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Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

Looming Threats in Cloud Computing

A lot has changed in a few years.

When I talked about cloud three years back, I got frownie-faces from my peers. Skeptical looks that belied a deeper-seated fear or trepidation, probably having more to do with their internal image of what a CIO should be than the promise or peril in the new technology.

Now, enthusiasm runs ebulliently through the vendor community, animating the animal spirits and spurring on entrepreneurs in search of profits and glory. Cloud has been elevated to high strategy on the billionaire chess board. Mergers and acquisitions are abuzz. Amazon, armed with an overly energetic workforce, gets hypercompetitive in all ways good and ill, supplanting Oracle as one of our most vociferous vendors and perhaps the new alpha predator. Numerous smaller vendors — tiny even in the aggregate, compared with Amazon’s might — are quickly learning the new cloud lingo, differentiating themselves from Amazon and contemplating symmetrical and asymmetrical warfare. Today it’s Everyone vs. Amazon.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:00

The 5 Worst Threats to Enterprise Cloud Security

As more companies and large corporations move their business operations to the cloud, increased awareness for tighter security is gaining traction as well.  Organizations such as the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) have been leading the path toward a more secure cloud computing environment for enterprises.

Large multinational tech companies have ramped up their security service offerings, as in the case of IBM: in 2014, they introduced the Dynamic Cloud Security portfolio, which is expected to solve cloud security concerns related to access control, data protection and increased visibility.

But unless users remain vigilant in taking the necessary steps to secure their networks, hacking and other cybersecurity threats are a very real concern.  Here’s a list of the worst threats to cybersecurity and some of the countermeasures you can implement to avoid them.



Tuesday, 15 December 2015 00:00

How to Explain the Cloud to Your Customers

Do your customers understand the cloud? Recent data indicates confusion remains problematic for many cloud users. 

A May 2015 West IP Communications survey of 300 IT managers revealed many businesses were divided on the benefits and risks associated with the cloud

In addition, the survey showed cost was one of the top concerns for companies considering a change to their IT infrastructure. 

So how can managed service providers (MSPs) ensure their customers understand the cloud and its benefits?



(TNS) - The answer to how Pierce County’s new 911 system is working out depends on who’s asked.

Some emergency dispatchers and law enforcement officers say the new computer system — which, according to South Sound 911, is supposed to make it easier for agencies to work together — is in some cases making their jobs harder.

Administrators of South Sound 911 say the more than $5 million upgrade has important new features and that users need to give it time.

“Part of what we need to do is be open-minded about new ways of doing things,” agency director Andrew Neiditz said. “What we’ve come from was pretty unacceptable.”



By French Caldwell, Chief Evangelist at MetricStream

Major hacks have raised the profile of cybersecurity programs from the basement of IT operations to the board room – but cybersecurity alone is not enough to manage information risks.   In the last few months we have seen a hack that is so mammoth that there is no way to do a full loss event analysis.  The mammoth hack of security clearances and background information of 22.1 million current and former federal employees from the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management provides the hacker, alleged to be China’s military intelligence, access to the personal information and clearance data of people with access to the classified programs and information that is essential to national security.  It provides the hackers with the ability to run exploitation operations potentially for decades.  This is so much worse than the Snowden leaks that it is difficult to understand why such data was even available through the unclassified network connected to the internet.



High number of IT outages being reported by large organizations

90% of large businesses report experiencing major IT incidents throughout the year, and 60% report outages occurring on a monthly basis, yet only about half have a team dedicated to handling such occurrences. This is according to a study conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of xMatters.

Major Incident Management Trends 2016 also revealed that nearly two-thirds of IT departments have target resolution times when an outage occurs, but three-quarters of them routinely exceed their target times.

Reliance on digital infrastructures has dramatically increased the impact and frequency of major incidents, according to the report. IT and business leaders within individual companies are mostly aligned on what constitutes major incidents and how to resolve them. However, standard definitions and processes are lacking between companies and across industries. Without these standards, IT departments lack benchmarks and best practices to help drive improvements.

According the Business Continuity Institute's annual Horizon Scan Report, IT and telecoms outages have consistently been one the top three threats to organizations with the latest report highlighting that 81% of business continuity professionals expressed concern at the prospect of this kind of threat materialising.

At long last, IT departments and business leaders are on the same page when it comes to recognizing the severity of business impact during a major incident and the importance of solving disruptions as quickly as possible,” said David Gehringer, principal at Dimensional Research and author of the study. “However, they’re unfortunately falling far short of their goals of solving problems on time and in an efficient manner, often due to poor alerting and communications management.

The survey findings show both enterprise IT teams and business leaders have come to grips with the occurrence of major incidents and IT outages, but insist on effective communications. In terms of business stakeholder frustration, we found that lack of effective communication trumps occurrence of incidents in the first place,” said Randi Barshack, CMO of xMatters.

Hiring new employees is always a positive sign for a growing business, but while expansion is exciting, it doesn’t come without its headaches.

While HR departments will know all too well how stressful it can be to make sure they’re hiring the right person, IT administrators often also find themselves facing difficulties with getting new starters on board – even if their role is sometimes overlooked.

After all, without the right level of access to key technologies, applications and services, they will be unable to perform their job effectively. And it’s not just for productivity reasons that IT has a role to play – they also need to make sure that the new employee is using their systems responsibly and not exposing the business to problems such as security breaches or data loss.

Therefore, it’s important that IT administrators understand what to do when new starters are getting set up. Read on to learn our top tips and best practices for technology leaders when it comes to this process, and find out what key questions you need to be asking in order to make things run smoothly.



This Christmas, wearable tech is projected to be hackers’ next big target and there’s also more data at risk. Straight from the experts themselves, here are some ways to make sure you can have the best chance at keeping your connected device from turning on you.

1. You might not want to get the first generation. “With new platforms, we don’t know the vulnerabilities until some time has passed. Users can also make sure they have the most recent version for operating devices and when you get prompted for a software update, do it as soon as possible.” — John Herrema, Good Technologies.

2. Think hard about what data can be potentially taken. “Think about the worst and assume that the data could somehow get out and then ask yourself if you can truly tolerate that or not.”



Ideally, neither one nor the other would happen. However, events over the past weeks have proved how uncertain times are. The attacks in Paris in November 2015 led a few days later to the “Brussels lockdown”, in which the entire capital city of Belgium and home of many European government institutions shut down overnight. News channels showed video footage of deserted streets, in which bars, cafes, restaurants and shops remained shut. That of course meant interruption of business for many enterprises. However, in business continuity terms, certain dramatic circumstances have ended up doing far greater damage in the past.



Ah, nothing goes easy with that $67 billion Dell-EMC deal, does it? Today the plot thickened a bit more when VMware announced in a filing with the SEC that it was walking away from the agreement with EMC to form Virtustream as a jointly owned company. Re/code first reported this news.

This whole deal has from the start been a fairly complex tale, and like the movie Groundhog Day, one we seem to be telling over and over each time a new bit of news comes our way. It takes some background, so strap in while I explain the complications on top of the complications in this merger. If you haven’t been following along at home, you may want to take notes.

For starters, EMC owns 80 percent of VMware, but the company operates as a separate entity with its own board of directors and separately traded stock. A couple of weeks after the Dell-EMC merger announcement, EMC and VMware decided to throw a little wrinkle into the deal, announcing they were forming a separate jointly-owned company called Virtustream from the company EMC had purchased in May for $1.2 billion. The companies announced further that in spite of the 50/50 split, the Virtustream’s financial results would be included on VMware’s books.



We know that 911 call centers frequently receive imprecise locations of callers from wireless carriers -- and some don’t get any location information at all. Calls from landline phones are linked to addresses. But today more than 70 percent of all 911 calls originate from cellphones, a number only expected to increase.

More reliable location information could save lives, and earlier this year an order from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set targets for companies to improve both the availability and accuracy of location information. But those upgrades remain a long way off.

Under the new rules, carriers will have to provide caller location info within 50 meters 80 percent of the time by 2021, along with vertical location information -- is the caller in the basement or on the 22nd floor? -- that would have to be in place in top markets by 2023.



Just a friendly reminder to all, be extra diligent when opening emails this time of year!

Hundreds of thousands of computers become infected from phishing emails appearing at first glance to be legitimate, and these email appear more than ever during the Holiday Season. Phishing is a form of online identity theft in which fraudsters trick users into submitting personal information to illegitimate web sites. Below is a list of items (from our friends at TechRepublic) that can help you identify phishing emails. If you receive one, just simply delete it permanently by holding down the shift key while pressing the delete key. This will help protect your computer as well as the company’s assets.



(TNS) - The Newport News Community Emergency Response Team has figured out how to make a good deed even better. They turned an annual food drive into a training exercise for distributing disaster relief supplies.

Trained volunteers may be called to assist with various efforts in the aftermath of a disaster. One of those roles is to set up and manage points of distribution sites. These sites provide residents with items like water, tarps and food if damage from a disaster prevents stores from selling them.

But it's a challenge for the teams to practice the work because you have to have items to hand out, according to Dana Perry, emergency operations coordinator with the city's Division of Emergency Management.



Tuesday, 15 December 2015 00:00

WANdisco Simplifies Replication of Hadoop Data

Replicating data across a wide area network (WAN) is generally considered too expensive and time consuming to be taken lightly by most IT organizations. The rise of Big Data naturally exacerbates that challenge.

For that reason, WANdisco created replication software for Hadoop environments that makes sure all the servers and clusters deployed across multiple date centers are fully readable and writeable, always in sync, and recover automatically from each other. Now WANdisco is extending the capabilities of the core WANdisco Fusion Platform via six plug-in modules that address everything from disaster recovery to replicating Hadoop data into the cloud.

Jim Campigli, chief product officer for WANdisco, says that as Hadoop deployments become more distributed, IT organizations are going to need to actively manage multiple deployments of Hadoop clusters. To address that issue, Campigli says many of them will need to find a way to cost-effectively keep Hadoop clusters synchronized with one another across a WAN.



According to a recent survey of IT decision makers at small and midsize businesses (SMBs), business continuity (including data protection and recovery) was identified as a top IT challenge. So, if your customers are starting to evaluate new disaster recovery solutions to address this challenge, here are some facts to help with their 2016 disaster recovery planning.

1. No. 1 Cause of SMB Downtime Isn't What You Think

While many still think of natural disasters as the top cause of downtime, industry data indicates that hardware failure and human error are far more common. And these micro disasters are a blind spot for SMBs.

In a new report from ActualTech media, 79% of midsize companies (500 to 999 employees) couldn’t recover from a hardware failure in minutes, leaving companies in a “fix first, run later” mode. Read the full 2015 Disaster Recovery as a Service Attitudes & Adoption Report to learn more about your clients’ disaster recovery capabilities.



Several cybersecurity experts are predicting cybercriminals increasingly will target Apple (AAPL) devices in 2016.

And as a result, Apple tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Gemalto.

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



While Microsoft is behind Amazon in public cloud, it has no need to play catch-up inside the enterprise data center. That combined with the second-largest public cloud business puts it in a good position to dominate in hybrid cloud, which is touted overwhelmingly as the cloud strategy of choice among enterprises.

The only other players with existing presence in enterprise data centers similar in scope are VMware and IBM. Of the two, IBM may be the harder one for Microsoft to compete with in hybrid cloud, since it also has made massive investments in public cloud, while the scale of VMware’s public cloud infrastructure is quite small in comparison to the other players.

The hybrid cloud opportunity is enormous. Cloud was the number-three 2016 investment priority for CIOs who participated in Gartner’s latest global survey, following business intelligence and analytics (their first priority) and infrastructure and data center (their second).



Cost of business interruption increasing

Collapsed buildings, damaged factories or destroyed shipping containers: Whenever natural catastrophes or man-made disasters strike, the physical damage is often devastating for companies. However, the less obvious economic impact from business interruption (BI) is often much higher than the cost of the actual physical damage and presents a growing risk to operating in an increasingly interconnected world.

The Global Claims Review 2015: Business Interruption In Focus report from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty notes that BI now typically accounts for a much higher proportion of the overall loss than was the case 10 years ago. The average large BI property insurance claim is now in excess of €2 million, which is 36% higher than the corresponding average property damage claim of just over €1.6 million.

Both severity and frequency of BI claims is increasing, which are mostly caused by non-natural hazards such as human error or technical failure rather than from natural catastrophes. The top 10 causes of BI loss account for over 90% of such claims by value, with fire and explosion being the top cause, accounting for 59% of all BI claims globally. The top ten of causes of business interruption ranked by value were:

  1. Fire and explosion
  2. Storm
  3. Machinery breakdown
  4. Faulty design/material/manufacturing
  5. Strike/riot/vandalism
  6. Cast loss (entertainment)
  7. Flood
  8. Collapse
  9. Human error/operating error
  10. Power interruption

The growth in BI claims is fuelled by increasing interdependencies between companies, the global supply chain and lean production processes,” explains Chris Fischer Hirs, CEO of AGCS. “Whereas in the past a large fire or explosion may have only affected one or two companies, today, losses increasingly impact a number of companies and can even threaten whole sectors globally."

Interdependencies between suppliers can be a big unknown and many businesses are dependent on key suppliers. Business continuity planning should not only be part of a company’s own supply chain management programme, but should also be extended to all of its critical suppliers. It is important that supply chain management is treated as a cross-functional task involving at least functions such as procurement, logistics and finance.

The growing risk to supply chains is something that was also highlighted in the Supply Chain Resilience Report, published by the Business Continuity Institute, which revealed that a tenth of organizations are not aware of who their key suppliers are, a finding that is alarming given that 74% had suffered at least one supply chain disruption during the previous year, and half of these occurred below the tier one supplier.

Monday, 14 December 2015 00:00

Finding DRaaS Nirvana

The world of disaster recovery has made some quantum leaps over the last few years. Cloud computing, in particular, is helping companies of all sizes migrate applications from onsite systems to hosted environments accessible through the Internet.  The cloud is now enabling organizations to safeguard critical resources from potential disruptions--whether they be micro (for example, human error, UPS battery failures or equipment failures) or macro (such as site-wide failures caused by natural disasters).

Historically, companies looking for on-demand (or hot site) failover were required to invest heavily upfront in capital equipment as well as ongoing operational expense (excluding the staff needed to run the operation following a disaster). Based on recent research from Windstream Hosted Solutions, you can expect to spend more than $300,000 over three years to protect a minimum 2 terabytes of data stored on five mission-critical servers.

Worse still, $85,000 of this total expense needs to be paid upfront in capital equipment and infrastructure before your DR environment can even go live. And these costs can be driven significantly higher if you don’t have an IT team versed in DR recovery, leverage VMware extensively, or don’t have an up-to-date and regularly tested recovery plan.



It has been a year since the 2014 “Snovember” blizzard that buried parts of Buffalo, N.Y., in up to seven feet of snow and resulted in 14 deaths. In response to that disaster, Buffalo’s Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Management (OHS/EM) has taken substantial steps to be much better prepared.

Miscommunication or resistance interfered with efforts to clear streets and town officials complained that the county failed to send plows where they were most urgently needed.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz countered that town officials refused to make use of a computer-based system to coordinate the response of crews and also didn’t take part in daily conference calls.

So what went wrong? According to OHS/EM Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, Buffalo and the surrounding county were “overwhelmed” by the sheer scale of this “once in a century” snow emergency. After all, it did dump up to seven inches of snow in parts of the city over seven days. “We have a lot of new equipment and new strategies going forward,” he said.



Microsoft has bought property in Texas where it plans to build a massive data center campus over the course of five years.

As it continues to grow its cloud services business, Microsoft has been expanding the data center capacity to support those services around the world at a rapid pace. Global data center construction has been viewed as an expensive arms race with its chief competitor in cloud, Amazon Web Services, as companies spend billions of dollars to improve the quality of their services to users and increase the amount of locations where they can store their data and virtual infrastructure.

Microsoft announced a multi-site expansion initiative in Europe last month, and in September said it had launched three cloud data centers in India. Amazon in November announced it was preparing to bring online cloud data centers in the UK and South Korea.



After VMware purchased Desktone and Amazon announced their cloud workspace offerings in 2013, industry analysts have been looking forward to the year of "DaaS (Desktop as a Service).” But the tsunami of sales has yet to hit our shores. Now there’s strong speculation in the market that Microsoft will release its own Desktop as a Service (DaaS) product next year. Could Microsoft’s entrance into the market make 2016 the year of DaaS?

If independent numbers aggregated by Clarity Channel Advisors are any indication—and I believe they are—then the answer is absolutely “yes.” What's more, the numbers also give us insight into why Microsoft would push their own DaaS platform. 

Before getting to what the number reveal, here’s some background on where they come from. Hint: it’s mostly from companies like you.



AUSTIN, Texas – Most Texans who have registered for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), following the October severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding, will receive an automated phone call from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

FEMA grants may not cover all damage or property loss. Private insurance and low-interest loans from the SBA are major sources of additional funding for disaster recovery.

The recorded message gives instructions on how to request an application for a low-interest disaster loan. Loans are available to help disaster survivors – including businesses, private non-profits, homeowners and renters with recovery efforts – in their recovery efforts.

Businesses of all sizes and nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

SBA also offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

SBA provides one-on-one assistance to disaster loan applicants at any of the Disaster Recovery Centers in the affected area. Additional information is available online at sba.gov/disaster or by calling SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons may call 800-877-8339.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, SBA encourages survivors to first register with FEMA online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone (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.

The presidential disaster declaration of Nov. 25 makes federal assistance available to eligible individuals and business owners in 16 counties: Bastrop, Brazoria, Caldwell, Cameron, Comal, Galveston, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, Liberty, Navarro, Travis, Willacy and Wilson.

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – Washington’s devastating 2014 and 2015 wildfire seasons put vast areas of the state at risk of erosion and flooding, posing additional dangers to residents and communities.  Today, a collaborative effort among all levels of government is finding ways to reduce that risk.

On Dec. 15-17, 2015, the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will host a three-day workshop in Wenatchee to address topics such as assessments of burned areas in Eastern Washington, efforts already undertaken to reduce threats, analysis of unmet needs, and potential funding sources for new efforts to protect people and infrastructure.

The workshop will bring together partners on the Erosion Threat Assessment/Reduction Team, or ETART, a group first formed following Washington’s Carlton Complex Fire of 2014 and reactivated following the Oct. 20, 2015, federal disaster declaration for this summer’s historic wildfires.

Federal participants on the ETART include FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, among others.

The state and local partners include Washington EMD, the Washington State Conservation Commission, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Okanagan and Whatcom conservation districts.

ETART relies on reports and assessments developed by various Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams. BAER is a process created by the U.S. Forest Service and modified and used by several local teams to determine erosion risks and recommend appropriate treatments.

“When the land is stripped of trees and other vegetation by fire, healthy roots that soak up rainwater are lost,” said Anna Daggett, FEMA’s ETART coordinator. “Even moderate rain on burn scars can cause flash flooding or debris flows that can severely damage infrastructure, homes and businesses downstream.”

After the president issued a major disaster declaration for the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire, FEMA’s Public Assistance program provided about $2.4 million in grants targeted specifically for ETART-identified projects to reduce immediate threats of significant additional damage to improved public or private property. The federal share amounted to 75 percent of the total cost of $3.2 million for these projects. The state and local partners covered 25 percent, or $800,000.

ETART assessments provided important information to EMD and FEMA to justify these grants.

The 2014 measures were able to reduce substantially the effects of the wildfires by clearing culverts and ditches of debris, installing straw wattles to counter erosion, shoring up breached pond dams, and spreading grass seed over vast areas that had burned.

“ETART has shown to be an effective way to address post-fire dangers,’ said Gary Urbas, EMD’s ETART coordinator. “Merging the work of so many experienced partners allows the team to tackle tough problems in our state.”

ETART now will be looking for additional financing streams, including other FEMA and federal programs as well as local and state sources, with the goal of significantly reducing damages resulting from post-fire flooding and erosion in Eastern Washington.

More information about the PA program is available at www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit and on the Washington EMD website at http://mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/disaster-assistance/public-assistance.

Additional information regarding the federal response to the 2015 wildfire disaster, including funds obligated, is available at www.fema.gov/disaster/4243.

The IT industry is in a significant period of transition, and the infrastructure landscape has changed a great deal. There are many options today, and the number of options will grow over the next two years. Having more options can more lead to complexity and potential limitation.  As you assess your options you need more information and context, so you can make the right choices and avoid problems down the road.

Software defined infrastructure (SDI) has made it possible to create these new categories of products.  In addition to traditional rack and blade servers and SAN storage, there is converged infrastructure, hyper-converge infrastructure and now composable infrastructure. As you evaluate these new infrastructure options, one of the most important considerations is choosing the right management software to support these products.  You don’t want to add to complexity by creating islands of infrastructure that need to be managed separately.



Figuring out exactly what any application needed in terms of storage capacity over the long haul was historically more art than science. The trouble was that given the high margin for error, a lot of organizations routinely overprovisioned the amount of storage they required. After all, it’s generally less of a sin to spend too much on storage than it is to see application performance suddenly drop for one unexplained reason or another.

