Test

May 30th, 2013

Testing Facebook plugin.

 

Verizon Readies for 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Are You Prepared?

May 29th, 2013

The following Verizon press release discusses how Verizon is preparing for the upcoming hurricane season.  This is good news for Verizon customers and the customers of providers which depend on Verizon’s services.

But have you taken steps to prepare your business in the event of another major hurricane event like Hurricane Sandy?

Do you have a “disaster/emergency plan”?

Your plan should include detailed instructions, contact telephone numbers and names as well as a detailed list of all of the services you depend on.  In particular, you should plan for the following scenarios:

1. You lose access to your office for several days or weeks.

2. Your office loses power and/or telephone service.

3. Your “telephone company” loses service because of a catastrophe (this worst case scenario happened during Sandy!)

4. Your internet service goes down.

There are several steps you can take to prepare for these scenarios.  Having a “fall back” site to work from or planning to have key employees work from home using VOIP telephones and/or cellular service, having back-up internet and telephone service as well as knowing how to initiate any back-up service you need, when you need it.  Contact us, we are here to help you with your disaster planning and we can provide you with options.  Even the smallest company with a very limited or “no” budget can take steps to ensure that their communications technology continues to operate.

You can reach us at: 212-763-1000

Verizon Press Release:

NEW YORK, May 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — With the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season kicking off on June 1, Verizon’s nationwide networks – and the skilled teams that operate them – stand ready to continue serving consumers, businesses and government customers.

Verizon, which operates some of the most advanced and reliable wireline and wireless networks in the world, reviews and updates its emergency preparedness plans each year to be ready for a wide range of natural and man-made events.  The company also conducts drills throughout the year to test the readiness of its networks and backup power systems in the event of a disaster.

“Preparation is the key for responding to the aftermath of hurricanes or other disasters,” said Dick Price , Verizon’s chief business continuity officer.  “Verizon uses an all-hazards approach to emergency management, meaning that we plan for almost any type of event that could affect our business operations.

“We’re constantly evaluating what we can do to better prepare for a major weather event, how to maintain service during the event, and how to quickly make repairs when and if network damage occurs,” Price said. “We also have a team of business continuity experts standing by to coordinate a rapid response to any emergency.”

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30, has been predicted to be an active period.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms for the Atlantic hurricane season, including up to six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5).

Preparation Is Key

Verizon business continuity teams and network personnel closely monitor potential threats to Verizon facilities anywhere in the country and complete necessary preparations. This includes confirming staff schedules; testing and confirming fuel supplies for backup generators; adding critical inventory, such as spare smartphone batteries and car chargers to meet customer demand; moving vehicles and other portable equipment from threatened areas; and stocking critical supplies in centralized locations for rapid deployment to hard-hit areas.

The Verizon communications networks require power to operate.  If commercial power fails, backup batteries and generators have been installed in the company’s switching centers, many cell sites and other key technical facilities to keep power flowing to deliver services to customers.  Portable generators also are available for deployment to storm-stricken facilities when needed.

Employees are on standby to respond to any crisis in the event network equipment is impacted or when emergency first-responder or customer support is required.  Verizon can also deploy employees from unaffected parts of the country to help restore services in hard-hit areas. The company can deploy its hazmat team, called MERIT (Major Emergency Response Incident Team), within a few hours of receiving an assignment.

Rapid Response

When a major incident occurs, Verizon activates its National Emergency Coordinating Center.  The center engages more than 65 Verizon departments worldwide, develops overall incident priorities, and coordinates the execution of a single-incident action plan of recovery and restoration activities until the incident no longer is a threat.

Verizon also can deploy its Emergency Response Mobile Communications Service fleet, which can provide critical communication services for business and government customers anywhere in North America.  Using specially equipped vehicles and trailers, Verizon technical experts can reestablish communications for customers during unplanned disruptions.  Each vehicle has been converted into an advanced mobile communications facility offering voice and Internet capabilities.

The company’s disaster recovery fleet, which can be deployed to either coast within 24 hours, includes a 51-foot mobile command center.  The command center features highly sophisticated communications equipment, with ample space for emergency responders, government officials and Verizon employees during events that affect Verizon’s communications network in the U.S.

(Note:  For more information on emergency preparedness, including helpful tips for consumers and businesses from theFederal Emergency Management Agency, visit www.ready.gov.  Verizon will include updates on preparations for and response to hurricanes or other serious natural or man-made events at www.verizon.com/news, www.verizonwireless.com/news, orhttp://www.verizonenterprise.com/about/news/)

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with nearly 99 million retail connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company with nearly $116 billion in 2012 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of 181,900.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

VERIZON’S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts, high-quality video and images, and other information are available at Verizon’s online News Center at newscenter.verizon.com.  The news releases are available through an RSS feed.  To subscribe, visit newscenter.verizon.com/corporate/feeds.

