Showing posts with label Irvine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irvine. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Locking It Down
Cyberthieves are watching. Here's how to keep your data safe and sound
By Eve Tamincioglu

Every six to eight months, a zombie attacks the e-mail server at Guy Brown, a Brentwood (Tenn.) company that refurbishes and sells office products. It's not a Dawn of the Dead zombie, but a virus that invades computer systems to send bogus junk mail. The intruder has even caused one of the $150 million company's biggest customers to stop accepting its e-mails. "A small business is about the relationships you have," says Philip Markuson, senior vice-president for operations at the 70-employee company. But cyber compromises can make clients start wondering whether "you have trouble running your business properly and diminish the trust you've built up," he says. That's why Guy Brown is upgrading security for its technology infrastructure, including spending about $5,000 to create a virtual padlock to keep out Internet hackers.

Smart move, and one that is not as common as it should be. More small businesses now have Web sites and e-commerce capabilities—potentially exposing company and customer data to thieves—but lack the safeguards many big companies have in place. About 57% of small companies don't think they need a formal plan to secure their data, and 61% say they never sought information on properly protecting their files, according to a March, 2007, survey by the National Federation of Independent Business and Visa USA. "Criminals look for the weakest link in the chain," says Gurpreet Dhillon, a professor of information systems at Virginia Commonwealth University. "Where's the weakest link? Small businesses."

Hackers are increasingly sophisticated, too. In the past, viruses with names such as Mydoom and iloveyou were spread by people craving media attention. These days, says Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, a trade association devoted to Internet information security, "the criminals are more like Tony Soprano than Ferris Bueller. Organized criminals are now doing it—not to show off, but to make money."

Protecting your network means taking a series of steps, including installing security hardware and software, putting an employee in charge of security, and educating all your workers.

Hackers' tactics, and the products to combat them, are always changing. Having an employee dedicated to security will help you stay on top of things, says Ron Teixeira, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, a public-private partnership that includes the Homeland Security Dept. and the Federal Trade Commission. Typically, the head of your IT department should fill that role. Companies that don't have IT staff should think about hiring a consulting firm. The best way to find one: referrals. Scott Testa, an adjunct professor at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia who specializes in small company technology, advises entrepreneurs to ask firms if they have experience with small companies and with their industry. They should also ask about whether their staff will be available at any time in case of a security breach.

"Independent, third-party firms that don't sell products are more objective," says Testa.
At a minimum, says Rob Fitzgerald, a computer forensics expert and president of Lorenzi Group, a consulting company in Danvers, Mass., "small businesses should have in place a firewall and have antispam/spyware and antivirus software installed on all computers." A firewall, which can include hardware or software or both, prevents unauthorized access to your network. All messages coming in or leaving your company pass through the firewall, which blocks those that do not meet your security criteria. Fitzgerald recommends that all small companies use firewall hardware. Sonicwall's (SNWL) TZ, Fortinet's Fortigate Unified Threat Management, and Cisco's (CSCO) Pix are all boxes you can plug into your modem. Buying the providers' annual service agreements, which run about $100 a year, gets you updates and access to tech support staff.
Page 1 2 Next Page

Sunday, January 27, 2008

E Bay and e Waste

TO KEEP DISCARDED COMPUTERS and other electronic products out of the nation's landfills, San Jose, Calif.-based eBay Inc. and a group of computer, governmental and environmental organizations have launched an e-recycling campaign. Called the Rethink Initiative, the project seeks to promote e-recycling awareness and to facilitate the safe disposal of electronic devices.

The focal point of the campaign is an eBay-run Web site ( that educates consumers about e-waste. Consumers can use the site to find an e-recycler located near them and to review a checklist of questions to consider when selecting a recycler. To prepare computers for recycling, the site provides a program that erases hard-drive data.

The Rethink Initiative also encourages consumers to resell their unwanted electronic devices or donate them to a charity. The program's Web site contains information on how to do both.
The initiative comes at a time when Americans are disposing of electronic devices in significant quantities. While unused electronic devices are often left in garages, closets or storage rooms, roughly 2 million tons of e-waste makes its way into landfills each year, according to the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington. Electronic devices often contain toxic substances such as lead and mercury, and environmental groups argue that it is dangerous to place them in landfills. Some states, such as California and Maine, have banned cathode ray tubes from landfills.

Chaz Miller, state programs director for the Washington-based Environmental Industry Associations, says there is no evidence that toxic substances leach from e-waste when placed in landfills. Still, he applauds the Rethink Initiative, calling it a “creative attempt” to remove electronics from the waste stream. “It's a great idea,” he says. “Let's see how it works.”
Other members of the Rethink Initiative are Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.; Apple, Cupertino, Calif.; Gateway, Irvine, Calif.; Hewlett-Packard Co. Palo Alto, Calif.; and IBM Corp., White Plains, N.Y. The EPA is a participant as well. A complete list of the members also is available on the project's Web site.

The Rethink Initiative launch is not the only e-recycling news to emerge in recent weeks. The EPA's Plug In to eCycling Program has announced the results of four pilot projects held last year to test the viability of collecting used electronics in retail settings. The EPA provided technical services for the pilots.

In one month-long test, 115,000 pounds of used electronics were collected for recycling by Staples stores throughout New England. Another month-long pilot in the Pacific Northwest captured 197,000 pounds of televisions at Good Guys electronic stores. In a series of day-long collection events in Minnesota and Wisconsin held last summer and fall, 357,500 pounds of electronics were collected, primarily at Best Buy and Target stores. In the fourth project, Office Depot and Hewlett-Packard operated a more-than-two-month program that gathered more than 10.5 million pounds of electronics at Office Depots nationwide.

“The programs were successful,” says Dave Deegan, EPA spokesman. The agency is evaluating the pilot results to help outline future projects, he says.

The EPA also recently awarded eight contracts to small businesses to provide e-recycling and disposal services for federal agencies and buildings throughout the nation. Traditionally, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has handled the disposition of used federal electronics, says Oliver Voss, a service center manager for the EPA's Office of Acquisition Management.
Agencies will still be able to use GSA to get rid of old equipment. However, unlike the GSA, the EPA's contracted firms will provide an audit trail to show where the equipment ends up, Voss says.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles