Showing posts with label Prevention. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prevention. Show all posts

June 26, 2019

Amazing - They Go In And See

Had my routine colonoscopy this morning. 

It is so amazing that they can go in with camera and everything. 

Look around and if necessary, cut out anything bad. 

Years ago, people just felt sick or pain and maybe saw some symptoms from outside.

But they had no idea what was happening inside. 

So grateful to G-d for the technology and doctors that can make sure all is okay. 

We are truly living in miraculous times. 

They even send you home with some pictures afterward.

It's interesting to see, but maybe a little TMI. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 18, 2014

Welcome Ebola To America!

While our self-declared intelligentsia has decided to keep the commercial flights open to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, experts are predicting that new ebola cases will reach 10,000 per week by December!

Moreover, the United Nations has warned that if Ebola is not controlled within the next 60 days, "the world faces an 'unprecedented situation' for which there is no plan."


But by the time, we get our political will and act together, who knows...


What isn't helping are publications like Bloomberg Businessweek, with another classic asinine article this time by Charles Kenny who writes--get this--that "A Travel Ban Is a Terrible Idea."


While Kenny acknowledges "Travel restrictions have a long history as a tool against spreading infection" dating back already to the Middle Ages, Kenny is concerned about the "trade-offs" of quarantining the source countries--"because the benefits of contact outweigh the risks"--i.e. "People want to travel to see family and friends, visits places, work, or invest."


Well Mr. Kenny, how about that people want to live and not die because of the irresponsible spread of this deadly virus? Two-thirds of the public, as well as many in Congress, and the media have already called for a common sense temporary travel ban. 


Kenny then goes on to exaggerate and talk about how laughable it is that we would "completely seal off the U.S. from the rest of the world" even though what we are talking about are just the countries where this deadly infection is currently raging. 


Further, Kenny is concerned not about containing the disease and protecting the more than 300,000,000 people in this country, but about the possibility that a ban on commercial flights "will deter people from volunteering to work in the region"--here again, Kenny ignores that specialized, trained people from the military, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and more are already being deployed--although too little too late. 


Incredibly, Kenny even compares Ebola to the common flu, and intimates that since we don't quarantine for the seasonal flu, why should we do it for Ebola--uh, Mr. Kenny have you heard that Ebola has a 70% mortality rate!

Finally, Kenny says in his defeatist way, "We live in a global disease pool. In the end, once a disease begins to spread, there's no escaping an infection."


Hello Mr. Kenny, we have a responsibility to prevent and protect our people--there is no place for your throwing in the towel on all of us--what a shame that Bloomberg makes this dangerous rhetoric the Opening Remarks for their magazine. 


There is long established protocol of quarantine to stop the spread of infection--not that it would necessarily be 100% successful, but at least it would help contain and control the spread from getting worse, and we would learn to improve as we go along, and live to fight and save more lives now and in the future.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 22, 2014

Smart Electronic Skin

I liked this concept reported on in BBC Technology about using swarms of sensors to create a type of electronic or "smart skin."

Like nerves in our human skin, multitudes of sensors placed on anything that we want to monitor, could create a sensing/feeling and reporting mechanism for evaluating the health or condition of that thing. 

Rather than wait for something to fail or break, we could actively collect information on changes in "temperature, strain, and movement" and other environmental impacts to analyze and predict any issues and proactively address them with countermeasures, maintenance, or fixes. 

As human beings, we are architected with regular monitoring and self-healing biological systems to protect ourselves from daily dangers around us, we can develop homes, factories, transport, robots, and everything important around us with similar properties to be more durable, last longer and be more productive.  

When we emulate in our own development efforts what G-d has created for the good in the world, we are on the right track. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 19, 2013

Have You Ever Seen A Shark With Cancer?

For a long time people have learned from the animal kingdom. 

We learn how to fly from birds, how to swim from fish, how to fight from lions and tigers, and so on. 

But an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal gave this new and expanded meaning to me. 

Researchers are now looking at animals to learn how to ward off some of the worst diseases known to man. 

For example, apparently Sharks do not get cancer, but more than that even when scientists spent 10 years trying to induce cancer in sharks, they couldn't!

Shark have compounds that actually kill tumors--WOW!--If we could learn how to mimic that in humans, imagine the death and suffering that could be prevented, and the extension and perhaps quality of life that could be gained.

