Saturday, April 25, 2009

IT Security Issues at Department of VA.

Case study Questions:

Some of VA’s IT security issues, were such as:
1- Department of VA did not having clear rules and regulations on handling governing transfer of sensitive clients personal data. And control on where and where not, data can be transported.
2-Lack of electronic data inscription, that would further secure data from unauthorized access.
3-Lack of security measures at VA’s Office, that would have prevented the data to be accessed easily. That would have been storage of data in a special format requiring special software, and only accessible through department secure server connection and only by authorized users.

VA did not manage the security bridge well. News on the stolen computer did not reach the chain of command properly and on time.
The incident was reported to the manager, but upper managers noticed of the incident through ‘office gossip’ and indirect meetings, clearly exhibiting organization’s lack communication and contingency plans for such crises.
Finally, it took VA office two weeks before authorities and FBI were informed. That was a long time for starting an investigation.

As the case states, utilization of a special data handling software that would be accessible solely through VA’s server based software with passwords would be an effective way to control access to sensitive information. In addition, having a contingency plans in case of security bridge is essential and can help minimize the damage.
They also need to place Standard Operating Procedures that define extend and manners of handling sensitive data outside the organization.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poor Call-Center Service Angers Indians, Too

With better-paid, better-trained operators working for foreign call centers, Indian consumers are often frustrated by the service they get.
By Mehul Srivastava.
From:, April 24, 2009

This article interestingly points out the quality of service a customer may expect when calling a “call-center” that is outsourced to India. Article describes how, many telecommunication customers are unsatisfied from the quality of services when they are connected to an Indian service center. The issue has reached to the point that some American companies like Delta (DAL) has pooled its call center from India. Similarly Indians are speaking out too, Indian customers are unsatisfied with the service they get from the service centers in India. They complain from poor quality of service and untrained technicians. They also know that employees of call-centers who work in ‘Noida’ (a town 20 kilometers outside New Delhi) for internal Indian customers get paid less, use outdated equipments and get less training compared to their counterparts who work for a western company in the same town. “It makes economic sense, of course; foreign clients pay more than Indian clients do, sometimes by as much as 50% for total contracts, which are often decided by the number of ‘seats’ that an operator has to fill to service a contract.”(1)

Even though broadband Internet, fast and cost effective telecommunication technology has paved the way for globalization and resource utilization from distance, it still has quality issues. The human factor and local skills still plays a great role in success of many aspect of a business, and cannot be ignored.

I recall contacting a service center for resolving a connection issue I had with my XYZ internet router. I was connected to a customer service rep which I Initially thought was a robot-computer, but then I noticed that it was a live person. I noticed he had ‘an electronically altered accent’ that I had hard time understand! He refused to say where he was located and was distressed that I could not understand his robotic accent!
Then I thought, if I would hear his Indian or Malaysian … accent, I would understand him much better, with less frustration (maybe because I have an accent too)…
In my opinion technology is useful but lets not over do it!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Simply secure" with Apple.

One of the things that I enjoy about using UNIX OS is the security and protection from viruses.

Before I became a MAC user I had many incidences of virus infection on my PC. Once I even received a message from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, telling me "...Stop infecting our servers... and hacking into our network...' I paraphrased. While I had never even visit their website!
Next thing I knew, was that my computer was long infected and was being used to infect others. Finally when the antivirus software detected it ... the computer went mad. After a long battle with the virus and trying many software to cleat it, my PC was operable again but its window messages were mixed up!
How? For example, when it was asking me " Do you want to save this document? Cancel/OK
OK was cancel, and Cancel was OK!!!!
Imaging what did I go through before I figured that out... I think I started loosing my hair then...
I even tried to donate that PC to the Salvation Army, but they did not take it!

For a few years I was computer free at home and lived a happy life until my wife (who was my girlfriend at that time and was and is a Techie) lured me to get a computer again.

This time I converted to Apple and I am very happy about that. My computer is 5 years old now and still works like a charm .

Here is a little article on apple security for OS X.

Simply secure.
The Mac offers your organization a simple way to protect critical data and systems company-wide, with out-of-the-box security that’s easy to maintain and customize. Built on a proven, fully-compliant UNIX foundation, Mac OS X Leopard and Mac OS X Leopard Server provide layers of protection that are built-in, not bolted-on. This means your organization gets in-depth security at all levels of operation—from hardware to operating system to applications.
The Mac is easy to keep secure with under-the-hood technologies that require minimal IT management—providing crucial security while easing the burden of managing systems across the enterprise. With built-in features such as automatic software updates, application-based firewall, strong encryption tools, and integrated Internet security, systems are secure right out of the box. For easy customization, the Mac delivers robust tools that help IT administrators control system and server safety in just a matter of clicks.


Marrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch needed to update its It services to keep up with the competition and maintain its IT gained revenue and services.