As of this week, however, Tintri says it is looking to take the guesswork out of storage capacity management on its arrays  via the preview of a predictive analytics application the company will make available next year.



For the past month, Chipotle Mexican Grill has been mired in a food safety crisis. An e. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle has sickened at least 52 people in nine states. In a seemingly unrelated outbreak, 120 people in Boston – most of them students at Boston College – also fell ill after contracting norovirus from eating at the quick-service chain.

While food safety and product recall concerns are always a major liability for industry players, the spate of infections poses even more of a threat to Chipotle as the company has built its reputation on the foundation of a healthy, responsible supply chain, boasting its use of fresh produce, meat raised without antibiotics, and a network of hundreds of small, independent farmers. As Bloomberg put it, the company’s biggest strength is suddenly its biggest weakness. Given the chain’s 1,900 locations and the rate at which it has expanded (about 200 new locations every year), its supply chain is already under significant pressure. When an audit found unacceptable practices earlier this year, the company suspended a primary pork supplier, pulling carnitas from the menu at about a third of its restaurants nationwide. The company pointed to its decisive action as proof of its commitment to sustainable agriculture, but many analysts said it highlighted the company’s inherent vulnerability to supply chain issues.

“You can never eliminate all risk, regardless of the size of suppliers, but the program we have put in place since the incident began is designed to eliminate or mitigate risk to a level near zero,” Chris Arnold, the company’s director of communications, told Bloomberg.



(TNS) - Response time from law enforcement in the recent shooting in San Bernardino was around four minutes, according to reports from law enforcement. Both San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies and San Bernardino Police Officers swarmed the site of the shooting in a matter of minutes.

Shasta County law enforcement says the same could not be said if there were a shooting in the North State. Compared to Southern California, Shasta County has substantially fewer law enforcement officers, and depending on where those officers are within the county, response times could be stretched well past four minutes, local law enforcement officials said.

But Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko says his department does not lack the resources to combat an active shooter.



Mecklenburg County will soon offer active shooter training to its 5,300 employees -- a step County Manager Dena Diorio said Thursday is necessary to ensure workers are better prepared should gunfire erupt in a government building.

The measure comes a week after a radicalized husband-wife duo opened fire on a holiday party full of county employees in San Bernardino County, Calif., killing 14 people and wounding 21 others.

The slayings have struck a chord with local government employees, who occasionally face a disgruntled public and co-workers.

"It really brought to the forefront to me that we really need to make sure all the employees ... are prepared if the unthinkable happens here," Diorio said during a morning news conference. "The fact that this was a county building ... with county employees who were working inside really was an indication to me that while we think it could never happen here, you can never be too sure."



Small to medium sized businesses not prepared for a cyber attack

Are small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) prepared for a cyber attack? Not according to a new study by Webroot which indicated that just 37% of IT decision makers surveyed in the US, the UK and Australia believe their organizations to be completely ready to manage IT security and protect against threats. Furthermore, many believe they lack the resources needed to protect themselves against malware attacks.

Are organizations completely ready to stop cyber attacks? highlighted that within the majority of SMBs, IT teams are expected to handle all cyber security management and concerns, with IT employees at nearly a third of companies (32%) having to juggle security along with other IT responsibilities. This leaves employees stretched thin and unable to devote the necessary time to many critical cyber security tasks.

"SMBs play a pivotal role in helping drive the economies of all the countries polled, but past experiences have taught them they face an uphill battle when it comes to cyber security," said George Anderson, director of product marketing at Webroot.

Defending a company from cyber attacks is inherently challenging, and made even more so by budgetary constraints. The vast majority of SMBs do not have security budgets remotely comparable to those of large (and previously breached) organizations such as J.P. Morgan, Target and Anthem. In fact, according to the study, nearly 60% of respondents think their business is more prone to cyber attacks because they have too few resources for maintaining their defences.

It is important that all organizations have plans in place to deal with a potential cyber attack as the latest Horizon Scan Report published by the Business Continuity Institute revealed that they are the number one threat according to business continuity professionals, with 82% of respondents to a survey expressing concern at the prospect of one occurring.

IT decision makers can point to specific areas in which they feel underprepared. According to the survey, almost half (48%) think their company is vulnerable to insider threats, such as employees. Following that, 45% believe they are unprepared for unsecured internal and external networks, such as public wifi, and 40% for unsecured endpoints, such as computers and mobile devices.

Friday, 11 December 2015 00:00

The Need for [Data] Speed

Everyone knows the fable of the tortoise and the hare. But in business, forget the moral of the story. When it comes to file and data delivery methodologies, companies will always bet on the hare, never the tortoise. Especially when business relies on software solutions to improve the speed and accuracy of data-driven decisions and confident execution ahead of the competition, this only makes sense. On this point, forward-thinking organizations constantly seek better approaches to move and manage information throughout integrated systems and to geographically disperse endpoints across complex business networks in the fastest possible way.

Why Speed Matters

In theory, faster data movement means business moves faster. Increasing the efficacy of business processes and operations through accelerated transfer speed is an effective pathway to increasing turnaround. That, in theory, spells a quicker ROI coming from new software or technology designed to facilitate rapid data movement.

High-speed file transfer signifies an optimal capacity to rapidly send large files to customers and other trading partners under strict time mandates. After all, time is money. In today’s business, if the data wasn’t important enough to get wherever it’s going quickly, it probably didn’t need to be sent at all.



Internet-based technology and services are expanding with such speed that security has been left behind. As the Internet evolves at an untethered pace, hackers are iterating just as rapidly as the innovation. This has left us with a technological void that is being all too easily exploited, leading to a lack of clarity on how to effectively mitigate the risk from a corporate governance perspective.

On November 10th, federal prosecutors announced charges relating to last year’s JPMorgan Chase hack. In what it referred to as, “the largest cyber hacking scheme ever uncovered,” prosecutors detailed how hackers stole information from over 100 million individuals and hacked into over 12 different organizations, seven of which were financial institutions.

“The breaches of these firms were breathtaking in scope and in size,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.  “The conduct alleged in this case showcases a brave new world of hacking for profit.”



In the blink of an eye, the year is almost over. In looking back at what it meant for the cybersecurity industry, 2015 was predictably busy. We saw big acquisitions, including those of EMC by Dell and Websense by Raytheon. Rapid7 and Sophos both went public. Large funding rounds happened almost weekly, with the sector raising more than $2.3 billion in the first nine months.

Cybersecurity spending increased sharply and should cap out at about $75 billion by year’s end, according to leading analyst estimates. While the U.S. House and Senate continued to debate cybersecurity legislation, government agencies amassed a whopping security budget of $12.5 billion, collectively.

There were unforgettable breaches, like Anthem, BlueCross BlueShield and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, although the biggest headlines went to the Ashley Madison breach. There also were countless daily reports of breaches due to “sophisticated attacks” and resulting losses from companies whose infrastructure — despite all the spending — remained woefully vulnerable. Even President Obama stepped into the fray, cementing an agreement with China in the hope of limiting the scope of nation-state hacking.



Economic impact from business interruption (BI) is often much higher than the cost of physical damage in a disaster and is a growing risk to companies worldwide, according to a new report from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

Its analysis of more than 1,800 large BI claims from 68 countries between 2010 and 2014 found that business interruption now typically accounts for a much higher proportion of the overall loss than was the case 10 years ago.

Both severity and frequency of BI claims is increasing, AGCS warns.

The average large BI property insurance claim is now in excess of €2 million (€2.2 million: $2.4 million), some 36 percent higher than the corresponding average property damage claim of just over €1.6 million ($1.8 million), the global claims review found.



SnapLogic, a company that helps connect data from legacy applications to the cloud or to a centralized internal data lake, announced a $37.5 million round today.

Investors include Microsoft and Silver Lake Waterman, the growth capital arm of Silver Lake along with existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners and Triangle Peak Partners. Today’s investment brings the total to $96.3 million.

SnapLogic essentially acts as a translator for data (or streams of data) moving to the cloud or into a data lake inside an enterprise, SnapLogic CEO Gaurav Dhillon explained. “We have over 400 snaps — connectors or adaptors to various systems like Workday, Concur, SAP, Twitter, Tableau and machine protocols,” he explained.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Five Myths about Hyperconverged Infrastructure

As hyperconverged infrastructure emerges as one of the favorite new platforms underneath applications running in enterprise data centers, a number of myths have emerged about it. Because it is new – hyperconverged infrastructure didn’t exist two years ago – it’s natural that many people don’t quite understand it and that myths perpetuate.

Gartner analysts Andrew Butler and George Weiss outlined the most widespread myths about these systems in a presentation at the market research firm’s data center management summit this week in Las Vegas. Here are some of the highlights:



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Why Hyperconverged Infrastructure is so Hot

LAS VEGAS – Hyperconverged infrastructure did not exist as a concept two or three years ago. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing methods for deploying IT in the data center, as IT departments look for ways to adjust to their new role in business and new demands that are placed on them.

Gartner expects it to go from zero in 2012 to a $5 billion market by 2019, becoming the category leader by revenue in pre-integrated full-stack infrastructure products. The category also includes reference architectures, integrated infrastructure, and integrated stacks.

“Hyperconvergence simply didn’t exist two years ago,” Gartner analyst Andrew Butler said. “Near the end of this year, it’s an industry in its own right.” But, he added, the industry has a lot of maturation ahead of it, which means far from all vendors who are in the space today will still be in it a few years from now.



Target (TGT) has reached a $39.4 million settlement to resolve claims from banks and credit unions related to the retailer's Dec. 2013 data breach.

And as a result, Target tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by VTech, JD Wetherspoon and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). 

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



Google is launching a new privacy tool for Google Apps Unlimited users today. The new Data Loss Prevention feature will make it easier for businesses to make sure that their employees don’t mistakenly (or not so mistakenly) email certain types of sensitive information to people outside of the company.

Businesses that subscribe to this plan for their employees now have the option to turn on this tool and select one of the new predefined rules that, for example, automatically reject or quarantine any email that contains a social security or credit card number. Businesses can choose from these predefined rules and also set up custom detectors (a confidential project keyword, for example). Google says its working on adding more predefined rules, too.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Storage in the New Data Economy

Storage is available at a fraction of the cost of just a few years ago, but the enterprise needs so much of it these days that the overall impact on operating budgets is largely a wash.

In fact, it seems that the adage “Build it and they will come” is no longer appropriate for the storage farm. In today’s world, “Build it and they’ll want more” is more accurate.

The proof is in the numbers. Despite falling prices, worldwide factory revenues for storage systems grew 2.8 percent in the third quarter to top $9.1 billion, according to IDC. Total capacity was up a stunning 31.5 percent to 33.1 exabytes, again in the third quarter alone. A key driver is the rise of hyperscale infrastructure, which accounted for 23.4 percent of server revenues, abetted by on-server solutions that gained nearly 10 percent. The largest share of the market (more than half) still went to traditional external storage arrays, but it is telling that this segment’s sales dropped by more than 3 percent compared to 3Q 2014.



The need for greater energy efficiency and more capacity has put cooling systems high on the list of priorities in 2016 for IT, facilities, and data center managers in North America, according to new research from Emerson Network Power. Results show that before the end of next year, more than half of all data center cooling systems will be upgraded, according to Emerson.

That’s on top of the 40 percent of respondents that already did so in the past five years and another 20 percent in the process of doing so. While many are upgrading voluntarily, a combined 39 percent said the need to meet state energy codes or Energy Star LEED requirements were the catalysts.

The size of the data center seems to matter as 62 percent of the upgrades will occur in data centers under 10,000 square feet and 18 percent in those larger than 50,000 square feet. Inefficient cooling systems are an especially widespread problem in smaller data centers.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Where Will Your Data Center Be in 20 Years?

John M. Hawkins is VP of Corporate Marketing and Communications for vXchnge.

Twenty years in technology may seem more like 100 years when compared to other industries. In just one year a company’s landscape can change significantly. Think about how businesses scale and operate on a functional level, then add in changing technologies along with the exponential increase of data and dynamic content needed to drive business.

Will your data center strategy survive 10, or even 20 years? Will the company grow like your key stakeholders expect? If so, you may need multiple data centers, strategically located, just to handle your requirements. On the other hand, your CFO might have a more conservative estimate and is responsible for how much is actually spent on a data center(s).

In addition to size, you have to consider whether your data center(s) might become obsolete in 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.



(TNS) - Federal disaster officials warned Tuesday that El Niño-fueled storms in California could inflict millions of dollars in damage this winter — from mud-soaked homes to broken levees to downed electrical lines — and said they’re taking steps to minimize the toll.

A new report by FEMA details the havoc that ensued during the strongest El Niños of the past, including the 1982-83 event that caused 36 deaths, with the aim of honing current efforts to brace for landslides, flooding and outages.

This year’s El Niño is ranked to be among the three biggest in half a century. The weather pattern is marked by above-average ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific that, when really warm, tend to drive moisture toward California.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Mass Alert System Officially Launched

(TNS) - After months of training and set up, Baldwin County, Ga., emergency officials are ready to launch a new mass alert system, created to notify residents of emergency situations via phone and email.

In January, local EMA Director and Baldwin Fire Chief Troy Reynolds addressed the Baldwin County Commissioners about an Emergency System Grant application that would provide an emergency notification system for residents on a wide range of emergency situations that arise in Milledgeville and Baldwin County.

In August, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) announced that Baldwin County was awarded a $17,012 Hazard Mitigation Grant for its Mass Alert Enhancement project.



Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Is 2016 the Year of Government as an API?

The new year will mark the dawn of the third decade of e-government. It comes as citizen and business expectations of government are being shaped by their digital lives — that is, the way they find information, buy things and request services in the wider economy.

Think of the companies that connect with you regularly in a rich and contextual way and there are probably application program interfaces (APIs) working below the presentation layer, connecting two or more discrete apps to create a better, fuller, more rewarding experience for the person looking to get stuff done.

Moving money and permissions reflect much of what government does, including core functions such as providing public assistance, licensing and the full spectrum of regulation. These are more effectively done in a bit-based world than an atom-based one. Open data makes these government actions more transparent, while throwing off data exhaust that is fueling the creation of useful things through the fledgling civic startup space and its nonprofit counterparts in the civic hacking space.



Disasters can take many forms from weather events to database corruptions. CloudEndure, a cloud-based disaster recovery service, announced a $7 million investment today led by Indian consulting firm Infosys and previous investor Magma Venture Partners.

Today’s investment brings the total to just over $12 million.

At first blush, Infosys may seem like an odd partner, a traditional consulting firm investing in a cloud service provider, but the company was looking for a couple of different investors for this round, CloudEndure’s VP of business development, Gonen Stein told TechCrunch.



Wednesday, 09 December 2015 00:00

How the Colo Industry is Changing

LAS VEGAS – The business of providing colocation data center services is changing in numerous ways and for different reasons. Customers are getting smarter about what they want from their data center providers; enterprises use more and more cloud services, and the role of colocation data centers as hubs for cloud access is growing quickly as a result; technology trends like the Internet of Things and DCIM are impacting the industry, each in its own way.

Some of the trends are having a profound effect on the competitive makeup of the market, where even some of the largest players are making big strategic changes and spending lots of money on acquisitions to adjust to the new world they are doing business in.

Bob Gill, a research director at Gartner, outlined eight of the most consequential current trends in the colocation industry at the research and consulting giant’s annual data center operations summit here this week:



If you don't want to send the wrong message, watch how you punctuate your texts. Text messages that end with a period are perceived to be less sincere than messages that do not, according to newly published research from Binghamton University. This finding has interesting implications for crisis communications messages.

A team of researchers led by Celia Klin, associate professor of psychology and associate dean at Binghamton University's Harpur College, recruited 126 Binghamton undergraduates, who read a series of exchanges that appeared either as text messages or as handwritten notes. In the 16 experimental exchanges, the sender's message contained a statement followed by an invitation phrased as a question. The receiver's response was an affirmative one-word response (Okay, Sure, Yeah, Yup). There were two versions of each experimental exchange: one in which the receiver's response ended with a period and one in which it did not end with any punctuation. Based on the participants' responses, text messages that ended with a period were rated as less sincere than text messages that did not end with a period.



On 7th December 2015, the Luxembourg presidency of the Council reached an informal agreement with the European Parliament on common rules to strengthen network and information security across the EU.

The new directive will set out cybersecurity obligations for operators of essential services and digital service providers. These operators will be required to take measures to manage cyber risks and report major security incidents, but the two categories will be subject to different regimes.

Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg's Prime Minister and Minister for Communications and the Media, and President of the Council, said: "This is an important step towards a more coordinated approach in cybersecurity across Europe. All actors, public and private, will have to step up their efforts, in particular by increased cooperation between member states and enhanced security requirements for infrastructure operators and digital services".

The directive lists a number of critical sectors in which operators of essential services are active, such as energy, transport, finance and health. Within these sectors, member states will identify the operators providing essential services, based on clear criteria laid down in the directive. The requirements and supervision will be stronger for these operators than for providers of digital services. This reflects the degree of risk that any disruption to their services may pose to society and the economy.



It’s been said that in the near future the enterprise won’t need to worry about hardware – data productivity will be driven by software-defined architectures sitting atop dumb, commodity boxes.

It’s also been said that before too long the enterprise won’t have to worry about architectures or middleware either – just push everything into the cloud and let someone else deal with service provisioning.

And now we have knowledge workers accessing enterprise resources through their own preferred client devices, easing up on the requirement to supply everyone with a PC.



Pharmaceutical companies operate with a singular objective: bring drugs to market. This is how they profit, how they ensure that their products help the most people, and how they maintain the resources to continue innovating.

The lifecycle of drug development can be complex and onerous, despite improvements to the regulatory approval process over the past several years. Now, a trend sweeping the industry is forcing many pharmaceutical companies to decide under which circumstances they’re willing to divert resources from their mission of helping the masses.

Expanded Access, or “Compassionate Use,” refers to the use of an experimental drug not yet approved by the FDA to treat a critically ill patient outside of a clinical trial. The FDA received more than 1,800 requests for access to experimental drugs last year and, over the last five years, it has approved 99% of these requests.



Nir Polak is CEO and Co-founder of Exabeam.

There’s one thing every heavily publicized data breach has in common: It wasn’t uncovered until it was too late. The breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in February was still active more than three months after security workers learned of it. In fact, many of them have another thing in common, preventative security measures weren’t enough to stop them.

Prevention has always been a major component of security. Firewalls stand at the perimeter of sensitive, private networks and attempt to keep every malicious file out. As the OPM breach and countless other disasters prove, though, it’s just not enough. More than 21 million records were compromised before the breach was detected in the first place. Prevention-focused initiatives have a place in cybersecurity, but there needs to be more. As we move into 2016 and confront new threats, detection needs to become an equally significant component of enterprise IT security standards. Like so many other parts of the enterprise, the answer to improving the approach to network security and eliminating disasters comes in the form of analytics derived from big data.



More organizations across a number of industries are looking at different ways to control storage and their data. Traditional storage solutions still have their place, but new methods are allowing IT shops a lot more flexibility in how they design their storage solutions, and flash is one of the most popular options. So is it really catching on? Is the world really going to solid-state?

Let’s examine one use case that’s been seeing a resurgence in the modern enterprise: VDI.

In the past, technologies like VDI were seen as heavy fork-lift projects which required time, resources, dedicated infrastructure, and big budgets. That has all changed with advancements within network, compute, and storage. Today, strong VDI offerings provide five-nines availability and greater scalability, as well as non-disruptive operations. With this in mind, it’s important to note that for a truly successful VDI deployment, all-flash storage should be part of the change in the VDI ecosystem. Ultimately, this will enable much higher performance for end users.

Often times, with sub-millisecond performance user experience with all-flash storage in the background is even better than the performance they had with physical devices and definitely better than VDI with spinning disks or even hybrid storage solutions. This type of technology has become one of the big change factors which now enable successful VDI deployments.



Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

MapR Streams: Big Data Analysis In Real-Time

MapR is again beefing up its real-time efforts for big data with the release of MapR Streams. Here's how it works.

Big data vendors are all trying to give their customers something called "situational awareness" -- delivering systems that provide real-time insight into sales, transactions, and other data. MapR, one of the top three Apache Hadoop distribution companies (Cloudera and Hortonworks are the other two), will get closer to that goal with the release of MapR Streams.

The company describes the technology as a real-time "global event streaming system," which will be delivered as part of its MapR Converged Data Platform in early 2016.



DuPont Fabros Technology, the wholesale data center provider that leases lots of space and power capacity to the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo, is expanding into Toronto, a growing data center market the company says is underserved by data center providers.

The geographic expansion is part of a broad series of strategic changes the technology-focused real estate investment trust is making.

With a new CEO on board – former NTT exec Christopher Eldredge took over the helm from DFT’s founding CEO Hossein Fateh in February – the company is now providing more power density and infrastructure redundancy options than it has before and offering full-service leases in addition to triple-net leases, which used to be its only available option. It has also stopped pursuing retail colocation business, an initiative it announced last year, choosing instead to double down on its traditional bread-and-butter wholesale data center model.



Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

2016’s top information security threats

Troy Gill, has analysed threat trends over the last 12 months and offers his perspective of what lies ahead...

Evolving malware

More sophisticated malware will continue to defeat detection by hiding in common services and using non-traditional forms of communication such as TOR or peer to peer.

In tandem, recent highly effective social engineering ploys, such as those utilised in ransomware, will continue to terrorise businesses.

For all malware infections, prevention is definitely better than cure although, I personally don’t see a means to impeding infections 100 percent of the time. However, you can shrink the attack surface significantly by the following:



IT security flaws are now myriad, but these four stuck out like sore thumbs at the recent Black Hat Europe 2015 conference on security. Their distinguishing feature for the most part was the massive scale on which hacking could be perpetrated, either because of the number or the size of the systems affected.



Last year, 'big data' was THE buzz word. And while big data is still buzzing about, marketers today are using the term more frequently as part of their everyday conversations, at least to some extent. It is clear that big data is no longer just a snazzy new word to use when marketers talk shop, but rather a concept that has proven its worth.

However, before running head-first into the big data leagues, marketers must first pay attention to the data they already have and the rich data assets available from third-party providers. When building a house, you must have a strong foundation before choosing your granite countertops, paint colors, and flooring. The same goes for your customer data. Before learning what your customers are doing on social media, you first need to know basic information such as where they live, their email address, phone number, and other important details. By then layering new types of data onto your current customer profile, you can build a robust, in-the-moment customer picture and know what to sell them - before they even realize they are ready to purchase.

While big data certainly has its place in the overall picture, let’s take a look at all the types of data you should be collecting to really make an impact on your bottom line.



Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

Enter the Cloud with Your Digital Eyes Open

The enterprise is clearly poised for a dramatic increase in the use of cloud infrastructure for its standard workloads, and even some mission-critical functions as well. But concerns still linger, most of them related to the lack of visibility that occurs once data and applications cross the firewall.

According to a recent survey by Netwrix, more than 65 percent of enterprises are still concerned with security and 40 percent are worried about loss of data control in the cloud. Both of these issues, the company says, stem from the fact that organizations cannot “see” what is happening on third-party infrastructure and therefore cannot tell if they are receiving adequate protection or even the full levels of service and support they are paying for. In all likelihood, organizations will increase their dependence on the cloud regardless, but migrations would move even faster if functions like visibility and auditing of cloud agreements were improved.

Help may be on the way in the form of new visibility services, however. Intel recently announced that its new Snap data telemetry framework has been released as an open source platform, allowing enterprises to improve visibility across data center and cloud infrastructure. The system aims to improve workload scheduling and management by harnessing the full data environment under a unified platform that simplifies collection, ingestion and analysis telemetry data while supporting both machine learning and cluster control of underlying infrastructure capabilities. In this way, the enterprise is able to maintain control of its environment even as it scales into the cloud or changes dynamically to suit shifting operational needs.



Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

Big Data: How Industries Will Benefit In 2016

Demand for big data expertise across a range of industries saw significant growth over the past fiscal year. This is because the majority of industries have seen how dramatically their marketing strategies improve when they capture and analyze data about buyers and suppliers, products and services, as well as consumer preferences and intent. 

Retail Industry
By using big data, the retail industry has huge potential for better understanding and serving their consumers. Not only is big data a cost-effective way to gain insight of current in-store/online consumer trends and consumer behavior, it enables retailers to effectively target messaging, product creation and supply chain planning via Intelligent Analytics.

The volume and quality of available data social-network conversations, Internet purchases, and location-specific smart phone interactions has dramatically spiked. It only makes sense, then, that retailers retailing industry would adopt data-driven customization. According to a study from the Mckinsey Global Institute, retailers who embrace big data analytics yield a 60 percent boost in margins and a 1 percent improvement in labor productivity.



Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

Backup Data Backstabbed

Have you given much thought to the security of your backed-up data? If you haven’t, perhaps it’s time you do, especially in light of new research from Palo Alto Networks.

Palo Alto Networks released a white paper today that takes a close look at how bad guys are able to access backup data stored on local media, like computers, coming from mobile devices. The company identified more than 700 samples of six Trojan, adware and HackTool families infecting and hiding in both Windows and Mac operating systems. The malware has been around for at least five years. As the white paper explained:

Mobile security and forensics practitioners have been aware of the technique we describe as ‘BackStab’ for years. Rather than attacking a phone directly, BackStab involves accessing private information that was extracted from the phone through a regular backup routine and stored on a traditional desktop or laptop computer. Law enforcement officials and jealous lovers around the world have used simple tools to capture and extract private phone information from computers to which they have gained access. This includes text messages, photos, geographic location data, and almost any other type of information stored on a mobile device.



When we think of mobility, our first inclination might be to look at the hand-held device in our pocket. But that view is too limited. The concept of enterprise mobility must now extend into a strategic conversation involving the end-user, how content is consumed, how efficiently it’s being delivered, security capabilities, as well as the end-point device. Most of all, real mobility solutions must directly incorporate a good infrastructure strategy. The strategy should revolve around the company’s ability to enable and empower the workforce, giving them greater freedom of access to information and resources.

As users evolve and workloads get more complex, we’ll see an increase in data usage as well as the kinds of devices accessing the modern enterprise data center. Consider this from the latest Cisco Mobile Forecast and Cloud Index reports:

  • Global mobile data traffic will increase nearly tenfold between 2014 and 2019.
  • Because of increased usage of smartphones, smartphones will reach three-quarters of mobile data traffic by 2019.
  • By 2019, mobile-connected tablets will generate nearly double the traffic generated by the entire global mobile network in 2014.
  • Globally, data created by Internet-of-Everything devices will be 277 times higher than the amount of data being transmitted to data centers from end-user devices and 47 times higher than total data center traffic by 2018.

With all of this in mind, how do we create an enterprise infrastructure strategy that’s capable of keeping up? Where do we deploy data center components which directly enable enterprise mobility? To create real-world enterprise mobility, we have to enable our users, the data center, and the overall business. Here are some things to think about when building an infrastructure that supports greater levels of mobility:



(TNS) - Thousands of Long Island homes damaged by superstorm Sandy are still not covered by flood insurance, leaving much of the region dependent on government aid if another catastrophe hits, a Newsday analysis of federal data has found.

Since the 2012 storm, the number of properties in Nassau and Suffolk counties covered by flood insurance has increased 9 percent, or by roughly 7,600 policies, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That rise, however, falls well short of covering all 26,500 Long Island households that were uninsured when Sandy hit and received FEMA disaster assistance.

“There are people on Long Island who should be buying flood insurance and aren’t,” said Amy Bach, who runs United Policyholders, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps homeowners file insurance claims after disasters. “They are still depending on the government to bail them out.”



Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

U.S. P&C Rates Continue to Decline

As 2015 draws to a close, U.S. property and casualty insurers continue to adjust rates downward. The composite rate index for all P/C business placed in the United States was down 3% in November 2015, compared to down 2% in October, according to MarketScout.

“There are very few signs of rate increases. The only coverage with seemingly steady rate increases is cyber liability,” Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout said in a statement. “Underwriters don’t have a lot of data to use for pricing cyber so we expect pricing to be inconsistent in the near term.”

By coverage classification, property, business interruption, business owners’, inland marine, auto, umbrella, and crime coverages all adjusted down an additional 1% from the prior month. General liability and workers compensation were down an additional 2% compared to last month.



Russell Senesac works in Data Center Business Development for Schneider Electric.

Twenty years ago, data centers were looked at through a Wizard of Oz tinted lens. They were a big, powerful and expensive means for data storage, but few business stakeholders outside the IT department really understood their impact – or knew what was going on behind the curtain. The digital revolution flipped this reality on its head. Today, data centers are no longer bulky cost centers, but drivers of business, enabling the data processing and availability modern enterprises need to maintain continuity and gain competitive advantage.


The Importance of Data

Data is everywhere: it is created by nearly everything – tollbooths, online transactions, instant messaging, telephone calls – and it has become earth’s most abundant digital resource. In fact, every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. As a result, data has transformed into businesses’ greatest asset and competitive differentiator. Organizations able to quickly and effectively harness, manage and analyze data that has the opportunity to enhance customer interactions, offer more strategic solutions, evolve their services, meet increasing consumer demands, and reap huge financial and reputational rewards. As data grows more precious, data center processing power has been placed under a growing amount of scrutiny. As real-time data transmission becomes the norm rather than the exception, delays in processing can be significantly detrimental to a business’ ability to innovate.



Government is getting smarter. That’s one undeniable conclusion from a look back at the big news coming out of public-sector IT in 2015. As government assets go, leaders now realize the tremendous value of the multitude of information they hold: Indiana analyzed 5 billion rows of data to tackle its high infant mortality rate, while Chicago is using a number of data sets to prioritize restaurant inspections in the city. And others are still getting their feet wet in the analytics game. Detroit’s first open data portal launched this year, featuring more than 250 data sets.

Cloud technology continues to transform, with adoption rates ramping up across all levels of government, especially as agencies grow more confident in cloud security. Criminal Justice Information Services certifications for Microsoft in a growing number of states signal a sea change even for public safety agencies, traditionally the most reluctant to make the switch. But as police body camera programs take off in more and more jurisdictions, storage needs increase exponentially and the cloud is fast becoming an important part of the storage solution.

2015 saw more movement toward smart cities. High-profile support came in September with $160 million from the White House aimed at boosting R&D and smart city/Internet of Things projects. Carnegie Mellon University, for one, is equipping its campus with sensors, with Google’s help, and plans to eventually saturate Pittsburgh with the technology. San Francisco’s IoT network will be the largest in the U.S., and its partner plans to build nine more across the country.



Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

Disruptive Change to Continue in 2016

U.S. property-casualty insurers face another year of disruptive change in 2016, according to a new report by Ernst & Young.

In its 2016 U.S. Property-Casualty Insurance Outlook, EY says that digital technologies such as social media, analytics and telematics will continue to transform the market landscape, recalibrating customer expectations and opening new ways to reach and acquire clients.

The rise of the sharing economy, in which assets like cars and homes can be shared, is requiring carriers to rethink traditional insurance models.

An outlook for slower economic growth, along with increased M&A and greater regulatory uncertainty, will set the stage for innovative firms to capitalize on an industry in flux in 2016.



AUSTIN, Texas – Renters displaced from their homes or apartments by the October storms may be eligible for federal disaster assistance, which may include grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

FEMA grants for eligible renters may include funds to cover the cost of renting another place to live.

Renters may also be eligible for Other Needs Assistance (ONA). ONA grants help survivors with uninsured or underinsured expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster, including:

  • Child care
  • Heating fuels
  • Moving and storage expenses
  • Disaster-related funeral and burial expenses
  • Disaster-related dental and medical expenses, such as wheelchairs, canes and prescriptions
  • Repair or replacement of personal property lost or damaged in the storm, including furniture and appliances, as well as job-related tools and equipment required by the self-employed
  • Primary vehicles, approved second vehicles and modified vehicles damaged by the disaster

SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to help renters repair or replace disaster-damaged personal property, including automobiles.  Survivors may be eligible to borrow up to $40,000, depending on their losses.

Texans in the following counties may register for disaster assistance for damage or losses sustained during the period Oct. 22 to Oct. 31: Bastrop, Brazoria, Caldwell, Comal, Galveston, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, Liberty, Navarro, Travis, Willacy and Wilson.

Survivors can apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone (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.

# # #

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. 

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

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

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

Fight the Flu: Get a Vax!


As cold weather sets in, clothing layers increase, scarves are pulled tighter, and noses become redder. This time of year can also bring the dreaded running nose, scratchy throat, cough, body aches, and headache of the seasonal flu. As you fretfully try to protect yourself from the winter season with warmer clothes and hot drinks, are you also taking steps to protect yourself from the bigger threat of the flu?

Flu season is coming, are you ready to fight the flu?

An annual flu vaccine is the first and most important step to preventing the flu. Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes 2 weeks for protection from a flu vaccine to develop in the body, so you should get vaccinated soon after the flu vaccine becomes available.

While you may be stocking up on hand sanitizer, avoiding crowded events, and distancing yourself from friends or acquaintances who let out a sniffle or two, if you haven’t gotten your seasonal flu vaccine, you haven’t taken the most important step to protect yourself from the flu.

Getting your flu vaccine is easy, having the flu is not.

Everywhere from your doctor’s office to your local pharmacy, and even the news and social media networks, are sharing important reminders about getting the flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine can take just a few minutes of your day. Getting the flu, however, can put you out of work or school for days, sometimes weeks. Taking a little time for your health now could save you from missing important events, work deadlines, or opportunities in the future.

Do your part for those you love.

When you get a flu vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself from the flu, but you are also protecting the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness. As the holiday season approaches, you may be around young children, older family members, or others who have a high risk of contracting the flu or developing complications from the flu.

The flu is a serious illness that can have life-threatening complications for some people. The flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths each year. Some people, such as older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Get your flu shot to protect yourself and those around you. Do your part to protect the important people in your life.

Avoid germs during flu season.

While getting a yearly vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against flu, there are additional steps you can take to avoid germs and the flu. Here are a few tips:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Keep your germs to yourself.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

Don’t know where to get your flu shot?

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, and college health centers, by many employers, and even some schools. You don’t have to see your doctor to get a flu shot! There are plenty of locations available that provide vaccinations.

This Vaccine Locator is a useful tool for finding vaccine in your area.

Don’t wait until you are lying sick in bed to wish you had gotten a flu shot. There are steps you can take to prevent the flu and protect those around you. Get your flu vaccine today, and remind someone you care about to do the same. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine!

Although big data can offer clear-cut benefits to some organizations, others may be far better suited to utilizing already existing information – according to a study by Harvard Business Review entitled 'You may not need big data after all.'

Already businesses have been adapting to changing data trends. Firms know to look beyond their internal data – ‘small data’ – as it is not sufficient enough to provide valuable business insights. In our research, we found that half of business executives say that they spend more than 10 hours a week seeking business insights derived from external data.

However, not all of the data sourced from external research is actually useful. Our Insight Crisis report reveals the damage that inefficient and unguided research can have on an organization, with ineffective research predicted to cost the UK economy £14 billion a year – hardly small change.



Monday, 07 December 2015 00:00

Big Data To Stop Global Warming

Global warming is the biggest threat to the world at the moment. Terrorism, wars and financial meltdown may seem like the biggest single issues, but the reality is that these are all elements that can be recovered from, whereas global warming is the cause of irreversible damage.

Global leaders over the past decade have had countless discussions to try and find the best ways to reduce carbon emissions, although given the power of the many of the fossil fuel and other polluting companies, some governments have found their hands have been tied. Even today, when faced with a mountain of evidence many in the US still don't believe that global warming exists and report it as such in popular media. As the country with the second largest total amount of CO2 released every year, it is a concern.

However, it is the role of everybody to show those who don't believe that global warming is an issue, that the impact it could have would be devastating. One of the key ways to do this is through data and modelling.



Monday, 07 December 2015 00:00

Saving IT Budgets from the Legacy Quagmire

It’s a perennial dilemma in IT shops everywhere: So much of the IT budget is spent on keeping aging systems running that the wherewithal to invest in new, transformative technologies too often remains frustratingly elusive. So when an opportunity arose to gain some insight on how to deal with that dilemma, I jumped on it.

That insight is being shared by CGI, a global IT services and consulting firm headquartered in Montreal. CGI recently conducted a survey of nearly 1,000 of its client executives worldwide, the findings of which were included in a white paper that discusses how companies can invest in what CGI calls “step up” activities that achieve market differentiation, while maintaining the “keep up” activities that are core to running the business.

I discussed all of this in an interview last week with João Baptista, president of Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe operations at CGI, and I began the interview by citing one of the key findings of the survey: Even though business executives increasingly view IT as a means of business transformation, only 18 percent of IT budgets are allocated toward transformational investment, with the remaining 82 percent used for maintaining existing business operations. I asked Baptista for his thoughts on why that’s the case, and he said it all goes back to the legacy issue:



Having a single standard data center design whose delivery can be honed to perfection by replicating it over and over has its advantages for a developer, but it doesn’t necessarily work for every customer, and if the developer wants to branch out, change is inevitable.

Compass Datacenters, the Dallas-based wholesale data center provider co-founded by Digital Realty veteran Chris Crosby in 2012, started with the idea of delivering a standard 1.2 MW all-included single-tenant data center anywhere the customer wants. Now, three years later and several completed projects under its belt, the company is changing the design, so it can provide more capacity under one roof.

The point is to be able to serve customers Compass hasn’t been able to serve before, Crosby explained. One example would be large cloud service providers that usually need a lot of capacity in a short period of time.

Compass has already had some success in the cloud market with its first-generation design. It has built data centers for Windstream Communications – which recently sold its data center business to TierPoint – and for CenturyLink.





Resilience is a journey, not a destination. It is a dynamic characteristic because every organization is in a constant state of change, as are the environment in which it operates and its direct and indirect inter-dependencies with other organizations. An Organization may pursue resilience but may only be demonstrably resilient to a particular disruptive event at a moment in time. You can find a definition of Organizational Resilience from BS 65000 is in my first blog in this series.
So, how do you measure resilience? This is an important question. If you cannot measure its benefits then making the business case for a resilience programme will be challenging. Quantifying Return On Investment requires some form of measurement to show how the investment input results in valuable output. But how do you measure the unmeasurable?

By: Ben J. Carnevale

If your organization produces and provides testing and calibration results directly to your customer, then ISO 17025 is a subject most likely already being addressed by your internal quality management system and/or risk management team(s).

However, if your organization is just beginning to study, evaluate or pursue the delivery of testing and calibration results to its customer-base, then our staff would hope that this posting would provide at least a general overview of ISO 17025 information, what benefits your organization would receive if accredited to ISO 17025, and assist in trying to determine whether or not being accredited to ISO 17025 makes sense at this time for your organization.

So far, it seems that the ISIS attackers who carried out the November 13 terror attacks in Paris planned their attack “in plain sight” and did not use sophisticated means of encrypted communications to coordinate their attacks. The Paris attacks were traditional, physical attacks using guns and explosives, not cyber attacks. Nonetheless, officials in Western nations are seizing on the Paris attacks to promote cybersecurity measures that include censorship, weakened security standards, and militarization of the Internet. Here’s a run-down of what they have proposed.

In France, legislation that extended a temporary state of emergency for three months included “powers to carry out searches of seized devices and to block websites.” The new powers allow authorities not only to search the contents of seized devices, but also any online accounts accessible from the seized device. Additionally, the French Interior Ministry can now immediately block websites it claims are “promoting terrorism or inciting terrorist acts.” Such blocking used to require a 24 hour delay. Some have even pushed to make it illegal to visit any website the government deems to be connected to terrorism.

In the U.K., George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced in a speech at the General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), that country’s equivalent of the National Security Agency (NSA), that the U.K. plans to double spending on cybersecurity. That spending will go, in part, to building a National Cyber Centre under the GCHQ. It will also fund initiatives to train students in computing, cybersecurity in particular, promote creation of cybersecurity start-ups, and improve cyber defenses at companies.



Yesterday, Cisco announced a new software release for ACI. If you are looking to automate IT, or build out your cloud environment, and want to do so in an open fashion that provides a lot of flexibility – then you’ll probably be interested.

Why? The new ACI release:

  1. Makes managing and securing your cloud environment easier;
  2. Provides openness, expanding customer choice; and
  3. Delivers operational flexibility



Cloud infrastructure providers appear to have found a way to convince enterprises to put some of their more sensitive data and applications into the cloud, and that way is linking customers’ servers to their own with direct, private connections, often in the same data center, without using the public internet.

While IBM SoftLayer has offered private connectivity to its cloud out of colocation data centers before, this week it announced a substantial expansion of that effort. It has partnered with several major data center and network service providers to sell this kind of cloud connectivity services in their data centers around the world.

The data center providers are Equinix, Digital Realty Trust, Amsterdam’s Interxion, and Australia’s NextDC. IBM named Verizon and Colt as partner network operators, although both offer data center services too.



Monday, 07 December 2015 00:00

In-Memory Stepping Up to Big Data

On-server memory solutions are emerging as a key element in warehousing, data lakes and other initiatives targeting Big Data and the Internet of Things, and are even making a run at high-speed transactional processing and other more traditional enterprise applications.

But is it always the right answer for high-speed workflows? And do the multiple varieties of memory have any bearing on successful outcomes?

Like nearly all infrastructure, more advanced technologies produce better results but come at a higher cost premium. DDR4 silicon, for example, offers 50 percent more bandwidth and is 35 percent more energy efficient than its DDR3 predecessor. To date, however, DDR4 has been seen in top-end servers and desktops, although vendors like Dell and HPE are starting to trickle it down into lower-end PowerEdge and Proliant machines, says IDG’s Agam Shah. These models can be had for less than $1,000 and boost internal storage by anywhere from half to more than three times that of previous servers.



