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AT&T Hack Highlights Web Site Vulnerabilities

In This Issue:

1. Editor's Note: Katrina's IT Legacy
2. Today's Top Story:
     - AT&T Hack Highlights Web Site Vulnerabilities
Related Stories:
     - AT&T Says Hackers Accessed Customers' Cards
     - Research: Privacy, Security Problems Alarming But Fixable
     - Study: Used Cell Phones, PDAs Contain Confidential Data
3. Breaking News
     - FBI Shows Off Counterterrorism Database
     - Google, Microsoft Online Apps Raise Security Questions
     - Most IT Pros Are Looking For A New Job, Says Survey
     - Microsoft Readies Fix For DRM Hack
     - Firefox 2.0 Beta 2 Will Launch Today
     - Amazon: Office 2007 To Ship In January
     - Microsoft Releases QnA Search In Beta
     - Google Offers Free Book Downloads
     - Microsoft Investigates Leak Of 'Office' Videos
     - Review: Antec TruePower Trio 650 Power Supply
     - Chinese iPod Factory Owner Sues For Libel
     - Weather.com Doesn't Weather Traffic Flood
4. Grab Bag
     - Cell Phone Recycling Brings Tech To Developing World (AP)
     - Demise Of Tower Records Sign Of New Digital Age (AFP)
     - A Big Blue Feeding Frenzy (BusinessWeek Online)
     - Patent Fight Rattles Academic Computing (AP)
5. In Depth: Katrina & IT
     - Disaster Readiness Puts Tech Tools To The Test
     - Brief: Neither Hurricanes Nor Executive Orders Propel Electronic Medical Records
     - Exec Sees IT Workforce Shortage In New Orleans
     - Hurricane-Prone States Face Big Communication Problems This Storm Season
     - Katrina Lessons Should Help Planning Health-Data Access In Other Crises: Report
     - Red Cross Learns IT Lessons From Katrina
     - Outsourcers Could Play A Major Role In Federal Emergency Preparedness
     - Chertoff Says IT Weaknesses Hurt Katrina Response
6. Voice Of Authority
     - Katrina Teaches Red Cross The Value Of Collaboration
7. White Papers
     - TCO Of On-Demand Applications Is Significantly Better For SMBs, Midmarket
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote Of The Day:
"The great thing about a computer notebook is that no matter how much you stuff into it, it doesn't get bigger or heavier." — Bill Gates


1. Editor's Note: Katrina's IT Legacy


This week marks the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans. In case there was any danger of forgetting the ability of Mother Nature to wreak unspeakable havoc, she highlighted the date by bringing forth Hurricanes Ernesto and John.

While Ernesto was barely able to summon tropical storm status by the time it hit southern Florida, John is now a Category 4 storm hovering off the Mexican coast.

We may have escaped any significant damage this time, but the hurricane season has only just begun. There will be more to come, and who knows what will happen to Ernesto as it heads back out to sea and then inland to the Carolinas later this week.

Katrina highlighted many shortcomings in our nation's technical infrastructure and level of disaster readiness. IT and high technology both shouldered some of the blame and have been tapped as part of the solution. Katrina's legacy has to be a total overhaul of the country's disaster preparedness and the technology used to enable a swift response during the event and a quick recovery afterward. That may have been the initial plan in the wrenching weeks following the hurricane as the nation agonized over the failures of FEMA and the inadequacies of the state and federal responses to the storm and its aftermath, but a year later, where are we? Not very far, it appears.

As you'll see in the In Depth report below, we're still struggling on many levels to reach storm-driven goals, be it local needs like finding IT workers in New Orleans, meeting the national imperative to get medical and prescription records digitized, or even unraveling the incompatible snarl of emergency communications systems that failed so profoundly a year ago.

For one thing, we're still in a meeting and conferencing mode, tossing around ideas at events such as Synthetic Portland, a disaster-preparedness conference held Aug. 18, where local officials, academics, and business leaders discussed a model for data sharing during an emergency. Obviously, the problems under discussion and the technical solutions being proposed at events such as this are very complex and very expensive. It will take time — but how much time we have before the next big disaster is anyone's guess.

