Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘natural disasters’ Category

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Data Breaches

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First things first. TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday).

Although if I were hanging out in Key West at the moment, I’d probably be thinking about more than just another margarita and earth-bending sunset.

Hurricane Irma has already wracked devastation across the Caribbean, hammering Antigua, Barbuda, Puerto Rico, and now passing through the Turks and Caicos, the northern coast of Cuba, and the southern Bahamas before making landfall in south Florida.

The New York Times’ characterized Irma overnight as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm with sustained winds of up to 155 miles an hour. The National Hurrican Center has the latest probable path here.

Meanwhile, an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific Coast of Mexico late last night, killing at least 32 and sending people in Mexico City fleeing into the streets.

Effects of the quake were felt through the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, and on into Guetemala. Last night’s quake was said to be more powerful than the one that killed nearly 10,000 in 1985, after which construction codes were bolstered significantly.

The Mexican government issued a tsunami warning off the coast of Oaxaca and Chiapas, but neither appeared to have been impacted by waves.

And then there was the man-made disaster. Credit reporting agency Equifax announced on Thursday that hackers had gained access to company data and potentially compromised sensitive information for 143 million American consumers (~44 percent of the U.S. population!), including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and other personally-identifiable information.

The company’s press release indicated that “criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.”

As if having a web exploit endanger the personal information of about one-third of the American population weren’t bad enough, Bloomberg is reporting that three of Equifax’s senior executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the company discovered the security breach.

Coincidence?

If you believe that, I’ve got some credit card numbers I’ll be happy to sell you at a rock bottom price!

The hack is so gargantuan that Equifax is offering ALL U.S. consumers free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection for one year through its TrustedID Premier service.

It’s the least they can do.

Read Krebs post to learn more about the breach and its aftermath.

In the meantime, take matters into your own hands. Check all your credit card statements online to ensure no suspicious charges are starting to get racked up, and consider putting a freeze on your credit until you’re confident you’re not a victim of this “incident.”

Written by turbotodd

September 8, 2017 at 9:40 am

Preppers

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Buenos dias.

I hope those of you in the northeast still without power find yourselves in the range of AC/DC again very soon.

I’ve been reading some fascinating stories about the lengths to which people have gone, especially from downtown (below, say, 40th Street), to find power enough to charge their cellphones.

Hey, I’d be right there in line behind you (although I’d try the Google solar recharging tchotchke I got several years ago first).

I’ve also been reading about the comeback of pay phones.  I didn’t even know there WERE any payphones left in NYC, but yes, there’s actually some 12,000 of them (down from 35,000 at their peak).

Because I was a New York City bike messenger once upon a time, I am very familiar with NYC pay phones. When I used to traverse the streets of Manhattan riding around moving vehicles like a crazy person, I had two pieces of technology: My Sony Walkman, and a beeper.

Whenever that beeper went off, I would head straight for a pay phone so I could call into my dispatch to grab another pick up.

But to imagine that a landline pay phone was my last line of communication defense…well, that’s what it’s come to for so many New Yorkers.

Some other good news I’m hearing: 14 of the city’s 23 subway lines were expected to open (though the 3, 7, B, C, E, G, and Q trains remain dark), which should go a long way towards alleviating some of the ridiculous auto traffic seen in NYC yesterday.

And the Cuomo plan to require three folks to a vehicle coming into Manhattan, though a heavy hand, is also not a bad idea, at least until more public transport can get up and running.

I’m also amazed that LaGuardia Airport opened this morning, especially after seeing those flood waters leaning up towards the jetways just two days ago. I imagine there will be lines of folks wanting to get out of town.

As for me, I’m sitting back taking some notes for my own disaster “crash” kit.  No use not turning these lemons into lemonade.

First on my list, other than plenty of fresh water and three days of non-perishable food: One of those combination hand cranked cell-phone recharger, flashlight, and weather radio. I’ve read about too many people who just didn’t know what the —— was going on, and that alone would drive me absolutely crazy.

A small, portable stove with a minimum week’s worth of fuel.

Small packages of dried instant coffee and powdered Gatorade.

Some sealed packages of beef jerky, power bars, and MREs (because I’ve seen so many complain about eating only bananas and power bars for three days stuck in their apartments)

Cash, and plenty of it.

Tell me what else I’m forgetting, my NYC area kinsmen.

Ready.gov had a whole list of basic and additional emergency supplies that’s worth a look see here.

Hang in there, NY, CT, and NJ.  You’re almost back up on your feet, and the rest of the country is cheering you on.

