Japanese Gov’t Constructs 3 Bridges in Cape Mt.

first_imgThe Japanese Government has begun the construction of three major concrete bridges in three districts in Grand Cape Mount County.The  bridges under construction are in Kaylia, Porkpah District, Tallah in Commonwealth District and Diah in Tewor District.The bridge projects are being funded by the Japanese Government through its Commodity Value Fund, CVF.When completed, the double-span reinforced concrete bridges will increase access, promote trade and lead to reduction in prices of basic commodities in the county, especially during the rainy season.“This is a glorious opportunity, and we are very happy. God has answered our prayers to solve the bridge problem over the Mannie River,” Elder Momo Fahnbulleh of Diah Community said during a tour of the projects last weekend.Elder Fahnbulleh also commended the government through the County Administration for selecting Diah Community as the beneficiary of one of the bridges.“From monkey bridge, we are now moving toward a modern concrete bridge”, the Elder exclaimed.Engineers say construction work on the Diah Bridge is well on course with more than fifty percent of the work already completed.In Porkpah District, the Kaylia Bridge will link the district with other major parts of the county, including the mineral-rich Western Cluster Belt, which covers the Mano River,  Congo, Kongbor and Dambala.Kayliah Town Chief, Madam Hawa Vaye, said the bridge is their primary focus right now. “When it is completed, our children will have a free way to and from school across the Kaylia River. It will ease the transportation problem, especially during the rainy season.”Town Chief Vaye said the rains and the resulting difficult road conditions usually trigger increase in prices of basic commodities.  For his part, Mr. Lawrence Brown, Commissioner of Porkpa Administrative District, expressed happiness for the project, describing it as a relief to his community.Meanwhile, Grand Cape Mount County Superintendent Imam Paasewe has expressed the hope for quality and timely completion of the projects.Superintendent Paasewe warned that it was no time for delay and that he and his team would ensure compliance by contractors working on all three bridges.Mr. Passawe spoke when he convened a meeting with contractors in Senji over the weekend.He said the meeting was intended to discuss issues arising from the projects and also set a timeline on each deliverable relating to the projects.The Superintendent then lauded the Japanese government for sponsoring the construction of the bridges and praised the government of Liberia for its support to the people of Grand Cape Mount.Two Liberian owned construction companies,  namely Associated Builders Contractor Inc. (ABC) and Quality Engineering & Standard Technology, (QUEST Inc), were hired to carry out the projects.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Guyana at the crossroads

first_img“No-confidence motions” are an integral aspect of parliamentary democracy, since it tests the legitimacy of the government by ensuring they have majority support in the Assembly. It was entrenched in our Constitution in Article 106 (6) and (7). But to hear representatives of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), including the Prime Minister, tell it, it is tantamount to an illegitimate overthrow of the Government. But as the courts deal with the rearguard action by the PNC/AFC combine to hold on to power, we need to grapple with the fundamental contradictions of our political system that sustain their actions.Way back in 1963, the Secretary of the State for the Colonies stated the problem concisely, after the leaders of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP); PNC and United Force (UF) could not reach agreement on a way forward on constitutional measures after ethnic violence had wracked the country:“…the Premier (Dr Jagan) told me that if the British troops were withdrawn, the situation would get completely out of control. The root of the trouble lies entirely in the development of party politics along racial lines….Both parties (PPP and PNC) have, for their political ends, fanned the racial emotions of their followers, with the result that each has come to be regarded as the champion of one race and the enemy of the other.“The Africans accuse the Government party of governing in the interests only of the Indians, and demand a share in political decisions. On the other side, the Indians accuse the Police, which is mainly African, of partiality towards the Africans and demand the creation of a separate defence force, recruited more extensively from the Indian community, to counterbalance the Police.”In its proposals, the British pointed out that there was the need, in general, “to protect minorities” and in particular, to address “the racial nature of the problem”. For the latter problem, “the Government should endeavour to rule with the general consent of the population … (and a new armed force) …should be constituted before Independence by the Governor, who would endeavour to ensure that recruits were not drawn predominantly from any one racial group.”The British recognised that under present conditions, neither the PPP or PNC would be able “to increase appreciably its following among the other racial groups”. They then submitted, “…it must be our deliberate aim to stimulate a radical change in the present pattern of racial alignments. It was therefore my duty to choose the electoral system which would be most likely to encourage inter-party coalitions and multi-racial groupings”. Finally, they concluded, “proportional representation would be likely to result in the formation of a coalition government of parties supported by different races, and that this would go some way towards reducing the present tension.”Sadly, while the British had a very good diagnosis of what ailed Guyana, their prescription of “proportional representation” alone was inadequate to fulfil the stated goals. The proposals were fatally flawed because of the British’s prior agreement with the Americans to remove Dr Jagan and the PPP from office. There were no structural changes that went to the nature of the conflict – PR, on its own, was simply a device to allow the PNC and the UF to coalesce and elbow out the PPP. As a consequence of the “Mexican stand-off” that has existed over the last half century, Guyanese politics has become so divisive that today the country teeters on the precipice of becoming a failed state.In terms of its passage towards democracy, Guyana has now gone backwards by every objective standard, after the gains after 1992 under the PPP regime, which replaced the PNC 28-year dictatorship. The PPP, under President Bharrat Jagdeo, for instance, had worked to eliminate the US$2.1 billion debt that had crippled the economy and returned sustained growth. The refusal of the PNC/AFC coalition to adhere to democratic norms puts Guyana at risk of sliding back into anarchy and poverty.All Guyanese must practise militant democracy to prevent this possibility, but also insist that going forward our democratic institutions are inclusive of all groups.last_img read more