'You can't prepare for a specific incident, because we don't know what it's going to be, but what you can do is develop the ability to adapt and respond.'

Ashley K. Speed, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

(TNS) - Newport News Police Chief Richard Myers says there is no way to prepare for shootings like those in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday, but police can train on a regular basis in order to respond effectively.

"I would say you can't prepare for a specific incident, because we don't know what it's going to be, but what you can do is develop the ability to adapt and respond — that is why we drill to practice key tactics and skills, but also instill in first responders how to adapt on the fly and react professionally, efficiently and effectively at whatever gets thrown at you," Myers said Thursday.

Fourteen people were killed and 17 were injured Wednesday after husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a Christmas party in San Bernardino. Police in Newport News and Hampton train in order to be prepared for active shooter incidents, but also pool the resources of neighboring agencies to produce the best response.



The mission for ESF 7 – resource support – is to 'acquire personnel, equipment and other resources to support response and recovery efforts during a disaster.'

(TNS) - The South Side Area School District’s approach to school security drastically changed after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The school board and district administrative team had a “candid’ discussion about security in the rural district, which doesn’t have a local police department, Superintendent Tammy Adams said.

They decided that needed to change.

“Although we had security guards, and they do a nice job with crosswalks and manning the buildings, we did not have our own police force,” Adams said. “Should something serious happen, we need someone here.”



Monday, 07 December 2015 00:00

Data Center Consolidation 2.0

So, your agency has reduced the number of overall data centers — mission accomplished, right?

While the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative has produced savings primarily due to reduction of real estate and power use — few agencies have taken the time to evaluate the performance, operational and security impact to applications and services after the move.

Server virtualization is very powerful in increasing physical resource consumption and it also provides an easy way to “lift and shift” workloads without any business rationalization.

While this reduces the number of physical servers and data centers to manage – it hasn’t necessarily reduced the amount of applications, increased performance, nor eased operational maintenance. These new challenges are becoming rapidly apparent as users, administrators and chief information officers adjust to the concept of fewer federal data centers which are farther away.



A lot of the conversation about inefficiency of data centers focuses on underutilized servers. The famous splashy New York Times article in 2012 talked about poor server utilization rates and pollution from generator exhaust; we covered a Stanford study earlier this year that revealed just how wide the problem of underutilized compute is in scope.

While those are important issues – the Stanford study found that the 10 million servers humming idly in data centers around the world are worth about $30 billion – there’s another big source of energy waste: data center cooling. It’s no secret that a cooling system can guzzle as much as half of a data center’s entire energy intake.

While web-scale data center operators like Google, Facebook, or Microsoft expound the virtues of their super-efficient design, getting a lot of attention from the press, the fact that’s often ignored is that these companies only comprise a small fraction of the world’s total data center footprint.



Business resilience could be so much better if we can find a way to harness the power of our people, creating a culture and behaviours that enhance business resilience.’ Robin Gaddum explains why this is the case and looks at what can be done to ‘pull the people lever’.

In my previous article, I described how business resilience is most compelling when it links performance improvement with risk management.  Focus on the upside contribution to achieving future strategic objectives and the challenge becomes, 'why wouldn't you do business resilience?'

In this article I will start to explain how to make business resilience deliver on this promise, focusing first on how to unlock the power of purpose and values (see diagram below).



Machine learning has been touted recently as the next big step forward for information security; however, the claims are over-optimistic says Simon Crosby.

A recurring claim at security conferences is that ‘security is a big data / machine learning (ML) / artificial intelligence (AI) problem’.  This is unfortunately wildly optimistic, and wrong in general.  While certain security problems can be addressed by ML/AI algorithms, in general the problem of detecting a malicious actor amidst the vast trove of information collected by most organizations, is not one of them.

Our faith in AI is based on personal experience (‘everything cloud is big data and good’) and the memes of the consumerization era.  It is tempting to project this optimism into an enterprise context: The idea that it ought to be possible to sift through large amounts of data to find signs of an attack of breach is intuitively reasonable.  Moreover, every IT pro managing systems at scale is aware of the value of sophisticated tools that help them to pick through large volumes of data to find relevant information to aid trouble shooting and even security investigations.



Investment banker Goldman Sachs has been spreading the cash around lately through a series of investments in enterprise technologies ranging from big data to application infrastructure. It’s latest foray combines a new datacenter approach with an operational analytics twist.

Startup Vapor IO, Austin, Texas, which emerged from stealth mode in March, said Thursday (Dec. 3) that Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) led a Series A funding round that also included AVX Partners. Executive from both investment firms will join Vapor IO’s board.

Vapor IO said the funds would be used to expand its datacenter engineering and development teams along with accelerating product development. It did not disclose the amount of funding raised in the investment round.



Since Dell announced its intention to buy EMC for $67 billion in October, there has been a lot of speculation about how the company was going to pay off the massive $40 billion debt it used to finance the deal.

I wrote about some of the EMC assets Dell might consider selling to help offset the huge obligation. Other rumors have had the company selling off its PC business to HP, but it turns out there could be more than one way to reduce the amount due.

Dell has a bunch of pieces that might not be in its future plans, and it could be looking to sell Quest Software and SonicWall, according to a Reuters report. These are two companies Dell bought in 2012 during a bit of an enterprise shopping spree.



Thursday, 03 December 2015 00:00

BYOD and its impact on corporate security

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has made the already very complex reality of corporate networks even more complicated. “Bring your own device” is part of the everyday work life in many places and it means that employees want to use popular devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops on the corporate network. In order not to hinder productivity but, on the contrary, to increase it, many companies already support taking personal devices to work (and using them), as well as allowing access to secured corporate networks from home.

For IT administrators, this means that to the already existing challenges of network security, still more are being added. Because with the increasing use of personal devices, companies of all sizes have to contend with the problem of network bandwidth. Therefore, a company should proceed systematically and develop a reasonable strategy.



Do you remember when pocket calculators started to become popular in schools, long before you could access a spreadsheet app on your smartphone? There was a fear that they would lead to pupils being unable to do mental arithmetic, with stories of children reaching for their calculators to add two and two. Now, it’s happening again, except that this time the devices are much “smarter”, let you buy things in shops with just the press of button (or not even that), and can access and/or contain enterprise data as well as personal data. Laziness or ineptitude could even become a threat to business continuity.



Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

Take a Lesson from Theranos: Plan Ahead

Some early-stage, high-growth companies choose to stay private instead of going public in part so that they have the opportunity to grow under the radar without intense scrutiny from securities regulators and the press.  However, as Elizabeth Holmes, the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Theranos, recently learned, staying private does not guarantee that a company will avoid becoming the target of investigative reports by major media outlets or coming under fire from business partners.  If a company has not prepared in advance to weather these storms, in the worst cases, a barrage of negative publicity could potentially cripple a company’s ability to operate.  As a result, even though private companies do not have the same regulatory compliance burdens as their public company counterparts, early stage companies with high-growth potential may benefit from adopting sophisticated corporate practices that will provide protection in the event they are scrutinized or challenged.

Misfortune Strikes Theranos, Once Labeled as Silicon Valley’s Darling

Theranos is a Palo Alto, Calif.-headquartered health care and medical laboratory testing company that has asserted that it has developed proprietary technology focused on disrupting blood testing.  The company has claimed it has been able to use a finger-prick test to draw blood from patients instead of the traditional, more invasive venipuncture.  Holmes, the chief executive officer, fits the profile of many of the most successful founders in Silicon Valley because she dropped out of Stanford at age 19 to found her own company.  Media sources estimate that, since the company’s founding, the company has raised $400 million or more from investors, is currently valued at approximately $9 billion and has entered into contractual arrangements with Walgreens, Safeway and others for the roll-out of its testing sites.  Because of the company’s rapid rise, some media outlets began calling Holmes the next Steve Jobs.



Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

How Can DevOps Accelerate Innovation?

What could revamped development and operations (DevOps) mean for independent software vendors (ISVs)?

MSPmentor 501 honoree Logicalis has identified several ways the cloud can enhance the development process for ISVs. The New York-based managed service provider (MSP) noted the cloud "can facilitate DevOps changes and accelerate innovation within the software developer’s organization."

"Developers and their IT counterparts are polar opposites in their business lives," said Brian Day, senior director of cloud services at Logicalis US, in a prepared statement. "But with the help of a savvy cloud or SaaS partner, software providers are realizing significant productivity gains in the people, tools and overall culture of their organizations -- changes that give them a competitive edge in today's fast-paced software development world."



Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

Cloud Adoption is Growing. So What Now?

There is no denying it cloud has moved beyond buzzword and become a key foundation element for over 40% of enterprise organizational strategies.   Making the decision to “go cloud” is the easy part.   Figuring out how to optimize and deliver on your cloud strategy is another discussion.

The “first wave to cloud” was focused on operational and service delivery measures such as reducing IT operational costs and improving organizational delivery to meet SLAs.  However, just when you thought you had a handle on these measures, here comes the second wave of cloud.

Reducing operational costs and improving SLAs has become minimum requirements just to get a seat at the table.     Being a “player” in the cloud market requires broader impact across the organization and more strategic measures of business success:   innovation and increased revenue growth.



As company computing demands change, what will the architecture that supports modern businesses and their cloud initiatives look like?

One of the hottest concepts to emerge is infrastructure convergence. We have unified architecture, converged storage, converged infrastructure, and now also hyper-convergence. But what does it all mean? How can convergence apply to your business and your use cases? Let’s take a look at each type of converged infrastructure separately.



(TNS) - While no one really knows what this winter will bring, meteorologists are warning that Georgia could see major snowfall, floods and even tornadoes into spring.

Forecasters see a potentially record-setting El Niño on the horizon, and the impact could be disastrous.

Remember Macon's colossal 16.5 inches of snow in February 1973 and the blizzard of March 1993?

A similar El Niño pattern was in play those years and in 1998 when Georgia saw significant flooding in March.



As marketers look towards 2016, building an improved mobile strategy will be a key priority for many teams. Mobile technology writer Emma Sarran Webster predicts rising consumer adoption of wearable technologies and mobile videos will lead to new delivery methods over the next twelve months. As teams navigate the new landscape of mobile advertising, the biggest pain points of 2015 are also likely to persist throughout 2016. According to VentureBeat, contemporary teams are most likely to struggle with:

● A “hypercompetitive” market due to sky-high mobile adoption rates

● App and platform abandonment on mobile devices

● Creating seamless, disruption-free mobile experiences

Creating engaging, high-return mobile marketing experiences requires accurate personalization. Currently, only 13% of marketing teams are delivering segmented mobile experiences, compared to 43% of desktop campaigns.



When you’re an enterprise looking to move critical, or even marginally important, workloads into the cloud, is it better to go with a cloud vendor looking to expand into the enterprise or an enterprise vendor looking to expand into the cloud?

The difference could be crucial. With the former, you get a company that is well-versed in where you want to go, but with the latter you get someone who knows where you’re coming from.

Amazon is the first name that comes to mind when pondering the public cloud, and there is a reason why it is far and away the leading provider at the moment. It has world-class infrastructure that scales beyond any other single platform, and the company has proven itself to be highly flexible and adaptable to changing market conditions. But as SiliconANGLE’s Paul Gillin notes, the company is not without flaws. For one thing, there are no bare-metal options in the Amazon cloud, which is a bit of a deal-breaker when it comes to mission-critical workloads. Also, the company has stiff-armed OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and other open solutions that support hybrid cloud architectures – so when you sign with Amazon, you’re pretty much placing yourself entirely in their hands alone for your cloud needs.



Expanding its campaign to eliminate the need for solid-state disks (SSDs) in primary storage environments, Violin Memory today unveiled extensions to its all-Flash storage platform.

Sudhir Prasad, senior director of product management for Violin Memory, says the latest additions to the company’s Flash Storage Platform (FSP) 7000 series push the entry-level cost of the arrays below the $100,000 mark, while at the same time making available a version of the array that can be configured with up to 1.4 petabytes of raw capacity.

Instead of applying the mechanics of disk architectures to primary storage, Prasad says Violin Memory took advantage of its controller technology to create arrays that enable applications to transparently make use of Flash memory directly. The end result is an all-Flash array that provides access to shared storage at rates of up to 2.2 million IOPs.



Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

Can Big Data Catch The Bad Guys?

The following is a flight of fantasy, but in the wake of recent events, I believe that we would be foolish not to develop every possible technology to safeguard the lives of our children and their children.

There are many very reasonable arguments about the potential invasiveness of big data and the implications that it may have for our privacy. It is already a simple fact that we have no idea who is in possession of what data about us – the Edward Snowden revelations alleged government snooping on an industrial scale, but is this the price of our future security? A price that is worth paying?

After a few more tragic events like the ones in Paris, I think that the debate might finally come into the mainstream. Are our civil liberties worth surrendering (to a certain extent) in order to ensure that potential terrorists are foiled?



Hewlett Packard Enterprise is in London this week for their Discover event, and it could not be more apparent that from Day One, we are no longer dealing with an HP of the past.

Gone are the days of a pure physical infrastructure play (although there is still a very strong presence) as HP Enterprise moves towards a hybrid infrastructure and transformational solutions that solve business problems. Meg Whitman’s keynote delivered a strong indication that the company is still transforming, and can take those lessons from inside to clients who are also undergoing the same transition. In fact, she specifically called out to existing and new clients that if they’re undergoing a split or divestment, or thinking of a restructure of this scale, come to HPE.

Some of the stereotypical messages around the ‘Digital Enterprise’ were present, mixed with the direction towards a hybrid infrastructure, which felt both welcome coming from HPE but I couldn’t help feel that to create a brand new legacy for themselves they could have elevated themselves above the existing noise from other vendors.



Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

Stop Making a Big Stink About Data Center PUE

Zahl Limbuwala is CEO of Romonet.

Data center managers are finding that their Chief Finance Officers are increasingly interested in the organization’s infrastructure. This is only natural; data centers represent a major investment for the business, and CFOs will want to be certain they’re getting value for money.

The challenge then is how to present this value to CFOs and sell them on a particular investment choice. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) has often been cited as the de facto indicator of data center performance, but the definition has been stretched to the point where it is almost unusable. As we know, PUE is the ratio of the energy taken in by a data center to that actually used by IT – with 1.0 being the impossible ideal. While this can give an idea of efficiency, it does not provide the full picture. Instead of focusing on abstract measurements like PUE, organizations should concentrate instead on delivering the best cost for the business.



Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

DHS: Business Continuity Plan

Business Continuity Planning Process Diagram

Business Continuity Planning Process Diagram - Text Version

When business is disrupted, it can cost money. Lost revenues plus extra expenses means reduced profits. Insurance does not cover all costs and cannot replace customers that defect to the competition. A business continuity plan to continue business is essential. Development of a business continuity plan includes four steps:

  • Conduct a business impact analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
  • Identify, document, and implement to recover critical business functions and processes.
  • Organize a business continuity team and compile a business continuity plan to manage a business disruption.
  • Conduct training for the business continuity team and testing and exercises to evaluate recovery strategies and the plan.

Information technology (IT) includes many components such as networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers and wireless devices. The ability to run both office productivity and enterprise software is critical. Therefore, recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business. Manual workarounds should be part of the IT plan so business can continue while computer systems are being restored.

Resources for Business Continuity Planning 

Business continuity impact analysis identifies the effects resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

The Operational & Financial Impacts worksheet can be used to capture this information as discussed in Business Impact Analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business. Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:

  • the operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions and process
  • the point in time when loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts

Those functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. The point in time when a function or process must be recovered, before unacceptable consequences could occur, is often referred to as the “Recovery Time Objective.”

Resource Required to Support Recovery Strategies

Recovery of a critical or time-sensitive process requires resources. The Business Continuity Resource Requirements worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers. Completed worksheets are used to determine the resource requirements for recovery strategies.

Following an incident that disrupts business operations, resources will be needed to carry out recovery strategies and to restore normal business operations. Resources can come from within the business or be provided by third parties. Resources include:

  • Employees
  • Office space, furniture and equipment
  • Technology (computers, peripherals, communication equipment, software and data)
  • Vital records (electronic and hard copy)
  • Production facilities, machinery and equipment
  • Inventory including raw materials, finished goods and goods in production.
  • Utilities (power, natural gas, water, sewer, telephone, internet, wireless)
  • Third party services

Since all resources cannot be replaced immediately following a loss, managers should estimate the resources that will be needed in the hours, days and weeks following an incident.

Conducting the Business Continuity Impact Analysis

The worksheets Operational and Financial Impacts and Business Continuity Resource Requirements should be distributed to business process managers along with instructions about the process and how the information will be used. After all managers have completed their worksheets, information should be reviewed. Gaps or inconsistencies should be identified. Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.

After all worksheets have been completed and validated, the priorities for restoration of business processes should be identified. Primary and dependent resource requirements should also be identified. This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.

Cloud computing has made data and the processing of it more ubiquitous, efficient and accessible. Cloud-based systems are now a key part of all of our personal lives, from Internet email services to wearables and app platforms. The cloud is now moving rapidly into the healthcare sector as a way to make processes more efficient for medical providers and to allow patients to access their data at any time to keep it up to date. But for a lot of people, saving medical records and private health data in the cloud is an unnerving thought. With the recent breaches of retailers’ consumer data and headline-grabbing celebrity hacks, it’s not ridiculous to assume that anything in the cloud is relatively unsafe.

That assumption may be misplaced. Though security is still a big barrier to cloud adoption, healthcare organizations that have deployed cloud systems, whether it is through electronic medical records or other private cloud analytics services, have seen improvements in their technological capacity, financial metrics, time management, workforce productivity, and reduced security risk, according to the 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey.

“Means exist for us to engage more and better share information, including across various care settings and geographic locations (including from the patient’s home)—all thanks to healthcare cloud computing,” said Lee Kim, director or privacy and security for HIMSS North America.



(TNS) - Stippville School, built in 1940, is said to be the first "tornado-proof" rural school in Kansas.

The school, located north of Columbus, closed in 1964, but for years residents of the former mining community used the former school, built with reinforced steel in its walls, floor and roof, as a storm shelter. The structure may be torn down soon to make room for the expansion of Kansas Highway 7.

County officials are talking about building storm shelters in Stippville and eight other rural areas of the county. The preliminary price tag is $182,500. The shelters are estimated to serve up to about 800 people.

"I'd like to see us have shelters in all these unincorporated areas," said Jason Allison, the emergency management director for Cherokee County, who drew up the proposal.



Wednesday, 02 December 2015 00:00

Innovation: What’s the Next Phase?

In last December’s issue, I predicted that cloud computing, social engagement, government-as-a-platform and the Internet of Things would be drivers of institutional improvement and operational gains in 2015. Government Technology headlines from this year attest to significant advances made by many cities nationwide on these four fronts. The next phase of government innovation will lie at the intersection of these recent advances: To drive technological aptitude forward, municipal governments need to dial down the lag between data collection, analytical output and well-informed action.

To this end, I expect that over the next 24 months there will be substantial advances in the importance of machine learning tools that will become clearer for some of the most forward-thinking city governments across the country.

Since machine learning is a computing technique that adapts itself to changing conditions, its most common application will be to make predictions. As machine learning programs are fed more data, they learn more, and so their predictive models become more precise and produce more accurate results. The concept is not new. Machine learning algorithms, for instance, underlie Google search and Siri voice recognition. But recent improvements in cities’ data aptitude — pioneered partly by a growing cadre of dedicated municipal chief data officers and chief technology officers — have unleashed a previously unimaginable capacity for advanced data analytics. As a result, machine learning is positioned to become a powerful management tool for municipal government.



Tuesday, 01 December 2015 00:00

2015 Extreme Weather Events in Review

From hurricanes to hail to droughts to tornadoes, 2015 was a busy year for extreme weather events. Drought in California continued to worsen, increasing the risk of wildfires. While record rainfall in Texas and Oklahoma alleviated drought, it caused severe flash flooding in Texas. There have been 25 Category 4-5 northern hemisphere tropical cyclones—the most on record to date, breaking the old record of 18 set in 1997 and 2004.

The Insurance Information Institute reported that insured losses from natural disasters in the United States in just the first half of 2015 totaled $12.6 billion—well above the $11.2 billion average in the first halves of 2000 to 2014.

Interstate Restoration provides a look at 2015 weather events:



At the Discover 2015 event in London, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise unveiled a new generation of “composable” systems that enable IT organizations to dynamically provision server, storage and networking resources within the system using a common application programming interface (API).

Gary Thome, vice president and chief engineer of converged data center infrastructure for HPE, says the HPE Synergy platform will for the first time give IT organizations managing IT infrastructure on premise the ability to programmatically manage the entire environment via a single high-level API.

Thome says that the HPE energy platform, scheduled to be available in the second half of 2016, is designed from the ground up to provide IT organizations the flexibility needed to address rapidly changing application workload requirements in a matter of minutes.