Written by turbotodd

November 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Sandy’s Data Center Impact

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Well, I sat and watched the coverage of Superstorm Sandy last night, flipping between the major cable news networks and The Weather Channel, and also trying to keep up with my northeast friends via Facebook and Twitter.

You could almost mirror match the power outages with the suddenly disappearing Facebook and Twitter streams, as one friend after another dropped from the social radar screen.

Having lived in New York City and its surroundings for the better part of eight years of my life, I was completely sympathetic to their plight, and quite frankly, astonished at some of the images I was witnessing.

I’ve been out doing some research to try and understand the negative IT impact, and it didn’t take long.

This story indicated that the flooding had hobbled two data center buildings in Lower Manhattan, mainly because it took out diesel pumps (located in basements) that were needed to refuel generators.

Datagram’s 33 Whitehall basement was also inundated, taking out some major Web sites, including Gawker, Gizmodo, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, and Media. The attached screenshot demonstrates the message I tried going there just this morning.

Ars Technica also had a post detailing some of the outages, in which they suggested that “customers relying on hosting providers and cloud services may want to build systems that can fail over across multiple regions,” but that “even the most extensive preparations may not be enough to stay online in the face of a storm like Hurricane Sandy.”‘

IBM’s own Business Continuity Services had this message for IBM clients posted on its home page overnight:

The IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency team is monitoring the status of Hurricane Sandy and has activated our Emergency Operations Center to ensure we are prepared to assist our customers throughout the storm. Our delivery teams are assembled in BCRS recovery centers in Sterling Forest, NY, Gaithersburg, MD and Boulder CO and all facilities are secure and ready to support all client declarations. We are proactively assessing the potential impact to our customers who are projected to be in the path of the storm, and our delivery program management team will provide regular updates to our clients as the storm progresses, and will be available to respond to any questions throughout the week. If you need to call IBM to place us on alert, or to declare a disaster, please call 1-877-IBM-REC1 (877-426-7321)

Written by turbotodd

October 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Managing & Mitigating Risk: The 2011 IBM Global Business Risk & Resilience Survey

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Once again, IBM has published a global business risk and resilience study, this year in partnership with Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of IBM.

The study was conducted in June of this year, and included responses from 391 senior executives…Thirty-five percent of the respondents were C-level executives…About 39% were from North America,38% from Western Europe, 20% from Asia Pacific, and 3% from Eastern Europe.

Companies with less than U.S. $500M in revenue comprised 39% of the responses, and 48% of the respondents hailed from companies with more than U.S. $1 billion in revenue…The survey also covered a gamut of industries, including financial services (16%), IT and technology (16%), professional services (13%), manufacturing (8%) and healthcare (7%).

Click on the image to enlarge. The IBM Global Risk & Resilience Study revealed that to date, companies around the world are focused heavily on building out their resilience and risk plans, as well as putting the supporting technologies and processes in place to get them into effect.

Before I dive into the results, here’s the setup: Global organizations are increasingly emphasizing business resilience; that is, the ability to rapidly adapt to a continuously changing business environment. Resilient corproations are able to maintain continuous operations and protect their market share in the face of natural or man-made disasters as well as radical changes in the financial or economic climate. They are also equipped to seize opportunities created by unexpected events.

So, the question is, are they?

It’s a mixed bag.

The research suggests that more and more businesses will adopt a more holistic approach to risk management in the next three years ass they deal with growing uncertainty and the increasing interconnectedness of the varied risks they face.

That’s the good news, aspirational though it may be.

But in terms of today’s reality, the study indicated that only a minority of companies (37%) has implemented an organization-wide business resilience strategy…with 42% saying they’ll do so in the next three years.

Almost two-thirds (64%) say they have a business continuity plan of some sort, and a robust 58% have dedicated contingency plans for dealing with a variety of risks.

That’s the topline…now on to the deeper dive:

  • Larger organizations are more likely than smaller ones to have an integrated strategy.  They, of course, typically have more to lose, and complexity increase’s an organization’s exposure to risk. Larger firms are more likely to have assigned overall responsibility for enterprise risk management to a single executive (which means, of course, direct accountability). Still, there is a contingent of small companies that have adopted integrated strategies. These companies also rank highly with regard to indicators of success such as revenue growth, profitability, and market share.
  • Continuity, IT and compliance risks remain in the foyrefront, but companies are diversifying their strategies to build business resilience. Nearly 40% of respondents say their organization regards business continuity as primarily an IT issue. However, when they’re asked to name their “primary risk management concern,” some name more than one, including disaster recovery (47%), IT security (37%), and regulatory compliance (28%). Though most have started by addressing the largest threats first, they increasingly are expected to turn to such things as communications and training programs designged to build a more resilient culture overall.
  • Business resilience planning increasingly involves specialists from across the organization, yet CIOs and IT pros remain the most prominent stakeholders.  Hey, what happened to sharing the love…and the risk??  Because a culture that imbues responsibility for risk management at every level enables companies to respond to changes and unexpected events. A solid majority of respondents (60%) say that business resilience is considered a joint responsibility of all C-level execs. Yet as IT penetrates more deeply into every aspect of company operations, CIOs and IT pros remain key players in building more resilient organizations. Fifty-six percent of respondents say the CIO collaborates with top IT strategists much more frequently than three years ago.

