New ISO standard for urban resilience in development

There’s no stemming the tide, so city leaders need to build resilience in order to cope. Work on a new International Standard for urban resilience, led by the United Nations, has just kicked off, aiming to help local governments build safer and more sustainable urban environments.

The development of the standard is being led by UN-Habitat, the United Nations programme for human settlements

City living is where it’s at. The top 600 cities in the world house 20 % of the global population but produce 60 % of the world’s GDP, and the numbers are growing. It is estimated that, by 2050, 68 % of us will be living in cities), increasing the scale of impact when disasters strike. Which they will. In 2018, for example, more than 17 million were displaced by sudden-onset disasters such as floods).

Work has now started on a new ISO standard for urban resilience, aimed at supporting national and local governments build their capacity to face the new challenges arising from climate change and shifting demographics. It will define a framework for urban resilience, clarify the principles and concepts, and help users to identify, implement and monitor appropriate actions to make their cities more resilient.

Read entire post New ISO standard for urban resilience in development | Clare Naden |

One in 10 IT pros would steal data if leaving a job

In addition, the survey found that 15% of participants would delete files or change passwords upon exiting.

While a number of organizations have invested in technologies to help detect and defend against external attackers, many companies are starting to better understand the risks from insider threats, which a recently published whitepaper said may actually be a larger issue.

According to the report insider attacks are more difficult to detect and prevent than external ones, with 91% of respondents in a similar survey of IT and security professionals reporting they feel vulnerable to both malicious and accidental insider threats.

Read entire post One in 10 IT pros would steal data if leaving a job | Kacy Zurkus | InfoSecurity

Half of UK businesses don’t believe in their business continuity plan

Roughly half of businesses in the UK (46%) are not confident their business continuity plans are up to date, according to fresh reports from Databarracks.

Polling businesses ahead of the Business Continuity Awareness Week (BCAW), the report says that organisations are being regularly exposed to potential business disruptions because of poor BC management. Databarracks’ managing director Peter Groucutt says organisations should be investing in resilience, but “this is not happening across half of UK organisations”.

He believes it is critical for organisations to tweak and test their BC plans on regular basis. A three-year old plan won’t be of much help, as it may refer to employees that retired or left the company in the meantime.

Read entire post Half of UK businesses don’t believe in their business continuity plan | Sead Fadilpašić | ITProPortal

Three steps to managing bonded inventory through Brexit disruptions

The prospect of future disruptions in the supply chain brings diverse risks to the operation of businesses, especially to inventory management. The approaching Brexit deadline raises the imminent question how businesses can effectively continue to finance and distribute their inventory within the European continent.

While the renegotiation of the U.K.-EU relationship will most likely take several years, European distributors have to assess their current inventory management to mitigate future disruptions.

European distributors have to assess their current inventory management to mitigate future disruptions

There is no doubt that the political landscape will continue to change, and this goes hand-in-hand with a growing trade volume due to the growing e-commerce market. In order to serve the European Market effectively, managing the availability and allocation of inventory becomes vital to reduce overall costs, improve cash flows, and bring more agility to supply chain operations.

Read entire post Three steps to managing bonded inventory through Brexit disruptions | Kjell Bornkamp | SupplyChainBrain

Israel responds to cyber-attack with air strike

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claim to have thwarted a cyber-attack from Hamas by targeting the building where Hamas cyber operatives work, according to IDF.

After the alleged cyber-attack, IDF responded with a physical attack in what Forbes contributor Kate O’Flaherty called “a world first.”

According to the commander of the IDF’s cyber division, identified only by his rank and first Hebrew letter of his name, Brigadier General Dalet, this was also the first time that Israel cyber forces had to fend off an attack while they were also under fire, which required both Israeli technology soldiers and the Israeli Air Force, according to The Times of Israel.

