Summer Journal

Volume 29, Issue 3

Full Contents Now Available!

Industry Hot News

Industry Hot News (6370)

(TNS) - Jakki Lewis was nearing the end of her first day of work at Excel Industries on Thursday, when she heard gunshots.

"I never did see him. We just heard bullets," Lewis said. "He was running all over the plant, chasing people."

Another employee, a man armed with a long gun and a pistol, pulled into the parking lot of the plant where about 1,000 people work, manufacturing lawn mowers, and started shooting. He walked inside, where he shot three people near the front office, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said later.

After hearing shots, Jeff Lusk, who was at Excel for an interview at 5 p.m., said he saw the shooter and then got under a desk.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/It-happened-here-Mass-killings-hit-area-at-Hesston-workplace-4-dead-including-shooter-17-hurt.html

(TNS) -- Area hospitals are riddled with cybersecurity flaws that could allow attackers to hack into medical devices and kill patients, a team of Baltimore-based researchers has concluded after a two-year investigation.

Hackers at Independent Security Evaluators broke into one hospital's systems remotely to take control of several patient monitors, which would let an attacker disable alarms or display false information.

The team strolled into one hospital's lobby and used an easily accessible kiosk to commandeer computer systems that track medicine delivery and bloodwork requests — more opportunities for malicious hackers to create mayhem.

The firm worked with the knowledge and cooperation of a dozen hospitals, including hospitals in Baltimore, Towson and Washington. They did not release the names of the hospitals.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Baltimore-Hospital-Hackers.html

Iron Mountain, the nearly 70-year-old “information management” company that grew out of a big early 20th century underground mushroom growing operation, has joined a White House program created to push companies and government agencies to improve their data center energy efficiency.

President Barack Obama’s administration rolled out the Better Buildings Initiative in parallel with its clean energy investment program in 2011. The Better Buildings Challenge, one part of the initiative, called on companies and agencies to make specific energy efficiency improvement commitments for their facilities in return for access to some technical assistance from the government, shared best practices, and, of course, good publicity.

So far, Boston-based Iron Mountain is one of 11 private-sector data center operators to have accepted the challenge, pledging to reduce energy intensity of eight of its data centers by 20 percent in 10 years. The others are eBay, Facebook, Intel, Intuit, Home Depot, Staples, and Schneider Electric, as well as data center providers Digital Realty Trust, CoreSite Realty, and Sabey Data Centers.

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http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/26/iron-mountain-joins-obamas-data-center-energy-challenge/

Working from home and being able to take work out of the office makes working life easier but can be a nightmare for data privacy. With an estimated 56 percent of employees reporting that they either very frequently or frequently stored sensitive data on their laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, the chances of confidential information getting lost or into the wrong hands are very high. 
 
Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) is part of the modern workplace. It’s becoming more and more normal for business information to be stored in or accessed by devices that are not fully controlled by IT administrators, and the possibility of data breaches caused by personal devices that aren’t properly protected is also on the rise. 
 
Protecting business information on mobile devices can be as simple as encrypting files and/or password protecting the device - it won’t stop them being lost but IT admin will be able to selectively remove sensitive encrypted data and the chances of someone using stolen information maliciously are much smaller if it’s not possible to get straight into any files that may be sensitive. The issue is clouded when the device actually belongs to the employee and not the business, however.
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Monday, 29 February 2016 00:00

Data Breach Planning and Preparation

Responding to a data breach is one of the more challenging events any company can face.  On the one hand, a data breach requires nearly instantaneous decision making.  Which servers are affected and should be removed from the network (but not shut off)?  Who should be notified?  Should law enforcement, a regulator or the insurer be contacted first?  When should the breach be made public, if at all?  What experts should be engaged, how much do their services cost and can that budget be approved on a Sunday night?  And what is the home phone number for the Director of IT?

Even for the most agile of companies, informed and responsible decision making requires the input of an array of constituencies, some of whom rarely, if ever, have been in the same room together. The classic example is the C-Suite and IT personnel.  The executives may have a difficult time understanding the scope of the breach, and the language IT speaks is decidedly not the language of the boardroom. The legal requirements can be contradictory—for example, a regulator (or the FBI) may ask that you notify no one, but your insurer may require notice within 10 days to trigger coverage.  The scope of the breach may be unknown, resulting in over-protection or even paralysis based on the lack of information.  These complications multiply with the size and public profile of the organization.

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http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/data-breach-planning-and-preparation/

Small businesses are bracing for another year of costly compliance change and complexity from Washington, D.C. While expecting a cascade of regulations, focus is on three priorities—the Affordable Care Act, Fair Labor Standards Act overtime regulations and mandatory paid family and medical leave.

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http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/compliance-2016-what-small-businesses-can-expect/

Storage is one of the hottest IT topics today. Acquisitions are happening regularly, as more users are moving to flash and new types of storage controller ecosystems. We’re seeing powerful hybrid systems emerge and even more impact around extending environments to cloud storage. Throughout all of this, organizations must understand how to utilize these new types of storage resources, and where they apply to their data centers.

The challenge to virtualization and storage engineers is this: How do you manage and work with all the new storage capabilities? Even more important, how can you dynamically manage workload storage requirements within a virtual environment?

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http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/29/allocating-storage-to-vms-and-extending-to-cloud/

We sat down with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger during the 2016 Mobile World Congress to learn more about the company's strategic partnership with IBM. Gelsinger also opened up about how the Dell-EMC deal has been affecting VMware's business, and shared an update on partner relationships.


BARCELONA – VMware's latest strategic partnership with IBM, the challenges it's faced as part of the Dell-EMC merger, and the status of partner relationships were among the topics discussed by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger during an interview with InformationWeek at Mobile World Congress here.

On Feb. 22, IBM and VMware announced a strategic partnership that aims to enable enterprise customers to easily extend their existing workloads, as they are, from their on-premises software-defined data center to the cloud. As part of the deal, according to Gelsinger, IBM is "taking the full set of VMware technologies -- VSphere, NSX, plus our storage, plus our management -- and delivering that full set to the IBM cloud customers. IBM as an enterprise cloud provider is very significant, with 45 data centers worldwide. and they are making very vast investments into that strategy."

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http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/software-platforms/vmware-ceo-gelsinger-talks-ibm-venture-dell-emc-deal/d/d-id/1324476

Friday, 26 February 2016 00:00

Security as High as the Cloud

Over the past several years, the cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) model has proven to be a popular choice for enterprise applications, delivering efficiencies and value to organizations in many ways. Chief among these benefits are avoiding the major undertaking and licensing costs of deploying business-critical software across the organization and relieving IT of the burdens typically associated with maintaining on-premises software—including performing upgrades, installing patches and managing availability. Additionally, cloud-based solutions can enhance flexibility and scalability for enterprise applications and workloads. Of course, the benefits to be gained from adopting SaaS solutions in the enterprise must be balanced against potential risks. Exploring the path to ensuring your cloud applications are highly secure needs to be top priority.

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http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/security-as-high-as-the-cloud/

(TNS) - McLean Fiscal Court approved the purchase of a critical communication service that is expected to help emergency management personnel keep the public better informed and alert.

The court approved the purchase of AlertSense, a public alert system that Emergency Management Director David Sunn said he believes could ultimately be a money saver for the county.

In the event of a critically dangerous event such as a hazardous material spill, the fire department, Sunn said, would be able to use AlertSense to determine a certain radius around the spill and send automatic phone calls or text messages to residents within the radius. That's important, he added, since the county includes vast portions of rural land where communication can be scarce.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/County-opts-to-purchase-reverse-911-service.html

(TNS) - Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said Wednesday officials are bracing for the increasing possibility that new federal flood protection money, which once seemed locked in, will never arrive.

At stake could be $70 million to $80 million for flood walls, levees and pump stations to protect low-lying areas from rising tides on the east bank of the Cedar River. Congress authorized $73 million in spending in 2014, but never appropriated the money.

“We are in serious risk of never being funded,” Mayor Ron Corbett said during his State of the City address.

The sentiment marks a transition for a city rocked by flooding in 2008 from hopeful waiting to wondering if it’s time to plot a Plan B. Eight years later, Cedar Rapids still is recovering.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/State-of-the-City-Serious-risk-federal-flood-protection-money-not-coming.html

In his final budget proposal, President Obama is asking for an increase in spending on cybersecurity -- $19 billion, which is $5 billion more than last year. The requested increase is a response to the rise in cybersecurity threats being made against government agencies.

The budget request follows a trend as we’re seeing more organizations bumping up their cybersecurity budgets.  In fact, estimates are that cybersecurity spending will continue to rise, with expectations of more than $170 billion spent on security by 2020.

But is all this spending actually doing anything to improve cybersecurity? A new study from Venafi hints that perhaps much of that money is being wasted because it isn’t working on certain attacks. The problem, according to the CIOs surveyed, is that layered security defenses aren’t able to tell the difference between which keys and certificates should be trusted and which shouldn’t. A whopping 86 percent of those CIOs believe that stolen encryption keys and digital certificates are going to be the next big attack vector, which is a serious problem because, according to Information Age:

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/are-we-wasting-too-much-money-on-cybersecurity.html

The parade of data center REITs reporting exceptional Q4 and full-year 2015 results has just become even more impressive.

CyrusOne (CONE) crushed results across the board during 2015, including record leasing of 30MW across more than 200,000 square feet of data center space in the fourth quarter alone. The company is expanding capacity across six markets, but its biggest expansion plans are in New Jersey.

CyrusOne CEO Gary Wojtaszek said the flexibility for his customers to lease anywhere from a single rack to 10MW of capacity was a key reason for success in 2015. He also pointed to the company’s ability to deliver data halls in just a few months’ time at less than $7 million per megawatt.

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http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/25/cyrusone-reports-record-2015-plans-big-new-jersey-expansion/

The 2015-16 El Nino season is far from over, and for many parts of the United States, the last couple of months have not been easy.  In fact, the City of Pacifica, CA declared a state of emergency last month after pounding waves and powerful winds caused destruction up and down the coastline [1].  The effects of El Nino span globally too – Stephen O’Brien, a United Nations’ under-secretary-general, said that El Nino has pushed the planet into “uncharted territory.” According to O’Brien, “the impacts, especially on food security, may last as long as two years [2].”

But has this El Nino season gone as planned? Back in December of 2015, we sat down with David Gold and Mike Gauthier of Weather Decision Technologies who took us through several prediction scenarios and preparation techniques for the impending El Nino season.  Fast forward two months and we are back to take a look at how the current season is panning out.  The results may surprise you.

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http://www.everbridge.com/an-el-nino-2015-2016-review-with-weather-decision-technologies/

Cybercrime and cyber security attacks hardly seem to be out of the news these days and the threat is growing globally. Be it a major financial institution or an individual, nobody would appear immune to malicious and offensive acts targeting computer networks, infrastructures and personal computer devices. Firms clearly must invest to stay resilient.

Indeed, and according to the latest results of the 2016 Global Asset Management and Administration Survey from Linedata, a NYSE Euronext-listed IT vendor providing solutions to the investment management industry around the world, cybercrime is being viewed as the “greatest business disruptor” over the next five years. But alongside this regulation remains a priority for financial firms.

The 20-page survey, which was conducted by the fintech vendor in the fourth quarter of 2015 and canvassed two hundred market participants  either face-to-face at Linedata Exchange events in London and San Francisco or via an online survey, found that more than a third (36%) of respondents were concerned about the threat from cyber criminals.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogeraitken/2016/02/25/cybercrime-presents-biggest-disruptive-threat-to-finance-markets-looms-large/

It’s no secret that Microsoft already has a lot of cloud data centers around the world. And the company is planning to build a whole lot more as it attempts to bite further into Amazon’s stranglehold on the cloud services market.

As it continues to build out its global cloud data center empire, Microsoft has to make sure it’s doing it in the most environmentally responsible way it can. It is one of tech’s biggest names and as such, it is under a lot of scrutiny by environmentalists and the public.

To help the cause, Microsoft has created a new role, dedicated specifically to data center sustainability. Not corporate sustainability, not energy strategy, not data center strategy, but data center sustainability. This week, the company announced it has hired Jim Hanna, who until recently led environmental affairs at Starbucks, to fill that role.

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http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/25/starbucks-sustainability-czar-to-lead-microsofts-green-data-center-strategy/

Dell Inc. said Tuesday that it has received U.S. regulatory clearance to proceed with its planned $67 billion purchase of data storage company EMC Corp.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Inc. has passed a mandated waiting period under antitrust laws that are intended to allow the U.S. Federal Trade Commission time to review the purchase. If no FTC action is taken, the purchase can proceed.

But the Dell Inc. deal still has to receive regulatory approvals from other jurisdictions and from EMC shareholders. Reuters new service reported last week that European regulatory approval is expected.

...

http://www.techwire.net/market-news/dell-gets-us-approval-for-emc-data-storage-acquisition.html

Application containers, namely Docker containers, have been heralded as the great liberators of developers from worrying about infrastructure. Package your app in containers, and it will run in your data center or in somebody’s cloud the same way it runs on your laptop.

That has been the promise of the technology based on the long-existing concept of Linux containers the San Francisco startup named Docker devised its application building, testing, and deployment platform around. While developers love the concept of Docker, IT managers that oversee the infrastructure those applications eventually have to be deployed on have certain processes, policies, requirements, and tools that weren’t necessarily designed to support the way apps in Docker containers are deployed and the rapid-fire software release cycle they are ultimately meant to enable.

This week, Docker rolled out into general availability its answer to the problem. Docker Datacenter is meant to translate Docker containers and the set of tools for using them for the traditional enterprise IT environment. It is a suite of products that enables the IT organization to stand up an entire Docker container-based application delivery pipeline that is compatible with IT infrastructure, tools, and policies already in place in the enterprise data center.

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http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/24/docker-makes-docker-easier-for-data-center-managers/

You have probably heard the old saying that “a lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”  But you may not have considered this: “A crisis can do half its damage before the crisis plan is even found!”

And every minute a crisis goes unmanaged, costs may be piling up.

For example—the longer your people  go without clear guidance or worst wait to execute on your crisis management plans , the more likely it is that your situation will escalate.  And what if the instructions for shutting down a manufacturing line come too late?  That expensive equipment could end up a total loss.

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http://blog.rockdovesolutions.com/the-high-cost-of-not-having-an-actionable-crisis-management-plan

CHICAGO — With a forecast that includes the potential for heavy snow and high winds, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V encourages everyone to get prepared.

“If you must leave home in dangerous weather conditions, take precautions to get to your destination safely,” FEMA Region V Administrator Andrew Velasquez III said. “Taking simple steps to prepare before the storm not only keeps you safe, but others as well.”

Follow the instructions of state and local officials and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. If you are told to stay off the roads, stay home, and when it is safe, check on your neighbors or friends nearby who may need assistance.

Find valuable tips to help you prepare for severe winter weather at www.ready.gov/winter-weather or download the free FEMA app, available for your Android, Apple or Blackberry device. Visit the site or download the app today so you have the information you need to prepare for severe winter weather.

Follow FEMA online at twitter.com/femaregion5, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

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.

Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Security Concerns Continue Amid Cloud Adoption

The Internet of Things (IoT) generates a lot of data, which organizations can store in the cloud. But how are they keeping it all safe?

Many companies are realizing they face this challenge and are ramping up efforts to improve data security as they embrace new platforms, including IoT and cloud-based applications, according to a recent survey conducted by 451 Research.

The survey, sponsored by data and cloud security vendor Vormetric, polled 1,114 senior IT executives, representing companies ranging from $50 million to more than $2 billion in annual sales.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/security-and-risk-strategy/security-concerns-continue-amid-cloud-adoption/d/d-id/1324413

February is American Heart Month. In light of that, it seems only fitting that we should check the pulse of a challenge faced by many in Healthcare IT: disaster recovery.

In a training class several weeks ago, Ryan, an incredibly enthusiastic sales engineer, and I had a conversation about disaster recovery. “Disaster recovery is so much more than the question of, ‘Will I pass the audit?’” he began. “Buildings fall apart, water rises, systems fail, snow falls, power surges,” he explained, making imaginary drawings in the air to emphasize his points. “Anything that stops hospital operations for a period of hours is definitely a disaster.”

“The great thing is that Citrix is on top of it,” he confidently added. Ryan backed that statement with a contrasting tale of two US hospitals – one in Texas that was plagued by human error and another in the Southwest that experienced equipment failure after a power surge.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/02/24/an-se-gets-to-the-heart-of-disaster-recovery-in-healthcare/

5 Things You Really Need to Know About Zika Virus

Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and most recently in the Americas. Because the mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will continue to spread. Here are 5 things that you really need to know about the Zika virus.

Zika is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. To date, there have been no reports of Zika being spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. However, cases have been reported in travelers to the United States. With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.

These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters. They also bite at night. The mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.Zika_prevent mosquito bites

Protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.  Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.

Read more about how to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Infection with Zika during pregnancy may be linked to birth defects in babies.

Waiting for a baby. Close-up of young pregnant woman touching her abdomen while sitting on the couch

Zika virus can pass from a mother to the fetus during pregnancy, but we are unsure of how often this occurs. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head is smaller than expected for age and sex) in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Additional studies are needed to determine the degree to which Zika is linked with microcephaly. More lab testing and other studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

We expect that the course of Zika virus disease in pregnant women is similar to that in the general population. No evidence exists to suggest that pregnant women are more susceptible or experience more severe disease during pregnancy.

Because of the possible association between Zika infection and microcephaly, pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

Pregnant women should delay travel to areas where Zika is spreading.

Until more is known, CDC recommends that pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where Zika is spreading, either do not have sex or use condoms the right way every time during your pregnancy.

For women trying to get pregnant, before you or your male partner travel, talk to your healthcare provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection. You and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites.

Man using insect repellant

During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. The infected mosquito must live long enough for the virus to multiply and for the mosquito to bite another person.

Protect your family, friends, neighbors, and community! If you have traveled to a country where Zika has been found, make sure you take the same measures to protect yourself from mosquito bites at home as you would while traveling. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants , use insect repellant, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

For more information on the Zika virus, and for the latest updates, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.

We’re constantly hearing about how the lack of rain in much of the Southwest has contributed to the worst drought in the history of the region, but the subject of water doesn’t come up much with respect to data centers.

However, it should garner just as much attention—specifically water treatment programs—according to Data Center World speaker Robert O’Donnell, managing partner of Aquanomix.

“The water management program is a huge risk in data centers; one that many facility owners don’t understand or give enough credence to,” he says.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/24/cause-effect-the-hidden-risk-in-your-data-center/

Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

The Hybrid Cloud: Your Cloud, Your Way

Cloud computing has become a significant topic of conversation in the technology industry and is being seen as a key delivery mechanism for enabling IT services. Today’s reality is that most organizations already are using some form of cloud because it opens up new opportunities and has become engrained in the fabric of how things are done and how business outcomes are achieved.

Cloud offers a host of service and deployment models: both on- and off-premises, across public, private, and managed clouds. We see some organizations starting with public cloud because of the perceived ease of entry and lower costs. Some organizations, such as test and development groups, use public clouds because they need to quickly stand-up infrastructure, test and run their application and take it down, and this can’t be supported by their existing IT team. Other companies, such as startups, use public clouds because they simply don’t have the resources to build, own and manage a private cloud infrastructure today. We’re also seeing a rather significant shift back towards private clouds, which are becoming much easier and quicker to deploy and still come with IT control and piece-of-mind security benefits.

That said, every organization’s cloud is a unique reflection of its business strategies, priorities and needs; and this is why there is a great variation in how companies go about implementing their own specific clouds.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/24/the-hybrid-cloud-your-cloud-your-way/

Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Zika Virus Exposes Weaknesses in Public Health

State health officials were heartened when President Barack Obama this month asked Congress for $1.8 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus because they fear they don't have the resources to fight the potentially debilitating disease on their own.

Budget cuts have left state and local health departments seriously understaffed and, officials say, in a precariously dangerous situation if the country has to face outbreaks of two or more infectious diseases -- such as Zika, new strains of flu, or the West Nile and Ebola viruses -- at the same time.

"We have been lucky," said James Blumenstock of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, of states' and localities' ability to contain the flu, West Nile and Ebola threats of the last five years.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Zika-Virus-Exposes-Weaknesses-in-Public-Health.html

(TNS) - At least three people have died in severe weather in the southern states of the United States, where tornadoes, damaging hail and flash floods left a swath of destruction.

Tornadoes churned across many states, from Louisiana to Georgia, but the most destructive were in Louisiana and Mississippi.

More than 30 people were injured in the storms. Two people died in the hamlet of Convent, Louisiana, after a tornado demolished more than 160 mobile homes.

The third casualty died in a trailer park in Purvis, Mississippi.

The storm left tens of thousands of people without power in Louisiana, and John Bel Edwards, the state governor, declared a state of emergency in seven parishes.

The powerful storm developed when the jet stream dived across the region on Tuesday. A jet stream is a fast-flowing ribbon of air, blowing high above the Earth's surface, which can dictate the path of storms and can also encourage their development.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Deadly-tornadoes-rip-through-Louisiana-and-Mississippi.html

The hybrid cloud is going mainstream as more companies seek to capitalize on the benefits of both the private and public cloud.

But this tech transition is not without its sundry challenges, particularly when it comes to security - and that’s where managed service providers can play key roles as customers transform their IT infrastructures.

Many smaller companies view the hybrid cloud as a sensible balance between offloading storage and computational time to a public cloud, and keeping a firm’s computational services all on premises. The good news is that unlike bigger enterprises, SMEs moving to hybrid clouds won't need to jerryrig older legacy infrastructures - potentially opening security holes in the computer network. MSPs can steer that migration to the hybrid cloud with "clean" deployments by starting from scratch.

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http://mspmentor.net/cloud-services/moving-breach-how-secure-hybrid-cloud

A new survey of 1,080 IT professionals conducted by cloud services company Evolve IP indicated the cloud has "gained corporate alignment, increased real business benefits and has near ubiquitous adoption."

Evolve IP's "2016 North American Cloud Adoption Survey" revealed 86 percent of respondents said they believe cloud computing represents "the future model of IT."

...

http://mspmentor.net/cloud-computing/whats-state-cloud-adoption-north-america

Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Nixle in Action: Preparing for a Power Outage

Over the past decade, the amount of power outages in the United States has increased. A recent Federal study shared that the U.S. electric grid loses power 285% more often than it did 30 years ago. [1] These surprising numbers are mainly attributed to aging infrastructure, a growing population, and more severe weather patterns. On top of the financial burden that this has on business, resident’s daily lives are affected by these unexpected failures.

What can residents do to be best prepared in the case of a power outage? One of the key elements in being prepared is having a line of communication. During a power outage, watching the news for information from local officials is not an option. Having a system to send out a mass text or email notification is a huge advantage when traditional means of communication are cut off. During a power outage, residents are often left in the dark about how long the power will be out for, what was the cause, and if the problem is being solved. By using Nixle, police departments and other officials can keep a line of communication with residents to update them on the progress of the outage.

