The Case Against Preparedness

By Guy Higgins

The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto is “Semper Paratus.” For those of you who did not take Latin from Sister Mary Attila the Hun and therefore don’t remember your Latin, that translates as “Always Prepared.” I think that’s an excellent motto and one that we should all embrace as leaders and as individuals. I suspect that most people will agree that preparedness is a good idea – until they contemplate actually preparing. It’s the old saw about alligators and the swamp. Over the past several years, we’ve encountered a number of reasons for taking care of the urgent business of today before taking care of preparing for tomorrow. I’m going to take a look at some of those reasons – at the case against preparedness. Continue reading

Left of X – Reprise

By Guy Higgins

At a recent meeting of the Colorado Preparedness Advisory Council, I mentioned that I had posted on “Left of X.” The council chairwoman observed that, “We call than left of boom.” Well, that got me to thinking. It really isn’t left of boom.

X is when something “starts” that will result in boom (that would be bad things happening). There is an interval between X and boom – and that interval needs to be considered. In my original post on Left of X, I emphasized the importance of being prepared and able to act before the archer shoots the arrow (Left of X), but I also mentioned that it remains important to be able to “shoot the arrow.” That’s right of X but left of boom. Granted, there may not be too much time between the two. Continue reading

Left of “X”

By Guy Higgins

A long time ago, in the old days, when I was actively involved in considering things like ship defense systems, we would talk about the two options that existed to respond to an attack. You could “shoot the arrow,” or you could “shoot the archer.” In general, shooting the arrow is a hard thing – they’re small, hard to see and they move fast. Archers, on the other hand are easier to see, slower and easier to hit. The problem, of course is that you don’t always know if the archer is a bad guy until it’s too late and you wind up having to shoot the arrow. Continue reading

Competition Doesn’t Happen on a Level Playing Field

By Guy Higgins

On the first of September, SpaceX, the commercial space launch company founded by Elon Musk was conducting prelaunch tests of a rocket scheduled for a satellite launch on September 3rd. An anomaly occurred,, and the rocket exploded destroying the payload (for the non-space folks, payloads destined for orbit run into the hundreds of millions of dollars). Rocket explosions are always spectacular, and if you’re as old as I am, you recall black and white TV showing spectacular failure after spectacular failure in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. You may also have seen film footage of spectacular failures of Werner von Braun’s V-2 tests. Spectacular failures are part of the business. Continue reading

Internet of Things – The Risk Isn’t Just to Security

By Guy Higgins

There are an increasing number of articles in the business and technical press about two inter-related topics – Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data (the analytic community, not I, capitalize the moniker). Basically, the thrusts of the articles are:

  • IoT (The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data) – The potential for productivity increases is enormous, possibly the advent of a new industrial revolution
  • Big Data (the analysis of massive amounts of data in the belief that it will yield highly profitable insights) – The analysis of the data that is available or becoming available through the IoT, and Internet data collection, can yield enormous increases in both salable services and consumer insight.

Continue reading

Preparedness in the Cyber World

By Guy Higgins

Verizon recently published their 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR). The report analyzed just under 80,000 cyber-security incidents that resulted in 2,122 actual data breaches as reported by 70 different law-enforcement and cyber-security agencies. At first blush, it might seem that there were relatively few data breaches, but the rough odds of experiencing an actual data breach are one in forty – not very good odds when the cost of a data breach is high in both dollars and reputation. Continue reading

Finding Problems – Big Ones and Little Ones

By Guy Higgins

I recently read Michael Roberto’s book, Know What You Don’t Know. Spoiler Alert!! The core message from the book is that it’s more important for leaders to be able to find problems than it is for leaders to be able to solve problems.

This sounds like a genuine “Duh!” But it’s actually extremely important. Obviously, you have to find a problem before you can solve it – right? That would be good. What about those problems that erupt full-blown into the middle of your operations? NASA’s Challenger disaster was one of those – a BIG problem that took center stage on live TV in front of millions. It was a problem that, after the fact, was preceded by lots and lots and lots of little problems. Continue reading

The Solution to Data Breaches – Technology?

By Guy Higgins

Data breaches have been making headlines on a regular basis over the past couple of years. Target, Home Depot and the Federal Government Office of Personnel Management are just three of the organizations that have experienced massive data breaches. The Ponemon Institute reports that there are hundreds of thousands of cyber attacks annually. Obviously data breaches are a major and growing problem.

I recently read a blog titled, “Turning to technology to prevent data breaches.” I was intrigued by the title because I don’t believe in “silver bullet” answers, and this seemed to imply that some technology would be a silver-bullet answer to the problem. Continue reading

Small- and Medium-size Businesses: What is Your Cyber Risk?

By Guy Higgins

With the massive data breach created by the recent hack into the sensitive records of the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), cyber risks are receiving significant media attention. The question for small- and medium sized businesses is, “Am I vulnerable?”

In a word, yes. Small- and medium-sized businesses are right in the sweet spot for malicious hackers, and perhaps even more at risk for IT system “glitches” and “employee-caused” data breaches. These are three very different categories of problems: Continue reading

Knowledge Continuity

By Guy Higgins

The knowledge that resides in your company – both in your people and in your processes – is one of your most important assets. The loss of this knowledge at a critical time could cripple your company. It is extremely important to plan for Knowledge Continuity.

Knowledge Continuity planning needs to be done from an integrated perspective – covering both planning to maintain company knowledge assets during times of normal operation (business as usual) and during disruptions (business as unusual).

Knowledge Continuity also needs to be considered along three distinct “dimensions”: Continue reading