Similarly, grizzly bears, which can weigh 1,000 pounds, and can eat 58,000 calories a day, put on 100 pounds or more in the weeks right before they hibernate for the winter, yet bears don't suffer from routine ailments of obesity, such as diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. 

Not that any of us want to be 1,000 pounds, but imagine if heavy people did not get all sorts of diseases from clogged arteries and the like.

While heart disease and cancer each accounts for 1 out of every 4 deaths in the U.S. and are the top two leading causes of death--how amazing would it be if we could not only "talk to the animals, walk with the animals..." but also fight disease like the animals? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 19, 2013

Nasty Flu Shot

I took my daughter for a flu shot last evening. 

We went through the typical drawn-out paperwork and long wait to get something so routine. 

When the medical practitioner finally arrived with the flu shot, there was a little baggy with all the acoutrements including alcohol wipe, band-aid, cotton, etc. 

As the lady starts taking out the items to get ready for giving the shot, she drops the cotton on the floor. 

She picks it up quickly, and pretending we didn't see, she quickly throws it back on the medical tray. 

Now I am watching...

She open the band-aid and places it at the ready on the side.

Then she get the syringe AND the cotton that had just fallen on the floor, ready in hand. 

As she is about to give the shot, I say, "You're not going to use the cotton on my daughter that just fell on the floor, are you?"

Her eyes look askance and she throws the cotton back down on the tray, and says, "Oh, of course not."

I spoke with my daughter afterwards about this as it was hard to understand how a medical practitioner could on one hand, be administering a helpful medicine to a patient, and at the same time, was about to use a dirty cotton on the wound afterwards.

What happened to people actually caring about people and taking pride in the jobs they do, rather than just being in it for the paycheck only?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Sun Dazed)
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November 17, 2013

The Iranian Gambit

Important developments going on with Iranian Nuclear Crisis...

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is asking for a deal that dismantles Iran's ability to prepare fissile material, the core of a nuclear bomb--which Iran has threatened to use to annihilate the State of Israel.  

This is in stark contrast to a mere suspension of enrichment activity or reduction of stockpiles that still leaves this dangerous nuclear capability in the hands of the radical Islamic Republic. 

After coming out of the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem with French President Hollande, Netanyahu said to Hollande:

"You said when you came out that the experience of the Holocaust places a very special responsibility on all of us. Francios, I want to tell you the burden it places on me. It is my duty to prevent anyone who credibly threatens to execute another Holocaust against the Jewish people. That is my obligation, but our common obligation for mankind and for our common future."

Further, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated:

"We live here. We know something about this region. We know a great deal about Iran and its plans. Its worthwhile to pay attention to what we say."

Less than 70 year after the Holocaust of six million Jews at the sadistic hands of the Nazi murders, there is no room for error with the Mullahs in Iran. 

It seems like we are coming to a conclusion on this soon, as the Jewish people have learned it is better to live by taking your best shot, than die by going like sheep to the slaughter. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to marsmet546)
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September 28, 2013

Insuring Against Cyber Attacks

More and more, our technology is at risk of a cyber attack. 

In fact, just today the Wall Street Journal reported that Iran has hacked into the Navy's unclassified network. 

While we can fix the computers that were attacked, the damage done in terms of data exfiltration and malware infiltration is another matter.

To fix the computers, we can wipe them, swap out the drives, or actually replace the whole system. 

But the security breaches still often impose lasting damage, since you can't get the lost data or privacy information back or as they say "put the genie back in the bottle."

Also, you aren't always aware of hidden malware that can lie dormant, like a trojan horse, nor can you immediately contain the damage of a spreading computer virus, such as a zero-day attack. 

According to Federal Times, on top of more traditional IT security precautions (firewalls, antivirus, network scanning tools, security settings, etc.), many organizations are taking out cybersecurity insurance policies.

With insurance coverage, you transfer the risk of cybersecurity penetrations to cover the costs of compromised data and provide for things like "breach notification to victims, legal costs and forensics, and investigative costs to remedy the breach."

Unfortunately, because there is little actuarial data for calculating risks, catastrophic events such as "cyber espionage and attacks against SCADA industrial controls systems are usually not covered. 