Ireland repopulating faster than any other small nation

first_imgDUBLIN, Ireland – Inside a north Dublin warehouse, 15,000 cardboard boxes containing the documents of Ireland’s most recent census rise on new shelving from the concrete floor. The sight is nondescript, but the collated and computer-scanned documents contain evidence the Republic of Ireland is the fastest repopulating small country in the world. Findings from the April 2006 census, which are being published in a series of releases this summer, showed that in the four years since a previous survey, the Irish population swelled by 322,645, roughly split between immigrants and births. That lifted the total population to 4.2 million. No European Union country has a younger population: Statistically, the Irish have been barely aging at all, with the median age staying close to 33. The country will remain young for decades, the experts say, and escape the “graying” fate of the rest of Europe. Further, demographers now predict that the population could rise to more than 5 million in about a dozen years, and to 6 million within a generation. With a growing population in Northern Ireland, the island could match its largest population – more than 8million before the devastating 19th-century famine that prompted waves of emigration – by 2032. Edgar Morgenroth, a member of a panel of experts who predict Irish population growth, said the famine started a diminishing of the population that lasted to the late 1960s. “It was only in the 1990s that our population stabilized and started to grow, rapidly,” he said. The population might reach the 19th-century level, but it will look very different. The population changes have been uneven geographically. New houses stretch in a wide arc from north Dublin to the west of the city. But the city’s core, despite being replenished by an influx of immigrants, has lost residents to the suburbs and to once unimaginably distant commuting centers in the midlands. In the south, the city of Cork shrank while the county grew. Eunan King, an economist at NCB Stockbrokers in Dublin, has long argued that a rising population – more workers and more consumers – will help sustain Ireland’s remarkable economic renaissance of the past dozen years. The largest increases in immigration since 2002 have been from Poland, Lithuania and Nigeria. The latest census showed 63,276 Poles living permanently in Ireland, up from 2,124 four years earlier. In some small districts in Dublin, Limerick and Cork, the census showed, 52 percent of residents were non-Irish, said Aidan Punch, a senior census statistician. Ireland permits all residents, not just Irish citizens, to cast ballots in local elections. That has helped immigrants win seats in local councils. The mayor of the midlands town of Portlaoise, Rotimi Adebari, is from Nigeria. To encourage assimilation, the government recently named a minister for integration, Conor Lenihan. The department was organized, Lenihan said in an interview, to show Ireland’s commitment to share and develop its new wealth with new arrivals. “We have chosen a midpoint between the U.S. and Europe in terms of our economic success,” he said. “I think we can choose a midpoint in integration as well.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Foundation brings back after-school sports

first_img 165Let’s talk business.Catch up on the business news closest to you with our daily newsletter. Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WHITTIER – The Lowell Joint Education Foundation is bringing back after-school sports to Rancho-Starbuck Intermediate School this fall. The two-year-old foundation has handed a $24,000 check to the superintendent for the after-school sports program, which will include volleyball, basketball, soccer, cross country and track. The program was cut in recent years due to the district’s financial problems. Foundation officials have also raised enough money to bring back the district’s Academic Excellence Day next March, which will honor outstanding students in grades 6-8. For more on this story, pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Whittier Daily News.last_img read more

