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Healthcare for all?

October 11, 2012 at 8:39 am PST

As we all just witnessed the presidential debates last Wednesday, the hot topic was Obamacare.  I knew this act was aimed at decreasing the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the overall costs of healthcare.  These high level goals sounded great until I bumped into an article this week that some popular casual dining establishments will no longer offer full time work schedules to employees starting in 2014 aimed to help address the cost implications health care reform will have on their business.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare was signed into law back in March 2010 with multiple provisions to be enacted over a 10 year period. A provision starting January 2014 states that companies with over 50 employees will be required to provide health insurance to employees working over 30 hours a week.  There is a punishment of $3,000 per each uncovered employee for companies who do not follow the law. Read More »

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Securing BGP sounds great but is there a tradeoff in terms of router performance?

October 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm PST

A primary concern of any network administrator when configuring new IOS features is the potential impact the enabling of new features will have on router performance including CPU utilization and memory usage.

It is fully expected that the layering of additional features, in this case BGP security features, will undoubtedly have an adverse impact on the available memory of an IOS router. But, based on our testing, the results were not quite what we expected… Read More »

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Elon University underpins campus safety with Cisco Video Surveillance

Nearly every campus across the country faces an ongoing challenge with helping provide a safe and secure learning environment both for students and educators alike.   Elon University in North Carolina has already taken steps to address this, by recognising that deploying a fully IP-based surveillance infrastructure can create a new partnership model between IT and security.  This new collaborative approach uses the converged network as a platform for deploying and managing video cameras across the campus.

In this video, Elon’s assistant vice president and CIO Chris Fulkerson shares some key insights into how productivity of security staff and the campus police force has increased since deploying a Cisco IP video surveillance solution.

“Every parent’s main concern is security for their college student. This Cisco Video Surveillance System has enabled us to multiply our security and police force by giving us eyes in multiple locations all at the same time. At Elon, the surveillance system has proven to be a real deterrent to crime. Our old system was very labor intensive to install and operate.  With this new system it takes just 10 seconds to deploy a camera.  We are excited that it gives the power and flexibility directly to police to operate the system instead of requiring so much IT intervention.  We are now free to leverage our investment and integrate surveillance with the rest of our physical security systems.” 

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Injecting the Python Interpreter Via GDB

Recently I was evaluating the security of an application sandbox and I needed a way to inject some kind of interface into the sandboxed application in order to explore the possibilities available from that context. The main objective was to be able to easily explore file and system call access to determine what was allowed/denied. I decided the most suitable interface I could use for this exploration would be the Python interactive shell.

The first step I needed to take was to get the Python library (libpython) loaded into the address space of the target application. The easiest way that I could think to do this was to utilize the call command in the Gnu Debugger (GDB). GDB’s call command performs a debugee procedure call by injecting a new thread into the debugee and controlling the startup state. Since GDB already performs the necessary steps, I could take advantage of this by issuing the command:

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Managing Communications During Customer-Impacting Incidents

No matter how you prepare, you never know how or when it will begin. The phone rings and sixty seconds later a sense of dread emerges. It grows slowly, peaking just as you hang up the phone. Sitting back in your chair, you take a deep breath and turn your mind to all the customers, executives, and journalists who will soon know what you know.

You and I both have a sense of the work involved in managing customer-impacting data exposures, privacy breaches, or malicious attacks. These are high pressure, high profile incidents that demand the very best response team—a team that includes technical and non-technical expertise.

Working as I do with Cisco security and incident response teams, I sit alongside some great people who understand the value of having a professional communicator at the table. With a technical response underway, the communicator can do what they do best—summarize the topic, identify impacted audiences, assess their needs, and craft the required messaging. Regardless of their department—public relations, employee communications, customer communications, or marketing—these people will be critical to sustaining customer relationships and protecting your organization’s reputation.

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