DHS has a section on their website that promotes cybersecurity insurance where they state that the Department of Commerce views cybersecurity insurance as an "effective, market-driven way of increasing cybersecurity," because it promotes preventive measures and best practices in order to lower insurance premiums and limits company losses from an attack. 

Moreover, according to the DHS Cybersecurity Insurance Workshop Readout Report (November 2012) cybersecurity insurance or risk transfer is the fourth leg of a comprehensive risk management framework that starts with risk acceptance, risk mitigation, and risk avoidance. 

I really like the idea of cybersecurity insurance to help protect organizations from the impact of cybersecurity attacks and for promoting sound cybersecurity practices to begin with.  

With cyber attacks, like with other catastrophes (fire, flood, accident, illness, and so on), we will never be able to fully eliminate the risks, but we can prepare ourselves by taking out insurance to help cover the costs of reconstituting and recovery. 

Buying insurance for cybersecurity is not capitulating our security, but rather adding one more layer of constructive defense. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 6, 2013

Target >>> WMD

At this time, there is a massive debate as well as much confusion going on over what to do about Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons, and their brutal civil war against a mixed element of fighters (some moderates and many other dangerous fundamentalists).

On one hand, people are saying they don't want to get involved in yet another conflict (after 10 years with Iraq and Afghanistan) and this is most understandable. 

On the other hand, we are talking about extremely dangerous regimes like Iran and Syria that are pursuing, prepared to use, or have used weapons of mass destruction.

Taking out Syria's extensive chemical weapons facilities are good targets to prevent further use against their own people, their neighbors, or us, except that we have to be careful not to end up helping our arch enemy, Al Qaeda, who is fighting to establish a foothold there, in the process.

Many are saying that this attack on Syria would really be a warning or even a precursor to destroying the proliferating Iranian nuclear sites--which are even better targets due to the regime's terrorist underpinnings and genocidal ambitions.

As long as Iran and Syria are able to pursue these WMD programs, how can we really be safe?

The red line is genocide, and Iran and Syria are there--one in explicit horrific threats of nuclear holocaust and the other in dastardly deeds with chemical weapons or otherwise brutal slaughter of civilians.

This is a very complicated world situation, and we really don't know the true motivations of any player, but the stakes are so high with WMD--there is no room for error. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal with attribution to James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and 1155/New Scientist Global Security)
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January 10, 2013

One-Two-Three Punch For Cyber Security

Here are three crafty ideas for improving our cyber security that can be used to protect, prevent, and recover from attacks:

1) Intrusion Deception (not detection)--Mykonos Software aims to protect websites by putting up a virtual minefield--"setting traps to confound hackers." When the software detects hackers trying to infiltrate, it can flood hackers with false information on vulnerabilities that goes nowhere, mess with the hackers computers such as by pop-up flashing maps of their locations and local defense attorneys, and disrupt their connections and slow down their hacking attempts (Bloomberg BusinessWeek).

2) Scamming The Scammers--Notorious email spams such as from Nigeria that look to ensnare victims into wiring money overseas in order to secure some lost fortune costs $9.3 billion in losses in 2009. Psychology professors Chris Chabris and Daniel Simons suggest that we can prevent many scammers from succeeding by raising the cost of their doing business by scamming them with " baiters" that send responses to scammers and occupy them but never actually send any money. They suggest that artificial intelligence could actually be used to create "automated scam-baiters bots" simulating potential gullible victims. These bots could even be programmed to provide phony account numbers and data to scammers to really get them spun up. (Wall Street Journal)

3) Insuring Again Losses--Insurance is a common way to manage risk by purchasing coverage for potential liabilities--this is used to indemnify against losses for everything from auto accidents to home fires, personal theft, and business interruptions. However, according to Bernard Horovitz, CEO of XL Insurance's Global Professional Operations, businesses (and of course, individuals) are rarely are covered by insurance for hacker attacks. Insurance companies are now offering specialty products to recover from the insuring liabilities. Additionally, the insurers will "help with preventing and mitigating cyber crime" through security audits. (Wall Street Journal)

These three cyber security strategies are great examples of how we can make it technically and financially more difficult for cyber attackers to succeed in geting in a knockout punch on their victims. ;-)

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

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August 15, 2012

That's The Last Straw

Our daughters and granddaughters are special. 