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino sympathises with Newcastle counterpart John Carver’s situation

first_img John Carver Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino sympathises with opposite number John Carver, although he admits the under-pressure interim Newcastle manager was well aware what he was in for.A number of fans will boycott the Magpies’ match at St James’ Park on Sunday in a show of defiance against owner Mike Ashley as another disappointing season nears its conclusion.Carver has endured a tumultuous reign at the helm after taking over from Alan Pardew with Newcastle without a win since February, and Pochettino understands the trials associated with making the step up to management.“In your career, sometimes maybe you are up and sometimes you are down. You suffer a lot when things are not good, so for that reason I care a lot about my colleague,” said the Argentine.“I think we understand that when you put your face in front on the touchline and you are a head coach or a manager, you are responsible.”The likelihood of Carver maintaining his position beyond the end of the campaign is looking increasingly in doubt, and Pochettino moved to offer some words of advice to the Newcastle boss.He said: “If you want to keep your place, you need to stay behind [the scenes]. The manager, the head coach, needs to be brave because it is not an easy job.“When the good things happen, sometimes it is good to hear ‘good job’, ‘good manager’, ‘good man’.“When the problems arrive, it is difficult to be in a good mood like me today. But it is important to be brave and to be calm and to be clever because you need to understand this is football.”Pochettino confirmed that goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and right back Kyle Walker remain doubtful for the trip to the North East as Spurs aim to put a disappointing few weeks behind them. 1last_img read more

MOVILLE SCHOOL OPEN DAY

first_imgGaelscoil Cois Feabhail, Carn na Gairbhe, Bun an Phobail, Co. Dhun na nGall/ Carnagarve, Moville are having an Open night/Information evening on Thursday, March 22nd at 7pm.Any parent with a child starting school in September is welcome to come along.“View our fantastic school, ask questions, talk to teachers, meet other parents and generally get a feel for the school and learn the benefits for your child. Take your little one along so they can see it for themselves,” said a spokesman for the school. For further details Fón/Phone: 07493 85762 MOVILLE SCHOOL OPEN DAY was last modified: March 16th, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

A Green that keeps giving

first_imgPASADENA – In 1970, a group of well-to-do Pasadena ladies parlayed a genteel interest in flower-arranging, antiques and the decorative arts into The Green House, a store whose profits have since benefited Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles to the tune of almost $1 million. Prime among the ladies group was Marjorie Keller Cannell, whose family owned the renowned Cannell and Chaffin furniture store on Wilshire Boulevard, and who always kept the enterprise she founded close to her heart, according to her daughter, Clare Cannell Whitlatch. When Marge Cannell died in 2005 at age 95, she remembered The Green House in her will. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’On Monday, Whitlatch presented the volunteer group with $20,000 in her mother’s memory at the store in Arcade Lane on Green Street. “It’s a little bittersweet, but it brings a nice closure to my mother’s death,” said Whitlatch, who travelled from Visalia for the event. “She wanted that money to go to The Green House, and made sure it happened.” Janice Baker, a former president and 13-year volunteer at The Green House, said Cannell always maintained her interest in the shop “right up to the end,” sending in the Christmas decorations she made every year. “People would come in specially for them – they were a signature item,” Baker said. The group Cannell started hit a few roadblocks along the way. The original shop, its namesake green frame house on East Green Street, was demolished and the shop moved to Haskett Court on California Boulevard in 1980. Increasing costs of doing business forced the shop to close in 1986, but a core group of members came together in 1986 and reopened in the present location. Most of the $20,000 donation will go to The Green House Endowment for Surgical Research at Childrens Hospital, Baker said. But just a little will go to some improvements in the shop. “We’d like new lighting – and a toilet that flushes water every time,” she joked. janette.williams@sgvn.com (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4482 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Public Comments Sought for New I-26 Interchange