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http://www.everbridge.com/nixle-in-action-preparing-for-a-power-outage/

(TNS) -- When people in the Kansas City area need emergency help, they can now send a text message to 911.

Text-to-911 service has been growing more common among cities across the country in recent years and is now fully operational at all emergency dispatch centers in the Kansas City metro area, the Mid-America Regional Council announced last week.

Sending a text to 911 instead of calling could be a lifesaving option for people in situations where they can’t speak safely, such as home invasions or active shooter incidents, according to MARC.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/next-gen-911/Kansascity-Text-To-911.html

Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Striving for More Effective Cloud Migration

Application and data migration remains one of the most significant barriers to cloud adoption in the enterprise these days. And while today’s solutions are not perfect, there is at least a strong commitment on the part of vendors and cloud providers to address the issue.

The biggest move came this week with the announcement from IBM and VMware that they would work together to move legacy data center functions onto the IBM cloud. The pact is significant for two reasons. First, it combines the technical knowhow of two leading IT vendors – IBM on the hardware and services side and VMware on the virtual layer – to craft what will likely be a very robust hybrid cloud infrastructure (Disclosure: I provide content services to IBM).

Secondly, it enables organizations to move legacy apps to the cloud without having to rewrite code. As The Wall Street Journal’s Angus Loten points out, this is crucial for organizations that are seeking the flexibility and scalability of the cloud but still need to leverage existing infrastructure for ongoing business processes.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/striving-for-more-effective-cloud-migration.html

NORTH LITTLE ROCK –Teams of specialists from FEMA will offer tips and techniques to lessen the impact of future disaster-related property damage at building supply stores in three Arkansas locations Thursday, Feb. 25 – March 1, 2016.

The teams will be at these Lowe’s stores:

  • Jefferson County: 2906A E. Harding Ave., Pine Bluff
  • Faulkner County: 1325 Hwy. 64W, Conway
  • Benton County: 1100 NW Lowes Ave., Bentonville

Teams will be at each location from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday – Tuesday except for Sunday. Hours on Sunday are from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

FEMA specialists offer “how-to” information on both retrofitting buildings to make them more resistant to weather damage and ways to elevate utilities against flooding. They also provide tips to clean and help prevent mold and mildew.

Many of the tips and techniques are specifically geared for the do-it-yourselfer and for building contractors. If you have a disability and need an accommodation to access materials such as Braille, large print, or ASL interpreters please let our representatives know.

FEMA offers a number of free online resources for home and property owners. To get started, go to

www.fema.gov/safer-stronger-protected-homes-communities or http://www.fema.gov/arkansas-disaster-mitigation.

# # #

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.

Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Oracle Acquires Cloud Migration Startup Ravello

Workload cloud migration startup Ravello Systems was acquired on Monday by Oracle to ease enterprise adoption of its public cloud. Oracle is reported to have paid between $400 and $500 million for the California-based company which maintains a research presence in Israel, and Oracle is now expected to open a cloud research and development facility in Israel, according to Ha’aretz.

Ravello was started in 2011 by the team behind the KVM hypervisor. It offers nested virtualization solutions, allowing KVM and VMware workloads to be developed, tested, and demonstrated in the cloud without migration, and migrations to new cloud providers and management platforms without rewriting applications. KVM was passed in benchmark tests by Canonical-backed Linux container hypervisor LXD in May.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/24/oracle-acquires-ravello-systems-for-reported-500-million/

In business utopia, organisations automatically avoid problems, suppliers are selected by computer on the basis of their reliability and cost-efficiency, and machines repair themselves before they break. In business dystopia, too often seen in real world situations, the converse occurs. Organisations automatically engender problems, suppliers are selected by computer by default, and machines break themselves without proceeding to repairs. Automation can play a big part in both scenarios, but the results in terms of business continuity can be poles apart.

...

http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-automation-in-business-continuity/

Nearly any discussion of contemporary channel trends includes a lament that dates back to the era when 20 megabyte floppy disks were considered state of the art. To wit: How do you offset shrinking profit margins?

Nothing new under the sun here. Profit erosion is an inevitable by-product of commodity competition. And it has been part of the tech scene  - especially on the hardware side - since the first PCs rolled off the assembly lines. There’s little point in building a business around keeping hardware up and running - not when the cloud’s self-service on-demand provisioning promise is being realized.

But while you can’t make a living by only focusing on hardware any longer, another part of the value chain is thriving.

...

http://mspmentor.net/cloud-services/want-avoid-endless-race-bottom-here-s-how

Geary Sikich explains why enterprise risk and business continuity managers need to think more broadly about organizational risks. He describes how the use of ‘risk dimensions’ and ‘risk spheres’ can help.

Introduction

There exists an overabundance of guidance for conducting risk assessments.  Yet, it seems that we still have difficulty in getting risk assessments to reflect the appropriate level of concern for the identified risks that we are assessing.  We also tend to view risk in relation to the place where we are employed and the industry that we work in. When we look at risk assessment from this perspective it should be clear that we are missing the point, or at best, are being too narrowly focused, when it comes to assessing risk for our organizations. This is not to say that our efforts are wasted.  The risk assessment process is valuable regardless of how limited or narrowly focused it is. So, the question we should be asking ourselves as we prepare to implement a risk assessment is: ‘What future are we planning for?’

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/index.php/news/erm-news/912-risk-assessment-what-future-are-you-planning-for

Luke Bird highlights the requirement for many different organizational departments and professions to work together for effective organizational resilience and provides some ideas for how to overcome the associated challenges.

Organizational resilience is a highly complex and sometimes controversial term. It comes with a variety of challenges in trying to understand how it works (or potentially how it could work) in organizations. The likes of the BCI and Continuity Central have worked tirelessly to generate wider discussion and thought leadership on this topic.  However, our ongoing dialogue in recent years has barely progressed beyond reaching an agreement for a simple definition (despite many of us helping to produce the British Standard 65000).

The recently published BCI Position Statement certainly highlights that we’re still not quite there in our understanding as to how to take this forward.  Hopefully their official line will provoke a second wind of debate as many of us take the time to decide whether we agree or disagree. Although much of my own focus and interest is on the subject of multi-disciplinary collaboration and some of the challenges that we could potentially face.

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/index.php/news/resilience-news/911-organizational-resilience-stop-collaborate-and-listen

Wednesday, 24 February 2016 00:00

MASS COMMUNICATION: AN INSIDE VIEW

Good communication is core to the success of every business. The transferring of information from one source to another keeps everyone working toward the same goal, learning from the available institutional knowledge pool, and operating in sync around core business needs.

The process of sharing information has changed with the technology around us. It used to be enough to make a few calls (phone tree is a painful word from the past), or send an email, or print up a notice and hand it out to the team. Those processes worked because they represented the available communication channels at the time. Luckily, technology trends have led to improvements in the accessibility of both content and our audiences, giving rise to the powerful, multi-channel mass communications industry.

...

http://www.alertmedia.com/mass-communication-an-inside-view/

When an IT incident strikes, every minute spent offline could cost your company thousands. When Amazon.com experienced a 100 millisecond slowdown in webpage load times, it resulted in a 1% decrease in sales. This correlates to a loss of $660 million in online revenue! 

Communication with your IT support team is the key to getting your company back up and running, but what if your IT professionals work thousands of miles away from the problem? Make sure you’re optimizing your communication strategies so you can resolve IT incidents faster and avoid costly disruptions.

Justin Ong moderated this panel discussion that covered best practices to reduce an IT incident’s Mean Time To Know, the leading cause for why IT incidents aren’t resolved as quickly as they could be. The webinar’s expert panel consisted of IT professional Liz Tesch, and Everbridge’s own Vincent Geffray and Frank Basso.

...

http://www.everbridge.com/best-practices-for-resolving-your-it-incidents-faster/

(TNS) - Before the walls shook, before the two-by-fours twisted and the roof began tearing off, Amanda Bose saw news about the tornado on television.

“Everybody in the bathroom — right now!” the 36-year-old mother told her 5-year-old and 15-year-old. There was almost no time to wonder, she says, whether the home would protect them — or collapse around them.

Similar scenes played out in homes across North Texas during the Dec. 26 storm, which destroyed 159 houses and did major damage to 311 in Rowlett alone. Damage from the storm will reach $1.2 billion, the Insurance Council of Texas estimates.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Experts-urge-higher-costlier-building-standards-in-aftermath-of-tornado.html

Cyber crime costs are projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019. As a result, HR chiefs – the head hiring honchos at big corporations and government agencies – are under pressure to provide employees with cybersecurity awareness training.

Fortune 500 companies aren’t the only employers who benefit from cyber-aware employees. According to Microsoft MSFT -3.38%20% of small to mid sized businesses have been cyber crime targets.

 

Cyber-trained employees are more valuable than cyber-dummies. 90% of all malware requires human interaction before it can infect its target (i.e. clicking on an email and opening a Word doc), according to Dell Secureworks. 76% less is spent (by companies) on security events when employees are trained, yet… 54% do not provide security training for new hires.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/02/23/why-job-seekers-should-put-cybersecurity-on-resumes/

Traditionally, the data center has evolved in response to technology innovation—mostly server-based—and the pace and direction has been somewhat predictable. Disruptive forces such as cloud computing, sustainability, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things are driving profound IT changes across all industries and creating opportunities and challenges in the process.

The data center, an enabler of disruption in many instances, is not immune. These forces are causing new archetypes to emerge that will change the data center landscape and improve productivity, drive down costs and increase agility. Four of these archetypes, in particular, will have a profound effect on the data center.

 ...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/23/disruptive-forces-shaping-next-generation-data-centers/

Wednesday, 24 February 2016 00:00

Build a Reliable Defense Against Cyber Attacks

How your organization would respond if under attack from a physical assault or fire is obvious. Someone would dial 911 and emergency services would arrive quickly to assist. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said if your organization is the target of a cyber attack. Your best offense in this scenario is to create a resilient defense against cyber attacks. Let’s take a look at the top priorities any organization should adopt to build a reliable defense against cyber threats.

Evaluate Your Skills, Fill Gaps
It’s crucial to evaluate your security team’s core capabilities when it comes to shielding the organization from cyber threats. When gaps in expertise are uncovered, develop training, schedule mock exercises and partner with other entities who make it their business to shield yours from cyber attacks.

...

http://www.missionmode.com/blog/build-a-reliable-defense-against-cyber-attacks/

Wednesday, 24 February 2016 00:00

Don’t Miss MissionMode at DRJ Spring World

This year’s Disaster Recovery Journal Spring World event is nearly here, don’t miss MissionMode at this year’s show.

DRJ Spring World | MissionMode

Event:      DRJ Spring World 2016
Location:  Orlando, FL
Date:        March 13-16, 2016

This year’s theme Innovation to Ensure Resiliency is perfect for the largest assembly of business continuity professionals in the industry. This is your opportunity to learn about the latest tools and best practices for BC/DR success.

Make the most out of your time at Spring World:

Do Some Pre-Reading

Download MissionMode’s latest whitepaper, “Incident Management Systems – A Business Continuity Program Game Changer” to see how more and more companies are improving BC/DR program maturity by adopting incident management systems.  These systems, including MissionMode’s Situation Center Suite, drive business continuity management efficiency and process standardization. Read our white paper on your trip to Orlando and stop by our booth for a demo.

Visit MissionMode Booth #507

Meet the MissionMode team and get a live demonstration of our Situation Center Suite. You won’t believe how easy the system is to use and how quickly it can help your business continuity teams better execute the plans you’ve developed.

Schedule time to meet with MissionMode Chief Operations Officer, Jason Zimmerman

For a serious discussion of how your organization can benefit from deployment of MissionMode Incident Management Solutions, schedule time with the experts. Jason has helped hundreds of MissionMode clients scope their needs and customize our Situation Center tools to address key pain points.

Have some fun in Orlando!

It’s winter, it’s Florida and it’s fun! Take a little time to enjoy some of Orlando’s top attractions:

  • Walt Disney World
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Universal Studios
  • Cirque du Soleil

Or just enjoy the area’s fine dining and warm winter temperatures.  Today’s temperature – 81 degrees!

 

In an article aimed at people new to business continuity, Jennifer Craig examines the basic content of a business continuity plan, describing seven components that should be incorporated in every plan:

1. Initial response

When something disrupts day-to-day operations, everyone should understand what – if anything – they should do immediately. By planning for that – and exercising it – no one will be running in circles muttering “What’ll we do? What’ll we do?”

Whoever notices the ‘event’ should know what to do (like calling emergency services, alerting Security, pulling the fire alarm, etc.). Protocols for alerting the proper decision-makers should be planned (along with contact information for those decisions-makers).

The initial response should also include a clear plan for who will be ‘in charge’. Whether that’s locally, regionally, or corporately, making it clear so that all participants will understand.

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/index.php/news/business-continuity-news/904-seven-things-every-business-continuity-plan-should-contain

Tuesday, 23 February 2016 00:00

Faking Chaos

The Homeland Security Simulation Center offers realistic training on disaster preparedness and response through a virtual reality platform

After first responders in Gresham, Ore., handled a high school shooting, emergency management officials realized that they needed to improve their training, especially for law enforcement.

The incident had “a lot more complexity than just neutralizing a threat, which is what they’re focused on,” said Kelle Landavazo, emergency management coordinator for Gresham.

Reuniting students with panicked parents who are arriving at a campus — while keeping track of who has been picked up, and by whom — is a major logistical challenge. So is coordinating the efforts of everyone who is responding.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Faking-Chaos.html

In today’s 24-hour news environment, most senior legal officers across corporate America acknowledge the importance of communications with stakeholders during high-profile lawsuits.  Yet the majority have outdated strategies or no strategies at all to direct communications outside of court, according to a new survey conducted by Greentarget.

This lack of preparation leads to overly conservative communications, the survey shows, with decisions and actions that are often impulsive and governed by the fear of negative media attention. Ironically, these instincts can compound the likelihood of reputational damage.

“The fact is that most senior legal officers can name the top two or three lawsuits they never want their companies to face,” said Larry Larsen, senior vice president of Greentarget and head of the firm’s Crisis & Litigation Communications Group. “They should take some level of control and prepare for what’s to come.”

...

http://ww2.crisisblogger.com/2016/02/failure-to-plan-increases-risk-of-reputation-damage-in-high-profile-lawsuits-guest-post/

The Internet of Things is rich in promises. Besides the old (by now) examples of connecting your fridge or coffee machine to the Web, the possibilities for connecting, controlling and optimizing “things” are vast. They range from monitoring and reducing energy usage in buildings to preventing oil pump failure in remote oil fields, and from cutting aircraft jet engine fuel bills to helping people park better in cities. In fact, “better” is often the keyword. The IoT or IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) offers considerable potential for improvement. But what does it do for business continuity – and could we conceivably end up worse off for BC because of the IoT?

...

http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/getting-ready-for-business-continuity-in-the-internet-of-things/

The findings from IDC's recent IT services end-user survey reveal that the top themes for IT services spending in the Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, (APeJ) region are: security enhancement; business continuity and disaster recovery services; and IT staff retention and training.

“A comparison of two years’ results on the top themes for IT services spend shows that APeJ organizations have moved beyond the infrastructure consolidation phase to focus on improving reliability, security and resilience of the enterprise infrastructure and systems in order to be better prepared for the digital transformation wave. This is a huge and necessary positive step, allowing the CIO focus to shift from technology to people and process. As a result, we expect the IT education and training services market in the region to grow strongly, driven by a huge demand for re-skilling,” said Cathy Huang, research manager, Services and Cloud Research Group, IDC Asia/Pacific.

The survey data reveals interesting sub-trends within the broader context of enterprise expectations of transformative technologies and services.

More details.

Pacific Rim economies’ exposure to the increasing threat of natural disasters has provided impetus for governments and the private sector to jointly address the need for more robust safeguards in the region. 

Finance officials from the 21 APEC member economies, the world’s most disaster affected region, ramped up their collaboration to improve risk assessments and insurance coverage during meetings that concluded recently in Lima. The focus was on narrowing gaps in data gathering and financial protection needed to build economic resiliency among them, boosted by policy inputs from disaster risk experts from the OECD, the World Bank and industry.  

“About two-thirds of reported disaster losses in APEC economies are uninsured on average and vulnerabilities in the region’s developing economies are even more severe,” noted Gregorio Belaunde, director of risk management at the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Peru, who guided the proceedings. “Quantifying disaster risk exposure is a prerequisite for reducing financial protection gaps which APEC is working to facilitate as climate change raises the stakes. It also helps to reduce physical disaster risk.” 

APEC economies collectively account for about 3 billion people, half of global trade, 60 percent of total GDP and much of the world’s growth. They also experience more than 70 percent of all natural disasters and these are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change. Significantly, APEC economies incurred over USD 100 billion annually in related losses over the last decade. 

Officials pinpointed the components of disaster risk as well as the technical requirements for model development and data gathering necessary to accurately assess them, drawing on best practices and case studies from the public and private sectors. They also shared real world lessons and guidance for creating systems that bring insurance companies together to form ‘catastrophe insurance pools’ that can rapidly boost insurance penetration. 

Source: APEC

When it comes to business IT solutions, cloud computing is unquestionably the way forward for many companies. Over the last few years, this technology has gone from being a hyped-up buzzword to a central part of the way organisations of all shapes and sizes operate. But if you’re coming to the cloud for the first time it may seem like a minefield, with a huge range of tools and deployment options to choose from. Get it right and you can be well set for years to come, but go down the wrong route and it can be costly and time-consuming to correct your course. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is what type of cloud to go for. There are three key options here – public, private and hybrid. Each have their own pros and cons and may be better-suited to some scenarios that others. So which option is the best for your business? This decision will depend on many factors, such as the type of data you have, how flexible you need to be and your level of in-house IT resources. If you’re unsure about what will work best when you’re choosing a cloud solution, read on for our top tips on each option and what it could do for your business.

...

http://blog.krollontrack.co.uk/top-tips/cloud-computing-which-option-is-right-for-you/

(TNS) - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf today asked President Barack Obama to declare last month's record snowstorm a major disaster, which would make the state and municipalities in at least 26 counties eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of their costs.

In a news release, the administration said that Pennsylvania has identified more than $55.4 million in expenses related to cleanup from the storm Jan. 22-23. The state Emergency Management Agency has been compiling costs reported by communities throughout the state to make the initial request for federal disaster relief.

The storm, which was concentrated more in central and eastern Pennsylvania, dumped more than three feet of snow in some areas. Weather-related traffic accidents tied up west-bound traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and stranded some motorists for more than 24 hours between Bedford and Somerset.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Pennsylvania-spent-554-million-on-last-months-snowstorm-Gov-Wolf-asks-for-federal-help.html

Docker announced a new container control center today it’s calling the Docker Datacenter (DDC), an integrated administrative console that has been designed to give large and small businesses control over creating, managing and shipping containers.

The DDC is a new tool made up of various commercial pieces including Docker Universal Control Plane (which also happens to be generally available today) and Docker Trusted Registry. It also includes open source pieces such as Docker Engine. The idea is to give companies the ability to manage the entire lifecycle of Dockerized applications from one central administrative interface.

Customers actually were the driving force behind this new tool. While companies liked the agility that Docker containers give them, they also wanted management control over administration, security and governance around the containers they were creating and shipping, Scott Johnston, SVP of product management told TechCrunch.

...

http://techcrunch.com/2016/02/23/new-docker-data-center-admin-suite-should-bring-order-to-containerization/

At a time when security is top-of-mind for every IT and business leader–from the boardroom to the executive suite to the front lines of operations–Citrix is coming to RSA with solutions and strategies to address the latest enterprise security requirements.

To set the stage, this post provides essential resources for everyone concerned with managing risk in the enterprise to bring you up to date on the latest thinking so you can use your time at RSA productively.

As transformative trends like mobility, BYO and the Internet of Things drive the expansion and evolution of the network perimeter, enterprises need new ways to provide access for employees, contractors, partners and customers while managing risk. With Citrix solutions, companies can secure and control applications, data and usage in any scenario to keep people productive wherever and however they choose to work.

Read our solution brief “Managing Risk by Protecting Apps, Data and Usage” and watch the video below to learn more about the Citrix approach to enterprise security.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/02/23/solving-security-for-the-modern-mobile-enterprise-workforce/

Directly addressing concerns about its readiness for production, application container leader Docker is rolling out "container-as-a-service" platform designed to ease application development and management at scale.

The Docker Datacenter unveiled Tuesday (Feb. 23) seeks to combine the inherent agility of application containers with greater control and security as enterprises attempt to scale container technology. Aiming to deliver on its "build, ship and run" mantra, the new container service is a "metaphor for pulling everything together" as container technology moves to production, according to Scott Johnson, Docker's senior vice president of product management.

Docker's holistic approach includes a control plane that can be used in the datacenter or in a private cloud along with the company's trusted registry and lightweight runtime. As an example of container agility, Johnson noted in an interview that the new service could help reduce the time needed to push an application change to production from weeks to as little as a day.

...

http://www.enterprisetech.com/2016/02/23/21530/

In a recent threat report, cloud email management company Mimecast warned they had seen a 55% increase in whaling attacks over the past three months. As we reported in this month’s Risk Management cover story “The Devil in the Details,” social engineering fraud schemes like whaling (which is phishing that targets higher-profile employees and executives) resulted in a total losses of more than $1.2 billion worldwide between October 2013 to August 2015. According to the Mimecast Business Email Threat Report 2016, released yesterday, IT security professionals clearly recognize the risk, with 64% of respondents in the new saying they see email as a major cybersecurity threat to their business. Yet only 35% feel confident about their level of preparedness against data breaches, while 65% feel ill-equipped or too out of date to reasonably defend against the risk.

“Our cyber-security is under attack and we depend on technology, and email in particular, in all aspects of business. So it’s very disconcerting to see that while we might appreciate the danger, many companies are still taking too few measures to defend themselves against email-based threats in particular,” said Peter Bauer, chief executive officer of Mimecast. “As the cyber threat becomes more grave, email attacks will only become more common and more damaging. It’s essential that executives, the C-suite in particular, realize that they may not be as safe as they think and take action. Our research shows there is work still to be done to be safe and we can learn a lot from the experience of those that have learnt the hard way.”

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/65-of-businesses-unprepared-for-email-based-cyber-threats/

(TNS) - Floodwaters, like many natural disasters, are not contained by political boundaries.

But on Monday, when overflowing Cowiche Creek inundated county and city homes, emergency management staff for both jurisdictions were not talking to each other about services for displaced residents.

“Between our office, the Red Cross, and the individuals in the Riverview Manor Mobile Home Park, there were some difficulties getting ahold of the city,” said Scott Miller, director of the Yakima County Office of Emergency Management.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/City-county-had-problems-communicating-during-flooding.html

Monday, 22 February 2016 00:00

Montgomery May Need Backup 911 Center

(TNS) - Will Montgomery County build a backup 911 call center or opt for a regional service?

County officials, who have been mandated by the state to offer a backup facility, will have to make a decision concerning the center. The practicality of a backup was made plain the week of July 4, 2012, when a strong wind ripped the roof from the current center.

County Manager Matthew Woodard said the N.C. Legislature has passed a bill mandating that counties have a reserve facility in case the regular call center goes off-line or a widespread emergency requires backup. He said that in the case of the 2012 windstorm, emergency communications could have been disrupted if rain had damaged equipment.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/next-gen-911/Montgomery-May-Need-Backup-911-Center.html

Monday, 22 February 2016 00:00

Are HR Chiefs The Biggest Cyber Threat?

Chief human resource officers (CHROs) are not taking cyber threats seriously, and they are failing to train employees on how to deflect even the simplest hacks.

90% of all malware requires human interaction before it can infect its target (i.e. clicking on an email and opening a Word doc), according to Dell Secureworks, a security awareness training provider.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif. declared an internal emergency earlier this month when the hospital had its computer systems cyber attacked and held ransom by hackers, according to an NBC News report. The hospital was infected with the “Locky” virus. CMS Wire reported the hospital staff were unable to turn on their computers and radiation and oncology departments unable to use their equipment. If the hospital employees were trained up on Locky – then they would have known exactly what do when they saw the suspicious email and Word doc.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/02/21/are-hr-chiefs-the-biggest-cyber-threat/

For small businesses, a data breach can be expensive - it could even cost you your business. According to some studies, it’s been estimated that around half of companies are forced out of business within six months of a cyber breach.
 
One unfortunate trend that’s being picked up is that smaller businesses are increasingly becoming the targets of cybercrime - it’s not just major companies that are being held to ransom by hackers. It doesn’t help that a lot of smaller businesses rely on third-party services and growing amounts of computer equipment, both of which leave them ever more open to the threat of an attack.
 
It’s the big companies that make all the headlines, but this can be a factor in lulling smaller businesses into a false sense of security when in fact they are most at risk - more than 80 per cent of breaches are estimated to happen to small businesses. But with limited resources, how can you effectively secure your business against cyber threats?
...

Most times, “underwater” and data center are only together in a sentence about the financial condition of a failed company, not computers actually covered by liquid. Yet, Microsoft has gotten great attention from the experiment they publicized in January, putting a “capsule” containing computers 30 feet underwater for 105 days. People appear to be fascinated with the idea of underwater data centers, an idea that conjures up images from Jules Verne’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I like the boldness of the idea and the innovation required to tackle Project Natick. But since we’re in the election season in the US, let’s do some fact checking to see whether this idea can do more than tread water.

The virtues proposed by Microsoft researchers and industry analysts include reduced cooling costs; the ability to use clean, renewable tidal energy; lower latency and better application performance for the 50 percent of the world’s population that lives within 200km of the ocean; and reduced deployment time of mass-produced capsules, from years to weeks.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/22/reality-check-can-underwater-data-centers-really-work/

More companies are creating data science capabilities to enable competitive advantages. Because data science talent is rare and the demand for such talent is high, organizations often work with outsourced partners to fill important skill gaps. Here are a few reasons to consider outsourcing. What can go right and wrong along the way?

 

A great number of companies are investing in data science, but the results they're getting are mixed. Building internal capabilities can be time-consuming and expensive, especially since the limited pool of data scientists is in high demand. Outsourcing can speed an organization's path to developing a data science capability, but there are better and worse ways to approach the problem.

"The decision to outsource is always about what the core competency of your business is, and where you need the speed," said Tony Fross, VP and North American practice leader for digital advisory services at Capgemini Consulting. "If you don't have the resources or the ability to focus on it, sometimes outsourcing is a faster way to stand up a capability."

...

http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/outsourcing-data-science-what-you-need-to-know/d/d-id/1324291

The world’s biggest technology companies are handing over the keys to their success, making their artificial intelligence systems open-source.

Traditionally, computer users could see the end product of what a piece of software did by, for instance, writing a document in Microsoft Word or playing a video game. But the underlying programming – the source code – was proprietary, kept from public view. Opening source material in computer science is a big deal because the more people that look at code, the more likely it is that bugs and long-term opportunities and risks can be worked out.

Openness is increasingly a big deal in science as well, for similar reasons. The traditional approach to science involves collecting data, analyzing the data and publishing the findings in a paper. As with computer programs, the results were traditionally visible to readers, but the actual sources – the data and often the software that ran the analyses – were not freely available. Making the source available to all has obvious communitarian appeal; the business appeal of open source is less obvious.

...

http://www.techwire.net/news/why-big-tech-companies-are-open-sourcing-their-ai-systems.html

Sink or swim. This is precisely what it boils down to when system administrators (SysAdmins) are dealing with the influx of data coming from all directions. Do this, drop that, careful there! While IT monitoring is meant to provide some guidance and give direction, it very often does the exact opposite. This is where monitoring de-escalation management comes into play to change things for the better.

 

Monitoring is about collecting the data you need in order to keep your crucial IT systems running. And even though this may sound blatantly obvious, there is more to it than first meets the eye. Monitoring may easily leave you with tons of data that means next to nothing – if you do not structure it right.

The most obvious distinction that needs to be made is whether you are more of a reports or an alerts kind of person. Reports and alerts both help account for the health of a system. Yet reports are primarily used to document the overall state of a system. Say for instance you are a web hosting provider and you want to demonstrate the quality of your service to your clients, a report will serve this purpose just fine. Assuming that everything is as it should be.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/22/why-de-escalation-management-is-crucial-to-it-infrastructure-health/

It seems the enterprise is approaching container technology with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation as it seeks to establish architectures that offer broader scalability and are more suitable to microservices than standard virtualization.

But the growing number of deployments is starting to point out the challenges inherent in container-based data environments, although it appears that most of the issues can be overcome by a proper management stack and a reasonably good understanding of what containers can and cannot do.

At the moment, much of the momentum behind containers comes from developers, says CIO.com’s Clint Boulton, while CIOs and other c-suite executives are a little more wary. At a recent Wall Street Journal gathering, Docker CEO Ben Golub focused primarily on the technology’s ability to support cloud-based app development and testing even as an online poll showed a fair amount of skepticism of containers’ value proposition and whether it could do anything that simple virtualization or platforms like Red Hat’s OpenShift could not. One key advantage that containers brings to the table is that it does not rely on a guest operating system, which in turn should provide a more integrated change management structure to enable the kind of continuous delivery and integration required of cloud-based apps and services.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/the-challenges-of-running-containers-at-scale.html

Apple's refusal to follow a court order to support the FBI's San Bernardino shooter investigation was the right move for the company and for its customers, as my colleagues and I cover in Fatemeh Khatibloo's blog post here, and in our full, detailed report, here. As we discuss, there are many constituents with a large stake in the outcome of this case, but I will focus on security and risk management decision makers in this post.

There are four key implications to consider:

...

http://blogs.forrester.com/chris_mcclean/16-02-18-apple_did_the_right_thing_to_defend_customer_privacy_but_it_will_make_security_and_risk_management_m

2016 will be an exciting year for Mail-Gard as we celebrate our 20th Anniversary. But before we look ahead, we wanted to spend a moment reviewing 2015, which was another strong year for Mail-Gard.

We were fortunate to not have any formal disaster declarations in 2015. However, we had a few close calls with weather-related issues and possible work stoppages. Our customers know putting us on “alert” to a possible impending event is a smart preparation tool should an actual business disruption occur.

As our recovery business continued its growth, we saw an increase in the operational recovery services provided to our customers. Being able to assist them with peak production loads, as our testing schedule permits, is one of the benefits of our recovery solution, along with providing real-time recovery process reviews.

- See more at: http://www.iwco.com/blog/2016/01/06/mail-gard-20th-anniversary/?utm_source=IWCO+Speaking+Direct+Newsletter&utm_campaign=36f7f927c1-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6225488a32-36f7f927c1-104311797#sthash.dvEcV7je.dpuf

(TNS) - Federal disaster-aid programs, including flood insurance, have paid nearly $43 million so far to Missouri residents and business owners who suffered damage from record rainfall and flooding in late December.

The largest single amount, $29 million, represents claims by 766 holders of flood-insurance policies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the insurance program, made $9.7 million in grants to 1,715 households for uninsured losses. The U.S. Small Business Administration also has approved $4 million for 82 loans, mostly for residential repairs, with 141 other applications under review.

In theory, a flooded household can qualify for all three.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Federal-aid-after-December-floods-43-million-and-rising.html

(TNS) - Lawrence County officials hope infrastructure upgrades in the aftermath of December’s flooding issues will help prevent future damage to county roads.

Repairs to shoulders and gravel roads are almost complete, County Engineer Ben Duncan said. Destroyed drainage systems on Lawrence 328, 326 and 429 will take some work.

“As long as everything runs smoothly, I would hope to be done within two months. That’s being optimistic,” Duncan said. “We’re still repairing things. We’ve still got a long ways to go.”

Duncan said officials discussed the reimbursement process for road repairs during last week’s meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA declared 38 counties, including Lawrence, disaster areas after the Dec. 23-31 storms, making them eligible for federal funding.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/FEMA-aid-to-bring-better-roads-to-LawCo.html

Cloud native apps are now being built using distributed systems, clustering and built-in fault tolerance so that a failure of any component cannot bring the application down. Furthermore, the application can be scaled on demand.

So, why can’t we build the IT management systems that way? They are nothing but a meta-app that converts bare metal hardware in to a software-driven cloud that can be consumed via APIs.

In the past I have argued that management systems are like puppies that need special attention. Their installation, maintenance and upgrade significantly increase the operational expenses of running an enterprise datacenter. Think about how Boeing builds new planes – every new model is better than the previous generation planes in fuel efficiency, level of automation, etc. That cannot be said of IT infrastructure management systems.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/18/building-the-next-gen-it-management-infrastructure/

Several years ago Facebook shut down an entire data center to test the resiliency of its application. According to Jay Parikh, the company’s head of engineering, the test went smoothly. The data center going offline did not disrupt anybody’s ability to mindlessly scroll through their Facebook feed instead of spending time being a contributing member of society.

Facebook and other web-scale data center operators, companies that built global internet services that make billions upon billions of dollars, have shifted the data center resiliency focus from redundancy and automation of the underlying infrastructure – the power and cooling systems – to software-driven failover. A globally distributed system that consists of so many servers can easily lose some of those servers without any significant impediment to the application’s performance.

That’s not to say they’ve abandoned backup generators, UPS systems, and automatic transfer switches. You’ll still see all of those things in Facebook data centers; it’s just that they are no longer the single line of defense.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/18/facebook-open-sources-data-center-network-fault-detection-tools/

Friday, 19 February 2016 00:00

What Is the Best Way to Secure Endpoints?

During the past decade, while security threats have evolved quickly, the goal of security staffs remains the same, but has gotten far harder to fulfill: Protect all the devices that hold critical data and offer potential ways into an organization’s back end.

Doug Cahill, the senior analyst on cybersecurity at Enterprise Strategy Group, discussed at Dark Reading findings and recommendations on endpoint security that emerged from interviews with what he says are dozens of security folks.

The best approaches involve picturing the elements of security (methodology, prevention, detection and response) holistically and not as discrete and separate elements: Protect as one dresses for the cold, in layers; be proactive (this suggestion is primarily aimed at large organizations); have a spectrum of starting points, or entry points, in the security realm.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-and-telecom/what-is-the-best-way-to-secure-endpoints.html

The security industry has started to go through a transformation. The transformation is part evolution and part maturity. Exploits and attack techniques advance rapidly and a quick look at the headlines on any given week demonstrates that traditional network and endpoint security solutions are proving inadequate. The companies that form the new breed of security are bringing unique and innovative approaches to the problem rather than just tweaking the same old broken security model.

If you follow the money, it seems investors also see the proverbial writing on the wall and are actively looking for the “next big thing”. Companies like HackerOne, Cylance, and Venafi have benefited from a spike in security industry investments. Code42 and Tenable even made the CB Insights list as the top-funded startups for their respective states. Today, Vera announced that it has closed a $17 million round of Series B financing—bringing its total to over $31 million in funding.

A post from CSO in August of 2015 explained, “CB Insights reported that in the first half of 2015, venture firms invested $1.2 billion into cybersecurity startups. Yup, you read it correctly – one point two billion in just the first six months of 2015.”

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tonybradley/2016/02/18/new-breed-of-startups-aims-to-transform-security/

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Five more home improvement stores— in St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties — are teaming up with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide local residents with free information, tips, flyers and brochures to prevent and lessen damage from disasters. 

FEMA mitigation specialists will be available over the next six days to answer questions and offer home improvement tips on making homes stronger and safer against disasters. Most of the information is geared toward do-it-yourself work and general contractors.

Advisers will be available February 18-23 at the following locations . . .

  • Lowe's at 6302 Ronald Reagan Drive, Lake St. Louis, MO 63367 (St. Charles County)
  • Home Depot at 3891 Mexico Rd, St. Charles, MO 63303 (St. Charles County)
  • Home Depot at Chesterfield Commons, 390 THF Blvd., Chesterfield, MO 63005 (St. Louis County)
  • Home Depot at 11215 St. Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, MO 63044 (St. Louis County)
  • Lowe’s at 920 Arnold Commons Drive, Arnold, MO 63010 (Jefferson County)

During these times . . .

  • Thursday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Monday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Mitigation teams will also have free reference booklets on protecting your home from flood damage. More information about strengthening property can be found at www.fema.gov/what-mitigation.

###

For breaking news about flood recovery, follow FEMA Region 7 on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion7 and turn on mobile notifications or visit the FEMA webpages dedicated to this disaster at www.fema.gov/disaster/4250.

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.

All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

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

 
State/Tribal Government or Region: 

To be a successful managed service provider, you need to protect your customer’s critical business data. This involves a lot more than just providing a simple backup and disaster recovery solution. After all, what will you do if your client has lost all power or can’t access their office? The missing piece? Intelligent business continuity.

Here are three essentials of a top-notch business continuity plan for your customers' businesses (as well as your own). 

...

http://mspmentor.net/blog/3-fundamentals-indestructible-business-continuity-plan

Friday, 19 February 2016 00:00

Thinking Different: Data Centers and IoT

The Internet of Everything (IoT) has gone from a concept not many people grasped clearly, to a tangible, living and breathing phenomena on the verge of changing the way we live—and the way data centers strategize for the future.

At least, data center managers better develop new strategies for handling the IoT and all the data that could overwhelm current systems.

What does the volume of data look like: In the past five years, traffic volume has already increased five-fold; and according to a 2014 study by Cisco, annual global IP traffic will pass a zettabyte and surpass 1.6 zettabytes by 2018. Non-PC devices—expected to double the global population by that year—will generate more than half that traffic.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/18/thinking-different-data-centers-and-iot/

The Business Continuity Institute recently published a very welcome positioning statement, looking to set out its view on organizational resilience. In this article David Honour, editor of Continuity Central, looks at the statement and invites business continuity and resilience professionals to have their say.

The aim

In the preamble to the positioning statement, BCI board member Tim Janes states that its aim “is to add clarity regarding the position of business continuity in the context of organizational resilience. It also provides the BCI’s perspective on how the development of resilience concepts may impact on the practice of business continuity.” There is certainly a need for such clarification. I have attended many webinars on the subject of organizational resilience and there is little agreement about how to define it, where its boundaries are, what it includes, and where it sits in relation to business continuity, risk management and other protective disciplines.

...

http://www.continuitycentral.com/index.php/news/resilience-news/896-a-review-of-the-business-continuity-institute-s-position-statement-on-organizational-resilience

Friday, 19 February 2016 00:00

Another Confusing Mold Insurance Decision

Are losses caused by the presence of, or exposure to, mold or fungus in a building covered by liability insurance?  That question has never been easy to answer, and at the end of 2015, the Texas Court of Appeals added further complication to the already confusing structure of mold insurance law in America.

In a case titled In re: Liquidation of Legion Indemnity Company, the Director of Insurance in the State of Illinois was acting as liquidator for Legion Indemnity Company.  The liquidator asked the court to disallow a claim by 23 governmental employees who had obtained a judgment against a construction company in a negligence action related to bodily injury the employees suffered from exposure to toxic mold during the course of their construction employment.  Claimants sought to collect their judgment from the insurance company under a comprehensive general liability policy issued by Legion.  Legion had been placed in liquidation prior to the claims for judgment being entered, so claimants filed a claim against the liquidator.

In the policy at issue, the insurance did not cover losses arising from either “contamination” of the environment by a pollutant or on account of a single, continuous or intermittent or repeated exposure to any “health hazard.”  The policy defined the term “contaminant” to mean any unclean, unsafe, damaging, injurious or unhealthful condition arising out of the presence of any pollutant, whether permanent or transient, in any environment.  The policy further defined “health hazard” to mean any chemical, alkaline, radioactive material or other irritants or any pollutant or other substance, product or waste product, where the fumes or other discharges or effects therefrom, whether liquid, gas or solid or gaseous are determined to be toxic or harmful to the health of any person, plant or animal.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/another-confusing-mold-insurance-decision/

It’s always been something of a conundrum. Plenty of midsize companies would certainly value being able to take advantage of software development resources that have emerged all over the world, but they simply lack the global footprint or resources of the Fortune 500 companies that have created the market for global outsourcing. However, it seems that conundrum may be a thing of the past.

A key change agent appears to be Accelerance, a global software development outsourcing services provider in Redwood City, Calif., that has created a global network of software development teams to work with SMBs. I recently had a fascinating conversation with Accelerance CEO Steve Mezak, and the company’s president, Andy Hilliard, and I got a first-hand account of how it all started. Mezak took me back to when he was working with a software development company in St. Petersburg, Russia:

In the early 2000s, I started looking at these other [software development] companies, and realized that some of them were good, but not all of them; and that the challenge my clients had in looking at using my firm, was that it was a very crowded market, which made it very difficult for them to decide who to choose. So I thought, let’s go out into the world and find great companies and vet them and make sure that they’re good, and then offer a variety of services to clients.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/from-under-the-rug/global-software-development-outsourcing-becomes-practical-for-smbs.html

Friday, 19 February 2016 00:00

Cisco Next Gen Firewall Sees Threats Coming

They say to be forewarned is to be forearmed, and nowhere is that more important than in IT security. Cisco this week unveiled a Cisco Firepower Next Generation Firewall that incorporates data from threat intelligence services to better secure applications before attacks are ever launched.

Rather than simply apply access controls to an application, Dave Stuart, senior director of product marketing for network security in the Cisco Security Business Group says, Cisco Firepower firewalls provide a more comprehensive approach to IT security that includes intrusion prevention, malware protection and reputation-based URL filtering. Stuart says that Cisco is moving to cut the time taken to discover malware from what is usually 100 to 200 days to an average of 17.5 hours.

The goal is to not only reduce the total cost of providing that security, but to also take advantage of technologies such as Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to provide higher levels of security. Longer term, Stuart says, IT organizations should expect to see Cisco take advantage of machine algorithms and artificial intelligence to increasingly automate much of the management of IT security at the network layer.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/it-unmasked/cisco-next-gen-firewall-sees-threats-coming.html

NEW YORK – STOPit announces the launch of STOPit PRO – the only compliance reporting platform that enables companies to mitigate risk and prevent financial liabilities by empowering employees to anonymously report fraud, unethical behaviors and product-related issues.

As a 21st century solution for deterring, mitigating and investigating all forms of inappropriate conduct in the workplace, STOPit PRO provides uniquely anonymous two-way dialogue between the employee and company officials – including risk managers, general counsel and HR departments.

Employees can use the STOPit PRO mobile app to provide real-time reports and messages, including incident-related photo and video documentation. Employers can then follow up for additional information through the app, with all interactions remaining anonymous.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/stopit-introduces-risk-mitigation-tool-to-prevent-mitigate-costly-workplace-misconduct/

In 2013 the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the single most globally influential financial and securities regulator, issued the guidance that calls on national regulators to codify a new regulatory expectation from Boards of Directors:

“The Board of Directors must establish the institution-wide RAF (Risk Appetite Framework) and approve the risk appetite statement, which is developed in collaboration with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Risk Officer (CRO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO).”[i]

Likewise, in the UK, the 2014 update of the “comply or explain” UK Corporate Governance Code, which governs all UK-listed public companies, states the following principle in section C.2, “Risk Management and Internal Control:”

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/board-oversight-of-managements-risk-appetite-and-tolerance-what-does-it-really-mean/

Thursday, 18 February 2016 00:00

The Five Myths of Big Data

While socializing with my partner (something that will abruptly stop for a while after the imminent birth of my second child), when I tell people that I recruit for Big Data & Data Science professionals, their reactions vary from a vacant, glazed look in their eyes to a knowing nod (that actually masks a total lack of understanding). It is fair to say that most people don’t really get what Big Data & Data Science is about.

The industry is developing at a rapid pace, with the technology improving month-on-month instead of year-on-year. There is such a buzz about Big Data that the narrative has almost taken on a life of its own – it has become this mythical being that can slay uncertainty and save any business from an untimely end.

That is, unfortunately, not the case, so I thought that it was about time to take a light look at five of the more prevalent myths:

...

https://channels.theinnovationenterprise.com/articles/9761-the-five-myths-of-big-data

Thursday, 18 February 2016 00:00

Microsoft Tests Underwater Data Centers

Microsoft is testing a self-contained data center that could be deployed deep underwater so as to reduce cooling costs and emissions from land-based centers, the New York Times has reported.

Code-named Project Natick, Microsoft's experimental data complex is enclosed in a steel capsule designed to sit on the cold ocean floor.

The company is also exploring suspending capsules just below the ocean surface in order to capture energy from currents and generate electricity.

...

http://www.techwire.net/news/microsoft-tests-underwater-data-centers.html

A Southern California hospital fell victim to hackers last week — offering a glimpse at one of many digital threats facing health care.

Criminals reportedly infected Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center computers with ransomware — malware that cryptographically locks devices. The thieves have demanded 9,000 bitcoins, the equivalent of $3.65 million, to unlock the machines, according to sources who spoke with Los Angeles television stations.

Hollywood Presbyterian is at least the fourth hospital this year to be reportedly affected by ransomware.

...

http://www.techwire.net/news/southern-california-hospital-hack-reveals-digital-risk-in-medical-world.html

Thursday, 18 February 2016 00:00

Planning for IoT Analytics Success

For a growing numbers of companies, the compass points toward the Internet of Things (IoT) as a pathway for improving customer service, enhancing operations, and creating new business models. In fact, IDC predicts that by 2020, some 32 billion connected IoT devices will be in use. The challenge is extracting timely, meaningful IoT data to enable these digital transformations. Following are five critical demands enterprises need to consider in developing their IoT analytics strategies.