They deserve to be protected from sexual predators, such as those that spike drinks and take advantage of their unknowing victims. 

I was so pleased to learn about a new Anti-Date Rape Straw to help prevent this. 

The straw developed by Israeli inventors tests drinks for common date rape drugs. 

If the dangerous drugs are present, then the straw changes colors or becomes cloudy--providing a crucial early warning sign to those who might otherwise be drugged and sexually assaulted. 

We now have greater awareness of the prevalence of sexual abuse, especially by people we know and trust--such as dating partners, sports coaches, teachers, and even clergy--so we must remain ever vigilant.

We need to teach our daughters that they are beautiful and special and to protect themselves--and not to think that "it can't happen to me."

With these special straws, our daughters can be better prepared, aware, and hopefully safer.

I can see the potential growth and application of this technology to protecting government and private sector leaders, dignitaries, and other VIPs from potentially ingesting--intentionally- or accidentally-tainted food or drink. 

With a straw, eating utensil, or even toothpick like device that tests for the presence of dangerous pathogens and contaminants, we can provide a critical safeguard and prevent eating and drinking harmful elements. 

Potentially, these types of devices--maybe connected to an smartphone--could be used to provide other important measures and readings of food--such as ingredients, nutrition, and calories--of the actual servings we are about to eat.

This technology has incredible potential to help us not only eat safer, but also healthier. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 24, 2012

Cyberwar--Threat Level Severe

!
This video is of an incredible opening statement by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Subcommittee Chairman on Oversight, Investigations, and Management on the topic--Cybersecurity Threats to the United States.

Some of the highlights from his statement:

- America's computers are under attack and every American is at risk.

- The attacks are real, stealthy, persistent, and can devastate our nation.

- Cyber attacks occur at the speed of light, are global, can come from anywhere, and can penetrate our traditional defenses.

- In the event of a major cyber attack, what could we expect? Department off Defense networks collapsing, oil refinery fires, lethal clouds of gas from chemical plants, the financial systems collapsing with no idea of who owns what, pipeliness of natural gas exploding, trains and subways derailed, a nationwide blackout. This is not science fiction scenarios. (Adapted from Richard Clark, former Senior Advisor of Cyber Security)

- It is not a matter of if, but when a Cyber Pearl Harbor will occur.  We have been fortunate [so far]. (Adapted from General Keith Alexander, Director of the NSA).

I believe we must address these threats and our vulnerabilities in at least five main ways:

1) Increase research and development for new tools and techniques--both defensive and offensive--for fighting cyberwar.

2) Establish a regulatory framework with meaningful incentives and disincentives to significantly tighten cybersecurity across our critical infrastructure.

3) Create a cybersecurity corps of highly trained and experienced personnel with expertise in both the strategic and operational aspects of cybersecurity.

4) Prepare nationwide contingency plans for the fallout of a cyberwar, if and when it should occur. 

5) Create a clear policy for preventing cyberattacks by taking preemptive action when their is a known threat as well as for responding with devastating force when attacks do occur. 

With cyberwar, just as in conventional war, there is no way to guarantee we will not be attacked, but we must prepare with the same commitment and zeal--because the consequences can be just, if not more, deadly.

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January 30, 2012

SCADA Beware!




In case you thought hacking of our critical infrastructure and SCADA systems only happens in the movies, like with Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard, watch these unbelievable videos of what Max Corne seemingly does to the energy, maritime infrastructure, and highway transportation systems.


Max apparently is able turn off (and on) the lights in entire office towers--one and then another, control a drawbridge (up and down)--and has people and cars waiting and backed up, and even changes traffic signals--from speeds of 50 to 5 as well the message boards to motorists. 

While I understand some have questioned the validity of these videos and have called them hoaxes, the point that I come away with is not so much whether this guy is or is not actually hacking into these computer and control systems as much as that the people and organizations with the right skills could do these things.


And rest assured that there those out there that can perform these hack attacks--reference the Stuxnet worm that attacks Siemen industrial control systems such as those used in the nuclear industry (June 2010).


I also heard a story that I don't know whether it is true or not, about how a cyber expert personally dealt with a very loud and unruly neighbor who was playing Xbox 360 at 3 AM and keeping him awake. So the cyber expert simply hacked into his neighbor's Xbox game over the Internet and set off a program that whenever his neighbor tried to play it, a timer would automatically turn the Xbox back off again (neighbor turns it on again, hack turns it off again....), until at one point, the cyber expert heard the neighbor pick something up (presumably the Xbox) and throw it against the wall. 


