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

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

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



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

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


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

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



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

National Pre-Disaster Standards Called For

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

Use of Cloud Service Brokers on the Rise

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

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

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



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

Do OSHA and HIPAA Rules Stand at Odds?

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

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



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

Should you review your tape archives?

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

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

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



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

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

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

  • 916-381-0330
  • TTY CALL 711

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



Wednesday, 21 October 2015 00:00

The Many Flavors of Data Infrastructure

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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



America's Thrift Stores recently were victimized by malware.

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

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



Monday, 19 October 2015 00:00

The Worst Day of Their Lives

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



Monday, 19 October 2015 00:00

Disruption for the Data Center’s Sake

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

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

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



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

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

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



Monday, 19 October 2015 00:00

Memphis Trying to Improve 911 Service

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

An Introduction by Lead author Duncan Ford MBCI

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

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



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

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

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



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

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



Friday, 16 October 2015 00:00

Get Ready for the New Age of IT Governance

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

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



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

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





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

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

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


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

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

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

Precipitation Outlook:

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

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

Temperature Outlook:

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

Drought Outlook:

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

VIDEO: Winter Outlook for 2015-2016

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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



Friday, 16 October 2015 00:00

The Future of Flash Storage

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



Destroyed homes and rubble in Haiti after the 2010 Earthquake

By Caitlyn Lutfy

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

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

The Initial Role of the State

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

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

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

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

Creating Communication Networks

woman working at a call center

Call center volunteer.

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

Medical Care and Relocations

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

Lasting Impressions

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

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


Thursday, 15 October 2015 00:00

Show Us Your Dedupe, Because Size Matters

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

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



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

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

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

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

Read the Winter Outlook report in full

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



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

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

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



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

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



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

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

A tech industry guru summed it up well:



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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8475-cost-of-cyberattack.html#sthash.HVJohbF7.dpuf
Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

The Doctor to Cure Your Cloud Woes

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Other protective actions include:

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

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

  • Secure your property.

    • Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows.

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

    • Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.

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

    • This will reduce roof damage.

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

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

  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.

  • If you have a boat, secure it.

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

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

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



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

5 Mistakes MSSPs Should Avoid

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

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



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

CA Discusses the Future of the MSP Market

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



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

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

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

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

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

FEMA Other Needs Assistance may be used for:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

The Speed Factor Behind Big Data

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

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



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

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

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

It’s not a matter of if, but when.



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

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

The incident prompted many officials to review emergency preparedness plans.

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



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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

EMC and Dell: Secret Synergies

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

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



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

The New Enterprise: More at Home in the Cloud?

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

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

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



Wednesday, 14 October 2015 00:00

Navigating Data Breach Regulatory Requirements

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

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

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



Monday, 12 October 2015 00:00

The Strategic Risk of Tunnel Vision

… how to detect it and how to avoid it

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

After You Register

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

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

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

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

Inspector's Call

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

Inspector's Visit

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

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

Proof of Ownership or Occupancy

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

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

After the Inspector’s Visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

(Credit: NOAA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information about these projects is available online.

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



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

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

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



Monday, 12 October 2015 00:00

California Wildfires: A Billion Dollar Loss

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other shortlisted papers can be read here.

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

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

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

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

Entries must meet the following criteria:

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

To submit an entry or request further information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Entries should be emailed as an attachment in any Word processing format or as an unlocked PDF. PowerPoint will not be accepted.

IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full survey report here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All emergency shelters have been closed.

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

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

           891 Mountain Ranch Rd., San Andreas, CA 95249

The Calaveras County Disaster Recovery Center in Mountain Ranch

7867 Whiskey Slide Rd., Mountain Ranch, CA 95246

The Calaveras County Disaster Recovery Center in Rail Road Flat

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

Lake County:              The Lake County Disaster Recovery Center in Clearlake

                                     14860 Olympic Dr., Clearlake, CA 95422


            The Lake County Disaster Recovery Center in Middletown

             21256 Washington St., Middletown, CA 95461

Hours of operation for all DRC locations are:

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Saturday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sunday: Noon – 4 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 09 October 2015 00:00

Dell and EMC Merger: The Likely Back Story

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

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



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

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

The cities and agencies that received the grants include:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaders in the textile industry and community members participate in preparedness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Engaging the Local Community

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 08 October 2015 00:00

Flood's Aftershocks Rock Columbia, S.C.

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

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

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

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



Thursday, 08 October 2015 00:00

Local Colleges Always Prepared for the Worst

(MCT) - It happens within seconds.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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



Additional data, animation features added to popular coastal product


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

States with institutions receiving NOAA CPO funding from the FY2015 Competition.

The funds will be distributed over the life of the projects, many of which span one to five years. All awards were selected through an open, highly competitive process.

"Every day, communities and businesses in the U.S. and around world are grappling with environmental challenges due to changing climate conditions and extreme events," said Wayne Higgins, director of the Climate Program Office. "People want timely and relevant scientific information about where and why climate variability and change occur and what impacts that has on human and natural systems. CPO's competitive grants play a vital role in advancing understanding of Earth's climate system and in transitioning our data, tools, information, and operations to applications the public can use to improve decision making.”

Great Lakes Regional Sciences and Assessments (A RISA program) hosts workshop in St. Paul, Minnesota connecting local governments with climate adaptation science. (Credit: With permission from Daniel Brown).

Great Lakes Regional Sciences and Assessments (A RISA program) hosts workshop in St. Paul, Minnesota connecting local governments with climate adaptation science. (Credit: With permission from Daniel Brown).

  • The projects will support these priorities:
  • Provide high-quality, long-term global observations, climate information and products, $5.1 million for projects to produce global and regional indices to help monitor climate, weather, and sea ice trends, which provide information to forecasters, researchers, and decision makers in communities across the country.
  • Provide leadership and support for research, assessments, and climate services to key sectors and regions, $24.4 million — including $19.5 million for Regional Integrated Sciences & Assessment Programs from Hawaii to New York — to improve the ability of local communities to prepare for and adapt to climate change. 
  • Improve critical forecasts and bolster earth system models, $10.2 million to improve predictions and projections on a range of time scales from weeks to seasons, to decades, and centuries in the future.
  • Improve prediction of drought and other extreme events, $8.4 million to improve earth system models and predictions through the North American Multi-Model Ensemble System (NMME), a state-of-the-art seasonal prediction system, and help fund the creation of a new task force and improved software infrastructure for NOAA weather and climate models.
A farmer in the Midwest struggles with drought conditions. (Credit: Climate.gov and U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit photo).

A farmer in the Midwest struggles with drought conditions. (Credit: Climate.gov and U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit photo)

CPO manages competitive research programs that fund climate science, assessments, decision-support research, modeling improvements, and capacity-building activities. While each program has its own focus, together they demonstrate NOAA’s commitment to advancing integrated climate research and enhancing society’s ability to plan and respond to climate variability and climate change. CPO’s network of partners, specialists, and principal investigators will broadly integrate research findings from these projects to help build resilience in the face of climate challenges. 

A full list of awards, as well as individual announcements for each program, is available online.

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



Wednesday, 07 October 2015 00:00

MSPs: How to Educate Non-IT Staff

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



Wednesday, 07 October 2015 00:00

Trends in Travel Risk Management

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

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

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

The paper includes:  

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

Read a copy of the paper here.

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

Rick Holland Image

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

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



Wednesday, 07 October 2015 00:00

How Soon to Full Cloud Dominance?

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

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

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



(MCT) - Even those who went through Hurricane Hugo a quarter-century ago said they had never seen anything like this, the deadly torrents that crumbled roads, submerged houses and cars and killed at least 12 people — 10 in South Carolina and two in North Carolina.

“They’re saying it’s a once-in-1,000-year rainstorm, and I’m inclined to believe it,” said Sean Brennan, a real estate broker who had just checked on a colleague’s house in South Carolina’s capital, Columbia.

“It looked like a river ran through it,” Brennan said.

Even though the house was built 4 feet above ground, the water came up nearly 2 feet into the garage, he said. The backyard was a lake.



A proper understanding of risk tolerance is one of the key factors that can help the risk function demonstrate that it is much more than a cost centre, and truly adds value to the organization. This is according to John Merkovsky, Head of Willis Risk & Analytics, writing in the seventh edition of Resilience, the leadership journal from Willis Group Holdings. 

For risk professionals, there is no more important consideration than understanding the amount of risk an organization is a) able to take, b) willing to take and c) desires to take, according to Merkovsky in his article entitled ‘Risk Tolerance: The Risk Manager's Compass’.

The paper explains that a proper understanding of risk tolerance can help organizations in a number of ways. It can, for example, afford a deeper understanding of whether or not the organization is adopting the desired level of financial protection. Additionally it can help the risk function understand whether risk transfer is supporting the organization's overall strategic goals. "To make better decisions about insurance, an organization's risk tolerance needs to be reflected," said Merkovsky.

Merkovsky goes on to say that despite the benefits, risk tolerance is rarely engrained in risk management processes and structure. This is because the concept is often difficult to apply in practice and the nomenclature is not used consistently across the industry. Moreover, executives within the same organization often have very different views on the level of risk the organization should be willing to take.

Merkovsky commented: "This unsettled environment presents a terrific opportunity for a truly strategic risk manager to lead. But first, a risk manager needs to be able to demonstrate the value accretion that a well-defined view of risk tolerance can add to decision making."

He added: "Many organizations are looking to advance their thinking about their approach to risk tolerance yet they lack the consistent nomenclature, tools and focus to do so. Risk managers are well positioned to provide leadership here. Their experience in thinking across a broad range of risk topics and doing so in both financial and organization terms is unique in most organisations.

"And, if leading an organizational initiative on risk tolerance is not for every risk manager, it is still a great opportunity to ensure that their own insurance and risk management activities are built with a clear alignment of organizational goals. In this way it will be clear to senior management and other risk stakeholders that the risk management function is much more than a cost centre, and truly adds value to the organization."

Read the complete article.

They last a lifetime and they never change. Fingerprints, irises and even gaits (as in walking) are immutable, if you discount the use of surgery. That is what makes them such reliable identifiers and the basis of different biometric security systems. From science fiction and spy films, we now have smartphones (iPhones for example) that have integrated fingerprint recognition. Users no longer have to remember or reset those ID/PIN combinations. Yet recently, hackers recently stole a file with 5.6 million fingerprints of US government employees. And of course, unlike ID/PIN combinations, those fingerprints cannot be reset. Now what?



National Cybersecurity Awareness Month certainly started with a bang, and not in a good way. My inbox was blowing up on Friday afternoon with alerts about the Experian breach involving T-Mobile wireless customers, and before I could catch up on that news, the emails shifted direction to the Scottrade breach. Today, as I was searching for more information about the breaches, I saw an announcement that the American Bankers Association’s website was hacked.

Even in this breach heavy (and weary) world, that’s a lot of bad news all at once. In fact, this comment that Ryan Wilk, director, customer success, NuData Security, sent to me seemed to sum up the news of the past few days quite well:

Data breaches don’t occur in a vacuum. The repercussions are widespread and often have a ripple effect.



(TNS) -- Hurricane Joaquin will give federal officials a chance to test a new system designed to provide real-time information about water conditions on Long Island and beyond during a storm, allowing emergency agencies to respond more quickly.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Surge, Wave and Tide Hydrodynamic Network reaches from Virginia to Maine, with dozens of sites on Long Island.

While Joaquin is expected to veer east of Long Island, the agency plans a scaled-back deployment of the system on Long Island, said Ron Busciolano, supervisory hydrologist with the USGS New York Water Science Center in Coram.



SACRAMENTO, Calif. – If you live in Calaveras or Lake counties and were affected by the recent wildfires and are insured, you may still be eligible for FEMA assistance.

By law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance or other benefits. However, FEMA may be able to help survivors with uninsured or underinsured losses or if their insurance settlement is delayed. Applicants should notify FEMA of their situation and provide insurance company documentation.

If a survivor received a settlement from their insurance company and still has unmet disaster-related needs, they may be eligible for a grant.

If a survivor has exhausted the settlement from their insurance for Additional Living Expenses (ALE for loss of use) FEMA may be able to assist with disaster-related temporary housing.

If an insurance settlement is insufficient to cover disaster-related needs, survivors may be eligible for grants to cover emergency home repairs, disaster-related medical, dental and funeral costs and other disaster-related expenses.

If a survivor’s insurance settlement has been delayed longer than 30 days from the time they filed the claim, they should contact FEMA. After providing the necessary documentation – the claim number, date applied, and an estimate of how long it will take to receive a settlement – a survivor may qualify for an advance that would have to be repaid to FEMA once the insurance settlement is received.

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



Seeking public comments on proposed 15-year ecosystem plan


The BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010. Approximately 3.19 million barrels (134 million gallons) of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico, making it by far the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. (Credit: US Coast Guard)

The BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010. Approximately 3.19 million barrels (134 million gallons) of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico, making it by far the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. (Credit: US Coast Guard)

NOAA and the other Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Trustees today released 15-year comprehensive, integrated environmental ecosystem restoration plans for the Gulf of Mexico in response to the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill. Implementing the plan will cost up to $8.8 billion. The explosion killed 11 rig workers and the subsequent spill lasted 87 days and impacted both human and natural resources across the Gulf.

The Draft Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement allocates Natural Resource Damage Assessment  monies that are part of a comprehensive settlement agreement in principle  among BP, the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of federal agencies, and the five affected Gulf States announced on July 2, 2015. The Department of Justice lodged today in U.S. District Court a consent decree as part of the more than $20 billion dollar settlement. 

In the draft plan, the Trustees provide documentation detailing impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to:

  • wildlife, including fish, oysters, plankton, birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals across the Gulf
  • habitat, including marshes, beaches, floating seaweed habitats, water column, submerged aquatic vegetation, and ocean-bottom habitats
  • recreational activities including boating, fishing, and going to the beach

The Trustees determined that “overall, the ecological scope of impacts from the Deepwater Horizon spill was unprecedented, with injuries affecting a wide array of linked resources across the northern Gulf ecosystem.” As a result of the wide scope of impacts identified, the Trustees “have determined that the best method for addressing the injuries is a comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem restoration plan.”

Both the consent decree and the draft plan are available for 60 days of public comment. The Trustees will address public comment in adopting a final plan. For the consent decree, once public comment is taken into account the court will be asked to make it final.

Bottlenose dolphins, who had to swim through heavily oiled waters, suffered serious reproductive and adverse health effects from the oil., some of which are still being determined. (Credit: NOAA)

Bottlenose dolphins, who had to swim through heavily oiled waters, suffered serious reproductive and adverse health effects from the oil., some of which are still being determined. (Credit: NOAA)

Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted at eight public meetings to be held between October 19 and November 18 in each of the impacted states and in Washington, DC. Comments will also be accepted online and by mail sent to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 49567, Atlanta, GA 30345. The public comment period will end on December 4, 2015.

The Trustees are proposing to accept this settlement, which includes, among other components, an amount to address natural resource damages of $8.1 billion for restoration and up to $700 million for addressing unknown impacts or for adaptive management. These amounts include the $1 billion in early restoration funds which BP has already committed. 

“NOAA scientists were on the scene from day one as the Deepwater spill and its impacts unfolded. NOAA and the Trustees have gathered thousands of samples and conducted millions of analyses to understand the impacts of this spill,” said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The scientific assessment concluded that there was grave injury to a wide range of natural resources and loss of the benefits they provide. Restoring the environment and compensating for the lost use of those resources is best achieved by a broad-based ecosystem approach to restore this vitally important part of our nation’s environmental, cultural and economic heritage.”

NOAA led the development of the 1,400 page draft damage assessment and restoration plan, with accompanying environmental impact statement, in coordination with all of the natural resource Trustees. The draft plan is designed to provide a programmatic analysis of the type and magnitude of the natural resources injuries that have been identified through a Natural Resource Damage Assessment conducted as required by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and a programmatic restoration plan to address those injuries. Alternatives approaches to restoration are evaluated in the plan under the Oil Pollution Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Specific projects are not identified in this plan, but will be proposed in future project-specific restoration proposals. The Trustees will ensure that the public is involved in their development through public notice of proposed restoration plans, opportunities for public meetings, and consideration of all comments received.

The draft plan has an array of restoration types that address a broad range of impacts at both regional and local scales. It allocates funds to meet five restoration goals, and 13 restoration types designed to meet these goals.

  • The five overarching goals of the proposed plan are to:
    restore and conserve habitat
  • restore water quality
  • replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources
  • provide and enhance human use recreational activities
  • provide for long term monitoring, adaptive management, and administrative oversight of restoration

The 13 proposed restoration activities are:

  1. Restoration of wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitats
  2. Habitat projects on federally managed lands
  3. Nutrient reduction
  4. Water quality
  5. Fish and water column invertebrates
  6. Sturgeon
  7. Submerged aquatic vegetation
  8. Oysters
  9. Sea turtles
  10. Marine mammals
  11. Birds
  12. Low-light and deep seafloor communities
  13. Provide and enhance recreational opportunities

Together, these efforts will restore wildlife and habitat in the Gulf by addressing the ecosystem injuries that resulted from the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Once the plan is finally approved and the settlement is finalized, NOAA will continue to work with all of the Trustees to plan, approve, and implement restoration projects.  NOAA will bring scientific  expertise and focus on addressing remedies for living marine resources — including fish, sturgeon, marine mammals, and sea turtles — as well as coastal habitats and water quality. NOAA scientists developed numerous scientific papers for the NRDA case including documentation of impacts to bottlenose dolphins, pelagic fish, sea turtles, benthic habitat and deep water corals.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is available for public review and comment through December 4. It is posted at www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov and will be available at public repositories throughout the Gulf and at the meetings listed below.


Time (local times)      


Mon., Oct. 19, 2015

5:00 PM Open House
6:00 PM Public Meeting

Courtyard by Marriott – Houma
142 Library Boulevard
Houma, LA 70360

Tues., Oct. 20, 2015

5:00 PM Open House
6:00 PM Public Meeting

University of Southern Mississippi,
Long Beach
FEC Auditorium
730 East Beach Boulevard
Long Beach, MS 39560

Thurs., Oct. 22, 2015

5:00 PM Open House
6:00 PM Public Meeting

Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans
Convention Center, Garden Ballroom
10001 South Peters St 
New Orleans, LA 70130

Mon., Oct. 26, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

The Battle House Renaissance
Mobile Hotel
26 N Royal St
Mobile, AL 36602

Tues., Oct. 27, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

Pensacola Bay Center
201 E Gregory St
Pensacola, FL 32502

Thurs., Oct. 29, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
333 1st Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Tues., Nov. 10, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

Hilton Galveston Island Resort
Crystal Ballroom
5400 Seawall Boulevard
Galveston, TX 77551

Wed., Nov. 18, 2015

6:00 PM Open House
7:00 PM Public Meeting

DoubleTree by Hilton
1515 Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

All public meetings will begin with an interactive open house where the public can learn details of the assessment and proposed restoration activities. The open house will be followed by a formal presentation and opportunity for the public to provide comments on the draft plan, as well as on the proposed settlement with BP.

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


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


DALLAS – After years of serious flooding, Dallas officials made a decision to reduce flood risk by redesigning an important ecosystem located in the heart of the city. The outcome not only solved a major problem, it resulted in a beautiful outdoor recreation area.

Historically, Dallas relied on dams and levees with grass-carpeted floodways to lower flood risk. But a problem that was unique in origin had become an obstacle that was demanding a non-structural solution.

The significant contributor to the flooding problem was that the Great Trinity Forest was coming back to life. This 6,000-acre forest stretches from the edge of downtown Dallas along the Trinity River to Interstate 20.

Much of it had been lumbered, ranched and farmed. However, over the last century, farmers and ranchers gradually abandoned the croplands and pastures. As a result, the trees and brush grew back into an increasingly dense forest, impeding Trinity River drainage through the city.

Six thousand square miles of watershed exist above downtown Dallas. That area drains through the half-mile-wide Dallas floodway in a levee-lined channel near downtown skyscrapers. When the river exits the levee system it immediately enters the Great Trinity Forest, which acts as an impediment.

Floodwaters would slow and back up the downtown levee system, occasionally claiming lives and damaging or destroying homes and businesses. In the early 1990s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the city of Dallas and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborated on a plan to solve the problem. The agencies arrived at an environmentally-friendly, comprehensive flood risk management solution that avoided traditional concrete lined channels or a sterile grass-carpeted floodplain.

Called “the chain of wetlands,” the proposal was to build a pathway through the Great Trinity Forest to efficiently carry floodwaters through the upper reaches of the forest and an old landfill and golf course to alleviate the backup. The project to construct the manmade chain of interconnected wetland ponds called for the removal of 271 acres of woody plants, including many trees, which would give clear passage for floodwaters.

Then, the bottomland forest would be replaced with richer and far more diverse wildlife habitat. Under National Environmental Policy Act requirements, removal of the woody plants required planting take place elsewhere. Consequently, the tree removal was offset by planting a higher-value habitat in the southern portion of the Great Trinity Forest farther downstream.

Trees, bushes and vines were specifically selected to provide food and cover for wildlife. Directed by the USACE Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility, students from the University of North Texas, Texas A&M University, Collin Community College and North Texas Central College helped plant native Texas plants in the new wetlands ecosystem and in the mitigation area downstream.

Although this comprehensive project is a work in progress, the initiative has already shown impressive results. The project helped transport floodwaters from the record May 2015, rains that were followed weeks later by the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill. The waters flowed effectively through the Dallas system as designed, reducing the risk to life, safety and property damage in the Trinity River watershed.

The Corps of Engineers estimates its integrated flood-risk reduction system, which includes reservoirs in the Upper Trinity River basin, prevented $6.7 billion in damages from the spring storms.

“Without the trees, the water now flows more efficiently through the upper reach of the Great Trinity Forest,” said Jim Frisinger, public affairs specialist, Fort Worth District USACE. “This new wetlands complex, which included planting trees downstream, proves ecosystem restoration paired with flood risk reduction can help solve challenging urban flooding issues. There is no doubt that Dallas would have been in far more trouble without this solution.”

The Upper Chain of Wetlands Fact Sheet  has additional information about this project.

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


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

(MCT) - Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina obliterated the political career of then-Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown with the same savage brutality that it crushed the city of New Orleans.

“Truthfully, it was devastating,” said Brown, a Guymon native who resigned as director of the agency that coordinates federal disaster relief efforts in 2005 after being pilloried in the media for the government's response to Hurricane Katrina's destruction.

“People blame you for the deaths of people. ... It was the low point of my life,” said Brown, who has an undergraduate degree from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma) and a law degree from Oklahoma City University.



Scientists working off west Africa in the Cape Verde Islands have found evidence that the sudden collapse of a volcano there tens of thousands of years ago generated an ocean tsunami that dwarfed anything ever seen by humans. The researchers say an 800-foot wave engulfed an island more than 30 miles away. The study could revive a simmering controversy over whether sudden giant collapses present a realistic hazard today around volcanic islands, or even along more distant continental coasts. The study appears in the journal Science Advances.

"Our point is that flank collapses can happen extremely fast and catastrophically, and therefore are capable of triggering giant tsunamis," said lead author Ricardo Ramalho, who did the research as a postdoctoral associate at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where he is now an adjunct scientist. "They probably don't happen very often. But we need to take this into account when we think about the hazard potential of these kinds of volcanic features."

The apparent collapse occurred some 73,000 years ago at the Fogo volcano, one of the world's largest and most active island volcanoes. Nowadays, it towers 2,829 meters (9,300 feet) above sea level, and erupts about every 20 years. Santiago Island, where the wave apparently hit, is now home to some 250,000 people.



Global assets under management (AuM) are set to swell to US$102 trillion in 2020 and according to a new report from PwC, the tax function, which is about to undergo significant change, will be critical in determining those players in the market who will be best positioned to win greater share of business in the lead up to it.

According to the report, ‘Asset Management 2020 and beyond: Transforming your business for a new global tax world’, as banks and insurers retreat from many business lines, asset managers are becoming more influential across a range of products, creating a new breed of global mega-managers. This is attracting huge focus from tax authorities, who, come 2020, will have specialist teams with the capabilities to carry out much more detailed enquiries than in the past, and the powers to request real-time investor-related information.

Investors, therefore, will expect asset management providers to have robust and efficient tax infrastructures. They will have minimal tolerance of tax uncertainty or tax adjustments and gravitate towards providers that offer products reflecting investor-specific tax profiles. Prospective investors will ask about tax disclosures even taking their individual tax charge into account before they consider investing in a fund. They will seek more certainty with respect to tax issues.

Portfolio taxation will become a key battleground

When launching new products, therefore, asset managers will routinely have to carry out full assessments to make them competitive in all channels. With more transaction taxes, local withholding and self-assessment capital gains regimes, every asset purchase and sale will have to be carefully examined from a tax risk and reporting perspective. This will require asset managers to have real-time access to data on global tax regimes.

PwC expects a number of integrated businesses combining asset management, wealth management and private banking activities with the ability to provide a full tax advisory service to clients, to emerge.

“In the lead up to 2020, investors’ evaluation on how their portfolios perform will focus predominantly on post-tax yields.  Asset managers therefore, will have little choice but to respond by dispersing their strategic tax resources throughout their business operations to give front, middle and back office staff access to real-time expertise,” says PwC’s William Taggart, Global  Tax Leader, Asset Management.

“In tandem in-house asset management tax teams will need to evolve to deal with perpetual audits and to engage with tax authorities on a frequent basis to influence policy and help guide the implementation of tax rules.”

Tax technology will be key to performance and client satisfaction

Technology for tax will enable investment firms to make timely tax-informed investment decisions and provide investors and tax authorities with the transparency and reporting they demand. It will also create the ability to differentiate between the alpha - the return in excess of a benchmark index or "risk-free" investment, created by the portfolio manager and that created (indirectly) by the capability of the tax team, to manage tax leakage and tax risk.

Technology will not only be close to the heart of asset managers – the tax authorities will also have made significant investments by 2020 too hence the age of selected paper-based reporting by asset managers to the tax authorities will be over. Tax authorities will request whatever information they want from asset managers through having direct access to their IT systems rather than asset managers pushing data to them.

Taggart concludes:

“Tax and reputation in the world of asset management, will be inseparable. The increased complexity of the tax function will require that it spends significant periods of time with operational activities in order to be able to act as a trusted advisor internally and to key executives. Asset managers will need to ensure highly-skilled tax people are brought into the heart of the business. The tone needs to be set at the top. The tax function is critical to the entire operation and senior management will need to make sure this is well understood.”

Notes to Editors

To help asset managers plan for the future, PwC’s report ‘Asset Management 2020 and beyond: Transforming your business for a new global tax world’ sets out a vision of what the tax landscape will look like in 2020 and beyond, and examines what it means for asset managers and their clients. The report recognizes that change will come incrementally, but should be started soon with a long term strategic vision of how the tax function should operate, how it is resourced, and its role within the overall business, in mind.  The report then sets out the characteristics of such a vision.

About PwC

PwC helps organisations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 195,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

© 2015 PwC. All rights reserved

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure​​ for further details.

(MCT) - A slow-moving storm that has left parts of Charleston underwater dumped a foot of rain on the Columbia area since midnight.

The historic rainfall submerged low-lying traffic intersections around Columbia including Devine Street and Rosewood Drive and areas around Decker Boulevard.

Richland County declared a state of emergency Sunday, which allows the county to seek help from state emergency officials and buy emergency equipment and supplies.



The technology industry today is transforming its approach to assessing and managing third parties for bribery and corruption risk. As if it wasn’t already a massive challenge for organizations to keep up with new and ever-changing legislation and regulations, FCPA enforcement has elevated to a whole new level of intensity with the DOJ putting heavy resources behind taking action.

But fines are just the tip of the iceberg, and even greater expense may be incurred in pre- and post-enforcement activity. Investigations and their associated legal fees often far exceed the actual fines. In many cases, they can run to five or 10 times more. Post-enforcement costs – updating policies, increased training and dealing with monitors – can also be significant and may last years. In addition, FCPA violations can have a damaging and public effect on a company’s reputation and long-term revenues.

The reality is that the many FCPA risks arise from relationships with third parties — agents, brokers, distributors, suppliers, etc. who may interact with foreign governments or agents. The following points are red flags that require input from your third parties:



Using business continuity management to protect against data breaches

Organizations that involve their business continuity management teams in data breach planning and response can reduce the likelihood of data breach and lessen the cost and impact of any breach that should occur. These findings were uncovered in the 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: Impact of Business Continuity Management, sponsored by IBM and conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

Ponemon has been charting the cost of data breaches for the last 10 years and in 2014 began examining the correlation between the cost of data breaches and business continuity management’s involvement with cyber security teams in responding to them. This year, the study found that such involvement reduces breach costs by an average of US$14 per compromised record, from US$161 to US$147. Because data breaches can affect thousands of records, overall savings can be significant: BCM involvement can reduce the total cost of each data breach from US$3.8 million to US$3.5 million.

Identifying and containing a data breach quickly is instrumental to limiting its impact and the study found that business continuity involvement can reduce the mean time to identify a data breach from 234 to 178 days, and the mean time to contain a data breach from 83 to 55 days.

Perhaps most important, the study found that BCM involvement with security operations can actually reduce the likelihood of data breach. According to the Ponemon study, the likelihood of a data breach involving 10,000 or more records striking a company that involves BCM in security operations is 21.1%, compared to 27.9% for organizations that have no BCM involvement with security. And if a breach does occur, it will negatively affect the business operations of only 55% of organizations that involve BCM with security, compared to 80% of organizations with no such involvement.

Clearly, BCM involvement with security operations can help limit the instances of data breach and mitigate the damage caused if a breach does occur. Organizations now understand this, and are finding ways to coordinate security and BCM response to breach. According to the Ponemon study, roughly 50% of the companies polled now have BCM involvement in data breach response planning and execution, up from 45% in 2014.

For further information on how business continuity management and security operations can work together to limit the impact of a data breach, read the IBM White Paper - Business continuity management: security can work together to safeguard data.

DENTON, Texas – More than $5.6 million in federal funding was recently awarded to the state of Louisiana to fund wind damage and flood protection measures in Jefferson and Terrebonne parishes.

In Jefferson Parish, more than $2.8 million covers mitigation measures taken to protect government facilities such as fire headquarters and the police department from wind and debris damage. The measures include 571 impact-resistant screens and roll-down shutters.

In Terrebonne Parish, more than $2.8 million pays for the elevation of 23 storm-damaged properties to one foot above the 100-year flood level. This significantly reduces the effect of future flooding on those structures.

The funding for these projects originates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs. HMA, specifically the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program, provides funds for hazard mitigation planning and projects that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future damages. For more information on HMA, visit http://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-assistance.

FEMA’s contribution represents a 72 to 75 percent federal cost share. FEMA awards funding for projects directly to the state of Louisiana; the state then disburses the grant to the eligible applicant.

Follow FEMA Region 6 on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion6.

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

Monday, 05 October 2015 00:00

BCM & DR: Mergers & Acquisitions (Part 1)

As many of you may know, I work in Program and Project Management, as well as Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. I find the Program/Project Management aspects help build and manage activities needed in BCM & DR and communicate buy-in and need with executives. If you haven’t had any Project Management training, I suggest you attend a course (Note to self: New Post about Project Management). So, it came as something interesting the other day when during a program meeting, the topic of a merger and acquisition with regards to BCM & DR came up during a meeting – and not at my urging either.

If you work for a large corporate entity, you may have gone through a merger/acquisition – as the either purchaser or the one who was acquired. If you work in the IT or DR/BCM role, then you’ve probably had some hair pulling moments trying to figure out how new – or old – technologies work and how they need to work together in the event of a disaster. But it’s doesn’t have to be that difficult…at least if the newly acquired company will still operate as a ‘separate entity’.



Creative abstract mobility and digital wireless communication technology business concept: group of tablet computer PC and modern touchscreen smartphones or mobile phones on wooden table

By: Sarah Leary

Online communication and social networks are changing the way that people communicate. Today, people are able to relay messages to those around them and those across the world nearly instantly. This instant communication is playing a critical role in emergency communication.


When the largest earthquake since 1989 hit Napa, California, and the greater San Francisco Bay Area in August 2014, neighbors and local agencies were quick to turn to social media to communicate updates and information about the damage and safety precautions. One of the social networks utilized was the private social network for neighborhoods, Nextdoor, which creates social networks and communication channels specific to individuals’ neighborhoods.

Within minutes of the earthquake, residents used Nextdoor to send urgent alerts out to their communities, warning their neighbors to take cover in doorways, watch out for crumbling chimneys, and keep an eye out for scared and flighty pets. In the days following the quake, neighbors continued to use this new social network to share neighborhood-specific tips on clean-up efforts, offer shelter to neighbors in need, and report sightings of lost pets in the area.

Several Nextdoor agency partners, including both the City of Napa and the City of American Canyon, used social media to inform residents of damages, advice for contacting emergency personnel, school closures, and more. In many areas, social media was used to advise residents to keep an eye out for the sound or smell of leaking gas lines and provided road closure updates.

An incredible number of social media conversations in the greater San Francisco Bay Area that day were related to the earthquake– demonstrating that a connected community is indeed a stronger community. Neighbors connected with neighbors, passing along the latest information on power outages, road closures, and damage reports.

Similarly, during the flash flooding and historic rainfall in Houston, Texas this May, the Houston Office of Emergency Management also turned to social media to send out important safety updates and urgent safety alerts to residents across the city.

“During times of emergency and natural disasters, it is often neighbors who are able to best help each other,” said Rick Flanagan, Emergency Management Coordinator at the Houston Office of Emergency Management. Social media “has played a vital role in, not only helping our residents connected, but giving us an effective way to work directly with residents to make Houston a more resilient, prepared city.”NextDoor_UrgentAlert

The ability to connect with the community online rapidly closed the communication gap that previously existed between residents and emergency services.

For towns that have experienced more than their fair share of natural disasters, like the City of Moore, Oklahoma, which has been plagued by tornadoes, social media platforms offer a way to connect communities and increase resiliency.

“The more connected you are to your neighbors, friends, and family, the more invested you are in your community. We have people that have gone through disaster and destruction and they have chosen to stay,” said Jayme Shelton, marketing specialist for the City of Moore. “I think Moore citizens choose to stay because of the people.”

Shelton noted, “We come together as a community during times of disaster, and it would be great if we kept that going throughout the year. We don’t have to have a disaster hit us to know your neighbors.” Social media platforms play a big part in connecting neighbors, community leaders, and emergency management resources.

In 2010, the Pew Research Center released a report stating that 28 percent of Americans do not know a single neighbor by name, and only 29 percent know one neighbor by name.

Social media has enhanced how public agencies and residents work together to build more resilient communities. Public safety agencies across the country are increasingly combining the power of social networks with the power of connected neighbors to help create safer more resilient communities – whether the emergency is a flooding in Texas, an earthquake in California, or a tornado in Oklahoma.

If neighbors are able to be better connected, they will be much more resilient and prepared for anything that comes their way.

Nextdoor's icon a white house in a green boxSarah Leary is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing and Operations at Nextdoor, a free and private social network for neighborhoods.


Monday, 05 October 2015 00:00

A Cyber Security Confession

I’m going to hold my hands up right now and tell you that as resilience professional in 2015 I still feel like I know very little about cyber security and it really concerns me.

I was recently listening to a very interesting discussion during an interview with Ken Simpson and the wonderfully insightful Lyndon Bird (a guy who I’m constantly asked if he’s my father because of our similar name) on the Beyond the Black Stump Podcast Series (I highly recommend a listen) where Lyndon, who is often described as one of the founding fathers of BC, touches on a point that I’ve been contemplating for a long time. In summary he says…

“Has business continuity gone through its lifecycle of conventional Business Continuity Management Systems into a wider arena called resilience and are our traditional skills ready for that?…Business continuity has a limitation in so far as where it goes to next…Cyber to some extent doesn’t fit our model.”



I frequently help Forrester clients come up with shortlists for incident response services selection. Navigating the vendor landscape can be overwhelming, every vendor that has consultant services has moved or is moving into the space. This has been the case for many years, you are probably familiar with the saying: "when there is blood in the water." I take many incident response services briefings and vendors don't do the best job of differentiating themselves, the messages are so indistinguishable you could just swap logos on all the presentations.

Early next year, after the RSA Conference, I'm going to start a Forrester Wave on Incident Response services. Instead of waiting for that research to publish, I thought I'd share a few suggestions for differentiating IR providers.



As cyberrisks evolve, enterprises have begun to focus on the insider threat by adding specialized capabilities for behavioral analytics on top of endpoint and network monitoring. In order for these tools to be most successful, there must be a fundamental understanding of the role an insider plays in a breach. Not every employee-caused breach is malicious, but they certainly are numerous. In fact, according to Verizon’s most recent Data Breach Investigation Report, 90% of breaches have a human component, regardless of intent.

Insider threats are a rampant problem exemplified by several recent headline-making incidents: the indictment of six Chinese nationals on suspicion of stealing intellectual property worth millions from two U.S. technology firms; accusations from financial giant Morgan Stanley toward an employee believed to have stolen client information with the intent to sell it; and claims from wearable-maker Jawbone that its competitor Fitbit regularly courted its privileged employees, enticing several of them to switch companies and bring sensitive details on its products. The uncertainty around all of these cases begs a couple of important questions: how can intent be determined, and how can employee privacy be maintained while ensuring business security?



Monday, 05 October 2015 00:00

Deadly Places To Place Portable Generators

By Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Portable generators are a godsend when a storm kills your power or your RV needs some juice to keep food cold.
But portable generators, if not operated or placed correctly, can be a curse, too. Carbon monoxide, an odorless and invisible killer found in fuel emissions, can lull you into a permanent sleep. In fact, carbon monoxide exposure is the chief cause of death due to poisoning in the U.S., according to the New York State Health Department; carbon monoxide from portable generators caused 800 U.S. deaths from 1999 through 2012.
Carbon monoxide is insidious and can sneak into your home through windows cracked a smidge to accommodate extension cords, under entry doors, and into HVAC vents and pet doors.
I wish I had known that when a freak storm battered our Virginia home a few years ago knocking out power for days. I purchased my first generator and dutifully placed it 10 feet from the house. What I didn’t do was close our garage door, where extension cords snaked into the house, or side windows, which we opened to exploit a rare breeze.
The generator could – and probably did – send carbon monoxide fumes into the house; we were lucky that levels didn’t build and sicken or kill us.
Take home lesson: Never run a portable generator in risky places, like the ones below.
Indoors: Don’t even think about running a portable generator inside, even if you throw open windows for increased ventilation, which will not protect you against deadly carbon monoxide accumulation. Inside includes garages, crawl spaces, attics, and basements. To be extra safe, install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector/alarm or a plug-in detector with battery backup, which can alert you to rising levels of the deadly gas. Some home security systems include a carbon monoxide detector that will alert you and its monitoring station of rising gas levels.
Outdoors Near Openings: Even parts of the outdoors are unsafe places for portable generators. Unfortunately, just how far your generator should to be from doors and windows is debatable. Some authorities say place the generator 10 to 15 feet from the house. However, wind direction, house and generator particulars all affect how much carbon monoxide could seep into your house. New research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology indicates that at least 25 feet from a house is a safer distance. Wherever you put the generation, make sure 3 or 4 feet of space surrounds it to ensure proper ventilation.
Wet Weather: It’s ironic: Wet weather makes you need a portable generator; but you should never run portable generators in wet places, which could cause electrocution. The solution is placing the generator under an open-sided shelter or covering it with a GenTent canopy, which will keep it dry.
In/Near a Vehicle: You cannot operate a portable generator safely in an enclosed vehicle or even nearby. When tailgating, keep the generator as far away as possible, and direct exhaust away from you and your neighbors.

Portable generators are a great source of emergency power supplywhen and where you need it. But they can also be a health hazard if not properly operated or placed. Just be careful to place generators in open areas and away from your home to prevent carbon monoxide fumes from seeping into your house and causing harm or death.



In a quest for improved efficiency, higher performance and maximized storage utility, organizations operating in increasingly demanding IT environments continue to deploy expensive proprietary products or ineffective heterogeneous hardware/software solutions to gain the necessary IOPs and/or capacity required for their particular compute needs.  Companies can better maximize their storage investment while outperforming alternative solutions by following these five tips:

1.	Ditch the “legacy” equipment – Too often companies look to save money by repurposing their existing data center hardware using software-defined solutions that are then supposed to maximize performance and capacity lacking in their current infrastructure.  The problem is that while software solutions look to optimize how data flows through any particular hardware architecture, the results will be less than if the hardware itself is optimized to provide the highest speeds and peak performance, without the reflections, throughput bottlenecks and signal loss inherent in underperforming legacy solutions.

2.	Avoid vendor lock-in – Purpose-built solutions in which both hardware and software are designed by a single company to work in perfect harmony can be an ideal solution for organizations needing the performance oftentimes lacking in heterogeneous environments.  However, the costs of such solutions are often prohibitive, with expenses incurred from purchasing the hardware and the ongoing software licenses, maintenance contracts and upgrade expenses.  Implementing an Open Storage Platform allows customers to integrate hardware in any configuration, with the software solution of their choice to maximize flexibility while minimizing costs.

