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Volume 29, Issue 4

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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  Yet the majority have outdated strategies or no strategies at all to direct communications outside of court, according to a new survey conducted by Greentarget.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.”



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?



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.



(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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”



(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.



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.



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.



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.



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."



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.



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.



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.



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:



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.



(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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”



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). 



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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:”



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:



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.



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.



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).



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.



(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.



(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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”



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.



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.



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.



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.”



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?



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.



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.



(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.”



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:



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.



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.



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.



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:



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.



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.



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:



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.



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.



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:



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.



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.



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.



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.



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:



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



“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.”



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.



(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.



(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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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?



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.



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.



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.



(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.



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.



(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.



(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.



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.



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.



(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.



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.



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:



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:



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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?



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?



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.



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.”



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”



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.



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…”



(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.



(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.



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.



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."



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?



(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.



(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.



(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.



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.



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.



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).



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.



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.



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.



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.



(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.



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.



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.



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.



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:



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.



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.



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.”



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.



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.



Friday, 05 February 2016 00:00

Tackling Event Risk, Scoring High in Safety

Major events like Sunday’s championship Super Bowl game and business functions go hand-in-hand. With the Big Game just around the corner, the San Francisco Bay Area has seen an uptick in events throughout the week, often consisting of lavish private parties and public gatherings. Companies in the area, as well as those from out of town, are taking this opportunity to conduct business and send their employees and clients to experience all the Golden Gate City has to offer.

Attending the Big Game, or any major event, cannot be all play and no work, especially for those – such as risk professional and business leaders – concerned about the legal, reputational, financial, and people-related risks surrounding such a high-profile and highly-populated event. Any company with employees or clients planning to attend the game and/or related festivities should keep a few things in mind to best protect them and their business in the event of a crisis. Before kickoff, here are a few tips to guide risk managers and business leaders when considering the potential risks surrounding major events like this Sunday’s game.



One of the most common forms of hybrid cloud computing is VMWare running on premise and the flavor of virtual machines that Amazon Web Services (AWS) makes available using open source Xen hypervisors. Because both environments build on fundamentally different virtual machine architectures, using AWS as an extension of a VMware environment has until recently been a challenge.

But now that AWS has opened up more of the application programming interfaces (APIs) surrounding its virtual machine, that’s about to change. One of the first vendors to take advantage of this change is Druva, a provider of backup and recovery services hosted on AWS that is now extending that capability to add support for VMware.

Druva CEO Jaspreet Singh says that rather than having to back up files locally and then move them into the cloud, the Druva Phoenix service is designed to continuously stream data from VMware or a physical server directly into AWS. In the event of a disaster, IT organizations can spin up AWS virtual machines to provide access to that data in a matter of minutes.



Pacific research goal is to improve accuracy of weather forecasts and models
N49RF -- Scientists aboard NOAA's Gulfstream IV aircraft are dropping weather instruments and using Doppler radar in the aircraft's tail during flights over the Pacific in research designed to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts and models. (Credit: NOAA)

Scientists aboard NOAA's Gulfstream IV aircraft are dropping weather instruments and using Doppler radar in the aircraft's tail during flights over the Pacific in research designed to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts and models. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA scientists and partners have embarked on a land, sea, and air campaign in the tropical Pacific to study the current El Niño and gather data in an effort to improve weather forecasts thousands of miles away.

The El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign will deploy NOAA’s Gulfstream IV research plane and NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, NASA’s Global Hawk unmanned aircraft equipped with specialized sensors, and researchers stationed on Kiritimati (Christmas) Island in the Republic of Kiribati, approximately 1,340 miles south of Honolulu. Together, scientists will collect atmospheric data from this vast and remote expanse of the tropical Pacific where El Niño-driven weather systems are spawned.

“The rapid response field campaign will give us an unprecedented look at how the warm ocean is influencing the atmosphere at the heart of this very strong El Niño,” said Craig McLean, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Research. “This research will help us understand the first link in the chain that produces, among many other weather impacts, extreme precipitation events on the West Coast.”

Scientists on NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown will launch weather balloons up to eight times a day in the eastern tropical Pacific to help study the current El Niño. (Credit: NOAA).

Scientists on NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown will launch weather balloons up to eight times a day in the eastern tropical Pacific to help study the current El Niño. (Credit: NOAA)

El Niño is a recurring climate phenomenon, characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, that increases the odds for warm and dry winters across the northern United States and cool, wet winters across the south. El Niño is the warm phase of the ocean cycle known as El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO for short. La Niña is the cool phase. The pattern can shift back and forth every two to seven years, disrupting weather patterns across the globe.

During the two strongest El Niños before this, California has been soaked by intense rainstorms causing flooding, landslides and other property damage. NOAA scientists say this event is among the strongest El Niños on record, comparable to the last major event in 1997-98. How much precipitation this El Niño will deliver to California is a subject of intense interest to a region struggling to manage the effects of an historic drought.

NOAA researchers anticipate that the data gathered by weather balloons and instruments dropped from aircraft will help improve the models that are used to support weather forecasts. The data will also provide insights that researchers hope will improve year-to-year ENSO forecasts, as well as the accuracy of models predicting longer-term effects of climate change.

NASA's Global Hawk unmanned aircraft is equipped with sensors to gather weather information over the Pacific as part of the NOAA and partner campaign. (Credit: Gijs de Boer, CIRES)

NASA's Global Hawk unmanned aircraft is equipped with sensors to gather weather information over the Pacific as part of the NOAA and partner campaign. (Credit: Gijs de Boer, CIRES)

“This has never been done with a major El Niño,” said Randall Dole, a senior scientist with NOAA’s Earth Sciences Research Lab in Boulder, Colorado. “A field campaign ordinarily takes years to plan and execute. But we recognized what an important opportunity we had and everyone worked hard to pull this mission together.”

Here is a list of NOAA and partner assets deployed to support the El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign:

  • NOAA’s Gulfstream IV (G-IV) aircraft is flying out of Honolulu International Airport carrying a suite of meteorological sensors on an estimated 20 research flights in the central Pacific from late January to early March. The G-IV will be dropping weather instrumentation and using Doppler radar located in the aircraft’s tail to gather weather data.

  • NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown will launch weather balloons up to eight times a day during the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) survey cruise in the eastern tropical Pacific. The ship will depart Honolulu on Feb. 16 and arrive in port in San Diego on March 18.

  • NASA’s Global Hawk unmanned aircraft will carry a suite of meteorological sensors and drop parachuted weather instruments during four research flights in February in the eastern Pacific, near the U.S. West Coast. The Global Hawk is a key asset for the Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) project led by the NOAA Unmanned Aircraft System Program. The aircraft is based at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

  • Twice-a-day weather balloons are being launched from Kiritimati through March.

  • Scanning X-Band Radar has been temporarily installed in the south San Francisco Bay to fill coverage gaps in the existing radar array and provide more accurate rainfall estimates for the region to better manage potential heavy precipitation and associated negative impacts from El Niño storms.

To learn more about El Niño and its impacts, visit: https://www.climate.gov/enso

To learn more about NOAA’s El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign visit: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/rapid_response/

Follow along with researchers in the field here: https://medium.com/el-ni%C3%B1o-rapid-response-blog

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and our other social media channels.

SAP's Fan Energy Zone in San Francisco's Super Bowl 50 celebrations is a giant test case in how users create, share, and process data in real-time.

Super Bowl City is part of the festivities going on in the San Francisco Bay area for Super Bowl 50 this week, and a major part of the exhibition is an SAP-sponsored area called the Fan Energy Zone, which features multiple games using motion capture and VR.

Not only does the Fan Energy Zone offers some free fun for fans and families, it also serves as a showcase for SAP's data visualization and emphasis on user experience. SAP says it hopes to take the experience it gains from the exhibit and take it right back to its enterprise products.



The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus linked to neurological birth disorders, is becoming a problem worldwide. In fact, the World Health Organization recently announced that the outbreak was a “public health emergency of international concern.” [1] Zika has already spread to “25 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean” and “more than 30 Americans have been diagnosed with Zika after returning from visits to countries with Zika outbreaks.” [1]

With Zika dominating the headlines recently, we wanted to take a look back at our previous Influenza and Pandemic Preparedness panel webinar.  Our expert panelists brought us through the steps that organization leaders in the public, private, and healthcare sectors are doing to keep their staff, employees, and residents safe.



IBM says its new "Open for data" slogan encompasses a slew of new cloud data services and analytics offerings designed to make it easy for enterprises to quickly get started with big data in the cloud, even if their workloads require secure on-premises implementations.

Digital natives have led the way in pioneering big data open source production projects, but that doesn't mean that enterprises aren't interested in implementing and getting business value out of these technologies, too.

The need to move faster and be more agile is often one of the big drivers for traditional enterprises looking to implement these technologies.



Whether you turn on your television or read your iPad, smartphone or other mobile device, the cacophony of news around us has become more confusing and unsettling.  The never-ending wars in the Middle East, cybersecurity, global market rallies and capitulation, natural disaster, corporate layoffs… you get the picture!

If you are like me, you want nothing more than a return to a quieter time when things were better!  But the truth is, the past is seldom as we remember it or something we can return to.  We filter out the bad and remember the good.  Our ability to move forward in the face of uncertainty depends on our brain’s ability to discount the negative and remain optimistic for the future.

Welcome to the new world of Asymmetric Risks!



NEW YORK – Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) today announced the availability of HPE Investigative Analytics, a new hosted software solution that enables financial institutions and other highly regulated organizations to identify and analyze risk events and to take action to prevent them.

Financial services organizations are under more regulatory pressure than ever before.  According to a new 2015 Morgan Stanley report, global financial institutions have paid $260 billion in fines since 2009.  Regulators are now on high alert and new compliance guidelines and directives are being imposed on organizations every day. Failure to meet these regulations can result in significant material damage to the firm, in the form of multibillion-dollar fines and potential criminal prosecution.

However, meeting compliance requirements and stopping fraud is no small task for today’s global organizations. Financial institutions process billions of transactions and communications daily, producing massive volumes of information that lives in silos throughout the company. Legacy analytics software is incapable of understanding and recognizing irregularities in data that is scattered across multiple data types.



As part of an effort to make it simpler to identify illicit activities such as fraud, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) unfurled today a hosted service that combines archiving, compliance, software and machine learning to automatically detect patterns and anomalies in structured and unstructured data.

Robert Patrick, director of product management for Big Data Advanced Analytics at HPE, says HPE Investigative Analytics, launched at the LegalTech 2016 conference, is specifically designed to reduce the number of false positives that other approaches to compliance typically generate. In fact, Patrick notes that the rate at which those false positives are generated by legacy approaches to compliance is one of the primary reasons such offerings have not thus far been widely deployed. While the risks associated with violating compliance regulations may be high, Patrick says most organizations can’t afford the paralysis associated with tracking down every alert generated about a potential infraction.

In contrast, Patrick says HPE Investigative Analytics first combs through historical data to determine what processes and conversations represent normal business as usual. It then only flags behavior that is anomalous to patterns that have been well-defined. Patrick says the end result is an approach to mitigating risks that is much more in tune with how the business actually functions.



Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00

FEMA to Evaluate Readiness of Virginia

PHILADELPHIA - The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will evaluate a biennial Radiological Emergency Preparedness Exercise at the North Anna Power Station. The exercise will take place during the week of February 8, 2016 to assess the ability of the Commonwealth of Virginia to respond to an emergency at the nuclear facility.

“These drills are held every other year to evaluate government’s ability to protect public health and safety,” said MaryAnn Tierney, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region III.  “We will assess state and local emergency response capabilities within the 10-mile emergency-planning zone as well as the adjacent support jurisdictions within the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Within 90 days, FEMA will send its evaluation to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for use in licensing decisions.  The final report will be available to the public approximately 120 days after the exercise.

FEMA will present preliminary findings of the exercise in a public meeting at 10:00 a.m. on

February 12th, 2016 at the Four Points by Sheraton, 9901 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, VA 23235.  Planned speakers include representatives from FEMA, the NRC, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

At the public meeting, FEMA may request that questions or comments be submitted in writing for review and response. Written comments may also be submitted after the meeting by emailing FEMAR3NewsDesk@fema.dhs.gov or by mail to:

MaryAnn Tierney

Regional Administrator


615 Chestnut Street, 6th Floor

Philadelphia, PA 19106

FEMA created the Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) Program to (1) ensure the health and safety of citizens living around commercial nuclear power plants would be adequately protected in the event of a nuclear power plant accident, and (2) inform and educate the public about radiological emergency preparedness.

REP Program responsibilities cover only “offsite” activities, that is, state and local government emergency planning and preparedness activities that take place beyond the nuclear power plant boundaries. Onsite activities continue to be the responsibility of the NRC.

Additional information on FEMA’s REP Program is available online at FEMA.gov/Radiological-Emergency-Preparedness-Program.

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. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.  Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.

Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00

BCI: Flipping the economics of attacks

​Flipping the economics of attacks

Our news channels are constantly filled with stories of large organizations that have suffered the consequence of a cyber attack, either their networks are taken down or data stolen. The reputational damage is high and the fines are sometimes astronomical. Cyber attacks on Adobe, JP Morgan and Sony were all estimated to have cost the companies in excess of $1 billion and even the Business Continuity Institute's latest Horizon Scan Report identified cyber attack as the number threat according to business continuity professionals.

The costs may not be as high as first thought however, according to new study by the Ponemon Institute carried out on behalf of Palo Alto Networks which found that the average hacker makes only $15,000 on average per attack and generates an income of less than $29,000 per year, a quarter of what a cyber security professional could make during the same period.

Flipping the economics of attacks, the result of a survey carried out among the 'attacker community', found that 72% of respondents won’t waste time on an attack that will not quickly yield high-value information, and that a similar percentage of respondents believe attackers will stop their efforts when an organization presents a strong defence. The vast majority (73%) stated that attackers hunt for easy, cheap targets.

An increase of approximately two days (40 hours) in the time required to conduct successful cyber attacks can eliminate as much as 60% of all attacks. On average, a technically proficient attacker will quit an attack and move on to another target after spending approximately a week (209 hours) without success. It takes double the amount of time (147 hours) for a technically proficient cyber attacker to plan and execute an attack against an organization with an ‘excellent’ IT security infrastructure versus 70 hours for ‘typical’ security.

Davis Hake, director of cyber security strategy at Palo Alto Networks, commented: “As computing costs have declined, so too have the costs for cyber adversaries to infiltrate an organization, contributing to the growing volume of threats and data breaches. Understanding the costs, motivations, payouts, and finding ways to flip the cost scenario will be instrumental in reducing the number of breaches we read about almost daily and restoring trust in our digital age.

Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, added: “The survey illustrates the importance of threat prevention. By adopting next-generation security technologies and a breach prevention philosophy, organizations can lower the return on investment an adversary can expect from a cyberattack by such a degree that they abandon the attack before it’s completed.

The report presents a number of recommendations including that organizations should make themselves a 'hard target'. Adopting a security posture with a breach prevention-first mindset, instead of a detection and incident response approach, can slow down cyber attacker enough for them to abandon the attack in favour of an easier target.

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Local crews worked around the clock to restore power and clear roads after severe winter storms in December brought heavy snow and frigid temperatures to northern Idaho. As a result of President Obama’s February 1 disaster declaration, the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security (IBHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be working to reimburse eligible applicants for costs incurred in keeping citizens safe and in cleaning up and repairing afterward.

State agencies, local governments and certain private nonprofit utilities in Benewah, Bonner and Kootenai counties may be eligible for funding from FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program as a result of the declaration for the Dec. 16-27, 2015, storms.

This is the second federal disaster declaration for northern Idaho in about six weeks. On Dec. 23, 2015, the president issued a major disaster declaration making federal Public Assistance available to eligible applicants in Benewah, Bonner, Boundary and Kootenai counties and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. That declaration was the result of the severe storm and straight-line winds in the area on Nov. 17, 2015.

“Our first responders and utilities worked day and night, and at great expense, to keep folks safe during those back-to-back storms late last year,” said IBHS Director Brad Richy. “We are working closely with FEMA to help reimburse applicants for their costs for the November storm, and we will do the same for the December events.”

Under the Public Assistance program FEMA reimburses applicants for 75 percent of their eligible expenses, while the other 25 percent is the nonfederal share. The federal portion is paid directly to the state, which then makes disbursements to the local and tribal jurisdictions and nonprofit organizations that incurred costs.

“IBHS has been an outstanding partner in support of applicants in northern Idaho,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph Diemont of FEMA. “With the personnel and processes already in place, we will be able build on those relationships and provide prompt assistance to all eligible applicants.”

In addition to Public Assistance grants, additional funds will be available in Idaho under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

The HMGP, administered by the state, is also a cost-share program, with FEMA providing 75 percent of the funds. This program provides supplemental financial assistance to public entities and certain private nonprofits to reduce the risk to life and property in future disasters.

Additional information is available online at FEMA Public Assistance, PA in Idaho, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program-FEMA and  HMGP in Idaho.

Additional information for the December storms, including funds obligated to the state, is available at www.fema.gov/disaster4252. For the latest on the severe storms that occurred Nov.17, 2015 go to www.fema.gov/disaster/4246.

State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Related Disaster: 

Robert Reynolds, a former environmental consultant at a chemical distributor was sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $10,000 for a 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia that polluted the drinking water supply of 300,000 people. Reynolds was the first of six former Freedom Industries officials to be sentenced, the Associated Press reported.

The incident began on Jan. 9, 2014 when authorities discovered that 7,500 gallons of chemicals—mostly 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) and PPH (polyglycol ethers), both used to clean coal—had leaked from an aging storage tank owned by Freedom Industries into the nearby Elk River.

Questions arose concerning the tank’s close proximity to a water treatment plant and, after the West Virginia American Water Company reported that its water supply had become contaminated, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a State of Emergency for Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane counties. “West Virginians in the affected service areas are urged NOT to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing,” Tomblin said in a statement.



(TNS) - Eastern Kentucky University began seeing the benefits of its new LiveSafe mobile app even before it was launched, free for anyone to download, on Monday.

The app was introduced by the university’s Student Government Association (SGA). It is available for download on both the Apple and Android platforms and puts various services at the fingertips of users, who can now more easily:



Previous efforts are languishing in limbo.