Tuesday, 01 December 2015 00:00

BCI: Communicating in a Crisis

Communicating in a crisis

Organizations are beginning to understand the need for having an emergency communications plan in order to improve stakeholder communications during a crisis

CAVERSHAM, UK – A newly published report from the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) has demonstrated the need for organizations to invest in an emergency communications plan by revealing that nearly two thirds of respondents (62%) to a global survey had activated their plan during the previous year. The urgency of emergency communications is further highlighted by over three quarters of those activations taking place within 30 minutes of an incident commencing.

The Emergency Communications Report, supported by Everbridge, noted that over a quarter of emergency communications plans do not request a response when activated. This is a worrying statistic as, if an incident is important enough to justify the plan being activated, then surely it warrants knowing that the message has been received by the intended recipients.

Further findings from the report include

  • 14% of respondents reported that they do not have an emergency communications plan.
  • Of these which do not have an emergency communications plan, over two-thirds (68%) state they would only create one after a business affecting event.
  • Email is the primary method of communication used during an emergency with 83% claiming to use this, while 63% use manual call trees, 55% use emergency communication software, 55% use crisis telephone lines and 53% use website announcements
  • Over two-thirds of respondents noted that their organization has emergency communications training and education with regularly scheduled events.
  • Nearly three quarters of respondents (72%) stated that their plan is exercised at least once per year, with a further 16% stating it is done at last twice per year
  • Common triggers for activating the emergency communications plan include unplanned IT outages (50%), weather related incidents (49%), power outages (47%), natural disasters (45%) and fire (42%)
  • Over two-thirds of respondents (70%) use mobile communications in private messaging to staff.

Patrick Alcantara, Research Associate at the BCI and author of the report, commented: “Reliable emergency communications saves lives and demonstrates how organizations approach their duty of care to their employees, customers and stakeholders. The survey results affirm that many organizations take this duty seriously and offer opportunities for further improvement. We thank Everbridge for supporting this study and sharing our goal of producing top-quality research that impacts practice.

Imad Mouline, Chief Technology Officer at Everbridge, commented: “The findings highlight that the unpredictability of global threats continue to necessitate a comprehensive enterprise critical communications strategy. While it’s refreshing to see that organizations are more actively developing plans, and using mobile as part of their strategy, there is still work to be done to ensure that communications are securely and reliably reaching employees and customers.

The report concludes that top management buy-in and integration among different functional roles contribute to the successful embedding of emergency communications capability. Furthermore, organizations must focus on encouraging responses to emergency communications and this begins by defining acceptable response rates. This should be made easier as mobile communications are increasingly used by organizations as part of their emergency communications arrangements and technology has advanced so much so that this is a basic capability. Key to getting buy-in is education and training programmes which must be implemented as part of an overall holistic approach to continuity and resilience.

For more information, please contact the Senior Communications Manager at the Business Continuity Institute – Andrew Scott CBCI – by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phoning 0118 9478241.


  • Download a full copy of the report by clicking here.
  • Note to the online survey: This report features 467 responses from 67 countries.

About the Business Continuity Institute

Founded in 1994 with the aim of promoting a more resilient world, the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) has established itself as the world’s leading Institute for business continuity and resilience. The BCI has become the membership and certifying organization of choice for business continuity and resilience professionals globally with over 8,000 members in more than 100 countries, working in an estimated 3,000 organizations in the private, public and third sectors.

The vast experience of the Institute’s broad membership and partner network is built into its world class education, continuing professional development and networking activities. Every year, more than 1,500 people choose BCI training, with options ranging from short awareness raising tools to a full academic qualification, available online and in a classroom. The Institute stands for excellence in the resilience profession and its globally recognised Certified grades provide assurance of technical and professional competency. The BCI offers a wide range of resources for professionals seeking to raise their organization’s level of resilience, and its extensive thought leadership and research programme helps drive the industry forward. With approximately 120 Partners worldwide, the BCI Partnership offers organizations the opportunity to work with the BCI in promoting best practice in business continuity and resilience.

The BCI welcomes everyone with an interest in building resilient organizations from newcomers, experienced professionals and organizations. Further information about the BCI is available at www.thebci.org.

About Everbridge

Everbridge is a global provider of SaaS-based unified critical communications solutions. During mission-critical business events or man-made or natural disasters, the Everbridge platform enables customers to quickly and reliably deliver the right message and reach the right people, on the right device, in the right location, at the right time. Utilizing sophisticated communications technologies, Everbridge has the ability to deliver and verify messages in near real-time to more than 100 different communication devices, in over 200 countries and territories, in multiple languages – all simultaneously. Everbridge is based in Boston and Los Angeles, with additional offices in San Francisco, Beijing and London. For more information, visit www.everbridge.com, read the company blog, and follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 00:00

Data Security and the 'Low-Hanging Fruit'

Protecting an organization from a data breach can seem daunting, and impossibly technical.  But the good news is that there are some basic precautions that can help.

There is a saying in the data security community that is a bit tired, but nevertheless true: There are two kinds of companies – those that have been hacked and those that will be hacked.  When clients come to us with questions about data security, it is often necessary to consult technological experts in this arena, especially when the client suspects that its data may have been breached.  All too often, the client first consults us only after this suspicion has arisen.  In these cases, we frequently find that basic and non-technical security best practices have been ignored.  In fact, an organization can make some fairly rudimentary changes to secure its data more fully, even without information security expertise.

These suggestions will by no means insulate a company from a data breach, but they may serve to diminish the probability of one.



The state-owned company that operates all of Russia’s nuclear plants has kicked off construction of what may ultimately become the largest data center in the country.

The project is taking place near one of the company’s plants, on a site it has previously pitched as a location for service providers with infrastructure overseas to house their servers so they can comply with the new law that requires companies to store Russian citizens’ personal data within Russia’s borders.

The company, Rosenergoatom, plans to launch the first phase of the data center in March 2017, the government-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing an official announcement. At full build-out, the facility’s capacity will reach about 80 MW, which according to the announcement will make it the largest data center in Russia.



“In the past, the FBI wanted to operate in the shadows, but today’s Bureau is very different” said Jay F. Kramer, Supervisory Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cyber Division, New York Office. In an effort to make the FBI more approachable, Kramer recently provided an overview of the cybersecurity activities of the FBI at an event before hundreds of attorneys.

How does the FBI operate?

The Bureau investigates violations of federal law and significant threats to national security, making it uniquely situated to deal with today’s cybersecurity issues. In addition to being a law enforcement agency, the FBI is also a member of the US intelligence community. FBI’s mission is primarily domestic with 56 field offices across the United States, but it also has offices in 87 countries and shares intelligence and threats coming from overseas by distilling it down and packaging it at the lowest level classification possible to push it out to victims. These overseas relationships enable the Bureau to quickly respond to cyber threats by gaining access to servers, logs and data to help unravel some of these complicated cyber matters from around the world. “When it comes to cybersecurity, you’re never very far from an FBI office and from an actual person that can speak to you about issues that you’re having” Kramer said.

Here are some of the cybersecurity issues that the FBI is seeing:



There is an interesting thing going on lately in my personal life that was previously only a professional phenomenon. Today I’m going to give it the attention it deserves because I’ve learned that it is now dominating every single home electronics conversation these days.

This “thing” needs a label as I believe it represents a global opportunity for MSPs and solution providers. Today, I’m giving it an acronym because, as we all know, nothing gets solved unless it has an easy handle to latch onto. My acronym for this phenomenon is… wait for it… “IF.”

IF stands for “Integration Fatigue,” which I describe as, “the feeling of frustration that comes from knowing that if two companies actually chose to integrate their products, your life would get better, easier, smarter, cooler, faster, etc.” Examples that readily come to mind:



It’s the time of year when futurists and all manner of tech analysts decide to break out the crystal ball and make some predictions for the coming months and years. Of course, I’m no different, but I don’t need the title of futurist to do it. I’ve decided rather than write one long-winded article about several trends, to break it up a little and write a series of shorter articles tackling each one I see having a major impact on both businesses (vendor and end client alike) and consumers in general.

The first off the blocks ? Blockchain.

Blockchain is something I believe will have an impact across a lot more than just Bitcoin financial transactions and the Internet Of Things. At the moment the majority of thinking behind Blockchain stems to the definition around it as a decentralised and distributed digital record, one that can only be updated by consensus of a majority of the participants in the system. Right now everything digital today is centralised, and therefore can be manipulated and hacked. Not so with Blockchain. And users remain anonymous, privacy is maintained.



Tuesday, 01 December 2015 00:00

Is ‘Composable Infrastructure’ for Real?

The idea of “composable infrastructure” is gaining steam throughout the IT industry, but is this really a new thing or is it simply another way to market the same modular and software-defined technologies that have already entered the channel?

In all likelihood, it’s a little of both.

HP Enterprise spelled out its vision of a composable future, dubbed “Project Synergy,” which naturally features a healthy dose of HP hardware and software all tied together with a unified API that covers functions like firmware and driver updating, BIOS configuration and network/storage provisioning. The aim is to disaggregate infrastructure to the point at which applications can quickly compile and reconfigure IT infrastructure to accomplish tasks quickly and with the least amount of resource consumption and contention.



As countless experts in the IT channel will attest, specialization is key to building a thriving business. With an increasing number of MSPs and solution providers heeding this advice, it is not uncommon to come across channel partners that are focused solely on serving clients in the healthcare, legal, banking or financial services industries. Now, those who already possess this vertical market expertise have an opportunity to differentiate themselves even further and grow their businesses by focusing on meeting a critical business need--compliance.

SMBs operating in the healthcare, financial services and other regulated industries often do not have the expertise in-house to keep on top of constantly evolving regulatory standards, such as HIPAA, FINRA and PCI DSS. And, with covered entities and business associates now sharing the risk and responsibility for security breaches and data theft, many of these businesses are entering into previously uncharted territory, which is driving the need for Compliance-as-a-Service (CaaS) offerings.



Tuesday, 01 December 2015 00:00

Hurricane Season: It’s A Wrap

As the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season draws to a close, there’s a lot of talk about how the hurricane forecasters got it right this year, due to a strong El Niño.

Over at the Capital Weather Gang blog, Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane forecasting team, writes that all of the forecasting groups predicted a moderate to strong El Niño event this year, and this turned out to be correct.

Klotzbach observes:

In general, seasonal forecasts did a good job anticipating a below-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2015 due to a strong El Niño event. Most seasonal forecasts predicted a bit less activity than was observed, due to a surprising warming of the tropical Atlantic during the peak of hurricane season this year.”

So what are the key takeaways?



As more and more solution providers enter the Disaster Recovery as a Service market--a market that’s expected to grow to almost $20 billion by 2020--there’s growing confusion about how DRaaS differs from Bare Metal Recovery.

Let’s start with a quick definition of each and then explore key differences.

Bare Metal Recovery (BMR)

With Bare Metal Recovery, you can back up an entire physical server disk image--literally, every bit on the disks. This, in turn, allows you to restore an entire system, including the operating system and its settings, applications (including their configurations and updates), files, folders and volumes. This saves you time because you don’t have to reinstall everything from scratch.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

DRaaS is the same as BMR, plus the ability to start and run that system in a virtual environment, typically on an appliance or in the cloud, in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe. Fundamentally, DRaaS lets you “instantly” boot a protected server or your entire site and immediately get back to business, whether you’re booting from the appliance or from the cloud.



Black Friday is behind us and Cyber Monday is upon us. For many traditional and ecommerce retailers, today is the most significant online shopping day of the year. And it won’t stop there. Online shopping over the next few weeks will provide a significant boost to many companies’ bottom lines.

Monitoring and communicating information about IT outages and failures associated with online retail shopping can be a daunting task. At any time of the year, IT professionals are under intense pressure to safeguard the security of their organization’s data and physical facilities, and to ensure information continues flowing in the event of a disruption.



(TNS) - The US weather provided little to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, with rain, snow and freezing rain affecting many parts of the country.

At least 14 people have died as a result of the precarious conditions.

The heaviest snow fell across the mountain states and the Central Plains. Heavy snow and whiteout conditions were reported from the Dakotas to the Great Lakes.

Sioux Falls in South Dakota only recorded 4cm of snow, but as that mixed with freezing rain, widespread warnings were issued as conditions became treacherous.



The world is experiencing a digital revolution that is rapidly changing your business landscape.  This revolution is not only connecting people with digital technology; but it has made this technology ubiquitous in all of our lives.  The result is tech-savvy employees and customers with new expectations how to interact with your business.

Meeting these expectations requires a transformation into a consumer technology company by utilizing digital technology to streamline operational processes and improve customer experiences.  Industry data indicates those organizations begin this transformation process experience increased profitability, market value and revenue.

Cisco’s private cloud automation facilitates the transformation of your business from manual to automated standardized service delivery.  Converting manual processes into automated workflows increases data center productivity which fuels faster time-to-market by business and application teams of new products or services.



Big data technology vendors are helping to close the skills gap when it comes to training the next crop of data scientists. Here's what they are offering.

There is a bottleneck big data must eliminate on its journey from buzzword to mainstream acceptance, someone called the data scientist.

This person has a PhD in math or statistics and is trained to fish for insights in the data lake. This person crafts algorithms like fishing flies, casting queries out like a line, luring insights to the surface where they can be hooked like trout.

Sponsor video, mouseover for sound

To be a data scientist, one must combine domain experience, a deep background in statistics and math, and programming skills, noted Leon Kutsnelson, director and CTO for IBM Analytics emerging technologies. "We call them 'unicorns' because they don't exist," he said. If industry had to depend on PhDs to do big data, "we [would] continue to sit on mountains of data," he added.



The backbone of America – banks, oil and gas suppliers, the energy grid – is under constant attack by hackers.

But the biggest cyberattacks, the ones that can blow up chemical tanks and burst dams, are kept secret by a law that shields U.S. corporations. They're kept in the dark forever.

You could live near -- or work at -- a major facility that has been hacked repeatedly and investigated by the federal government. But you'd never know.

What's more, that secrecy could hurt efforts to defend against future attacks.

The murky information that is publicly available confirms that there is plenty to worry about.



(TNS) - The earthquakes just keep coming. Four days after a 4.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded southwest of Cherokee, a 4.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded Monday near Hennessey and Tuesday a 3.0 magnitude quake sprang up about 40 miles southeast of Norman, capping off a run of 23 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher in a seven-day period.

In response to Thursday’s quake, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission released a plan calling for two disposal wells to stop operations and for many others to cut down in volume.

Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak said it’s a smart move because he said there’s a clear link between disposal wells and seismic activity in Oklahoma and he would like to see a balanced approach that allows scientists and policy makers to gather more information.



When the news broke in early October that Dell was planning on buying EMC for a whopping $67 billion, more than a few jaws dropped (including mine), but in the weeks since, reports have surfaced about multiple problems from tax issues to VMware’s plunging stock price and the post-deal creation of Virtustream.

It’s too soon to say the deal is in jeopardy, but there are enough issues that this has to be giving Michael Dell and EMC CEO Joe Tucci some cause to worry (and perhaps pop more than their usual supply of antacid), while giving lawyers, accountants and investment bankers lots of billable hours to sort it all out.

Where to begin.

First, a bit of background: EMC owns an 80 percent stake in VMware, but VMware is traded as a separate company and operates independently with its own stock and board of directors. In a blog post shortly after the deal was announced, Michael Dell sought to reassure customers and partners (and presumably shareholders) that he wasn’t going to mess with VMware when Dell takes over next year.

It’s not clear that the message got through to the shareholders.



(TNS) - The man soon to become Philadelphia's 99th mayor is not on board with one of the last initiatives of the 98th.

Mayor-elect Jim Kenney has asked the Nutter administration to delay plans to combine the city's 911 emergency dispatch systems and the 311 nonemergency call center under one roof in South Philadelphia.

The request comes as the administration is trying to finalize a 10-year lease agreement on space for a combined operation, dubbed the Unified Call Center, at 20th and Oregon Streets.

In a letter sent to Mayor Nutter on Nov. 20, Kenney said he had "significant concerns" about the cost of the new space and the availability of funds to pay for creating the center.



(TNS) - The Atlantic hurricane season that marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Wilma flooding Florida Keys shores closes Monday without a serious local storm threat this year.

In fact, Wilma in October 2005 was the last hurricane to make landfall anywhere in Florida, extending a record streak of no state landfalls.

The six-month 2015 hurricane season that ends Monday saw three hurricanes, two of which blew into major storms.  Hurricane Joaquin almost reached Category 5 status as it raked the Bahamas but it curved out to sea before affecting Florida.



A survey of businesses in Northern Ireland has revealed the majority of firms in the country regard data breaches as the biggest corporate crisis risk they face.

The study, by law firm Pinsent Masons, revealed 83 per cent of organisations named the loss of corporate or customer data as their biggest threat, ahead of issues such as health and safety accidents or becoming embroiled in a bribery or corruption investigation.

As well as the immediate costs associated with recovering from such an incident, the reputational damage a firm can experience in the event that sensitive information is compromised can be wide-reaching.



Monday, 30 November 2015 00:00

Paris Now: How To Get Business Back On Track

You couldn’t really call it “business as usual” in Paris these days: the hectic pace has slowed; the city is nearly void of tourists – a big concern, as tourism (domestic and international) brought in a total of 149-Billion Euros in 2013, 7.3% of French GDP. There has been nary an American accent to be heard in the city’s tourist districts since the Nov 13 terrorist attacks. Today, some to weeks later, traffic is still lighter than usual, waiting lists at popular restaurants have shrunk, and many shops have begun holiday promotions early. Business leaders are steeling themselves for a tough fourth quarter; political leaders are working at allaying fears and working collectively with their cross-border colleagues to combat the terror threat that has now effectively moved beyond specific targets.

But this is not to say that long-term planning on both the business and political fronts has been put on hold or even on the back burner. To wit, the American Chamber of Commerce in France last week released its 16th annual Barometer gauging the mood of American investors in France. The Barometer this year surveyed 125 American companies with offices in France, representing 50,000 employees and more than $40-Billion dollars in revenues across a wide specter of activities from manufacturing to financial services to technology. The survey was conducted before the November 13 terrorist attacks.



Monday, 30 November 2015 00:00

Big Performance from Low-Power Hardware

You can reduce power in the data center in several ways, from more efficient hardware designs to advanced load balancing and infrastructure management software. But sometimes the direct approach is the most effective: If you want to lessen the power draw, employ low-power hardware.

On the data side of the house, power consumption is mostly a matter of the processors you choose. Also, with new generations hitting the channel that promise greater performance within a lower power envelope than current devices, many organizations will see their power consumption lessen as part of the normal hardware refresh process.



Monday, 30 November 2015 00:00

Architecting the Optimal Big Data Platform

The enterprise is doing its best to build the infrastructure needed to support Big Data, but not surprisingly most organizations are already starting to feel the strain. Data, after all, has a way of accumulating faster than either hardware or software can handle it, even in the age of rapid scalability.

And as many IT executives are finding out, there is more to Big Data than simply finding a place to store and analyze it.

According to a recent survey of U.S. and UK executives from Researchscape International, nearly half say their current data warehousing platforms are starting to break due to rising analytic workloads. Perhaps coincidentally, about half say they are employing new platforms like Hadoop and Spark for Big Data while the other half is trying to leverage legacy platforms, although there was no indication as to whether it was the latter group that was experiencing the most severe growing pains. A key complaint by about a third of the group, however, was that volume growth is pushing the warehousing budget to unsustainable levels.



I’m sure we can all agree that when an IT organization experiences a system disruption or outage, the sooner the right people know about it, the sooner the issue will be resolved, and the better the outcome for the business. So what does the organization need to have such a system in place, and to give it the best shot at a quick resolution?

I had the opportunity to discuss this topic in a recent email interview with Vincent Geffray, senior director of product marketing at Everbridge, a Glendale, Calif.-based provider of unified communications systems for incident alerting and management. Geffray explained what’s needed—and why it’s needed—this way:



Elaine Tomlin elected to the Business Continuity Institute Board of Directors

The Business Continuity Institute is delighted to welcome Elaine Tomlin MBCI to its Board of Directors, taking over as Membership Director from Bill Crichton FBCI whose time in the role has come to end.

Elaine is the Business Continuity Manager at Certus Ltd in Ireland and the BCI's Global Membership Council representative for Europe. It was her fellow members of the GMC that voted Elaine onto the Board.

On taking up the new role, Elaine commented: "I am truly delighted and honoured to be elected to the BCI Board of Directors. I have been a BCI member for the past 10 years and certainly didn’t predict that one day, I would be joining the Board and supporting the strategic direction of this global organisation. With that in mind, I look forward to meeting the rest of the Board, bringing new ideas to the table, supporting members and delivering strategic plans and activities. I also look forward to my continued involvement and activities within the BCI Global Membership Council. A busy year ahead!"

The BCI would like to thank Bill Crichton for the dedication he has shown to the industry and the Institute during his time as Membership Director. During his time on the Board, the Institute has seen significant change and this is in no small part to the effort put in by Bill. Of course Bill will continue to dedicate some of his time to the BCI in his role as the Chair of the 20/20 Think Tank’s UK Group.

