Friday, November 19, 2010

The risk of failure

Years ago the Basel Accords was promulgated to allow banks in Europe, who better assess financial risk, to keep less monetary reserves. In other words, if the bank could have a better handle on their information so they could methodically assess risk of delinquency, then they would be required to kept smaller reserves. In essence, the more the banks knew about their loan portfolio the less risk of failure and the less money they needed to keep in case of a problem. The upside was that they could use more of the money they took in to do more loans and make more money so information could have real business value.

Anyway, I have been watching the Greek and Irish banking crisis for months. Months before that I watched as the Bank of Iceland hung in the balance. I still thought they used fish as currency in Iceland. Anyway, I’m wondering if they all ignored the Basel Accords or did bad analysis or maybe it just failed.

Are You kidding me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rerouted through China. Really???

If Information is the lifeblood of our economy, then computers are the citadel in which the information nuggets come to securely rest until needed. Wars are now fought across transmission lines and the front line is the internet. If you don’t believe me read the article entitled “US web traffic rerouted via China Telecom” covered in the BBC Technology News on November 17, 2010, in which it recounts how “traffic to some highly sensitive US websites was briefly rerouted via China.” Traffic that was destined for the US Senate, Secretary of Defense, NASA and Department of Commerce found itself in China.

Wow. How in the heck does that happen?

Are You kidding Me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We need responsible gate keepers.

Weeks ago, there was a leak of thousands of classified military documents on a website called Wikileaks. Mr Assange, the guy (a former hacker) who runs WikiLeaks fashions himself a modern day information “Robin Hood”—giving information gold to the average guy who would otherwise not have such access. In this case, a military guy (currently being court-martialed for this and other breaches of classified military secrets) ALLEGDEDLY gave Wikileaks tens of thousands of pages of classified documents which were then published to the world. Now that is serious “generosity.” Besides fame, news coverage, and being vaulted onto the international media stage, why did Assange make such a “generous” gesture? (At this point, my kids would say ‘dad stop being so sarcastic’) Take from the information rich and give to the information poor. Sounds great. But wait, there is more to this story. In the documents that were exposed was information about folks who were working clandestinely with the US military to deal with combatants in Iraq or Afghanistan, etc. When Wikileaks shared the stolen classified information, it not only shared military secrets but exposed the identity of locals helping the US military. To the extent that any “helper” was assassinated for his trouble in helping the US military, do you think their families consider Mr. Assagne a Robin Hood? I consider him wholly irresponsible with information. In this world where information flows, sometimes too freely, I want gate keepers who are responsible and thoughtful about the consequences of their actions. Hey Mr. Assange, you’re no Robin Hood in my book. Are you kidding me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More FBI Computer Woes

Every so often I get the opportunity to speak or write about the FBI case management systems and its tale of unending failures. The saga continues.
The Oct. 21 Wall Street Journal story entitled “Audit Sees More FBI Computer Woes”, noted that the FBI “struggles with technology are expected to continue to eat up millions of dollars and still leave agents without a seamless electronic system to manage investigations.” Yikes. This issue has been going on for years and we have spent hundreds of millions. I've got an idea, could the FBI hire Kahn Consulting? Maybe we could help. But if we can’t, at least Kahn Consulting could benefit from this seemingly unending money pit. According the article the tech problems “have potential consequences for efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, [particularly when the domestic terrorist threat is growing]. The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks exposed poor information sharing by the FBI and other agencies. Is my recollection failing me or was that the reason we have Homeland Security. Yikes.

Are you kidding me.