As the growth in the capability and sophistication of cyber bad actors continues to threaten national and economic security in the United States, confusion reigns and a lack of clarity exists as to who is in charge and how to deal with a significant cyber event that could become an incident of national or even global consequence. No strategic blueprint provides high level direction, nor do any operational plans articulate roles and responsibilities for government, industry and other stakeholders during various thresholds of escalation throughout a significant cyber event. To this day, the United States does not have an approved national cyber incident response plan that provides documented, predictable and sustainable procedures and protocols for addressing what is characterized as one of the most serious threats facing the safety and security of our nation. It is more than a fair question to ask: How can that be and what are we doing about it?

Many working in the cybersecurity realm today are not aware that efforts actually began in 2008, when industry leaders in the private sector critical infrastructure community learned the Bush Administration was considering the creation of such a plan but wholly within government. Given the fact that approximately of 80 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure is owned, operated or controlled by the private sector, a number of industry leaders objected to the notion of a government-only effort and instead advocated for a collaborative approach between government, industry, and other stakeholders.

- See more at: http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=Blog-when-will-united-states-have-national-cyber-incident-response-plan#sthash.tDeQRlDE.dpuf
Previous efforts are languishing in limbo.

As the growth in the capability and sophistication of cyber bad actors continues to threaten national and economic security in the United States, confusion reigns and a lack of clarity exists as to who is in charge and how to deal with a significant cyber event that could become an incident of national or even global consequence. No strategic blueprint provides high level direction, nor do any operational plans articulate roles and responsibilities for government, industry and other stakeholders during various thresholds of escalation throughout a significant cyber event. To this day, the United States does not have an approved national cyber incident response plan that provides documented, predictable and sustainable procedures and protocols for addressing what is characterized as one of the most serious threats facing the safety and security of our nation. It is more than a fair question to ask: How can that be and what are we doing about it?

Many working in the cybersecurity realm today are not aware that efforts actually began in 2008, when industry leaders in the private sector critical infrastructure community learned the Bush Administration was considering the creation of such a plan but wholly within government. Given the fact that approximately of 80 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure is owned, operated or controlled by the private sector, a number of industry leaders objected to the notion of a government-only effort and instead advocated for a collaborative approach between government, industry, and other stakeholders.

- See more at: http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=Blog-when-will-united-states-have-national-cyber-incident-response-plan#sthash.tDeQRlDE.dpuf

(TNS) —  Public health officials are considering steps to protect the blood supply from contamination with Zika virus, including barring patients who have traveled to affected areas from donating blood for up to 28 days.

Discussions of blood donations and other questions swirling around Zika took on new urgency Monday as the World Health Organization declared the virus and its complications a public health emergency. Dr. Margaret Chan, the organization's director general, said the cluster of Zika-linked birth defects, known as microcephaly, "constitute an extraordinary event and a public health threat to other parts of the world."

Chan called for an international response to minimize the threat in infected countries and reduce the risk of international spread. In addition to highlighting the seriousness of the problem, the emergency declaration can trigger action and funding from governments and nonprofits around the world, the New York Times reported. It elevates the WHO to the position of global coordinator and gives its decisions the force of international law.



Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00

Where to go During a Communications Shutdown

If you’ve been in meetings and exercises that simulate a total communications loss, you’ve likely wondered what you would do in the event of a catastrophic failure that takes down cellular, Internet, power, and even your own systems.
Haiti, Jan. 12, 2010. Within a few days after the quake, a team of amateur radio operators from WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center was called upon to serve as the main source of medical communications. Over the next five weeks, the team manned a 24-hour net connecting Haiti field hospitals, the University of Miami Medical Center and the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, relaying on-the-spot medical advice from stateside doctors, relaying medical supplies, charter airplane flight schedules and helping coordinate emergency helicopter and fast boat evacuations.

In Joplin, Mo., May 22, 2011. The hospital, two local fire stations and the town took a direct hit by an F5 tornado. All normal communications were down for weeks. Regional amateur radio operators were called in to help establish communications.



Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00

Setting the Stage for Storage Innovation

When I started to write this article, I expected to launch immediately into innovative products and vendors because innovation, like adventure, is out there. But the deeper I got, the more I realized that innovation is very much in the eye of the beholder, and I was going to have to define my terms and assumptions.

Any storage company that is still in business is trying to innovate. If innovation means a new and improved approach to a problem, then very few storage vendors are stuck in place just waiting for the market to pass them by.

Sure, the start-ups define themselves as innovators – some may even be innovative. They are looking to create a market and ride that momentum. But the established vendors are busy innovating too, and they have a customer base to sell to that the startups do not.



Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00

Alerting You to Earthquakes… and Insurance

Earthquake resilience was in the spotlight as the Obama administration gave its support for an earthquake-alert system on the West Coast at a White House summit Tuesday.

President Obama also signed an executive order establishing a federal earthquake risk management standard which will improve the capability of federal buildings to function after a quake.

The order requires federal agencies to ensure that federal buildings are constructed or altered using earthquake-resistant design provisions in the most current building codes.



One could argue the purpose of data analytics has always been to achieve business outcomes. Yet, enterprises still struggle to realize the potential business value of their investments. Despite the availability of a wide array of improved technologies, it's easy for company cultures, organizational structures, and even problem-solving approaches to get in the way.

"The fundamental premise is it's a technology problem. It reminds me of the early Internet days [when people said] 'We have this capability, what problem can we solve?'" said Jeff McMillan, managing director at Credit Suisse. "That's not how it works. You have a business issue and need to bring a set of capabilities to bear."

Departmental barriers continue to impede progress. Some companies are restructuring to compete more effectively in the digital economy, but the expanding C-suite may frustrate the ability to drive business outcomes.



Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00

Red Cross Declares Emergency Need for Blood

(TNS) - The American Red Cross has an emergency need for blood.

The winter weather has caused more than 300 blood drives to be canceled in 20 states since Jan. 1, the organization said in a statement. That resulted in more than 9,000 donations being uncollected, the Red Cross said. In the Northeastern Pennsylvania Region, which includes Schuylkill County and five other counties, six blood drives were canceled since Jan. 23.

One of those blood drives was in Schuylkill County.

“Due to the safety of the donors and the staff, we had to cancel the drive,” Karen Barton, account manager Schuylkill County blood donor division, said Tuesday about a drive that was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Grace Free Evangelical Church in Cressona.