IoT Analytics Must be Distributed

Most enterprise IoT environments are inherently distributed. Like spider webs, they connect a myriad of sensors, gateways and collection points with data flying between them. Moreover, these webs constantly change as components are added and subtracted, and data flows are modified or repurposed.

Such environments place multiple demands on analytics. First, the software has to handle a variety of networking conditions, from weak 3G networks to ad-hoc peer-to-peer networks. It also needs to support a range of protocols, often either the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) or Common Open Source Publishing Platform (CoApp), and then either ZigBee or Bluetooth low energy (BLE).

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/17/planning-iot-analytics-success/

Thursday, 18 February 2016 00:00

Zika Different Than Ebola

(TNS) - There is at least one major difference between Ebola and the Zika virus: Zika can’t be transmitted through “casual contact,” health officials said.

So if a patients shows signs of Zika — which include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis or red eye, muscle and joint pain and fatigue — they’re treated with standard procedures like anyone with an infection, said Dr. John Kennedy, vice president of Medical Affairs at Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital.

Still, the spread of the Zika virus outside the United States has spurred a slew of new travel guidelines and protocols at blood centers and other medical facilities across the region, where one of the four cases reported last week in Ohio was diagnosed in a 56-year-old Butler County woman returning from Guyana.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Zika-different-than-Ebola.html

(TNS) - Only halfway through the school year, the Palm Beach County School District has witnessed nearly twice as many bomb threats – all false — as it did in the two previous years together. Three of those prompted entire campuses to be emptied, while others triggered a lockdown that kept students secure in their classrooms.

So far, the district has not seen the sweeping multiple threats that have plagued other states – ones like the wave that swept through at least six school districts in Mississippi Tuesday, or the one in January that targeted 30 schools from New Jersey to Iowa.

One of the oldest schoolhouse crimes, it still goes uncounted by any national database.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/School-threats-What-experts-say-about-how-we-should-respond.html

(TNS) - For the first time, a wide-ranging voluntary directive to saltwater disposal well operators released Tuesday by Oklahoma regulators includes areas not yet experiencing major earthquakes.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said the directive would cut by 40 percent the volumes of saltwater injected into deep Arbuckle formation disposal wells that have been linked to the state's increase in earthquake activity.

The directive targets 245 disposal wells across more than 5,200 square miles of northwestern Oklahoma. It covers all or parts of Woods, Alfalfa, Grant, Harper, Woodward, Major and Garfield counties.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Oklahoma-regulators-issue-expanded-disposal-well-directive-for-earthquakes.html

CEFO in North Carolina during the H1N1 response

When faced with unexpected outbreaks and emergencies like zoonotic plague, Ebola, or contaminated cilantro that causes cyclosporiasis, Career Epidemiology Field Officers (CEFOs) are the experts in the field. One of CDC’s newer field assignment programs, the CEFO program is made up of highly skilled professionals assigned to state, territorial, and local health departments across the country to strengthen nationwide epidemiologic capacity and public health preparedness. CEFOs accomplish this mission while supporting day-to-day operations and emergency response activities of health departments. Being in the field and embedded in the public health networks of the area, CEFOs are on the front lines where emergencies typically begin and end: the local level.

The CEFO program was launched in 2002 to boost public health surveillance, epidemiology, and response efforts following 9/11 and the 2001 anthrax attacks. As of November 2015, 34 CEFOs are assigned to 27 state, territorial, and local public health programs. CEFOs bring a direct CDC connection to the state and local level. Public health agencies request CEFO assistance for an initial 2-year commitment, after which they can extend annually. Selecting a CEFO with the right background and skillset for a specific agency’s needs is important for success.

What do CEFOs actually do? 
 Map of states with CEFOs in them. are shaded gray.

Although CEFOs have diverse professional backgrounds (physicians, veterinarians, scientists, nurses, and health services), all are experts in applied epidemiology. CEFOs have either completed training through CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) or have comparable practical experience. Agency assignments vary, but CEFO priorities include rapidly identifying and halting the spread of disease outbreaks and other public health threats. CEFO’s accomplish this mission through enhancement of public health surveillance, strengthening outbreak response, conducting epidemiologic investigations, and development of the public health workforce. They serve as liaisons between health departments, local and state emergency response partners, healthcare providers, and CDC. CEFOs also develop and implement jurisdictional preparedness plans for emergency situations. For instance, one CEFO is currently analyzing data to identify potential health threats and prioritize resource distribution following severe droughts in California. CEFOs use epidemiological tools to help guide public agencies towards fast and effective responses that can address the health needs of the community.

Do you want to be a CEFO?
According to CDC CEFO Supervisor, Brant Goode, CEFOs tend to be two things: highly personable and very intelligent. Though being a CEFO can be extremely rewarding, working as a CEFO does pose challenges. Goode provides a few tips to future CDC CEFOs:

  1. Utilize the data. Understanding the demographics and other aspects of a jurisdiction’s public health is a great way to tailor preparedness and response efforts to the population. Along with learning from healthcare providers and health department staff, using census and public health data to learn about the area can aid in planning and implementation.
  2. Be clear about roles. CEFOs are federal officers meant to strengthen a jurisdiction’s mission. Because CEFOs support both CDC and their jurisdiction, working well with diverse partners is crucial for success.
  3. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Working as a CEFO can be very rewarding, but also challenging. Going from the federal level to the state or local levels can come with a steep learning curve at an accelerated speed. CEFOs should be prepared to serve in emergency management roles.
  4. Accept agency support. The CDC, partnering jurisdictions, and fellow CEFOs can provide support to CEFOs in completing their mission. Utilize resources and refer to previous cases for best practices, as well as past mistakes, to improve efficiency and prevent “wheel reinvention.”

CEFOs serve as CDC’s frontline defense against public health threats. Through expertise in applied epidemiology, they continue to improve nationwide preparedness to respond to all types of public health emergencies.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with state, local, tribal, and territorial emergency managers and state broadcasters’ associations, will conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in twenty-two states, two territories, and the District of Columbia on Wednesday, February 24, at 2:20 p.m. (Eastern).

Broadcasters from the following locations are voluntarily participating in the test: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Virginia. The EAS test is made available to radio, broadcast and cable television systems is and scheduled to last approximately one minute.

The test will verify the delivery and broadcast, and assess the readiness for distribution of a national-level test message. The message of the test will be similar to the regular monthly test message of EAS, normally heard and seen by the public: “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.”

The EAS test might also be seen and heard in states and tribes bordering the states participating in the test.

Public safety officials need to be sure that in times of an emergency or disaster they have methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public when needed.  Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems is a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine what improvements in technologies need to be made. 

More information on the Public Alert and Warning System and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is available at www.fema.gov/ipaws or www.ready.gov/alerts.

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.

For any data center cooling system to work to its full potential, IT managers who put servers on the data center floor have to be in contact with facilities managers who run the cooling system and have some degree of understanding of data center cooling.

“That’s the only way cooling works,” Adrian Jones, director of technical development at CNet Training Services, said. Every kilowatt-hour consumed by a server produces an equivalent amount of heat, which has to be removed by the cooling system, and the complete separation between IT and facilities functions in typical enterprise data centers is simply irrational, since they are all essentially managing a single system. “As processing power increases, so does the heat.”

Jones, who spent two decades designing telecoms infrastructure for the British Army and who then went on to design and manage construction of many data centers for major clients in the UK, will give a crash course in data center cooling for both IT and facilities managers at the Data Center World Global conference in Las Vegas next month. The primary Reuters data center in London and a data center for English emergency services – police and fire brigade – are two of the projects he’s been involved in that he’s at liberty to disclose.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/17/what-it-managers-need-to-know-about-data-center-cooling/

As organisations have boldly gone when no enterprise has gone before, meaning out to the far corners of cyberspace, the face of data security has changed significantly. The traditional firewall model has collapsed as companies store their data in cloud servers they do not own, perhaps even in countries where they have no corporate presence. External threat actors have developed new methods of attack and customer data breaches have become headline news. While organisations rethink their data security plans and actions, it is however important to remember that another important risk exists, which may need different treatment. It is the risk of employees stealing information about their colleagues.

...

http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/employees-vs-employees-the-internal-battle-for-data-security/

In this era of shooting-from-the-hip or bombastic Donald Trump comments, companies have to attend to reducing employment litigation risks. In this era of nuisance litigation and employment-focused litigation, companies need to take affirmative steps to reduce employment claims and related litigation.

There are three key steps that every company should take in order to reduce employment litigation exposure.   Companies have to recognize potential employee concerns early and take steps to act according to policies and practices designed to minimize employment litigation claims.

...

http://blog.volkovlaw.com/2016/02/three-keys-minimizing-employment-litigation-risks/

Across the world, hackers are taking control of networks, locking away files and demanding sizeable ransoms to return data to the rightful owner. This is the ransomware nightmare, one that a Hollywood hospital has been swallowed up by in the last week. The body confirmed it agreed to pay its attackers $17,000 in Bitcoin to return to some kind of normality. Meanwhile, FORBES has learned of a virulent strain of ransomware called Locky that’s infecting at least 90,000 machines a day.

The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s own nightmare started on 5 February, when staff noticed they could not access the network. It was soon determined hackers had locked up those files and wanted 40 Bitcoins (worth around $17,000) for the decryption key required to unlock the machines. Original reports had put the ransom at 9,000 Bitcoin (worth roughly $3.6 million), but Allen Stefanek, president and CEO of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, said in an official statement they were inaccurate.

Despite receiving assistance from local police and security experts, the hospital chose to pay the attackers. “The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2016/02/18/ransomware-hollywood-payment-locky-menace/

Cloud computing has completely revolutionized the way businesses handle data. No longer limited by their own hardware, companies can now take advantage of technology tools offered by providers around the world. This trend will only continue as more organizations transition storage and compute power to the cloud. According to analysts at Gartner, cloud services are predicted to grow to $244 billion by 2017.

With all the benefits the cloud has to offer, it is imperative that businesses develop the essential awareness and master the fundamental security capabilities required to safely and securely deploy cloud computing solutions. This is especially critical for functions—and even entire industries—with a high risk of data breach, such as payroll processing, human resources management, health care services and anything related to financial data, from consumer banking to payment card transactions to retirement fund distributions.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/cloud-computing-cyber-liability-risk-management/

From an investor’s point of view, Rackspace Hosting is now operating in uncharted territory, and Mr. Market hates uncertainty.

Fanatical belief in “fanatical support” and anecdotes about the potential of managed services for Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure, Private Cloud, and Office 365 simply didn’t excite analysts on the Q4 2015 earnings call.

Rackspace (RAX) investors bid the stock up 3 percent to close at $18.17 prior to the release of Q4 earnings and full-year 2015 results after the bell Tuesday.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/18/data-center-stocks-rackspace-pivot-to-cloud-support-fails-to-impress-investors/

The cyber thief develops a new advantage, breaks into an IT system, and swipes data. An enterprise spots the hack too late, figures out how it was done, and changes its defense to stop the hack from happening again. The defense holds until the cyber thief figures out the next work-around.

That is the action/reaction cycle. Like a perverse iteration of Newton's third law, every clever action is followed by an equally clever reaction.

Companies are getting wise to this, adding depth to their cyber-defenses to contain, rather than prevent breaches. Yet, there can be no change in strategy without a change in thinking first.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/security-and-risk-strategy/cyber-security-the-best-plan-of-action-to-keep-your-data-safe/d/d-id/1324328

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Is Business Continuity Broken?

There has been a lot of talk lately in the Business Continuity industry about a “next generation” of Business Continuity planning. In a recent article from Continuity Central, David Lundstedt asserts that Business Continuity is Broken. But is it? Are we clinging too tightly to our old ways of creating plans and delivering results? Businesses and technologies change very rapidly—are we keeping up?

“The business continuity industry is evolving slowly. It must evolve, and some significant changes in perspective are warranted,” stated MHA CEO Michael Herrera. “We must be careful not to lose sight of the real goal: organizational survival/resilience.“

In the Continuity 2.0 Manifesto (first made available in September 2015) David Lindstedt and Mark Armour argue that “traditional approaches in business continuity management have become increasingly ineffectual.” Over the years, technology and organizations have undergone tremendous changes, but business continuity methodology has not kept pace. Small, incremental adjustments that focus increasingly on compliance over resilience are cited as contributors to “a progressively untenable state of ineffectual practice, executive disinterest, and an inability to demonstrate the value of continuity programs and practitioners.”

...

http://www.mha-it.com/2016/02/is-business-continuity-broken/

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Making Commuter and Freight Trains Safer

In September 2008 a Metrolink commuter train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, Calif., killing 25 people and injuring more than 100. On Dec. 1, 2013, a Metro-North commuter train derailed in the Bronx, killing four and injuring dozens of others. The train’s engineer had fallen asleep and failed to slow the train from over 82 mph to the maximum authorized 30 mph as it entered a curve.

These and many other incidents could have been avoided, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, if railroads had implemented positive train control (PTC). They were supposed to do just that by the end of 2015. They missed the deadline, but got a reprieve, with Congress pushing back the deadline for PTC implementation to 2018.

Congress first mandated PTC in 2008 for rail lines used to transport passengers or toxic-by-inhalation materials. The unfunded mandate gave railroads seven years to comply. Questions arise: Why push back implementation to 2018? Why the delay? Will PTC actually help, whenever we get there? And what will it mean to emergency managers?

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Making-Commuter-and-Freight-Trains-Safer.html

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Emergency Alerts Get More Direct

Strong forces are at work to make emergency alerts more mobile and precisely targeted. Long gone are days when a siren blasting a loud horn near and far was sufficient to spur people to action. Now, people want information that’s precise, pertains specifically to them and is available wherever they are regardless of what they’re doing. Plus, studies show that people generally won’t take protective action unless they get an alert from at least two sources. 

Add to the mix the fact that today’s emergencies are local and difficult. Our threats don’t include a fear that bombs will be dropped on our cities from a warring nation. It’s more likely that a terrorist will plant a bomb where we live, work, learn, worship and play. Or a flood will hit an unexpected neighborhood. Or a tornado will abruptly change its path. Or someone will kidnap a child and head for the state’s border. We could go on.

It’s easy to see why emergency alerting has evolved and continues to do so. Targeting specific areas became more practical in the late 1990s when telephone alerting was introduced. Practitioners could draw a diagram on a digital map and direct alerts to specific home and business phone numbers. They can do much more now, according to Russ Johnson, director of Public Safety and Homeland/National Security for Esri, one of the first providers of digital mapping for alerting.He said alerts can be much “smarter” through use of real-time mapping where “live” information from many sources can be analyzed. Then, a geo-fence can be established around the area. If something or someone crosses into the fenced area, an alert can be automatically issued.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Emergency-Alerts-Get-More-Direct.html

The recent acts of terrorism in Paris stunned the world, when 150 were killed and more than 300 were wounded. But the collateral damage went far beyond buildings being ripped apart and one of the most popular cities in the world being virtually shut down.

Business Travel Coalition, a U.S.-based lobby group, recently released a survey of 84 corporate, university and government travel and risk managers from 17 countries on their attitudes of trips to France following the bombings. Twenty-one percent of the respondents said they were very or somewhat likely to cancel travel to France for “some period of time,” and 20% were somewhat likely to cancel travel to and within Europe. A large majority said they’d probably allow employees to decide whether they were prepared to head to France. One in five corporate travel managers is likely to cancel trips to Paris “for some period of time.” These are not surprising statistics.

Terrorism has been defined as “The use of violence to instill a state of fear,” and that effect is far-reaching; a bomb explodes in Paris and it’s likely that 5,600 miles away in California some corporate risk manager for a Fortune 500 company is seriously considering cancelling a business trip to Europe—a visceral reaction that could cost his company untold sums of money. Mission accomplished.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/is-fear-of-terrorism-grounding-your-business-travel/

(TNS) - Among the items scattered on the conference room table were a hand-cranked flashlight, a tri-fold shovel and food packets with a five-year shelf life.

They were next to the “blood stopper,” labeled as dressing for wounds and trauma, and a “survival tin,” which included a sewing kit, fishing hooks and condoms. That last item also is included to protect supplies from the elements.

“They help keep things dry,” said John Caine, manager of new business development for Quake Kare, a company that touts itself as the country’s “leading source of emergency survival kits.”

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/No-matter-the-disaster-St-Louis-nonprofit-can-help-prepare-you-for-the-worst.html

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Fighting the War against Hackers

Cyber-attacks are inevitable.  Thankfully we have IT security teams that keep all of the technology within an organization secure from hackers, who are attempting to breach internal systems and gain control of private information.  It is important not to be narrow minded when thinking of information security.  System threats come in all shapes and sizes.  Some of the most common threats that companies face today are software attacks, property or identity theft, and even information extortion.

In recent years, there have been many companies that were victims of cyber-attacks.  You may not always be able to prevent them, but you are responsible for all of the technology and information within your company.  So one might ask, how can I protect my company, my employees and my customers from hackers?

Here are a few tips that will help safeguard your organization:

...

http://www.bcinthecloud.com/2016/02/fighting-the-war-against-hackers/

NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Disaster recovery experts today urged applicants for federal assistance to complete a disaster loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Taking a loan is not required; completing the application can open the door to all federal assistance, including possible additional grants from FEMA.

Most Arkansans who register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency will receive an automated call with information on how to complete the loan application process. Low-interest loans from the SBA are the major source of funding for disaster recovery.

SBA offers low-interest loans to homeowners, renters,  businesses of all sizes (including landlords) and private nonprofit organizations that have sustained disaster damage.  There is no cost to apply and no obligation to accept a disaster loan.

Assistance from FEMA is limited to help jump-start the recovery; it may not cover all damage or property loss. Completing the SBA Loan application may make FEMA assistance available to replace essential household items, replace or repair a damaged vehicle, or cover storage expenses.

Interest rates can be as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.813 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.

Eligible homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for home repair or replacement of primary residences, and eligible homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property, including a vehicle. 

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

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

For additional information about SBA disaster loans, the application process, or for help completing the SBA application:

People with storm losses who still need to register with FEMA can register anytime online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov , or with a smartphone or device at m.fema.gov. Survivors can also register by phone from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. by calling FEMA at 800-621-3362. People who use TTY can call 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available.

Federal disaster assistance is available to eligible residents of Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Faulkner, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Little River, Perry, Sebastian and Sevier counties that suffered damage from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding Dec. 26, 2015 - January 22, 2016.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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.

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

 
State/Tribal Government or Region: 

The idea of fully outsourcing data infrastructure to the cloud is still novel enough to give many CIOs the shivers. But now that end-to-end data environments can be configured entirely in software, the notion is not as radical as it once was.

At the very least, the precise location of physical infrastructure is becoming less of an architectural criterion given that functions like security, governance and resource configuration are proving to be less costly and more effective when they are deployed on the application or data planes rather than a box somewhere. So this has some people wondering if we are on the cusp of a quiet revolution toward full utility-style computing, not because it is the latest must-have technology but because it is the most efficient, effective way to run a data environment.

For those who say their data is too broad or too complex to entrust to third-party infrastructure, we have only to look at Netflix, which recently shuttered its last video streaming data center to port its entire service to AWS. The company still maintains some back-office processes in-house, but the voluminous video feeds – the heart of its user-facing operation – are now 100 percent in the cloud. The company has made no secret that, given the scale and complexity of its operations, it had no choice but to turn to Amazon for support, which includes not just massive resources but a growing cadre of specialty services and feature sets.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/resources-at-the-ready-and-who-cares-where-they-sit.html

On Tuesday, IBM announced that is rolling out its latest version of its z13 mainframe, which, according to the company, aims to attract mid-size enterprises with a hybrid cloud mainframe designed to encrypt data without slowing down the computer's performance.

The IBM z13s, expected to be available beginning next month, is designed to encrypt and decrypt data at double the speed of previous generations because the security is embedded into the hardware.

Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems, said in a statement:

With the new IBM z13s, clients no longer have to choose between security and performance. This speed of secure transactions, coupled with new analytics technology helping to detect malicious activity and integrated IBM Security offerings, will help mid-sized clients grow their organization with peace of mind.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/cloud/ibm-z13-mainframe-brings-encryption-to-hybrid-cloud-/d/d-id/1324331

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Designing Data Centers for the Future

In January, we focused on data center design. We looked into design best practices and examined some of the most interesting new design trends. Here are the stories we ran as part of our data center design month:

Data Center Design: Which Standards to Follow? – Codes must be followed when designing, building, and operating your data center, but “code” is the minimum performance requirement to ensure life safety and energy efficiency in most cases. A data center is going to probably be the most expensive facility your company ever builds or operates. Should it have the minimum required by code?

Startup Envisions Data Centers for Cities of the Future – The Project Rhizome team is thinking of ways to design small urban data centers so they fit in urban environments functionally, economically, and aesthetically.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/16/designing-data-centers-for-the-future/

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

The Many Ways Passwords Put Data at Risk

Just in time for tax season comes word of all kinds of security breakdowns within important tax-related organizations.

For example, there was the announcement from the IRS that it was hacked (again). As CIO explained it:

In its review, the IRS identified unauthorized attempts involving about 464,000 unique Social Security numbers. About 101,000 Social Security numbers were used to access E-file PINs.

Also, several tax preparation companies reported breaches, which were likely caused because of poor password management. One of those breached companies was TaxSlayer, whose director of customer support Lisa Daniel was quoted by eSecurity Planet:

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/the-many-ways-passwords-put-data-at-risk.html

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

The Data Center Cloud Built

This month (February), we focus on data centers built to support the Cloud. As cloud computing becomes the dominant form of IT, it exerts a greater and greater influence on the industry, from infrastructure and business strategy to design and location. Webscale giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have perfected the art and science of cloud data centers. The next wave is bringing the cloud data center to enterprise IT… or the other way around!

Here’s a collection of stories that ran on Data Center Knowledge in February, focusing on the data center and the cloud:

Telco Central Offices Get Second Life as Cloud Data Centers – As AT&T and other major telcos, such as Verizon, upend their sprawling network infrastructure to make it more agile through software, most of those facilities will eventually look less like typical central offices and more like cloud data centers.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/16/the-data-center-cloud-built/

During historic 1998 El Niño season that created $550 million in damages, it was not until February that California experienced flooding damage that warranted a federal presidential declaration
 

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released new data on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies, showing an increase of more than 27,000 new NFIP policies written in California during the month of December 2015. There is a 30 – 90 day waiting period for new policies to be reported to FEMA and the latest available data, released today, shows an increase of more than 55,500 new flood insurance policies purchased in California from August 31 – December 31, 2015.


The nearly 25% increase for the state is the first of its kind, in any state, in the history of the National Flood Insurance Program, created in 1968.