SOURCE Verizon

RELATED LINKS
http://www.verizon.com

 

No Email Message Is Private if You Get It at Work

May 28th, 2013

It’s pretty clear that using your employer’s email system for personal business is not a good idea and can get you fired; it could also send you to jail, if your emails reveal a crime. Employees have very little to no expectation of privacy in emails received through employer accounts.

An employee at Aeropostale, the clothing company, found out that not only can his employer use a personal email to fire him, but the government can also use it against him: A federal court ruled recently that prosecutors can use an email he received in his company account to convict him for receiving illegal kickbacks…

No Email Message Is Private if You Get It at Work

 

The Government Wants A Backdoor Into Your Online Communications

May 28th, 2013

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

According to the New York Times, President Obama is “on the verge of backing” a proposal by the FBI to introduce legislation dramatically expanding the reach of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA. CALEA forces telephone companies to provide backdoors to the government so that it can spy on users after obtaining court approval, and was expanded in 2006 to reach Internet technologies like VoIP. The new proposal reportedly allows the FBI to listen in on any conversation online, regardless of the technology used, by mandating engineers build “backdoors” into communications software. We urge EFF supporters to tell the administration now to stop this proposal, provisionally called CALEA II.
The rumored proposal is a tremendous blow to security and privacy and is based on the FBI’s complaint that it is “Going Dark,” or unable to listen in on Internet users’ communications. But the FBI has offered few concrete examples and no significant numbers of situations where it has been stymied by communications technology like encryption. To the contrary, with the growth of digital communications, the FBI has an unprecedented level of access to our communications and personal data; access which it regularly uses. In an age where the government claims to want to beef up Internet security, any backdoors into our communications makes our infrastructure weaker.
Backdoors also take away developers’ right to innovate and users’ right to protect their privacy and First Amendment-protected anonymity of speech with the technologies of their choice. The FBI’s dream of an Internet where it can listen to anything, even with a court order, is wrong and inconsistent with our values. One should be able to have a private conversation online, just as one can have a private conversation in person.
The White House is currently debating whether or not to introduce the bill. Here’s why it shouldn’t:
There’s Little Darkness: Few Investigations Have Been Thwarted
The starting point for new legislation should be a real, serious, and well-documented need. Despite the FBI’s rhetoric, there are few concrete examples of the FBI’s purported need to expand its already efficient all-seeing eye. Current law requires annual reporting by the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the use of the government’s wiretapping powers; the report includes statistics on how often Federal law enforcement has been impeded in a court-authorized investigation by encryption or has been unable to access communications. These statistics show that this has happened only rarely. In its most recent report—from 2010—DOJ reported that encryption had only been encountered all of 12 times.
Did the encryption stop the investigation, or even prevent the wiretappers from figuring out what was being said? No. The report admits that in all of these instances, police were able to obtain the plain text of communications. Previous years’ numbers are similar. Aside from government reports, in 2012 telecommunications companies also revealed that a very low percentage of law enforcement requests for user information were rejected. In AT&T’s case, only 965 out of over 250,000 requests for user information were rejected. Overall, the available public statistics don’t appear to support the FBI’s claims about its inability to access communications.
Law Enforcement Already Has Unprecedented Access
Any requested expansion of FBI surveillance authority has to consider the overall ability of law enforcement to investigate crimes. What the FBI doesn’t mention when pushing new backdoors into our communications is that now, due to the shift to digital communications, law enforcement has an unprecedented level of access to, and knowledge of, the public’s communications, relationships, transactions, whereabouts, and movements. Law enforcement now can gain 24/7 monitoring of most people’s movements using cell phone location data. But that’s just the beginning. A glance at the Wall Street Journal’s multi-year What They Know project shows some of the treasure troves of data that are being maintained about all of us. By accessing these databases and by using new electronic surveillance technologies law enforcement already has visibility into almost every aspect of our online and offline lives—capabilities beyond the wildest dreams of police officers just a few decades ago.
Indeed, former White House Chief Counselor for Privacy Peter Swire and Kenesa Ahmad argued persuasively in 2011 that, overall, “today [is] a golden age for surveillance”—regardless of whether law enforcement is assured of automatic access to each and every kind of communication, and regardless of whether individuals sometimes succeed in using privacy technologies to protect themselves against some kinds of surveillance.
First, there’s information obtained from cell phones. In July 2012, the New York Times reported that federal, state, and local law enforcement officials had requested all kinds of cell phone data—including mappings of suspects’ locations—a staggering 1.3 million times in the previous year. Cell phone companies can create what amounts to detailed maps of our locations and turn them over to law enforcement. Even without asking for cell phone providers’ direct assistance, law enforcement has considerable ability to use mobile devices to track us. Federal and state law enforcement have made extensive use of IMSI catchers (also popularly called “stingrays,” after the brand name of one such device). These devices can act as a fake cell phone tower, observing all devices in a certain area to find a cell phone’s location in real-time, and perhaps even intercept phone calls and texts.