For example, take FEMA. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a U.S. Senate committee in February that in order to better handle the next catastrophic event, his department and FEMA needed interoperability, hardened communications, a tracking system for shipments, improved surveillance resources, upgraded software, better hardware, and more Web site capacity for disaster registration and processing. Talk about a total overhaul.

Still, some progress worth noting has been made. One shining star seems to be the Red Cross, which, under the leadership of CIO Steve Cooper, managed to recognize and change policies that weren't working, while also galvanizing the high-tech community in the immediate aftermath of the storm to help work out an IT strategy (and in some cases provide the equipment needed) in short order. Collaboration, a concept often in short supply between government organizations, was key to Cooper's success.

More recently was last week's disaster readiness test. A mock exercise built around the idea of a massive viral outbreak and a series of cyberattacks was designed to test not just general disaster preparedness, but cybersecurity readiness as well. The emphasis was on the intersection of social needs and technology, putting numerous technologies to the test.

On a very small scale, there's the American Red Cross of Central Florida, which will be deploying MessageOne's AlertFind emergency notification system going forward. The system will enable the agency to contact and direct volunteers in minutes, rather than days. Of course, this strategy is still dependent upon a working communications systems. But it's a significant improvement. "Days, hours, and minutes really do matter in a crisis situation," says Becky Sebren, director of emergency services for Central Florida Red Cross.

What advice would you give to the government agencies and IT experts trying to ensure a better response to the next disaster, and what technologies do think would work best under emergency conditions? You can leave your comments at my blog entry here or send them to the e-mail address below.

Patricia Keefe
pkeefe@cmp.com


2. Today's Top Story


AT&T Hack Highlights Web Site Vulnerabilities
Hackers are experimenting with a number of methods for getting access to online personal information that could make them money.

Related Stories

AT&T Says Hackers Accessed Customers' Cards
AT&T said it was notifying "fewer than 19,000" customers whose data was accessed during the weekend break-in, which it said was detected within hours.

Research: Privacy, Security Problems Alarming But Fixable
According to one study, some 84% of network attacks could have been thwarted if, after checking the user ID and password, the organization had simply authenticated the identity of the invasive computer with commercially available software.

Study: Used Cell Phones, PDAs Contain Confidential Data
If you delete a file, you're not really overwriting the data. All it's doing is changing the index of the file system, or the file's pointers.


3. Breaking News


FBI Shows Off Counterterrorism Database
The FBI demonstrates its 659 million-record Investigative Data Warehouse and boasts about its speed.

Google, Microsoft Online Apps Raise Security Questions
While the trend toward Web-based apps could send the traditional desktop computing model packing its bags, IT managers are just beginning to ponder how the security landscape might change.

Most IT Pros Are Looking For A New Job, Says Survey
Some 73% cited the desire for better pay as the main reason for their search, while 40% are looking for better benefits.

Microsoft Readies Fix For DRM Hack
The software maker did not say when it would deploy the fix that counters the FairUse4WM application.

Firefox 2.0 Beta 2 Will Launch Today
Beta 2 has been delayed several times to give developers more time to quash bugs in the browser.

Amazon: Office 2007 To Ship In January
Amazon's preorder listings for various Office 2007 editions indicate that the software will be released Jan. 30, the same day the online retailer has slated for Windows Vista's availability.

Microsoft Releases QnA Search In Beta
Users can ask and answer questions, attach keywords to make the queries easier to find by others, and take advantage of an e-mail notification service.

Google Offers Free Book Downloads
Out-of-copyright books have been available for reading online through Book Search. The new feature makes it possible for people to store books on their computers and make copies.

Microsoft Investigates Leak Of 'Office' Videos
The in-house training videos, which popped up on YouTube and Google Video this month, were commissioned by Microsoft in 2004.

Review: Antec TruePower Trio 650 Power Supply
If your system is bristling with hard drives and other devices, then you'll need enough power to support them. Antec's latest power supply may be useful.

Chinese iPod Factory Owner Sues For Libel
Two Chinese journalists have had their cars confiscated, among other things, and are being sued for libel after their newspaper printed a story about long working hours and poor conditions in a local iPod factory.