“FEMA recognizes that a government-centric approach to emergency management is not adequate to meet the challenges posed by a catastrophic incident,” said FEMA Region 9 Administrator Robert Fenton. “Utilizing a whole community approach to emergency management reinforces that FEMA is only one part of our nation’s emergency management team and individuals are arguably the most important part of that team.”
Although the agency does not directly correlate all NFIP claims this year to El Niño, FEMA has already seen 127 National Flood Insurance Program policyholders submit claims in California during January 2016 compared to only 1 claim submitted in California for the same period during the previous year.

Although parts of FEMA Region 9 have recently been in a relative dry period, according to the National Weather Service, the impact of El Niño is not over.

“It has not been uncommon during past strong El Niño events to go through drier periods, even during the winter months,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Carpenter. “A change in the weather pattern around the last week of February may start bringing the storm track farther south and across more of California into March.”
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center forecasts climate anomalies associated with the ongoing El Niño episode are expected to result in at least minimal improvements to the drought conditions across much of California and western Nevada through the end of April.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.
Flooding can happen anywhere, but certain areas are especially prone to serious flooding. Many areas in California are at increased flood risk from El Niño, as a direct result of wildfires and drought.

Residents should be aware of a couple things:

o You can’t get flood insurance at the last minute. In most cases, it takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to go into effect. So get your policy now.
o Only Flood Insurance Covers Flood Damage. Most standard homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage.
o Get all the coverage you need. An agent can walk you through coverage options.
o Know your flood risk. Visit FloodSmart.gov (or call 1-800-427-2419) to learn more about individual flood risk, explore coverage options and to find an agent in your area.

In September 2015, FEMA’s Region 9 office in Oakland, Calif., established an El Niño Task Force with the mission of preparing for the impact of El Niño. The task force is evaluating the core capabilities needed to protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from any flooding that occurs across the Region this winter and spring. In December 2015, FEMA Region 9 released its draft El Niño severe weather response plan and convened a Regional interagency steering committee meeting in Northern California to exercise the plan. The plan is a living document and is continuously updated as new information on the El Niño threat emerges.

FEMA administers the National Flood Insurance Program and works closely with more than 80 private insurance companies to offer flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners. In order to qualify for flood insurance, the home or business must be in a community that has joined the NFIP and agreed to enforce sound floodplain management standards.
NFIP is a federal program and offers flood insurance which can be purchased through private property and casualty insurance agents. Rates are set nationally and do not differ from company to company or agent to agent.

These rates depend on many factors, which include the date and type of construction of your home, along with your building's level of risk.

Visit Ready.gov for more preparedness tips and information and follow @FEMARegion9 on Twitter.

Amazon Web Services has signed an agreement to acquire NICE, a software-as-a-service company based in Italy that helps customers optimize and centralize their HPC, cloud and visualization resources. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is expected to close in Q1 2016.

According to NICE’s sparse website, it will continue to operate under its existing brand, and continue to support and develop EnginFrame and Desktop Cloud Visualization (DCV) products.

AWS didn’t drone on about the acquisition, instead opting for a short blog post written by AWS’ Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr, to briefly sum up the news. While not a lot may be known about the acquisition at this point, it is clear there are three main reasons why AWS pulled the trigger on the deal.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/16/three-reasons-aws-just-bought-italian-saas-firm-nice/

Unfortunately in today’s world, active shooter preparation is becoming an essential emergency response practice for organizations of all shapes and sizes.  In fact, between the years 2000 to 2013, “the FBI identified 160 active shooter incidents and 1,043 casualties – an average of 6.4 incidents occurred in the first seven years, and 16.4 occurring in the following seven.” [1]

Although each organization is different, there are steps you can take for active shooter training to ensure that your employees and managers are prepared to initiate a response plan and manage the consequences of each incident:

...

http://www.everbridge.com/active-shooter-preparedness-protect-your-employees-with-an-emergency-response-plan/

Apple AAPL +0.65% CEO Tim Cook has written an open letter to customers warning them of a “dangerous” request from the FBI to effectively create a backdoor in their iPhones. Cook was writing in response to a court order asking Apple to create a tool that would allow for unlimited guesses at a user’s passcode, in this case to crack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, who killed 14 and injured 22 others in December 2015.

On standard iPhones, the user can only attempt to get the passcode right 10 times before the device wipes itself. The order, handed down under the All Writs Act of 1789, demands Apple write a program for the government that would undo that and allow for so-called “brute force” attacks on iPhones. This would effectively break any encryption protections, as the passcode is the only real barrier between a hacker, be they government or criminal, and an iPhone. Once the passcode is broken, most encryption protections on iPhones are bypassed.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2016/02/17/tim-cook-takes-on-fbi-over-encryption-bypass/

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00

Data Center Extends Cloud’s Edge to Minneapolis

Just like a popular YouTube video is cheaper to deliver from a data center that’s in the same geographical region than from a remote one, both providers and users of enterprise cloud services benefit if the services are delivered from a local data center.

Quickly growing adoption of cloud services by enterprises has driven edge data center specialist EdgeConneX to locate its latest facility in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro has a population of about 3.8 million, yet digital content and cloud services consumed by its residents and companies have traditionally been served from data centers 400 miles away, in Chicago, Clint Heiden, chief commercial officer at EdgeConneX, said.

“When you have a [market] the size of Minneapolis-St. Paul pulling from another core market like Chicago, that to us screams like an edge market,” he said.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/17/edge-data-center-geared-for-cloud-launches-in-minneapolis/

Ready to offer cloud backup and disaster recovery (BDR) services?

A managed service provider that wants to enter the cloud BDR services market will need to determine how to price its offerings, which may seem exceedingly difficult.

There are three common pricing strategies that MSPs may use for their cloud BDR services:

...

http://mspmentor.net/backup-and-disaster-recovery/which-pricing-strategy-right-your-cloud-bdr-services

A major financial institution is likely to be hit by significant cyber criminal activity in 2016, according to the latest ThreatMetrix Cybercrime Report.

Analysis of more than 15 billion transactions in the past 12 months by the ThreatMetrix Digital Identity Network revealed a 40% increase in cyber criminal activity targeting the financial sector.

A record 21 million fraud attacks and 45 million bot attacks were detected in the last three months of 2015 alone.

...

http://www.computerweekly.com/news/4500272926/Financial-institutions-on-high-alert-for-major-cyber-attack

The Business Continuity Institute's position statement on organizational resilience

In recent years, there has been a significant amount of attention given to the concept of organizational resilience across the business continuity industry. Much of the debate has focused on the principles and practice of organizational resilience, and how this relates to the established business continuity management discipline.

The aim of this position statement, which has been produced and ratified by the Board of the Business Continuity Institute, is to add clarity regarding the position of business continuity in the context of organizational resilience. It also provides the BCI’s perspective on how the development of resilience concepts may impact on the practice of business continuity.

The BCI believes that this position statement will contribute to our stated purpose to "promote a more resilient world”. We also hope that it helps to move forward the future development of organizational resilience concepts, beyond definitional debates, towards a collaborative understanding between participants across many management disciplines.

Tim Janes Hon. FBCI, BCI Board Member

Organizational Resilience - BCI Position Statement - February 2016

Key Points:

  • Business continuity is not the same as organizational resilience.
  • The effective enhancement of organizational resilience will require a collaborative effort between many management disciplines.
  • No single management discipline or member association can credibly claim ‘ownership’ of organizational resilience, and organizational resilience cannot be described as a subset of another management discipline or standard.
  • Business continuity principles and practices are an essential contribution for an organization seeking to develop and enhance effective resilience capabilities.
  • The wide range of activities required to develop and enhance organizational resilience capabilities provide an opportunity for business continuity practitioners to broaden their skills and knowledge, building on the foundation of their business continuity experience and credentials.
  • The BCI, working with related partners and industry groups where appropriate, will develop relevant knowledge resources and training to support members who wish to advance their organizational resilience knowledge and skills.

Organizational Resilience

In recent years, the concept of organizational resilience has attracted a significant amount of attention across the business continuity industry. Debate has focused on the principles and practice of organizational resilience, and how it relates to the established business continuity discipline. On occasion, the term 'organizational resilience' has been taken to mean the same as 'business continuity'.

This paper does not intend to add further to the debate in terms of the formal definition of organizational resilience. Rather the aim is to clarify the position of business continuity in the context of organizational resilience and how it impacts on business continuity practitioners. While there is still much debate on the definition of organization resilience, for the sake of simplicity, this paper takes the definition contained in the draft ISO 22316.

Organizational Resilience is the:
"adaptive capacity of an organization in a complex and changing environment"
ISO /WD 22316. Societal Security – Guidelines for organizational resilience

It is clear from this statement that organizational resilience is characterised as a broad concept. It is also widely accepted that organizational resilience draws on the experience and efforts of a large number of interrelated management disciplines. Business continuity is just one of the management disciplines that contribute to an organization’s resilience capabilities. The list of contributory disciplines is extensive; just a few examples include emergency management, crisis management, ICT service continuity, occupational health and safety, environment protection, physical security, supply chain management, information security management and various forms of risk management (e.g. credit, market, enterprise).

For this reason, no one management discipline or member association can credibly claim ‘ownership’ of organizational resilience concepts and principles. Furthermore, organizational resilience cannot be properly described as a subset of another management discipline or standard.

Clearly, business continuity and organizational resilience are not the same thing. However, it is apparent that business continuity provides principles and practices that are an essential contributor for any organization seeking to develop and enhance its resilience capabilities.

For example, business continuity practices explain how organizations can identify their priority activities and the risks of disruption to those activities. Established business continuity standards help organizations to understand what is required to ensure priority activities can continue in the face of disruption, and to rehearse the capability to respond to disruption through practical exercises.

Therefore, business continuity practitioners possess many, but not all, of the knowledge and skills that are necessary to help organizations to develop and enhance resilience capabilities.

As noted previously, a wide range of business activities and management disciplines contribute towards enhanced organizational resilience. It is unlikely that a single person in any organization will possess the necessary knowledge and skills to implement and deliver all resilience objectives. The development and enhancement of organizational resilience capabilities will require a collaborative effort between participants across many management disciplines.

This presents an opportunity for BCI members. Business continuity practitioners who wish to become resilience professionals can build on their proven competencies, broaden their knowledge and develop new skills in areas that contribute further to an organization’s resilience activities.

It is the BCI’s stated purpose to "promote a more resilient world”. The BCI recognises that this objective is supported when business continuity practitioners have access to a broad range of resilience-focused information and training. The BCI will support its members who seek to develop their organizational resilience knowledge and skills by providing access to relevant resources. This may be either directly through the BCI, training partners or working in collaboration with related industry associates and professional members groups.

If you have any questions regarding the BCI's statement on organizational resilience, please email the BCI's Head of Learning and Development - deborah.higgins@thebci.org" rel="nofollow">Deborah Higgins MBCI.

The Zika virus is turning out to be a bigger and more unwelcome surprise than expected. Those responsible for pandemic planning and emergency management know how fast critical situations can develop. However, ZIKV, as the Zika virus is also known, is rapidly increasing in severity in at least two dimensions at the same time: the number of people infected and the level of danger of those infections. Initially, there were only a handful of known cases and initial descriptions of “mild illness”, with symptoms such as headaches, rashes, fever, conjunctivitis, and joint pains. Estimates have now risen to the possibility of millions infected and severe health risks including malformations in newborn babies and deaths of adult patients.

...

http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/zika-and-the-multi-dimensional-development-of-a-pandemic/

Mainframes aren’t dead yet. IBM is launching a new version of its z13 mainframe for mid-sized enterprises today that introduces a number of new security features. With up to 4 TB of RAM, the z13s also supports 8x as much memory as IBM’s previous single-frame mainframes.

IBM also says the z13s offers faster processing speeds than some of its previous mainframes in this price range, but the focus of the z13s is clearly on security.

One feature that makes today’s mainframes different from standard servers is that they include numerous specialized processors for features like memory control, I/O, and cryptography.

...

http://techcrunch.com/2016/02/15/ibm-launches-new-mainframe-with-focus-on-security-and-hybrid-cloud/

Today IBM Corp. officially announced its z13s mainframe with speedy encryption, cyber analytics, and other security innovations which are baked into the new machine. Call it a cyberframe and watch the CIOs come running.

Big Blue spent 5 years and one billion dollars developing the z13 mainframe which was introduced last year for large customers. IBM IBM +1.24% describes it as the most sophisticated computer system ever built. Now they’ve added an ‘s’ to the end, for security.

The z13 can process 2.5 billion transactions a day, or the equivalent of 100 Cyber Mondays every day, based on results from IBM internal lab measurements. The z13s has advanced cryptography features built into the hardware that allow it to encrypt and decrypt data twice as fast as previous generations, protecting information without compromising performance.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/02/16/ibms-new-cyberframe-is-the-worlds-most-secure-server/

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 00:00

Understanding Your Risk Profile

Every organization has significant risk exposures. The question is, does executive management and the Board of Directors really know what they are?

For many companies, the enterprise risk assessment (ERA) process focuses on the severity of impact of potential future events on the achievement of the organization’s business objectives and the likelihood of those events occurring within a stated time horizon. Developing risk maps, heat maps and risk rankings based on these subjective assessments is common practice. Encompassing an evaluation of available data, metrics and information, as well as the application of judgment by knowledgeable executives, the ERA process is intuitive to most people and provides a rough profile of the enterprise’s risks.

But there are some issues with the traditional risk-mapping approach:

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/understanding-your-risk-profile/

When you think of insider threats, your first thought is a malicious attack by an unhappy employee or a staffer that’s about to quit or be fired. Unfortunately, if that were the case, there would be fewer instances of breaches and data leaks coming from inside your four walls. On the flip side, most organizations inherently trust that their employees understand how to handle sensitive information, following the company’s security best practices every day.

So much has been written about the rogue employee and how organizations must be vigilant in protecting customer and other sensitive data from theft and ultimately exposure. However, your model employee may be unknowingly exposing your organization’s most critical data at any given time. Regardless of the culprit, intentional or not, stopping insider threats is more difficult than hardening the perimeter, since insiders already have access to privileged information to do their jobs. While many organizations look at internal firewalls, intrusion detection and other system protections, the focus needs to move to the actual information that may be at risk – the data.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/the-overlooked-security-threat-when-my-bad-puts-your-organization-at-risk/

Bitcoin, after reaching a peak value of $1,147 in December 2013, has now become a far more dependable currency valued at around $400 per bitcoin with only comparatively limited value fluctuation. Despite the perception that it is used for nefarious and underground deals, with sites like Silkroad creating a media storm against the digital currency, it is becoming a more widely accepted payment option, with some of the biggest companies in the world now accepting it as currency. Traditional companies like Paypal, Subway, CVS and Whole Foods are even jumping on the bandwagon and using the digital currency on their sites.

However, all is not well in bitcoin use, with companies looking at payments being made using traditional data analytics methods, and trying to track payments in order to create actionable insights. Although this may sound sinister, It is a practice that has been used for credit cards, cheques and electronic payments for decades. The difference with bitcoin is that it is a currency founded on a certain level of anonymity, making some uncomfortable with the practice.

One of the key differences between the two payment systems is that a payment through a credit card or similar needs to pass through a third party, whereas a bitcoin transaction creates a block, which, when added to all other bitcoin transactions, creates a blockchain. This means that technically it is possible to see every single Bitcoin transaction, which is a data scientist's dream. The problem is that although the transactions can be seen, the unique wallet address and identity is known only to the two people in the transaction.

...

https://channels.theinnovationenterprise.com/articles/the-rise-of-big-data-analytics-for-block-chains

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 00:00

Rise And Fall Of The Chief Data Officer

There's a new sheriff in town and the title is chief data officer, or CDO. Found most often in regulated industries, the CDO is sometimes hired to help a company improve regulatory compliance, data management, and data governance. In other organizations the role may also be responsible for data analytics and/or data science. However broad or narrow, a CDO's charter depends on what the organization’s leadership thinks it requires, although the actual needs of the organization may vary over time. Here are a few important things to consider.

Is a CDO Necessary?

Large organizations in highly regulated industries are the most likely to employ a CDO. In smaller and data-first companies, a CDO's responsibilities may be shared among other titles or be the domain of a single individual, such as the CIO. The question is whether a CDO is actually necessary.

In a recent Forrester Research survey of 3,005 global data and analytics decision-makers, 45% of respondents said their company had appointed a CDO. The survey also revealed that "top performers" (those with 10% annual revenue growth) were 65% more likely to appoint a CDO than "low performers" that have less than 4% revenue growth.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/it-strategy/rise-and-fall-of-the-chief-data-officer/a/d-id/1324280

Partnership is the first with a U.S.-based MSP to sell intelligent converged platform in 1TB increments


MELVILLE, N.Y. — FalconStor Software® Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC), a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, today announced that it has signed Innovative Solutions Consulting Inc. (ISC) to be the first managed service provider (MSP) partner in the United States to sell FreeStor® in 1TB increments.  This agreement expands the reach of the company’s converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform to support organizations from the SMB community through the enterprise.

Based outside of Kansas City, Missouri, Innovative Solutions Consulting Inc. provides high-quality IT products and services to carrier and enterprise-level organizations. The company offers a wide variety of services tailored to exceed its clients’ IT requirements, including managed, professional, cloud and IT procurement services.  With more than 25 years of experience working with customers across a wide variety of industries, ISC prides itself on providing its clients with unique custom solutions offering elasticity and scalability to satisfy their future IT needs.

As a long-time reseller and integrator of FalconStor products, Innovative Solutions sees FreeStor as a groundbreaking solution for its customers because it integrates the company’s entire suite of data management tools into a single product for a single, pay-as-you-grow price.  ISC CTO, Mardy Martin, believes the flexibility FreeStor offers over competitive point-solutions makes it ideally suited for overcoming limitations of vendor lock-in, forklift upgrades, and cloud-based security issues.

“FreeStor is an incredible opportunity for us to be able to offer a software-defined storage technology that will allow our customers to use a platform that has been recognized globally for its excellence,” said Mardy Martin, CTO of Innovative Solutions Consulting, Inc.  “FreeStor gives MSPs the ability to manage the product in their cloud infrastructure or the customer’s environment.  It gives us the flexibility to manage customers’ entire environment completely, or just a portion of it, or in being the one they call in a managed services support model. It resolves a real issue within the mid-market around the need to continually invest in additional equipment to maintain and grow their environments.  FreeStor eliminates the need for this by extending capabilities on existing hardware and by being the most open software-defined storage platform on the market today.” 

FreeStor's horizontal architecture unlocks a new world of storage opportunities, allowing IT managers, MSPs and CSPs to maximize efficiencies and lower costs while taking advantage of the public cloud, hybrid cloud, flash storage and software-defined storage.  FalconStor’s groundbreaking Intelligent Abstraction® approach delivers seamless access and unified data services across entire storage infrastructures without having to invest in new technology, or rip and replace existing platforms. Always-on availability and continuity keep businesses running while enabling them to move, synchronize and protect data seamlessly across virtual and physical storage platforms.

“As we continue to expand the footprint of FreeStor throughout the world, we look at our MSP partners as the ideal ambassadors for advancing our message. There is no better way for organizations to gain greater efficiencies, reduced downtime, lower costs and improved simplicity from their IT infrastructures,” said Gary Quinn, FalconStor President, and CEO.  “Innovative Solutions has the passion and experience for providing innovative technology to its customer base. We are pleased to partner with them as the first MSP in the U.S. to offer FreeStor in as small as 1TB increments.”

About Innovative Solutions Consulting, Inc.
Innovative Solutions Consulting, Inc. is a Woman Owned Missouri based company with over 25 years of IT industry experience providing high quality IT products and services to businesses in the Kansas City Metro area and nationwide. 


About FalconStor
FalconStor® Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged data services software platform that is hardware agnostic.  Our open, integrated flagship solution, FreeStor®, reduces vendor lock-in and gives enterprises the freedom to choose the applications and hardware components that make the best sense for their business.  We empower organizations to modernize their data center with the right performance, in the right location, all while protecting existing investments.  FalconStor’s mission is to maximize data availability and system uptime to ensure nonstop business productivity while simplifying data management to reduce operational costs.  Our award-winning solutions are available and supported worldwide by OEMs as well as leading service providers, system integrators, resellers and FalconStor.  The company is headquartered in Melville, N.Y. with offices throughout Europe and the Asia Pacific region. For more information, visit www.falconstor.com or call 1-866-NOW-FALC (866-669-3252).

“Magnetic tapes are dead”; “Tapes still have a role in modern IT”. These are two opinions frequently heard among system administrators, but which of them is right? In recent years, there has been a lot of debate about the role of the oldest storage medium still in use. Tapes were first invented in 1928 for sound recording purposes, but since the fifties they have evolved into one of the most widespread and reliable media for storing data on a specially coated medium. Used reliably now for longer than half a century to store data, tapes have survived many attacks from competitors such as hard disk drives (HDD or SSD), or optical media such as Blu-Ray discs or DVDs.

...

http://blog.krollontrack.co.uk/concepts-explained/companies-have-difficulties-keeping-their-old-legacy-tape-infrastructure-alive-and-need-a-better-solution/

Monday, 15 February 2016 00:00

Stop Network Stuttering

How to optimize Skype for Business on any device

As you read (you did read it, right?) in “Securing Skype for Business in a Mobile World,” storing sensitive Skype for Business data in the data center is a secure alternative to help ensure files, contacts, logs and more all stay safe within the corporate vault. And hosting Skype for Business on XenApp provides a secure and efficient way to keep the apps next to the data they use. Until you try to make a voice and video call that is.

Yes, logic would dictate that performance for voice and video would be degraded because of what we call the hairpin–or tromboning–effect. That is when you have your local camera, microphone and speakers sending voice and video to the data center where it makes a return trip to the person you are calling, who could be another 800 miles away.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/02/12/stop-network-stuttering-2/

“What we’ve done is put together a pilot that is part of a portfolio of projects that the agency has to improve and modernize business practices statewide,” Drown said. “It’s open data to push, ultimately, a culture of data-based decision-making.”

...

http://www.govtech.com/data/California-to-Pilot-Statewide-Open-Data-Portal.html

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri renters who lost their homes or personal property as a result of the severe storms and flooding between December 23 and January 9 may be eligible for recovery assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies.

FEMA offers two kinds of help for eligible renters who were displaced from their homes by the recent storms:

  • Money to rent a different place to live for a limited period of time while repairs are made to the household’s rented home
  • A free referral service to find an adequate replacement rental property

FEMA also helps eligible renters with uninsured or underinsured expenses such as:

  • Disaster-related medical and dental expenses
  • Disaster-related funeral and burial expenses
  • Replacement or repair of necessary personal property lost or damaged in the disaster, household items such as room furnishings or appliances, and tools and equipment required by the self-employed for their jobs
  • Primary vehicles and approved second vehicles damaged by the disaster

Additionally, renters may borrow up to $40,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration to repair or replace personal property.