3.	Adopt a hardware storage platform that complements the software solution of choice – Whether using open-source software or proprietary software-defined storage solutions, a company’s use case should determine which protocol and “flavor” of storage they implement.  Whether they need DAS, NAS, SAN or other protocols, a mechanically flawless hardware architecture that overcomes software incompatibilities is a necessity to satisfy the ruthless IO requirements of cloud storage, big data analytics, HPC, enterprises and remote sites.

4.	Mitigate the “either or” dilemma of choosing between performance or capacity – By implementing a hardware solution that increases the storage density of both SSD and SAS/SATA storage solutions, companies can gain the benefits of both traditional Tier 1 and Tier 2 storage in a flexible, customizable and fully scalable single storage solution.  Through the combination of storage and compute resources in a single storage solution, organizations can cut data center space requirements, while increasing performance at a lower TCO compared to disparate systems. 

5.	Implement hardware that utilizes top-of-the-line components from audited suppliers – State-of-the-art software solutions need state-of-the-art storage servers built to the highest specifications for speed, performance and reliability.  By using top-of-the-line components from audited suppliers rather than cheaper mass-produced parts to omit cross talk, packet loss and power jitter, companies can assure themselves maximum throughput and reliability not available in standard, off-the-shelf hardware products.

Choosing a storage solution is a business-critical decision for many organizations faced with the capacity and performance needs of today’s data-hungry environments. Storage incumbents continue to offer the same hardware configurations regardless in improvements in media or software available, claiming that their equipment is capable of handling the changes.  The reality is that only by implementing a high-performance storage server system designed to maximize the utility of software solutions can organizations truly meet the demanding storage needs of their particular industry.

Designed without the inherent physical bottlenecks or software incompatibilities of other storage products, SavageStor is an all-in-hardware (server, networking and storage) solution that satisfies the ruthless capacity and IO requirements of cloud storage, big data analytics, HPC, enterprise and ROBO environments.  

Geo-clusters are something that I often get asked about, especially from clients who are looking to protect mission-critical applications and mitigate the chances of data going missing. In this post, we’ll analyse what they are and what they can be used for.

What is a geo-cluster and how can it help prevent data loss?

In order to address what a geo-cluster is, it is first important to understand the concept of a Database Availability Group (DAG).  A DAG allows an organisation to have up to 16 replications of an Exchange Database (EDB). Where we can see this come into play is in a situation (e.g. server failures, offline server) where users are prevented from accessing the primary Exchange server. A more detailed explanation of potential scenarios and how to implement DAGs can be found here. Another important term to understand is High Availability (HA), which Microsoft defines as “the implementation of a system design that ensures a high level of operational continuity over a given period of time.”



Things are seriously bad when one of the world’s most respected business focused publications, the Financial Times (FT), asks if the auto “industry faces ‘Libor moment’”? Yet that was a headline yesterday in the lead article in the FT about the still expanding crisis involving the auto manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) and its emission test cheating that has come apart over the past few days. Last week, the US accused VW of rigging its 500,000 American diesel cars so they would pass emissions requirements when being tested yet belch out 30%-40% more pollution when in actual operation. VW accomplished this through software that could distinguish between testing and operation.

What do you think the chances are that VW was not aware that the ‘defeat device’ software was in its vehicles? Anyone out there think that VW negligently installed and upgraded software through multiple product lines for over 6 years in upwards of 11 million autos? If you do it may be time for a very long session on the meaning of the word intentional. 

However the world was stunned this week when not only VW admitted that it had installed software to provide incorrect data on emissions tests around its diesel vehicles in the US but, as reported in the online publication Slate, “the German car manufacturer announced that 11 million of its cars were fitted with diesel engines that had been designed to cheat emissions standards.” Obviously the culture of the company comes into serious question when such a worldwide, multiyear, systemic plan is designed and implemented to break the law.



Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

Layering Governance Over Cloud

As the latest Amazon earnings announcement for AWS suggests, enterprises have adopted cloud at a rapid pace over the last few years as a part of the emerging Bimodal IT paradigm. However, given the focus on cost and agile development, the sourcing of cloud vendors has typically been cost-based, and the governance framework adopted across empirical. The recent Sony cyberattacks have proved beyond doubt, that enterprise data is the biggest source of competitive advantage in today’s digital era and needs to be preserved and protected at all costs. Today, as critical business processes and data have started moving to the cloud, there is an increasing clamour for newer and more specific risk and control measures to ensure information security. At the same time, the threat landscape and information security requirements changes with each vendor, location, service, business priority and more. But, this does not and should not mean that organizations need re-invent their cloud management systems and governance processes again every time the threat landscape evolves.

As the phenomena of cloud-based software deployments become the new normal, enterprises need to take a deeper and renewed look into Information Security and Risk Management instead of perpetually trying to re-build their Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) programs to keep pace with regulations and emerging cloud service models and technologies. The modern and leading organizations of tomorrow need to adopt a layering approach. Organizations need to create a single GRC layer over their cloud ecosystem, which can expand across multiple cloud vendors and models. The layering approach is imperative to ensure the cloud ecosystem can scale securely across the following attributes:



Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

VVOLs and VMware

The definition of VVOLs is simple but the effect is ground-breaking. Here is the simple definition part: Virtual Volumes (VVOL) is an out-of-band communication protocol between array-based storage services and vSphere 6.

And here is the ground-breaking part: VVOLs enables a VM to communicate its data management requirements directly to the storage array. The idea is to automate and optimize storage resources at the VM level instead of placing data services at the LUN (block storage) or the file share (NAS) level.

VMware replaces these aggregated datastores with one Virtual Volume (VVOL) endpoint whose data services match individual VM requirements. VVOLs enable more granular control over VMs and increase their visibility on the storage array. Note however that the array still operates within its own limitations. If an administrator has applied a policy to the VM with a specific snapshot schedule and the array cannot comply, then the VM doesn’t get that schedule.



Network World took a look at a study by tyntec that suggested that “a vast majority” of companies don’t protect themselves adequately from BYOD issues. About half (49 percent) of these firms have employees that at least partially use their own devices at work, which poses huge security risks. To that end, Molson Coors’ CIO Christine Vanderpool offers three lists that look at the risks of BYOD, risk issues to keep in mind and data access and security considerations.

Two surveys by Bitglass were highlighted by eWeek where they found that employees and even IT personnel are not happy with mobile device management (MDM) platforms, which they fear can access, alter or delete personnel data.

People who work for an organization don’t want to be in a situation in which their personal data is under the control of their employer. The most telling statistics from the surveys show that IT personnel – the very people who will be called upon to make such programs work – are almost as skeptical as the folks from PR and accounting about MDM platforms and BYOD:



Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

Storage in a Diversifying Data Environment

Larger data loads are coming to the enterprise, both as a function of Big Data and the steady uptick of normal business activity. This will naturally wreak havoc with much of today’s traditional storage infrastructure, which is being tasked with not only with providing more capacity but speeding up and simplifying the storage and retrieval process.

Most organizations already realize that with the changing nature of data, simply expanding legacy infrastructure is not the answer. Rather, we should be thinking about rebuilding storage from a fundamental level in order to derive real value from the multi-sourced, real-time data that is emerging in the new digital economy.



Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

A Taste of Designing Mobile Experiences

Designers and engineers at Citrix‪‪ use human-centered innovation approaches such as Design Thinking to create compelling user experiences for mobile devices. Just a few recent experiments from our internal incubators show how designing with the user at the center of the stakeholder map can improve the overall UX, introduce new concepts on the market or applications of existing Citrix products in new verticals and for new use case scenarios.

For example, the Cubefree team created a Yelp-like app for mobile workers starting with low-fi prototypes, then iterating on both the product and the business model during a 3-month Citrix Startup Accelerator program. The PatientConsult team used a similar approach, starting with gaining empathy for doctors and specialists, identifying their specific needs, and prototyping an app for secure communication in the healthcare vertical. Not to mention the newly released Citrix Workspace Cloud that focuses on Citrix customer needs and seamlessly integrates multiple offerings to satisfy them!



(MCT) - A man walked into a biology lab at Lamar University and sprinkled food into a fish tank, sustaining Trinidad-plucked guppies while the professor monitoring them was unable to tend to the subjects of his life's research.

It was a minor happening, but a win nonetheless while worry and stress gripped the Beaumont university reeling from $50 million in damage by Hurricane Rita, a storm that a top official said highlighted deficiencies in emergency preparedness and threatened to derail students' lives.

Ten years later, people across the entirety of Lamar's spectrum -- alumni, professors, officials and maintenance workers -- remembered how everyone came together to solve the most-pressing issue: resuming classes as quickly as possible to avoid canceling graduation.

They also point to structural changes they said alleviated some of the problems three years later during Hurricane Ike and should help Lamar University the next time a major storm strikes southeast Texas.



Almost a quarter of businesses reported annual cumulative losses of at least $1.05 million (CAD $1.4 million) due to supply chain disruptions, and 76% of businesses reported at least one instance of supply chain disruption annually, according to a survey conducted by the Business Continuity Institute and Zurich. The top causes of supply chain failure among businesses surveyed were ones that will likely get even more frequent in the coming years: unplanned IT outages, cyberattacks, and adverse weather.

As the supply chain continues to grow ever longer, adding more potentially disruptive risks along the way, businesses are learning some painful lessons about the financial and reputational damages that can result from failures to ensure supply chain resilience.

Check out the infographic below for some Zurich’s top insights on supply chain visibility, including the biggest sources of damage and key steps to mitigate losses:



This article provides an overview of GPG Professional Practice 3 (PP3) – Analysis, which is the professional practice that “reviews and assesses an organization in terms of what its objectives are, how it functions, and the constraints of the environment in which it operates”.


PP3 introduces and addresses the business impact analysis (BIA) as a primary means of analysis, leading to appropriate business continuity requirements.  PP3 identifies the following beneficial outcomes from the BIA:



Boards, regulators and leadership teams are demanding more and more of risk, compliance, audit, IT and security teams. They are asking them to collaboratively focus on identifying, analyzing and managing the portfolio of risks that really matter to the business.

As risk management programs evolve to more formal processes aligned with business objectives, leaders are realizing that by developing a proactive mindset in risk and compliance management, teams can provide added value to help the organization gain agility by identifying new opportunities as well as managing down-side risk. Organizations with this new perspective are more successful in orchestrating change to provide a 360-degree view of both risk and opportunity.



Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00

IT Colocation Services and the Neighbours

Can’t afford your own data centre? Want to grow a small business and looking for somewhere else to put your IT servers? Colocation services might be the solution. The idea is that for a monthly fee, providers will give your company space in a purpose-built facility with cooling, redundant power supplies and resilient, high-speed network connectivity. Naturally, service levels and quality may vary, but colocation should be a cost-effective way of relocating your servers for security and square footage. What’s not to like? The neighbours, perhaps…



A new survey has shown a profound lack of confidence among the UK public surrounding the ability of public and private sector organisations to protect their personal data from hackers.

According to the Bit9 + Carbon Black research, which comprised a poll of over 2,000 consumers, more than four in five Britons (81 percent) fear that unreported data breaches may already have put their information in the hands of hackers.

What’s more, almost three-quarters (73 percent) believe the time it takes for organisations to detect and report a breach is “unacceptable”.



Tuesday, 22 September 2015 00:00

The Business of Visual Storytelling

When was the last time you heard a really great story from one of your customers?

Chances are you hear them all the time – but why keep them to yourself? Spreading those stories across your organization can be a valuable knowledge-sharing tactic.

Storytelling has been a natural hobby of mine forever, but it’s also my favorite way of learning for business. Give me a list of specs, features or names and chances are that I’m not going to remember much about them. But tell me a story about the benefits of how those features can be applied and I’ve got perspective that will make the idea stick. Draw me a picture and I’ll get it even faster – and likely be able to tell the story myself.

Last October, I was approached by Sue Morgan, Sr. Program Manager within Customer Experience (CX). She had taken notice of the great responses we received when we used pictures to explain new features or products. It’s a great way of communicating, but she wondered how we might be able to use drawing for a more outside-in approach. Together, we gathered a handful of artists for a long-term experiment.



Tuesday, 22 September 2015 00:00

The Myth of Resources Required Over Time

In many organizations, buried somewhere in their Business Impact Analysis (BIA), is a form asking participants to designate what Resources (computers, phones, printers – even desks and chairs) they will require if their normal business operations are disrupted.

That sounds like a reasonable request.  For years the concept of Resources-over-Time has slithered its way into the ‘standards’ many organizations (and many BCM software products) follow as part of the BIA process.  But without knowing what the disruption will be,  when it will happen, how severe it will be or how long it may last, is it possible to predict what Resources will be needed?

Suppose you were going to go on a hike in the wilderness.  How much food and water would you bring?  You’d need to answer some questions first:  How long is the hike?  What will the temperature be?  Without those facts, you can only guess what you’ll need to pack.  You risk either running short – or over-packing and needlessly increasing the weight of your backpack.



Like many of you, I have a number of routine checks that I run on the Exchange servers to keep them in good health. One of those areas is managing user mailbox quotas. I’ll often spend a couple hours a week with users to help them implement a mailbox storage diet and explain the importance of keeping their emails managed properly. However more interestingly, I have been asked numerous times how this can relate to data loss and what actions can be taken to prevent this from occurring. In this post, the second of our Exchange series, we’ll be taking a look at this in more detail.



Tuesday, 22 September 2015 00:00

3 Steps to Failover

When it comes to disaster recovery and keeping your business running, there are three key steps to take, no matter the scale.

Whether it’s a large-scale disaster, a crashed server or even just a file that gets deleted, it’s important to properly assess the situation, act on it with a plan and get things back to normal. In our case at Net Sciences, we were hit with three hosts, seven servers, an entire cluster--all down.



By Ben J. Carnevale

Nearly two years in the making, on September 15th, 2015, a 98 page document – e.g. the ISO 18788:2015 Management System for private security operations — has been published.

