids include:

Aquifer Storage & Recovery

Floodplain & Stream Restoration

Flood Diversion & Storage

If you have any questions or comments on the CRMA Job Aids, please contact the HMA Grants Policy staff at fema-hma-grants-policy@fema.dhs.gov

The Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities are available for HMPG funding resulting from a major disaster declared on or after September 30, 2015, and for competitive PDM and FMA funding for which the application period opened on or after September 30, 2015.


In part 1 of this series, I introduced the reasoning for developing a bridge from existing IT and risk frameworks to the next generation of risk management based on cognitive.  These concepts are no longer theoretical and, in fact, are evolving faster than most IT security and risk professionals appreciate. In part 2, I introduce the pillars of a cognitive risk framework for cybersecurity that make this program operational.  The pillars represent existing technology and concepts that are increasingly being adopted by technology firms, government agencies, computer scientists and industries as diverse as health care, biotechnology, financial services and many others.

The following is an abbreviated version of the cognitive risk framework for cybersecurity (CRFC) that will be published later this year.

A cognitive risk framework is fundamental to the integration of existing internal controls, risk management practice, cognitive security technology and the people who are responsible for executing on the program components that make up enterprise risk management. Cognitive risk fills the missing gap in today’s cybersecurity program that fails to fully incorporate how to address the “softest target,” the human mind.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/cognitive-risk-framework-cybersecurity-part-2/

This is part two in a series of posts on Machine Creation Services Storage Optimization (MCSIO).  For those not familiar with MCSIO, please read the first blog in the series, Introducing MCSIO Storage Optimization, to get an overview of the technology and architecture of MCSIO.

To help answer the question of how MCSIO can reduce shared storage IOPs, a series of tests were conducted on MCSIO configured with temporary memory and temporary disk caching. Although the blog focuses on this configuration, the results also give a useful insight for those looking at using other MCSIO configurations. Through a series of tests, we examine the impact of using this feature with RDS and VDI desktops and in turn demonstrate how it can help reduce shared storage IO.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/08/15/reducing-shared-storage-io-by-over-90-with-mcs-storage-optimization/

Monday, 15 August 2016 00:00

Why We Should Score Data Breaches

Disclosure: Our family is one of the “tens of millions” of Americans that may be affected by the Anthem data breach announced last year.

The annual cybersecurity event known as Black Hat officially ended just over a week ago, but of course the security issues and headlines continue unabated.

Big vulnerabilities aren’t actual data breaches, of course, and they’ll keep cropping up, but they’re often expensive to fix–especially at scale. Chrysler was forced to recall 1.4 million Jeeps and hospitals have literally been forced to revert to pen and paper. Earlier this year Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles paid a $17,000 ransom to restore their network after a successful attack locked users out of their computers for several days. Other healthcare facilities have also been targeted with ransomware and hactivism.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2016/08/14/why-we-should-score-data-breaches/#3d4abeaf5c91

Monday, 15 August 2016 00:00

Vendor Risks: Preventing Recalls with ERM

In 2016 alone, there have been dozens of recalls, by food companies, car manufacturers, and vitamin producers, among others. Not only do these recalls greatly impact a company’s bottom line, they can also affect the health and safety of consumers. With this in mind, what can organizations—both within the food industry and otherwise—do to improve their chances of uncovering suppliers operating in subpar conditions? How can they mitigate the risk of recalls?

Customers of CRF Frozen Foods, for example, a full-line, individually quick frozen processing plant that packages fruits and vegetables for a variety of customers, recently had big problems when it was linked to a widespread listeria outbreak. Contaminated foods affected big-name distributors like Trader Joe’s, Costco and Safeway, and some customers fell ill as a result.

Even though a series of sanitation concerns and other facility issues at CRF had been exposed by regulators as early as 2014, the factory was allowed to continue operating and its customers weren’t notified.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/vendor-risks-preventing-recalls-with-erm/

Monday, 15 August 2016 00:00

Why Redundancy Is A Good Good Thing

Transportation companies plagued by system failures ultimately suffer from cascading losses due to outages; including revenue loss, brand integrity and customer dissatisfaction.

Partnering with a colocation provider, however, can help deliver a business continuity plan that ensures redundancy to make services much more reliable and resilient.

The importance of redundancy is driving IT leaders to back up their data in colocation facilities or make a complete data center move to leverage expert third-party resources. They understand that a well-interconnected data center can be the first step toward eliminating downtime and disaster recovery risks.

...

http://www.cyrusone.com/blog/redundancy-good-good-thing/

In today’s regulatory climate, the Chief Compliance Officer faces increased personal liability for corporate wrongdoing. There are ways CCO’s can minimize personal risk on the job — but the process begins before accepting a CCO job offer in the first place.

Just as CCOs perform due diligence with third parties on behalf of their employers, they must perform their own due diligence on any potential employer during a job interview.

As a compliance-focused executive recruiter, I know the Yates Memo isn’t simply changing the way CCO’s do their jobs; it’s changing the way they look for jobs – so I asked compliance professionals around the world this month to share their best due diligence questions.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/due-diligence-questions-chief-compliance-officers-ask-job-interview/

According to the results of a recent survey of 3,027 employees in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany (1,371 end users and 1,656 IT professionals), fully 62 percent of end users acknowledged that they have access to company data they probably shouldn't be able to see.

The study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Varonis Systems, also found that 76 percent of IT pros said their organization had experienced the loss or theft of company data over the past two years, a significant increase from 67 percent who gave the same response in a 2014 study.

Eighty-eight percent of end users said their jobs require them to access and use proprietary information such as customer data, contact lists, employee records, confidential business documents, or other sensitive data. Just 29 percent of IT professionals said their organizations enforce a least-privilege model to ensure that insiders only have access to company data on a need-to-know basis.

...

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/62-percent-of-employees-have-access-to-data-they-shouldnt-be-able-to-see.html

Finding an effective way to store vast amounts of energy is one of the most important and toughest pieces of the renewable-energy puzzle. Until it’s solved, users that need power around the clock will have to rely on regular grid power to pick up the slack when sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing.

It is this piece of the puzzle that Microsoft is going after with its latest investment in research of alternative energy sources for its data centers. The company has partnered with    two companies and a university on a pilot program to research and test a new battery technology to see if it could provide a viable way to provide effective energy storage for its enormous global data center fleet.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/12/microsoft-invests-in-flow-battery-research-for-data-centers/

Friday, 12 August 2016 00:00

How does the Brexit affect your business?

The world is constantly changing and as Business Continuity professionals it is our job to adapt and grow with it. About a month ago, the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union. This event was known as the “Brexit”. The Brexit has sparked massive change and political uproar, quickly becoming an event to consider when creating and updating plans. But what does the Brexit mean for your company?

The Brexit not only affects Europe, but the entire corporate world. Leaving the EU umbrella provokes change to the UK’s laws that may directly impact your business. Some examples include trading agreements, laws concerning the way EU business is conducted in the UK, labor laws and immigration laws. These impending changes could negatively impact your business and prevent it from running the way it has been.

...

http://www.bcinthecloud.com/2016/08/brexit/

Friday, 12 August 2016 00:00

The Rise of Business-Driven IoT

Here are some common assumptions about the Internet of Things. Everybody wants in on it and, in the negative column, security and privacy are a nightmare.

There are problems with those conclusions, according to Jerry Chase, CEO and Kevin Walsh, ‎Vice President Marketing at Bsquare. Sure, the IoT field is trendy, but that isn’t enough to entice most industrial companies to invest in it. “Our view is that nobody is buying IoT,” Chase says—or at least not the operations departments, P&L centers, and business unit managers at industrial firms that the company is targeting. He continues: “Instead they’re buying better business outcomes.”

Furthermore, while security and privacy are hurdles, most of Bsquare’s industrial clients view those items like a box to check off rather than huge concerns. “I don’t think too many of [our customers] are all that concerned about security. It’s an interest for IT teams, but they already use standard protocols,” Walsh says. “It is a pretty tightly controlled secure environment. I think a lot of the alarmism is in the consumer space.”

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/11/the-rise-of-business-driven-iot/

More than half (51 percent) of IT managers polled recently said that data security is better in public cloud infrastructures than in their own corporate data centers, according to a new report released today.

The SADA Systems, Inc. survey of more than 200 enterprise IT professionals also found that 43 percent of respondents use third-party consultants to manage public cloud infrastructure.

...

http://mspmentor.net/msp-mentor/more-trust-public-cloud-security-private-data-centers

Friday, 12 August 2016 00:00

When Disaster-Response Apps Fail

When a terrorist struck Nice, France, on July 14, a new French government app designed to alert people failed. Three hours passed before SAIP, as the app is called, warned people in and around Nice to the danger on the city’s waterfront during Bastille Day festivities.

This aspect of the tragedy highlights an emerging element of disaster preparation and response: the potential for smartphone apps, social media sites and information technology more broadly to assist both emergency responders and the public at large in figuring out what is happening and what to do about it.