In this story, the damage was limited, in other cases as the Max Corne videos demonstrate (in terms of the realm of the possible), when hackers attack our critical infrastructure and control systems, the results can truly be life threatening, majorly disruptive, and can cause widespread chaos.


Every day, there are digital natives (in terms of their advanced computer skills) that are proving what they can do to bypass our firewalls, antivirus protection, intrusion detection systems, and more.


While in the case of the hack attack on the Xbox, that was the end of the problem for the loud playing neighbor keeping this other guy up at night, but in general, the unbelievable ability of some hackers to break into major systems and manipulate controls systems and disrupt critical infrastructure is certainly no game, no laughing matter, and something that should keeps us up at night (Xbox playing or not). 


The takeaway is that rather than demonize and discourage those who have the skills to figure this "stuff" out, we should actually encourage them to become the best white hat hackers they can be with it, and then recruit them into "ethical hacking" positions, so that they work for the good guys to defeat those who would do us all harm. 

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January 27, 2012

Cyber War - The Art of The Doable

CBS 60 Minutes had a great episode this past June called Cyber War: Sabotaging The System.

The host Steve Kroft lays the groundwork when he describes information or cyber warfare as computers and the Internet that is used as weapons and says that "the next big war is less likely to begin with a bang than with a blackout."

This news segment was hosted with amazing folks like Retired Admiral Mike McConnell (former Director of National Intelligence), Special Agent Sean Henry (Assistant Director of the FBI's Cyber Division), Jim Gosler (Founding Director of CIA's Clandestine Information Technology Office), and Jim Lewis (Director, Center for Strategic and International Studies).  

For those who think that cyber war is a virtual fantasy and that we are safe in cyberspace, it's high time that we think again.  

Here are some highlights:

- When Retired Admiral McConnel is asked "Do you believe our adversaries have the capability of bringing down a power grid?"  McConnell responds "I do." And when asked if the U.S. is prepared for such an attack, McConnell responds, "No."

- Jim Gosler describes how microchips made abroad are susceptible to tampering and could "alter the functionality" of let's say a nuclear weapon that needed to go operational, as well as how they "found microelectronics and electronics embedded in applications that shouldn't be there." 

- Special Agent Henry talks about how thieves were able to steal more than a $100 million from banks in less than half a year, not by holdups but through hacking. 

- Jim Lewis tells of the "electronic Pearl Harbor" that happened to us back in 2007, when terabytes of information were downloaded/stolen from our major government agencies--"so we probably lost the equivalent of a Library of Congress worth of government information" that year and "we don't know who it is" who broke in.  

The point is that our computers and communications and all the critical infrastructure that they support--including our defense, energy, water, transportation, banking, and more are all vulnerable to potentially lengthy disruption.

What seems most difficult for people to grasp is that the bits of bytes of cyberspace are not just ephemeral things, but that thy have real impact to our physical universe.   

Jim Lewis says that "it doesn't seem to be sinking in. And some of us call it 'the death of a thousand cuts.' Every day a little bit more of our intellectual property, our innovative skills, our military technology is stolen by somebody. And it's like little drops.  Eventually we'll drown. But every day we don't notice."

Our computer systems are vulnerable and they control virtually all facets of lives, and if the enemy strikes at our cyber heart, it is going to hurt more than most of us realize.  

We are taking steps with cyber security, but we need to quickly shift from a reactive stance (watching and warning) to a proactive posture (of prevention and protection) and make cyber warfare a true national priority.
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October 1, 2011

Vigilance on a Wrist

I just wanted to share this product with readers of my blog.


At the press of a button, you activate a piercing alarm (up to 30 minutes) and flashing locator lights right from this wrist band.

While I am not endorsing any particular vendor or product, this type of self-defense product can really be important.

This could potentially save the lives of loved ones about to be violently attacked, abducted, or even raped, G-d forbid.

From the Amazon site, I was impressed also to see that a portion of each sale is even donated to missing children's funds.

At a price of only $16.99 per wrist alarm, how much is there really to think about?

Stay safe out there!

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