first_imgThe N.C. Department of Transportation will be seeking public opinion regarding a proposed new interchange between Interstate 26 and U.S. 74.The project will provide direct connections from I-26 west to U.S. 74 east and from U.S. 74 west to I-26 east. Nearly all work on this project will be completed within existing right of way. The NCDOT is working to complete construction of the interchange improvements prior to the FEI World Equestrian Games being held nearby at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in September 2018.Transportation officials will hold a public meeting from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25, in the Polk Center Auditorium of the Isothermal Community College to begin a month-long period of collecting comments. The meeting at 1255 West Mills Street in Columbus will allow transportation officials to provide information, answer questions and collect comments regarding this project. The public may attend at any time as there will be no scheduled presentation.An opportunity to submit written comments will be provided at the meeting and also may be sent by mail no later than May 25. Contact Kenneth McDowell, Project Engineer, at NCDOT Highway Division 14, 253 Webster Road, Sylva, N.C. 28770 or (828) 586-2141 or kjmcdowell@ncdot.gov for more information.Information and materials can be viewed as they become available at www.NCDOT.gov/projects/public meetingsNCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who wish to participate in the meeting. Anyone requiring special services should contact Jamille Robbins, Human Environment Section at jarobbins@ncdot.gov or at (919) 707-6085 as easy as possible to make arrangements.NCDOT will provide interpretive services upon request for people who do not speak English or have a limited ability to read, speak or understand English. Please request services prior to the meeting by calling 1-800-481-6494.last_img read more

Manuel’s ‘sensible’ budget praised

first_imgSouth African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel (Image: World Economic Forum)Wilma den HartighSouth African economists have commended Finance Minister Trevor Manuel for a responsible and realistic budget in a difficult economic climate, with the consensus that it will give momentum to a slowing economy.In his budget speech to parliament on Wednesday, Manuel reassured South Africans that they would not bear the full burden of the international economic downturn thanks to South Africa’s sound banking system, healthy fiscal position, credible monetary policy and appropriate foreign exchange regulations.Dr Azar Jammine, director and chief economist at Econometrix, described the budget as “sensible” in light of the economic crisis and difficulties ahead.“It exploited the economic climate we are in beautifully,” Jammine said. He said it is also positive that the greatest areas of spending are in housing, community development, education and health.The largest adjustments to spending plans go to poverty reduction. Some R25-billion will go to provincial budgets – mainly for education and health care – while R13-billion will go to social assistance grants. The school nutrition programme gets an extra R4-billion, and R2.5 billion goes to municipalities for basic services.Manuel also announced that, over the next three years, infrastructure grants to municipalities will total R67-billion, and a further R45 billion will be spent on the Breaking New Ground housing programme. Together with investment in roads and public transport, these constitute a considerable expansion of public sector spending.“These are rightly prioritised as part of our response to the current deterioration in employment and economic activity,” Manuel said.Business Unity South Africa (Busa) also endorsed the realistic message of the 2009 budget. Raymond Parsons, deputy CEO of Busa, said the budget is in line with his organisation’s view that a supportive fiscal package is necessary.“This will help cushion the negative impact of the economic downswing on growth and jobs in South Africa,” Parsons said.Busa believes that while it is important to stabilise the economy this year, it is also essential to focus on measures that will help to lay the foundations for the next economic upturn. Parsons said Busa supports the continued infrastructural spending, investment in education and improved health facilities. It also welcomes, in particular, the increase in the VAT threshold.“Small businesses play an essential role in creating job opportunities,” he said.The Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) expressed similar sentiments. It said that the budget accurately recognises the unique challenges of the current context and responds boldly to them.“The Minister of Finance’s Speech dwelt at length on the impact of the current financial crisis on the South African economy and public finances, but moved decisively to ensure that the impact would be ameliorated for South Africans,” said Idasa’s Len Verwey.The budget deficit announcement of 3.8% also attracted much attention. Manuel said that although the budget deficit will rise to 3.8% of GDP next year, debt service costs will remain moderate over the next three years (at about 2.5% of GDP).“This is possible because we have had the courage to make the right choices over the past decade,” he said.Idasa said the deficit of 3.8% is far larger than budget balances proposed in the last decade but nevertheless described it as a “bold, assertive response to the unique challenges of the present”.Busa pointed out that while the deficit-before-borrowing is a little higher than expected, it believes that the budget has been able to combine flexibility and prudence in a manner that is positive for business and consumer confidence.Jac Laubscher, Group Economist at Sanlam, said the budget is very much a response to the global financial and economic crisis. It is also mindful of the adverse impact it will have on the economy and the people of South Africa.Laubscher said that the budget shows less confidence than in recent years because of the uncertainty of when and how the crisis will end. However, he believes that the shift to a more expansionary fiscal policy will be supported by an expansionary monetary policy, together with a more competitive exchange rate. In time these should have the desired effect. He is also pleased that the budget is still focused on enhancing the long-term sustainable growth potential of South Africa.Idasa pointed out that Manuel was also right to see the roots of the present crisis less in the “impersonal workings of global financial systems” and more in the absence of an international democratic system of economic and financial governance that equitably and transparently regulates the relations between states.Clearly, international markets need positive reforms, and South Africa seems well poised to play a leading role in representing developing country interests and perspectives in debates on these reforms.As expected, the budget was not without its lighter moments. In announcing this year’s increases in “sin taxes” – duties on tobacco and alcohol products – Manuel a participant in his online Tips for Trevor campaign, which encourages members of the public to give suggestions for the budget.Manuel said: “Mr At du Plooy has written to ask, ‘Please be a little more lenient on the tax on whisky for the old folks. We have so little to enjoy, you know things that used to happen after dark, no longer happen. All we have left to enjoy is a little entertainment before supper.’“He asks for leniency, reminding me that this will ultimately be for my own benefit as well. A bottle of whisky, Mr du Plooy, goes up by R3.21.”Related articlesSA tops for budget transparency Motlanthe reassures the nation SA’s finances all in order Infrastructure development in South Africa Upbeat budget despite global gloom Useful linksSouth African National Treasury – Budget 2008 EconometrixInstitute for Democracy in South AfricaBusiness Unity South AfricaOpen Budget Initiativelast_img read more