Among its many benefits, this standard provides the principles and requirements for a security operations management system (SOMS) …and… a framework for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining and improving the management of security operations for organizations conducting or contracting security operations and related activities and functions.

Just as important, this document also demonstrates: (a) conduct of professional security operations to meet the requirements of its clients and other stakeholders, (b) accountability to law and respect for human rights, and (c) consistency with voluntary commitments to which it subscribes.

Everybody likes self-service these days. We have self-service gas, self-service car washes--heck you can even self-service your mortgage application with just a few mouse clicks.

So it’s no surprise that knowledge workers are bringing this ethos to the office and bumping up against the idea of someone else telling them what resources and applications they can use to do their jobs, and how to get them. In organizations that push back against self-service, many employees simply seek their data infrastructure elsewhere, driving up levels of shadow IT.



The more complex a system becomes, the greater the chance it will experience failure. And as more people start putting their data on the cloud, more security issues have been cropping up.

No doubt, the cloud has not experienced catastrophic security failures. Still, traditional IT sees this far too often. But, can isolated incidents – such as the hack of celebrity iCloud accounts, password theft of Dropbox, and the PlayStation network attack compromising the data of over a 100 million customers –  point to a trend that might flare up in the coming years?



(MCT) – First a 1,200-pound bomb inside a rental van blew a crater into the base of the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six.

Then a rental truck packed with fertilizer exploded in front of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.

The detonation of a backpack nail bomb a year later inside a public plaza -- killing one person in Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta -- was the final straw. Those attacks inspired a new approach for protecting Americans and visiting dignitaries at large events from the growing threat of terrorism and violence on U.S. soil.



New research from two security companies shows that DDoS attacks are a lot more serious than previously thought. The nuisance attacks are doing more than shutting down websites, shutting out customers, and giving IT staff the unwanted task of fixing the problems. They are now being used for malware downloads and resulting in data loss.

Kaspersky Lab reported that companies have a one in five chance of being the victim of a DDoS attack. Worse, nearly one out of every three DDoS attacks coincided with a network intrusion, leading 31 percent of small business and 22 percent of larger businesses to suffer data loss. In fact, of the 5,500 respondents to its survey, 32 percent said that the DDoS attack happened in conjunction with a network intrusion.

In a release, Evgeny Vigovsky, head of Kaspersky DDoS Protection, stated:



(MCT) - We all know that it's only a matter of when, not if, the Big One hits.

Yet so few of us are prepared for a sizable earthquake or another disaster.

"We've got it pretty good here," said Chris Ipsen, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Emergency Management Department. "We live in an area that has a lot of resources, the weather is excellent … people just get real comfortable."

In many other parts of the country and around the globe, light switches don't always work and tornadoes, torrential rains and crippling snowstorms are a seasonal occurrence. But in Southern California, Ipsen said, "the mentality can be, 'It's not going to happen, and if it is going to happen, it's not going to happen to me.'"



Preventing data breaches in an organization requires a strong collaborative effort between the HR and IT departments—a collaboration that may even involve a blurring of the line between those traditionally separate functions.

That’s the assessment of Jacqui Summons, international HR director at Clearswift, a provider of data loss prevention technology in the UK. I had the opportunity to speak with Summons about this topic recently, and I began the conversation by asking her to provide an overview of what HR’s role should be in preventing data loss. She said the role is one that HR directors are slowly adopting:



Hackers have leveraged malicious code to attack apps commonly used on Apple (AAPL) iPhones and iPads in China.

And as a result, Apple tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by IBM (IBM), Vodafone (VOD) and the VisitorTracker malware. 

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



Over the past 60 years, there have been over 2,000 major disasters declared in the United States. When disaster strikes, the economy takes a serious hit. Some businesses suffer financial loss so great that they never reopen. Natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy have devastated local communities almost to the point of no return, costing billions in reparations to infrastructure, businesses and the lives to those personally affected.

However, hurricanes are not the only natural disasters that pose a threat to business continuity. Events such as tornadoes, floods, fires, and snow storms all leave business vulnerable without proper disaster preparedness planning. With cloud-based systems like OfficeSuite® Phone, business have unlimited and remote access to phone and communications systems to ensure operations stay up and running.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, National Center for Environmental Information, and The Insurance Information Institute

Nicole is the Marketing Communications Specialist for Broadview Networks, a top 10 UC cloud provider in the nation, where she enjoys writing about the latest technology and cloud products businesses can leverage to maximize productivity, improve security and reduce costs.


Continuting our technical deep dive series on the Applications and Desktops service, here is a blog from one of our star engineers, Daniel Seltzer.

Here is our next step toward simplification. Citrix Applications and Desktops Service sets up the control plane with best practices in minutes, reducing the overall need of design and deploy.

Today, we are introducing Remote Powershell SDK. You can now perform operational tasks even without logging into the user interface. Administrators can now automate operations such as creation of machine catalogs and delivery groups in the same way it’s done with XenApp and XenDesktop.

However, there are subtle differences.



Monday, 21 September 2015 00:00

Is Wall Street ready for the next cyberattack?

Take a deep breath, and imagine a doomsday scenario on Wall Street: a hacktivist group coordinates a large-scale, three-day attack on the capital markets meant to disrupt trading and confidence in the U.S. markets.

That's what cybersecurity firm SIFMA tried to simulate in a Wednesday experiment—where they found that banks might be limited during a hacking by laws that restrict information sharing.

"It's an inevitable instance that we're going to have cyberattacks," said Kenneth Bentsen, SIFMA's CEO said Wednesday on CNBC's "Closing Bell." "We have to work not just on prevention, but on response and recovery. And that's what these exercises are all about."



The enterprise is formulating big plans for Big Data, but first there is the little matter of deploying big infrastructure to handle the load.

To be sure, not all of the data generated by legions of smartphone apps and RF-connected sensors will need to be compiled in a central repository. Much of it will be too fleeting to be of any use after a few minutes: think optimized search results for recent logins or sales specials based on the buying histories of in-store customers. These are best handled by automated on-site or near-site systems.

Still, large amounts of data will head back to the data center where it can be used to chart historical trends, update user records and generally optimize and refine business processes. For these volumes, the most readily available solution is the data lake, which is part repository, part warehouse and part analytics engine—but wholly expensive and complex.



Monday, 21 September 2015 00:00

Selling Proactive Response

Perhaps the most useful thing about managed services isn’t just the easy pricing model or the simplicity the services bring to small businesses; it’s in being proactive about potential issues.

I recently spoke with a StorageCraft partner who had a story about two types of people. One type knows the value in technology and is willing to invest in it, and one doesn’t. This partner had a promo offer of two free service hours to local businesses. The idea is typically to come in and assess networks and offer a few suggestions, and hopefully win a larger managed service contract. One business that reached out said they wanted to pocket the two hours and use them when there was a problem. Our partner told the business owner to keep the hours for later, but mentioned that they’d still come and do a free evaluation to identify potential problems. The business still refused.



Monday, 21 September 2015 00:00

MSPs: How to Handle the Top 5 Cloud Myths

In retrospect, the guys that came up with cloud computing could have done a better job of naming it. Sure, the technology got its nebulous name primarily due to its lack of any well-defined boundaries, but to anyone not familiar with tech-speak, the word “cloud” usually inspires weather-related images. Even people that are familiar with some aspects of cloud-based file sharing services are walking around with notions about which are just plain wrong.

That said, the damage is done. As a result, many an MSP with a cloud-based model may have to wade through a plethora of myths before they can get their prospects to start taking them seriously.

Some of the top 5 myths that are doing the round out there might shock you. Yet, dealing with these myths is extremely important and could impact your sales efforts, so be sure to anticipate questions related to them. Or, better yet, combat them before your prospect even asks.



Monday, 21 September 2015 00:00

Linus enter the BCI Hall of Fame

Linus enter the BCI Hall of Fame

To win a BCI Award shows a high standard of excellence, it shows that you stand tall among your rivals and act as a beacon for others to aspire to. To win a BCI Award on a regular basis however, that takes something extra special.

The BCI is pleased to announce that the latest entry to the Hall of Fame is Linus – winner of Continuity and Resilience Provider (Service/product) award at the Australasian Awards in 2013, 2014 and now 2015.

Being invited to join the BCI Hall of Fame is something that we value highly, as it recognises that winning awards over a number of years is a remarkable achievement" said Saul Midler, CEO of Linus. "The fact that Linus Revive has been recognised as the best BC Product in Australasia for several years demonstrates the consistently high-level of applicability our software and services have in the community."

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

What does a prepared community look like?

As communities look at how to prepare for the next emergency, they usually focus on stockpiling emergency supplies, having clear alert networks and ways to communicate with the public, and designating evacuation routes and shelter locations. While all of these are key aspects of emergency planning, one area of preparedness that is often overlooked is community health. Community Health is a term used to describe the state of health and how easy or difficult it is to be healthy where people live, learn, work and play. The health of a community, including ease of access to medical care and community resources available for exercise and encouraging healthy habits, is an important part of emergency planning that can have a positive impact on a community before, during, and after a public health emergency.

What is a Healthy Community?

Woman Selling Fresh Cheese At Farmers Food Market

A healthy community is one in which local groups from all parts of the community work together to prevent disease and make healthy living options accessible. Working at the community level to promote healthy living brings the greatest health benefits to the greatest number of people. It also helps to reduce health gaps caused by differences in income, education, race and ethnicity, location and other factors that can affect health. Healthy communities commonly have high vaccination rates to protect citizens from diseases and easy access to medical care and healthy food; are designed for healthy living at home, work, and school; and provide good mental health resources. Often, this also means it is safe and easy to walk, bike, and play in parks and community spaces.

How is a Healthy Community Better Prepared?

Communities that have good health resources in place and healthy community members can often recover after a disaster more quickly and with less negative health issues. Individuals who are in good physical shape, have proper vaccinations, have access to clinical services and medications, and know where to get critical health and emergency alert information, can better recover from a disaster and are more likely to be able to contribute to a community’s recovery efforts. After a natural disaster people may be displaced or may be gathered or taking shelter in crowded group settings. When there is a large number of people gathering or living in these crowded areas, it is imperative that people are up-to-date on their vaccinations in order to reduce the spread of disease.Nurse talking to mother and daughter

Unhealthy communities often have a large number of individuals that are more vulnerable before, during, and after a disaster. Factors that lead to poor health in communities such as high rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, limited access to general medical care, and low levels of health education, can cause substantial difficulties for a community recovering from an emergency event. Gaps in medical care can increase significantly after a disaster due to physical damage to health care facilities or from a large increase in the number of people who need medical attention. People who already have poor health are usually more susceptible to disease during a public health emergency and cannot get the normal day-to-day medical care they need.

Make Your Community Healthy and Prepared

People passing sand bags down a line to prepare for a hurricane

You can help improve the health of your community by taking a look at your health and the health of your family. Take actions to ensure that you are as healthy as possible. Before an emergency, if you eat well, get regular checkups and vaccinations, and are physically active, your body will be better able to handle the stress and physical demands of recovering from a disaster. Washing your hands regularly can also help reduce your chances of getting sick during and after an emergency.

Help promote health in your community by becoming more engaged in your community. Encourage local community groups and government organizations to consider community health in their emergency preparedness plans. Take action to improve your community’s health now to ensure you are better prepared to remain healthy when an emergency occurs.

Friday, 18 September 2015 00:00

Introducing the Masters of Disaster Podcast

I am happy to announce that the podcasting community on compliance, ethics and risk increased by an estimated 100% in September with the launch of the new podcast Masters of Disaster.   Earlier this month I was honored to have the other half of the ethics and compliance podcasting community, Tom Fox, graciously interview me about the launch of my new podcast on his podcast, the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report.

Why “Masters of Disaster”? It is more fun to say than the “Risk, Ethics and Compliance Podcast,” of course. The podcast features interviews with masters in the fields of risk, ethics and compliance – all areas that can become disasters if not managed well. The podcast also includes interviews with people who work on making professionals more influential or healthy in their high-stress jobs.



One of the biggest challenges in using an emergency notification service is keeping up with your contacts—especially if your organization is large or has high-volume turnover. How can you make sure your recipients aren’t missing vital communications without consuming significant time and resources?

The solution is simple. Let your notification recipients sign up for alerts and maintain their own contact information. Now your administrators can spend less time managing contact information and more time focusing on their main role.

A good notification service, like Send Word Now, will offer a Self-Registration tool or portal that facilitates data entry by your recipients. They simply create a password and provide their contact information all from a single web address. The portal even allows them to choose message preferences and provide the contact points at which they wish to be reached. Most importantly, they can update their contact information at any time—or when instructed to do so. We’ve noticed that customers want to make contact data management easy while focusing on business continuity, safety, and day-to-day tasks.



One of the sharp contrasts we can draw this week is between BMC and HP. In a weird way, BMC looks a lot like it may be what HP’s board wanted: a software pure-play. But BMC has around 7,000 employees, and HP has around 300,000. This week, HP announced it would be cutting an additional 30,000 employees on top of the 55,000 already cut, approaching one-third of the workforce. This comes after management split the company in two, which should have resulted in the need to up the staff for common services that aren’t common anymore.

One of the interesting contrasts is that over the last decade or so, BMC has largely had one CEO, Bob Beauchamp, while HP has had a string of them, starting with Carly Fiorina, who came from telecom and marketing, and ending with Meg Whitman, who arrived after a failed bid for California governor and being replaced at a far smaller eBay.



Security protocols are put in place to protect business interests. But are these security protocols also hurting your business?

Having a good security infrastructure in place is absolutely necessary in today’s work environment, but a new Dell study shows that good security has a negative impact on employee productivity.

Even worse, it appears that employees don’t like the restrictions imposed by security protocols because too many of them are using workaround strategies to avoid them; this, said 70 percent of the respondents, is creating the greatest security risk.