To qualify for state/federal assistance, renters must first register with FEMA. They can do so online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov at any time or by calling 800-621-3362 (800-621-FEMA) or (TTY) 800-462-7585, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS) can call 800-621-3362.

Multiple renters sharing the same dwelling (a.k.a. roommates or housemates) or boarders renting from the dwelling’s owner or leaseholder may apply separately for FEMA assistance after a disaster. Depending on certain conditions, they may be eligible for assistance to repair, clean or replace personal property or vehicles damaged during the disaster, as well as disaster-related expenses.    

Renters who desire face-to-face assistance should visit one of FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in Missouri or speak with someone from one of FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams currently going door-to-door in Missouri’s disaster-declared counties. The application deadline is March 21.

The 33 Missouri counties designated for federal disaster assistance to individuals are: Barry, Barton, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cole, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Jefferson, Laclede, Lawrence, Lincoln, Maries, McDonald, Morgan, Newton, Osage, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Scott, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster and Wright.

###

For breaking news about flood recovery, follow FEMA Region 7 on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion7 and turn on mobile notifications or visit the FEMA web pages dedicated to this disaster at www.fema.gov/disaster/4250.

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.

All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

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

 
State/Tribal Government or Region: 

One of the primary reasons so many relatively simple attacks wind up compromising IT security defenses is that the internal IT organization suffers from IT security fatigue. In any given day, any number of IT security technologies will generate a stream of alerts, most of which wind up being false positives. After a while, the IT organization becomes inured to the alerts until, of course, one of them involves a previously undiscovered vulnerability. By then, the damage is done.

Arctic Wolf Networks this week unfurled AWN Cyber-SOC, a service through which security professionals provide a security information event management (SIEM) capability based on a combination of custom, open source and commercial software technologies that serves to reduce internal IT security fatigue.

Rather than take over IT security management completely, Arctic Wolf Networks CEO Brian NeSmith says, AWN Cyber-SOC is designed to supplement efforts of the internal IT security department. All the firewalls and endpoint security continues to be managed by the internal IT department. Arctic Wolf Networks takes over responsibility for keeping track of the number and types of attacks being launched and what vulnerabilities they are trying to exploit inside the organization, says NeSmith. In effect, NeSmith says, Arctic Wolf Networks becomes the security operations center for the organization that is responsible for all activities relating to IT security hygiene.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/it-unmasked/arctic-wolf-networks-opens-security-operations-center.html

(TNS) - Fearing its standards would impede the rebuilding of tornado-stricken neighborhoods, Rowlett, 20 miles from Dallas, is scaling back its construction requirements to encourage residents to rebuild after the Dec. 26 storms.

Recent updates to codes dealing with new residential construction don’t necessarily fit the tone of Rowlett’s older neighborhoods. For instance, the city now requires 100 percent masonry on single-family residential exteriors. And it has outlawed garages that face streets.

At a special meeting Wednesday, city leaders said they feared that meeting the current standards would be costly for residents and that in the long run, fewer would rebuild, leaving more vacant lots.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Rowlett-eases-standards-for-rebuilding-homes-after-tornadoes.html

(TNS) - When fired Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner went on his killing spree it drew the largest law enforcement response in San Bernardino County history — until the Dec. 2 terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center. What they learned that week in February 2013 helped shape how emergency responders reacted at the IRC.

Law enforcement agencies from across Southern California, led by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, hunted Dorner after he implicated himself with an online manifesto in two murders.

Six days later, on Feb. 12, 2013, Dorner was killed during a shootout in a cabin near Angelus Oaks in the San Bernardino National Forest.

According to leaders of public safety departments who responded to both incidents, the lessons learned during the manhunt for the ex-LAPD officer turned cop killer helped stop IRC attackers Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik before they could harm more people after killing 14 and wounding 22 others.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/How-lessons-from-Christopher-Dorner-manhunt-helped-police-during-San-Bernardino-terrorist-attack.html

Inside the eBay operations "war room" last December, data analysts and data scientists had one big question on their minds as traffic approached its holiday crescendo: What was the hottest selling item among the 800 million available on the eBay website?

The answer wasn't one that many of them had expected.

"We found that every 12 seconds, we were selling a hoverboard," recalls Debashis Saha, vice president of Commerce Platform and Infrastructure. "It was our hottest-selling item" and one that previously hadn't even shown up on eBay's radar.

With that information in hand, eBay executives could contact suppliers and manufacturers of hoverboards, alert them to the unexpectedly high demand, and urge them to keep their manufacturing going and inventories stocked. It was a way of keeping customers satisfied and safeguarding eBay's own business, one made possible through a fast data analysis system called Kylin.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/how-ebays-kylin-tool-makes-sense-of-big-data/d/d-id/1324289

Monday, 15 February 2016 00:00

Gaining Cyber Confidence With a CISO

Businesses aren’t the only ones struggling to ramp up budget allocations to fortify against cyberrisk. In his new $4.1 trillion budget proposal, President Obama has asked for $19 billion for cybersecurity efforts, a 35% increase from last year.

The president directed his administration to “implement a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that takes near-term actions and puts in place a long-term strategy to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections, protect privacy, maintain public safety as well as economic and national security, and empower Americans to take better control of their digital security.” In addition to a cybersecurity awareness campaign targeting both consumers and businesses, the plan calls for government-wide risk assessments, a nation-wide push for a range of better consumer data security measures, and a range of initiatives to attract more and better cybersecurity personnel. Some of these new employees will offer cybersecurity training to more than 1.4 million small businesses, and the Department of Homeland Security is expected to double the number of cybersecurity advisors available to assist private sector organizations with risk assessments and the implementation of best practices.

Obama’s plan also takes a page from the private sector, creating the position of Federal Chief Information Security Officer to drive cybersecurity policy, planning and implementation across the federal government.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/gaining-cyber-confidence-with-a-ciso/

Proposals from lawmakers to force US companies to provide government agencies with backdoors to encrypted data would put them at a competitive disadvantage, without reducing the global availability of encryption, according to a report released Thursday by Harvard University researcher Bruce Schneier. While emphasizing that the results are not a complete catalogue, but rather more of a survey, Schneier and his team conducted A Worldwide Survey of Encryption Products and found 865 devices or programs incorporating encryption originating from 56 countries, with about one-third of the products coming from the US.

Schneier, who is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, along with fellow researchers Kathleen Seidel and Saranya Vijayakumar, replicated a study conducted in 1999 by researchers at George Washington University. The original study attempted to catalogue non-US encryption products, and found over 800 hardware and software products from 35 countries.

US and Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), with an assist from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has been drafting legislation to provide backdoors to encryption with warrants. Burr also sponsored the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which passed through the Senate in October.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/12/backdoor-access-to-us-data-would-do-nothing-to-stop-availability-of-encryption-report/

Verizon Communications, which several years ago had huge public cloud ambitions, is shutting down its public cloud service, which competes head to head with giants like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

The company notified its cloud customers of the coming change Thursday, giving them one month to move their data or lose it forever. It has already removed any mention of public cloud compute services from its website.

The move appears to be a confirmation of what many in the industry have been predicting, especially since news started coming out of big telcos looking to offload massive data center portfolios they had amassed in recent years to go after the cloud services market. It has become almost impossible to compete with AWS, Azure, and to a lesser extent with Google Cloud Platform in the market for renting virtual compute power over the internet and charging by the hour.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/12/verizon-shutting-down-public-cloud-gives-users-one-month-to-move-data/

Air Enterprises Acquisition, the exclusive US distributor of the heat wheel-based data center cooling system by KyotoCooling, has filed a lawsuit against competitor Nortek Air Solutions, accusing it of patent infringement.

The patent in question adapts heat wheels, a cooling technology used for many years in other industries, for data center cooling. Held by Netherlands-based KyotoCooling, it describes a data center cooling system that relies on a heat wheel in an indirect economization process.

Heat wheels are used to maximize the use of outside air for cooling. A heat wheel is a rotating heat exchanger with separate ducts for warm server-exhaust air and cool outside air. It addresses common problems with direct airside economization, such as air contamination and unwanted humidity, thus expanding the number of locations where economization is possible.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/12/firm-files-data-center-heat-wheel-patent-infringement-lawsuit/

HIMSS is pushing the National Institute of Standards and Technology to keep its Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity voluntary.

HIMSS, which represents more than 52,000 health IT professionals, wrote to NIST on Monday in response to its request for information. NIST has extended the original Tuesday comment deadline to Feb. 23.

NIST noted it was looking for ways in which the framework is being used to improve cybersecurity risk management; how best practices for using the framework are being shared; the relative value of different parts of the framework; the possible need for an update of the framework, and options for long-term governance of the framework.

...

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/himss-presses-nist-keep-cybersecurity-framework-voluntary-organizations

The tragic events in Paris last year represented a step change in the way that civilians were targeted at their most vulnerable, not only because of the primary mode of assault, but also in the way that the media responded. There has been a lot of analysis and discussion around this but for now, I would like to focus on the way that we responded to the incident using both the media and also social media.

Video

This infamous video, marked a step change of how information is reported during an incident. The video represented one of the first times that live footage was instantly streamed of an attack in a Western country. The images from this video would never have been shown by any reputable media outlet as there are very strict controls in place to prevent this. Therefore we are seeing an evolution in the way that we communicate.

This was crystallised by the Facebook safety check, the social good media response – a method whereby our friends can let us know that they are safe during an incident. This represents very well how we can as a population respond to a crisis. Twitter is also an interesting media. It is the first port of call to find out what is going on, but you have to take the information with a pinch of salt, as sometimes the information on Twitter isn’t correct. Twitter was used during the Paris attacks for both good and bad, for example, the local hospitals used it to say that they urgently needed blood.

Where does this media evolution leave us as business continuity/crisis managers?

...

http://www.everbridge.com/using-mass-notification-to-respond-to-a-terrorist-incident/

Only 6 percent of the world’s top 1500 companies have appointed a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to oversee the digital transformation of their business, but their ranks are growing, according to the results of a new study about the role from Strategy&, PwC​'s strategy consulting business.

The 2015 Chief Digital Officer Study looks at the top 1,500 public and private companies around the world by revenue to better understand how many companies have appointed a Chief Digital Officer, who they are, and where the position fits into companies’ hierarchies.

...

http://press.pwc.com/News-releases/more-companies-are-appointing-a-chief-digital-officer-to-join-their-c-suite---but-are-they-doing-it-/s/024B4A6F-D4ED-45C5-96DD-3821273FC86E

Change, convergence, complexity and convenience. These are words that describe the technology landscape as businesses look to create digital enterprises. Digital transformation, while not new, is evolving. Every part of a business is changing as a result of the rise of mobile, cloud computing, big data and analytics. In the past, companies could typical focus on one or two technology transitions at a time. Increasingly, executives across the organization are being asked to make multiple technology decisions. One the IT side, there are too many choices and companies are seeking convergence. At the same time, employees and line of business managers want to eliminate complexity while gaining the convenience of anywhere access to services.

Vendors must respond to these changes or risk being cast aside. In response to these trends, VMware VMW +0.69% launched a new product last week called the Workspace ONE Platform which is aimed at allowing people to work anywhere. Obviously not a new concept but the difference may be in the execution. Workspace ONE offers a simple and secure digital workspace, integrating identity, device management and application delivery. Let’s look at the functionality the platform provides and how it fits into the market.

Workspace ONE Platform offers one-touch mobile Single-Sign On access leveraging  Secure App Token Systems (SATS) that establishes trust between the user, device, enterprise and cloud. Once authenticated, employees can subscribe to any of the corporation’s mobile, cloud or Windows application based on a company’s policies. It also enables unified management of BYO and corporate owned devices. With the new solution, an employee can self-configure BYO laptops, smartphones and tablets choosing the level of services and IT restrictions they are comfortable to use, increasing adoption of BYO programs  and reducing the risk of data loss. Of course, IT will still set acceptable use and minimize access to corporate access based on various profiles. According to VMware, securing the data from the application through to the cloud with NSX is one of the companies main differentiators.  In truth, this only works it you purchase a full VMware stack. But if you do, it can deliver on that promise.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/maribellopez/2016/02/14/moving-from-mobility-to-digital-workspaces-with-vmwares-workspace-one/

Friday, 12 February 2016 00:00

NYC Crane Collapse Part of a Troubling Trend

Last week’s crane collapse in Lower Manhattan, which killed one person and injured three others, has heightened focus on crane safety, resulting in stricter rules for operators. The 565-foot crane toppled as it was being secured against high winds as a safety precaution.

More than 140 firefighters responded to the disaster in addition to police officers and utility workers who were there in case of gas leaks or other damage caused by the impact.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an investigation and instituted new safety policies effective immediately, while ordering that 376 other crawler cranes and 53 larger tower cranes currently operating in the city also be secured. The new rules require crawler cranes to cease operations and go into safety mode when there is a forecast for steady wind speeds of at least 20 miles per hour, or gusts of at least 30 m.p.h. Previously, cranes were allowed to operate until measured wind speeds reached 30 m.p.h. or gusts increased to 40 m.p.h.

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/nyc-crane-collapse-part-of-a-troubling-trend/

(TNS) - Broward County took a step Tuesday toward replacing the aging two-way radio system used by firefighters and police in emergencies, as outages continue to trouble the emergency dispatch system.

The current Motorola radio system is at "end of life,'' county officials have said. Radio failures have exacerbated problems with the county's emergency dispatch system, a relatively new regional effort that call-takers and dispatchers have struggled to master.

The need for a new radio system has been known for years. The outcry to replace it has grown louder. Police and fire chiefs across Broward have complained the outages are dangerous, severing communications between dispatchers and first responders at crime and accident scenes.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Aging-police-fire-radio-system-to-be-replaced.html

Federal assistance for local governments and nonprofit agencies damaged by historic flooding in late December and early January now will be available.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday approved Gov. Jay Nixon's request to expand the federal major disaster declaration for Missouri to include assistance for response and recovery expenses for governments and nonprofits in 37 counties, including Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Barry and Lawrence.

Major rains and flooding between Dec. 23 and Jan. 9 caused an estimated $41 million in damage to infrastructure, destroyed or damaged nearly 1,000 homes, and led to 16 deaths across Missouri, the governor's office said.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/FEMA-expands-assistance-to-governments-nonprofits.html

(TNS) - Twenty years ago today, thousands of Yakima Valley residents were scrambling to deal with raging floodwaters that destroyed homes and stranded entire communities.

A flood of once-in-a-century proportion inundated homes from Nile to Toppenish, first sending residents scrambling for sandbags and later raising questions about how best to prepare for future floods in a region where nearly every town and city has been built along rivers or in floodplains.

It began when warm storms dumped rain on deep snows across the region — 11 inches of rain hit the Yakima River’s headwaters near Snoqualmie Pass in just three days — sending so much water, ice and debris down the river and its tributaries on Feb. 9, 1996, that it spilled over its banks by more than 6 feet at Union Gap.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Yakima-Countys-flood-of-1996----could-it-happen-again.html

(TNS) - Sun-starved Midwesterners headed to balmy areas known to have Zika-carrying mosquitoes are being urged to cover up — with protective clothing and bug spray — to help prevent transmission of the virus.

“Long sleeves, long pants, liberal use of mosquito repellent,” said Dr. Diane Gorgas, an emergency physician at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center who also provides care in Haiti. “The biggest to-do is avoid bites.”

Although no locally transmitted cases have been reported in the continental United States, Zika has been diagnosed in more than three dozen returning travelers, including two northeast Ohio residents who became ill in January.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Health-officials-urge-expectant-couples-to-avoid-Zika-active-areas.html

The increasing likelihood of a data breach

How likely are you to suffer an unwanted intrusion within your IT systems? The majority of business decision makers admit their organization will suffer an information security breach, and that the cost of recovery could start from around $1 million. This is according to a new report by NTT Com Security.

The Risk:Value Report 2016 noted that while 54% of those surveyed say information security is vital to their business and nearly a fifth (18%) agree that poor information security is the single greatest risk, two-thirds (65%) predict their organisation will suffer a data breach at some point in the future. Perhaps the latter is not surprising given that only around one in five (22%) respondents claimed that all of their organization’s data is completely secure.

From this it is clear to see why cyber attacks and data breaches rank as the top two threats to organizations, as highlighted in the Business Continuity Institute's latest Horizon Scan Report. The vast majority of respondents to a global survey (85% and 80% respectively) expressed concern about the prospect of these threats materialising.

Respondents to the Risk:Value survey estimated that, on average, a breach would take nine weeks to recover from, and would cost $907,053. This is before any cost of reputational damage, brand erosion and lost business are taken into consideration. Decision makers estimate that around a fifth (19%) of their company’s remediation costs would be spent on legal fees, 18% on compensation to customers, 15% on third party resources and 15% on fines or compliance costs. Other expected remediation costs include PR and communications and compensation to suppliers and employees.

Garry Sidaway, SVP Security Strategy and Alliances at NTT Com Security, commented: “Attitudes to the real impact of security breaches have started to change, and this is no surprise given the year we have just had. We’ve seen household brands reeling from the effects of major data breaches, and struggling to manage the potential damage to their customers’ data – and the cost to their reputation.

There aren’t too many people in enterprise circles that want the cloud to fail. Even the system vendors who stand to lose lucrative revenue streams are still pulling for the cloud, if only to get in on the ground floor of the new data reality.

But there are many degrees to both success and failure, so it isn’t always clear one way or the other, particularly in large, complex systems like data infrastructure.

From today’s vantage point, however, it appears that the cloud is a success, but with caveats. While it has gone a long way toward simplifying and streamlining data infrastructure, it also presents new challenges as reliance on cloud services grows and data becomes more distributed on third-party infrastructure.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/tips-to-achieving-a-successful-cloud-strategy.html

OXFORD, Miss. — If disaster survivors in Mississippi apply for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and are referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it’s important for them to submit an SBA loan application to ensure that the federal disaster recovery process continues.

If you are a homeowner or renter and SBA determines you cannot afford a loan, you may be considered for FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program. The program helps meet essential needs like medical and dental care, funeral costs and transportation expenses.

Next to insurance, an SBA loan is the primary source of funds for real estate property repairs and replacing lost contents following a disaster. Homeowners may be eligible for low interest loans up to $200,000 for primary residence structural repairs or rebuilding.

When applying for an SBA loan, survivors should start the process as soon as possible:

  • Do not wait on an insurance settlement before submitting an SBA loan application. Survivors can begin their recovery immediately with a low-interest SBA disaster loan. The loan balance will be reduced by the insurance settlement. SBA loans may be available for losses not covered by insurance or other sources.
  • Survivors should complete and return the applications as soon as possible. Failure to complete and submit the home disaster loan application may stop the FEMA grant process. Homeowners and renters who submit an SBA application and are not offered a loan may be considered for certain other FEMA grants and programs that could include assistance for disaster-related car repairs, clothing, household items and other expenses.
  • SBA can help renters replace their important personal items. Homeowners and renters may be eligible to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property, including automobiles damaged or destroyed in the disaster.
  • SBA can help businesses and private nonprofit organizations with up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate, and other business assets. Eligible small businesses and nonprofits can apply for economic injury disaster loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.
  • Survivors don’t have to accept the loan if they qualify for one. Survivors who don’t qualify could be eligible for more assistance from FEMA and other organizations.

March 4, 2016, is the last day survivors can register with FEMA and apply for an SBA disaster loan for physical damage. Oct. 4, 2016, is the last day a small business or private, nonprofit organization may apply for an economic injury disaster loan.

Survivors can submit their SBA loan applications one of two ways: online at https://DisasterLoan.SBA.gov/ela or by mailing their paper application to:

U.S. Small Business Administration

Processing and Disbursement Center

14925 Kingsport Rd.

Ft. Worth, TX 76155-2243

For additional information about SBA low-interest disaster loans, contact the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955 or TTY 800-877-8339, emailing DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or visiting sba.gov/disaster

Survivors who haven’t yet registered with FEMA can do so online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling FEMA’s helpline at 800-621-3362, which is video relay service accessible. Survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have difficulty speaking may call TTY 800-462-7585.

For more information on Mississippi disaster recovery, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4248 and www.msema.org.

###

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.

All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

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

 
State/Tribal Government or Region: 

aul Lachance is President of Smartware Group.

As the the world becomes increasingly dependent on the Internet, data centers have come to power our everyday lives. In fact, the average US consumer spends roughly six hours a day online. When a data center goes down, it can negatively impact everything from professional and personal communications to finances and travel.

The financial implications of data center downtime are outrageous. Organizations lose an average of $138,000 for one hour of downtime. To put this in perspective, Amazon stands to lose $1,104 for every second Amazon.com is down. What’s more, 59 percent of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours of downtime per week, which could lead to a loss of $46 million in labor costs annually.

According to the Uptime Institute, human error causes almost three-fourths of all data center outages. However, many other factors like cybercrime, natural disasters or flaws within the data centers themselves can also cause downtime. Even something as seemingly innocuous as a squirrel chewing through a cable can cause major damage to a data center.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/11/curb-data-center-downtime-predictive-maintenance/

(TNS) -- The FBI still cannot unlock the encrypted cellphone of one of the San Bernardino shooters more than two months after the California terrorist attack.

FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that his agency’s inability to access the information in the retrieved phone is an example of the effect on law enforcement of the growing use of encryption technology.

Comey said the problem of “going dark” is overwhelmingly affecting law enforcement at all levels.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Encrypted-Phone.html

It’s done and dusted. Since someday last month, everything Netflix does runs on Amazon Web Services, from streaming video to managing its employee and customer data.

In early January, whatever little bits of Netflix that were still running somewhere in a non-Amazon data center were shut down, Yuri Izrailevsky, the company’s VP of cloud and platform engineering, wrote in a blog post Thursday.

To be sure, most of Netflix had already been running in the cloud for some time, including all customer-facing applications. Netflix has been one of the big early adopters of AWS who famously went all-in with public cloud. Thursday’s announcement simply marks the completion of a seven-year process of transition from a data center-based infrastructure model to a 100-percent cloud one.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/11/netflix-shuts-down-final-bits-of-own-data-center-infrastructure/

Since it’s inception five years ago Cisco’s Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) offerings have consistently driven positive technical and business value for our customers at many levels, some examples:

• Cisco UCS regularly delivers top-level performance as showcased via our leading benchmarking results.

• In their datacenters our customers have recognized material gains in operational efficiency with substantial benefits in provisioning, deployment, management, and staffing.

• In their physical environments customer value is derived in lowered heating, cooling, space, and cabling advantages.

The trend continues… Cisco UCS is the gift that keeps on giving! In a recent third party survey we were able to gather insight on the benefits received by customer’s use of our Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure Solution for Big Data. Here’s an overview:

...

http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/the-business-value-of-cisco-big-data-solutions

The modern data center has evolved into an engine that drives the entire business, and the pressure to maintain uptime is greater than ever. Since companies rely more and more on their data centers, are there better, more resilient mission critical support systems?

