Monday, July 30, 2007

US Chamber & FTC Program for Local Chamber Members

Identity theft is a rising crisis that your chamber, employees, member companies and individuals face on a daily basis. To help address this important issue, the Federal Trade Commission has reached out to the U.S. Chamber with a special FREE offer for local chambers of commerce. As part of the U.S. Chamber’s Data Security Campaign and our Data Security Toolkit is the FTC’s information will help inform business owners about how to protect themselves and their businesses from identity theft, the importance of protecting consumer information and working to reduce fraud.

Below is more information from the FTC about this program. It is designed to be easy to take action on and will significantly decrease your chances of having your database compromised. Please take a moment to review the information below from the FTC. I hope that you will find the Information Security Handbook useful and that you will take the FTC up on their offer to provide you with articles and information for your newsletters and invite them to speak at your meetings.

Most chambers keep sensitive personal information in their files and on their computers, such as tax records, payroll information, financial data from suppliers, and credit card numbers from members. This information is the key to identity thieves being able to drain bank accounts, open bogus lines of credit and shopping sprees at the expense of your customers, employees and your bottom line. If sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to fraud or identity theft.

Security breaches could be easily prevented by common sense measures that cost next to nothing. A sound data security plan is built on five key principles:
Take stock. Know what personal information you have in your files and on your computers.
Scale down. Keep only what you need for your business.
Lock it. Protect the information you keep.
Pitch it. Properly dispose of what you no longer need.
Plan ahead. Create a plan to respond to security incidents.

The FTC is offering FREE resources to help you spread the word to your members that good information security is good business. The FTC offers a variety of resources such as:

Information Security Handbook: “Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business," is a 24-page plain language brochure with practical tips for security sensitive data. Chambers should consider sending this link to their membership and encourage them to order free copies for their staff. Visit the page for buttons you can include on your own website.

Newsletter/Email: The FTC will provide you with “Drop in” copy for your newsletter or email. It will include no-nonsense data security tips ready for your next newsletter or email. These can run under your byline or as a guest column by FTC staff. To download the articles directly from the FTC and click on PUBLISH THE ARTICLES.

Speaker for Conference or Meeting: Looking for a conference or meeting topic that is on everyone’s mind? The FTC has knowledgeable speakers who can discuss information security and identity theft prevention. Contact Lesley Fair, or Nat Wood, to see if an FTC staff member is available on the date of your next event.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Warriors Set MOA for Info Sharing

The principal warriors for the nation (Department of Defense/DoD and National Intelligence/DNI) have announced a memorandum of agreement for a shared vision of a joint services based environment to enable information sharing.

The collaboration seeks to create a services-based environment for implementing business and information services. They seek an information services-based environment that is:

1) a mandatory and common foundation
2) has secure mission and business services
3) ensures operational visibility and situational awareness

The DoD-DNI agreement outlines shared goals. The vision will be shared with other government agencies. The memorandum and strategies is online.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tacoma Dorkbot

There is one in London, one in New York, one in Melbourne, Lisbon and, among many other cities, Tacoma. It is “dorkbot”. Their catch phrase is “people doing strange things with electricity...” and they are described as
“a monthly meeting of artists (sound/image/movement/whatever), designers, engineers, students, scientists, and other interested parties from the Tacoma area who are involved in the creative use of electricity - electronic art (in the broadest sense of the word).”
They are meeting tonight at Tacoma School of the Arts' Club SOTA, starting at 7:00pm and it is open and free to the public.

Tonights presentations include one on light sensitivity in behaviour based robotics by one of the undergraduates at the Institute of Technology’s Computing and Software Systems program, Andrew Becherer. Andrew says he will be “discussing behavior based robotics and specifically how to use behavior based robotic techniques to add "personality" to electronic objects.”.


He will also be talking about Lego Mindstorms, which will include a focus on “the work of Valentino Braitenberg and his seminal text Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology.”