A group I am in, with researchers from varied disaster-response backgrounds (including military, urban, wilderness and hospital service), has surveyed what’s already available on the market and found smartphone apps that can help providers and the public alike. Some help medical professionals deal with ordinary day-to-day work, viewing guidelines and medication databases, performing calculations, remotely monitoring patients’ vital signs and displaying radiology images. Others can help responders deal with chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear and explosive disasters, which is useful for members of FEMA teams like the one I’m on. Apps for the public help them prepare for disasters, notify them of imminent problems, reconnect them with family members, and even help keep track of pets during emergencies.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Disaster-Apps.html

(TNS) - Richwood, W. Va., residents still digging out from a late June flood are finding more problems to deal with.

Mayor Bob Henry Baber said one of the newest problems are dirt, mud, sand and large rocks that are clogging the town's storm drains.

“The Jet Truck can’t break up what’s inside those drains,” Bob Henry Baber said. “The drain that’s on Oakford Avenue has a creek coming out. That caused two more houses to receive flooded basements.”

While that’s causing a headache, an even bigger problem is bubbling under the river.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Richwood-Mayor-says-FEMA-should-rewrite-its-standards-on-restoration.html

(TNS) - Weather forecasters have predicted the Atlantic Ocean could be in for more hurricanes this season, but local emergency officials say it only takes one storm to cause devastation and to test the strength of a community’s preparedness.

Horry County, S.C., Emergency Management Director Randy Webster urged a crowd gathered for hurricane preparedness tips at the Base Recreation Center Wednesday night to leave before disaster strikes.

On July 1, The Weather Channel reported that a forecast from Colorado State University predicted a total of 15 named storms for the Atlantic this season with six hurricanes, two of them considered major as a Category 3 or higher.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/It-only-takes-one-storm-to-wreak-disaster-Are-you-prepared.html

Friday, 12 August 2016 00:00

Staying Ahead of Storm Surge

While strong winds and heavy rain are two of the dangers that first come to mind when thoughts turn to the imminent hurricane season, a byproduct of the two can lead to an equally if not more destructive weather phenomenon: storm surge. Let’s take a closer look at this significant hazard to life and property, along with highlighting a new interactive tool from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) aimed at predicting storm surge and fostering critical preparedness.

The 411 on Storm Surge

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines storm surge as “an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tide.” In some cases, storm surge can span hundreds and miles of coastline and reach heights of more than 20 feet!

Storm surge, along with the battering waves which accompany it, can result in catastrophic damage to buildings, roads, bridges, and the environment, as well as loss of life. In fact, storm surge directly causes approximately half of all deaths associated with large storms, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

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http://blog.sendwordnow.com/staying-ahead-of-storm-surge

Whether you’re just starting your company or you’ve established yourself in an industry, a cybersecurity mistake can wipe out all your progress and growth.

“Businesses do not realize the level of sophistication that hackrs bring to the table,” said Matt Johnson, chief executive officer at Phalanx Secure Solutions. “When you are attempting to secure your business, you have to be right 100 percent of the time. The hacker only has to be right once. Companies who get hacked often wind up going out of business, being unable to shoulder the burden of cleaning up.”

And threats and breaches are becoming epidemic.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/vinettaproject/2016/08/11/these-cybersecurity-tips-could-save-your-business/#63fbea18292b

Governments have used maps for everything from local economic development to snow plow tracking — now they’re also using it to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

Rather, U.S. government entities have been using the concept of geographic information systems (GIS) to help manage disease outbreaks and public health crises for a long time. But the open data movement and improved GIS platforms have helped make those maps a lot more useful.

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is using GIS to both track the spread of Zika in the U.S. and predict where it might cause the most damage in the future. The virus, carried by a couple species of mosquito, has raised fears as it comes to the U.S. after medical professionals linked it to birth defects in other countries.

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http://www.govtech.com/health/Better-Mapping-Helps-Federal-State-Local-Governments-Fight-Zika.html

A recent Market and Markets research report says that the global cybersecurity market will reach $170 billion by 2020, spending $1 trillion during the five-year period from 2017 to 2021. According to the Wall Street Journal, venture capital funding in cybersecurity increased by 76% in 2015 to reach $3.34 billion. However, the cybersecurity market is far from being an El Dorado of the 21st century.

Meanwhile, cybercrime surpassed traditional crime in the U.K. in 2015, rising to 53% of all kinds of committed crimes. In comparison to 2015, ransomware attacks have increased by 500% in 2016, forcing hospitals and even U.S. police to pay ransoms in order to get their data back. From 2013 to 2015, the costs of cybercrime on businesses quadrupled, and may do so again from 2015 to 2019. Numbers coming from Juniper Research confirm the industry’s fears, projecting cybercrime costs to reach $2 trillion by 2019. In other words, companies are spending more on corporate cybersecurity, but still falling victim to cyber-attacks.

These days, I’ve even heard some cybersecurity companies say that it’s not a question of if you will be hacked, but when. Can you imagine your investment banker saying that it’s not a question of if the bank will lose your money, but when?

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2016/08/11/how-to-implement-a-common-sense-approach-to-corporate-cybersecurity/#2b749eb06aa9

The big recent renewable energy push in the US by some of the largest data center providers can be attributed in no small part to rising interest in the market in colocation services powered by clean energy. While good publicity and the promise of energy cost savings sometime down the line are good enough reasons for a company like Google to commit tens of millions of dollars to renewable energy purchase contracts for its data centers, companies that provide various data center services to many users are working with a very different set of considerations. It just has to make business sense for them.

The good news is that renewable energy for data center services does make more business sense today than it ever has, and that’s for two reasons.

The first reason is that more and more of their customers have sustainability goals of their own, and customers that recognize data centers as a substantial part of their operation will look more favorably at a data center outsourcer that can offer them a renewable option.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/11/how-renewable-energy-is-changing-the-data-center-market/

While software may be “eating the world” as Marc Andreessen famously put it, what’s ultimately resulted is an application economy, an environment defined by disruption and innovation. In every industry, it is application innovators that are doing the eating, feasting on the market share previously held by market incumbents.

Emerging players and large tech firms are bringing disruption to every industry, leaving established organizations with a choice: Embark on a digital business transformation and become a market disruptor, or wait to become a victim of disruption. 

Service providers also face a similar choice. They can play a role in their customers’ digital business transformation, and position themselves for increasing market share and margins. Or they can stick with the status quo and start losing mindshare and market share to the vendors that do offer digital business transformation services.

...

http://mspmentor.net/blog/disruptor-or-disrupted-accelerating-your-business-innovation

The term “due diligence” is an overused expression in the compliance world. It has become a term to mean heightened concern or investigation. No one can really define what it means except to say it has different meanings in different contexts. Some would say it is a term of art in the legal and compliance world. It is misleading to add the term “investigation” to due diligence, suggesting that a due diligence investigation is something different than conducting due diligence alone.

When it comes to third party corruption risk, it is time to retire the term “due diligence.” Besides the definitional concerns, there is a substantive reason for a new approach.

In the anti-corruption space, third party due diligence often is used to describe the process for onboarding a new third party intermediary. In practice, however, we all know that onboarding a new third party is just the beginning of a more important process – third party risk management.

...

http://blog.volkovlaw.com/2016/08/third-party-risk-management-not-just-due-diligence/

For the third consecutive year, Strategic BCP has been recognized as a Leader in the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Continuity Management Planning (BCMP) Software, Worldwide. Strategic BCP’s BCMP software evaluated for this Magic Quadrant was ResilienceONE—one of thirteen vendor offerings evaluated.

ResilienceONE: The most direct path to ROI

Experts at Strategic BCP have mapped, streamlined, and automated over 40 compliant BCMP job activities—including program management, data gathering, analysis and reporting, testing, and maintenance.

Customers report gains of over 94% in efficiency using ResilienceONE over current methods and other tools and are up and running in weeks with no implementation or configuration fees. Compare that to Gartner’s reported average of over six months to implement and 23% additional configuration costs for other vendors.

...

http://www.strategicbcp.com/blog/gartner-magic-quadrant-for-business-continuity-management-planning-bcmp-software/

Thursday, 11 August 2016 00:00

Delta Limping Back to Normalcy

After two days of cancellations due to a system-wide outage, leaving thousands of customers stranded, Delta today announced it will return to normal operation by mid-to-late afternoon. It added a caveat, however, that “a chance of scattered thunderstorms expected in the eastern U.S. may have the potential to slow the recovery.”

Delta said that by late morning on Wednesday it had canceled 255 flights while 1,500 departed. About 800 flights were canceled on Tuesday and there were around 1,000 cancellations on Monday. It also extended its travel waiver and continued to provide hotel vouchers, of which more than 2,300 were issued Tuesday night in Atlanta alone.

“The technology systems that allow airport customer service agents to process check-ins, conduct boarding and dispatch aircraft are functioning normally with the bulk of delays and cancellations coming as a result of flight crews displaced or running up against their maximum allowed duty period following the outage,” Delta said.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/delta-limping-back-to-normalcy/

Believe it or not, mold can occasionally be a good thing. After all, some species of mold are used in the production of antibiotics, foods, and beverages. Unfortunately, the kinds of mold that commonly flourish in homes and businesses are not helpful. These molds range from annoying irritants to dangerous health hazards. Difficult to eradicate and capable of causing real damage, these molds require careful remediation. The proper technique and equipment are vital, so it is a job best left to professionals like the experts at SERVPRO of Bryan, Effingham, McIntosh & East Liberty Counties.