WASHINGTON– The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and HOPE Coalition America (HCA), the emergency preparedness and financial recovery division of Operation HOPE, signed a memorandum of agreement yesterday renewing their 11-year collaboration to promote financial preparedness and support for recovery after emergencies and disasters. The renewal of this collaboration took place during National Preparedness Month, a nationwide, month-long effort hosted by the Ready Campaign, encouraging households, businesses, and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies.

“Being financially prepared before, during, and after a disaster can help families and communities recover faster when disaster strikes,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “This memorandum of agreement will help to make our communities more financially secure and our nation more resilient.” 

The memorandum of agreement outlines a wide array of collaborative actions between FEMA and Operation HOPE, including efforts to provide pre-disaster financial education materials and information to communities, establishing and updating procedures to provide free financial guidance, and case management to survivors in the event of a major disaster or emergency, and efforts to recruit and train volunteers to provide financial preparation and recovery guidance to survivors. 

“Operation HOPE helps individuals, families and small businesses regain their financial health and economic stability after a natural disaster or national emergency,” said Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman, and CEO John Hope Bryant. “We’re pleased to renew our partnership with FEMA and assist their efforts to help Americans be better prepared for adverse events. As such, HOPE Inside locations nationwide will now include access and resources offering HCA services.”

Over the past several years, FEMA and HCA have leveraged resources from each other to help individuals and families prepare for disasters, or recover from disasters in the shortest possible time. FEMA has also partnered with Operation HOPE to encourage individuals, families and businesses to collect and safeguard the critical documents they will need to help them start the process through the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK). The EFFAK is a resource for financial preparedness, providing step-by-step instructions on the protection of personal assets and financial information to reduce vulnerability after a disaster. This simple tool can help Americans identify and organize key financial, insurance, medical, and legal records, and is available at www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness.


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

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

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

The 8.3-magnitude earthquake that struck off Illapel, Chile, on Thursday morning (Australian time) has once again highlighted the importance of tsunami warning systems in the world’s oceans. The earthquake occurred along the interface of the Nazca and South American Plates in Central Chile.

Latest reports indicate that five people have been killed and millions evacuated.

A sudden slip along this fault zone led to movement of the sea bed. This in turn generated a tsunami with 4.5-metre waves reported on the Chilean coast.

A Pacific-wide tsunami alert has been issued by Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in the United States based on earthquake data from the United States Geological Survey. The PTWC is one of a worldwide network of tsunami warning centres.



During September, National Preparedness Month, the Austin Joint Field Office is releasing a series of stories highlighting FEMA’s support of Texas communities as they take steps to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property.

AUSTIN, Texas – Austin’s city leaders have seen disaster before and understand the folly of waiting and hoping one will never again hit this area.

With that in mind, they partnered with Travis County and the Central Texas Chapter of the American Red Cross to develop “Disaster Ready Austin.”  Coordinated by the city of Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), the purpose of the initiative is to educate and empower residents to be prepared for emergencies and disasters.

The vision is a whole-community approach to disaster preparedness education in the city of Austin. “Our basic message to [residents] is to protect themselves,” said Jacob Dirr, public information and marketing officer of HSEM’s Community Preparedness Programs. “The goal is to educate Austin residents on basic preparedness for all types of hazards, including first aid tips and what to do in case of flash floods, wildfires, severe weather, pandemic flu or accidents involving hazardous materials.”

Online resources, such as contact cards and emergency kit checklists are offered in English and Spanish at Homeland Security and Emergency Management | AustinTexas.gov . The HSEM Community Education and Outreach team members take advantage of scheduled meetings, such as Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) gatherings at the schools, where they offer presentations in English and Spanish.

Dirr notes that in some areas young kids, and parents, in the Austin community understand Spanish more than English.

Other audiences include Boy Scout groups, elderly care facilities, fairs, kids’ summer programs, area employers, community groups and school events.

One component of their community outreach at events is “Ready Freddie,” a character included in a children’s activity book called “Too Prepared to Be Scared,” which Dirr said is popular with parents and children. Featuring puzzles, games and animated figures to help get the preparedness message across, the booklet also has a certificate of appreciation children can receive when they finish.

“It’s full of colorful disaster-related advice such as information on developing an emergency supply kit, having an emergency plan and keeping pets safe,” Dirr said.

One of the biggest events attended by HSEM staff, including Dirr dressed in a life-size Ready Freddie mascot costume, was the “Back to School Bash” held at the downtown convention center. More than 100 vendors participated, with attendance exceeding 11,000.

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


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

Making money as a service provider is dependent on finding customers. Entrepreneurs see the opportunity in hosting and start a hosted services business, build a strong technical implementation following the Citrix Service Provider Reference Architecture, but now need more sales and marketing help to grow the business. Managed service providers want to add Desktops-as-a-Service (DaaS) to their offerings, but are unsure which current customers might purchase.

But there is good news! The Citrix Service Provider program isn’t just about technology licenses. The Citrix Service Provider Partner Program provides end-to-end technology, business, and marketing support to thousands of service provider partners worldwide.

We’ve been tracking the trends around service provider marketing– and watching technology industry marketing changes. Here are 3 key marketing trends for what’s in and what’s out for DaaS marketing.



12 projects to aid coastal resilience, safeguard the public, ecosystems and coastal economies
Cellular look at Pseudo-nitzschia, a harmful algal bloom that is threatening health of humans, marine mammals by creating toxins in filter feeding fish and shellfish. (Credit: NOAA).

Bloom of Karenia brevis (red tide) leads to large fish kill in Texas. (Credit: With permission from The Brazosport Facts)

NOAA announced today 12 new research grants totalling nearly $2.1 million that will go to organizations from around the country seeking to address harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia, two of the most scientifically complex and economically damaging coastal issues.

Hypoxia and harmful algal blooms have become a national concern. Outbreaks of toxic algal blooms along the Pacific coast have shut down commercial and recreational shellfishing in portions of three states. Also, the large oxygen-depleted “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico imperils valuable commercial and recreational fisheries, and the persistent Lake Erie bloom has threatened public water supplies and the area’s $12.9 billion tourism industry.

“Understanding and predicting if an algal bloom will become toxic remains one of the biggest technical challenges,” said Mary Erickson, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, which is providing the funding. “These projects will help communities and agencies understand, detect, and predict toxic algae and hypoxia. They are part of a larger NOAA effort to develop a national network of ecological forecasts to protect communities and make them more resilient to these threats.”

The grants will allow these organizations to implement new monitoring technologies to address emerging HABs, and investigate the role of climate change, nutrient pollution, and other factors to better predict and manage blooms. They will also improve upon current monitoring and seasonal forecasting for HABs, as well as apply robotic technology to improve hypoxia monitoring. A list of the grants can be found here.

Distribution of dissolved oxygen in bottom water west of the Mississippi River delta (July 28–August 3, 2015). Black line denotes area with less than two milligrams of oxygen per liter of bottom water. (Credit: With permission from Nancy N. Rabalais, LUMCON, and R. Eugene Turner, LSU).

Distribution of dissolved oxygen in bottom water west of the Mississippi River delta (July 28–August 3, 2015). Black line denotes area with less than two milligrams of oxygen per liter of bottom water. (Credit: With permission from Nancy N. Rabalais, LUMCON, and R. Eugene Turner, LSU)

“Advancing NOAA’s ecological forecasting initiatives depends on sound science-based information that private and public officials need to make critical decisions to protect public health, understand environmental impacts, and mitigate economic damages to activities that are a vital part of the region’s economy,” said Russell Callender, Ph.D., acting assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service.

Every U.S. coastal state has suffered a bloom of harmful algae over the last decade, and species have emerged in new locations that were not previously known to have problems. A small percentage of blooms produce toxins or grow excessively, threatening the coastal environment posing human and animal health threats. HAB toxins may kill fish or shellfish directly and can lead to illness and death in some marine birds and mammals, including humans.

Scientists deploy an Environmental Sample Processor to detect toxic Alexandrium blooms in the Gulf of Maine. (Credit: NOAA)

Scientists deploy an Environmental Sample Processor to detect toxic Alexandrium blooms in the Gulf of Maine. (Credit: NOAA)

During blooms, shellfisheries are monitored for HAB toxins by state agencies, and, when necessary, are closed to protect human health.  Because of the monitoring, commercially available shellfish are safe to eat.  Even blooms that are not toxic can cause damage by suffocating fish, blocking light from bottom-dwelling plants, or depleting the oxygen in the water.

Hypoxia, or low oxygen, can occur naturally but is often caused by poor water quality from human activities, such as excessive nitrogen or phosphorus pollution from agriculture fertilizer runoff, sewage, urban runoff, or other practices. Today, more than half of the studied U.S. estuaries have experienced hypoxia.

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science delivers ecosystem science solutions for NOAA’s National Ocean Service and its partners, bringing research, scientific information and tools to help balance the nation’s ecological, social and economic goals.

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

Friday, 18 September 2015 00:00

If not a BIA Survey, What? (Part 1)

Some time ago eBRP posted a blog article I chose to call “The BIA Survey: an Effort in Futility

I’ve been asked why I haven’t published a follow-up article (as the original implied).  It’s less lack of inertia and more a wish to avoid controversy.  Not everyone agreed with my original premise; fewer still may agree with my solution.

The Business Impact Analysis (BIA) Survey has evolved over time into an often massive undertaking.  Organizations devote 6 months or more to determining the Survey questions, distribution, collection, collation, analysis – and the inevitable follow-ups to resolve discrepancies, anomalies and misconceptions.  Upon completion, not only are the results suspect (see my original article) but during the process, organizational changes often make some results invalid.



The misclassification of freelancers has emerged as one of the biggest storylines within the booming gig economy. As we’ve all seen from the onslaught on seemingly endless lawsuits, the cost of non-compliance can be staggering.

Fines levied by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), IRS and state agencies for worker misclassification can exceed millions depending on the severity of the infractions. As more and more companies begin leveraging independent contractors, it’s paramount that they arm themselves with the tools, processes and information needed to mitigate their compliance risk.

The following list of compliance risks, while certainly not exhaustive, highlights the critical need for companies to take proper steps to ensure their contractors and employees are properly classified.



Thursday, 17 September 2015 00:00

Why Your BIA Method Matters

In this paper, Stephen Massey describes why BIA is so important in the establishment of an effective BCMS and which methods yield the most efficacies; how organizations must avoid confusing efficiency for efficacy and; why the BIA process must be treated as a learning and development exercise.


Organizations wishing to implement robust business continuity programmes have a requirement to conduct business impact analysis (BIA). Given the complexity of the BIA process and, the limited resources available to collect data, there is a requirement to identify efficacious collection methods to support business units and business continuity practitioners in completing the task so that effective risk assessment and business continuity planning can take place. However, which method is the most efficacious and what are the factors affecting efficacy? This paper attempts to answer this and the following questions using the scientific method:



Thursday, 17 September 2015 00:00

ASIS releases new Risk Assessment Standard

ASIS International has published a new standard, which it has developed in conjunction with RIMS.

Entitled Risk Assessment ANSI/ASIS/RIMS RA.1-2015, the standard “provides guidance on developing and sustaining a coherent and effective risk assessment program including principles, managing an overall risk assessment program, and performing individual risk assessments, along with confirming the competencies of risk assessors and understanding biases.”

Risk Assessment provides guidance for:

  • Establishing a risk assessment program and conducting individual risk assessments consistent with ISO 31000:2009 Risk management - Principles and guidelines, as well as the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) Enterprise Risk Management framework;
  • Conducting risk assessments for risk and resilience based management system standards for the disciplines of risk, resilience, security, crisis, business continuity, and recovery management.

More details.

The number-one rule of safely downloading apps is to use the official app marketplace, whether it is the App Store or Google Play, or a vendor’s store.

That’s why the news from Bitdefender researchers is so alarming. They discovered sophisticated CAPTCHA-bypassing Android malware in Google Play apps. The piece of malware itself was discovered in 2014, but it was distributed through those third-party sites. According to a release, this is the malware’s first occurrence in the official Google Play store, as it appears that the malware developers discovered new ways of packing it into seemingly legitimate apps that can bypass Google’s vetting system.

The malware takes advantage of the authentication system. As Tech City News explained:



Thursday, 17 September 2015 00:00

Blockchain: It Really is a Big Deal

By Arvind Krishna

Over the past two decades, the Internet, cloud computing and related technologies have revolutionized many aspects of business and society. These advances have made individuals and organizations more productive, and they have enriched many people’s lives.

Yet the basic mechanics of how people and organizations forge agreements with one another and execute them have not been updated for the 21st century. In fact, with each passing generation we’ve added more middlemen, more processes, more bureaucratic checks and balances, and more layers of complexity to our formal interactions–especially financial transactions. We’re pushing old procedures through new pipes.

This apparatus–the red tape of modern society–extracts a “tax” of many billions of dollars per year on the global economy and businesses.



Thursday, 17 September 2015 00:00

Multiple Approaches to Container Scalability

Few enterprises have made serious inroads into the emerging field of container virtualization, but already there is growing concern that the technology might not be as effective as advertised in supporting advanced applications and microservices – at least not yet.

At the moment, the big issue is scalability. Docker, the leading container developer, has made no secret of its desire to incorporate greater scalability on its platform, primarily the ability to enable more efficient networking between large numbers of containers. To that end, the company has offered a number of orchestration and management tools through joint development projects with companies like Red Hat, Amazon and IBM.



The Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended the deadline for flood insurance policyholders to submit their Hurricane Sandy Claims for review. The last day to submit claims is now Oct. 15, 2015.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that any additional flood insurance proceeds up to $20,000 will not be treated as duplicative. Federal agencies cannot provide disaster assistance for losses covered by insurance. HUD’s announcement stated that “this will eliminate the need for HUD grantees to reclaim assistance from these households or to repay those funds through non-federal sources. To date, three out of four National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claimants have received less than $20,000 in additional compensation from FEMA and will not face any possible repayment.”