(TNS) - Buoyed by recent advances in technology, the federal government announced Tuesday that it is expanding its commitment to earthquake warning systems because they will save lives.

"The technology is ready today," said Richard Allen, director of Berkeley's seismological laboratory, at a White House Summit on Earthquake Resilience in Washington, D.C. "Hopefully we can move to a full-blown public warning system over the next few years."

Also on Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to institute seismic safety codes for all federal buildings, similar to the executive order issued last year requiring flood protection for federal buildings near bodies of water.

Through the "ShakeAlert" early warning system, alerts can be sent at the speed of light -- 100,000 times faster than seismic waves travel through rock.



The cloud is a common facet of virtually every enterprise on the planet these days, but the overriding perception is that it should be kept away from mission-critical functions.

So it came as a surprise late last year when Verizon issued a report on the state of the cloud market indicating that 87 percent of enterprises are running mission-critical apps in the cloud, up from 60 percent two years ago. More than half of this group uses up to four cloud providers to support these functions, while a quarter are porting them over 10 or more. And the trend is particularly pronounced among start-ups, many of which are eschewing internal infrastructure for an all-cloud approach that drives high degrees of flexibility, if not entire transformations of existing business models.

But is this wise? Does the cloud, even at this stage of its development, really have the chops to support critical workloads and applications? Or are early adopters merely setting themselves up for failure when their plans fall victim to poor reliability, availability and security?



The Super Bowl is an event that millions of Americans look forward to every year. This year, San Francisco hosts Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on February 7th, 2016. Local law enforcement and public safety agencies are expecting over 1 million fans to visit the Bay Area.[1]

The City of Santa Clara Police Department, operating the Joint Information Center (JIC), alongside several other local agencies, are leveraging Nixle to keep residents informed about safety updates and other important information during the Super Bowl. Visitors, fans and local residents can simply text the keyword ‘SB50’ to 888-777 to receive updates directly to their cell phone.[2] Road closures, transit and safety information are just a few of the potential use cases that could result in a text alert.

Social media played a significant role in raising awareness about signing up to receive SB50 alerts. Several agencies used Twitter and other social media sites to promote the keyword seen in the example below:



AUSTIN, Texas – So, you and your family survived the big storm.

The water has been pumped out of your basement. Your walls and floors are dry. Your roof seems to be intact. Your electrical appliances are working fine. And your flood-soaked refuse has been removed to the landfill. You are grateful it’s all over. But is it really? Ask yourself, “Are my house and property ready for the next big one? Will my family be safe the next time we flood?”

Mitigation experts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) say there is no better time than now for homeowners to start thinking about what can be done to prepare for the next flood.

For the big jobs, homeowners will want to hire a reputable licensed contractor. FEMA mitigation officials suggest getting bids from two or three contractors. And ask for references. Many other repairs may be easy work for handy do-it-yourselfers. Tasks like relocating basement or first floor electrical equipment and appliances, however, may require the help of a professional.

Start with the main circuit breaker or fuse box. Move it up to at least 12 inches above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for your home or building. Your insurance agent or local flood plain administrator will be able to tell you what that number is.

Check with your local building department. If the electrical code allows, raise electrical outlets and switches above flood level.                                                                                                                                

If you need to replace a flood-damaged furnace, water heater or air conditioner, have the new one installed on a higher floor. If your air conditioner or heat pump is outdoors, install it on a raised platform. Place washers and dryers on blocks, making sure they will not vibrate off the blocks during use. A 1- or 2-foot waterproof floodwall around appliances will protect them from shallow flooding.

More do-it-yourself tips for repairing flood-damaged buildings:

  • Walls. If the wallboard and insulation were removed, wash and disinfect the exposed vertical wooden studs, and the horizontal wooden sills at their base. If rebuilding, consider metal studs and sills as they are less damaged by water than wooden ones.

  • Wallboard. If you install the wall board horizontally (4 feet high), you’ll only have to replace half the wall if the next flood is less than 4 feet deep. Leave the wall open 1 inch above the sill. The baseboards will hide the gap, and all you have to do after the next flood is remove the baseboard and the wall cavity will drain freely and air will circulate better.
  • Floors. Particle board or plywood fall apart when wet for lengthy periods. Floor joists and some wood floors regain their shape when naturally dried. Use screws or screw nails on floors and stairs to minimize warping. Completely dry subflooring before laying new flooring or carpeting. Renail, then sand or place a new underlayment for a new floor.

  • Paints. Completely dry the surface before painting. This may take several weeks, but paint will peel if applied over a damp surface. Coat concrete surfaces with penetrating sealer for easier future cleanup.

  • Windows and Doors. When appropriate, replace flood damaged windows with vinyl or metal framed windows. Hollow core or polysty­rene foam filled metal doors are water resistant.

Despite all that you have done, natural disasters are unpredictable, and even the best preparations may not hold up in the next flood.

The first step in moving on after a flood is getting rid of damaged or destroyed personal property that can’t or should not be saved. FEMA mitigation experts tell flood survivors to always throw out flood-dirtied cosmetics, medicines, stuffed animals, baby toys and food that may be spoiled. It’s also a good idea to get rid of mattresses, pillows, rugs, books and other paper products. Should you throw away this or that? Good advice from one FEMA mitigation specialist: If you have to ask, throw it away.

Next, dry out your house – lower the humidity. Open doors and windows to let fresh air circulate. Open closet and cabinet doors; remove drawers from their cabinets. Run dehumidifiers and fans. Give your housed plenty of time to dry. The rule of thumb is, if it takes one week for visible moisture to disappear, it will take at least another week for unseen parts to dry.

Alternatively, you may want to turn the job over to a flooding and storm damage professional. Go online to search “water damage restoration” or “dehumidifying.”

For more ideas on reducing flood loss, view FEMA’s booklet, “Protecting Your Home and Family From Flood Damage,” at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/21471  .

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

Survivors with questions regarding their application for disaster assistance, or a pending appeal, should visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call the FEMA Helpline (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362. (TTY users should call 800-462-7585.) The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

For more information on Texas recovery, visit the disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4245, Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/femaregion6 and the Texas Division of Emergency Management website, https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem.                            

                                                                                     # # #

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 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. 

