Risk News

Bernanke's Dilemma Over His Legacy

"Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wasn't expecting he would have to make another speech like the one he will deliver here Friday."

Annie's take:

Ben Bernanke has served two presidents and will be watched eagerly today to see what he and the Federal Reserve Bank propose to do for an economy that has clearly stalled out.

Mobile Disaster App Prepares the Public for the Worst

"A new mobile app helps citizens prepare for potential disasters, the latest threat-remediation strategy from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) that could save residents and emergency managers time and money when catastrophe occurs."

Annie's take:

The checklists contained in this new mobile application are a big step forward. Now, the challenge is to get everyone to utilize the application.

Hurricane Isaac Makes Landfall Along Gulf Coast

"On the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which brought widespread devastation after the colossal failure of the system built to protect the city, New Orleans on Tuesday night once again found itself facing the impending arrival of a huge and deadly storm."

Annie's take:

This slow-moving hurricane continues to dump water over affected Gulf Coast areas. Our thoughts are with all those who live in the region.

Who’s Prepared? Not Many (Opinion)

"How many hands would go up if you asked any audience the question: Do you have an emergency kit or would you be self-sustained for at least 72 hours during an emergency?"

Annie's take:

As the leader of a neighborhood preparedness group, I can attest to how difficult it is to get attention on the issue of preparedness. We need to rethink the argument.

Suits Mount in Rate Scandal

"Banks being probed for interest-rate manipulation face potentially tens of billions of dollars in claims from dozens of lawsuits in the U.S. from cities, insurers, investors and lenders who say they were hurt by the allegedly fudged rates."

Annie's take:

For those who wondered what the fallout would be -- aside from regulatory investigations and probable fines -- here's a detailed sampling of other lawsuits that are in play.

Reducing wildfire risks to business premises

"Dozens of fires sparked by high temperatures, severe drought conditions and strong winds have blanketed the western part of the US, including Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and California, making this fire season one of the worst in history for this area."

Annie's take:

Much of the advice to businesses from the National Fire Protection Agency can apply also to those who live or have vacation homes near fire areas. Long term, we need to revisit the issues of both both building permits and firefighting budgets, especially given the toll that climate change is taking on our environment.

‘Enterprise risk management for cloud computing’

"In response to the growing number of organizations utilizing cloud computing as a viable alternative for meeting their technology needs, the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) has published a new thought paper entitled ‘Enterprise Risk Management for Cloud Computing’."

Annie's take:

Continuity Central has published a link to the new COSO white paper on managing risk around cloud computing.

CEO says Citigroup is going back to basics
"Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said emerging markets, including business in China, would be the focus of the bank's growth."
Annie's take:

Vikram Pandit has steered Citigroup through the financial meltdown, and now signals a return to "basics." Though his view is not quite the same as former CEO Sanford Weill, the man who almost singlehandedly broke the Glass-Siegal Act, it does appear that Pandit is prepared to chart the course for some years to come at Citigroup.
The Need For Cyber Defense Program Management
"After years of the public and private sectors having listened to the nearly constant cyber threat warnings issued by military and government officials, as well as industry experts, over the past few years, addressing the threats posed to our systems by cyber attacks is now appropriately considered as a work-in-process."
Annie's take:

Here's a good analysis of the challenges facing the establishment of an effective cyber defense program.
Emergency Managers’ Best Practices for Evacuating Communities

"With wildfires displacing tens of thousands in Colorado and other Western states, evacuation is on the minds of many in the emergency management community. In Colorado, what’s being called the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history forced the evacuation of more than 35,000 residents and destroyed nearly 350 homes "

Annie's take:

We had a terrific presentation from Colorado authorities on this very topic at the 2012 "Building Resiliency through Public-Private Partnerships" conference last month in Colorado Springs. Here's a high level of summary of lessons learned on the public safety side.

No 'Phishing': Banks Try to Sink Scammers

"If banks have their way, Internet scammers soon may have a tougher time deceiving people with bogus bank websites."

Annie's take:

Here's a report on a new strategy that many large banks are using to defeat cyberthieves who set up phony websites to divert their customers.

No Criminal Case Is Likely in Loss at MF Global

"A criminal investigation into the collapse of the brokerage firm MF Global and the disappearance of about $1 billion in customer money is now heading into its final stage without charges expected against any top executives."