At Data Center World this March, Justin Jurek, regional sales manager at Pillar USA, will talk about the applicability of microgrids in the mission critical market and an elegant approach to microgrid systems that has been adopted by multiple end users.

Remember, we’re seeing an evolution taking place in the business and in the data center. Market strategies are now built around the capabilities of your facility. Changes around governance, uptime classification, and even weather patterns are all impacting facility uptime:

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/09/good-time-to-consider-microgrids-for-data-centers/

Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Don’t Look Now … But Your Skype is Showing

Skype for Business is growing at a trajectory few solutions have seen before and bringing with it massive gains in efficiency and productivity.

But these gains, as you may have read in Part 1 of this blog series, bring with them new concerns for security and data protection.

Now, there are several ways you can approach security with Skype for Business. The “Tools – Options” tab has a subset of about 15 categories, each with options that can be enabled or disabled, changing the security level within Skype.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/02/10/dont-look-now-but-your-skype-is-showing-2/

Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Zika Virus Comes to Ohio by Way of Haiti

(TNS) - Two Northeast Ohio residents who visited Haiti on unrelated trips brought home the same unwanted souvenir in January: Zika virus.

State health officials Tuesday said a 30-year-old Cuyahoga County woman and a 21-year-old Stark County man have the first confirmed cases of Zika in Ohio. They did not disclose the names of the woman or man, but said their contraction of Zika is not related.

The woman’s symptoms appeared at the end of January, the man’s occurred earlier in that month, officials said.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Zika-virus-comes-to-Ohio-by-way-of-Haiti.html

Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of heat and electric power from the same source of fuel. From data centers to universities, interest in CHP systems as sustainable standby power supply is rising.

Historically, CHP was reserved for very large installations. For example, waste heat from a coal-fired power plant could be used for greenhouses or large apartment complexes. Today, significantly smaller facilities, such as hospitals, hotels, commercial buildings, and some data centers are reaping the benefits of utilizing heat that would otherwise be wasted from the production of electricity. Because CHP systems require less fuel than separate heat and power systems, a reduction in operating cost, despite rising energy cost, is guaranteed. Over the long term, CHP can significantly reduce energy expenditures that can be applied to the bottom line—as long as there is a simultaneous need for electric power and heating (or cooling) for most of the year.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/10/how-to-improve-reliability-in-data-centers-with-cogen-plants/

Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Dealing with the Complexity of Cloud Storage

Storage has long been the main draw of the cloud, both for consumer and professional enterprise users. But there is a big difference between bulk storage and the kinds of advanced architectures required of complex data environments. So the question many organizations face these days is not whether to store data in the cloud, but how.

By all indications, the public cloud will continue to gain more of the storage load as enterprises look to cut costs and provide greater access for both traditional workloads and emerging Big Data and mobile-facing applications. According to 451 Research, spending on public cloud storage is on pace to double by 2017, from just 8 percent of the total spend today to more than 17 percent. This will come at the expense of traditional, on-premise infrastructure, which will decline from 70 percent of the total to about 58 percent.  This is still the majority of storage budgets worldwide, but the trend lines are clear: more data heading to the cloud and less to the local storage array.

But simply using the cloud as a giant storage farm fails to capitalize on its true potential – kind of like driving a Ferrari to the local supermarket each week. The cloud is at its best when coupled with advanced capabilities like Storage as a Service (STaaS), which enables everything from remote access to full disaster recovery. Technavio has the STaaS market gaining at an annual rate of nearly 38 percent for the rest of the decade as top enterprises look to reduce costs and gain the kind of flexibility and reliability that can make or break critical business functions going forward.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/dealing-with-the-complexity-of-cloud-storage.html

Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Nixle in Action: Winter Storm #Jonas

Across the East Coast and Midwest, harsh weather has affected near 85 million people, stopped flights and forced many residents to stay inside.   Winter Storm Jonas was one of the biggest storms to hit the East Coast as a result of the anticipated El Nino season. Because of the intensity of Jonas, ten states declared states of emergency.

Although each community experienced Jonas to a different extent, they were still equally prepared for what may come during the El Nino Season. Monroe Township in NJ received a few inches of snow per hour during Jonas and kept their residents updated with Nixle messages. Such large storms often have negative effects on a community’s infrastructure including power lines, homes, and roads.

...

http://www.everbridge.com/nixle-in-action-winter-storm-jonas/

Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Protecting Compliance in the Public Cloud

When it comes to compliance, different regulations exist for different industries. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the granddaddy of healthcare-related compliance. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) oversees the credit card industry, while Sarbanes–Oxley (SOX) regulates the reliability of financial reporting by public companies and their accounting firms. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) administers a large set of compliance regulations for banks, investment institutions and insurance firms. And there are many more including US–EU Safe Harbor, ISO, FDA and a whole set of federal regulations around information processing, security management and risk management.

Even so, we can boil down compliance standards to key similarities: Is the regulated data secure from digital and physical intrusion? Can you prove it with reports and audits? How can you verify environmental controls such as data location? How do you administer access control? When and where do you apply encryption? Can you verify data segmentation from non-regulated data or multiple tenants?

These questions and their answers are critical for on-site data storage, including on-premise private cloud infrastructure. But when you include public clouds in the picture, you up the ante – and the complexity – on compliant data storage. And if a service provider restores compliant data for you on the public cloud, the complexity grows even larger.

...

http://www.enterprisestorageforum.com/storage-services/protecting-compliance-in-the-public-cloud-1.html

How many people in your enterprise use their personal mobile devices for work? How many benefit from a smartphone, tablet or laptop provided by the company, and that they can use outside work? How much risk is there in each case of data loss or compromise? Nowadays, we are increasingly dependent on our mobile devices for professional and personal reasons. A device that is lost or stolen can mean losing all our data, if no other precautions are taken. So how much can enterprises encourage data protection on mobile devices, and how far should they go to enforce it?

...

http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/should-mobile-device-data-protection-be-encouraged-or-enforced/

Much attention was on the retail sector this past holiday season, as a strengthening economy fueled expectations of unprecedented activity and projections that shoppers would take advantage of seasonal deals and yet-further-expanded shopping hours.

However, overshadowing the energy of the holiday shopping season was the specter of possible data breaches.  Past incidents sit more and more heavily on the minds of consumers and companies alike.  As shoppers whip out their credit cards and swipe their debit cards at millions of point-of-sale (POS) terminals, will the data on those cards be secure, or will they get their post-holiday statements, only to find mysterious charges and unfamiliar purchases?

The past few years have seen hundreds of data breaches of companies large and small. The ones that makes the headlines, of course, are the ones that involve millions and tens of millions of customers. But what can be done about the security of customer information? Where are the holes? And is there any hope of a victory over cyber criminals whose only job is to find ways around and through corporate security measures?

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/what-the-biggest-data-breaches-in-retail-have-taught-us-about-cybersecurity/

Most Saturday mornings, I get up before the rest of the family and prepare my breakfast in a quiet house.

Once I sit down to eat, I like to tune in to a documentary on Netflix regarding a subject matter I know nothing about. One fascinating documentary I saw recently was about people who do base jumping while wearing winged suits. The suits fill with air and form airfoil-shaped surfaces between their arms and bodies and in fabric between their legs.

The documentary interviewed the top participants in this sport and showcased breathtaking footage of these individuals. They jumped from high peaks and flew like Rocky the Squirrel just above the rocks and treetops—and sometimes between two cliff faces—at more than 125 miles per hour.

As you might imagine, this is a highly dangerous pastime; many of its participants have died over the years. While they live, however, they are rewarded with the raw thrill of flight in some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/risk-appetite-depends-on-your-hunger-and-whats-on-the-menu/

New levels of resource management are introducing new challenges in cloud computing and the modern data center. We’re seeing different kinds of applications, users, and even entire business units accessing data center resources, and there are no signs of data center and cloud utilization slowing down.

Cloud computing adoption is growing, and by 2016 will increase to become the bulk of new IT spend, according to Gartner. 2016 will be a defining year as private cloud begins to give way to hybrid cloud, and nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017.

“Overall, there are very real trends toward cloud platforms, and toward massively scalable processing. Virtualization, service orientation, and the internet have converged to sponsor a phenomenon that enables individuals and businesses to choose how they’ll acquire or deliver IT services, with reduced emphasis on the constraints of traditional software and hardware licensing models,” said Chris Howard, research vice president at Gartner.“Services delivered through the cloud will foster an economy based on delivery and consumption of everything from storage to computation to video to finance deduction management.”

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/11/future-of-cloud-and-data-center-next-gen-convergence/

Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

HPE Addresses Changing SMB Storage Requirements

The amount and types of data that small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) need to contend with continues to grow. So do the challenges associated with managing it all while maintaining application performance.  To help organizations with limited budgets wrangle content and speed up their applications, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has added support for solid-state disk (SSD) drives to its HPE MSA Array portfolio. They have also reconfigured their network-attached storage (NAS) system in a way that allows 28 magnetic drives to be packed in a 2U form factor that provides access to 224TB of storage.

Vish Mulchand, senior director of product management and marketing for storage at HPE, says that for the first time, an entry level storage area network (SAN) in the form of the HPE MSA 140 is priced at less than $8,500.

Meanwhile, Mulchand says, the HPE StoreEasy 1650 Expanded can accommodate twice as many drives as before to create one of the densest NAS appliances in the SMB market.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/it-unmasked/hpe-addresses-changing-smb-storage-requirements.html

Often when we talk about cybercrime and cybercriminals, we discuss how much money is being made by the bad guys or how valuable your information is on the black market. But have we thought much about the real economics behind cybercrime?

Researchers at Palo Alto Networks and Ponemon Institute decided to investigate that question. The report “Flipping the Economics of Attacks” looked at issues such as the average earnings of a cyberattacker, the amount of time attacks typically take, and how to prevent successful data breaches by increasing the cost of conducting them.

The takeaway may be this: Cybercrime doesn’t pay – at least not as much as we think – from the cybercriminal perspective. As the report discovered, cybercriminals would be better off turning their knowledge toward white hat activities. The average cybercriminal earns less than $30,000 annually, about a quarter of a cybersecurity professional’s average yearly wage.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/the-economics-of-cybercrime-from-the-criminals-perspective.html

Hospitals and healthcare facilities are constantly striving to improve logistics, save time and create a safe environment. Patient safety and improved care team collaboration are on the top of every hospital’s list of priorities. Within a healthcare setting, faster, efficient communication leads to better patient outcomes and improved business processes. Whether you’re sending emergency alerts, communicating with hospital personnel or alerting your IT response teams of a system downtime issue, you need to be able to get the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

Everbridge helps 800+ hospitals, including Renown Health, protect staff and optimize business processes. View the clips below to hear about how Renown Health utilizes Everbridge in multiple scenarios ranging from STEMI and code alerts to IT incident response.

...

http://www.everbridge.com/4-ways-to-patient-safety-and-care-team-collaboration-renown-health-everbridge/

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 00:00

FEMA: Disaster Recovery Progress at Pine Ridge

PINE RIDGE, S.D. – Recovery efforts continue in the aftermath of severe storms and flooding that struck the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation last spring.  In the six months since President Obama’s disaster declaration, hundreds of households have received assistance funds and FEMA and the Oglala Sioux Tribe have engaged in the largest housing effort in the tribe’s history.  To support this effort, FEMA has established offices on the reservation, as well as in Hot Springs and Rapid City.

To address the severe housing need on the reservation following the disaster, FEMA initiated a program used for the first time in the continental United States.  Under the effort, more than 300 households have been identified as eligible for either repairs to their damaged home, or replacement with a new manufactured home. As of Feb. 5, 40 new homes have been provided on the reservation, and another 10 homes have been repaired. The program will continue until an expected completion date in mid-summer.  The manufactured homes are being staged at Ellsworth Air Force Base prior to their final delivery to the reservation.

In addition to the housing construction program, FEMA has provided more than $380,000 in financial aid to tribal members.  Of that, more than $170,000 was for home repairs and $210,000 was for personal property and other emergency needs.  The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $943,000 in low-interest loans to 58 tribal residents and businesses.

A federal interagency disaster recovery coordination team is also partnering with the OST Government to support longer term Tribal priorities such as improving housing and roads, enhancing self-governance capacity, and reducing home and business energy bills.  In addition to FEMA and the Tribal Departments, federal agencies involved in this effort include the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Federal Highways Administration Tribal Transportation Program.

HUD and Oglala Lakota Sioux Housing are co-leading a Tribal Housing Task Force to support the “One Nation One Number” initiative that will assess housing conditions and housing needs on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The OST Department of Transportation is co-leading a Tribal Roads Task Force with the US Army Corps of Engineers to perform similar assessments and recommend solutions for addressing issues related to Tribal roads.

 
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 00:00

HIPAA Compliance Can Increase Revenue

If you are a managed service provider (MSP) and you are not helping your clients learn about and comply with HIPAA, you may be missing out on a very profitable trend. Recently, many MSP’s have been using HIPAA assessments to gain business and engage their prospects more efficiently and thoroughly. The fact is, many of the companies you work with may want to comply with HIPAA yet have no real idea how to go about doing it. That’s where you can be an invaluable assistant. If you are interested in making this trend work for you and your patients, read on.

Let’s say, for example, that one of your clients is a data center that handles electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) for thousands of patients. EPHI is private patient-related information that is created, stored and often shared by and among healthcare professionals. Recent data breaches affecting retail, governmental and healthcare agencies have reinforced the importance of keeping all information about a person’s medical history, diagnosis, prognosis, medications and correspondence among physicians confidential. HIPAA’s security rule focuses on safeguarding the confidentiality, availability and integrity of this sensitive patient information. In light of the 2013 Omnibus rule, it is especially important that you, as a MSP, do all you can to tutor data centers such as this in obeying all aspects of HIPAA.

...

http://www.everbridge.com/hipaa-compliance-can-increase-revenue/

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 00:00

Agile in 2016: Party out of Bounds

For Agilists, 2016 will be a celebratory year. Not only has Agile enjoyed mainstream status for several years now, its success has allowed Agile to become a laboratory for other innovations, from new techniques for ­customer insights to delivery of software as fast as you can produce it.

When you join a party where everyone is having the best time imaginable, the last thing on your mind is how annoyed the people next door are, and how happy the people paying for it are. Those are two major considerations for Agile in 2016, which will appear as the not-too-subtle subtext for several ongoing developments.

...

http://blog.cutter.com/2016/02/09/agile-in-2016-party-out-of-bounds/

I spend most of my time looking at how individuals access data, information, and knowledge in ways that allow them to make better decisions and to enjoy themselves. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts about some trends that I think will push demands on corporate IT departments and the IT industry broadly: wearables, machine intelligence, and data visualization.

...

http://blog.cutter.com/2016/02/09/three-it-trends-that-are-hitting-the-mainstream-in-2016/

Cybersecurity challenges facing the nation were the topic of much discussion on the morning of Monday, Feb. 8, following the dedication of the new and expanded 60,000 square-foot National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) facility in Maryland that is working to accelerate the development and use of secure, standards-based technology in the private sector.

During dedication remarks, attended by state and federal leaders and private-sector officials, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) said the center would play a vital role in providing the foundation for improved cybersecurity standing in the United States.

“There is no part of our economy that does not face cyber threats; whether it’s the government that has been hacked or the private sector, big or small,” she said. “We’ve got to be able to protect ourselves.”

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Cyber-Challence-Discussed.html

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 00:00

Education IT: Hot Tech Trends To Watch

Cloud, big data, and security are all big factors in education IT this year. At the same time, there is a cultural shift taking place not only among the student body, but within the demographics of the IT departments themselves.

Education is all about looking into the future -- at least in preparing young people to create a new and better world. Whether the educational system enlightens grade school kids or university students, the knowledge imparted needs to encompass technology -- both its use and the resources it provides. As a result, educational IT departments have challenges that don't precisely match those in typical enterprise computing departments.

One notable difference between corporate IT and educational IT in the public school systems is that technology budgets for education are constrained by factors outside the typical decision-making processes of "the business." As with government IT, the public school bills are paid by taxpayers who'd prefer the money stayed in their own pockets. Public schools have to "make do" all over, but the rapid pace of technological change underscores how quickly educational institutions can fall behind in process, as well as in geeky tools.

...

http://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/it-strategy/education-it-hot-tech-trends-to-watch/a/d-id/1324237

If you work around data centers every day, things like exponential growth of data, hybrid cloud, and the growth in outsourcing to third-party data center operators are old news.

But the large publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts that own and operate big fleets of wholesale and retail data centers are just beginning to develop a broader audience on Wall Street.

Back in October 2013, San Francisco-based data center REIT Digital Realty Trust (DLR) was a trail blazer when it entered into an 80/20 joint venture valued at $366 million, or $346 per square foot, with a Prudential Financial real estate fund. PREI senior portfolio manager Cathy Marcus said at the time, “The long lease terms and contractual rental rate increases on these Powered Base Building data centers provide a stable income stream…”

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/09/data-center-stocks-key-considerations-for-data-center-reit-investors/

(TNS) - There is a chronic shortage of municipal officials temporarily dispatched to help with administrative services in regions affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake - about 200 government workers are needed in these areas, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, but local governments cannot afford to send them.

Nearly five years have passed since the disaster on March 11, 2011, and restoration projects are in full swing. More support staff are needed, but municipalities that are asked to dispatch their officials also suffer from personnel distribution problems due to staff reductions and other reasons. As a result, they cannot meet the demands of local governments in disaster-hit regions.

In January, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi asked municipalities nationwide to dispatch their workers, sending them a statement calling for cooperation.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/More-support-officials-needed-in-Japans-disaster-hit-areas.html

(TNS) - On March 1, the Nixle alert system to which thousands of area residents, along with schools and businesses, subscribe, will disappear.

It will be replaced by Smart911, a service that allows users to create a “safety profile” for their homes that provides 911 dispatchers information that can be critical in an emergency. The service works on land lines and cellphones.

Through the service, fire departments can know how many people live in a home, and where the home’s bedrooms are located, Sheriff Mike Nielsen said in a news release. Emergency medical personnel can know of a patient’s allergies or specific medical conditions. Photos of missing children or adults will be available in seconds, rather than minutes or hours. Responders can also be told of people who need help exiting a home or who rely on power for medical equipment.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Sheriffs-office-will-launch-new-alert-service-on-March-1.html

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 00:00

Embrace, Don’t Fight, Digital Transformation

By now, the phrase “digital transformation” has made its way into the c-suite conversations at most enterprises. The idea is that emerging digital infrastructure, apps, services and other advancements will produce changes not only to the technical aspects of modern commerce but the processes, business models and even the very markets that drive economic activity.

According to IDC, spending on technologies aimed at producing digital transformation (DX) will top $2 billion by 2019, providing a healthy 16.8 percent annual growth rate between now and then. The aim is not only to adapt but to drive the kinds of disruptive change that will tear down old economies and build new ones.

Most savvy observers are already keenly aware of how Uber is disrupting not only the taxi industry but the entire automobile industry with nothing more than a mobile app, so the current thinking is that it’s better to remake your own business before someone does it for you. IDC’s take is that more than half of the DX spend will go toward redefining the business process by forging tighter links between products, services, digital assets and people.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/embrace-dont-fight-digital-transformation.html

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Texas.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health.  Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas, and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:

  • Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders and 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.

Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts available at http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary">www.fema.gov/medialibrary and http://www.youtube.com/fema">www.youtube.com/fema; follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fema and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fema.

 
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 00:00

CDC: Preparedness Love for Valentine’s Day

conversation hearts

Whether it’s your sweetheart, your children, or your favorite furry friend, Valentine’s Day is a great time to show that someone special that you care! This Valentine’s Day, remind your loved ones to be ready for emergencies. Nothing says I love you quite like “I have made you my emergency contact person.”  Even Sheldon Cooper agrees that emergency contact information is quite the romantic notion.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Public Health Association have humorous, love-themed preparedness e-Cards you can share. It’s Valentine’s Day, so the cheesier the better, right?

If you’re struggling with what to give your Valentine, check out this video from the Office of Emergency Management in Fairfax County, Virginia. They offer Sweet Emergency Preparedness Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas.

While an emergency kit may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you’re thinking flowers and boxes of chocolates, it could end up being the most important gift you give your loved ones this year.  Most of us would love to be a little more prepared but don’t know where to start. Gift loved ones with a starter emergency kit for the home or the road, and don’t forget to include your kids and pets in your emergency planning!

The Starter Kit

To get started, pack a few items in a small plastic storage container or water-proof bags that can be stored easily. You can include:

  • First aid kit (You can get a pre-made kit at most of your local drug stores or pharmacies)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable phone charger (also sometimes known as a portable battery. This charger should be rechargeable and have the ability to charge a phone without being plugged into a power source)
  • Manual can openers (and a reminder that every emergency kit should include a three-day supply of food and water)

Most of us spend a lot of time in our cars. Consider putting together a kit of emergency supplies that your loved one can keep in their car. Plan your gift based on local hazards. If you live in an area that gets significant amounts of snow, you may consider including a windshield scraper, extra hats, coats, mittens, and blankets. For any emergency, your car kit include these basic items:

  • Basic tool kit with pliers, a wrench, and screwdriver
  • Jumper cables (you may consider purchasing a “roadside emergency kit” from your local auto shop that also includes reflective triangle markers, gloves, and a flashlight)
  • First aid kit
  • Cellphone charger (either a car charger or rechargeable portable charger)

Emergency Prep for Kids

Girl cutting out paper heart, selective focus

Your kids are probably going to surprise you with a sweet Valentine’s card or even a decorated shoebox, so return the favor! Get kids excited and interested in emergency preparedness with CDC’s Ready Wrigley activity books. You can print coloring books for disasters including, extreme heat, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and winter weather.  Help kids check-off items on Ready Wrigley’s emergency kit list with some of the following items:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • A battery-powered or crank weather radio
  • Small and portable games or activities that can entertain kids if they have to shelter in place or evacuate to a shelter. (Small board games, playing cards, books, or stuffed animals are good items to consider).Your pets provide unconditional love year-round, so don’t leave them out of your emergency plans! Even though they may never know what you’ve done for them, you can pull together a few items for your pet in case of an emergency. Think about how to transport your pet safely – a crate or harness, perhaps – and also think about their comfort in a scary situation by keeping a few toys and a pet bed in case you are forced to evacuate.
  • All of these emergency packages are great gifts to help friends, family, or yourself start an emergency kit. Check out CDC’s Emergency Preparedness and You page for more tips on how to be prepared for any emergency.

Pets and Pet Lovers

Dog with Valentines day look

Your pets provide unconditional love year-round, so don’t leave them out of your emergency plans! Even though they may never know what you’ve done for them, you can pull together a few items for your pet in case of an emergency. Think about how to transport your pet safely – a crate or harness, perhaps – and also think about their comfort in a scary situation by keeping a few toys and a pet bed in case you are forced to evacuate.