Visit www.fema.gov/texas-disaster-mitigation for publications and reference material on rebuilding and repairing safer and stronger.

State/Tribal Government or Region: 

I do enjoy the (sometimes irreverent!) perspectives of some articles on data center in the UK publication “The Register“, and the story of how a data center change went wrong made me laugh, cringe and cry at the same time – the change being when an electrician cut the wrong wire and brought down a 25,000 square feet data center!!!

Let’s have a look at what went wrong here, and then I’ll relate this to one of our more fundamental services, that of “change support”. Some may call this a “boring” service option, however “fundamental” is much more appropriate, as the following story will show.  Finally, I’ll point you to a free white paper to illustrate the cost benefits.

If you’ve worked in IT for any length of time, you’ll know that configuration changes and (incorrect) cable cuts are some of the biggest sources of network and data center unplanned downtime – that is, outages.  However, even in 2016, it’s amazing  how the lack of stringent change control processes is all too common a source of outages and service downtime.  Let’s look at a real life example.



A big driving factor in the search for the perfect biometric security app is the wish to stop using current user ID and password access methods. The biometric body-part solutions typically have the advantage of being unique (unforgettable) and impossible for a user to forget, because of course his or her fingerprints, etc. are always to hand. Here’s a rundown of some of the contenders:



Just like IT systems are moving away from monolithic big-bang style releases to agile increments, so it seems is life in related areas. Business continuity, enterprise computing, information security, and the major business systems that are affected by them – notably supply chains – seemed to have less thunder and lightning in 2015, and more trending cloudiness (or was it cloudy trendiness?).

Granted, there were a few exceptions, even in the continually spreading, scaling world of cloud computing. AWS (Amazon Web Services) reputedly became profitable. This was an interesting development for a group (Amazon) as a whole that has spent years navigating through negative results. Meanwhile, Google suffered two outages of its public cloud services, one from lightning (yes, really) and one from DNS changes. Otherwise, cloud continued to score points for resilience and associated aspects such as disaster recovery and DRaaS. Overall, cloud computing seemed to be stabilizing into an oligopoly, a little like the mainframe market of 50 years ago. Maybe history, like the weather, really does repeat itself.



In many engagements, upper and middle management ask: “How do we fix our testing (QC) process? The team is just not catching the defects.”

When managers ask this question I usually asked these managers a question in return: “Why focus on fixing your testing processes first; shouldn’t you first focus on fixing the development process, since they write the code?”

This usually starts a vigorous discussion about where the problem really lies in the organization, which is exactly the kind of soul searching an organization needs to do when they ask to fix the testing.



Observations from the National Capital Region


Emergency managers and public information officers across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast proactively informed their communities as Winter Storm Jonas covered many areas with record-setting snowfall. In the National Capital Region, where eighteen counties, cities, and the District of Columbia are using Everbridge’s mass notification platform, the highest recorded snowfall was 34.2 inches (reported in Leesburg, Virginia).

Across the region, government officials sent 12,261 notifications to residents and government employees over a 7-day period—an average of one notification every 1.2 minutes. Many residents and employees received numerous notifications via multiple methods (e.g., email, SMS text messages, phone calls, the mobile app), which totaled 16.1 million messages sent to the region.

“People in this region regularly travel across jurisdictional boundaries, and regardless of where they are or where they’re going, all jurisdictions try to ensure our communities get timely and accurate information in ways that are convenient for them—email, text, the ContactBridge app, phone calls and more,” explained Sulayman Brown, Assistant Coordinator and Manager of Operations and Outreach at Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management. “We coordinate messages with neighboring jurisdictions to ensure consistency and deliver sound advice to the public. For example, several jurisdictions sent the same ‘stay off the roads’ notice to their residents to make it clear that it was unsafe to drive,”



Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00

DDoS Attacks Surging

HSBC UK’s online banking system was hit with a DDoS attack at the end of January. As of the writing of this blog post, officials didn’t know who was responsible or the reasons behind the attack. The bank’s mobile app was not technically hit by the DDoS attack, but because so many users turned to the app when the website went down, the volume overwhelmed the connection.

DDoS attacks happen all the time, with varying levels of damage, yet they are sometimes overshadowed by breaches and other types of cyberattacks. I mention the HSBC DDoS attack in part because of its scale (HSBC is one of the largest banks in the world) and in part as a segue to discuss the changing scale of DDoS attacks.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s 2015 4th Quarter Report, the bad guys are finding new channels to conduct DDoS attacks:



Chris Selland is VP of Business Development, Big Data Platform, at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The act of publishing source code, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily make a platform more useful. Making that source code extensible matters at least as much, especially in the era of open application programming interfaces (APIs), where many of the most useful apps are made so by other apps. Modern enterprises need both open source software and open architectures to take full advantage of Big Data.

This article will focus on how we reached this point, and provide a blueprint for CIOs who are evaluating open source and Big Data tools.



Improved regional preparation, response to coastal hazards top goal

Each project selected in the National Ocean Service's Coastal Resilience Grants Program reflects NOAA's commitment to building coastal resilience using science-based solutions and collaborative partnerships. (Credit: Think Stock Photos.com).

Each project selected in the National Ocean Service's Coastal Resilience Grants Program reflects NOAA's commitment to building coastal resilience using science-based solutions and collaborative partnerships. (Credit: Think Stock Photos.com)

NOAA’s National Ocean Service will award today $4.5 million in coastal resilience grants, with plans to award another $4.5 million in grants later this year. The local community grant recipients are required to add an additional $2.4 million in matching funds.

The projects selected are designed to help coastal communities improve their resilience to adverse events by improving their ability to prepare for and respond to a variety of coastal threats, including extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions.

“We know that continued sea level rise and the storm surges associated with potential changes in hurricanes combined with increased coastal storm activity threaten to cause $35 billion annually in damages within the next 15 years,” said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We need to reduce these impacts through better application of science-based knowledge. The six projects receiving funds today are designed to serve as models of the way forward to increasing the resilience of our coastal communities.”

The projects will address evolving economic, environmental, and social pressures on our ocean and coasts through approaches that cover land and ocean use, disaster preparedness, environmental restoration, hazard mitigation, and regional, state, and community planning efforts. (Credit: Think Stock Photos.com).