Annie's take:

It's clearly difficult to prosecute such cases as MF Global, and it may be that the firm is not yet out of the woods for other forms of litigation. But what is clear is the public disgust will once again be reinforced when no one is punished for the collapse of still another firm and of investors' money.

British Bank in $340 Million Settlement for Laundering

"Standard Chartered, the British bank, has agreed to pay New York’s top banking regulator $340 million to settle claims that it laundered hundreds of billions of dollars in tainted money for Iran and lied to regulators."

Annie's take:

Though there may be questions about which regulator should have filed charges, there is no doubt that swift action here by the State of New York has drawn sharp attention to a problem that many thought had been eliminated with money-laundering regulations.

Libor Case Energizes a Wall Street Watchdog

"Months after he arrived in Washington in 2009, Gary Gensler knew he had a big case. "

Annie's take:

Many government officials, especially regulators, are faceless. But here is a good profile of Gary Gensler and his approach to the work that his new agency is doing.

August issue of ASA News & Notes
"In a country as diverse as the United States, we sometimes forget how many things we agree upon."
Annie's take:

This month's newsletter includes a research note on risks in the oil and gas industry.

Pentagon proposes more robust role for its cyber-specialists

"The Pentagon has proposed that military cyber-specialists be given permission to take action outside its computer networks to defend critical U.S. computer systems — a move that officials say would set a significant precedent."

Annie's take:

This Pentagon proposal is indeed an interesting one, and should be studied further. It's possible that lines could blur between worlds.

New Google Tools to Make the Search Engine More All-Knowing

"When Google imagines the future of Web search, it sees a search engine that understands human meaning and not just words, that can have a spoken conversation with computer users and that gives users results not just from the Web but also from their personal lives. "

Annie's take:

How far is too far? Google's recent demonstration makes us wonder what we really want out of a search engine.

Once-Mighty British Banks See Reputations Soiled by Scandals

"In the past six weeks, the three big British banks that had survived the financial crisis relatively unscathed have been immersed in scandal—further soiling the British banking industry's already marred reputation and undercutting the sector's efforts to fend off tougher regulations."

Annie's take:

The British financial sector is further tainted with the news on Standard Chartered.

San Diego Launches Alerting Program for the Whole Community

"A big challenge for public safety officials is getting emergency alerts to citizens who may not understand traditional notifications. "

Annie's take:

We like to feature programs that are truly leading edge in this column -- and our metaphorical hat is off to the City of San Diego for this new inclusive alerting program.

As Libor Fault-Finding Grows, It Is Now Every Bank for Itself

"Major banks, which often band together when facing government scrutiny, are now turning on one another as an international investigation into the manipulation of interest rates gains momentum."

Annie's take:

How the Libor is set has been only vaguely understood outside professional banking circles. Before regulators are done, all of us will understand more than we ever wanted to about this rate. This article examines the scramble among banks to cover their own activities.

Silicon Valley Sounds Off on Failed Cybersecurity Legislation

"A cybersecurity bill that would have set security standards for the computer networks that govern the nation’s critical infrastructure was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate on Thursday. "

Annie's take:

Here's a clearer look at what challenges companies are facing from cyberterrorists. This discussion makes even clearer how lobbyists have muddied the waters around these issues.

Readers Debate Trade-Offs Between Security and Civil Liberties

"Does more liberty necessarily mean less security, and vice versa? "

Annie's take:

Many of us who work on critical infrastructure issues know that the tension in the discussion(s) comes down quite often a debate about whether it is better to maintain all civil liberties or to be safe. It's never quite that simple, though, as you can see from the readers who are quoted in this article.

Aging power grid on overload as U.S. demands more electricity

"They began to bend in the roaring wind, then their steel girders snapped like twigs, the towers toppled and the lights went out."

Annie's take:

Most of the issues at stake in considering improvements to a shaky power grid are outlined in this article, including the cost. What's new is that the costs of such outages can now, in some cases, be quantified. With drought conditions this summer in so much of the country, it's likely that we'll see more attention paid to the issues at stake.

Cybersecurity at Risk

"Relentless assaults on America’s computer networks by China and other foreign governments, hackers and criminals have created an urgent need for safeguards to protect these vital systems. "

Annie's take:

As the editorial points out, not all businesses oppose this bill -- in particular, those businesses whose services extend outside this country need it. Though the bill has been significantly watered down, we agree that it should be enacted.