Read entire post Israel responds to cyber-attack with air strike | Kazy Zurkus | InfoSecurity

Opinion: It would be nice if we could agree on a definition of terrorism

If I were to ask ten people chosen at random what ‘terrorism’ means, I’d likely get some combinations of the following:

  • it involves killing or trying to kill civilians;
  • it is inspired by an idea – religious, political, ideological or something along that line;
  • it is usually carried out by non-state actors;
  • terrorists want to leave a message;
  • terrorists want to cause fear; and
  • terrorists want governments to cave to their demands and change something (a law, a policy, an occupation, etc.)

What I think is less probable is that I would receive an answer such as “a rise in the price of vegetables”.

Well, that is exactly what Turkish President Recep Erdogan recently said: “They’ve (NB speaking of wholesalers whom he accused of hoarding) made aubergine, tomato, potato and cucumber prices increase. They are spreading terror.”

Vegetables as perpetrators of terrorism

Forsooth! Vegetables as perpetrators of terrorism (ok, ok, more accurately vegetable wholesalers as perpetrators of terrorism)! Whoda thunk? Is this perhaps not one of the stupidest things you have heard come out of a politician’s mouth – if you discount just about everything US boy president Donald Trump has ever said?

It cheapens the true meaning of the word terrorism and insults those who have suffered its consequences

Here is the problem when a leader says something along these lines. It cheapens the true meaning of the word terrorism and insults those who have suffered its consequences (unless shoppers who can no longer afford cucumbers are to be treated the same as Yazidi girls raped by Islamic State terrorists). And it allows governments to label anything as terrorism, which allows them to get away with a lot.

Sticking with Turkey, several governments have called their Kurdish minority terrorists, thus justifying a whole slew of human rights violations. Turkey’s Kurds have long been denied their basic rights, even to include their ethnicity (for years many Turkish politicians called the Kurds ‘mountain Turks’). Yes, there are Kurdish terrorist groups and yes they have carried out heinous acts of violence but no, not all Kurds are terrorists. Many have been campaigning for an independent homeland for decades – which would problematically cover a third of Turkey and large swathes of Syria, Iraq and Iran, all of which makes its likelihood very unlikely – and not all advocate violence to gain that status.

Similarly, when we refer to some acts by far right extremists such as yelling at minorities or spitting at them or trying to yank off hijabs or yarmulkes or spraypainting swastikas on synagogues and mosques using the word terrorism we are doing ourselves a disservice. I am not dismissing or minimising the trauma that these acts cause to those subjected to them. They are certainly hateful and disgusting – but they are not terrorism.

Terrorism is complicated

Terrorism is complicated, driven by a multitude of push and pull factors and varying from place to place, cause to cause. Despite this complexity, however, we need to agree on some fundamental principles. Here I humbly suggest two (there may be more and I’d love to hear from you on this – which I am sure I will!):

  • it has to be a serious act of violence with the intent to kill or severely maim, and;
  • it has to be motivated primarily by an ideology, as woolly as some may be.

Neither you nor I will stop politicians saying stupid things for reasons only they know. We can, however, try to be consistent as commentators, op-ed contributors and even ex-spies on how we use the words we do. After all if those of us who have spent decades trying to understand terrorism cannot agree on basic parametres, who can?

The value of an outside-in perspective

Following my article: Reflecting on the past 365 days! I’d like to deliver here some reflections around the following…

The value of an outside-in perspective

The concept of taking an outside-in perspective to leadership and management first started gaining traction around 2010. At that time, George Day and Christine Moorman published their book “Strategy from the Outside In”, explaining the value of strategy development based on market insights and customer value. The book gained massive success for its insights into how companies such as P&G ride out the storms of multiple market down cycles and somehow remain profitable.

The concept of taking an outside-in perspective to leadership and management first started gaining traction around 2010

In 2011, renowned psychologist Daniel Kahnemann published his bestseller “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. In the book, he told a story about a group he had previously worked with, which had made some errors in forecasting due to an inward-looking approach.

Kahnemann’s story made a compelling case for collecting as much external information as possible to aid the process of making decisions. Not just strategy-level decisions as in the 2010 book, but as Kahnemann himself said: “the argument for the outside view should be made on general grounds”.