Electronic Crimes Investigations—Pitting Spy vs. Spy

first_imgIt is 11:00 p.m. and after a quick pause and look around, the team begins to approach the building where the target suspect offices. Circling the parking lot, the car headlights are turned off as not to draw attention in the muggy moonlit night. Confidence builds after spotting no cars or anyone burning the late-night oil. A long-awaited productive evening lies ahead.The car slowly pulls to a stop. The doors are opened and closed in a gingerly fashion to avoid noise that could filter through the cool blackened night air. Entering the building with ease, the team utilizes their privileged access and master keys to begin a stealth and secret assignment. Hearts begin to beat faster as we check cubicles nearby to make sure there are no potential witnesses who could ruin the day.Standing at the office door of our person of interest, an examination of the area begins. Any scotch tape on the door and jamb? A common technique used to reveal unauthorized entry. No tape and the coast is clear. A check of the door handle and review of the office condition is made. Door unlocked? Check. Lights on? Check. Chair turned 45 degrees. Check. Blinds open? Check.- Sponsor – The blinds are closed and a rapid fire of flashes stream across the room as multiple pictures are shot with a digital camera making an inventory of the scene and location of articles that may get shifted during the search. Before anyone leaves, a check of the images are compared to the room condition to ensure everything is returned to the way it was found.You can’t help but think about the Watergate burglars and how they must have felt during their illegal search. This, however, is not a burglary or an unauthorized or illegal search. This is the start of a forensic seizure that is now becoming all more common place in the world of electronic crimes investigation.The target computer is found, and the serial, make, and model numbers are noted. The power cord is removed from the back of the computer to freeze the hard drive in its original state. Training teaches the importance of not shutting down the computer through the operating system because doing so changes the evidence, which can cause a potential problem in court.A duplicate drive that has been sterilized via a wipe utility to erase any lingering data from previous use is readied. The forensic examiner’s experience and training dictates the importance of creating an exact working copy of the suspect drive. Using a specialized field imaging unit designed specifically for forensic examination seizures, an exact duplicate of the suspect drive is made for analysis later in the forensic lab.The imaging unit is designed to create a one-way stream of data onto a duplicate drive while not changing the state of the original hard drive. This duplication process is critical in the course of a computer forensic exam. The MD5 hashing method is used on the drive to ensure an exact copy is made by comparing the digital signature keys of the original and target drives.Just before leaving, the power cords of computers in cubicles and offices nearby are pulled and replaced, giving the impression in the suspect’s mind that it was just another overnight Florida lightning storm that caused their computers to reboot.It’s another good night as we leave to head back to the forensic lab, which is located in a separate building across campus. It is 1:00 a.m. when we quickly log the suspect drive into evidence at the lab and head home. The forensic examination and analysis will begin in a few hours, once the official work day begins.An Epidemic of Electronic CrimesElectronic crimes investigation has evolved over the past decade to such a degree that it has shifted from the paradigm of conducting email searches and IP address tracing to developing sophisticated and complex investigation units.Why the need for sophisticated software and complex hardware for electronic crimes investigation? The simple answer is that those people we investigate are utilizing these sophisticated tools, and therefore we are required to level the playing field. Consider the BTK murders and how it took police over thirty years to catch the killer. It was computer forensics that finally brought the perpetrator to justice. Imagine how much more easily computer criminals, who leave behind millions of bytes of digital evidence, can be caught, as opposed to the BTK murder, whose primary tools were his hands, rope, and a bag to cover the faces of his victims.Pick up almost any newspaper today and you are sure to find an article about electronic crimes, including identity theft, phishing*, and corporate espionage. In one survey it was reported that 43 percent of the participating companies faced a breach of their information systems, and 85 percent of those breaches were caused by employee espionage.In 2003 the losses to American corporations reached over 45 billion dollars in lost revenue. Why is it becoming an epidemic? You can answer this question simply by looking at the explosive growth of technology. Eighty percent of households today have a computer and of those households, 73 percent also have an Internet connection.If you are an e-commerce retailer, you can appreciate the dynamic growth in on-line