Risk News

The Week That Shook the Fed

"The Federal Reserve Board prefers to operate in a shroud of secrecy, and its officials really don’t like having to answer to anybody."

Annie's take:

The pressure on the regulators to regulate has increased, externally and internally.

NSA chief warns Chinese cyber attacks could shut U.S. infrastructure

"China and "probably one or two" other countries have the ability to invade and possibly shut down computer systems of U.S. power utilities, aviation networks and financial companies, Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the U.S. National Security Agency, said on Thursday."

Annie's take:

No surprises here. I have been discussing this vulnerability for a couple of years.

Federal Reserve to review how it supervises major banks

"The Federal Reserve said Thursday that it has launched a review of how it oversees major banks, calling on its inspector general to help with the probe after a series of critical reports."

Annie's take:

We shall see where this goes. Other regulatory bodies should be undertaking the same sort of review. I'll be speaking on a related topic in Amsterdam in February at OpRisk World 2015.

Bill to Restrict N.S.A. Data Collection Blocked in Vote by Senate Republicans

"Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a sweeping overhaul of the once-secret National Security Agency program that collects records of Americans’ phone calls in bulk."

Annie's take:

Evidently the scary op-ed yesterday in the Wall Street Journal was enough to do the trick.

San Francisco Pilots Disaster Preparation Dashboard

"The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake killed 63 people, injured 3,800 more and damaged 28,000 homes and businesses, including much of San Francisco's Marina district. San Francisco continues to face the threat of earthquakes — and other natural disasters as well, thanks to climate change. These catastrophes can't be averted, but Cyndy Comerford believes good preparation is possible."

Annie's take:

This new dashboard looks quite plausible.

Facebook seeks foothold in your office

"Facebook is secretly working on a new website called “Facebook at Work” to get a foothold in the office that will see the social network of more than 1bn people compete directly with Google, Microsoft and LinkedIn."

Annie's take:

Here's something new to consider: Facebook as a workplace application.

The Shifting Ebola Epidemic

"Recent gains in controlling the Ebola epidemic in West Africa have been encouraging, but they offer no reason for complacency."

Annie's take:

A good solid editorial, grounded in facts. We must not become complacent.

More Federal Agencies Are Using Undercover Operations

"The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show."

Annie's take:

It's evidently not just online surveillance about which we should be concerned.

Pentagon Studies Reveal Major Nuclear Problems

"The Pentagon will have to spend billions of dollars over the next five years to make emergency fixes to its nuclear weapons infrastructure, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will announce on Friday, after two separate Pentagon studies concluded that there are “systemic problems across the nuclear enterprise,” according to senior defense officials."

Annie's take:

Leslie Stahl and "60 Minutes" did a segment on this very problem about a year ago. Now that story is backed by Pentagon studies. What will change?

Big Banks Are Fined $4.25 Billion in Inquiry Into Currency-Rigging

"The traders called themselves “the players” and “the three musketeers” as they joined forces and shared information to “double team” their clients and manipulate currency rates."

Annie's take:

Technology caught these guys, and illustrate the dark underbelly of trading desks once again. To the banks involved, this fine is merely a drop in the bucket. It is doubtful anything will change going forward.

Amazon and Hachette Resolve Dispute

"Amazon and Hachette announced Thursday that they had resolved their differences and signed a new multiyear contract, bringing an official end to a publishing dispute that blossomed into a major cultural and business brawl."

Annie's take:

The readers are the ones who benefit most from this deal. For at least the time being, we can stop thinking of Amazon as a predator in the books space.

Obama’s Call for Net Neutrality Sets Up Fight Over Rules

"When President Obama argued on Monday for rules to protect an open Internet, he said the regulations should be strong."

Annie's take:

Nowhere else can we see how strong and powerful corporate interests lobby on the basis of profitability.

Don't Let That Light Go Out

"Writing this column comes easier to me some times than others." 

Annie's take:

Our November newsletter shipped yesterday, and it includes a new research note by Brooke Brisbois.

FFIEC Cybersecurity Guidance is issued

The FFIEC has just release new guidance in the form of three documents.

Annie's take:

Though prepared specifically for financial institutions, this guidance should be of use to all critical infrastructure sectors.

Internet of Things security must be fixed for the long term: Beecham report

"The potential damage to businesses and national critical infrastructure from a successful attack on cyber-physical systems through the rapidly emerging Internet of Things (IoT), cannot be underestimated, according to a new study by Beecham Research."

Annie's take:

A look at important security issues through still another lens.

Civil unrest: important lessons for protecting lives and businesses

"The recent killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, sparked a national response so powerful that frequent protests ignited throughout the United States bringing greater awareness to injustices that are still prevalent in our modern society."

Annie's take:

This article with its common sense recommendations should be sent to every police chief in the United States.

Arrests Signal Breach in ‘Darknet’ Sites

"Law enforcement authorities across Europe and the U.S. shut dozens of illegal websites and arrested some operators, employing new and as yet unknown techniques to unmask those using an anonymity network."

Annie's take:

This is a very big win, and evidently a global one.

Airbag Maker Takata Saw and Hid Risk in 2004, Former Workers Say

"Alarmed by a report a decade ago that one of its airbags had ruptured and spewed metal debris at a driver in Alabama, the Japanese manufacturer Takata secretly conducted tests on 50 airbags it retrieved from scrapyards, according to two former employees involved in the tests, one of whom was a senior member of its testing lab."

Annie's take:

Truly shocking in this day and age, that the problem could have been detected ten years ago and not dealt with at that point. Today, the best that a dealer can do is to simply de-activate these airbags. The need to replace them is so great that it cannot be filled for years.

Augmenting Your Password-Protected World

"A username and password combination has long been the standard security mechanism for online accounts. But that method just isn’t cutting it anymore."

Annie's take:

Wood describes some new options we all have available now to protect our data.

In whistleblower case, Supreme Court seems sympathetic to former air marshal

"The Supreme Court seemed inclined Tuesday to find that an air marshal fired for leaking information about plans that he felt endangered the public could seek protection under a federal law protecting whistleblowers."

Annie's take:

An interesting case that will further refine the notion of a whistleblower and perhaps tweaker the Whistleblowers Act as well.

Google’s search for a better motto

"Google is on the hunt for a new mission statement."

Annie's take:

For a change, here's something short and sweet to read.

Company reputations at risk as social media revolutionizes breaking news

"With the increased use of social media and ‘citizen journalism’, people are creating and sharing more information than ever before. It is now far easier (and quicker) for disgruntled employees, unhappy customers and campaigners to voice their opinions online – providing a wealth of content for journalists in a crisis."

Annie's take:

A thoughtful approach to this risk.

Can a U.S. military Ebola treatment center slow Ebola in one hard-hit city?

"The site of the U.S. military’s future Ebola treatment center is now an overgrown grassland next to an abandoned airstrip on the Guinean border."

Annie's take:

The hopes of many are pinned on this treatment cener, and others like it that the US military will build.

No Offense: The New Threats to Free Speech

"On Feb. 14, 1989, I happened to be on a panel on press freedom for the Columbia Journalism Review when someone in the audience told us of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s religious edict for blasphemy against the British novelist Salman Rushdie."

Annie's take:

Here's an interesting take on the erosion of free speech in the interests of suppressing "inappropriate" political speech.