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This app tells you how much time you are spending, or wasting, on your smartphone
NSA and GCHQ agents 'leak Tor bugs', alleges develope
Bank of America Expected to Settle Huge Mortgage Case for $16.65 Billion
Ebola crisis: Liberia confirms West Point patients missing
Hack of Community Health Systems Affects 4.5 Million Patients
Bank Overseer PwC Faces Penalty and Sidelining of Regulatory Consulting Unit
With Aid Doctors Gone, Ebola Fight Grows Harder
Hospitals in the U.S. Get Ready for Ebola
Michael Gerson: Ferguson and the paradox of American diversity
Reagan-Era Order on Surveillance Violates Rights, Says Departing Aide
Once Powerful, Mary Jo White’s S.E.C. Is Seen as Sluggish and Ineffective
As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple With Ethics
Is Big Data Spreading Inequality?
Call for Research Notes
Tracing Ebola’s Breakout to an African 2-Year-Old
U.N. Agency Calls Ebola Outbreak an International Health Emergency
In Ebola Outbreak, Who Should Get Experimental Drug?
2014 National Preparedness Report
How to Keep Data Out of Hackers’ Hands
Secret Papers Describe Size of Terror Lists Kept by U.S.
Federal Reserve and F.D.I.C. Fault Big Banks’ ‘Living Wills’
Two Americans who contracted Ebola in Africa received an experimental serum
For whistleblowers, a bold move can be followed by one to department basement
Where Tech Is Taking Us: A Conversation With Intel’s Genevieve Bell
Ebola Virus Is Outpacing Efforts to Control It, World Health Body Warns
Judge Rules That Microsoft Must Turn Over Data Stored in Ireland
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Risk News

8/22/2014
This app tells you how much time you are spending, or wasting, on your smartphone

"There is no standard metric for how much time on mobile is too much, so this app wants to let you be the judge."

Annie's take:

A little light relief, as we go into the weekend after what feels like a very long week.

8/22/2014
NSA and GCHQ agents 'leak Tor bugs', alleges develope

"British and American intelligence agents attempting to hack the "dark web" are being deliberately undermined by colleagues, it has been alleged."

Annie's take:

Ladies and gentlemen, witness my very first commentary on a news article done from an Apple computer!

The story of the Tor bugs is only part of the shadowy world we call the dark web. Why is this important? Simply put, because there is so much data being exchanged. Mike Finlay has an excellent article on this topic in the newest issue of The Risk Universe.

8/21/2014
Bank of America Expected to Settle Huge Mortgage Case for $16.65 Billion

"The Justice Department is poised to announce a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America over accusations that it duped investors into buying troubled mortgage securities, say people briefed on the matter — the single largest government settlement by a company in American history."

Annie's take:

This settlement, and others that the government has extracted lately, indicate just how long it takes to gather evidence and make the case. This is evidently the single largest settlement from a bank in American history, with a separate case about to launch against Mozillo, the former CEO of Countrywide.

8/20/2014
Ebola crisis: Liberia confirms West Point patients missing

"Seventeen suspected Ebola patients are "missing" in Liberia after a health centre in the capital was attacked, the government says."

Annie's take:

The West Point community has now been quarantined. There is an urgent need for both education and additional medical support.

8/19/2014
Hack of Community Health Systems Affects 4.5 Million Patients

Community Health Systems, a publicly traded hospital operator based in Franklin, Tenn., said that personal data, including names, Social Security numbers and addresses, for 4.5 million patients had been compromised in a Chinese cyberattack on its systems from April to June.

Annie's take:

That our medical records are now part of the Internet is a cause for concern from both a privacy and a financial perspective. Here's an example where 4.5 of those medical records have been hacked.

8/18/2014
Bank Overseer PwC Faces Penalty and Sidelining of Regulatory Consulting Unit

"The giant consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers occupies a position of trust on Wall Street, acting as a shadow regulator of sorts that promises the government an impartial look inside the world’s biggest banks."

