Risk News

4/15/2014
Promises of Preparedness Followed Devastating Earthquakes. And Yet.

"It is hard to imagine any people, collectively, being better prepared for earthquakes than the Japanese."

Annie's take:

Following hard on my column yesterday on recovery and reconstruction, here's a hard look at preparedness. We have not come that far.

4/14/2014
Take Off the Blinders

"It’s been an extraordinary month, with scenarios that include a missing plane (see Divya Yadav’s research note); another round of deaths at Fort Hood just as the report on lessons learned in the Washington Shipyard was released; a Supreme Court decision that makes us wonder if the justices believe that free speech is the same as money; and, right in our backyard, a devastating mudslide from which not all the bodies have been removed."

Annie's take:

A call to look closely at what we can change now rather than after a catastrophic event.

4/13/2014
Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say

"Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday."

Annie's take:

It's very clear that this is a difficult, polarizing time in our country. To be president is not a piece of cake. Most decisions are thankless ones. Could we ask for a bit more thought to be put into this decision? Call it frivolous if you wish, but I still believe in "the greater good." And it is not being served by these exceptions.

4/13/2014
Pay for Performance? It Depends on the Measuring Stick

"Year after year, as executive pay continues its inexorable climb, it’s amusing to watch corporate directors try to justify the piles of shareholder money they throw at the hired help."

Annie's take:

At the senior executive level, is it really pay for performance. Morgenson's research unearthes some uneasy truths.

4/12/2014
Justice Stevens: The five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment

"Following the massacre of grammar-school children in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, high-powered weapons have been used to kill innocent victims in more senseless public incidents."

Annie's take:

On the basis of this excerpt from his new book, I'm ordering the book. Here Stevens argues that the Second Amendment could be clarified and improved, based on the framers' intent, to restrict the sale of assualt weapons outside the military. Brilliant.

4/11/2014
Sebelius Resigns After Troubles Over Health Site

"Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, is resigning, ending a stormy five-year tenure marred by the disastrous rollout of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act."

Annie's take:

Here's a cautionary tale for all executives: no matter how good a governor you might have been, if you don't understand how complicated and interdependent technology platforms are, you run the risk of losing your reputation and perhaps your job, especially on large program implementations.

4/10/2014
Heartbleed bug puts the chaotic nature of the Internet under the magnifying glass
Annie's take:

It will take some time to understand which groups might have been exploiting this open source vulnerability. Some have already suggested that NSA has known of this flaw for some time. One thing is clear: the internet has grown and sprawled in ways we had not anticipated.

4/9/2014
Banks Ordered to Add Capital to Limit Risks

"Federal regulators on Tuesday approved a simple rule that could do more to rein in Wall Street than most other parts of a sweeping overhaul that has descended on the biggest banks since the financial crisis."

Annie's take:

Banks having to hold 5% rather than 3% of their assets in capital is a very large step forward. As the article points out, it is an easy rule to enforce, as opposed to many of the new rules from Dodd-Frank that are far more complicated.

4/9/2014
‘Heartbleed bug’ threatens web traffic

"A flaw has been discovered in an encryption method used on about two-thirds of all websites, including Google, Amazon, Yahoo and Facebook, potentially exposing web traffic, user data and stored content to cyber criminals."

Annie's take:

Is today the best day to be fully engaged with the Internet? Perhaps not, though large technology companies like Google and Facebook say they fixed the problem before it was widely announced yesterday.

4/8/2014
Fort Hood Shooting Focuses Attention on Military Mental Health

"As the second-highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Army, retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli was briefed on all soldiers who killed themselves during the military's burgeoning suicide crisis between 2008 and 2012."

Annie's take:

I realize this is the second article on this topic that I've published this month. To consider how a large bureaucracy can find and utilize better tools on this problem is the least that we can do.

4/8/2014
Hackers Lurking in Vents and Soda Machines

"They came in through the Chinese takeout menu."

Annie's take:

Every IT security person ought to be reading this story. The not-so-obvious routes into a business now become much clearer.

4/7/2014
The Wallet as Ethics Enforcer

"There is a lot we don’t yet know about the disastrous decisions made by General Motors after it became aware of faulty ignition switches in its Chevrolet Cobalts more than 10 years ago."