Roy Wright, FEMA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, encouraged policyholders to call FEMA and request a review if they believe their claims were underpaid for any reason. As of Sept.14, nearly 14,000 policyholders have requested reviews of their Sandy flood insurance claims.

“FEMA remains committed to making sure that every policyholder gets every dollar they are owed under their flood insurance policy. Already, thousands of policyholders have contacted us to have their claims reviewed and we have begun providing funds to those who were due additional payments on their claim,” Wright said.

“We are hopeful that HUD’s action to provide relief to the vast majority of those who are concerned about potential duplicative benefits will encourage even more policyholders who may have been initially reluctant to enter the process to do so,” Wright said. “In light of HUD’s decision to simplify this review and provide relief, we are extending the claims review deadline until October 15th.  We hope by extending the deadline we are addressing any remaining concerns some may have about entering the claims review process. The review process we have established is designed to be simple, fair, and accessible without paid legal assistance. FEMA is dead set on restoring trust in this important program and no one should be discouraged from having their claim reviewed.”

Policyholders can call the NFIP’s Hurricane Sandy claims center at 866-337-4262 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Monday through Friday to request a review.  It is important to have your policy number and insurance company name when you call.

Policyholders also can go online to www.fema.gov/hurricane-sandy-nfip-claims to download a form requesting a review. The downloaded form can be filled out and emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or faxed to 202-646-7970 to begin the review process. For individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use 711 or VRS, please call 866-337-4262.  For individuals using a TTY, please call 800-462-7585 to begin the review process.     


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

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

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

Just 27% of small businesses in the UK have a business continuity plan in place, compared to 68% of medium sized organisations and 75% of large organisations, demonstrating that smaller organisations are not taking the threats to their operations seriously. Small businesses are not exempt from the possibility of a cyber attack, supply chain failure or weather related incident, and often have less capacity to absorb the costs of these incidents should they occur, meaning the ultimate impact can be even more devastating.

UK organisations are not alone however, as the findings of this study echo a recent survey in the US which also found that small businesses were not prepared for a disaster.

The sixth annual Data Health Check report, published by Databarracks, also revealed that 73% of the small businesses questioned admitted they hadn't tested their plan in the last 12 months, with nearly half not planning to within the next year. The report highlighted that disaster recovery testing had a huge impact on how confident organisations are in their DR solution. Of those organisations that had tested their DR plans within the last year, 58% were 'very confident' in them, with this figure falling to just 28% for non-testers.

The theme for Business Continuity Awareness Week 2015, run by the Business Continuity Institute, was testing and exercising and the key message was that a plan that has not been exercised is simply not a plan – you don’t want to find out during a crisis that it is not fit for purpose. Testing and exercising is a fundamental part of business continuity and must not be excluded from the process.

Oscar Arean, technical operations manager at Databarracks, commented: "It's not surprising to find that small businesses are less likely to have a BCP than larger businesses. What is worrying is the lack of improvement we've seen for small businesses in the last 12 months. Sometimes it takes a prolonged period of downtime or a substantial data loss for a business to realise the importance of a robust DR solution, but it shouldn't come at that cost. We need to see a culture shift and perhaps some of that responsibility falls to the service providers as well as the customers. DR providers need to educate organisations on the importance of disaster recovery planning and testing, and demonstrate how vulnerable they are if this isn't done. Disaster recovery isn't a luxury insurance policy anymore, it's absolutely essential for businesses no matter what size."

Data centres with volumes above 80 TB may be more cost-effective if they use flash memory in the place of traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), according to one expert.

Eric Burgener, a research director at International Data Corporation (IDC), made the claim in a recent whitepaper sponsored by Violin Memory, Computer Weekly reports.

Flash memory – which is used in smartphones and tablets, as well as solid-state drives – is demonstrably faster and more efficient than HDDs. However, the cost per GB is higher, at around $1.25 (£0.81) rather than $0.70 (£0.45), Mr Burgener said.

Nonetheless, his analysis revealed that at data centre volumes exceeding 80 to 90 TB, the other advantages of flash memory start to justify the extra outlay.



Every MSP offering a cloud-based file sharing service knows that few other IT infrastructures out there can compete with the cloud as far as security goes. In fact, advanced security features, such as multi-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption, are almost taken for granted in the world of cloud computing.

No doubt this is good news. However, cloud services should not make the mistake of taking their security for granted if they don’t want to witness a catastrophic fall someday. Take the recently released report on data breaches by Ponemon, which clearly finds that costs related to attacks against IT services are increasing.

While the report is more of a commentary on IT security in general, it does hint that even though the cloud hasn’t seen any major security breaches yet, MSPs cannot afford to become complacent. Remember, there is a lot more creativity dedicated to cracking cloud security than securing it. So the more proactively you defend yourself, the lesser the likelihood you will witness an attack. Security, in other words, is always a work in progress.



Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00

Risk Has a Shape

One of the central tenets of risk management is the idea that we understand “risk.”  Most definitions of risk management include terms such as assessment, evaluation, identification, control, transfer, reduction, retention and so on to describe what should be done to risk to protect the firm, patient or enterprise from bad outcomes.  The benefits ascribed to risk management include the achievement of a firm’s business goals, better patient care, improved decision making, risk-adjusted returns on capital and a host of superlatives attributed to the proper risk framework or leading practice.

Very few risk management definitions actually explain how to accomplish these results with any degree of specificity.  Instead, the definition includes vague descriptions of activities that lead to risk management. For example, a hospital definition of risk management: “The constellation of activities—planning, organizing, directing, evaluating and implementing—which are involved in reducing the risk of injury to patients and employees, as well as property damage or financial loss in a health care facility.”  This definition, like many others of similar ambiguity, are no more than “trial and error” disguised as risk management.  What is clear is that we may not truly understand risk as well as we think we do!



Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00

Enterprise Risk Lagging Globally, Study Finds

Despite a widening range of risks faced by organizations globally, less than 35% of companies say they have an enterprise risk management (ERM) plan in place. What’s more, 70% would not describe their oversight as mature, according to the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) report Global State of Enterprise Risk Oversight 2nd Edition.

The study found that 60% of boards of directors globally are pressuring their companies to increase involvement of senior management. The U.S. is lagging in some areas, with only 46% of its boards assigning risk oversight responsibilities to a committee compared to 70% globally.



We know our technology is unrivaled and as part of our “work better, live better” mantra, we want our partners to share our tech far and wide. One of the ways we do that is baking in partner incentives as part of our global plan to be the best business for Citrix partners to work with.

We have a variety of incentives designed to drive your success and make your business more profitable – take advantage of them!



(MCT) - Disasters can happen at any time.

That’s why officials say it’s important to always have a plan and to be prepared.

September marks the 12th annual National Preparedness Month. This annual campaign is hosted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

National Preparedness Month helps to educate the public and helps people prepare for emergencies that may occur in the community, including natural disasters like floods, extreme winters and power outages.



Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00

Design Thinking in Compliance

In many ways the migration from Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) 1.0 to 2.0 and beyond is more than simply about the technical aspects of a CCO to the internal and external delivery of a compliance solution by the compliance function. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) both have consistently articulated that a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) anti-corruption compliance program should be an evolving solution, dynamic not static. Compliance as a business solution to a legal issue and must also evolve to meet the ever-changing business dynamics of a progressively globalized marketplace and international enforcement of anti-bribery laws. To think that the drafters of the FCPA foresaw every business challenge that would appear over the intervening 35+ years belies the path of legal and commercial developments in that time frame.

One of the areas of development that can be of use to the compliance practitioner is design thinking in your compliance program. This issue was explored in a series of articles in the September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR). In an article by Jon Kolko, entitled “Design Thinking Comes of Age, he posited, “the approach, once used primarily in product design, is now infusing corporate culture.” For the CCO or compliance practitioner this means recognizing you have customers, i.e. your employees, and third parties that may fall under your compliance program. All of these groups have a user experience in doing compliance that may be complex and interactive. As a CCO 3.0 or further, you will need to design a compliance infrastructure to the way people work so that doing compliance becomes burned into the DNA of a workforce.



When you think “community,” what comes to mind? Maybe you immediately think of neighbors and friends who live nearby, or perhaps local businesses, churches, civic organizations and others. What about some of your regular stops around your community such as your pharmacy where you fill your prescriptions or buy over-the-counter medicine? Most people have trusted community partners they know well and with whom they interact regularly in everyday life. In fact, some of these same community partners are working with local, state, and federal public health planners to help your communities prepare for emergencies.

Pharmacists standing over table of clipboards.

Pharmacists set up a screening station in a recent exercise to determine which medicine a person should receive to counteract exposure to anthrax.

In June 2015, a Costco warehouse in Potomac Mills, VA, partnered with Prince William Health District (Virginia Department of Health) to show how a private business can step up to help its community in an emergency. In this particular exercise, Costco regional pharmacy staff exercised a local plan to dispense medication – actually empty training bottles – to nearly 200 public volunteers as part of an open, or public, point of dispensing (POD). The scenario was based on a large-scale anthrax attack that would require mass dispensing of antibiotics from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). In an emergency where many people were exposed to anthrax, these antibiotics would help prevent people from becoming sick.

Volunteers wait  to receive their “pill bottles” in a recent exercise with Costco and Prince William, Va. Health District  to test a public dispensing plan in an emergency.

Volunteers wait to receive their “pill bottles” in a recent exercise with Costco and Prince William, Va. Health District to test a public dispensing plan in an emergency.

“Public health and the private sector can share resources and work together as a community to reach one goal,” said Patrick Ashley, emergency preparedness and response coordinator for Prince William Health District. “We have realized that government cannot do everything on its own – and shouldn’t. The success of this exercise comes from having engagement on all sides. Costco came to the table and has been a great partner.”

This public/private dispensing pilot, facilitated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), demonstrates how large private retailers can partner with state and local public health departments to dispense medications to the public in an emergency. Costco has partnered with public health to operate both closed PODs, which would serve its own employees and their families, and public PODs open to the larger community.

“Costco has a history of serving the community,” said Christopher Loving, Costco regional pharmacy supervisor in Virginia. “This was a great opportunity for us to show our region’s pharmacy managers how this kind of event would work. The POD exercise at Potomac Mills was a huge success.”

At CDC, we know that all response begins locally, and a resilient community is simply one that has made itself ready to use all of its available resources to plan for, respond to, and recover from an adverse event. The real key to creating resilient communities is to strengthen day-to-day activities that help keep the community healthy and thriving.

table with pharmacists packing bags with medicine bottels

Regional Costco pharmacists in Virginia exercise a local dispensing plan to respond to an emergency that would result in wide-spread exposure to aerosolized anthrax.

“The SNS is the nation’s repository of medications and medical devices for responding to public health emergencies, and we focus our efforts on helping build resiliency by ensuring that everyone in a community has access to the life-saving material we can provide,” said Greg Burel, director of CDC’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile. “The National Stockpile’s supplies cannot stop significant health problems after a disaster if communities are not resilient, so we work to facilitate relationships, train people and create strong partnerships between public health and the community. By including private businesses like Costco in these planning efforts, we are able to reach more people who rely on and trust their community partners.”

From the astute healthcare provider who recognizes that a disease is emerging in a community that could pose a public health threat, to the company that wants to make sure its employees and their families are safe, all of us have an important role to play in making our communities resilient. In an emergency, the whole community will be affected. If public health jurisdictions and the private sector can collaborate on planning and partnerships in advance to make that community resilient before something bad ever happens, we are all ultimately safer.

Security for the Internet of Things (IoT) is vitally important, but challenging to provide. Computerworld’s Kenneth van Wyk pointed to three traits of human nature as obstacles to building security into the IoT: naïveté, ignorance and laziness. He may well need to add a fourth to the list: competition.

The problem, according to van Wyk, is that companies need to position themselves quickly to take advantage of the money that is on the table and the incredible amount of it that will be thrown into the pot over the coming years.

van Wyk says that though we may understand why IoT developers were naïve, ignorant and lazy about some elements of security, it is certainly not forgivable: 



Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00

What the Industry Gets Wrong About Security

“The technology industry has grossly over-hyped the value of its products and built empires around consulting and spreading fear.”

Provocative stuff, right? No question. But it’s even more so when you consider that preceding comes from a thought leader whose company is making a major push into security. It’s true. The company is LogicNow and the author of the above quote is Ian Trump, LogicNow’s Security Lead.

On Sept. 10 in Washington, MSPmentor sat with Trump, where he was in town for the company’s fifth summit for MSP partners in the Americas.



Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00

The Myth of Departmental Continuity Plans

Since the early days of Business Continuity Planning, many organizations have chosen to focus efforts on “Worst Case” and “Hole-in-the-ground” scenario planning, and Departmental Continuity Plans.  The value of Departmental Continuity Plans is a myth. Planning for an artificial, organizational construct ‘the Department’ shifts emphasis from the real reason BCM exists: to resume delivery of the organization’s critical Products & Services.

The effort expended to create a Departmental Business Continuity Plan often has two negative outcomes:



Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00

Data Programs Revolutionize Cincinnati Government

There’s a dream out there among those in the top levels of local government that one day they will be able to lead with clear, concise data from every department they oversee. For many, this dream will die a slow and agonizing death as efforts to break down, bureaucratic siloes fall short and daily operational demands outpace the potential for change.

It’s nothing against these dreamers, of course, it’s just that governments, like people, get comfortable and fear change — even if it’s for the better.

But even over a bad telephone connection, Harry Black’s tone and tenor are enough to convince you that he lacks the complacency so often found in others of his station. He comes across as a man with a crystal-clear vision for his city.



Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00

How to Stay in Business Through a Disaster

Disaster can strike at any time. While crisis manuals are lengthy, they should have three key pillars.

On 11th March 2011, the public announcement protocols gave Kazunobo (informally known as “Kaz”) and his investment banking team approximately one minute of advanced warning before the magnitude 9 earthquake whose epicenter was some 450km away began to shake his Tokyo office. For Kaz a swaying office was by no means unusual but he was now experiencing the largest earthquake to hit Japan since records began. One which shifted the country’s main land mass 8ft to the east and jolted the earth on its axis by as much as 25cm.