What Is Mold?
Molds are microscopic fungi that spread through spores. Mold spores are everywhere, and they are quick to latch onto any organic material in humid environments. They do not need sunlight to survive, but moisture is vital. If the conditions are right, mold can grow quickly, forming large colonies. It can inhabit nearly any organic material, including food, paper or wood products. Mold might resemble moss in appearance, but it is not a form of plant life, and it does not use photosynthesis to feed itself. Instead, it releases enzymes that break down the organic material hosting it, damaging the material so that it can get the nutrients it needs by absorbing the degraded remains. Many homeowners discover mold when they smell its musty, earthy odor.

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http://nationaldisasterrecovery.org/protect-your-home-with-professional-mold-remediation/

When I worked in the IT department at a large retail company, we would strive to get the requirements exact and ensure our designs were perfect – no issues or gaps. This often caused some frustration with our business partners. They wanted it done faster, and we wanted it done right the first time to prevent rework. This is when I first heard two things that changed my perception:

  • Perfect is the enemy of good
  • 80% is good enough

When I asked, are you sure, the response was, “Yes – we are going to want it changed in 3 – 6 months anyway because we will learn something new or need to adjust based on the market.” This response can be especially true for our recovery strategies.

...

http://www.mha-it.com/2016/08/good-recovery-strategy/

The data center is fundamentally changing.

Yet today, as before, every company in the world is building their own data center. That makes about as much sense as every company building their own furniture or generating their own power. It’s inefficient, and it’s a big diversion of limited corporate resources.

It’s also no longer necessary, with the rise of the cloud. The cloud promises the ability to just “plug in” to data center computing. The principle advantage of the cloud is that it frees resources to focus on creating new applications, and it provides the agility needed for companies to innovate rapidly and respond to changing business conditions.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomgillis/2016/08/10/agility-in-the-cloud-which-as-a-service-works-for-you/#25de8a206ba0

Tbilisi-Flood-blog

Emergencies don’t wait for you to be ready.

In 2015, the country of Georgia invited CDC to conduct a training on the principles of Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC). But before we could get there, the capital city of Tblisi was struck by a major flood.

The flash flood and ensuing mudslide killed 20 people and covered much of the city in water and mud. There were news reports about the massive damage, human casualties, and even escaped zoo animals.  Ready or not, responders had to jump in and communicate clearly about the emergency.

This is exactly the type of situation CERC training is intended to prepare for. When a crisis hits, people need understandable, trustworthy, and accurate information they can act on. And they need it fast.  CERC helps communicators ensure that the right messenger is delivering the right message at the right time.

CERC saves lives

When we arrived in Georgia, my co-worker Kellee Waters and I discovered that the news reports hadn’t captured the intensity of the flood the way firsthand accounts could. We heard sobering stories from our colleagues about the impact of the disaster: a stream that turned into a raging river; a landslide that caught everyone off guard.

In the aftermath of the flood, many of our Georgian colleagues found themselves needing to use CERC principles — with or without training. They had to quickly and clearly inform people about threats in different parts of the city and communicate what actions the government was taking to rescue people and animals.

Lessons from the flood

When we began our training, we found that participants’ experiences from the flood gave them valuable insight. Those who had been involved in communicating about the flood stressed the importance of consistent messaging. They recalled that messages about safety had been quickly reported and repeated in the news and on social media; making information readily available to reporters allowed important safety messages to be disseminated faster and wider and increased their credibility. The government had helped by being the first to report accurate, credible messages that offered action steps for citizens to stay safe – before, during and after the crisis.

Class participants also talked about identifying and connecting with groups of people who did not speak Georgian as their first language. This was crucial so all Georgians could return to a more familiar and normal life as quickly as possible after the flood.

While not everyone in our class had a role in communicating during the flood, they all recognized the value of effective communication in an emergency response. They also noted that good communication takes experience, knowledge, and expertise.

None of the participants would have wished this tragedy on their country, but they all had a strong resolve to use the experience to prepare for future events.

Shaking things up!

Participants with trainers after receiving their CERC certificates.

Participants with trainers after receiving their CERC certificates.

During class, participants learned about the different agencies where they worked and considered how each agency might play a role in future responses. They practiced developing messages and explored strategies for making sure those messages reached the right people.

As part of the training, we used an earthquake scenario to identify the types of information different audiences need in a response, and we looked at how those needs evolved over time.

For example, class participants recognized that a large earthquake would likely receive global news coverage, but that the first priority would be getting safety information to the affected people. They had to make decisions about how to get life-saving information to first responders and those affected while providing enough information for all audiences so that rumors and misinformation would not spread.

Armed with new knowledge, our colleagues in Georgia are now prepared to act more swiftly and effectively to make sure everyone receives the information they need, no matter when or where disaster might strike.

Posted on August 10, 2016 by Lisa Briseño, Health Communications Specialist, Emergency Risk Communication Branch

A new Ponemon Institute survey has found that 76% of IT practitioners in the U.S. and Europe say their organizations have suffered the loss or theft of important data over the past two years. This is a significant increase from the 67% reporting data loss or theft in the same survey two years ago.

Here are the other key findings of the survey of 3,027 employees and IT practitioners in the U.S. and Europe, conducted in April and May, 2016, and sponsored by Varonis Systems:

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2016/08/10/survey-finds-significant-increase-in-theft-or-loss-of-data-due-to-insider-threats/#689d040a1892

Thursday, 11 August 2016 00:00

The Tale of Two Incidents

In the early hours of Feb. 2, 2007, a squall line in central Florida spawned strong tornadoes in Lake County.

“It was a very localized tornado outbreak, but it was pretty hardcore as far as the damage that it did,” said Jason Matthews, a corporal with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office who is assigned to the 911 communications section.

The aftermath of the tornado would teach Lake County’s emergency responders valuable lessons about communications and training — lessons that would be put to good use in a different type of disaster six years later.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/The-Tale-of-Two-Incidents.html

Blockchain is currently one of the hottest topics in financial services and capital markets. The technology has the potential to transform many business processes, making the data used in those processes more available, transparent, immediate and secure.  It could also strip out large amounts of cost, delay and error handling/rework.  Possible use cases include trade reporting; clearing, confirmation, validation and settlement; recordkeeping; monitoring and surveillance; risk management; audit; management and financial accounting; and regulatory compliance (including – but by no means limited to – financial crime prevention). The immutability, immediacy and transparency of information captured within a blockchain means that all necessary data can be recorded in shared ledgers and made available in near real time.  In such a world, stakeholders will no longer be simple recipients of post-hoc reports; instead they can be part of the real-time process.

Blockchain first emerged as the technology that powers the cryptocurrency bitcoin.  However, since its first appearance in 2009, blockchain’s potential uses have far exceed cryptocurrency applications.  By necessity, blockchain technology is complicated in its implementation, but the underlying idea is simple: it is a distributed ledger or database running simultaneously on many (possibly millions) of nodes that can be distributed geographically and across many organizations or individuals. What makes blockchain unique is its cryptographically assured immutability, or irreversibility.  For example, when transactions on the ledger are grouped into blocks and written to the database, they are accompanied by cryptographic verification, making it nearly impossible to alter fraudulently the state of the ledger. Another way to think about blockchain is as trust/consensus technology: the changes in the data are recorded into the blockchain when network participants agree that a transaction is legitimate in accordance with shared protocols and rules.

Interest in blockchain in financial services and capital markets continues to grow – and will accelerate as live solutions make their way to market.  Many organizations – including banks, exchanges and fintech firms – have announced initiatives in 2016, while the list of possible use cases being proposed in articles and forums is lengthening.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/blockchain-regulatory-compliance/

ATLANTA, Ga – Take steps now to prepare your family for disasters by downloading the FEMA smartphone app

Much of the region has been under heat advisories from the National Weather Service over the past few weeks. While it has cooled down in recent days, summer continues for several more weeks. The FEMA app lets you receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the nation, making it easy to follow severe weather that may be threatening your family and friends.

To help you stay safe during extreme heat, take the following actions when your area is under a heat advisory:   

  • Postpone outdoor games and activities and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine; limit alcoholic beverage intake.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
  • Spend the warmest part of the day in temperature-controlled buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, or community facilities.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.

Download and use the free FEMA app, which provides valuable safety tips to help you prepare for and recover from more than 20 natural and man-made hazards. The app also provides family communication plans, a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, and maps of open shelters and disaster recovery centers. The app is available on the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

###

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.

Formerly better known as the headquarters of Qualcomm and the US Navy that respectively employ 10,000 and 20,000 people in the city, San Diego is becoming an innovator in the creation of Smart Cities and is fostering a growing cluster of companies engaged in cybersecurity.

Decision-makers in the city such as Dr Sandra Brown, Vice Chancellor for Research at San Diego’s University of California and David Graham, the city’s Deputy COO for Neighbouring Services are attempting to bring together all elements of local academia, talent and entrepreneurship to create a ‘world-leader’ in Smart Cities.