Since online data management and service had great revenue for the company and the trend in business was moving fast toward use of internet. It was prudent for Marrill Lynch to consider a strong IT as part of their business strategy

It appears that Andrew Brown had finally convinced the management that selling the technology was a money saving strategy for the company but it does not appear that Marrill Lynch eventually had solved its IT issues nor its economical situations.
As a Merrill lynch service user, I do not think their web services are as intuitive or useful as Fidelity for example. And as we all know, the company has been in a grave financial problem recently …

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The penny pincher's tool

While working at Amgen I noticed a unique software used by our purchasing group and wondered how help the company while we have a dozen other softwares doing almost the same job for the company?!
Recently I came across this article which directly answered my question. Now it make more sense why Amgen is using services of this company.

Software maker Ariba helps Fortune 500 companies suss out waste, cut costs.
By Jia Lynn Yang, writer-reporterApril 10, 2009: 10:45 AM ETNEW YORK (Fortune)

It used to be that only a few CEOs were known for their obsessive love of cost-cutting -- guys like Mark Hurd at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500) and Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500). But these days, with revenues everywhere grinding to a halt, everyone's getting into the act. Not surprisingly, a new breed of enterprise software has emerged to help the bean counters. Ariba (ARBA), for example, sells software that helps companies track where they spend money. In your typical big organization, there are thousands of people making purchases individually, and they might be using different systems to track those expenses, especially if there have been acquisitions of other companies over time. The simple act of finding out how much the company spends on ballpoint pens, for instance, can be riddled with red tape. Here's where Ariba comes in. The company can consolidate all that information into one place, so it becomes clear that instead of using seven different suppliers for pens, the company could just use one. Then Ariba sets up a reverse auction for suppliers to bid for business. Or if someone wants to order a huge shipment of pens but that spending would put the company over-budget, Ariba's software prevents the purchase. Voila -- savings. "It's the one area in technology that companies are spending money on because they can make a difference in their profitability," says Mickey North Rizza, an analyst with AMR Research. While software giants Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) and SAP (SAP) offer similar services, Ariba is the largest software provider that focuses exclusively on what the company calls "spend management." It works with more than half of the FORTUNE 500. Like (CRM), Ariba uses the so-called "cloud computing" subscriber model where clients essentially rent access to Ariba's software and can access it online. Analysts at Gartner project that while IT spending overall will drop by nearly 4% this year, "cloud computing" revenues will rise 21.3% to $46.4 billion. Last quarter, Ariba's subscription revenues were up more than 70% from the year before; total revenues were up 12%. Diebold (DBD), the company that makes ATMs and voting machines, has worked with Ariba since 2001. In 2006, Diebold set out a goal of saving $100 million in the next three years. Using Ariba's tools, the company found savings in literally every corner: from office supplies to travel expenses to the supply base for manufacturing ATMs. Before using Ariba, Diebold had trouble making sense of its purchases, which were tracked by different software platforms throughout the company. Ariba's software became "key to understanding who our suppliers were," says Michael Rager, a procurement executive at Diebold. "Its like having a black box that takes English, Portuguese and Chinese and spits out a standard language that everyone can understand." Other examples: Ariba recently helped a major fast food chain consolidate its pickle purchases. And it also worked with a bank to renegotiate its temporary labor costs. Ariba's software revealed the company was spending $40 million on 13 different suppliers with about 30 different contracts. After on online auction, the company reduced that total cost to $30 million. But what happens when the economy rebounds? Bob Calderoni, Ariba's CEO, points out that even after a company finds a new supplier who's helping it save money, there has to be a system in place to make sure employees stick to that supplier. "This never ends," says Calderoni. "As time goes on, [people] use more of it, rather than less of it." Thrift is in, and maybe it's here to stay.

Work Cited:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blockbuster vs. Netflix Which Will Win Out?

Q2: Block buster was the business leader for movie rentals for a long time until Netflix came up with a new business model and introduced an online Video/DVD rentals for lower cost and no late fees. Netflix was a forerunner (First in business) and rapidly gained ground on movie rental business. Netflix could efficiently reach customers and conveniently deliver movies to their doors with less overhead cost and bigger variety of choices. Putting Blockbuster stores in a tough position to complete. Blockbuster and Wall Mart both tried to complete by following suit but have not been successful. And now with coming of downloadable movies through other “Network providers” and “Apple” competition has become more complex and vital for Blockbuster.

Q4: Netflix has been so far quite successful in its business strategy, compare to ‘mom an pops stores’ and Blockbuster for that matter. However, with rapid improvement of digital technology and movie on demand they may face some challenges and may loose some of their business to newer technology such as offering of downloadable and writable DVDs.
So far Netflix has the brand name recognition, clientele and subscribers that can follow the company with any new method of movie delivery that Netflix can offer. Company just needs to be quick and efficient in offering downloadable movie option, and not to loose much of the market share.

Q5: Chances of succeeding for Blockbuster or Netflix on this business depends on how fast they can capture larger market share with the help of the latest technology, who can offer more options and availability of new releases as well as hard to find movies...
They need to be on top of their ‘technology game’ and invest on new means of delivery as well as movie rental per see. IT plays a great role in their business and their viability depends on how adaptive they are and how creative they are in using information technology to their advantage.

New Use of this blog.

I will be using this blog spot for a while to post some information and assignment for my Business Information System Course. giving my opinion on some case studies, etc,
So it may not contain much of my fussy philosophical thoughts and photos.I hope it still have some substance to offer.