“Cloud compliance” used to be a dirty word – or at least a scary one. Security concerns ran rampant in the wild west of the cloud’s early days, and IT professionals fell into two camps: those who moved forward with cloud services, holding their collective breath against perceived risk, and those who simply stayed away from the public cloud altogether.

These days, both strategies are unnecessary. Cloud compliance is now very possible, and very do-able, as long as you avoid these five cloud compliance misfires:



Monday, 30 November 2015 00:00

US CERT: Shopping Safely Online

Why do online shoppers have to take special precautions?

The Internet offers convenience not available from other shopping outlets. From the comfort of your home, you can search for items from multiple vendors, compare prices with a few mouse clicks, and make purchases without waiting in line. However, the Internet is also convenient for attackers, giving them multiple ways to access the personal and financial information of unsuspecting shoppers. Attackers who are able to obtain this information may use it for their own financial gain, either by making purchases themselves or by selling the information to someone else.

How do attackers target online shoppers?

There are three common ways that attackers can take advantage of online shoppers:

  • Creating fraudulent sites and email messages – Unlike traditional shopping, where you know that a store is actually the store it claims to be, attackers can create malicious websites or email messages that appear to be legitimate. Attackers may also misrepresent themselves as charities, especially after natural disasters or during holiday seasons. Attackers create these malicious sites and email messages to try to convince you to supply personal and financial information.
  • Intercepting insecure transactions – If a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is transmitted.
  • Targeting vulnerable computers – If you do not take steps to protect your computer from viruses or other malicious code, an attacker may be able to gain access to your computer and all of the information on it. It is also important for vendors to protect their computers to prevent attackers from accessing customer databases.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Do business with reputable vendors – Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Some attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information. (See Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks and Understanding Web Site Certificates for more information.) Attackers may obtain a site certificate for a malicious website to appear more authentic, so review the certificate information, particularly the "issued to" information. Locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill.
  • Make sure your information is being encrypted – Many sites use secure sockets layer (SSL) to encrypt information. Indications that your information will be encrypted include a URL that begins with "https:" instead of "http:" and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted. The location of the icon varies by browser; for example, it may be to the right of the address bar or at the bottom of the window. Some attackers try to trick users by adding a fake padlock icon, so make sure that the icon is in the appropriate location for your browser.
  • Be wary of emails requesting information – Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information. (See Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks.) Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email. Do not provide sensitive information through email. If you receive an unsolicited email from a business, instead of clicking on the provided link, directly log on to the authentic website by typing the address yourself. (See Recognizing and Avoiding Email Scams.)
  • Use a credit card – There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same level of protection for your debit cards. Additionally, because a debit card draws money directly from your bank account, unauthorized charges could leave you with insufficient funds to pay other bills. You can minimize potential damage by using a single, low-limit credit card to making all of your online purchases. Also use a credit card when using a payment gateway such as PayPal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay.
  • Check your shopping app settings – Look for apps that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure. Keep in mind that there is no legal limit on your liability with money stored in a shopping app (or on a gift card). Unless otherwise stated under the terms of service, you are responsible for all charges made through your shopping app.
  • Check your statements – Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately. (See Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft.)
  • Check privacy policies – Before providing personal or financial information, check the website's privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used. (See Protecting Your Privacy.)

Iron Mountain Incorporated has published the results of a recent research survey with IDG Research Services to understand the level of risk associated with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in the enterprise, the importance of contingency planning, and the consequences experienced when a SaaS vendor does not meet expectations for application support.

Often, small SaaS providers can’t answer the question “What if your servers go down?” much less the bigger question, “What if you close your doors, how do I continue operations and get my data?” SaaS providers need to earn the trust of their customers by ensuring that an application continuity plan is in place.

The survey targeted management-level employees at enterprises employing 1,000 or more people to gain their insight.

Key findings from the research include:

  • SaaS has risen to 25 percent of the average applications portfolio (as compared to 11 percent in 2008);
  • Half of respondents think that risks associated with SaaS are greater than those of traditional on-premises software;
  • 73 percent of enterprises surveyed say it’s ‘very important’ or ‘critical’ that a SaaS provider allow continued access to applications and data, even if the provider goes out of business.

The survey report recommends that users of SaaS applications ensure that they have a business continuity plan in place that can see them through any type of crisis – including ‘man-made disasters’ such as hacking or a server crash – that aren’t covered by typical disaster recovery (DR) plans.

Download ‘When the Cloud Evaporates’ at www.ironmountain.com/cloud-evaporates (registration required.)

With the aim of raising standards of governance and administration in defined contribution (DC) schemes, the UK Pensions Regulator has publishing a draft revised code of practice for consultation.

The new draft DC code is shorter and simpler, and sets out the standards of conduct and practice the regulator expects trustee boards to meet in complying with their legal duties, and to deliver better long term outcomes for retirement savers.

The new code will overhaul the existing DC code first published in 2013 to better support trustee boards and managers of schemes offering money purchase benefits as they adapt to major reforms introduced earlier this year.

The draft DC code includes a section which specifies what is required when it comes to business continuity. It reads as follows:

“We expect trustee boards to ensure that they have an adequate business continuity plan and that this is reviewed at least annually, and tested as appropriate. The complexity of this plan will dependon the size and complexity of the administration operation, but weexpect it to cover:

  • loss of key personnel
  • business disaster recovery
  • safeguarding of data
  • how to continue to process core financial transactions.

“Where a third party administrator is used, trustee boards will need to understand the business continuity arrangements that the service provider has in place, and be confident that it adequately mitigates any risks to member data and benefits.”

The consultation will run until the end of January 2016 before the DC code is laid in Parliament next May, and comes into force in July. The 2013 code remains in force until then.

More details.

One of the great things about cloud storage is its collaborative capabilities. With some relatively simple software, enterprises can make data available to a wide range of users via multiple devices across large geographic areas.

The problem is, not all data is appropriate for the public cloud, which is why many organizations are working to implement the same collaborative tools across their on-premises storage infrastructure. Ideally, this works best in a private cloud setting, although it can also function within a traditional storage array, but perhaps not with the same degree of scale and flexibility.

Much of this development is coming from firms that are already steeped in public cloud collaboration. Egnyte, which builds both cloud and on-premises file management systems, recently teamed up with collaboration firm Jive to enable greater collaboration across the entire enterprise data environment. The idea is to give users greater choice over where and how they store, access and share data, with Egnyte bringing secure, application-based file access and orchestration to the Jive platform and Jive helping Egnyte tie into multiple productivity offerings from Microsoft, Google and others.



Alphabet subsidiary Google has contracted for 61 MW of solar power with Duke Energy, the largest utility in the US, to power its North Carolina data centers.

While utility-scale renewable power purchase agreements are common for Google, this is the solar power contract that’s big enough for an entire data center. “This is the first time that we’re purchasing solar power in enough volume to power one of our data centers,” Gary Demasi, who oversees data center energy and location strategy at Google, wrote in a blog post.

The company has multiple data centers on its campus in Lenoir. The first data center there was constructed in 2007, and six years later the company announced an expansion project.



Wednesday, 25 November 2015 00:00

CDC: Give the Gift of Preparedness

As the holiday season quickly approaches and holiday shopping begins, find a gift that truly show those you love how much you care—the gift of preparedness


infographic illustrating an emergency kit.

While an emergency kit may not be on any of the top-ten big name gift lists this season, a starter kit could end up being the most important gift you give your friends and family this year.  Most of us would love to be a little more prepared, but have not made the time or don’t know where to start. Often, just taking the first step towards getting prepared is the hardest part. Give your friends and family the gift of being prepared for the unexpected.

Need creative ideas for your gifts of preparedness? We’ve got you covered with these gift ideas:

The Starter Kit

Help get your friends thinking emergency prep with a few key items to start their emergency kit. Pack the items in a small plastic storage container or water-proof bag that can be stored easily. Include the following items:

  • 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)

Emergency Prep for Kids

Sometimes the best way to get families thinking about emergency preparedness is through teaching kids about the importance of having an emergency kit, an emergency communication plan, and a family emergency response plan for every disaster.

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).

Emergency Kits for the Road

Is you car ready for winter graphic with cartoon bird and car emergency kit supplies

For the car-lovers or new drivers on your list, consider putting together a kit of emergency supplies they 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 or a car charger, or rechargeable portable charger)

Pets and Pet Lovers

young girl with shopping bags and a pug dog

Remember to include pets in your emergency planning. Whether you are thinking of gifts for your furry friends or a gift for the pet lovers in your life, put together a gift of the following pet emergency kit items:

  • Extra food and water for your pet, including an extra water and food bowl.
  • Sturdy leash, harness, and carrier to transport pet safely. A carrier should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for several hours.
  • Pet toy and a pet bed that can easily be stored and taken if you are forced to evacuate. (Remember to always check with your local emergency shelters before a disaster to find out which shelters take in pets).

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.

(TNS) - Plans are accelerating for construction of a new regional Emergency Management Center in McAlester built to withstand an F5 tornado, nearby blasts, or explosions and even earthquakes.

When completed, the McAlester office will serve as the hub for emergency management services for all of southeastern Oklahoma — basically everything south of Interstate 40 and east of Interstate 35.

The building would also serve as local headquarters for the McAlester/Pittsburg County Office of Emergency Management — allowing personnel with the agency to move out of their current headquarters in the oft-flooded basement of the Pittsburg County Justice Center. Plans call for the building to also include office space for the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management and the Choctaw Nation Office of Emergency Management.



For Tuscaloosa, Ala., there are lessons to be learned from the terror that gripped Paris just over a week ago.

After the Islamic State attacks, Democratic Mayor Walter Maddox took note of the Parisian security staff that prevented a suicide bomber from entering the French national soccer stadium. His thoughts turned to Bryant-Denny Stadium -- where more than 100,000 people gather for University of Alabama football games.

Maddox said he considered what could happen in his 95,000-person city. But he and some terrorism and security specialists say many chief executives and police departments in midsize U.S. cities may not realize that terrorism could put their people and infrastructure at just as much risk as high-profile targets like New York City and Washington, D.C.



McGraw-Hill Education's chief digital officer has driven the company's effort to leverage small data to improve student outcomes, teacher insights, and curriculum improvements. Here's why small is better than big.

In any individual math classroom there may be an advanced student, a dyslexic student, and many other students with various levels of proficiency and confidence in the current module of math. How can you customize the educational experience of each of these students to enable the best outcome? McGraw-Hill Education says it believes that small data, which in this case is data generated by how students interact with the curriculum, is the answer.

Stephen Laster joined the company as chief digital officer a little over three years ago to drive its implementation of small data to improve educational outcomes. He's someone who is passionate about education, and someone whose own educational experience was mixed.



Wednesday, 25 November 2015 00:00

Big Data and Information Security

Big data is becoming an increasingly important part of the business plan for companies in many different industries. Analyzing large customer datasets and other kinds of data with tools like Hadoop reporting lets companies save money as well as boost revenue by targeting their marketing better, designing products to better appeal to their customers, make better predictions, and so on. On the other hand, this rise in the use of big data has coincided with the rise of advanced persistent threats to data security. Big data is not just lucrative to the companies that collect it: it is also worth money to identity thieves and other bad actors. This has given rise to a cottage industry in hacking and cracking. Companies that use big data, especially if that data consists of personal information of customers, are at an elevated risk of drawing hacking attempts. Developing ways to protect that data will prove to be just as important as the data itself.

The last few years have seen hacking capture headlines on a regular basis. Large companies like Target have become victims, with hackers stealing credit card information of millions of customers at a time. Even the U.S. government has been affected. The Federal Office of Personnel Management was breached earlier this year and detailed personal information of several million American citizens was stolen by unknown hackers. These breaches are only the latest of a string of such attacks. Furthermore, just because the largest companies are the most likely to make the news does not mean that smaller companies are safe. Hackers know that while large companies tend to control more data, small companies have less robust cyber-defenses, leaving them more vulnerable to organized attack.



The general narrative of the evolution of the public cloud infrastructure services market over the last several years has been that the handful of giants have used their scale and engineering resources to add features and lower prices to a point where most smaller providers can no longer compete, forcing even the big but late to arrive players like Dell and HP to exit the market altogether.

New York-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider DigitalOcean has been one of the exceptions. Having built a reputation and a following as the cloud infrastructure service for developers, the company has been growing fast, raising funds and expanding scale. Adrian Cockcroft, a well-known cloud infrastructure technologist and more recently a venture capitalist, working as a technology fellow at Battery Ventures, pointed DigitalOcean out in his overview of the cloud market last week at the Structure conference in San Francisco as one of the leaders, saying the company had been in “hyper growth” until about one year ago, even though recently its growth was slowing.

Similar to the biggest players, the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, there is pressure on DigitalOcean to expand data center footprint, both to add capacity in existing locations and to add new ones. DigitalOcean started in 2012 with two data centers, in New York and Amsterdam, but operates 11 today. It added three locations last year and two this year and plans to launch more in 2016, Luca Salvatore, network engineering manager at DigitalOcean, said in an interview.



The British insurance company Lloyd’s estimates that cyber attacks cost businesses as much as $400 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.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) says a significant portion of cybercrime goes undetected, particularly industrial espionage where access to confidential documents and data is difficult to spot.

Then there’s the hacks and breaches which go unreported by privately held and unregulated companies who are fearful of how cyber incidents will damage their reputations — which can have a negative impact on revenues, company valuation when raising capital, customer acquisition and retention, and their ability to recruit top talent.



There are many factors that can affect a company’s credit ratings and it appears that cyber risk is moving up a notch in importance in corporate credit analysis.

In a new report, ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service said it views material cyber threats in a similar vein as other extraordinary event risks, such as a natural disaster, with any subsequent credit impact depending on the duration and severity of the event.

Moody’s reports:

While we do not explicitly incorporate cyber risk as a principal credit factor today, our fundamental credit analysis incorporates numerous stress-testing scenarios, and a cyber event could be the trigger for one of those stress scenarios.”



Board member views on strategy and risk oversight have shifted to a longer-term orientation with emphasis on evaluating macro-trends as part of their strategic review, according to PwC’s 2015 Annual Corporate Directors Survey. But the survey points to growing pressure among Board members to balance longer-term strategic planning and investment with the need to meet short-term investor expectations.



No matter how big or small your business, it’s probably fair to say that you rely on IT to function. And all IT, whether it comes in the form of a mobile device, an email server or a cloud-based application, is susceptible to failure.

This is an increasingly big deal. According to a December study from EMC, data loss and downtime cost companies worldwide a massive $1.7 trillion (£1 trillion) in 2014. Moreover, a 2013 report from the Ponemon Institute and Emerson Network Power pegged the per-minute cost of data centre downtime at an astonishing $7,900 (£5,000). In today’s data-dependent world, the failure to bounce back from an IT outage could be enough to kill your business.

The practice of preparing for downtime, and of taking steps to ensure a speedy return to normality, is called disaster recovery (DR) planning. Unfortunately, it’s not always a walk in the park to create an effective DR plan, particularly when you’re only a small business. Doing it well requires time, knowledge and expertise, and measuring ROI can be difficult.

Luckily, help is available. A quick Google search should turn up a raft of free resources for organisations to use in the DR planning process, including DR plan templates that span a broad spectrum in terms of length and complexity. We’ve even created one of our own: the Kroll Ontrack small business DR plan template.



If you run or use the services of a data centre for your organisation, the quality and compliance of that data centre are likely to be dear to your heart. Your auditors may be breathing down your neck to make sure it has a clean slate financially. Your senior management may be pressuring you for assurances about data protection. Ideally, the data centre can show that it meets requirements. Suppose it offers to do so by demonstrating compliance with ISAE 3402, the standard developed by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board. One version of ISAE 3402 may satisfy your financial audit team, but won’t answer concerns about data protection, and vice versa. How will you know which is which?

ISAE 3402 exists in “flavours” of Service Organisation Control (SOC) reports. There are two types of SOC that are each aimed at a different audience, either the auditors or the managers mentioned above.



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Many pets were left behind to fend for themselves during the wildfires in California’s Calaveras and Lake counties resulting in serious injuries, death or disappearance.

This occurred because the fire came so fast many survivors had no time to save the animals.

"Pets are members of the family. You wouldn't want to leave a family member behind during a disaster would you?" said Deputy State Coordinating Officer Charles Rabamad. "Having a plan and emergency kit for your pets is just as important as having them for your mother, father, sister or brother."

With predictions of more severe weather and flooding this winter due to El Niño now is a good time to develop both a family and pet emergency plan. Here are some tips on what to include in your pet plan:

  • If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, ask your veterinarian about the possibility. Make sure your pet’s tags are up-to-date and fastened to its collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, its tag is its ticket home.
  • Make sure your pet’s immunizations are current and keep a copy of the veterinary records with you.
  • Take a photo of your pet and keep it with you for identification purposes.
  • Make a pet emergency kit. You should have enough pet food, bottled water and medications for three days. Also, pack cat litter and pan, manual can opener, food dishes, leash and collar, brush, blankets, a first aid kit and other supplies. A full list of items to include can be found online at www.Ready.Gov. Information also is available at www.Cal-cares,com and www.CDFA.ca.gov.
  • If you plan to shelter in place, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Put all emergency supplies in that room ahead of time, including your pet’s crate and supplies.

Include Your Pets in Emergency Planning

  • Consider checking with your local animal control agency or emergency management office now to determine if a pet-friendly shelter is available in your area. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies.
  • Make a buddy system with your friends or neighbors as a back-up emergency plan if you cannot care for your animals yourself. The buddy system will assure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

Those with larger animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs should also plan for these animals by:

  • Ensuring all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuating animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
  • Making sure vehicles and trailers for transporting animals as well as experienced handlers and drivers are available.
  • Ensuring destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.

Survivors can register for FEMA assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Registration continues through Nov. 23.

For more information on California’s wildfire recovery, visit: caloes.ca.gov or fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 or @CAL_OES and facebook.com/CaliforniaOES and at Facebook.com/FEMA. For more information on preparing your pets for a disaster go to www.Ready.Gov.   The state program CARES also provides information on animal care and control in the event of a disaster or emergency. Find the agency online at www.cal-cares.com.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

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

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

We talk a lot about the extreme partisanship in American politics. Seems Europe has at least some of the same phenomenon. We also talk about the “Digital mob” and the lack of civility in political discourse.

Economist has some insights (again!). This article called Extreme Tweeting shows how the right and left extremes in European politics far dominate use of social media. It’s clear that politicians on the far left and far right are both far better at using social media than those more down the middle and that their audiences are far larger and far more engaged. But why?

The article suggests several reasons. 1) they are more prolific users, 2) “Social media reward starkness, not subtlety” 3)  faster reaction because they don’t seem to sweat over delicacies (ala Trump I suppose) 4) they are more into organizing and activating.



We talk a lot about the extreme partisanship in American politics. Seems Europe has at least some of the same phenomenon. We also talk about the “Digital mob” and the lack of civility in political discourse.

Economist has some insights (again!). This article called Extreme Tweeting shows how the right and left extremes in European politics far dominate use of social media. It’s clear that politicians on the far left and far right are both far better at using social media than those more down the middle and that their audiences are far larger and far more engaged. But why?

The article suggests several reasons. 1) they are more prolific users, 2) “Social media reward starkness, not subtlety” 3)  faster reaction because they don’t seem to sweat over delicacies (ala Trump I suppose) 4) they are more into organizing and activating.



Gartner issued a series of interesting predictions this week. Upon looking at them, you might think they are overly aggressive. But over the last decade, technology decisions have moved back to being driven by line executives rather than IT executives. Gartner bases its predictions historically on conversations with IT.

 IT is a service organization and is generally brought in on a change after line has decided to make it. This means that in cases where technology is changing even more rapidly, IT can be six to 18 months out from when they believe a change is needed. This has become particularly pronounced when it comes to cloud services because, increasingly, line has chosen to move on cloud services and, at least initially, has bypassed IT.

The point of this is to suggest that you check with your line organizations on their thinking in regard to these tech trends and make sure your organization is prepared to assist in the related rollouts. Otherwise, you may find they are happening without you.



Tuesday, 24 November 2015 00:00

Adding a Human Element to Cybersecurity

I read an article this morning that discussed how little most companies trust friendly hackers when they discover vulnerabilities. According to the San Francisco Chronicle article, while some larger tech companies are willing to listen to these outside sources, the majority are leery of them [registration required].

This might not be great news for information-sharing laws, but I do wonder if there is a role for friendly hackers in behavior analytics, which relies on human and attacker behaviors. A new report from Rapid 7 points out how important the role of behavior analytics is in today’s threat detection and prevention. As the report states:

Vulnerabilities and exploits grab headlines and the attention of the world’s security community . . . However, penetration testers and criminal intruders agree: Compromised credentials are what makes the job of hacking possible and profitable for intruders on a daily basis.



Tuesday, 24 November 2015 00:00

Vendor Risk Management: The Full Definition

Vendor risk management (VRM) is the practice of evaluating business partners, associates, or third-party vendors both before a business relationship is established and during the duration of your business contract. This is an important concept and practice to put in place during the evaluation of your vendors and the procurement process.

