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It’s Time to have a “Talk” with your GIS

How long have you allowed your GIS to just skate by doing what you asked for and not really pushing the limits and meeting its true potential?  This time of year many of us are having those same conversations with our kids as we get ready for another year of school.  Some of those conversations are ones around reaching for the stars or focusing on your strengths.  Your GIS data is no different.  Now is the time to really evaluate the potential your GIS has once it realizes it has no limits. Here are a few tips to help prepare you for your “Talk…” Take a deep look at your data and really think about what information you have at your fingertips.  Is it functional for your crews in the field to take with them and optimize the way they work? Put on your creative thinking cap and think about the possibilities—do you explore putting information like voltage data into the map?  Are there other pieces of information that visualizing the location would assist in solving work challenges you face each day? Remember, think about what is your true business problem you are trying to solve and can your GIS data have the potential to get you there? But be cautious and to not overcomplicate your data.  Have a solid base map without additional layers that clutter the map and slow the performance. Most importantly, ensure your data is accurate and if not take measures to get it there. Just remember that just like in parenting you are not […]
July 20th, 2015|Blog
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    Swimming Upstream :: A New Year of Information Security Threats

Swimming Upstream :: A New Year of Information Security Threats

Regardless of size, from a “Mom and Pop Shop” to a Fortune 500 company, we are all vulnerable to cybercrime. At the beginning of each year, hundreds of security focused websites predict the biggest threats of the upcoming attack season. As I research this information, I can’t help but notice how wide ranging they are. Here’s a sampling from Websense: “Your refrigerator is not an IT security threat, industrial sensors are”: Experts are now focusing on the increasing attacks on businesses’ Internet of Things (IoT) and not just consumer products such as someone hacking your smart fridge. From a business standpoint, the areas of exposure are greater now than ever before with extensive network connected devices…And the IoT can bring extensive vulnerability. Don’t worry about someone hacking your fridge and spoiling your milk, rather worry about someone gaining access to your company’s network. That’s where the money is so that is truly the focus of cybercriminals. “You are only who your phone says you are”: A growing threat is authentication and spoofing. Cybercriminals are finding new ways to access your information…and they are getting very good at it. A point to consider is that more often than not, the data on your phone isn’t necessarily what the criminals want…It is the avenues the phone opens up that is of value. If you lost your phone today, how easy would it be for the hacker to access items such as a DropBox folder where you save all of your financial […]
February 3rd, 2015|Blog

The Need for Continuous Vulnerability Management

Let’s face it, vulnerabilities happen. Vendors find bugs in their software which, for the most part, need to be fixed. We refer to the process of updating software to fix these vulnerabilities as “software patching.”
November 5th, 2014|Blog

FCC Special Access Data Collection

The FCC is requesting that a Special Access Data Collection be completed by rural LECs and CLECs. A number of rural LECs may only be required to complete Section G to certify that the Data Collection request does not apply to them. However, if your LEC provides a Special Access circuit in a price cap area, you will need to complete the Special Access Data Collection request. Because most CLECs are Providers in a price cap area, your CLEC will most likely need to complete the Data Collection request. If you are required to provide information, you will be providing information that was billed for all of 2013. The Data Collection request is due by December 15, 2014. Below are a number of documents that provide information regarding the Special Access Data Collection. The Data Collection FAQ document has many questions and answers. Hopefully these documents will help determine what is required of your rural LEC or CLEC. Data Collection FAQ Data Collection Order on Reconsideration Data Collection Protective Order Data Collection Decision Tree FCC Launches Data Collection Web Portal Data Collection Instructions One FAQ asks if there are penalties for not filing. The answer is: “Failure to comply with these data reporting requirements may subject parties to monetary forfeitures of up to $160,000 for each violation or each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1,575,000 for any single act or failure to act that is a continuing violation.” If you are required to complete the Special Access Data Collection, you will not want to miss the December 15, 2014 deadline. After some research, NISC has found that some companies bill Special Access through CABs, others bill through Customer Care & Billing and others maintain information through […]
October 20th, 2014|Blog
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    Keep Information Security in the Forefront of Your Mind Always

Keep Information Security in the Forefront of Your Mind Always

Why is it that it takes events like the latest Heartbleed openSSL bug to make us stop and think about security? The NISC Security Team had so many phone calls and e-mails from technical as well as non-technical people, we lost count. If you haven’t heard or read about the Heartbleed openSSL bug, check out this site for a little background on the vulnerability.
April 30th, 2014|Blog

Winter Weather – I am Kind of a Big Deal – You Know

It’s early December and I am sitting in my office—it’s a nice 57 degrees outside, however, this time tomorrow it will be below freezing. With this drop in temperature most of the country is getting ready for some type of precipitation, whether snow, rain or somewhere in-between. Now is a good time to review your Outage Settings and verify you have your Winter Storm Settings ready to go. As you know, getting hit with freezing rain and sleet can be a real mess and having your system configured to handle the outages created in this type of event versus a summer thunderstorm can make a big difference. Check out these four links on the NISC Community to set your OMS storm settings and learn about some new features as well: Communicating Outage Information and Status (iVUE 27 only) The First Big Outage Event of the Summer Tips for Managing Major OMS Events Tips for Managing Major OMS Events – Part 2 of 2 Stay safe and warm out there and as always if you need any support or assistance, our team is just a phone call away. Current weather alerts for 12/04/2013 at
December 4th, 2013|Blog

Be the One that Got Away

Most of you may know the story: Person receives an email from their financial institution. It looks like their usual emails, complete with logo and official looking verbiage, so the person clicks the link and logs in to what they believe is the institution’s website. And the security breach begins. The link within the email was spoofed and not going to the official institution website, and now the cyber criminals have the person’s login info and access to the accounts. The thing is, it isn’t just a “story”…it is a real life occurrence and it is happening more and more each day. The intimidating thing is phishing is only one element of the overall threat landscape that is a reality today for your organization. You need to protect your customers’ information as well as your own organizations’ integrity…and now is the time to have a game plan ready to do just that. To protect your sensitive information, you will need a sound information security program in place and frequently evaluate it to indentify strengths and weaknesses as threats change daily. Staff awareness is perhaps the most important component of your information security architecture. In order to protect your organization adequately, it is imperative to truly understand all of the threats out there – and there are many – and educate your staff on how to spot them. Understand the vulnerabilities you may have and realize the impact they can have on your business. Talk to others in your industry and share information to better protect yourselves from the various criminal approaches out there. Each criminal has their own unique approach, and sharing experiences with threats you’ve encountered will only help prepare yourself and others on […]
December 2nd, 2013|Blog

This New Gizmo Will Catch Your Eye

Daily, new devices roll out of the “gizmosphere,” hyped with promises big and small.  More often than not, they elicit a “seen-that-done-that,” or “Are they crazy,” reaction. That’s how I felt about Google Glass, the spectacles that promise a usable and wearable network connection.  I ho-hummed the latest Google thing until I watched the Google video and read that the big daddy of Internet newspaper sites, The New York Times, has release a headline app for the device. While most of us will let the hipsters and the tech crowd pay up to $1500 per pair when they hit the market in 2014, the Google Glass functionality should not be overlooked.  Unlike recent Google product splashes, like the now deceased Wave, this is a concept we can all quickly understand. By placing a smart, Bluetooth/wi-fi data transceiver and battery into the temple of the glasses, and a small 640 x 360 display on the upper corner of the glasses frame, Google is launching a new form factor for internet and connected access. Google Glass is voice and temple-touch controlled.  It takes pictures, videos, will send and receive images and short messages.  The first announced Glass app, The New York Times headlines, will deliver headlines. If Glass catches on, it will deliver most of the content and services you now get over a smart phone. And if you’re not a big Google fan, other tech companies have announced their intention of competing with “Google Glass” in this new hardware area.  Your space-on-the-face may be the next are of high tech competition. As I watched the video, it struck me that this is a product that would find a home in the rural utility and rural telecom work.  It doesn’t take a lot of […]
May 13th, 2013|Blog