Recently, I’ve been considering how learning the value of the outside-in perspective has guided my career journey from the corporate world to full-fledged entrepreneurship.

Breaking Silos for Better Decision Making

During my corporate career, I had the opportunity to create and facilitate a discussion forum for peers in the risk management area, many of whom were working in large Swiss companies. The forum was very well received among the colleagues who attended, with many people asking for repeat events or organizing separate meetups. The main reason the event was so successful was down to people from different organizations, and across different sectors, finding common threads in the discussions.

The opportunity to talk to people who had a different perspective gave participants fresh ideas about how to approach their own particular challenges. In some cases, understanding that others share the same issues gave participants some reassurance that their problems weren’t unique, echoing Kahneman’s advice about collecting external metrics in order to define your own yardsticks.

The reactions from the forum participants gave me a deeper understanding of the value of developing connections across boundaries. The experience gave me a more profound realization that working without silos isn’t a nice-to-have — it’s a key enabler of effective risk management.

Leveraging the Entrepreneurial Mindset

When I left the corporate world to start my own consultancy business, an inevitable part of the journey to becoming an entrepreneur involved changing my mindset. A corporate entity operates on rules, policies, procedures and fixed governance processes that are (to a greater or lesser extent) documented, known and followed by everyone. While these rules are necessary to running a company, they can also have the unfortunate side effect of limiting creative thinking.

As an entrepreneur, there are no rules, no policies or procedures or instruction manuals

As an entrepreneur, there are no rules, no policies or procedures or instruction manuals. I had to navigate my own way through all the new and unfamiliar activities involved with setting up a business from scratch. While it can be daunting at times, it’s also exciting. I found that with total freedom to operate, I could think more creatively. I developed the mindset that nothing is impossible and became more proactive in bringing my ideas to fruition.

With this shift of mindset, I decided that I wanted to funnel my energy and experience into some kind of a platform for risk professionals to share knowledge and expertise. Recalling my experience with the discussion forum and throughout my professional life, I’ve always enjoyed and found value in developing networks, connecting other people and creating a sense of community between peers.

Connecting people across boundaries

So, the idea for Risk-!n came about, thanks also in part to my associate Antoine Lacombe who persuaded me to step out on a limb and start this new adventure.

At the time we were very open-minded about the direction Risk-!n might have taken. Thankfully and to my delight, the first event was a resounding success. We had close to 200 participants from three continents representing multiple industry sectors. 98% of participants said they would attend again, and 98% also said they would recommend the event to a friend. Suffice to say, I’m very much looking forward to opening the doors on the second Risk-!n conference just two months from now.

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Seeing through the eyes of others

Over the last decade, the value of the outside-in perspective is better understood and accepted, and not just on the macro level. Collaboration is more powerful when individuals and teams within an organization take an outside-in view of their own work.

Building connections, talking to those outside of your regular circles and finding common threads all help us as individuals to gain an outside-in perspective. Seeing through the eyes of others enables us to find new ways of solving problems, driving decisions and taking action.

This is the guiding principle of the Risk-!n event – breaking down silos to better manage risks. Across two days, participants from different disciplines and organizations will have the opportunity to share experiences and learnings in the areas of risk, resilience, insurance and, security. Registration for the 2019 Risk-!n conference is now open and spaces are selling out fast. Make sure you register today to secure your spot!

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We can talk about terrorists without glorifying them or their acts

We want to know more, not less, and we want to know it NOW. We want as many details as possible so we can develop an understanding of the event and figure out what is important and what is not.

When the event in question is an act of terrorism, as we saw last week in Christchurch, New Zealand, we want to know even more. We live in a post 9/11 world where we have been inundated with terrorist act after terrorist act after terrorist act: we could almost call the current period the ‘Age of Terrorism’ based on the frequency of such incidents and the media coverage they receive.

When the event in question is an act of terrorism, as we saw last week in Christchurch, New Zealand, we want to know even more.

News articles, op-eds, books, specialised journals, blogs and podcasts (including my own blogs and podcasts – An Intelligent Look at Terrorism) have sprung up to dissect this phenomenon, all with the purpose at getting a better handle on it (and perhaps helping to decide what to do about it).