A key feature of VRM is understanding your vendor’s cybersecurity program. This allows you to understand how well they’re going to be able to secure your data, both from a physical and cyber perspective. VRM helps ensure that your vendors have a contractual obligation for specific requirements and standards, therefore mitigating your organization’s risk.

There are a number of risks vendors can bring to your enterprise, including:



Tuesday, 24 November 2015 00:00

BCM & DR: Mergers & Acquisitions (Part 2)

As noted in Part 1, if you’re going to be merging all areas of the two companies and the acquired will be engulfed or swallowed up by the acquiring company, then BCM/DR has a very large workload ahead of itself.  In some regards, it’ll be like starting over but you’ll know half the BCM need already.  If you work for the acquiring company you will have – or better have – your Business Impact Analysis (BIA) results, which would have been used to build the rest of your program; however, if you’re in need of the same information from the acquired company, you may not have that information available.  If you do – hurray! but if you don’t, well, now you’ve got to get that half of the acquisition on par with what you already have.

It’s not as easy as saying that you’d replace one system with another (e.g. one finance department changes to the other finance departments operations).  Your BIA needs to identify all the new applications, systems, people, processes and all the interdependencies – internal and external.  Then you have to compare the results of the two companies; identifying duplication and stand-alone items.  Not an easy thing because you may find that some processes can’t be merged easily with other processes due to system configuration, regulatory requirements (especially if the company you’re purchasing is a foreign business) and user application.



Tuesday, 24 November 2015 00:00

Custom Data Center Builds Made Easy

Building a data center from the ground up can be an expensive, risky, and time consuming process that pulls needed resources away from core business objectives.

If you’re looking to build a new data center, contact the experienced team at CyrusOne to develop the best data center solution for your growing business.

Download the CyrusOne Solutions product bulletin for the one-stop shop for flexible and future-proof data center builds.



Sunday, 22 November 2015 06:00

BCI World 2015

I started to write this post as my train left London following two packed days at this year’s BCI World event. I figured that this was as good a time as any to capture my experience and thoughts whilst it’s fresh in my mind! However, I decided that I could do with a couple of weeks reflection because these conferences tend to get you quite pumped and excited and then you go back to normal. I did have a go last year at trying to describe what goes on at the event but in fairness I did only attend the exhibition and the gala dinner and this year I attended the full programme so hopefully I can more observations this time.

The first thing I should say is that the opening and closing speakers, while not topic-related, were superb and everybody appreciated them. The conference set up and organisation was well received by everyone I that spoke to and so a big thank you to the BCI for organising such a worthwhile event.



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

2016: The Year of The Data Center

With 2016 quickly approaching, executives are starting to hash out their plans and budgets for the coming year. While all aspects of a business are important, no other division is more critical to supporting business growth than the IT department. After all, most businesses today have data they need to keep secure and functioning in order to keep things running smoothly.

That’s why it’s so pivotal that IT executives keep their data center operations top of mind for the coming year as these choices will impact their business growth not only for the 2016, but for years to come.

Keeping this in mind, I spoke with 15 data center site managers and with the office of the CTO to determine what the top trends for data centers in 2016 will be.



Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (HOT) last week said some of its North American locations were infected with malware that enabled unauthorized users to access customer payment card information.

And as a result, Starwood tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by the Georgia Secretary of State's office, PandaLabs and Clearswift.

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



AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions' new D3 analytics business unit is predicting more than just the weather. It's capitalizing on what has become one of the company's fastest-growing businesses, predictive analytics-as-a-service, to help clients make business decisions. AccuWeather's chief commercial officer shared the details. 

"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it," is a quote often attributed to Mark Twain. While we can't change the weather itself, many companies are using weather data combined with other data streams to make better strategic and tactical business decisions.

AccuWeather, a company best known for its consumer weather prediction and media business, has been informally consulting with organizations for two decades on how to use weather data and other data to make better business decisions. The company formally launched a predictive analytics-as-a-service business about three years ago and last month moved even deeper into the space with D3 Analytics, a division that specializes in this service of aggregating and analyzing hundreds of weather factors, together with consumer and sales data. The division provides insights to companies in the retail, healthcare, financial services, and other industry verticals.



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

Automate Netscaler Security with Octoblu

Are you responsible for securing your company’s datacenters, networks, and data?

There is no doubt that cyber attacks and cyber espionage incidents are on the rise. PewResearch reports that most security professionals believe the following:

“By 2025, a major cyber attack will have caused widespread harm to a nation’s security and capacity to defend itself and its people (By “widespread harm,” we mean significant loss of life or property losses/damage/theft at the levels of tens of billions of dollars.)”

Here are a couple of additional security facts:



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

How Secure is Your HR Data?

When you think about an HR Department, you think about potential applicants, the interview process, an information repository for all employees or your own engagement with the company. Of course during the first week of November you consider HR to be the keeper of all things benefits — open enrollment and all of the paperwork that entails. The HR Department must keep all of this information confidential while also handling the external client roster, circulation of company policies and a wide array of interoffice communications. This poses a unique security challenge for any organization, regardless of size, which needs to prevent unauthorized internal users from accessing employee information, including PII (personally identifiable information), but needs to share employee information with external benefits providers and accounting. The environment calls for a solution with the flexibility to protect against insider threats and destroy files automatically, while enabling secure sharing.

Where to start? 

Most if not all of the information going in and out of the HR department needs some level of security, and so the first task is to inventory and classify the types of data the department handles. Two tiers work best, with tier 1 being the highest and warranting automatic security policy and encryption on creation. Tier 1 data includes intellectual property, executive compensation, Board of Director files, customer lists, financial data and employee personnel files. Tier 2 includes policy manuals, interoffice correspondence and pre-release public files. 




Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00


The attacks in Paris and subsequent events have horrified any right-minded person. The slaughter of innocent civilians sickened the world and the outpouring of support for the city of Paris; the country of France and the French people has been universal. One of the things that I thought about in the aftermath is the intersection of corruption and terrorism. The EU open border policy and its banks notoriously lax money laundering regimes and enforcement could certainly have contributed to some of the underlying factors leading to the attack. I am sure there will be aggressive and robust responses from governments across the globe involving new and beefed up anti-money laundering (AML) laws. This is something the anti-corruption compliance practitioner and all US companies need to prepare for in the days and weeks to come, largely in response to the attacks in Paris.

Most anti-corruption compliance practitioner and most US companies do not focus on AML compliance or corporate AML controls. However, the bad guys think about how to move money around from their ill-gotten gains quite a bit, using the most innocuous types of business. In an article Los Angeles Times (LAT), entitled “Cartels use legitimate trade to launder money, US and Mexico say”, reporters Tracy Wilkinson and Ken Ellingwood described a process whereby teams of money launderers working for cartels use dollars to purchase a commodity from the US and then export the commodity to Mexico or Colombia. A key is that “Paperwork is generated that gives a patina of propriety” which means that drug money is given the appearance of legitimate proceeds from a legitimate commercial transaction. An Immigration and Customs official interviewed said, “It’s such a great scheme. You could hide dirty money in so much legitimate business, and they do. You can audit their books all day long and all you see is goods being imported and exported.” Another scheme involved several executives of Angel Toy Company, who conspired with Mexican drug cartels to launder drug money through a scheme to purchase Teddy Bears (of all things), for shipment back to and for resale in Mexico. The plan was straightforward, just under $10K of cash for each shipment of Teddy Bears, which were then resold in Mexico.



Dignitaries in military garb and suit-wearers alike can’t help but be drawn to the Rapiscan CounterBomber. A modernist bongo kit of a counterterrorism device, it’s spinning slowly on a platform at Parc Des Expositions, the biggest convention center in Paris. At six feet tall and more than three feet wide, the CounterBomber has three tomtom-sized radar panels connected to a sturdy tripod. The police point it at a crowd to detect the outlines of a suicide bomb strapped to any individual, at distances “outside of the blast danger zone”. An agent in a truck somewhere clicks on people onscreen and gets a readout.

Andy Lynch, program manager at Rapiscan, says the company hasn’t sold a unit to US law enforcement yet, but it’s not out of the question. There may be some issues with fourth amendment rights, though, such is the potential for invasive unwarranted searches carried out by an agent hiding in a booth. What Rapiscan will never say out loud is that the machines would have come in handy at the Stade de France, where three men blew themselves up on Friday. It’s just a 15 minute train ride from the convention center.



Often it is said that ‘partnering’ is part of the Cisco DNA and its true: Cisco’s Partner ecosystem for years has brought together an ecosystem of trusted partners which deliver solutions, software and services that provide needed business solutions and outcomes.

Cisco has a strong ‘bench’ of technology partners, too. These partners allow us to combine Cisco solutions with their technology platforms resulting in integrated architectures focused on specific industries or use cases. Frequently these are delivered in the form of a Cisco Validated Design (CVD) and are available freely on the Cisco Design Zone.

For Cisco Big Data and Analytics solutions, where our Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure for Big Data is the foundation, partners are key. We partner with industry leading Big Data firms to deliver flexible architectures and solutions which help to make your data the foundation of your digital business. Below, in alphabetical order, are new videos from some of our Big Data partners. Each is a Big Data leader in their own right and each has worked closely with Cisco to bring solution(s) to market. These are short and sweet videos – so carve out a few moments in your day and view a few:



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

Supply Chain Business Continuity Plans

Expect the unexpected: It’s a mantra that should be adopted by every supply chain manager. Since globalization has altered the cycle of manufacturing and the majority of time the raw materials/supplies, manufacturing facility and customer all reside thousands of miles away from each other, our supply chains are extremely vulnerable to manmade and natural incidents that can halt normal business operations. The continuity of your business is dependent on your ability to keep supply chains open, manufacturing running and clients supplied. The best way to do this is to include your supply chain in your business continuity plans.



The role of enterprise architecture and the enterprise architect has steadily grown in scope and in importance over the last two decades. Although many EA teams operate as part of the IT department, others are taking a more active position as they help to inform and guide strategy planning, investment and transformation at the enterprise-level. We have reached a stage where EA, as a discipline, is well-established within many enterprises as a core capability. 

But increasingly the boundary of “enterprise” architecture is extending beyond organizational boundaries. The domain of the enterprise architect is changing, as more and more “enterprise” architecture components are sourced externally. Social and environmental architectures are as important to an enterprise architecture as the components that remain within the enterprise boundary and under the direct control of the EA team. 

Emerging technologies and digital disruption will transform the enterprise, but they will also transform the ways in which we architect.



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

Cyber Vigilantes Provide Intel to Feds

(TNS) -- A small band of cyber jihadi hunters — including former members of the hacktivist group Anonymous — has been quietly feeding the feds online intel that’s foiled more than 10 terror plots and identified scores of ISIS recruiters and websites, on a mission that’s acquired new urgency in the wake of the Paris attacks.

“We felt enough wasn’t being done, so we wanted to put our skills to good use,” said the executive director of Ghost Security Group, who only goes by the online hacker name DigitaShadow after numerous ISIS death threats. “We’re completely independent. We survive off donations alone.”

Ghost Security Group has provided valuable information since June, according to Michael S. Smith II, co-founder of defense contractor Kronos Advisory and a former adviser to a Congressional terrorism task force.



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

Terrorism – A Tectonic Shift?

What do you do when the unthinkable happens? It’s not like we haven’t seen these determined and increasingly emboldened acts of terrorism before. The World Trade Center; Mumbai, India; Nairobi, Africa — just to name a few.

Innocent lives are lost because of desperate acts committed by a growing number of groups globally. We mourn the lives lost in Paris and the victims of each these attacks; yet their numbers are growing. According to a new study reported by CNN, “deaths from terrorism increased by 80 percent in 2014, with 32,658 people killed.” The sharp rise is attributable to increased acts of terror from a relatively small base. Boko Haram and ISIS accounted for 51 percent of the claimed killings. But is this a “tectonic shift” or a spike in terror events due to an anomaly of success by two terror groups who are willing to attack non-combatants?

I have no special intelligence, nor do I possess the skills to quantitatively measure the likelihood or location of the next terrorist event. I don’t think you need either to consider how to respond to events in Paris. French authorities and, I suspect, other government security professionals are now sharing information and responding to evidence that may have been overlooked in previous surveillance. We must trust that every resource available is working overtime to deal with this new threat. Overreaction, while understandable, tends to lead to less well-informed actions that may not have been taken during times of more clarity. For perspective, consider that 34,017 people died in car accidents in the U.S. alone in 2010, according to NHTSA. That is less than 1.25 fatalities per 100 million miles. In order words, these are relatively rare events, notwithstanding the rising numbers.



The terror attack in Paris last week sparked a renewed debate over how to intercept terrorist networks communicating via protected social media platforms. 
In the aftermath of the coordinated attack that left at least 129 people dead, applications like Telegram are being criticized by some for providing an alleged venue for terrorist collaboration.
While others argue digital backdoors into these networks would not end — or even stall — the activities of terror groups, critics say the popular communication networks are an all too valuable tool for groups like the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL). 
In a September interview with TechCrunch, Pavel Durov, the creator of Telegram, acknowledged that the radicalized Islamic group was in fact using the service to communicate.
Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

NI Health Trust Denies Data Loss Claims

A health trust in Northern Ireland has denied claims from a whistleblower that it suffered a data loss that put patients at risk.

It was stated by a source that at least two weeks of sensitive information had been lost following a system failure at the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s Altnagelvin Hospital data centre, Derry Now reports.

According to the whistleblower, the trust has no back-ups and, as a result, information including appointments and referrals were lost.

However, the organisation has refuted these claims, explaining that the information affected by the problem was not lost, as it had already been processed or re-entered from manual records.

“The Trust has carried out an extensive data verification process where all parties who had been making referrals have been requested to verify that their data has been processed, this includes any external organisations such as GP practices,” it stated.

However, the claims illustrate the problems that can be caused if organisations are not prepared for data loss, and emphasise the importance of having solutions on hand to recover such information.

From:: http://www.krollontrack.co.uk/company/press-room/data-recovery-news/ni-health-trust-denies-data-loss-claims101.aspx

If EMC has its way, the line between primary storage on premise and secondary and tertiary storage in the cloud is going to get a whole lot blurrier. This week, EMC unveiled a raft of updates to its storage portfolio that essentially turn EMC VMAX and VNX storage systems into hubs through which IT organizations can tier data across local systems and external cloud services.

Chris Ratcliffe, senior vice president of marketing for EMC Core Technologies, says that as storage management gets more sophisticated, IT organizations are asking vendors for ways to break down the walls that currently separate various storage systems, and the cloud services that they increasingly rely on to back up and archive data at much lower costs than storing it on premise.

With that goal in mind, EMC has enhanced its FAST.X tiering software and EMC VPLEX cloud-tiering software to add support for the EMC CloudArray software that’s used to connect to external clouds and third-party storage systems running inside or outside of the same data center.



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

Paris attacks: the immediate lessons

As organizations review their business continuity and crisis management plans following the Paris attacks, Peter Power highlights some useful advice for protecting employees caught up in future incidents.

As I write these words France has just concluded three days of national mourning for the 129 people killed (so far) in the recent Paris attacks. But for anyone now urgently reviewing their crisis and business continuity management plans (and in my case planning with others the next World Conference on Disaster Management (WCDM), we should be testing responses and looking for ways to improve. After all, it is a lot more beneficial in terms of people and communities to try and outmanoeuvre an attack, than it is to recover from one. 

Up until a few days ago many people had been saying that a fight against (so called) IS is not their fight, presumably to avoid yet another West v East battle in the Middle East and possible reprisals at home. But now it's different. If we didn't know before, it's clear that IS has now come to us. They have gone global with attacks that are not random or indiscriminate, but in pursuit of their three aims: to terrorise, mobilise and polarise. This in turn triggers widespread and, at times, irrational, fear in target populations, bearing in mind that compared to other forms of fatality, death by IS in the West is currently rare. But that really doesn't help us sleep at night.



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

Handling de-resilient leadership

n his previous article Paul Kudray challenged readers to attempt to find out if their organization's leaders are resilient or de-resilient. In this article he addresses what to do if your organization and leaders aren’t as resilient as they would like to think they are! 

Since posing the challenging question about de-resilience in my previous article, we’ve sadly witnessed more tragic atrocities against society. Whatever the reasons are behind any acts of terrorism, and however they may change us, life carries on. To do anything less than continue, would be giving in; and that’s not in our DNA! 

It goes without saying that we feel sickened and saddened by what happened in Paris – and is still happening for many in areas such as Beirut and Syria. Words sound hollow, but we have every sympathy for those affected by disaster. It is one of our strongest motivators for continuing to build more resilient capabilities and societies for the future.

With greater resilience in mind - did you ask them? Did you have the audacity to face the challenge and ask your boss ‘the’ question?



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

Global supply chain risks remain high

Global supply chain risk remained ‘stubbornly high’ in the Q3 2015 Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) Risk Index, powered by Dun & Bradstreet, as interconnected geopolitical developments threaten to redraw the supply chain map. 

The cross-border presence of ISIS throughout the Middle East, the subsequent re-introduction of border controls within Europe's Schengen zone and the easing of US sanctions on Iran and Cuba are starting to shift the global flow of products and services into new, unknown territory.

Dun & Bradstreet analysed 132 countries against a number of criteria, including level of exports, to assess issues and challenges along the supply chain to produce a global risk score. Global supply chain risk stands at 79.1 in Q3 2015, only slightly down from the record high of 82.4 two years ago and considerably higher than the pre-financial crisis level of just 40.4 in Q4 2003. In Q3 the reliability of global supply chains has been undermined by the rise of radical Islam, a more assertive Russia, unstable commodity prices and the prolonged fallout from the 2008 economic crisis. At the same time, the growth of longer and more complex supply chains allow regional disruptions to cripple supply chains hundreds of miles away.



Monday, 23 November 2015 00:00

NI Health Trust Denies Data Loss Claims

A health trust in Northern Ireland has denied claims from a whistleblower that it suffered a data loss that put patients at risk.

It was stated by a source that at least two weeks of sensitive information had been lost following a system failure at the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s Altnagelvin Hospital data centre, Derry Now reports.

According to the whistleblower, the trust has no back-ups and, as a result, information including appointments and referrals were lost.

However, the organisation has refuted these claims, explaining that the information affected by the problem was not lost, as it had already been processed or re-entered from manual records.

“The Trust has carried out an extensive data verification process where all parties who had been making referrals have been requested to verify that their data has been processed, this includes any external organisations such as GP practices,” it stated.

However, the claims illustrate the problems that can be caused if organisations are not prepared for data loss, and emphasise the importance of having solutions on hand to recover such information.

From:: http://www.krollontrack.co.uk/company/press-room/data-recovery-news/ni-health-trust-denies-data-loss-claims101.aspx

Just 11 days left to participate in BC Management's 1st Annual Program Maturity Study - Measuring the Effectiveness of the Business Continuity/ Resiliency Program.  Be sure to Participate by December 1, 2015 to Qualify to Receive a Complimentary Report of the Study Findings!

Switch, the Las Vegas-based company that builds mega-scale data centers, is pushing officials in the State of Michigan to quickly pass a series of data center tax incentives, so it can proceed with plans to build a data center campus that will include a pyramid-shaped building that used to house offices of the large office furniture supplier Steelcase.

At full build-out, which may take up to 10 years, Switch’s plans call for two million square feet of building space across multiple data center buildings around the Steelcase pyramid. “It could be as many as six buildings,” company spokesman Adam Kramer said.

The pyramid’s basement would be turned into a data center, and additional buildings would be constructed around it.



Amazon Web Services, the e-commerce giant’s cloud services arm, has contracted with a wind farm developer for energy from a future 100 MW wind project in Paulding County, Ohio, to offset grid energy consumption of its cloud data centers, the company announced Thursday.

Utility-scale renewable power purchase agreements are becoming increasingly common among hyperscale data center operators like Amazon, its cloud services rivals Google and Microsoft, as well as Facebook, which does not provide cloud services but has multiple massive data centers in the US and Europe to support its user base. This year Equinix also started contracting for utility-scale renewables – something commercial data center service providers, whose customer base includes the aforementioned cloud giants, have traditionally been reluctant to do.

About one year ago, AWS made a commitment to power its operations entirely by renewable energy. The cloud provider said earlier this year that about one quarter of energy it consumed was renewable, and that its goal was to get to 40 percent renewable by the end of 2016.



Friday, 20 November 2015 00:00

County Web Presence, Smart911 Updated

(TNS) - Officials with Limestone County announced this week upgrades to the county's website and the Smart911 system as part of a new branding initiative.

County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough said the website upgrade was necessary as a means to continue recruiting new industries, businesses, students and citizens. He added that the new look of the website would help give “the right impression” to those groups looking to locate to Limestone County.

“Limestone County is proud of our place in North Alabama, and we needed to upgrade our look and messaging to better tell our story,” Yarbrough said.

The county's new website is also more mobile-friendly as a growing number of Internet users continue to use their smartphones as much or more than traditional computers.