The projects will address evolving economic, environmental, and social pressures on our ocean and coasts through approaches that cover land and ocean use, disaster preparedness, environmental restoration, hazard mitigation, and regional, state, and community planning efforts. (Credit: Think Stock Photos.com)

The selected projects reflect the program’s regional focus — more than 100 communities are participating in these six projects. In response to its call for proposals last year, NOAA received 132 applications requesting more than $100 million. The proposals were reviewed by a panel of coastal management experts from around the United States that included representatives of government, academia and private industry.

NOAA is taking a multifaceted approach to building coastal resilience through two grant programs. NOAA National Ocean Service’s grant program, the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants, focuses on regional-scale projects that enhance the resilience of coastal communities and economies. Activities may include improving coastal risk assessment and communication, promoting collaborative approaches to resilience planning, and better informing science based decision making.

NOAA defines resilience as the ability of an ecosystem or community to absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events such as extreme weather or long-term changing environmental conditions, such as sea level rise. (Credit: Think Stock Photos.com).

NOAA defines resilience as the ability of an ecosystem or community to absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events such as extreme weather or long-term changing environmental conditions, such as sea level rise. (Credit: Think Stock Photos.com)

“We are all connected by the watershed we live in,” said Jeff Payne, Ph.D., acting director of NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management. “What happens in one community affects those downstream. It can be wide spread on regional and local infrastructure, economies and ecosystems. A piecemeal approach will not be effective. Only by working together can we solve these complex problems.”

NOAA Fisheries’ Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants program, a complementary resilience grant program, announced its FY 2015 grant awards December 1. The NOAA Fisheries program is focused on the development of healthy and sustainable coastal ecosystems through habitat restoration.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and our other social media channels.

To be sustainable, organizations must prepare for crises that occur or risks that crystalize. General responses to those threats include alternative office sites, IT back-ups and communication protocols. As reality demonstrates over and over, it is critically important to have a strong leader in a crisis situation, be it the captain of a ship in a storm, the commanding officer of a platoon under fire or the CEO of a company in turmoil. A cacophony of contradicting orders or disintegration in the line of command is the surest way to increase a disaster’s impact and the time needed to recover.

Instead of creating a strong BCP landscape with clear lines of command and control, however, we more often see “balkanization,” or fragmentation of responsibilities. Business continuity planning, environmental health and safety, operational risk and IT disaster recovery are different teams with overlapping roles and responsibilities for crisis management.

The newest buzzword is resilience, which is discussed in a growing number of articles and lectures and defined as the “ability to bounce back to a normal operating status after a state of crisis.” There are also a number of overlapping areas with the aforementioned functions—and that is just on an intra-company level. The OECD has issued Guidelines for Resilience System Analysis, urging member states to set up resilience management on a country level basis.



Tuesday, 02 February 2016 00:00

Small Business Fire Damage Recovery Plans

For many small business owners, their small business is their livelihood. Any disaster that happens to hurt the company can be detrimental the owner’s finances in a huge way. One of the most common issues that many business owners face is fire damage. There are many ways in which fire can affect your business. However, there are steps that a company can take both before and after fire damage occurs to mitigate any damage that a fire may cause.

Fire Prevention
Although it seems obvious, being able to prevent fire damage from occurring is the best defense against fire. There are many things that a business can do to increase their first line against fire issues. First of all, always use the highest quality building materials possible. Many new building materials are much more fire resistant and can end up saving a lot of money. They may be more expensive to put in, but if a fire does occur they can save thousands of dollars in repairs. Also, if you are in a facility with a lot of workers, be sure to talk about the ways in which they can reduce the likelihood that a fire takes place. For instance, always dispose of any cigarette in the proper way rather than throwing it on the ground or in a trash can. These simple steps can go a long way in reducing the likelihood that a fire takes place. However, at the end of the day even if a business takes all of the necessary precautions to prevent a fire one may still occur. It is important to have a plan in place for cleanup and to have a company that you trust to handle all of the fire damage issues you may have.



A study from Harvard released Monday largely refutes claims that wider use of encryption in software products will hamper investigations into terrorism and crime.

It predicts that the continued expansion of Internet-connected devices -- such as smart TVs and vehicles, IP video cameras and more -- will offer fresh opportunities for tracking targets. 

"Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target," it said. "These are real products now."



As our global online world evolves before our eyes, the topic of cybersecurity seems overwhelming to most people. Just as new innovative opportunities are announced daily, emerging cyberthreats can undermine online progress in virtually every area of life.

The official numbers seem daunting from the U.S. CERT regarding cyberattacks, with incident numbers rising sharply in 2015 (see chart below).


So how can we get our arms around this problem of protecting the homeland from the bad actors in cyberspace? What issues are most pressing? How is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security addressing these challenges? What partnerships and new developments are important?



(TNS) - The World Health Organization declared Monday that explosive growth of the mosquito-borne Zika virus — which has been spreading rapidly in the Americas and may be linked to birth defects — constitutes an international public health emergency, signaling an new phase in the global effort to battle the virus.

The United Nations health agency made the decision after convening an panel of experts in Geneva amid reports from Brazil linking the virus to microcephaly, a birth defect of the brain in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.

The recent “cluster” of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil followed a similar “cluster” in French Polynesia in 2014, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement.



Tuesday, 02 February 2016 00:00

Women Warned About the Zika Virus

(TNS) - Pregnant women take heed: You may want to postpone that spring break trip to Mexico or summer getaway to the Caribbean.

Health officials are advising women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to avoid traveling to certain parts of Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean due to mosquito transmission of a virus that has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel alert two weeks ago after health officials in Brazil reported links between the Zika virus and microcephaly in babies of mothers who were infected with the virus while pregnant.



Tuesday, 02 February 2016 00:00

The Data Center as a Commodity

There is a lot of talk about the commodity data center these days, but this usually refers to the type of hardware that goes into building it.

Increasingly though, as more of the data infrastructure becomes virtualized and portable and enterprises at large gravitate toward cloud and colocation solutions, we are starting to see the data center itself treated as a commodity; that is, a thing to be bought and sold, hopefully for a profit.