Annie's take:

The rule of the outside auditor has been suspect in the banking world since 2007. Fines and penalties like this one on such a large bank are unusual, and paint a picture that the job of the auditor is to satisfy the client and soften findings where appropriate. This is not the only such example.

8/17/2014
With Aid Doctors Gone, Ebola Fight Grows Harder

"When people started dying of Ebola in Liberia, Clarine Vaughn faced a wrenching choice: Should she send home, for their own health and safety, four American doctors working for Heartt, the aid group she led there?"

Annie's take:

The magnitude of the problems in containing Ebola grows more graphic daily. How many medical personnel will it take?

8/16/2014
Hospitals in the U.S. Get Ready for Ebola

"Hospitals nationwide are hustling to prepare for the first traveler from West Africa who arrives in the emergency room with symptoms of infection with the Ebola virus."

Annie's take:

In an ironic role reversal, the CDC's advice does not seem to fully cover the risk that hospital administrators see for their personnel.

8/15/2014
Michael Gerson: Ferguson and the paradox of American diversity

"While I was growing up in an overwhelmingly white, resolutely middle-class neighborhood west of St. Louis, the city of Ferguson — about 20 minutes north around Interstate 270, past the airport — was never an intended destination."

Annie's take:

The events in Ferguson highlight one of our country's highest operational risks, about which Michael Gerson writes here.

8/14/2014
Reagan-Era Order on Surveillance Violates Rights, Says Departing Aide

"After President Obama delivered a speech in January endorsing changes to surveillance policies, including an end to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ domestic calling records, John Napier Tye was disillusioned."

Annie's take:

We have a president who taught Constitutional law and a Congress that appears uninterested in what happens to Americans' data when they live or travel overseas.

8/14/2014
Once Powerful, Mary Jo White’s S.E.C. Is Seen as Sluggish and Ineffective

"Mary Jo White took the helm of the Securities and Exchange Commission facing high hopes that she could turn around the once-proud agency. More than a year into her tenure, she has disappointed a wide swath of would-be allies."

Annie's take:

A long list of failures and avoidances. Quite unfortunate for such a "jewel" of an agency to have such a leader.

8/13/2014
As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple With Ethics

"Scholars are exhilarated by the prospect of tapping into the vast troves of personal data collected by Facebook, Google, Amazon and a host of start-ups, which they say could transform social science research."

Annie's take:

Will understanding the question lead to a greater degree of circumspection online?

8/12/2014
Is Big Data Spreading Inequality?

"Social media companies depend on selling information about their users’ clicks and purchases to data brokers who match ads to the most receptive individuals."

Annie's take:

I like this new "Room for Debate" format in the New York TImes. Here's a question that is at the heart of my work.

8/11/2014
Call for Research Notes

"Annie wrote the first three research notes in July of 2009."

Annie's take:

Here's the August issue of ASA News & Notes. Please take a look at the new research note on challenges around the power grid, written by Brooke R. Brisbois. And if you're interested in writing a research note yourself, please take a close look at the guidelines.

8/10/2014
Tracing Ebola’s Breakout to an African 2-Year-Old

"Patient Zero in the Ebola outbreak, researchers suspect, was a 2-year-old boy who died on Dec. 6, just a few days after falling ill in a village in Guéckédou, in southeastern Guinea. Bordering Sierra Leone and Liberia, Guéckédou is at the intersection of three nations, where the disease found an easy entry point to the region."

Annie's take:

We can track back how we got to where we are now. We know so much. And so little. This will turn out to be one of the most impactful outbreaks of our time.

8/9/2014
U.N. Agency Calls Ebola Outbreak an International Health Emergency

"Facing the worst known outbreak of the Ebola virus, with almost 1,000 fatalities in West Africa, the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency on Friday, demanding an extraordinary response — only the third such declaration of its kind since regulations permitting such alarms were adopted in 2007."

Annie's take:

When you think about how much divisiveness exists in the world, you have to marvel at the protocols that will now apply in the containment of the Ebola outbreak.

