Again, in the last week, I have come across a few reports and news items which are worth passing on.
These include first: Data breaches rose sharply in 2008, says study
More than 35 million data records were breached in 2008, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.
Jeremy Kirk (IDG News Service) 08/01/2009 08:27:00
More than 35 million data records were breached in 2008 in the U.S., a figure that underscores continuing difficulties in securing information, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).
The majority of the lost data was neither encrypted nor protected by a password, according to the ITRC's report.
It documents 656 breaches in 2008 from a range of well-known U.S. companies and government entities, compared to 446 breaches in 2007, a 47 percent increase. Information about the breaches was collected by tracking media reports and the disclosures companies are required to make by law.
Data breach notification laws vary by state. Some companies do not reveal the number of data records that have been affected, which means the actual number of data breaches is likely much more than 35 million.
"More companies are revealing that they have had a data breach, either due to laws or public pressure," the ITRC wrote on its Web site. "Our sense is that two things are happening -- the criminal population is stealing more data from companies and that we are hearing more about the breaches."
I have to say, while this is for the whole of the US, it does seem there are a lot of careless people out there. Such figures are certainly being mentioned in the context of the Obama Health IT initiatives.
Second we have:
Louise Hall Health Reporter
January 9, 2009
DEEP brain stimulation dramatically improves Parkinson's disease symptoms such as trembling and involuntary movement, offering hope to many with the incurable conditions, the largest study of its kind has found.
The stimulation occurs by implanting a permanent wire attached to a pacemaker box into the brain.
Patients reported an extra 4½ hours a day of good motor functioning and a better quality of life after six months of treatment, compared to patients who had the best non-surgical therapy available, including medication.
Reporting the findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers warned that 40 per cent of the patients who received the "brain pacemaker" suffered serious side effects, including a surprising number of falls with injuries.
Australian experts said the findings were still "good news" for the 100,000 Australians with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative condition of the nervous system caused by progressive degeneration of brain cells that control co-ordinated movement. As a result, other brain regions become hyperactive.
It might not be really e-Health but it is certainly technology making a difference!
Third we have:
Fran Foo | January 09, 2009
QANTAS, Telstra and National Australia Bank have been rocked by a major accounting scandal that hit their IT services supplier, Satyam Computer Services, and all have vowed to take action.
A multi-million-dollar software facility being built on Deakin University's campus in Geelong is also under a cloud as the future of Satyam remains uncertain.
Australia's largest companies have been caught in the dragnet of corporate fraud at Satyam, where its founder and chairman B. Ramalinga Raju has admitted to overinflating the value of cash and bank balances by 50.4 billion rupees ($1.44 billion).
Satyam Australia is a $200 million company and provides a range of IT-related work to some of the largest corporations in the country.
Its major customers said they were reviewing the situation and some, their contracts, with Satyam locally.
Telstra is in the midst of trimming its IT suppliers from four to two. They include EDS, IBM, Infosys and Satyam.
"We expect to finalise our new arrangements early this year and, obviously, will take the current issues into account," Telstra spokesman Martin Barr said.
NAB spokeswoman Kerrina Lawrence said the bank was closely reviewing the matter, but was quick to add that Satyam has been meeting all its contractual obligations so far.
This is an amazing story – and certainly reminds those in the e-health domain that it is vital to make sure the control on any health information is appropriately managed and that proper due diligence is done with outsource providers!
Fourth we have:
David Leppard | January 05, 2009
THE Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people's personal computers without a warrant.
The move, which follows a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state which drives “a coach and horses” through privacy laws.
The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room.
Material gathered in this way includes the content of all e-mails, web-browsing habits and instant messaging.
Under the Brussels edict, police across the EU have been given the green light to expand the implementation of a rarely used power involving warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property. The strategy will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to hack into someone’s UK computer and pass over any material gleaned.
Can I say this has all the feel of a major ‘beat up’ – but if it is anywhere near true it is truly alarming!
I hope the privacy lobby on Australia has this one on their radar!
Fifth we have:
Conroy and McClelland announce outcomes of E-Security Review, 2008
Trevor Clarke (ARN) 05/01/2009 14:59:00
Australian Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, have flagged closer relationships with the IT industry and ISPs as necessary to improving the nation’s e-security.
The call comes as the first outcomes of the E-Security Review, 2008, undertaken by the Government, were announced in a joint release.
"The Prime Minister's National Security Statement recognised that e-security is one of the Government's top national security priorities. New online threats are emerging and it's imperative that we take steps to protect critical e-infrastructure," McClelland said in the release.
As a result of the review the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and the Department for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, will develop a code of practice for e-security in conjunction with ISPs.
I hope some thought is given, in all this, to the needs of the e-Health domain. The infrastructure will become more critical the further it evolves.
Sixth we have:
Posted by Renai LeMay
Windows 7 could be one of Microsoft's greatest operating systems, if it fulfills the promise shown by the unofficial beta version (build 7000) we have been testing for the past couple of days.
Let me preface these quick impressions of Redmond's latest opus by saying that I came to Windows 7 after having happily run the much-maligned Windows Vista on my Intel Core 2 Duo-based PC for the past 18 months (alongside Ubuntu).
I found Vista to be a worthy upgrade from Windows XP SP2. Despite its obvious flaws (can you say "resource hog"?) and the acknowlegement that some of its features need to be disabled by default, Vista at heart is a much more stable and usable operating system than XP, which was first released in 2001.
The release of Service Pack 1 and gradual driver improvements have built on Microsoft's somewhat-shaky Vista beginning.
Coming from this background, I have been pleased to discover over the past several days that Microsoft appears to have built on Vista's strengths and addressed most of its weaknesses with the beta release of Windows 7.
I found the Windows 7 beta a painless install. Out-of-the-box driver support on our test machine was perfect, and it took only half an hour and two quick reboots to begin running a stable desktop environment, though we wondered why Windows 7 created a 200MB partition in addition to its main partition. The 33MB of updates quickly came down the pipe upon loading the desktop.
This all look and sounds like good news. Sounds like a better, more secure, more stable Win XP to me – just what we need if we are to enjoy more reliable secure computing.
Last we have the slightly more technical note.
Burton Group analyst declares SOA dead -- but says that offshoots like mashups and cloud computing remain alive and well.
Paul Krill (InfoWorld) 07/01/2009 08:51:00
SOA is dead but services remain alive, according to a prominent analyst who published an obituary for SOA in a blog post on Monday.
In her blog, Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at Burton Group, pronounced SOA dead.
"SOA met its demise on January 1, 2009, when it was wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession. SOA is survived by its offspring: mashups, BPM, SaaS cloud computing, and all other architectural approaches that depend on 'services,'" Manes wrote.
Instead of becoming a savior, SOA "instead turned into a great failed experiment -- at least for most organizations," Manes said. SOA failed to deliver on promised benefits and after the investment of millions, IT systems are not better than before. In some cases they are worse, with costs higher and projects taking longer, she said.
Interviewed Monday afternoon, Manes said successful SOA implementations have resulted from major IT transformation efforts rather than just slapping a bunch of interfaces on applications. "Those companies have seen spectacular results from these efforts, but in those circumstances, SOA was part of something much bigger," Manes said.
Companies need to become more in tune with what businesses require and understand what the problems are, she said. What is required is an examination of application architecture rather than project-by-project integration, Manes noted, but with the difficult economy, funding for SOA has dried up, she said.
Much more here:
This is an interesting. and obviously intended to be provocative, view. What it does make clear is that implementation of SOA needs to be well planned, considered and appropriate for the needs of the organisation if it is to be successful.
More next week.