All of these emergency packages are great gifts to help friends, family, or yourself start an emergency kit. Check out CDC’s Emergency Preparedness and You page for more tips on how to be prepared for any emergency.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

What should a managed service provider include in a disaster recovery (DR) checklist?

How an MSP protects its customers' sensitive data as well as its own remains paramount for service providers of all sizes. 

Ellen Rubin, CEO of network storage provider ClearSky Data, told MSPmentor she believes DR planning for MSPs requires "complex preparation and flawless execution."

...

http://mspmentor.net/backup-and-disaster-recovery/msps-dr-checklist-heres-what-you-need-know

Tuesday, 09 February 2016 00:00

Weathering the Storm

Two weeks ago, the Blizzard of 2016, named Jonas, hit the East Coast.  The news media had forecast a large amount of snow fall a week prior to the storm.  Many people still did not want to believe a big snow storm was coming. The East Coast had enjoyed a very mild winter up until mid-January. In the days before the storm, the weather forecasters began predicting snow accumulation ranging from 12 inches to 36 inches from Tennessee to Connecticut. This really started to get everyone’s attention.  People were starting to think “what if a blizzard impacted where I live and work?”

The expected blizzard made me think about Business Continuity Plans for all the businesses along the East Coast.  Both work and personal events were impacted due to storm disruptions i.e. – loss of power, snow removal and overall safety. What if an incident happened where there was little to no advanced warning? Would you and your business be prepared?

...

http://www.bcinthecloud.com/2016/02/weathering-the-storm/

(TNS) - The threat of domestic Islamic terrorism is a political issue wielded by political candidates and debated hotly in Congress. But how serious is the threat?

A documentary premiering on HBO, “Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma” by Greg Barker, and a related book, Peter Bergen’s “United States of Jihad,” seek to answer that question.

The film’s release comes as presidential candidates, particularly those in the Republican field, are warning of the problem.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/The-threat-and-the-politics-of-homegrown-terrorism.html

(TNS) - In the wake of the mass shootings in places like Aurora, Colo., and San Bernadino, Calif., a growing number of businesses are hiring security experts to train employees on how to respond to a workplace attack.

Such shootings often occur in businesses. A 2014 FBI study outlined 160 active shooter incidents across the country between 2000 and 2013, and 46 percent of them occurred at a business.

John Davis, Centerville Police Community Relations Officer, said his office has received an increased number of requests for training presentations developed by the Miami Valley Crime Prevention Association.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Training-offered-to-prepare-for-active-shooters.html

(TNS) - The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States was in Dallas. The biggest outbreak of West Nile virus in the country was in Dallas. And now one of the first cases of sexually transmitted Zika virus has been reported. In Dallas.

Why is the bull’s-eye on Dallas?

City leaders boast of attracting businesses and people from all over the world. Dallas is well-connected and has a booming economy, a growing population and one of the busiest airports on the planet.

It seems multiple microbes got that memo. What makes Dallas appealing to people also attracts diseases.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Why-is-Dallas-ground-zero-for-infectious-diseases-like-Zika.html

On a weekly basis, I get asked, “Should we continue with or expand our corporate data center, or should we move to a colocation facility or move to the cloud?” My response is always an emphatic “yes!”

It might seem like a flippant response to such a big question, but the best solution is likely a combination of these options. The data center strategy question really becomes: “How to analyze, rationalize and leverage all three alternatives for the best outcome.” The reality is that every business is different and a one-size fits all approach (build a data center, co-locate or go to the cloud) rarely is the right answer for all of a company’s applications.

When our team is engaged with a new client to develop their data center strategy, we begin with a front-end assessment to determine their company goals, objectives and reliability needs. We then look closely where they are today and where they are going in the future. This requires working with multiple groups from facilities, IT and executives to really understand their data center requirements. To gain clarity on objectives, align solutions with a mission critical data center strategy, and ensure the client is investing their money wisely, it is critical to begin with the assessment.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/02/08/build-colo-cloud-five-steps-help-decide/

Chief compliance officers and senior executives wrestle with strategies to spread and embed important compliance messages. A CEO and senior executives can spread a compliance message but they are always battling competing priorities in the overall direction and operation of the company. Nonetheless, we all have seen senior managers who are dedicated to promoting a compliance program, particularly in these days of aggressive enforcement.

CCOs have to be realistic and have to develop their own “ground” game (I know a political term in this political season). The best way to bring the compliance message out and embed it in a company is to work with middle managers to spread the compliance message. A CCO would be well advised to spend time on this important issue.

First, the CCO has to develop a target list of middle managers keyed to risk areas. For example, a manager of a sales force in Asia or China specifically is a prime target for enlisting in the compliance program messaging effort. The targeted middle managers should reflect key areas of risk such as sales/marketing, business development, procurement, vendor onboarding, and invoice review, approval and payment.

...

http://blog.volkovlaw.com/2016/02/embedding-compliance-message-middle-management/

Launch of a new Business Continuity Institute India Chapter

The Business Continuity Institute is delighted to announce that the board has just approved the formation of a new BCI India Chapter which becomes the 10th BCI chapter worldwide. The formation of this chapter builds on the work of the existing Indian BCI forums in Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, and will create new opportunities to raise the awareness of business continuity and resilience in the region.

The chapter informally has been working over the last year towards setting up existing forums and hosting knowledge sharing sessions. Now they have exciting plans for this year and the future, with a series of professional development and networking events, webinars, annual conference and an awareness raising programme around the importance of BCI certification for aspiring professionals.

R Vaidhyanathan (popularly known as RV) MBCI, President of the new BCI India Chapter, commented: “There can be no better time for the formal launch of the BCI India Chapter as the importance of BCM and visibility has been increasing since the recent Deluge in Chennai. We have been working hard to setup this chapter since late 2014 and now we are there. This is an exciting development and a step forward in the maturity of the BCM and BCI in India. I am delighted that the BCI is showing this commitment to the region which will allow us to really enhance the level of importance of BCM while sensitizing the leadership of organizations in different domains through various BCI activities in India. This will help in growing the number of BCI members who take their professional development seriously, thereby raising the standards of business continuity management and resilience in India. It may not be complete if I don't thank David West of the BCI, who has been with us to extend his support right through the journey and Vaidy Chandramouli AMBCI, Secretary of the BCI Chennai Forum, now the Secretary of the BCI India Chapter, for doing all the leg work and coordination.

BCI Membership Support Manager, David West CBCI, said: “This is a fantastic achievement by the BCI volunteers based in India and will really help to boost the BCI’s profile and the importance of BCM in the country. I am really looking forward to working with the chapter and helping to increase the level of support available to business continuity professionals in India.

Films like Star Wars, Mission Impossible or Matrix, to mention the most famous, have always showed us scenes where personal identification, especially to access reserved areas, is verified by means of voice or some other physical traits. Science fiction? Not always.

Biometric identification, this is its name, is a computer-controlled analysis that identifies an individual by measuring some biological traits scanned by sensors and by matching them with the data stored in a database.

Historically, biometric identification dates back to 1870 when a Frenchman, Alphonse Bertillon, started to use it in a Paris prison for registering and identifying all detainees. Today, biometrics is strongly increasing and the integration of biometric technologies in mobile devices is helping this sector significantly. According to a study by Acuity Market Intelligence, mobile biometric systems’ turnover will reach in 2020 33.3 billion USD, with 4.76 billion of mobile devices enabled to biometric detections. This technology is now used to control physical and logical access and, since 9/11 2001, has been increasingly used also in police checks (e.g. airports).

...

http://blog.krollontrack.co.uk/pieces-of-interest/biometric-identification-systems-what-risks-for-our-privacy/

Tuesday, 09 February 2016 00:00

Data Privacy in the Post Safe Harbor Era

Since the invalidation of the Safe Harbor agreement in October—the agreement that allowed the transfer of data to and from the European Union to the U.S. under EU privacy laws—governments, organizations and individuals have been waiting to hear about the potential alternative framework. This week, U.S. and European officials have jointly agreed to a new framework dubbed the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.

The challenge has been whether the U.S. and EU officials can come up with a comprehensive agreement that both parties will be happy with. That’s why it’s taken almost two years to get to where we are today and why it might have taken longer, had the European high court not struck down the original Safe Harbor agreement late last year.

The good news is that we are finally receiving direction after being left in limbo for several months now. This week’s data pact deal was a significant milestone in the negotiations; though there are still some hurdles to overcome, it’s a start down a meaningful path.

...

http://corporatecomplianceinsights.com/data-privacy-in-the-post-safe-harbor-era/

With the rise of in-memory computing it turns out that eight-socket x86 servers are now one of the fastest growing classes of infrastructure technologies in the data center. Big Data analytics applications that need to be processed in real time in particular lend themselves well to eight-socket servers that allow applications to more economically scale up.

With that in mind Hewlett-Packard Enterprise today unveiled a new eight-socket x86 server based on Intel Xeon E7-8800 v3 series processors. Dubbed the HPE Integrity MC990 X Server, it can be configured with up to 6TB of memory. The HPE Integrity MC990 X Server makes all that memory addressable using SGI interconnect technology that HPE has licensed to provide a coherent shared memory architecture that makes it possible for as many as 144 processors in the system to access memory directly.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/it-unmasked/hpe-and-sgi-collaborate-on-eight-socket-x86-server.html

So, you’ve decided to ditch your old PBX phone system and enter the world of Unified Communications. Good for you. Now, here’s what you should know to keep your Skype data safe from cyber pirates and more … because it’s not just your fingerprints you leave on your tablet.

Whether you made your decision to go UC based on employee productivity gains, time savings or converging networks, you may still have questions on which UC solution is best for you. This may be an easier decision than you realize, as you likely already own the leading solution and not even know it.

...

https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/02/05/skype-for-business-a-cyber-pirates-paradise/

Despite the fact that we are seeing more extreme weather across the United States and increases in the costs of natural disasters, our research shows that fewer than half of Americans have developed and discussed an emergency plan with their household.

One of the ways to protect your family and prepare for an emergency is to start with good communication. A family emergency communication plan is critical to making sure the entire family knows who to contact, how to reach each other, and where to meet up in an emergency.

America’s PrepareAthon is a campaign to get people better prepared for disasters through hazard-specific group discussions, drills, and exercises. As part of the campaign and National Preparedness Month this September, we are encouraging families to take a few minutes to talk through and practice their emergency plan.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Fewer-Than-Half-of-Americans-Have-an-Emergency-Plan-for-Their-Household.html

(TNS) - The potential of a Zika virus outbreak in United States has been a moving target, with federal health officials describing it initially as not likely, then maybe, then oops there are several cases, then issuing travel advisories and now, recommending condoms for some pregnant women during sex.

The increasing uncertainty stems not only because of the first case reported in Minnesota but also because a Texas case was attributed to sexual contact, amid previous assertions that only infected Aedes aegypti species of mosquitoes spread the disease, which presents the greatest risk to fetuses.

“There is a lot we don’t understand about the virus and exactly how it is transmitted,” said Dr. David McNamara, an infectious disease specialist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Zika-virus-cant-happen-here----probably--maybe--yet.html

Monday, 08 February 2016 00:00

Future Still Bright for Hardware

A lot of people are keenly interested in the future of data hardware markets, for good reason. The lifeblood of the IT industry has long been the deployment of sophisticated hardware platforms packed with advanced software, but that cozy little business model is under increasing pressure and everyone from top vendors to channel providers to independent consultants and integrators are scrambling to fit into the new world of software-defined infrastructure.

So it is probably comforting – small comfort, perhaps, but comforting nonetheless – that, so far at least, the precipitous decline in enterprise hardware spending has not materialized, even though the form and function of that hardware is changing.

According to the latest report from 451 Research, 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for hardware, as both converged infrastructure (CI) solutions and traditional storage and server deployments contribute to a major overhaul of the data center. The company reports that 60 percent of the enterprise industry is planning to increase spending on servers in the coming year, with nearly a third aiming for a major refresh, while nearly 80 percent are looking to boost their reliance on CI and even more ambitious hyper-converged solutions. But the largesse from all this activity is not expected to benefit the vendor community equally. Cisco had the largest share of customers planning for an upgrade, while HP, IBM and Oracle customers were more muted in their expectations.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/future-still-bright-for-hardware.html

Ted Koppel’s book – ‘Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath‘ – published in October, 2015 – spells out what may be our nation’s greatest risk – a catastrophic shutdown of one or more U.S. power grids.

In his New York Times bestselling investigation, Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.

U.S. investigators recently found proof that a cyber attack can take down a power grid. A destructive malware app known as ‘BlackEnergy’ caused a power outage on the Ukranian power grid this past December, resulting in a blackout for hundreds of thousands of people. Ukranian officials have blamed Russia for the cyber attack. A CNN article states that U.S. systems aren’t any more protected than those breached in Ukraine.

...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/02/07/campaign-2016-major-cyber-attack-on-u-s-power-grid-is-likely/

Low-quality big data assets can lead to incredibly costly marketing mistakes. Research by Experian indicates that low data quality has a direct impact on revenue for 88% of modern organizations. Average losses are approximately 12% of revenue. For organizations who are shifting towards data-driven marketing and customer experiences, low-quality data can lead to costly mistakes.

How Bad is the Average Marketing Big Data?
Per eConsultancy, 22% of information on contacts, leads, and customers contains inaccuracies. Perhaps most concerning, the average organization’s quality index is headed in the wrong direction. Twelve months ago, the average inaccuracy rate was just 17%. Incorrect data can have a real impact on your team’s ability to build segments, understand behavioral triggers and preferences.

...

https://channels.theinnovationenterprise.com/articles/9634-5-incredibly-costly-big-data-marketing-mistakes

Physical security a growing threat to organizations

Physical security is seen as growing concern for business continuity professionals, according to the fifth annual Horizon Scan Report published by the Business Continuity Institute, in association with BSI. Among the ranks of potential threats that organizations face, acts of terrorism gained six places from 10th in 2015 to 4th this year, while security incidents moved from 6th place to 5th place.

55% of respondents to the global survey expressed concern about the possibility of both an act of terrorism or a security incident such as vandalism, theft or fraud disrupting their organization, compared to 42% and 48% respectively the previous year. Whether these concerns are justified is another matter, but the incidents in Paris are still fresh in the mind, not to mention the many other events from across the world that constantly fill our news channels.

While security incidents of a physical nature make up the 4th and 5th greatest threats, it is incidents belonging to the virtual world that once again make up the top three. For the second year running, cyber attack comes in at number one with 85% of respondents expressing concern (2015: 82%). The attack on BBC over the new year period is a reminder of the danger this kind of threat poses when it suffered what was reputed to be the largest DDoS attack in history at 600 GBps, enough to bring down its website and most of its online services for some considerable time.

Data breach has climbed from 3rd place in 2015 to 2nd place this year with 80% of respondents expressing concern about the prospect of this type of threat materialising (2015: 74%). Not only are data breaches damaging reputationally, they can be expensive in terms of any fines imposed as result.

Unplanned telecoms and IT outage may have dropped from 1st place in 2014 to 2nd place in 2015 and now 3rd place in 2016, but it is still a very real threat with 77% of respondents expressing concern (2015:81%). Offices, shops, factories and warehouses are all heavily reliant on IT infrastructures and when those infrastructures fail it can cause severe disruption.

This year’s global top ten threats to organizations are:

  1. Cyber-attack – static
  2. Data breach – up 1
  3. Unplanned IT and telecoms outages – down 1
  4. Acts of terrorism – up 6
  5. Security incidents – up 1
  6. Interruption to utility supply – down 2
  7. Supply chain disruption – down 2
  8. Adverse weather – up1
  9. Availability of talents/key skills – up 5
  10. Health and safety incident – up 1

David James-Brown FBCI, Chairman of the Business Continuity Institute, commented: “The need perceived by organizations to identify and build resilience to this range of threats reveals the importance of this survey for business continuity professionals, the Horizon Scan’s reputation and reliability make it one of the most popular reports in the industry on a global scale. It is indeed crucial for practitioners to advise organizations on what to prepare for and adjust their recovery plans accordingly.

"The industry landscape is rapidly changing, and so should our discipline in order to keep up with both traditional and modern challenges. At the top of the list this year we continue to see threats such as cyber-attack, data breach and unplanned IT outages. More traditional threats such as terrorism continue to be ’front-of-mind’ for organizations. Given the rise of new challenges and the fact that old ones remain, horizon scanning techniques are even more valuable in assisting organizations to be prepared to the best of their potential.

Howard Kerr, Chief Executive at BSI, commented: “2015 saw a number of high profile businesses across the world hit by cyber attacks, so it’s reassuring to see that so many are aware of the threat it poses. Our research finds it to be the top concern in six out of the eight regions surveyed.

However, we remain concerned to see that businesses are still not fully utilizing the information available to them to identify and remedy weaknesses in their organizational resilience.

The report concludes that horizon scanning impacts on overall resilience as it provides an objective basis for assessing near-term threats that lead to disruption. The Horizon Scan Report, as a global study aggregating practitioner input across industry sectors and regions, complements in-house analysis and provides useful input for strategic decisions.

Download your free copy of the Horizon Scan Report here. If you have any questions, or would like to find out more, join us for our webinar on the 25th February when we will be discussing some of the findings and answering any of your questions.

Recently, I wrote about cloud security and research by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) that found that IT professionals are becoming more comfortable with cloud security, but that the one concern that still looms over cloud security – and all security, for that matter – is the lack of qualified security professionals on hand.

That this lack of security professionals remains a problem hints that the real threat to better cybersecurity is people, and this is especially true when it comes to cloud security.

A new survey from Alien Vault finds that not only will it take time to close the skills gap, companies are having a tough time retaining the security professionals on their staff. The research found:

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/when-it-comes-to-cloud-security-its-all-about-the-people.html

What is Machine Learning? Machine Learning can be described as the study and construction of algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data, rather than follow programmed instructions. IoT and Machine Learning are said to go hand in hand.

IoT promotes the data that can help cities predict accidents, give doctors real-time insight into information from bio-chips and pacemakers, and enable optimized productivity across industries through predictive maintenance on equipment and machinery. The possibilities that IoT bring are endless.

The problem is finding ways to analyze the deluge of performance data and information that all these devices create. It’s impossible for humans to review and understand all this data. We need to improve the speed and accuracy of big data analysis in order for IoT to live up to its promise. The only way to keep up with this IoT-generated data and gain the hidden insight it holds is with Machine Learning.

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http://www.mintek.com/blog/eam-cmms/how-important-is-predictive-maintenance-to-your-business/

As any city hosting a major event would, the San Francisco Bay Area sees hosting Super Bowl 50 as a chance to show off what makes the city great. To that end, San Francisco has branded itself as Super Bowl City and opened Market Street as a family-friendly fan village full of activities and local fare. More than 1 million people are expected to visit during the week, generating income for businesses and raising the city’s profile as another more than 100 million people are expected to watch football’s biggest game of the year from afar.

Super Bowl week also coincides with two major tech announcements for the city — a new data sharing partnership with traffic monitoring service Waze, and an expansion of #SFWiFi, a free Wi-Fi network that has crept across the city since its initial launch in 2013. San Francisco CIO Miguel Gamiño said the Super Bowl tech announcements afford the city a chance to show off their tech, stress test it against a large influx of visitors, and ultimately produce a stronger infrastructure for citizens in the long-term.

The Waze partnership, announced Jan. 28 by the office of Mayor Edwin Lee, establishes a two-way data-sharing channel between the city and the popular traffic monitoring app. Waze will assist the city by publishing free, anonymous user data on the city’s open data portal. The city can use this data to re-gear its transportation management during events and road closures, and evaluate its overall transportation strategy. The city will share its data with Waze every two weeks in alignment with its street closure approval process. Gamiño’s office also reported plans to have Waze share pothole reports with the city in real-time via the city’s Open311 API. San Francisco is now conducting cross-agency workshops to find effective uses of the agreement.

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http://www.govtech.com/network/San-Francisco-Super-Bowl-50-Tech-Upgrades-Produce-Stronger-Long-Term-Infrastructure-for-Citizens.html

Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

Time To Invest In Cyber? Ask The "HACK"

The worldwide cybersecurity industry is defined by market sizing estimates that range from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020.

Cyber crime will arguably push the cybersecurity market projections for the next five years further up into the stratosphere. Last year, the British insurance company Lloyd’s estimated that cyber attacks cost businesses as much as $450 billion a year, which includes direct damage plus post-attack disruption to the normal course of business. Some vendor and media forecasts put the cybercrime figure as high as $500 billion and more. Juniper research recently predicted that the rapid digitization of consumers’ lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, increasing to almost four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015.

Is it time to invest some of your money into cybersecurity, or double-down if you already have? For starters, you can look at the world’s first Cyber Security ETF, the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (HACK) – which was created to provide the market with a transparent vehicle to invest in the increasingly important Cyber Security industry. The Street’s Jim Cramer says “HACK is a smart, long-term bet on the unstoppable trend of cybersecurity.”

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/02/04/time-to-invest-in-cyber-ask-the-hack/

Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

Snow Emergency? We Have an App for That

(TNS) - They are the words that can strike a panic for anybody who parks on the street in Minneapolis or St. Paul: “Snow Emergency.”

Suddenly vehicle owners must scramble to find a safe haven for their wheels. Fortunately, both cites have an app for that.

We put them to the test to see if they really can help drivers avoid a ticket, tow and trip to the impound lot.

Both apps feature maps that show city streets colored green where it’s legal to park and red where it’s not. But don’t totally trust them. Be sure to click on the tabs for parking rules that apply to each day of the snow emergency.

That’s easy to do using Minneapolis’ app. The home page tells a user that a snow emergency is in effect, whether it’s Day 1, Day 2 or Day 3. Links below outline specifics for each day, with details on which side of the street to park on. There’s even a diagram for those who are picture-oriented.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Snow-emergency-We-have-an-app-for-that.html

Symantec Corp., the world’s largest security software company according to Gartner IT -0.55%, announced yesterday a $500 million strategic investment from Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing.

Michael A. Brown, Symantec SYMC +0.00% president and CEO, said, “Silver Lake’s investment in Symantec validates the significant progress we’ve made in our transformation and is a tremendous vote of confidence in the Company. The transformation that Brown is referring to, is Symantec’s shift from PC tools, backup software, and other utilities, to an exclusive focus on its largest market opportunity – cybersecurity.

Symantec, long synonymous with anti-virus software for PCs, the (Peter) Norton line of PC utilities, and the Veritas backup business, has turned itself into a pure-play cybersecurity company. Go to their homepage and now it’s all about threat and information protection, data loss prevention, email security, endpoint and cloud security, cybersecurity services, and other security catchphrases.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevemorgan/2016/02/05/who-is-symantec-going-to-acquire-with-their-5-billion-in-cash/