In this search for more details about the who, where, what, why, how and when, however, there has been some push back of late. Some have called for a suppression of information on terrorist attacks. This way of thinking states that naming terrorists or showing footage of their attacks (the New Zealand livestreamed his massacre) only serves to glorify them and promotes their acts for others to follow. There is ample evidence that likeminded individuals cite previous attackers as part of a justification for their own actions (the New Zealand terrorist cited both Anders Breivik, the 2011 Norwegian shooter, as well as Canada’s Alexandre Bissonnette, the shooter of the Quebec City mosque in 2017). There are also some who say publishing the names of the perpetrators compounds the grief of the families of the dead.

In light of this what should we do?

No one wants to give fodder to future terrorists and no one wants to prolong the agony of the loved ones of the victims. But is the reporting of a name doing this? I cannot speak for the feelings of those who lost family members or friends to terrorists but it strikes me that there is a tension between reporting facts and being sensitive. Where is the line between the public’s right to know and the bereaved’s right to not suffer?

The question of whether to show the video is a different matter however

Besides I think it is not a good idea to equate reporting with glorification or giving undue attention to a terrorist seeking either. Facts are facts and should be objective and not emotion-laden. In addition, in a world of instant news and multiple platforms we cannot suppress information anyway: that horse has left the barn. The New Zealand shooter’s video and manifesto were already being praised by those who shared his warped views seconds after they appeared online. Whether or not the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail or The Hill Times opts to not publish the terrorist’s name makes no difference in the reach of his message.

The question of whether to show the video is a different matter however. That piece of information is nothing more than violence porn. We should not share that any more than we should share footage of snuff videos or violent rapes. There is simply some material that should not be posted out of a sense of basic human decency.

We can learn about terrorism and its motivations by sharing more information, not less. We can be both true to our need to acquire details and our need to be sensitive to others. It is something that has to be done carefully, but it can be done.

Orgs grapple with pros and cons of remote workers

Despite the growing number of employees that work remotely, security professionals fear that remote workers pose risks to the enterprise, according to a new study published by OpenVPN.

An overwhelming majority (90%) of survey respondents said that remote workers are a security risk to the organization, according to the report Remote Work Is the Future – But Is Your Organization Ready for It? The report’s findings are based on a survey of 250 IT leaders, from the manager level through the C-suite.

Still, 92% of respondents agreed that the benefits of remote work outweigh the security risks. “For employees, it provides greater efficiency and lower stress levels: 82% of telecommuters reported less stress and 30% said it allowed them to accomplish more work in less time,” the report said. In addition, companies reportedly save an average of $11,000 per year per remote employee.

Read entire post Orgs grapple with Pros and Cons of remote workers | Kacy Zurkus | InfoSecurity

The links between genocide and terrorism

If there is one activity that humans engage in that is worse than genocide I’d like to know what it is. Genocide is the deliberate intent to wipe an entire people off the face of the earth.

The UN defines it as: “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

There have been far too many instances of genocide, or attempted genocide, in human history.

There have been far too many instances of genocide, or attempted genocide, in human history. The Holocaust – the Nazi plan to kill all the world’s Jews – is perhaps the best known not only for the sheer scale of the slaughter but thanks to the efforts of many to keep the memory of this heinous program alive (especially important in the face of ‘Holocaust deniers’: morons who pretend nothing happened).

It is not the only one alas: the 1915-1917 Armenian genocide, the 1994 massacres in Rwanda and Islamic State’s recent campaign against the Yazidis are all representative as well of this scourge.

Is genocide terrorism?