Laws compelling companies to divulge user information accompany these techniques. For instance, National Security Letters, served on communications service providers like phone companies and ISPs, allow the FBI to secretly demand stored data about ordinary Americans’ private communications and Internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review. And Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows for secret court orders to collect “tangible things” that could be relevant to a government investigation. The list of possible “tangible things” the government can obtain is seemingly limitless, and could include everything from driver’s license records to Internet browsing patterns. The FBI has even broken into individuals’ computers to collect data from inside the computers themselves. More backdoors aren’t needed.
Backdoors Make Us Weaker and More Vulnerable
CALEA II will force companies with messaging services—from Google to Twitter to video game developers—to insert backdoors into their platforms. But backdoors only make us weaker and more vulnerable. It’s ironic that CALEA II may be proposed only months after Congress pushed “cybersecurity” legislation to protect our networks. The notion of mandating backdoors in software is the antithesis of online security, which is why some academics have called it a “ticking time bomb.”
A proposal to expand backdoors into communications software ensures that online hackers, communications company insiders, and nation-states have a direct entrance to attack—and steal from—companies and government agencies. In one notorious example, someone exploited backdoors in a Greek phone company’s systems and recorded sensitive conversations involving the Prime Minister. Wiretapping backdoors even affect national security. In 2012, Wired revealed the NSA’s discovery and concern that every telephone switch for sale to the Department of Defense had security vulnerabilities due to the legally-mandated wiretap implementation. If politicians are serious about online security, they will not make these security blunders even worse by bringing more sensitive communication technologies under CALEA’s scope.
Just last week, an ad hoc group of twenty renowned computer security experts issued a report explaining their consensus that CALEA II proposals could seriously harm computer security. These experts said that a requirement to weaken security with deliberate backdoors “amounts to developing for our adversaries capabilities that they may not have the competence, access or resources to develop on their own.”
And now the Washington Post has reported that intruders, allegedly working on behalf of the Chinese government, broke into Google’s existing surveillance systems. (In this case, the report says that the intruders learned who was targeted by these systems, rather than accessing the contents of the targets’ accounts or communications—but it’s easy to see that wiretap contents would ultimately represent an even bigger target, and a bigger prize. Even more exciting would be the prospect of remotely activating new wiretaps against victims of an intruder’s choice.)
Internet Users Have the Right to Secure Communications
Expanding CALEA is not only a tremendous risk for our online security; it’s a slap in the face of Internet users who want to protect themselves online by choosing privacy-protecting software to shield their communications. Ordinary individuals, businesses, and journalists want and often need state-of-the art software to protect their communications in an era of pervasive spying by commercial rivals, criminals, and governments around the world. The government’s rhetoric takes us back to the early 1990s when US law enforcement spoke openly of banning secure encryption software to keep it out of the public’s hands. EFF and others had to fight—including in the Federal courts—to establish the principle that publishing and using encryption tools is an essential matter of individual freedom and protected by the First Amendment.
Once those “crypto wars” were over, the US government seemed to accept the right of Americans to secure communications and abandon the idea of forcing innovators to dumb down these technologies. We turned our concerns to foreign governments, several of whom were trying to ban communications tools for being “too private.” (For instance, the Associated Press reported five countries threatened to ban BlackBerry services in 2010 because the services protected user privacy too well.) Americans, including the US State Department, began supporting the development and distribution of secure communications tools to foreign rights activists who need them. Now this battle may be coming home.
Even with these tools, most Americans can protect only a tiny fraction of the trail of data we leave behind electronically as we live our lives. But we still have the right to choose them and try our best to keep our private communications private.
CALEA Must Not Come Back
The government should place any proposal to expand CALEA on hold. There is little evidence the FBI is actually “going dark,” especially when balanced with all the new information they have access to about our communications. And backdoors make everyone weaker. In a time when “cybersecurity” is supposed to be a top priority in Washington, the FBI is pushing a scheme that directly undermines everyone’s online security and interferes with both innovation and the freedom of users to choose the technologies that best protect them. Tell the White House now to stop the proposal in its tracks.

Related Issues:

Privacy
CALEA
Encrypting the Web
NSA Spying
Security

Share this:   ||  Join EFF

The Government Wants A Backdoor Into Your Online Communications

 

Sandy washed away contingency plans across New York region

November 3rd, 2012

Over the next several weeks we plan on discussing more robust disaster plans.  Even on 9/11/01 and during the aftermath of the destruction in Lower Manhattan we did not see the kind of interruption of service that we have seen this past week.  How can a business plan for the worst case scenario?  I think that there is a lot we can learn about what worked and what did not during and immediately after hurricane Sandy swept through the East Coast.

