Risk News

12/20/2014
Sony Defends Itself Against Criticism That It Bowed to Hackers’ Threats

"Sony on Friday strongly disputed President Obama’s assertion that it “made a mistake” in canceling plans to release “The Interview” on Dec. 25, saying it had been searching for alternative ways to show the film after theater owners refused to book it in the face of a terrorist threat."

Annie's take:

There appears to be no good solution in sight. Supportive industry colleagues are nowhere to be found, except for actors themselves. The president has now weighed in. And this morning we read that North Korea denies the attack and wants to form a "joint inquiry" panel. Meanwhile, there is still more data as yet unreleased in the hands of the hackers. So far at least most emails among executives that have been reported have been problematic. It takes resolve to dig down and defend the principle of free speech on behalf of these emails and this silly movie.

12/19/2014
F.B.I. Offers Evidence Tying North Korea to Sony Attack

"The F.B.I. on Friday said it had extensive evidence that the North Korean government organized the cyberattack that debilitated Sony Pictures computers, marking the first time the United States has accused the leaders of a foreign nation of hacking American targets."

Annie's take:

Now the question of retaliation rears its ugly head, with the military cyber command most likely chomping at the bit already. Perhaps we will hear more in the president's news conference today.

12/18/2014
Sony Drops ‘The Interview’ Following Terrorist Threats

"Sony Pictures Entertainment on Wednesday dropped plans for its Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” a movie that depicts the assassination of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after receiving a terror threat against theaters."

Annie's take:

What might have been considered a Freedom of Speech issue rapidly morphed into a gigantic liability issue: if theatres had gone ahead and shown the movie and even one person had been injured, the liability would have been too high.

12/17/2014
Federal employees are heavily involved in the fight against Ebola

"If the participation of the relatively few federal employees who tortured terrorist suspects shocked Americans, the efforts of many more feds in the fight against Ebola should make taxpayers proud."

Annie's take:

Here's an inspirational story for us all, given the darkness that seems to persist in the world.

12/16/2014
Fewer Ebola Cases Go Unreported Than Thought, Study Finds

"Transmission of the Ebola virus occurs mostly within families, in hospitals and at funerals, not randomly like the flu, Yale scientists said Tuesday, and far fewer cases go unreported than has previously been estimated."

Annie's take:

Very good news indeed!

12/16/2014
Sony Pictures Demands That News Agencies Delete ‘Stolen’ Data

"Sony Pictures Entertainment warned media outlets on Sunday against using the mountains of corporate data revealed by hackers who raided the studio’s computer systems in an attack that became public last month."

Annie's take:

Sony Pictures appears to be dangling out there without any support from peers.

12/15/2014
Sony Pictures Demands That News Agencies Delete ‘Stolen’ Data

"Sony Pictures Entertainment warned media outlets on Sunday against using the mountains of corporate data revealed by hackers who raided the studio’s computer systems in an attack that became public last month."

Annie's take:

Sony Pictures appears to be dangling out there without any support from peers.

12/14/2014
At Big Banks, a Lesson Not Learned

"Are the colossal regulatory fines extracted from big banks today likely to deter their officials from violating the same rules tomorrow? Or are these billion-dollar settlements viewed simply as a cost of doing business, and not a very large one at that?"

Annie's take:

She's absolutely right. Fines and settlements are now viewed as a cost of getting or doing the business. We need to raise the bar or strengthen the regulations -- I say that on a weekend when Dodd-Frank has just been weakened by Congress.

12/14/2014
Where Tech Giants Protect Privacy

"From their glass-fronted office parks and start-up lofts in Silicon Valley, American tech companies oversee ever-expanding global empires."

Annie's take:

Because these companies do business around the world, they have increasingly become compliant with international regulations. That may in turn stiffen our own privacy rules in the United States -- backwards, but still a useful progression.

12/13/2014
The Path to Zero Ebola Cases

"In my career as a medical doctor and global health policy maker, I have been in the middle of monumental struggles, including fights to make treatment accessible in the developing world for those living with H.I.V./AIDS as well as multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. But the Ebola epidemic is the worst I’ve ever seen."

Annie's take:

Though we may be reading less about Ebola and seeing fewer evening news stories, it is by no means under control in West Africa.

12/12/2014
Corporate emergency communications best practices

"AtHoc, Inc., has announced the findings from its State of Emergency Readiness Survey. The results show that businesses that place a high priority on communications during an emergency have much better outcomes."

Annie's take:

No surprises here, and the advice is rock solid.

12/11/2014
After Senate’s report on CIA interrogation tactics, it’s time to see who we really are

"Our belief in the national image is astonishingly resilient. Over more than two centuries, our conviction that we are a benign people, with only the best of intentions, has absorbed the blows of darker truths, and returned unassailable."

Annie's take:

I'm going to be focused on the Senate report for a bit. Here, the art and architecture critic of the Washington Post reminds us how we tend to soften the edges of the worst things we know about ourselves and our country.

12/10/2014
The Senate Report on the C.I.A.’s Torture and Lies

"The world has long known that the United States government illegally detained and tortured prisoners after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and lied about it to Congress and the world."

Annie's take:

I will be reading the full executive summary as released yesterday and may have more to say at that time. There was never going to be any good time to release this report, but at least it has been released. If you have the time, you might want to read what former POW Senator John McCain has said of the practices and of the report itself.

12/9/2014
Earthquake Plan Would Require Retrofitting Thousands of Los Angeles Buildings

"In the most sweeping campaign directed at earthquake safety ever attempted in California, Los Angeles officials proposed Monday to require the owners of thousands of small, wooden apartment buildings and big concrete offices to invest millions of dollars in strengthening them to guard against catastrophic damage in a powerful earthquake."

Annie's take:

A very bold plan, one that other big city mayors will watch with great interest. The costs, particularly on the water infrastructure side, are very high.

12/8/2014
Has Technology Outstripped the Law?

"The question certainly applies to more than cyber-crimes, though it is easiest to find examples in this realm."

Annie's take:

We finish the year with a look at the impact of evolving technology upon the law.

12/7/2014
Typhoon Lashes Philippines, Amid Fears of a Repeat of Last Year’s Devastation

"Typhoon Hagupit began battering the Philippines late Saturday, with strong winds and rain expected to pummel a central belt of the island nation for days as the storm churns westward."

Annie's take:

Can anyone doubt that climate change is actual? It does appear that the government is more prepared this year than last.

12/6/2014
British Court Rules in Favor of Electronic Surveillance

"The court that oversees Britain’s intelligence agencies ruled Friday that electronic mass surveillance of people’s cellphone and online communications, like the Prism program revealed by Edward J. Snowden, is legal."

Annie's take:

England has had more difficulty with home grown terrorism than the United States, so perhaps this ruling is not unexpected.

12/5/2014
Banks’ Lawsuits Against Target for Losses Related to Hacking Can Continue

"A federal judge on Tuesday handed an early victory to banks in their effort to recoup losses from a major breach last year at Target. More than 40 million credit cards were compromised in the incident."

Annie's take:

A precedent-setting decision. As one of my students noted the other evening, it's not the company that is the victim, it's the customers. I've also recommended that, on cases like this, insurance claims be denied as well. The liability is clearly with the company's poor security and risk management.

12/4/2014
A Search for Justice in the Eric Garner Case

"The Staten Island grand jury must have seen the same video everyone else did: the one showing a group of New York City police officers swarming and killing an unarmed black man, Eric Garner."

Annie's take:

For once, I have nothing to add. This editorial says it all.

12/3/2014
Issues over police shooting in Ferguson lead push for officers and body cameras

"A year ago, the notion that police officers across the country would wear body cameras seemed novel, with only a few dozen departments, most of them small, willing to give it a try."

Annie's take:

Once again technology has outstripped the guard rails of law. What to do with all this data being collected as well as some specific privacy concerns are just two of the issues that police departments who pilot such devices are struggling with.

12/2/2014
Report on Boeing 787 Dreamliner Battery Flaws Finds Lapses at Multiple Points

"Flaws in manufacturing, insufficient testing and a poor understanding of an innovative battery all contributed to the grounding of Boeing’s 787 fleet last year after a fire in a jet at Boston’s airport and another incident in Japan, according to a report released Monday by regulators."

Annie's take:

Hurrying to catch up, particularly where a new and flammable part is concerned, puts us all at risk. The Boeing 787 grounding was an illustrative less on the power of the FAA as well as on its carelessness, and the perhaps overly cozy relationship that exists between the regulators and airline manufacturers.

12/2/2014
FBI warns of destructive malware in wake of Sony attack

"The FBI warned U.S. businesses that hackers have used malicious software to launch a destructive cyberattack in the United States. "

Annie's take:

Nasty, very nasty.

12/1/2014
Earthquake early alert system ready to expand in California

"Officials are planning the first major rollout of California's earthquake early warning system next year, providing access to some schools, fire stations and more private companies."

Annie's take:

Congratulations to the State of California for leading the way. UW seismologist Bill Steele has been arguing on behalf of such a system for Washington State for years, with only incremental progress.