Let’s summarize…"How to program toys to behave like animals". Now that has the makings of a Summer Blockbuster.

Laura MacCary, who is a local electronics artist, will be presenting on interactivity between people and circuits. According to the dorkbot announcement she will be showing some of her work followed by an opportunity for the attendees to engage in some hands-on experimentation.
For more information on the Tacoma dorkbot visit

Global Broadband Gets Cheaper

The BBC reported a slice of the report by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) new Communications Outlook 2007, available for purchase or readable online.

The BBC chose to focus on global broadband prices for a comparison among the 30 nations. For example, the U.S. was ranked 4th cheapest for entry level broadband at $15.93/month. Some other highlights the BBC chose were:

1) 60% of its member countries net users are now on broadband
2) Japan's net users have 100Mbps lines, 10x higher than OECD averages
3) Japan's fibre networks can upload at the same speed they download

However, at 310 pages, the OECD Communications Outlook 2007 is a much more extensive report. And, for the first time, there is a special section on the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

AeA On Target Mostly

AeA (American Electronics Association) recent report We Are Still Losing the Competitive Advantage: Now Is the Time to Act, acts as both a report card on national political leaders inaction and a refreshed call for action on its report of two years ago, Losing the Competitive Advantage?: The Challenge for Science and Technology in the United States.

While not making its own recommendations, it does choose to reference the findings and recommendations from the National Academies' Rising Above the Gathering Storm, available for purchase or readable online. Taken from that cited resource, the AeA specifies targeted legislation it will support, in particular.

Most of the information and recommendations are familiar ground to the tech industry, although the AeA's emphasis (bias?) on "hard" technology (engineering, physical sciences, math and computer science) becomes debatable when it recommends R&D preferences over life sciences. Particularly incitable is its contention that R&D in "physical health ... is commendable ... (but) technology R&D (as defined) remains vital to the economic health (emphasis retained) of the nation." This point deserves the attention of the biotech industry.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Recognize Initiatives for Growing of Tech Companies

SSTI, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging economic growth through the application of science and technology, will present awards within six categories that employ approaches to help foster an innovative climate for growing science and technology-based companies and jobs. Do not miss this unique opportunity for international recognition and to showcase the excellence of your favorite organization's initiative. Deadline for applications is July 20, 2007.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

GAO: Breaches and ID Theft

Since Congress is considering - and many states have enacted - legislation requiring notification of breaches of sensitive personal data, the GAO studied the issue of resulting ID theft.

Although more than 570 data breaches were reported to media from January 2005 through December 2006, very few resulted in ID theft. In reviewing the 24 largest breaches reported from January 2000 through June 2005, GAO found 3 with evidence of resulting fraud on existing accounts, 1 of unauthorized creation of new accounts, 18 with no clear linking evidence between the database theft and the ID theft and 2 without sufficient info to make a determination of cause.

While noting the opportunity that breach notification gives to consumers, the GAO notes: 1) increased costs to make notifications and 2) the creation of a "crying wolf" syndrome.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Speed Matters

Just released by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a new report and interactive assessment of internet speed.

The report, Speed Matters, purports to show our competitive upload and download internet speeds, mostly as a vehicle demonstrating our competitive position vis-a-vis the rest of the world. That comparison is taken from published sources for the rest of the world, but the U.S. is from a real-time speed test of 80,000 internet broadband users.

You can utilize available maps to get color-coded internet speeds for states, counties and sub-county areas. Try it. Surprising are the speeds given for Tacoma and Pierce County areas, given our competitive broadband environment. However, my test from downtown Tacoma, gave MUCH higher speeds than that for most U.S. states and all but the leading nations.

My test from home (west Tacoma) gave even higher upload and download speeds.

The CWA is supporting a Senate bill, the Broadband Data Improvement Act (S.1492) to raise the definition of broadband (now at 200 kbps - just faster than dial-up) and calls for federal collection of deployment data with grants to states and communities for high-speed mapping.