(TNS) - Florida received a failing grade on its long-term preparations for coastal flooding, in a study released Wednesday that assessed how well the 50 states were gearing up for the impact of climate change.

The study, called States at Risk, says Florida lacks a long-term plan for dealing with rising sea levels, despite being the nation's most vulnerable state as oceans inch higher. The report gave Florida a C- overall, with B+ grades on preparing for drought and wildfires – for which the report says the state faces average or below-average risk – a D on preparing for extreme heat and a D- grade on preparing for inland flooding.

"Florida has a lot of work to do," stated the report, prepared by the environmental group Climate Central, which publishes peer-reviewed articles on climate change, and ICF International, a 5,000-employee consulting firm with 70 offices worldwide. "Even though the state has plans in place to face today's threats, Florida has not taken sufficient steps to prepare for the serious threats posed by future climate change, particularly coastal flooding."



Shadow IT is nothing new as employees and lines of business bypass IT departments to get the cloud services they need to complete their jobs.   Rogue IT has resulted in a conversation around the unintended and potentially dangerous consequences of increased security risks, compliance concerns and hidden costs.

We all know that private and public clouds are here to stay, but in a recent study it was proven that the average enterprise organization is unaware of just how much shadow IT exists.

Cisco recently completed a study with large enterprise customers across the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia.   This study was conducted from January 2014 through July of this year.  Actual usage data was collected from customer’s networks representing millions of users.



Friday, 20 November 2015 00:00

Why SMBs Should Consider Hybrid Cloud Backup

If you’re looking to build a backup solution that is scalable, cost-efficient and allows multiple disaster recovery scenarios, then switching to a hybrid cloud backup strategy is for you.

Hybrid solutions work in conjunction with your existing backup applications and policies. Local on-premise data can remain local if required and still have the flexibility of expanding onto cloud storage should you require additional capacity. Utilizing this cost-effective storage means you can store a full copy of all your backups on the cloud in the event of a site disaster.

Almost any size of business can take advantage of a hybrid backup solution, from the smallest of start-ups to huge conglomerates. How it’s implemented may differ between them, but both ends of the scale can achieve an efficient, secure, highly available and scalable solution. Consider an appropriate-sized solution for your business; this could be as simple as storing one data set on a local NAS drive with a resilient copy stored in the cloud, or as complex as implementing a VM appliance installed within your data center acting as a gateway between your private network and the cloud.



Companies with operations around the world face the reality of having to deal with an often complicated web of interconnected third-party entities and organizations and will usually create third-party risk models to produce an objective risk score for each one. These models consider many factors, such as the third party’s location, the nature and closeness of the relationship with the third party, the level of control over the third party, how much business it generates and the extent of the third party’s interactions with government officials. However, not all third parties are the same, and after creating a risk-rating model, companies typically face three due diligence options:

For low-risk parties, companies can simply execute an internal review and check publicly available databases such as government watch lists, sanctions and embargo lists.

For moderate-risk parties, companies can perform open-source investigations (OSI), collecting and analyzing all publicly available online information for a third party and its principals after searching in English and native languages.

The due diligence scope required for the riskiest parties exceeds what is typically covered in an OSI alone, especially in developing nations where online information may be limited or where bad actors can easily manipulate local media. In these situations, companies should resort to Enhanced Due Diligence investigations (EDD).



This article provides an overview of Professional Practice 4 (PP4) – Design, which is the professional practice that “identifies and selects appropriate strategies and tactics to determine how continuity and recovery from disruption will be achieved”. Strategy design activities are essential to translate outputs gathered during the analysis phase into actionable strategies that the organization can implement and refine over time to improve the ability to respond and recover from a disruption.


PP4 outlines three primary areas that should be considered in the strategy design process, including the design of continuity and recovery strategies and tactics, threat mitigation measures, and an incident response structure. Let’s take a closer look at each.



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Fumbling through files for important papers can be frustrating. But when an emergency strikes, trying to gather up all those documents can be downright frightening.

There is a way around all the late-minute hassle, but it will take some time and a way to organize and contain them so that you can grab and go when a disaster strikes. And, with predictions of more severe weather and flooding this winter due to El Nino, now is a good time to organize your papers.

Container options can range from a fireproof lock box or safe, a safety deposit box or something as simple as a three-ring binder with plastic sleeves into which you can insert the documents.

The list of documents and records you will want to have is long, but will be invaluable after you have evacuated your home. You will need access to some of these items sooner than others, but all are important enough to include in your "must have" list:

  • Vital Records: Driver's licenses, birth certificates, adoption papers, Social Security cards, passports, citizenship papers (such as a "green card" or naturalization documents), marriage license, divorce decrees, child custody papers, current military ID, military discharge (DD Form 214), medical and vaccination records for pets along with current photos and ID chip numbers in case you are separated.
  • Insurance Policies: Homeowners, renters, flood, earthquake, auto, life, health, disability, long-term care; have at least the policy number and insurance company contact information for each type of coverage.

Keep Your Important Documents Safe from a Disaster

  • Property Records: Real estate deeds of trust and mortgage documents (at least the two-page settlement statement provided by the title company showing the actual cost of the house and purchase expenses); rental agreement or lease; auto/boat/RV registration and titles; video, photos or a list of household inventory.
  • Medical Information: Immunization and other medical records, prescription information (drug name and dosage), health insurance identification cards, physician names and phone numbers, powers-of-attorney for health care, and living wills.
  • Estate planning documents: Wills, trusts, funeral instructions, powers-of-attorney, attorney names and phone numbers.
  • Financial records: First two pages of your previous year's federal and state tax returns, stock and bond certificates, investment records, brokerage and retirement account information, credit card, checking and savings account numbers, contact information for credit unions, banks, financial institutions, credit card companies and financial advisers.
  • Other: Personal address book, a letter with instructions for family or friends (for use in a situation where you're not present), backups of important computer files, a list of usernames and passwords for online accounts, a key to your safe deposit box, a recent photograph, fingerprints and dental records for each member of the household (some police stations and nonprofits fingerprint children free);, account and contact information for utilities and other services (you may have to provide a new billing address or cancel certain services), a list of important documents and where originals and copies are located.

Those who don’t have the time or ability to gather all of these documents should focus on the most important and most difficult to replace.

In addition, take time now to think about the priceless personal items you would want to protect from danger or take with you if you had to suddenly evacuate your home.

The first step is to take an inventory of your household valuables. Those who wish more complete checklists or guidance on collecting and safeguarding this important information, go to www.ready.gov/financialpreparedness.

If you have lost documents in the Butte or Valley fires, go to www.fema.gov/disaster/4240 to learn how to replace them.

Survivors can register for FEMA assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Registration ends Nov. 23.

Keep Your Important Documents Safe from a Disaster

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

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

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

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Wildfire survivors, don’t miss out on additional grants and loans that can help you recover – submit an application to the U.S. Small Business Administration today.

This notice applies to disaster survivors in Calaveras and Lake counties, California, who applied for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and were referred to the SBA. You must complete a disaster loan application in order to keep your options open and to maintain eligibility for additional FEMA dollars.

The deadline for submitting the application is Monday, Nov. 23 for wildfire losses that occurred between Sept. 9 and Oct. 30, 2015 in the two California counties. As long as the initial loan application is submitted by the deadline, survivors can finalize their preliminary SBA application and loan at a later date.

While SBA’s low-interest disaster loans represent the major source of federal funding for recovery, the application itself may open the door to other FEMA grant programs. People who do not qualify for an SBA loan may be eligible for other FEMA grants.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Completing and returning a loan application can be done in one of three ways: in person at a Disaster Recovery Center, online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or by mail.
  • Filing the loan application does not obligate people to accept the loan and there is no cost to apply for an SBA loan. Homeowners and renters who are declined for an SBA disaster loan may be considered for certain FEMA grants and programs.
  • Next to insurance, an SBA loan is the primary funding source for real estate property repairs and replacing lost contents following a disaster like the recent wildfires. Homeowners may be eligible for low-interest loans up to $200,000 for repair or replacement of their primary residents. In some instances, SBA can refinance all or part of an existing mortgage.

Keep Your Options Open – Submit an SBA Application Now

  • The SBA can help homeowners and renters replace their essential 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 a disaster.
  • Loans are available for businesses of all sizes and private non-profit organizations. Loans are available for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged real estate and other business assets. Eligible small businesses and non-profits also can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to help meet working capital needs caused by a disaster.
  • Do not wait for an insurance settlement before applying. Insurance may not pay for all of the damage. Survivors can begin their recovery immediately with an SBA disaster loan. The eligible loan amount will be reduced by any insurance settlements.

For more information about SBA low-interest disaster loans, contact the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, TTY 800-877-8339, emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at sba.gov/disaster. SBA customer service representatives are available at all disaster recovery centers. Centers can be found online at FEMA.gov/DRClocator.

Survivors can apply for FEMA assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Registration continues through Nov. 23.

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

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

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.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Wildfire survivors in Calaveras and Lake counties who lost important documents can use this guide to help obtain replacements.

All of the organizations listed below offer online resources. If personal computers aren’t available, public libraries and other agencies may have computers available to the general public.


Who to Contact for Replacement

EBT Card

California’s CalFresh is part of the federal program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly known as Food Stamps). Lost EBT card replacements – Call

877-328-9677 right away, or contact your local county social services worker.

Birth and Death Certificates

Birth and Death Certificates-California Department of Public Health or online at www.cdph.ca.gov or by calling 916-445-2684. $25 fee for replacement.

Lost Green Card

Go to www.uscis.gov and complete the Form I-90, application to replace a permanent resident card, and file it online or by mail. Call 800-375-5283 to check the status of your application.

California Driver License

Visit a California DMV office to complete an application. Replacement license forms must be delivered in person. For more information, call 800-777-0133.

Bank Checks, ATM/Debit Cards, or Safe Deposit Boxes

Contact your financial institution or get contact information from the FDIC by calling 877-275-3342 or going to www.fdic.gov.

Credit Cards

Contact the issuing institution:

American Express 800-992-3404 or www.home.americanexpress.com

Discover 800-347-2683 or


Master Card 800-622-7747 or

Visa 800-847-2911 or www.usa.visa.com

NOTE: If you don't remember all the credit cards you had, obtain a credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus.

Credit Report

Equifax, Experian or TransUnion 877-322-8228 or www.annualcreditreport.com

Social Security Card

Social Security 800-772-1213 or

Fraud Alerts or a Credit Freeze

Fraud Alerts: Call the identity theft helpline at 877-438-4338; contact the FTC at:

Medicare Cards

Social Security Administration 800 772-1213 or  www.socialsecurity.gov/medicarecard/


U.S. Department of State, Passport Services, Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section 202-955-0430 or 877-487-2778 or www.travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/lost-stolen.html

U.S. Savings Bonds

U.S. Department of Treasury 800-722-2678 or www.treasurydirect.gov

Tax Returns

Internal Revenue Service 800-829-1040 or download the Request for Copy of Tax Return at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506.pdf

Military Records

National Archives and Records Administration

866-272-6272 or www.archives.gov/contact/

The deadline to register with FEMA for disaster assistance is Monday Nov. 23. Survivors can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

For more information on California’s wildfire recovery, visit: caloes.ca.gov and follow us on Twitter @cal_OES, and on Facebook.com/CaliforniaOES. For FEMA, go to fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 and at Facebook.com/FEMA.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

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

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

Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00

Will You Stop and Plan This Holiday Season?

It is officially budget season, for most businesses anyway. In just about every industry you can name, organizations of all size are in the throes of defining goals and resource requirements for a new year. This includes many tech companies—but not nearly enough.

How good are MSPs when it comes to creating meaningful annual budgets and participating in effective strategic planning sessions to grow their businesses? The number will likely surprise you.

Working with Clarity Channel Advisors clients, I have gained a deep perspective on the MSP industry at large. While there are a minority of service providers who diligently work at strategic planning, a majority of MSPs don’t. Take establishing sales targets.



Mike Baker is the Founder and Principal at Mosaic451.

Magic is awesome at carnivals, and it most certainly got young wizard Harry Potter out of a few jams, but when magic is used with the hope that it will suddenly make your firm more secure – it simply does not work.

Magic is that intoxicating lure to a quick technological fix with blindside thinking that technology alone will keep the hackers at bay. Data centers are under constant pressure to safeguard assets, however, too many firms focus on security for the purpose of being in compliance. For example, the energy industry has secrets to protect, and there are huge regulatory burdens from the NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation), which maintains a set of cybersecurity standards for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP).



Two consequent power outages at one of TelecityGroup’s data centers in London Tuesday afternoon local time disrupted operations for many customers, including the London Internet Exchange and AWS Direct Connect, the service that connects companies to Amazon’s cloud through private network links.

The provider’s Sovereign House data center in the London Docklands lost utility power and appears to have failed to switch to backup generators around 2pm. Power was restored but went down again, according to an incident report by EX Networks, one of the customers in the data center.

London-based Telecity has not yet said what the root cause of the data center outage was.

The facility is one of the data centers housing infrastructure of the London Internet Exchange, or LINX. Telecity told EXN it would have to shut down power to two suites that house LINX to fix the electrical infrastructure.



Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00

Marijuana’s Cost to Employers

With the adoption of more state laws to legalize marijuana, employers will face challenges to protect their employees from injury and to comply with federal requirements to maintain a drug-free workplace.

Employers also face potentially costly litigation as case law surrounding legal marijuana develops, according to the Quest Diagnostics whitepaper “What Will ‘Legal’ Marijuana Cost Employers?”



The popular conception at the moment is that in order to take advantage of Big Data, an organization has to recruit data scientists, who are hard to retain. But Salesforce, with the launch of updates to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud at a Salesforce World Tour event, is making the case for embedding machine learning algorithms inside a cloud application in a way that promises to eliminate the need for many marketing organizations to hire their own dedicated data scientist.

Meghann York, director of product marketing for Salesforce Marketing Cloud, says that Salesforce Marketing Cloud Predictive Journeys, with Predictive Scores and Predictive Audiences, now makes it possible to essentially predict how customers will respond to, for example, an email marketing campaign. In addition, York says organizations can leverage Predictive Audiences to segment customers based on the predictive scores created by Salesforce Marketing Cloud.



Looking to address what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella describes as the most pressing issue of our time, Microsoft this week launched a flurry of security offerings intended to turn security into a set of continuously delivered services.

Speaking at a Microsoft Government Cloud Forum, Nadella says that in much the same way that Microsoft now manages Windows 10 as a service, everything from behavioral analytics of attacks to remediation will soon become a set of common services spanning the desktop, server and Microsoft cloud offerings.

To that end, Microsoft announced the formation of a Microsoft Enterprise Cybersecurity Group made up of security professionals that will work with a new Cyber Defense Operations Center that Microsoft is setting up to detect threats in real time using what Nadella describes as an intelligent fabric that Microsoft will continue to expand and invest in over time.



Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00

The top 10 worst data disasters from 2015

Our engineering team loves a good story about data disasters, especially when we can recover our customers’ information for them in extreme circumstances.

For the last 13 years, we have collected and published a list of the toughest physical and logical data losses from our offices around the globe. 

We are proud to say that no matter how dire the situation appears to be, whether a device has been crushed, set on fire, plunged into water, thrown at a wall or simply dropped on the floor, there is always hope that the data you think is missing can still be retrieved.

Read on for the 2015 Top Ten List of Data Disasters compiled by Kroll Ontrack.



Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00

Big Data Top Trends In 2016

As we are coming towards the end of 2015 we have seen a considerable amount of change in big data and its perception. We believe that 2016 is going to throw even more up for the industry, so we are taking a look at what we think are going to be the top trends in the next 12 months.

Quantum Computing To Grow

The concept of quantum computing has been around for a long time, but has always been seen as something that we are going to see become a real possibility in some undefined future. However, 2016 may be when its use becomes more commonplace.

After recent work by Australian researchers at the University of NSW it has become possible to code the machines in a more cohesive and understandable way. They have managed to entangle a pair of qubits for the first time, allowing for more complex coding to be created and therefore the use of quantum computers to potentially become more widespread.



Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00

10 Reasons Tape Makes a Lousy Archive

One of the most frequent misuses of backup tape is as an archive. Data center managers don’t typically design tape as their archive, however, it inadvertently becomes one when old backup tapes are sent to offsite storage after cycling out of their disaster recovery usefulness.

Using legacy tape as a file and email archive is causing pain and unnecessary expense for many organizations. Here’s the top 10 reasons tape isn’t a good archive:




Focus on Value

In my last blog post, I described how business resilience is most compelling when it links performance improvement with risk management.  Focus on the upside contribution to achieving future strategic objectives and the challenge becomes, 'why wouldn't you do business resilience?'
In this blog post I will start to explain how to make business resilience deliver on this promise, focusing first on how to unlock the power of Purpose & Values.



Thursday, 19 November 2015 00:00

Resilience and Performance - the Missing Link


Over the last decade the term Resilience has permeated the world of business and management.  Of course, different professions have talked about Resilience for much longer, for example Personal Resilience in the field of psychology and Resilience in computer systems or networks.  Over the last decade Business Resilience has emerged, promoted by Business Continuity professionals like me as the next evolutionary step forwards for the Business Continuity profession.  
Like many new ideas, different groups have got hold of Resilience, not least the business development functions of management consultancy firms.  As a result Resilience has been hyped just like other new ideas, like Cloud and Big Data.  The problem is, nobody has really nailed what Resilience means in the world of business and management.  No one person has the answer and, like scientific research, as a collective our understanding creeps forwards as those pioneering in the field try to figure it out and communicate it to the rest of us. 

(TNS) – NYPD Commissioner William Bratton appealed to Silicon Valley Monday, urging the manufacturers of encryption software to help law enforcement agencies monitor terrorist activity by allowing them intercept capabilities.

Speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" the dark technology that law enforcement suspects was used to plan the attacks on Paris, Bratton said tracking terrorists with technology is becoming more and more difficult because of end-to-end encryption.

Bratton said groups like the Islamic State are adept at going dark -- or communicating plans via encrypted messages that cannot be monitored.

"They need to work with us right now," Bratton said of the manufacturers of such software. "In many respects, they are working against us."



Wednesday, 18 November 2015 00:00

FEMA Funding 55 Storm Shelters

(TNS) - After two years of exhaustive efforts, Mayes County Emergency Management said they have secured FEMA funding for 55 storm safe room reimbursements.

“We applied for 192 safe room reimbursement grants from FEMA. After two years of work we got an offer from FEMA,” said MCEM Director Johnny Janzen. “They gave us two options, we could take the 55 they can afford the reimbursements for, or we can hold off on all of them until FEMA can afford them all.”

Janzen said he’s seen counties end up with nothing and figured some reimbursements were better than none.

FEMA never said the other applicants on the list would never get funding, just that they couldn’t cover the entire list this round.

Janzen said FEMA allocated $110,000 for 55 safe room reimbursements as they reimburse 75 % of the safe room cost, up to $2,000.



Wednesday, 18 November 2015 00:00

In Search of a More Enterprise-Friendly Container

Applications are quickly surpassing infrastructure as the key driver of data productivity. Where once the differentiators between cutting-edge and also-ran were measured in processor speed, storage capacity and networking throughput, it now rests largely on orchestration, availability and scalability.

Containers are whizzes at producing the latter, which is why developers adore them so. But the enterprise must still deal with the former as it seeks to implement container architectures across legacy infrastructure, and this is proving to be a major stumbling block to widespread deployment.

While companies like Docker are ramping up container capabilities themselves and scale-out management stacks take hold in Google-class hyperscale operations, traditional infrastructure providers are working to bridge the divide between physical, virtual and container-level constructs. HP, for one, is working closely with Docker to incorporate containers within the Helion private cloud platform, as well as emerging PaaS products aimed at hybrid infrastructure. In addition, systems like the StormRunner deployment and testing solution and the AppPulse mobile performance monitoring tool are gaining integrated Docker support.



Identity lifecycle management is one of the most critical parts of a security and identity and access management program.  Identifying the assets and setting a baseline for acceptable risk needs to be considered before starting any security lifecycle project and must involve the proper stakeholders.  Let's refer back to our original blog post where we discussed the Ashley Madison breach.  When the company began, they had advertised their service with a commitment to delete customer info upon their request, but as the headline breach revealed, that was not the case.  The hackers were able to expose data related to tens of millions of accounts which suggests some part of the identity lifecycle management process was not properly followed.   The fact that so much data was compromised from the Database could imply that the attack originated there.  Soon after the attack, it was reported that a former contractor for the company may have been one of the responsible parties.

To some degree, we had a perfect storm brewing.  We had a company that was offering a service that some felt was morally unethical.  We had large amounts of sensitive data stored un-encrypted in a Database.  And we appear to have privileged account access given to a contractor, which may not have been revoked upon separation from the organization.   There have also been some additional discoveries made on the end-user accounts as well – such as the fact that many of the customer accounts utilized very basic passwords – one password cracking group has claimed that they were able to crack 11 million users’ passwords.  This latter topic is beyond the scope of this blog, but suffice it to say that it is important for organizations to enforce strong password policies.