This has already produced programs such as the university-sponsored MetroLab, the city’s Smart Cities initiative. This city-university collaboration between Brown and Graham’s departments means the city uses the university as an R&D facility on challenges facing the city such as income inequality, infrastructure weakness, security, environmental sustainability and transportation.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/montymunford/2016/08/09/san-diegos-smart-city-and-cluster-goes-from-strength-to-strength/#781e8181d6fc

Wednesday, 10 August 2016 00:00

Time to Exercise More Care in Cloud Storage

Storage remains the most popular cloud service in the enterprise these days, but it seems that low cost and flexible scalability are starting to give way to more practical concerns like reliability and ease-of-migration as the market evolves.

This is likely caused by two factors. First, the number and diversity of cloud providers are increasing, allowing the enterprise to pursue more tailored infrastructure for their application needs, Second, business models are starting to catch up to technology so that organizations require more than just cheap bulk storage for their data overflow.

According to Research and Markets, cloud storage is still on a healthy upward trajectory. The firm estimates the cloud storage sector will more than triple by 2022, rising from $18.87 billion in 2015 to more than $67 billion. Major drivers include an influx of new users and the growing need to support Big Data applications in an increasingly digitized economy. As well, market outliers include the rapid adoption of cloud storage gateways that allow organizations to more easily integrate publicly stored data with in-house resources over hybrid cloud architectures.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/time-to-exercise-more-care-in-cloud-storage.html

(TNS) - Suvella Garza sometimes found it difficult to breathe in her water-scarred living room, where the air was thick and dank.

Mold test kits were set out on her child's plastic table, the family's latest effort to assess the health risks of continuing to live in an apartment where Garza felt, for now, stuck.

"We can't find an apartment in our price range. We can't move into a house. Where else are we going to live?" Garza asked as her 4-year-old son slept in the next room.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Greenspoint-areas-recovery-still-sluggish-four-months-after-Tax-Day-Floods.html

Rachel Stephens at the market-research firm RedMonk has some good analysis and charts showing price differences among various cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers, mapping out how pricing wars appear to be pushing service costs generally down even as providers flesh out their offerings.

Her findings also show that providers are starting to be wary of focusing on simply being the cheapest offering, with many vendors aligning closely around one price point and instead.

One interesting exception: Google, which far undercuts the pack in memory pricing as well as compute units.

There are a lot of caveats to Stephens’ data, as she notes: She compares list — not actual — prices, apples to apples comparisons between providers are impossible, and a number of non-pricing factors are completely ommitted.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/09/breaking-down-cloud-infrastructure-as-a-service-pricing/

Dedicated, full-time developers know that, as with all forms of software development, security should be a top priority when building mobile apps. Yet increasingly, mobile development within enterprises is being done by what Gartner calls "citizen developers": business-line employees who create apps using approved tools but outside the traditional IT process. Unfortunately, far too many of them have an insufficient understanding of what needs to be done to protect their users' data.

The seriousness of this issue cannot be overstated. For an individual, the financial consequences of identity theft due to a mobile data breach could be devastating. And when a business's data is leaked by a flawed app, the potential cost is incalculable.

Still, ignorance about mobile app security remains widespread. Even when a mobile app is revealed to contain a major security flaw, its users often simply don't understand the risk well enough to uninstall it. Even worse, they remain completely unaware of security flaws present in their apps.

...

http://www.esecurityplanet.com/mobile-security/citizen-developers-mobile-security.html

Last year's Ponemon’s Varonis-sponsored security study had users and IT practitioners agreeing that managing confidential information was inadequate at their organizations. Since then, the number and depth of attacks have significantly increased.

Let’s look as the study results and see how badly we are screwed.

Study Sample  

The Ponemon survey involved 3,000 employees and IT practitioners and it was international in scope (U.S. and Europe). The interviews were conducted in April and May of 2016 with 1,371 end users and 1,656 IT and security professionals. Industries were diverse but a special focus was on financial services, public sector organizations, health care firms, life sciences companies, retail firms, and firms in the industrial, software, and tech segments.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/unfiltered-opinion/latest-ponemon-study-shows-were-getting-even-worse-protecting-information.html

As we approach the one year anniversary of the explosions at the Port of Tianjin, China, a new report finds that a port’s size and its catastrophe loss potential are not strongly correlated.

Based on the 1-in-500 year estimated catastrophe loss for earthquake, wind and storm surge perils, the surprising analysis by catastrophe modeler RMS, shows that it’s not just the biggest container hubs around the world that have a high risk of insurance loss.

For example, smaller ports such as the U.S. ports of Plaquemines, Louisiana, and Pascagoula, Mississippi, as well as Bremerhaven, Germany rank among the top 10 ports at highest risk of marine cargo loss.

...

http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=4535

Wednesday, 10 August 2016 00:00

Big Data, Cloud Demand Drive IT Job Growth

If you've got a career in IT, 2016 has most likely been a stable year for you. That's because the IT sector has been adding jobs all year long, even in a presidential election year full of uncertainty.

A new report from CompTIA that analyzes some of this job growth attributes the trend to growing tech areas such as big data and cloud computing.

What do the numbers say?

The IT sector added 47,100 jobs total during the first seven months of 2016 for a total of 4,392,800. But July saw just 4,000 new jobs added, as the pace of job growth slowed.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-cloud-demand-drive-it-job-growth/d/d-id/1326536

CHARLESTON, W. Va.— Registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the first step in qualifying for disaster assistance. If you have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, your next step is to contact your insurance agent to see if your damage is covered.

In the aftermath of the June 22-29 severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides, FEMA is advising survivors who experienced property damage to contact both FEMA and their insurance company. Wednesday, Aug. 24, is the last date to apply to FEMA.

If you live in Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers or Webster county you may qualify for assistance from FEMA – even if you have insurance.

If you are a homeowner or renter; your home or personal property was damaged by the storms; you have insurance, and you have registered with FEMA for disaster assistance:

  • You must contact your insurance agent to file a claim with your insurance company.

  • You should be prepared to fully describe to your agent the damage caused by the storms.

  • You should keep a record of all contacts you have with the agent and the insurance company.

  • You should keep a record of the claim number and the date you called to make the claim.

  • FEMA will send you a letter requesting insurance claim documentation, such as a decision letter (settlement or denial) from your insurance company, in order to further process your application.

FEMA will not duplicate benefits that are covered by insurance, but you may be eligible for help with losses not covered or those in excess of your insurance coverage. However, you will not be considered for this assistance until FEMA receives a decision letter from your insurance company.

If you experience an excessive delay (30 days or more) in receiving an insurance settlement after filing a claim, you may be eligible for an advanced one-time “rental assistance award” payment. If you fail to file an insurance claim, you will not be considered for advanced rental assistance. Your request for advanced rental assistance must be in writing.

For more information about delayed or insufficient insurance settlements, click on the “What If I Have Insurance?” section at https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance# .

Homeowners and renters may be eligible for FEMA Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grants to help with uninsured or underinsured expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster, including:

  • Child care;

  • Moving and storage expenses;

  • Disaster-related funeral, dental and medical expenses, such as wheelchairs, canes and prescriptions;

  • Repair or replacement of personal property lost or damaged in the storm, including furniture and appliances; and

  • Primary vehicles, approved second vehicles and modified vehicles damaged by the disaster.

    FEMA encourages both insured and uninsured survivors who sustained disaster-related damage or losses to apply by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362 (TTY users should call 800-462-7585) or online at DisasterAssistance.gov . The toll-free lines are available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available. Aug. 24 is the last day for survivors to file an application.

    Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by visiting
    fema.gov/disaster/4273, twitter.com/femaregion3, twitter.com/FEMA, facebook.com/FEMA, fema.gov/blog and the flood information pages at http://wvflood.com/Pages/default.aspx .

When Boone County, Mo., emergency dispatcher Chuck Mastalski answered the phone, it was clear the caller was in distress. Unable to breathe, the man could not confirm his location or describe the crisis.

Fortunately, an on-screen popup box told Mastalski who was calling, where he was located and his medical history. Based on that information, the dispatcher was able to send a response team to render aid — all without the caller saying a word.
 
That caller had registered in advance for Smart911, an emergency call enhancement service that allows citizens to voluntarily input a wealth of personal information, which becomes visible to emergency responders when a 911 call is placed. County officials say the system has been a win for them since it was first implemented in 2011, and now they are moving to incorporate a range of additional services from the company that produces Smart911, Rave Mobile Safety.
...
The Business Continuity Institute - Aug 10, 2016 10:36 BST

Cyber security remains a critical business challenge and a growing concern with a potentially devastating impact on company brands and bottom lines. Even though the ramifications of a cyber security incident can be damaging, both financially and reputationally, many cyber security executives indicate that information protection may not be the strategic corporate imperative that it should be. This is according to a newly released report by KPMG.

Despite the Consumer Loss Barometer finding that 81% of executives admitted their companies had been compromised by cyber attacks during the previous 24 months, less than half (49%) of those same executives said they had invested in information security in the past year. Banks appear to be most proactive when it comes to investments in information security, with 66% reporting investments made, followed by technology at 62%, retail at 45% and automotive at 32%.

Cyber attacks are affecting nearly every single company we encounter, but we’re not seeing those attacks drive enough proactive business action as evidenced by the rate of investment made in information security,” said Greg Bell, KPMG Cyber US Leader. “We’re still seeing companies taking a passive or reactive approach toward cyber security, when in fact cyber should be a top-line business issue thought about and practiced company-wide.