Click on the image to enlarge. Silos, budget and predicting ROI were cited as the biggest barriers in the study to adopting an holistic approach to business resilience and risk.

How Can I Better Manage Risk Moving Forward?

In most organizations, improving business resilience requires a shift in corporate culture because that is what shapes values and behavior. If a company’s culture blends risk awareness with other corporate values, then people instinctively know the right thing to do when confronted with an unexpected situation, and that reduces risk.

Understanding these principles is a good first step, but in interviews, executives are clear that buy-in from the top is essential to foster broad organizational change. Promoting holistic risk management concepts to peers and employees is also critical.

Taking an incremental approach with broad participation in strategy development can help, because it is easier to promote change if a new initiative is not seen as being pushed by one particular faction.

Senior-level commitment and adequate resources are also needed to develop comprehensive communications and training programs to support integrated risk management. One of the distinguishing features of the most resilient companies is that they are much more likely than other firms to have developed a communications strategy to push the message of resilience out to every corner of the organization.

Companies that embrace these measures are more likely to create an effective business resilience plan. This will provide a robust foundation on which to build a long-lived competitive position supported by end-to-end risk management.

Go here to download the full report.

TurboTech Podcast: Irene, AT&T v. DOJ, Fraud Detection, & Facebook v. Google+

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Scott Laningham and I got together recently for Round 2 of “TurboTech,” our new video podcast focusing on all things tech and Internets.

For this week’s episode, Scott pulled out his stopwatch to time each news segment — whatsa matter buddy, you can’t just come out and tell me I’m longwinded?

I can take a hint.  You’ll also notice that Scott’s intro now also includes his famous Don Pardo-like voiceover: “It’s time for TurboooooTeeecccch!”  It’s simply classic.

On this past week’s agenda: Hurricane Irene, IBM acquisitions in the fraud detection realm, AT&T v. DOJ, and Facebook v. Google+.

Written by turbotodd

September 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Texas Fires

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Thanks to my fellow IBMers and other friends who have been asking about the Texas wildfires.

Due to extremely little rain this year, Texas has been in a major drought for the past several months. That, combined with a string of 60+ 100+ degree Fahrenheit days, have made Texas one big tinderbox.

Vast forests are basically fire wood waiting to be consumed.  Our state forest service has responded to 181 fires that have burned over 118,000 acres in the last week alone (millions more acres through the course of the past 6 months).

Over the weekend, we had four major fires, including the Bastrop fire (25 miles east of Austin) which spread across 30,000 acres and which destroyed over 600 homes at last count.  It also forced the evacuations of at least 5,000 people.

Fortunately, the strong 30+ MPH winds that blew in over the weekend have died down significantly, hopefully making life easier for the extensive army of volunteer and professional firefighters (which we still don’t have enough of).

The Austin American Statesman Blotter blog has the latest information on the various fires.  And you can see some of the newspapers’ reader photos of the fires here.

Me, I will continue to pray for less winds and any rain.

Written by turbotodd

September 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm

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New developerWorks Podcast: Steve Jobs, HP, Motorola, Turbo’s 20th

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This has been a crazy Friday, so I didn’t have much time to blog.

But, Scott Laningham and I were able to cut our first developerWorks “videopodcast,” where we covered some of the major recent IT and tech news, including the announcement of Steve Jobs resignation (I apologize in advance for saying his name both ways!), HP/Autonomy deal, Google/Motorola, and even a few bits on my 20th anniversary with Big Blue.

For those of you in the path of Irene, please be safe and heed all the warnings of your public officials.  We’ll be thinking about you all along the East Coast down here in drought-laden Texas.  We need some rain, but we prefer it not come in the form of a hurricane (although I’m sure some farmers in South Texas might argue with me about now).

Here in Austin, the forecast has us at around 109 degrees Fahrenheit tomorrow.  Yikes!

Written by turbotodd

August 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm

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