Verizon Communications recently embraced this new paradigm by putting its substantial data center assets on the market for an asking price of $2.5 billion. The move is part of a broader strategy to divest itself of its landline businesses and even a good number of its wireless towers to concentrate instead on communication services. The nearly 50 data centers up for sale produce estimated annual revenue of about $275 million (minus EBITDA), and include the collection acquired from Terremark for $1.4 billion several years ago. AT&T is said to be exploring the sale of its data center assets as well.



Tuesday, 02 February 2016 00:00

Beefing Up Data Center Resilience

A data center is very much like a car – it needs maintenance to run smoothly and not break down in the middle of your journey. The measurement of how vulnerable your system is to failure determines the resilience of your facility. You can increase that resilience to boost your uptime.

Data Center Resilience (or Resiliency) as described by TechTarget is defined as: “the ability of a server, network, storage system, or an entire data center, to recover quickly and continue operating even when there has been an equipment failure, power outage or other disruption.”

Here are five ways data center operators can increase the resilience of their facility – and secure smooth operations without failure – by deploying the best-of-the-breed data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solutions.



IT organizations are quickly moving to embrace the notion of having multiple cloud computing options. The challenge now is figuring out which application workload to run where, based on the actual costs of running a workload on a specific cloud platform.

To make that simpler to ascertain, Cloud Cruiser has unfurled a version of its cloud analytics software that can now be invoked as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. Rather than going to the trouble of setting up an application that is not going to be used every day, Andrew Atkinson, senior director for product marketing at Cloud Cruiser, says Cloud Cruiser now makes available version 16 of its namesake application as a service.

At present, Cloud Cruiser 16 is designed to make it simpler for IT organizations to identify the true costs of deploying application workloads on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Compute. Atkinson says down the road, Cloud Cruiser might add support for other clouds, but right now these three represent the lion’s share of the demand for cloud services being generated by cloud customers.



Doug Cutting, chief architect at Cloudera, and Mike Olsen, the company's chief strategic officer and cofounder, were having dinner with their families at a restaurant on Jan. 28, during which Cutting blew out a candle and shared some champagne in honor of Hadoop's 10th anniversary.

Cutting developed Hadoop with Mike Cafarella as the two worked on an open source Web crawler called Nutch, a project they started together in October 2002. In January 2006, Cutting started a sub-project by carving Hadoop code from Nutch. A few months later, in March 2006, Yahoo created its first Hadoop research cluster.

In the 10 years that followed, Hadoop has evolved into an open source ecosystem for handling and analyzing Big Data. The first Apache release of Hadoop came in September 2007, and it soon became a top-level Apache project. Cloudera, the first company to commercialize Hadoop, was founded in August 2008. That might seem like a speedy timeline, but, in fact, Hadoop's evolution was neither simple nor fast.



Tuesday, 02 February 2016 00:00

Three Pillars of Modern Data Center Operations

Modern enterprise data centers are some of the most technically sophisticated business activities on earth. Ironically enough, they are also often bastions of inefficiency, with equipment utilization much below ten percent and 30 percent of the servers in those facilities being comatose (using electricity but performing no useful information services). The operators of these facilities also struggle to keep pace with rapid changes in deployments of computing equipment.

These problems have led to much attention being paid to improving data center management. While almost every enterprise data center has taken steps to improve its operations, virtually all are much less efficient, much more costly, and far less flexible than they could be. Those failings ultimately prevent data centers from delivering maximum business value to the companies that own them.

Well-managed data centers use what I call the three pillars of modern data center operations: tracking, procedures, and physical principles.



It’s cold and flu season, joy of joys. But still, flu and all, That Guy is in the office, sneezing and coughing all over everything and everybody, sharing his germs with the whole team. Ick. Don’t be That Guy.

That Guy should be working at home, hacking and spluttering away from other people. No one wants to catch his flu or live in a full-body shroud of Purell, but due to restrictive IT policies and a dearth of secure, remote work options, he can only complete his work from the PC in his cube.



Monday, 01 February 2016 00:00

Attention MSPs: SMBs Need Your Help

We all know you must first recognize that a problem exists before you can solve it. This principle is particularly relevant when it comes to meeting the challenges of cybersecurity. We’re happy to note that the results of Webroot’s 2015 SMB Threat Report reflect growing concern by small and midsize businesses about potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities in their security strategies.

This candid self-awareness represents a marked change for many SMBs, who in the past downplayed security threats simply because they thought that “it won’t happen to me.” These SMBs believed they were too small for hackers to target, or that they had little of value to tempt cybercriminals. But, in today’s world, the automation, commoditization and low upfront costs of becoming a professional cybercriminal are such that it requires only minimal skill to set up a cybercrime business and start trawling the Internet for victims.

Not surprisingly, under-protected and under-funded SMBs make for attractive targets to these criminals. The good news is that many SMBs are waking up to the very real threats they now face, and to the fact that they are ill-equipped to handle those threats with their in-house IT resources.



(TNS) - The man in the eye of controversy in Allentown contends he made the right decision to force roughly 40 homeless people into a driving snowstorm, but he's anxious to devise a plan that can prevent him from doing it again.

Jack Felch Jr., executive director of the Lehigh Conference of Churches, said he plans to meet with city officials and homeless advocates to map out a plan to make sure the homeless aren't forced into dangerous weather such as the 30 mph winds and single-digit wind chills of last weekend.

But he's adamant that the answer is not letting people hunker down at the warming station on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, where the homeless are allowed to take shelter from the cold from 5 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.



(TNS) - On Wednesday, a year after the fire that turned their lives upside down, Fernando Bueno and Araceli Espinoza of Thalia’s Jewelry returned from an overnight trip to Los Angeles. Instead of gold bracelets and glittery earrings, their normal stock in trade, the jewelers’ truck was filled with stuffed bears they hope to sell on Valentine’s Day.

On Jan. 28, 2015, an inferno at 22nd and Mission streets destroyed the three-story building that housed Thalia’s Jewelry. One person was killed, more than 50 residents were left homeless and 33 businesses were shuttered. The fire also scattered a bustling commercial hub, leaving business owners like Bueno and Espinoza scrambling for ways to keep their businesses afloat.

Almost half of the enterprises have reopened in new locations; others have found themselves priced out of the neighborhood. City representatives say, too, that the fire has changed the way it plans to respond to disasters in the future.