Weather.com Doesn't Weather Traffic Flood
According to U.K.-based Netcraft, Weather.com was either offline or showing signs of sluggishness Tuesday evening into early Wednesday. The highest traffic from the United States was recorded Tuesday.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In the current episode:

Jack Soat With 'Signal From Noise'
Hackers break into AT&T network, a former Intel exec joins the CIA, Google's CEO joins Apple's board of directors, and more.

Stephanie Stahl With 'A Woman's Place'
Stephanie comments on the controversial Forbes.com story about women in the workplace.

Chris Murphy With 'Conference Conditioning'
A funny look at conference networking.

----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----

Securing Customer Records
Learn how your peers are protecting customer data and managing privacy issues in the InformationWeek/Accenture Global Information Security survey of more than 2,000 technology and security professionals.

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Sign up for InformationWeek NewsFlashes, automated e-mails alerting you to stories on the topics you choose. Just tell us the topics and the frequency — real time, daily, or weekly — and we'll start sending your e-mails.

-----------------------------------------

4. Grab Bag


Cell Phone Recycling Brings Tech To Developing World (AP)
With the number of cell phones in use worldwide hitting 2 billion and rising, recycled phones are playing a crucial role in the spread of wireless communications across the developing world, where landlines can be costly or unavailable.

Demise Of Tower Records Sign Of New Digital Age (AFP)
Who killed Tower Records? The Internet seems to be the prime suspect in the demise of the pioneering music retailer, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this month for the second time in two years for its U.S. stores.

A Big Blue Feeding Frenzy (BusinessWeek Online)
After nearly five decades of thinking of IBM as the world's No. 1 computer company, most people are just getting comfortable with the idea of calling it a tech-services outfit. Well, it turns out that label doesn't fit so well, either. It fails to recognize the huge boost that IBM is getting these days from its $16.8 billion software division.

Patent Fight Rattles Academic Computing (AP)
In a move that has shaken up the e-learning community, Blackboard has been awarded a patent establishing its claims to some of the basic features of the software that powers online education. It has prompted an angry backlash from the academic computing community, which is fighting back in techie fashion — through online petitions and in a sprawling Wikipedia entry that helps make its case.


5. In Depth: Katrina & IT


Disaster Readiness Puts Tech Tools To The Test
Can thumb drives, mash-ups, and RSS improve our ability to react in emergencies? The organizers of two disaster simulations hope to find out.

Brief: Neither Hurricanes Nor Executive Orders Propel Electronic Medical Records
Adoption continues to lag along. Katrina's wreckage didn't provide the spur many expected.

Exec Sees IT Workforce Shortage In New Orleans
Vince Gremillion, president of New Orleans-based Restech Information Services, didn't lose his house or office, but he has lost valuable members of his staff and has not been able to replace them.

Hurricane-Prone States Face Big Communication Problems This Storm Season
The memory of Hurricane Katrina is just a year old, but Louisiana and other states still struggle with radio-controlled emergency communications systems that don't interoperate.

Katrina Lessons Should Help Planning Health-Data Access In Other Crises: Report
Last year's creation of a secure Web site to allow Katrina victims to receive medical care and prescriptions continues to have applicability in this new hurricane season, a new report says.

Red Cross Learns IT Lessons From Katrina
The relief organization is upgrading its infrastructure to help speed supplies and other types of aid to victims of future disasters.

Outsourcers Could Play A Major Role In Federal Emergency Preparedness
Federal CIOs push for a better understanding of how outsourcers could continue providing public services in crises.

Chertoff Says IT Weaknesses Hurt Katrina Response
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a U.S. Senate committee that his department needs better communications, software, and hardware.


6. Voice Of Authority


Katrina Teaches Red Cross The Value Of Collaboration
Steve Cooper knows pressure — he was the nation's first CIO of Homeland Security, arguably the toughest CIO job in America after the 9/11 attacks. Yet his mettle wasn't truly tested till Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast a year ago, only months after he became CIO at the American Red Cross.


7. White Papers


TCO Of On-Demand Applications Is Significantly Better For SMBs, Midmarket
This study by the Yankee Group looks at the total cost of ownership of deploying and integrating CRM and ERP/accounting applications. Learn how on-demand solutions are changing the IT landscape in small businesses and midmarket enterprises and how these solutions affect your TCO.


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