The following article discusses some of these issues:

* Wide swath of storm took out backup facilities miles away

Sandy washed away contingency plans across New York region

 

Hurricane Sandy Service Update: Verizon Technicians Out in Force This Weekend to Restore Services, Serve Customers

November 3rd, 2012

BASKING RIDGE, N.J., Nov. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Tens of thousands of Verizon engineers, technicians and customer-service employees are working this weekend as they continue to restore voice and data communications, Internet and TV service to consumers, business…

Hurricane Sandy Service Update: Verizon Technicians Out in Force This Weekend to Restore Services, Serve Customers

 

Hurricane Sandy Crisis Update – Day 4

November 3rd, 2012

After four days, the majority of our clients now have at least partial telephone service.

This storm caused the unthinkable- complete failure of telecommunication services.  Even the “last resort” option of forwarding incoming calls directly through the “telephone company” switch to a cellular telephone was no longer an option.  Put in the simplest terms: The “telephone company” switches themselves had failed.  All of the years of planning took into consideration back-up generators, batteries and fuel reserves.  But they did not take one simple thing into consideration: Fuel pumps.  The fuel pumps play a vital role of delivering the fuel from tanks located in or under basements up to the floors in the data centers where the generators are located.  These fuel pumps failed when basements were flooded.

As of today, many carriers are running on emergency generator power.  Switches are not completely operational- they are running in “emergency mode” and we will still have issues of incomplete inbound and outbound calls due to the overwhelming demand being placed on equipment.

As for cellular service, many providers have been overwhelmed by the volume of calls going over their networks.  Also, many of the towers were damaged or knocked out of alignment during the hurricane.  Some providers are doing better than others.  My service, Sprint, has done quite poorly.  Only now am I starting to receive the majority of calls to my cellular.

 

Post-Hurricane Sandy Telecom Update

November 1st, 2012

Dear Clients: Due to severe flooding during hurricane Sandy thousands of business customers have been left without telephone service. As the expression goes- a picture is worth a thousand words:

Verizon's 140 West Street Facility during height of the storm

Verizon’s 140 West Street Facility during height of the storm

Many of the major data centers that house New York’s and quite frankly, the nation’s communications carriers are located in Lower Manhattan.  These centers are prepared for most disasters.  They have battery and generator back-up, they have redundant service feeding them and they are designed to service most natural and manmade disasters.  In this case, hurricane Sandy’s wrath was overwhelming.  It is our understanding that water is rushing in to the basement of several of these facilities faster than the water pumps can get it out.

Our sources tell us that the majority of service that is down will continue to be down until Monday.  This is affecting dozens of carriers including Verizon, Paetec/Windstream, and other carriers. It is also affecting the ability to have inbound calls forwarded to another number.

In addition, power is still down for most of Lower Manhattan posing a different problem for businesses with offices located South of 39th Street.

We are working hard to provide our clients with alternatives.  One alternative is to provide them with SIP telephone service off of our Hosted PBX platform and provide them with temporary telephone numbers.  In the case of customers affected by service outages we have had to provide them with new, temporary numbers.  But if the service itself is unaffected but you are down due to power issues this solution would allow you to have your inbound calls forwarded to the temporary number we assign and you can make and receive calls.

For more photos, video and information you can read the article that appeared in the November 1, 2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

For additional photos showing the efforts to restore service by WindStream/Paetec at their facility at 75 Broad Street please go to their news site here.

 

Hurricane Sandy – Emergency/Disaster Plan

October 30th, 2012

Dear Clients:

First, I hope that everyone is well and that your families and homes are safe.

All of our Hosted PBX clients are unaffected.  Our primary data center is located out of state and was selected because it was in an area that could never flood.

For our “traditional telephone system” clients in Lower Manhattan that are without power or that have no service because of flooded basements, we can provide you with temporary emergency service via our Hosted PBX solution.  You will be able to have your providers remotely call forward your main telephone number to the temporary number we provide.  (The same is true for your fax lines- we can provide you with an eFax account)

As an alternative, if your cellular telephones are still working (mine is not- Sprint towers appear to be down in my area) you can have your calls forwarded to your cellular.  But please note that this will limit you to two inbound telephone calls and the third call will most likely get a busy signal.

 

Antivirus Tool Fail: Blocking Success Varies By 58%

October 29th, 2012

A very interesting article which highlights the need for network security.  Antivirus and software “security suites” are just not enough.

At a minimum, a small business should incorporate a hardware firewall, antivirus and other tools.  Regular system maintenance and check-ups are also important.  You would be surprised at how many prospective clients I visit that do not even have antivirus software installed on their workstations, servers and laptops.  Article from Information Week:

Only two of 13 endpoint security software scanners blocked more than 80% of known exploits, NSS Labs study reports.

Antivirus Tool Fail: Blocking Success Varies By 58%