8/8/2014
In Ebola Outbreak, Who Should Get Experimental Drug?

"Some have said it is wrong that with hundreds of Africans dying from the outbreak of Ebola, extremely scarce supplies of an experimental drug went to two white American aid workers."

Annie's take:

Difficult questions, especially when the World Health Organization has just declared Ebola a public health emergency.

8/7/2014
2014 National Preparedness Report

"In 2014 the Nation faced a range of incidents that challenged our collective security and resilience and confirmed the need to enhance preparedness across the whole community. Incidents like the Boston Marathon bombings, wildfires, drought, mass shootings, and ongoing management of several long-term recovery efforts, required activating capabilities across the five  mission areas outlined in the Goal—Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response and Recovery."

Annie's take:

Each year, the government releases its report on preparedness. Here's a link to a high level summary of this year's report, as well as to the report itself.

8/6/2014
How to Keep Data Out of Hackers’ Hands

"The numbers sound abstract: Hundreds of millions of email addresses and other types of personal identification found in the hands of Russian hackers."

Annie's take:

Here's an excellent Q & A about best practices on keeping your own personal information away from hackers.

8/6/2014
Secret Papers Describe Size of Terror Lists Kept by U.S.

"About 20,800 United States citizens and permanent residents are included in a federal government database of people suspected of having links to terrorism, of whom about 5,000 have been placed on one or more watch lists, newly disclosed documents show."

Annie's take:

It is not as if any of us could accurately guess how long these lists would be, but they do seem quite large. What is the impact of being on those lists to someone who is not a terrorist?

8/6/2014
Federal Reserve and F.D.I.C. Fault Big Banks’ ‘Living Wills’

"Congress’s overhaul of the financial system aims to reshape large banks so that if they get into trouble they can descend into an orderly bankruptcy that does not set off a wider panic."

Annie's take:

As I said earlier this year in an article for The Risk Universe magazine on living wills, it is the lawyers who most benefit here. Imagine how much more money they will now make revising the original wills they crafted for their clients.

 

8/5/2014
Two Americans who contracted Ebola in Africa received an experimental serum

"As the health of two Ebola-stricken American missionaries deteriorated late last month, an international relief organization backing them hunted for a medical miracle. The clock was ticking, and a sobering fact remained: Most people battling the disease do not survive."

Annie's take:

Despite news of this experimental serum and of a vaccine almost ready to go into trials, the goal is still containment in countries where the Ebola virus is present. Global travel carries risks, and it is reassuring to see that WHO and CDC are training airline workers on how to recognize symptomatic travelers.

8/4/2014
For whistleblowers, a bold move can be followed by one to department basement

"On her 71st workday in the basement, Paula Pedene had something fun to look forward to. She had an errand to run, up on the first floor."

Annie's take:

The government appears to be a bit clumsier at handling whistleblowers than the private sector, where usually retailiation sometime means moving to another department, perhaps in another city, with bonus withheld as well.

8/3/2014
Where Tech Is Taking Us: A Conversation With Intel’s Genevieve Bell

"Genevieve Bell grew up among Aboriginal people in Australia, taught anthropology at Stanford and for the past 16 years has worked for Intel."

Annie's take:

Amidst discussion about ebola or the Veterans Affairs department or General Motors or other high risk events, here's a bright spot with some interesting observations to ponder.

8/2/2014
Ebola Virus Is Outpacing Efforts to Control It, World Health Body Warns

"In an ominous warning as fatalities mounted in West Africa from the worst known outbreak of the Ebola virus, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday that the disease was moving faster than efforts to curb it, with potentially catastrophic consequences, including a “high risk” that it will spread."

Annie's take:

Truly frightening.

8/1/2014
Judge Rules That Microsoft Must Turn Over Data Stored in Ireland

"Microsoft has suffered a setback in its efforts to block federal prosecutors from seizing a customer’s data that is stored overseas."

Annie's take:

The judge has stayed her ruling while Microsoft appeals the decision. This will be a consquential court case in every respect.