The significant damage to the country caused by these violent tremors was soon eclipsed by the destruction brought by the ensuing tsunami. The wave, sometimes reaching 40m tall, washed more than 10km inland killing 16,000 people and displacing more than 200,000. 4.4 million households were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water. The Fukushima nuclear reactor melted down.

Read more at http://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/how-to-stay-in-business-through-a-disaster-4239#Rjylxi2tRgg1wk26.99
Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00

3 Pros and Cons of Exercising

In this short blog, we have identified three advantages and three disadvantages of tabletop, functional, full-scale, and corporate war game exercises.

These are not the top three, or the bottom three in terms of our findings. They are simply a few pros and cons of conducting the main types of exercises.



Tuesday, 15 September 2015 00:00

Gauging the Impact of Reputational Risk

The following article is part of a continuing blog series that will explore ideas, concepts, discussions, arguments and applications associated with the field of enterprise and strategic risk management.

In my previous article, I made the point that the public discussion of reputational risk lacks a set of common standards or definitions. This lack of consistency allows organizations to interpret or define the concept of reputational risk in very different ways. For some, reputation is beginning to be viewed as something like the “risk of risks” in the same way people are starting to discuss the concept of the “internet of things.” I questioned whether reputation or brand is actually a risk or a residual event stemming from other extenuating risk domains or actions.

Upon further reflection and discussions with academics and risk professionals who are thinking carefully about this issue, I would go further now to suggest that reputation or brand risk involves perceived or real human behaviors that are, to some extent, measured against societal, economic or moral standards. The adherence or deviation from established standards generates the basis for the risk, and the variability from the standard influences the duration of the outcome.



When it comes to cybercrime, the UK has the dubious honour of being the most commonly targeted country in the world, according to a new study.

Carried out by data security company ThreatMetrix, the research found that British firms are attacked 50 per cent more frequently than their counterparts in the US, and by hackers located as far afield as Nigeria and Mexico.

It also found that ecommerce is currently one of cybercrime’s top targets, with attacks up 20 per cent in the second quarter of 2015, and noted that recent growth in mobile use has given rise to fresh opportunities for fraudsters to conduct spoofing attacks.

Dr Stephen Moody, solutions director for EMEA at ThreatMetrix, commented: “The more businesses and consumers turn to the digital space to store and manage their financial information, the more fraudsters will be on high alert.”

The study’s findings highlight how UK companies must manage key data effectively to protect their customers’ privacy and insure themselves against data loss.

Kroll Ontrack provides software for MS Exchange and SharePoint, solutions for permanent data erasure, and services for tape archives, as well as data recovery.

From:: http://www.krollontrack.co.uk/company/press-room/data-recovery-news/uk-tops-list-of-most-attacked-countries-in-cybercrime-study379.aspx

DENTON, Texas – “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.” That’s the message emergency managers are sharing with people all over Texas and beyond during the month of September.

September is National Preparedness Month and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region 6 Office is urging everyone to take steps to make a plan and know what to do during an emergency.

Whether you deal with the possible threats of flooding, wildfires, hurricanes or power outages, the preparedness steps to take are the same. They include:

•    Knowing your risk for where you live;
•    Having an individual and family preparedness plan in place;
•    Practicing that plan;
•    Putting together an emergency kit with water and non-perishable supplies to last for at least three days for you, your family and your pets;
•    Ensuring that your contact list is up-to-date for people you may need to reach out to during a disaster; and
•    Establishing alternative methods of communication in case traditional means are not available.

Additionally, September 30 is National PrepareAthon! Day. You are encouraged to participate by doing a simple, specific action or activity to improve your preparedness and your family’s preparedness; or it can be something more elaborate that involves your neighborhood, your place of worship, your entire workplace or your community.

Visit www.ready.gov or www.ready.gov/prepare for more information on America’s PrepareAthon! You can find tools to stage your own emergency preparedness drills, as well as register any preparedness activities for you or your community.  


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/femaregion6, and the FEMA Blog at http://blog.fema.gov.

Automating the data center is one of those things that evokes conflicting emotions in enterprise executives. After all, who wouldn’t want a virtually hands-free data ecosystem in which everybody’s needs are satisfied at a moment’s notice? Then again, no one, not even the people building the automation stacks, believes such functionality is realistic.

But while it is true that automation is not likely to produce Star Trek-esque data service any time soon, the fact is that today’s platforms can and do improve data processes quite a bit, and implementation, particularly on virtual and abstract architectures, is not nearly as cumbersome as it was just a few years ago.



Tuesday, 15 September 2015 00:00

New Challenges Arise for Banking Security

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about banking security, but it appears new banking malware is making the rounds.

IBM’s X-Force team discovered the banking Trojan, which is primarily targeting the Japanese financial market. It has been named Shifu – the Japanese word for thief – and as IBM’s Security Intelligence blog reported:

The Shifu Trojan may be a new beast, but its inner workings are not entirely unfamiliar. The malware relies on a few tried-and-true Trojan mechanisms from other infamous crimeware codes. It appears that Shifu’s internal makeup was composed by savvy developers who are quite familiar with other banking malware, dressing Shifu with select features from the more nefarious of the bunch.



Tuesday, 15 September 2015 00:00

As Technology Gets Smaller, Risks Get Bigger

Microelectronics is changing the way we live, work and do business. With circuitry thousands of times smaller than a human hair, microelectronics has become the brains behind almost every business. But shrinking technology makes equipment more vulnerable to breakdowns, especially when it’s portable and fragile. To manage the risk, you need to keep up with these evolving exposures to protect your organization from loss.

Insurance is changing as well, to reflect this new technology. Think of all the equipment that relies on micro-circuitry. From building systems to communications, if it uses electricity, it likely operates with tiny transistors and microprocessors. Our claims data shows that micro-circuitry is prone to break down and is difficult to repair.

Yet, most property coverage does not cover equipment breakdowns and typical equipment breakdown insurance requires proof of physical damage. That can leave a business without coverage for repair or replacement, business interruption and data loss caused by today’s technology losses, unless the policy specifically covers microelectronics failures.



(MCT) - Having enough water on the Missouri River hasn’t been a major problem this year. At the end of August, precipitation was 108 percent of normal, even with below-normal snowfall last winter. Currently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has 60.1 million acre feet of water stored behind the six dams it operates along the Missouri River.

However, this is not a time for those who live along the river or use the river to be complacent.



WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with state, local, and tribal emergency managers and state broadcasters’ associations, will conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, September 16, 2015, in six New England states.  The test will begin at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), and will last approximately one minute. 

The voluntary EAS test will be seen and heard over many radio, television and cable stations in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The EAS test might also be seen and heard in upper New York State if the public normally receives any broadcasts from nearby New England stations.  The word “national” will be added to the test message: “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.” 

“The EAS test message will be sent to radio and television stations using a National Periodic Test code that sounds and appears like the regular monthly EAS tests conducted by state officials and broadcasters,” said Roger Stone, Acting Assistant Administrator of FEMA’s National Continuity Programs. “FEMA is working to specify a method for conducting periodic nationwide EAS tests using the National Periodic Test code in the near future.”

The test is designed to have limited impact on the public, with only minor disruptions of radio and television programs that normally occur when broadcasters regularly test EAS in their area. There is no Federal Commissions Commission regulatory liability for stations that choose not to participate. 

The test will assess the operational readiness of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure that will distribute the national-level EAS test message to radio, television and cable operations from origination to reception by public.  It will verify the functionality of EAS stations to receive and broadcast a national test message.  The test requires that radio and television stations make a minor configuration change to their station EAS equipment to receive and process the National Periodic Test code message from the IPAWS system.

In 2007, FEMA began modernizing the nation’s public alert and warning system by integrating new technologies into existing alert systems.  The new system is known to broadcasters and local alerting officials as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System or IPAWS.  IPAWS connects public safety officials, such as emergency managers, police and fire departments to multiple communications channels to send alerts to the public when a disaster or other imminent danger occurs. 

More information on the Public Alert and Warning System and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is available at www.fema.gov/ipaws or www.ready.gov/alerts. For more information on IPAWS, visit www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/31814.


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

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

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

Tuesday, 15 September 2015 00:00

Achieve Operational Efficiency with DevOps

The traditional model of deploying new software and services is obsolete and unable to meet today’s fast-paced and evolving business demands. 

Consumers are demanding access to applications and services in real-time while expecting an unparalleled user experience. The convergence of web and mobile technologies has also accelerated the need for continuous improvement of applications and Enterprises. Needless to say, Enterprises are struggling to keep up.

DevOps may provide the answer, as it accelerates time to market for new apps and services, and streamlines application deployment while achieving operational efficiency. From a CIO’s perspective, adoption of DevOps is transformational. Continuous integration is not just about adopting new tools, nor it is just about a new IT methodology. It is about an enterprise wide shift on how IT is organized.



Tuesday, 15 September 2015 00:00

The MSP Private Cloud Opportunity

More than 70 percent of companies have implemented private cloud solutions, and 71 percent of them report easier application management as a result, according to new research from Aberdeen Group. Private clouds also have reduced IT complexity for 46 percent of business and accelerated application deployment for 45 percent of them.

Yet, Aberdeen finds, some companies remain skeptical of private clouds, fearing increased costs and complexity. But those businesses, Aberdeen warns in its July 2015 report, “A Simple Path to Private Cloud,” are bound to continue paying too much for application deployment and administration. And that limits their ability to innovate and leverage future technology advances.

Aberdeen posits that fears over complexity and cost are misplaced. Businesses instead should endeavor to assess and understand their critical application needs, and work with a cloud services provider to fulfill those needs.



CVS has confirmed its photo website, CVSphoto.com, was breached this summer.

And as a result, the pharmacy chain tops this week's list of IT security newsmakers to watch, followed by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, ESET and the Atlantic Council.

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



When data from the massive Ashley Madison hack first leaked online, one tiny bright spot was that researchers said the company appeared to use a strong algorithm to encrypt users passwords. But now one group says it already decoded more than 11 million passwords because programming errors in how that encryption was applied left the information less secure than originally thought.

And the passwords unearthed by the decoding hobbyists, known as CynoSure Prime, so far suggest that many who were seeking thrills on the infidelity-focused site had poor digital hygiene.

The top password uncovered so far: 123456, according to Ars Technica. The other passwords that made the top five aren't much better: 12345, password, DEFAULT, and 123456789.



It seems that the enterprise is both intrigued and yet intimidated by the thought of incorporating high-performance computing (HPC) into the data center.

On the one hand, who doesn’t want a powerful, scalable and highly flexible data infrastructure at their disposal? On the other, the financial, technical and logistical challenges to making it work properly are undoubtedly daunting.

Or are they? Most people view HPC in terms of the home-grown, scale-out infrastructure that populates the data centers of Google, Facebook and other Web giants. But as the technology matures, it is being integrated into increasingly modular footprints that can be incorporated into the standard enterprise footprint relatively easily.

Indeed, as Enterprise Tech’s Alison Diana found out from top executives at Cray, Psychosoftpc and other HPC specialists, enterprise deployments are seen as the next big market opportunity, which is why many of the leading platforms are being retooled with advanced power and cooling systems for deployment into critical data infrastructure. The HPC industry, in fact, is working to overcome the persistent myths that advanced computing requires specialized support, or even entirely new data centers, before it can play an active role in emerging data processes like analytics and high-speed transactions.



Cloud technology is currently at the forefront of IT and continues to grow as more companies begin to adopt this technology. However, there are still concerns and misconceptions when it comes to cloud adoption. A recent survey conducted by West IP Communications of more than 300 IT managers identified some glaring concerns with cloud-based file sharing and other forms of cloud services. The majority of concerns were cost or security related, as IT managers were worried that cloud adoption would endanger the company or taper the company’s bottom line.

The survey showed that although the majority of IT managers believed they would be able to make their money back in savings, 46 percent didn’t see their company earning the same ROI. The perception of potential ROI seemed to shift depending on the size of company with 66 percent large businesses, those with IT budgets of $5 million or greater, believing they would make all their money back. There was also a difference of opinion among companies in how long it would take to them to see their full return on investment.



Monday, 14 September 2015 00:00

Emergency Management is Not a Part-Time Job

Despite the continued professionalization of emergency management and the expanded roles and responsibilities of emergency managers, many local governments still view emergency management as a part-time job with a part-time or even volunteer emergency manager.

In the grand scheme of things, contemporary emergency management is still a relatively new discipline, having only recently evolved from the civil defense era within the last 40 years or so. Many of those working within emergency management began their careers in civil defense agencies, and some of those agencies carry the civil defense moniker even today.

The tragic events of 9/11 and recent high-profile natural disasters have served to raise the profile of emergency management, and federal grant dollars and doctrine have further helped to define and shape the discipline. Today, emergency management professional certifications and academic degrees are becoming commonplace, and emergency managers are taking on new and expanded roles as the threat profile continues to evolve.



Monday, 14 September 2015 00:00

FEMA To Evaluate Readiness Of Maryland

PHILADELPHIA – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will evaluate a Biennial Emergency Preparedness Exercise at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. The exercise will occur during the week of September 14th, 2015 to assess the ability of the State of Maryland to respond to an emergency at the nuclear facility.

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

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

FEMA will present preliminary findings of the exercise in a public meeting at 11:00 a.m. on September 18, 2015, at the Sheraton Annapolis Hotel, 173 Jennifer Road, Annapolis, MD 21401. Scheduled speakers include representatives from FEMA, NRC and the State of Maryland.

At the public meeting, FEMA may request that questions or comments be submitted in writing for review and response. Written comments may also be submitted after the meeting by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by mail to:

MaryAnn Tierney

Regional Administrator


615 Chestnut Street, 6th Floor

Philadelphia, PA 19106

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

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

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

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.