Annie's take:

Hers is the best thought piece since we learned of the GM safety coverup. It applies not only to GM, but to decisions that other large companies make as well.

4/6/2014
Minding the Minders of G.M.

"There is a truism in Washington that was confirmed last week in Congress: Even less popular than government regulation is a regulator suspected of not doing its job."

Annie's take:

Regulators are generally the most unloved professionals in the world. The GM situation in particular will draw even more attention to the job of the regulator and the tolerance for equivocation.

4/6/2014
Military’s mental-health system faces shortage of providers, lack of good diagnostic tools

"The shooting rampage at Fort Hood has once again focused attention on the military’s ­mental-health system, which, despite improvement efforts, has struggled to address a tide of psychological problems brought on by more than a decade of war."

Annie's take:

There clearly is a need to do more. The question is what to do. Are there diagnostic tools that could be used? Where are the mental health providers?

4/6/2014
Technology's Man Problem

"Elissa Shevinsky can pinpoint the moment when she felt that she no longer belonged."

Annie's take:

I started in the technology hardware business in the mid-80's, often found myself to be the only woman in the room, both with clients and at conferences. As far as I know, there are only three women in Seattle who have ever owned computer businesses, even today. This story focuses not on the hardware side, but on developers and the difficulties for women. Still.

4/5/2014
In a prying world, news organizations are struggling to encrypt their online products

"The old-fashioned newspaper, long maligned for its stodginess and sagging profits, has one advantage over high-tech alternatives: You read it. It never reads you."

Annie's take:

Timberg's story will cause you to think twice about what you do and where you go on the Internet.

4/4/2014
G.M. Turns to Experienced Crisis Experts

"At the end of the second bruising day of testimony on General Motors’ ignition switch recall, Mary T. Barra was in no mood for more questions."

Annie's take:

Ms. Barra's own sincerity and determination to find out why GM officials withheld safety information for such an extended period of time can only take her so far. I thought she did very well in front of Congress, holding firm on the need not to answer prematurely, to wait for the results of the investigation she has launched, and showing clearly her lack of complicity in "the old GM." It will be interesting to see what this crisis consultant adds, since he is being hired months too late.

4/3/2014
Criminal Inquiry Said to Be Opened on Citigroup

"Just as Citigroup was putting a troubled past of taxpayer bailouts and risky investments behind it, the bank now finds itself in the government’s cross hairs again."

Annie's take:

Citigroup is in a tough position right now. No bank wants to be in the crosshairs for a criminal investigation, and it appears that there is more pending than one this new one on Mexican operations.

4/3/2014
Pentagon grapples to understand how yet another insider threat went undeterred

"Wednesday’s mass shooting by an Army specialist in Fort Hood, Tex., put the Pentagon on a dreaded, if increasingly familiar, footing as officials grappled to understand how yet another insider threat went undeterred."

Annie's take:

Now on the heels of the Navy Yard reports on an inside shooter, the Fort Bragg community is once more traumatized by the same type of event. What better risk managment protocols can be put in place?

4/2/2014
A Nudge on Digital Privacy Law From E.U. Official

"The top data protection official for the European Union called Tuesday for member governments to restore public trust in the Internet by pressing ahead with an overhaul of the bloc’s electronic privacy laws by the end of this year."

Annie's take:

Or, another way to put it would be to say, "we are all in this boat together."

4/2/2014
Venture Capital | The Future of Money A Revolution in Money

"Imagine it’s 2040.

You go to the grocery store, and when you look for the checkout counter there is none. There’s no place to pay for your groceries because you already did."

Annie's take:

A look ahead at the future of currency, including Bitcoin. How will the financial sector adapt?

4/1/2014
Are Firefighters Spread Too Thin?

"As firefighters arrived on the scene, they knew they’d encountered something truly different that would test their accumulated skills."

Annie's take:

An excellent story, one which should cause us to reconsider who does what, and when.

4/1/2014
Building 21st-Century Cities Means Taking the Long View

"Sustainability is like dieting. It’s not something you do once and then forget about — it’s a lifestyle change."

Annie's take:

We need to talk more about such opportunties for reworking our infrastructure. I'm part of an advisory group for the City of Seattle, discussing the disaster recovery aspects after a catastrophic event. The big questions: what opportunties would we have? what do we want our city to look like when we rebuild?