Such is the level of the threat, it is perhaps no surprise that cyber attacks and data breaches were identified as the top two concerns to business continuity professionals in the Business Continuity Institute's latest Horizon Scan Report. In a global survey, 85% and 80% of respondents respectively, expressed concern about the possibility of these threats materializing.

If you’ve met blockchain before, it may well have been in the context of the cyber currency Bitcoin. To understand how it might affect business continuity, it’s good to know the basics about how blockchain works. Essentially, it’s a distributed file system.

People using blockchain keep copies of the blockchain file. The file is made up of blocks. Each block contains a cryptographic signature of the preceding block, making the whole blockchain file incorruptible.

Today with Bitcoin and other financial transactions, the blockchain file is a shared ledger. It also has the potential to replace other error-prone, manual processes. So how might blockchain contribute to business continuity?

Businesses today depend on a number of critical elements in order to function properly and continually.

...

http://www.opscentre.com/blockchain-going-big-business-continuity/

Tuesday, 09 August 2016 00:00

7 deadly threats to your tape accessibility

Is your tape storage practice similar to that of most people? You might be ‘following the rules’ and making sure you regularly copy the company data into tapes, which you then diligently store and forget about for the next few years.

However those tapes store important information which you might have to access at the most unexpected moment. Would you be able to quickly find any requested information at the drop of a pin?

Time and time again we see IT managers start in a cold sweat when asked to get a specific set of data in a very limited time – their business risking a massive fine if they are unable to comply with the strict deadline.

...

http://blog.krollontrack.co.uk/pieces-of-interest/7-deadly-threats-tape-accessibility/

This past March Bloomberg offered a compelling look inside the world of election hacking in which campaigns and their supporters hack into their opponents and steal or destroy data, saturate the online space with fake messaging and otherwise attempt to skew the election in their favor. Given the subsequent unveiling of the successful hack of the DNC here in the United States and the previous hacks of both campaigns in 2008, the article appears all the more prescient.

Indeed, this past April the head of the US Cyber Command testified before Congress that there was growing concern that hackers of the future will not simply steal data, but will instead penetrate computing systems and subtly change critical data in-place in such a way that the victim can no longer trust any of its data and doesn’t know what’s real or what has been changed.

NBC today published a fascinating look at how cyberwarfare has expanded beyond the purely digital realm to mission critical physical systems like GPS. Tracking systems based on GPS and using cellular backhauls have become commonplace in tracking valuable cargo, corporate vehicles and in police surveillance. However, the NBC article notes that GPS jammers have now become so commonplace that they can be purchased for a few tens of dollars online and plugged into a vehicle cigarette lighter jack, with criminals now routinely deploying them on the off chance that their stolen cargo might be carrying a tracker. Even enterprising employees are beginning to deploy them in an attempt to avoid their corporate office being able to track their vehicle.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2016/08/08/how-cyberwar-from-hacking-to-gps-jamming-is-changing-the-face-of-society/#3b1689d2751c

(Bloomberg) -- Data centers, used by governments and large corporations to house their computer systems, have one big environmental problem: They get hot.

To keep them from overheating, large data centers can pump hundreds of millions of gallons of water a year through the facilities, according to company reports. That high demand for water has some investors concerned, especially in places where natural water resources are becoming ever more precious, like tech-heavy California.

"We definitely want our portfolio companies to be cognizant of their water use and take the appropriate steps to minimize their water use and recycle water," said Brian Rice, portfolio manager at the California State Teachers' Retirement System, which manages about $189 billion in assets as of June 30. He cited water usage as a concern at data centers as well as at other portfolio companies, such as those in agriculture.

...

http://mspmentor.net/msp-mentor/data-centers-water-use-has-investors-high-alert

Tuesday, 09 August 2016 00:00

8 Cloud storage Problems: How to Avoid Them

Moving storage to the cloud offers some enticing benefits, but only if you can avoid the common cloud storage problems. Here are some of the biggest cloud storage problems you need to be aware of before moving your invaluable data to cloud storage.

...

http://www.enterprisestorageforum.com/storage-management/8-cloud-storage-problems-how-to-avoid-them-1.html

Phone trees and mass emails used to be great methods for keeping your employees updated on a situation. People also used to think the world was flat. Times, however, have changed. Today, old school one-way messages simply won’t cut it. Your staff deserves modern technology to facilitate efficient communication in the workplace. Two-way mass communication systems are crucial to keeping your personnel in the know, and an employee notification system is a perfect fit for your communication plan.

Old processes or homegrown solutions of notifying employees about a critical event have been rendered inefficient and impractical by advances in technology in recent years. Phone trees fail if one person isn’t available and rely too heavily on individuals to relay critical information. Mass emails aren’t seen if your staff isn’t at their desk or even if they don’t have their email tab open. One way communications are like a loudspeaker – no questions can be asked in response to the notifications, and elaborations are difficult to make.

..

https://www.alertmedia.com/efficient-employee-communications

Disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) is difficult to distinguish from disaster recovery/business continuity (DR/BC). It seems that it is more of a semantic change: The ideas behind both appear similar. They offer an organization a way to simplify life by farming out backup and redundancy functions to specialists with geographically dispersed facilities, a high level of on-staff expertise, and state-of-the-art equipment kept completely up to date. They shift the burden from capex to opex and offer services under a variety of business models.

DRaaS, whether or not it is the same or slightly different than DR/BC, is growing. MarketsandMarkets recently released a report that said that the global market for DRaaS will grow from $1.68 billion this year to $11.11 billion by 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.9 percent.

- Advertisement -

The market is being driven by faster recovery capabilities, increased cost effectiveness, flexibility and simplicity of testing. Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are expected to be the main driver during the forecast period; North America is the biggest market and Asia-Pacific (APAC) the fastest growing.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-and-telecom/disaster-recoverybusiness-continuity-evolving-into-disaster-recovery-as-a-service.html

Tuesday, 09 August 2016 00:00

Explosive DRaaS Growth a Boon to MSPs

By 2020, the Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) market will be about eight and a half times larger than today, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. Currently at $1.42 billion, the market will reach $11.92 billion in the next four years, a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 53 percent.

MarketsandMarkets defines DRaaS as “DR planning and testing, real-time replication, backup solution, data security and compliance, consulting and system integration, support and maintenance, and managed services.” DRaaS, the research firm says, is a cloud-based approach that “can reduce the costs involved in buying, installing, upgrading, and maintaining the tools and services. Cloud-based DR services provide an elastic, scalable, easy entry, and lower per-person access costs.”

Disaster recovery is one of the primary goals of data backup. Yet, too little thought goes into the recovery planning piece. More than 75 percent of small-business owners don’t have a disaster recovery plan, according to a study by Nationwide Insurance, even though 52 percent of the owners surveyed said it would take them at least three months to recover from a disaster.

...

http://mspmentor.net/blog/explosive-draas-growth-boon-msps

Tuesday, 09 August 2016 00:00

Upgrading Oklahoma's 911 Systems

(TNS) - In an era of ever-changing technology, officials with one system that helps save lives are trying to catch up with what many cellphone users consider old technology.

AT&T Inc. recently had power issues at its Oklahoma call routing center, disrupting the service that provides to 911 centers the location of the 911 caller. 

“The technology that is out there is something that 911 does not keep up with,” said Steve Bratcher,
E911 coordinator for Garvin County, who says 911 systems are outdated and favors newer technology.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/next-gen-911/Upgrading-Oklahomas-911-systems.html

(TNS) - The glass panels at Las Vegas City Hall rattle with thundering booms as a heavily armed couple donned with tactical gear enter the building shooting.

It’s an active-shooter training session and the attackers are using blank cartridges. But it sounded like the real thing.

Here’s how the scenario played out:

A screaming group of people, with their hands in the air, is escorted by officers to safety. The man and woman shoot and kill several in the lobby and overpower security to gain access to the upper floors where they continue exchanging gunfire with officers.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/training/Southern-Nevada-officials-pleased-with-active-shooter-training-exercise.html

CHARLESTON, W. Va.— If you are facing the loss of your home, business or a cherished possession as a result of the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that hit on June 22-29, you may find that you are struggling to cope with the emotional impact of the disaster.

Everyone who lives through a natural disaster is affected by it in some way. The experts tell us that West Virginians who lived through the storms know well the profound sadness, grief and anger it is normal to feel anxious about your own safety and that of your family and close friends. The emotional toll taken by a disaster can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains resulting from the damage or loss of a home, business or personal property that follows a disaster. These are normal reactions to an abnormal event.

Children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. Even individuals who experience a disaster “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage can be affected.

The important thing, the doctors say, is how you react to your feelings; what you do to relieve your stress. Everyone has different needs and different ways of coping. Here are some tips from professional crisis counselors for West Virginia survivors coping with emotional stress in the wake of the storms and flooding:

  • Acknowledging your feelings helps you recover.

  • Focusing on your strengths and abilities helps you heal.

  • Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy.

  • Contact local faith-based organizations, voluntary agencies, or professional counselors for counseling.

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  Disaster Distress Helpline is a national hotline dedicated to providing year-round immediate crisis counseling for people experiencing emotional distress related to any natural disaster.