A dear friend of mine put the following question to me yesterday: is genocide terrorism? It gave me pause. My immediate reaction was ‘no’ but upon further reflection I am not so sure. Using only the four examples above (I probably could have added China’s treatment of the Uyghurs) here is an inadequate analysis of the relationship between genocide and terrorism:

  • The Nazi-driven Holocaust was definitely an ideologically-motivated campaign of mass violence. As terrorism needs some kind of underlying ideology to qualify as such it would meet the definition. It is hard, however, at least for me to picture a multi-year program as an ‘act of terrorism’
  • The Ottoman Empire’s attempt to eliminate its Armenian population through murder, starvation and forced marches through the desert killed at least 1.5 million people. It too had some ideological basis as well as a religious one (the Ottomans were Muslim while the Armenians were largely Christian). Nevertheless it is difficult to see starvation as an ‘act of terror’
  • The Rwandan massacre of the Tutsis in 1994 was the outgrowth of that country’s civil war and was catapulted to the level of genocide following a plane crash in which the Hutu president died. This was an ethnic slaughter in which propaganda played a key role and there was talk of a ‘final solution’ (echoes of the Jewish Holocaust).
  • Islamic State is a terrorist group that is Islamist in nature and hence believes that anyone who does not practice its hateful strand of Islam must be killed. The Yazidis in northern Iraq were subject to genocide by IS starting in 2014: the men were killed and the women raped and forced to marry IS ‘fighters’.

Where does this leave us?

I am not sure. There is little doubt that each of these crimes against humanity were driven by those full of intense hatred and convinced that they had the right to erase an entire people from the face of the planet. But as I have argued in the past, hatred is not necessarily ideological. In some cases there appears to have been a well-developed ideological framework: in others, nothing more or less than bloodlust. The case of IS is complicated as the entire band is one of terrorists.

We can label an act terrorism and then assign it to a category: Islamist, far right, religious, etc.

I think perhaps we are used to seeing terrorism as a series of one-off events, even if there is a theme that joins them. We can label an act terrorism and then assign it to a category: Islamist, far right, religious, etc. We can even see a whole bunch of analogous events as examples of a terrorist phenomenon defined by the particular ideology its adherents propound. What we do with a systematic effort to remove all traces of a nation falls somewhere else maybe. I don’t know – what do you think?

What all of this shows is that we are sadly capable of enormous acts of the cruelest violence carried out because some of us don’t like the skin colour or faith of someone else. Whether this is genocide, terrorism or simply hate on a grand scale may not really matter. What is perhaps more important is that we do what we can to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Please make sure to share your thoughts about this topics in the comment section below!

The new dawn of disease control

In our evermore complex, interconnected world, with health systems undergoing new challenges and stresses, risk management in the healthcare industry has never been more important. Three ISO standards play a significant role in matching clinical quality with patient safety and best practice, helping not only to deal with risks but also to prevent them in the first place.

ISO 14971 is a standard for the application of risk management to the design and manufacture of medical devices

Only the lucky few get through life in continuous good health, free from the pains and aches of growing older. Not many of us escape painful and debilitating ailments, such as sore joints that eventually require artificial replacements, and most of us, at some time or other, have to resort to health professionals and the healthcare industry in search of cures.

And it is reasonable for us to expect that those healthcare solutions and treatments will return us to our lives as healthier people, feeling better and fit for daily tasks. We put our trust in health professionals when we are at our most vulnerable and the health professionals, for their part, try to ensure that patient safety is paramount and aspire to best practices to reduce medical errors.

Read entire post The new dawn of disease control | Ann Brady |

Are we on the road to civilisation collapse?

Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives.

Collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and technological stage

So concluded the historian Arnold Toynbee in his 12-volume magnum opus A Study of History. It was an exploration of the rise and fall of 28 different civilisations. He was right in some respects: civilisations are often responsible for their own decline. However, their self-destruction is usually assisted.

The Roman Empire, for example, was the victim of many ills including overexpansion, climatic change, environmental degradation and poor leadership. But it was also brought to its knees when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455.

Collapse is often quick and greatness provides no immunity. The Roman Empire covered 4.4 million sq km (1.9 million sq miles) in 390. Five years later, it had plummeted to 2 million sq km (770,000 sq miles). By 476, the empire’s reach was zero.

Read entire post Are we on the road to civilisation collapse? | Luke Kemp | BBC