Children can be especially vulnerable to stress following a disaster, such as June’s severe storms and flooding in West Virginia. Preschoolers, children and teenagers may have witnessed their home being damaged or destroyed, experienced an evacuation, suffered an injury, lost a pet or even just had their normal routines interrupted. These children are susceptible to bouts of anxiety, fear and behavioral problems.

Younger children may suffer sleep problems or bedwetting. Older children may display anger, aggression or withdrawal. Some children who have had only indirect contact with the disaster, but witness it on television, may develop distress.

As parents and adults, you can make disasters less traumatic for children by taking steps to manage your own feelings and plans for coping. Parents are almost always the best source of support for children in disasters.

What's the best way to respond to your child during or after a disaster? Click here for some pointers, including a guide to common child reactions to disaster by age.

Your older parents and other older loved ones may be just as vulnerable, if not more so, to post-disaster stress, as your children.

For more information on how caretakers can help older loved ones cope with disaster – and how caretakers should take care of themselves – visit http://blog.aarp.org/2013/06/05/amy-goyer-caregiver-tips-for-tragedy/ .

If you or someone you know is struggling with post-disaster stress, you are not alone. Help is as near as your phone. Call the Help for West Virginia Helpline at 844-435-7498. Also, you can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by visiting fema.gov/disaster/4273, twitter.com/femaregion3, twitter.com/FEMA, facebook.com/FEMA, fema.gov/blog and the flood information pages at http://wvflood.com/Pages/default.aspx .

LAS VEGAS—At this week’s Black Hat conference, some information security professionals turned to a key issue to control enterprise-wide cyberrisk: hacking humans. As phishing continues to be one of the top threats for businesses, hackers and security professionals here continue to try and make sense of why this threat vector is so successful and how to better defend against these attacks.

In a session called “Blunting the Phisher’s Spear: A risk-based approach for defining user training and awarding administrative privileges,” Professor Arun Vishwanath presented some of his research on the “people problem” of cybersecurity, proposing a new model for quantifying the cyberrisk posed by individuals within the enterprise and tailoring training to best mitigate the risk they pose. While many corporate training programs stage fake phishing emails and then lecture those who fail, he said, this model continues to be ineffective, as proven by the increase in these attacks and their efficacy across all industries. People are not the problem, Vishwanath asserted, rather it is in our understanding of people.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/a-risk-based-approach-to-rating-and-correcting-individual-cyberrisk/

There's no greater battle among office workers than that over the temperature in the building, leading some workers to wear their coats in the middle of summer while others equip their desks with mini fans in January. This war is why so many office thermostats sport clear plastic covers secured with locks.

The temperature of office buildings and other commercial real estate is one of the many data points collected and managed by real estate giant JLL, a Fortune 500 company. JLL may not be a familiar name to those outside commercial real estate circles, but the company is big and influential. If you work in an office building, you may be a client.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/software-platforms/how-data-visualization-can-improve-your-workspace/d/d-id/1326512

Tuesday, 09 August 2016 00:00

Risks As Distractions

Writing this column in the summer is a dicey proposition.  Distractions abound, especially in an election year. There are so many risks to think about outside the world of banking that it comes almost as a relief to read Nathaniel Popper’s latest New York Times magazine column, “Has Wall Street Been Tamed?,” suggesting that the banking industry is healthier than we thought, that the capital requirements provision for large banks, along with the Volcker Rule, have forced banks to (in some cases) downsize and to better regulate themselves.  His column must come as a relief to Wall Street CEOs paying any attention at all to provisions in both major political party platforms that call for the re-implementation of something like Glass-Steagall.

...

http://anniesearle.createsend.com/t/ViewEmailArchive/r/0260F68D573F56EF2540EF23F30FEDED/6F21BA1D1D483682/

We often talk about data in terms of what it can create, how it can increase sales, decrease waste, and help to engage with your audience more effectively. However, the use of data within the business can be as, if not more, important than any outwards facing use.

Corporate sustainability is constantly being questioned and those who fail to operate in a sustainable and moral way are being publicly shamed more and more frequently. Sir Phillip Green in the UK may have his knighthood removed because of his lack of sustainable business practices when he ran and then sold BHS, we have previously seen Fred Goodwin, who oversaw RBS when the bank nearly collapse, lose his knighthood over his business sustainability failings.

In fact, the sustainable running of companies has been at the centre of some major decisions in the past few months, with Stephen Hawking even claiming that the wealth inequality between company leaders in the UK was a reason for the Brexit vote. Theresa May, the new Prime Minister in her first speech also said 'We need to reform the economy to allow more people to share in the country’s prosperity.' The very core of both of these statements comes from a lack of business sustainability, something in which data has a huge part to play.

...

https://channels.theinnovationenterprise.com/articles/data-is-creating-better-governance-in-companies

(Bloomberg) — Data centers, used by governments and large corporations to house their computer systems, have one big environmental problem: They get hot.

To keep them from overheating, large data centers can pump hundreds of millions of gallons of water a year through the facilities, according to company reports. That high demand for water has some investors concerned, especially in places where natural water resources are becoming ever more precious, like tech-heavy California.

“We definitely want our portfolio companies to be cognizant of their water use and take the appropriate steps to minimize their water use and recycle water,” said Brian Rice, portfolio manager at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which manages about $189 billion in assets as of June 30. He cited water usage as a concern at data centers as well as at other portfolio companies, such as those in agriculture.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/05/data-centers-water-use-investors-high-alert/

Security, like most aspects of IT infrastructure, has historically been a siloed function. Focused on protecting data, applications, network connections, and with the advent of BYOD (bring your own device) policies, network endpoints, it is a practice that, for most companies, evolved in a reactive fashion – new technology acquired and implemented based on a specific need.

It is not uncommon for a medium-to-large company to have 50 or more different security technologies in place. While fiscally inefficient, this approach has been somewhat effective up to this point in dealing with the types of attacks launched against it.

The threat landscape is currently changing more rapidly than ever, forcing businesses to shift to a more forward-thinking security model. The need to effectively address attackers who constantly evolve focus, attack approaches, and targets has never been greater. The need calls for a proactive approach and an overarching security plan.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/05/extending-edge-new-thinking-data-security/

By any measure, data center REIT CyrusOne (CONE) just knocked the ball out of the park last quarter, and this leasing momentum continued into the third quarter.

According to Gary Wojtaszek, CyrusOne president and CEO.  “This was the strongest leasing quarter in the Company’s history, and we believe it is also a record for the industry,” He added, “These results reflect continued strong operational and financial performance, and our ability to deliver data centers at the fastest time to market has enabled our hyper-scale customers to keep pace with their increasing capacity requirements.”

Since speed to market was a major factor in winning these large-scale cloud deployments, hitting an inside-the-park home run — where a swift runner beats the throw to home plate — is a better analogy.

It is a real “head-scratcher” how a 34 percent earnings growth rate can disappoint investors.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/05/data-center-reit-cyrusone-sprints-ahead-cloud-leasing-race-yet-no-respect/

If a natural disaster struck your business today, could it recover? For many business owners, the honest answer is no; some 30 percent of companies that are closed by a disaster never open their doors for business again. If you want to increase the odds that your business recovers after a catastrophe, you need to prepare for the unexpected.

Identify the Risks
What disasters are likely to strike your business? The answer to that depends partially on your location. Businesses in California probably do not need to worry much about a nor’easter, but they should know what to do in the event of an earthquake. For companies located in Maryland, the reverse is true. There are also some calamities that are universal. Fire and flooding can strike any business at any time. Consider the possibilities and identify what risks your business is likely to face. If you are unsure, contact your area’s emergency management office for guidance.

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http://nationaldisasterrecovery.org/before-disaster-strikes-preparing-your-business-f/

Monday, 08 August 2016 00:00

Leaning Toward a More Modular Data Center

As we enter the era of Big Data and the Internet of Things, the enterprise needs two things from its data infrastructure: rapid scale and minimal complexity. Modular infrastructure satisfies both these demands, which is why it is gaining ground in both the enterprise data center and in cloud and colocation facilities.

According to Research and Markets, the modular data center industry is growing by nearly 30 percent per year, with an expected increase from $10.34 billion in 2016 to more than $38 billion by 2021. Key drivers include the need to expand performance and capacity while maintaining, or even decreasing, energy consumption, as well as reducing the complexity of overall infrastructure to allow for improved provisioning, integration and management. As expected, the Asia-Pacific region is the fastest-growing market for modular systems given its high data demands and relatively low installed base of traditional, silo-based infrastructure.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/leaning-toward-a-more-modular-data-center.html

Being adequately prepared for an emergency requires a strong crisis communications plan. As an organization, if a critical event arises, you must be able to respond immediately with confidence, and having a plan is the only way to do so without creating additional chaos.

Emergency events can range from terrorist attacks and shooter-on-site threats to fires, snow storms, and severe weather or IT power outages and network cyberattacks. Your emergency communications plan should describe how your organization will respond to a critical event and it should be detailed and clear, yet broad enough to apply to array of potential incidents or threats. A well-thought-out, simple step-by-step emergency communications plan—with room for flexibility—is a key asset in incident response and business resiliency management.

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https://www.alertmedia.com/emergency-preparedness-6-best-practices-for-building-an-emergency-communications-plan/

There was a time when businesses defended against cyberattackers by piling up the equivalent of digital sandbags. The idea was to trust whatever was inside the perimeter and distrust whatever was outside the perimeter.

But this approach to cybersecurity doesn't work in a world in which data, applications and employees don’t always reside inside a company’s four walls. It's a message managed service providers need to convey to IT: Late-20th century cyber defense strategies won't work to protect 21st century cloud deployments.

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http://mspmentor.net/cloud-services/when-it-comes-cloud-security-leave-sandbags-home

The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and Regus are running the 1st BCI Workplace Recovery Survey and would greatly welcome your input. Workplace Recovery, also referred to as Work Area Recovery or Workgroup Recovery, is defined as providing an alternate location for employees when an event prevents them from accessing their primary work facilities. Your support will be vital in building a project that has the potential to become a well-regarded industry resource.

We will be providing a complimentary copy of the survey results in exchange for your time should you give your contact details. You will also be entered in a prize draw for Amazon vouchers worth £100.

Any references to identifying information (i.e. names, organizations, etc.) will be anonymous. If you have any questions, please get in touch with Gianluca Riglietti at gianluca.riglietti@thebci.org.

Thank you for your time and contribution.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/L72NNM9

Friday, 05 August 2016 00:00

What is physical media damage?

Ever had a drive that fell from your desk? Or had it experience a fire (and ensuing water from the sprinklers)? These and many other types of damages that a drive can experience are known as physical damages and, believe it or not, your data may survive it.

In this post, we’ll get to know the technical terms as well as the different stages of data loss and whether data is still (hopefully) recoverable after a ‘near-death’ experience.

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http://blog.krollontrack.co.uk/making-data-simple/what-is-physical-media-damage/

I didn’t get to attend security conference Black Hat this year, but based on the highlights I’ve been seeing, ransomware is a major topic. I’m not surprised (and I’m sure my readers aren’t, either). As ComputerWeekly pointed out, ransomware is the security concern of the summer. I’d say it is the security issue of 2016. It seems like every security discussion begins or ends with ransomware. So I’ve rounded up some of the findings about ransomware that were disclosed this past week.

According to PhishMe’s Q2 malware report, ransomware made up half of all malware and, in fact, ransomware has developed into a real business for cybercriminals. There has been a significant rise in encryption malware and in evasion techniques, according to the study. As PhishMe CEO and co-founder Rohyt Belani was quoted by eSecurity Planet:

Barely a year ago, ransomware was a concerning trend on the rise. Now, ransomware is a fully established business model and a reliable profit engine for cybercriminals, as threat actors involved treat it as a legitimate industry by selling information, tools and resources to peers based all around the world.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/its-easy-to-see-why-ransomware-is-the-security-issue-of-the-year.html

According to the results of a recent survey of IT professionals, 43 percent of organizations estimate half or more of their IT infrastructure will be in the cloud in the next three to five years. The race to the cloud is picking up steam, but all too often companies begin implementing hybrid IT environments without first considering which workloads make the most sense for which environments.

The bottom line is your business’s decision to migrate workloads and/or applications to the cloud should not be arbitrary. So how do you decide what goes where?

The best time to consider migrating to the cloud is when it’s time to re-platform an application. You should not need to over-engineer any application or workload to fit the cloud. If it’s not broken, why move it? For the purposes of this piece, let’s assume your organization is in the process of re-platforming a number of applications and you are now deciding whether to take advantage of the cloud for these applications. There are a few primary considerations you should think through to determine if moving to the cloud or remaining on-premises is best.

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http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/04/dissecting-data-center-can-cant-moved-cloud/

According to the results of a recent survey [PDF] of 775 IT decision makers worldwide, 82 percent of respondents admitted to a shortage of cyber security skills, and 71 percent said that shortage is responsible for direct and measurable damage.

The study, commissioned by Intel in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and conducted by Vanson Bourne, also found that one in three respondents said a shortage of skills makes their organizations more desirable hacking targets.

One in four respondents said a lack of sufficient cyber security staff strength has damaged their organization's reputation and led directly to the loss of proprietary data through cyber attacks.

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http://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/71-percent-of-it-pros-say-cyber-security-skills-shortage-causes-damage-to-organizations.html

Friday, 05 August 2016 00:00

Ping Identity Acquires UnboundID

Yesterday, Ping Identity announced it has acquired Austin, Texas-based UnboundID. Although the financial terms were not disclosed, Forrester estimates the purchase price in the $50M-$75M range, based on typical M&A SaaS revenue multiples of 6X to 8X and Forrester’s estimation of UnboundID’s annual revenue.

This acquisition is not particularly surprising, as UnboundID and Ping have had a healthy reseller relationship since April 2015, so the purchase merely consummates the existing relationship. It also demonstrates how reselling relationships can help software vendors validate how they complement each other and set the stage for a complete acquisition.

For me, there are three key takeaways from the Ping Identity/UnboundID merger:

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http://blogs.forrester.com/merritt_maxim/16-08-03-ping_identity_acquires_unboundid

The Business Continuity Institute - Aug 05, 2016 14:21 BST

“You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one. I don’t believe in little plans. I believe in plans big enough to meet a situation which we can’t possibly foresee now.”

Harry S. Truman

The crisis management plan is just one aspect in ensuring your team are ready to respond to an incident or crisis. Taking the time to carefully consider the what, when, why and how enables the necessary steps to be taken to ensure everybody knows exactly what to do should the worst happen.

The following six points act as a great starting point in developing your thinking and an organization's crisis management plan.

1. What would constitute a crisis for your organization?

There are many definitions, but you need to consider what specifically would constitute a crisis for your organization and ensure your team fully understands what is expected of them.

2. Define the triggers for activation of your crisis management plan

What are the trigger levels, who is responsible, what structures come into play and how do you expect your team to respond to likely crisis scenarios? Taking the time to really consider these points helps to define the next stage.

3. Develop detailed action plans – ensure your people know how to respond

You now need to get into the specifics and consider the actions that would need to be taken to effectively respond and manage the incident or crisis. It is really important that these points are:

  • Specific and very clearly defined.
  • Assigned to a particular team or individual taking into account resilience
  • Realistic – incident management moves at pace but there must be realism within the plan
  • Time related – clearly define when the result needs to be achieved.
  • Assured – regularly review to ensure actions have been completed and the approach remains aligned to business need. Things quickly change.

4. Stakeholder engagement – ensure you maintain easily accessible lists of stakeholders and define requirements

There is nothing worse than trying to find contact details for stakeholders during an incident or crisis. Hopefully you have an existing system and back up to access these. If not this is a really important piece of work to progress.

It is also helpful to have considered how you would communicate messages, what you would communicate and the frequency. Remember – the usual method might not be available, have you considered a back-up?

5. Communications strategy – how are you as an organization going to respond

Carefully consider the likely scenarios that may impact your business and develop a communications strategy and your key messages for each of those scenarios now. Ensure that your top team has signed these off and regularly revisit to ensure the approaches remain current. Early assessment to define the best response is vital and having this activity pre prepared will ensure you can quickly and effectively manage your approach.

6. Resources – your response will take time and effort, ensure your team has all that it needs

Any crisis takes time to manage and it is the basic things that are often overlooked. Ensure you have the required resources necessary to sustain activity over an extended period. Nobody wants to be chasing around for the basics when you have far more important things to do.

These six points form the foundation of any crisis management plan, there are many more things to consider, but by carefully considering each stage you can take big steps forward in ensuring your organization improves its resilience in the event of an unforeseen event.

Chris Regan is the Director of Blue Rock Risk Limited a specialist crisis and risk management consultancy. Chris has developed an international reputation working with both private and public sector clients to help them plan, prepare and respond effectively to a wide range of crisis and risk issues. Chris can be contacted at info@bluerockrisk.com

 
 
The Business Continuity Institute - Aug 04, 2016 14:39 BST

Civil unrest is significantly more disruptive to business in France than in any other western economy, reveals a new global index released by Verisk Maplecroft, which rates the country ‘high risk’ alongside emerging markets such as Brazil and South Africa. With a deep-rooted culture of political protest and strikes, the country is ranked 16th most at risk globally in the Civil Unrest Index.

According to Maplecroft, it is striking that Brazil, France, India, Mexico and South Africa, which have all witnessed substantial disorder in the last year, lack adequate structures to avoid grievances escalating into wholesale protests. While France has an active civil society and trade unions, these tend to encourage demonstrations. In contrast, Germany (ranked equal 140th with the UK and ‘low risk’) has a more consensual political culture that supports close cooperation between trade unions, industry and government, so protest is less likely to be an option of first resort in labour disputes.

Social and civil unrest may not have featured as a major threat in the Business Continuity Institute's latest Horizon Scan Report, but it was still noted as a concern for over a third of business continuity professionals.

As companies assess the viability of relocating European headquarters from the UK following the Brexit referendum, the findings provide a useful insight into some of the structural problems facing business in France. The country features among emerging markets such as India (4th), Mexico (7th), Nigeria (10th), South Africa (13th), Argentina (15th) and Brazil (21st). The only other Western European country to feature in the worst performers was Greece ranked 25th, while Italy (77th) is the next highest.

As we’ve seen in South Africa and Nigeria, poor economic performance is also a critical bellwether for the likelihood of civil unrest,” says Principal Political Risk Analyst Charlotte Ingham. “In addition, widespread political and ethnic discrimination or corruption can inflame popular discontent and trigger significant events.

 
 
 
 
Risk Acceptance must be a conscious decision, not a default action due to lack of information or desire to act

Risk Assessments and Risk Mitigation remain important topics in many association groups and business discussions. We are often asked to assist with formal risk assessments, as well as with individual components of an overall risk assessment. Over the last several months we have discussed different risk topics on our blog (Real Risks to an Organization, Maximize Compliance & Minimize Risk). These topics discuss how to prepare for or mitigate risks. One of the most used risk mitigation strategies is “do nothing – accept the risk.” Even if it is not thought of as one, it is a mitigation strategy and is often the most appropriate.

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http://www.mha-it.com/2016/08/risk-acceptance-strategy/

Strong corporate governance is the foundation on which all large companies can establish clear accountabilities, drive smart objectives and implement effective processes throughout their organization. Without strong corporate governance at all levels, companies can quickly find themselves in a state of flux, unable to do what they need to do in order to achieve the objectives they have set for themselves. Indeed, a lack of corporate governance can even make the objective-setting process inefficient.

As technology becomes a larger part of overall business processes, many companies are exploring how they can use available tools to enhance their corporate governance. Board portals are one such tool that can help by making boards more effective and board members more accountable, while assisting businesses in everything from setting objectives to measuring results.

Here’s a look at five ways board portals can do this:

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http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/5-ways-board-portals-help-corporate-governance/

Trust is an essential underpinning of life in the digital age. We trust our friends on Facebook not to share our private family photos. We trust our email clients and antivirus software to keep viruses and spam at bay. But for many people, the risks of using the internet are scary enough to curb their online activities.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) looked at the results of a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2015. Out of 41,000 U.S. households, 19% reported security breaches, identity theft, or other malicious activity in the previous 12 months. Among households with mobile data plans, 22% had experienced an online security breach. The most pressing concern, cited by 63% of online households, was identity theft, followed by credit card or banking fraud, and various forms of data collection.

What’s of greater concern is the chilling effect this has had on online activities. Nearly half of online households said that their worries had stopped them from engaging in financial transactions, buying goods or services, posting on social networks, or commenting on political issues online; 30% refrained from at least two of these activities. It’s not surprising that if users were concerned about a particular risk, they would avoid a related activity. Thus, 35% of households worried about identity theft had decided not to conduct financial transactions in the 12 months prior to the survey.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/williamsaito/2016/08/03/the-big-chill-lets-not-let-cybersecurity-threats-slow-productivity-and-economic-growth/

The Government of Canada has released a cloud adoption plan this week which restricts cloud storage of much of its data to Canadian data centers. The plan calls for “secret” and “top secret” data to be stored internally, while “classified” information, including personally identifiable information, will be stored in the cloud but within Canada.

Under the plan, unclassified information can be stored anywhere, so long as it is encrypted when it crosses a border.

The country’s Treasury Board, which has been tasked with modernizing the government’s IT practices, released the Cloud Adoption Strategy for public comment, along with Security Control Profile for Cloud and Right Cloud Selection documents, which together outline a plan based on three levels of data security.

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http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/08/02/canada-considers-keeping-public-data-stored-within-borders/

New York – Acquirers are increasingly aware of the need for vigorous cybersecurity due diligence in M&A, yet often lack the proper personnel to conduct thorough analyses, according to a new study by West Monroe Partners and Mergermarket, Testing the Defenses: Cybersecurity due diligence in M&A. As the importance of big data and IT rises across sectors, cybersecurity has become a vital area to assess at deal targets.

West Monroe Partners, a North American business and technology consulting firm, commissioned Mergermarket to interview North America-based senior M&A practitioners to provide insight on the complexities and challenges of cybersecurity due diligence in the acquisition process.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said the importance of cybersecurity issues at M&A targets had increased significantly over the last two years, due to the increase in corporate data breaches and the liabilities that can be incurred as a result. Vulnerable security systems can also indicate poor risk management at a company.

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http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/importance-secure-systems-rising-amid-spike-data-breaches/

Wednesday, 03 August 2016 00:00

Still No Easy Road to the Data Lake

The enterprise is under the gun to convert existing infrastructure to more nimble, automated footprints that better support Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT). This invariably leads to the creation of the so-called “data lake” that acts as both a warehouse and an advanced analytics engine to turn raw data into valuable, actionable knowledge.

The problem is, development of key technologies that go into the data lake is still at a very early stage, so organizations that want to be on the cutting edge of this trend have little or no guidance when working through the inevitable complications that arise in such an ambitious project.

According to Constellation Research principal analyst Doug Henschen, technical challenges will remain for some time, but there are ways to ensure that your data lake does not turn into a data swamp. One of the key pitfalls is thinking that the data lake is a single, monolithic entity rather than a collection of integrated components. The best designs focus on blending raw data sets to find correlations, model behaviors and present predictable outcomes, but this requires careful coordination between data ingestion, refinement, experimentation, governance and other functions. To date, platforms like Apache Hadoop incorporate all of these processes, but it will be a while before a truly integrated architecture hits the enterprise mainstream.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/still-no-easy-road-to-the-data-lake.html

Wednesday, 03 August 2016 00:00

Monsoon Season Is Finally Here

(TNS) — The lightning came down in a white flash, hitting Don Jinzo’s daughter on May 15 last year in Carrizozo as she was riding on the back of her boyfriend’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Kalina Jinzo, 40, died seven days later. She was the first of two people killed by lightning in New Mexico last year. Her boyfriend was not injured.

“I think about it every day,” said Don Jinzo, 62, of Los Lunas. “It’s been a year already, and we all miss her a lot.”

Weather forecasters say the monsoon season is finally here, bringing predictions of torrential rains, flash floods and thunderstorms all week. Over the weekend, the Santa Fe National Forest reported nearly 1,000 lightning strikes.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Monsoon-Season-Is-Finally-Here.html

As IoT investment grows, with billions of dollars flowing into new enterprises, IT departments, as well as other parts of the business, are expressing concerns over the security risks the technology poses

As IT departments begin to adopt internet of things (IoT) technologies to modernize businesses, investment is picking up, specifically benefitting the developers of innovative sensors, according to a report from Lux Research.

That segment cornered nearly 80% of the investment due to demand from IoT technologies, with North America dominating. Specifically, more than 340 companies in the Americas attracted nearly 80%, or $3.4 billion, of the total investment in sensor technologies since 2006, according to the report.

Samsung is investing $13 billion, while Sony is raising $4 billion to ramp up sensor production. In addition, Panasonic has invested $780 million for image sensors, while IBM is investing $3 billion in sensor data, and Ford has opened a research and development center on sensors for transportation --- a further indication that IoT adoption is spreading across multiple verticals, and to companies outside of traditional technology firms.

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http://www.informationweek.com/iot/iot-investments-rise-but-it-pros-harbor-security-concerns/d/d-id/1326474

Barcoded medical samples in transparent tubes

As Zika virus spreads across the globe, scientists in the United States are finding ways to fight it. Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent Zika or medicines for treatment. To create better tests – including rapid tests – and develop vaccines, scientists need to conduct research with the virus in their labs.

CDC manages the permit process for researchers to bring samples of Zika virus safely from other countries into the U.S. for studies, paving the way for lifesaving discoveries.

“Samples come from all over the world,” says LCDR Meredith Pyle, a CDC microbiologist. “While so far, most samples have come from Brazil and Colombia, we have received samples from countries ranging from India to South Korea to Switzerland to Zambia.”

Sending a virus sample from one place to another has to be done safely and securely. Samples of Zika virus can be brought into the U.S. in a variety of forms, including in a tube of blood (plasma or serum), a spot of dried blood, an isolate of the virus itself that has been separated from the blood, or even a live mosquito.

How researchers get a permit

Most permit requests come from laboratories at academic and private institutions. Permits are requested through the Import Permit Program (IPP), which is managed by CDC’s Division of Select Agents and Toxins (DSAT). The program makes sure infectious germs, like Zika virus, as well as other materials that could cause disease in people will be handled appropriately after they arrive in the U.S.

“IPP helps to ensure biological agents imported into the US that could cause disease in people are tracked,” said Dr. Dan Sosin, acting director of DSAT. “We also take steps to ensure that the facilities receiving these permits have appropriate biosafety measures in place to work with the materials.”

When a researcher or institution submits an application to get an import permit for Zika virus, CDC reviews the application to make sure the facility has the appropriate biosafety measures in place to prevent the virus from accidentally being released. The program goal is to approve all Zika virus import permit applications within 24 hours for known, appropriate facilities. DSAT may also conduct an in-person inspection before issuing a permit.

Since last year, the number of permits issued for Zika virus has increased by more than eightfold. As of August 1, 2016, the program had expedited the approval of 137 Zika virus import permits this year alone.

Get more information on the Import Permit Program.

Posted on August 2, 2016 by Blog Administrator

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