sales. For example, in 2002 e-commerce sales reached an estimated $2.2 billion in sales where annual sales in 2006 are expected to exceed over $12.8 billion.With this expected growth comes an increase in the number of e-crimes that we face in the course of conducting our business. There are over 242 million Internet users…and potential customers…in the Asia- Pacific region alone. Nobody knows the potential number of users around the world who may want to commit e-crimes against retailers and American corporations.Around the World and at HomeBut American businesses don’t have to look around the world for potential criminals. Unfortunately, many of our own employees are possible electronic criminals.Take for instance the case at AOL, where an employee stole a customer list and sold it to a spammer. It was very easy for this employee to commit this e-crime. In this particular case, the employee had easy access to a centralized database once past the log-on security. This problem is one most of us face because we store data in a centralized repository in contrast to a more secure decentralized approach that takes more time, resources, and money. This made the e-crime easy because it allowed for one-stop hopping—one data center and one source for the information.Access to the Internet also makes it easy. You can virtually sell anything on the Internet. Internet sales are typically anonymous and secret, so the employee committing espionage against you has the opportunity (the first part of the fraud triangle) to sell this information.Next, consider the multiple access points within your company. Think about how easy it is for you to log on to your company’s email or intranet systems. You can access these systems via a blackberry device or broadband connection from your hotel or dial up from home.These multiple access points make our business lives easier. They also make the lives of dishonest employees easier as well.Finally, the threat can be costly. It may not be merchandise or money, but it is critical information—customer data, corporate financials, source code, employee passwords, sales data, private employee data, and strategic planning documents. Theft of some of this information can be much worse than the loss of merchandise or money, as it can result in customers turning away from your stores, customer and employee lawsuits, falling stock prices, and, perhaps most importantly, the loss in brand equity.“It’s not like I’m Stealing Merchandise or Money, Right?”How and why are employees who we entrust committing e-crimes against us?Espionage and fraud is virtually the same beast. In fraud we understand the fraud triangle where there is pressure, opportunity, and rationalization. In espionage we have employees that seize the opportunity to sell or post information on the Internet. In espionage there is external peer pressure on employees to post on message boards. In espionage there is rationalization that they feel what they are doing is justified because it is only information—“It’s not like I’m stealing merchandise or money, right?”Employees are moving information everyday for a variety of reasons outside of the scope of the business need and through a variety of communication channels, including voice communication, mail systems, and IP-based protocols, such as the web, instant messaging, FTP (file transfer protocol), IRC (Internet relay chat), Usenet, and Internet message boards.Employees use a variety of methods to keep from getting caught, such as steganography (the art of hiding messages in pictures), file deletion, encryption, proxy avoidance, and anonymizers. All of these methods can be detected by a trained computer forensic investigator. Some are more difficult than others, depending on the level of sophistication and technique applied.For example, there are many levels of protecting data, from simple password protecting a Word document to more robust measures, such as using 128-bit encryption. The Word document in this case would be easily cracked in the course of an investigation, while the later may eventually be cracked, but would require many other resources and software to do so.Another example is file deletion. If an employee hoping to hide information simply used the computer’s normal deletion function, the computer forensic investigator can easily recover the file. However, he may not necessarily be able to do so if the suspect employee used a specialized wipe utility.In both of these examples, policy is the key. Does your company have a policy that prevents employees from downloading or installing unauthorized software, such as a wipe utility or encryption program? If not, then now is a good time to begin a partnership with your information security department and draft a policy to manage the desktops of your deployed systems. If nothing else, hopefully this article will prompt you to begin a partnership between loss prevention and information security to begin addressing these issues.Spy vs. SpyEspionage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities of a competing company.”My definition of electronic crimes investigation is “the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities of persons committing e-crimes via electronic methods.”In other words, electronic crimes investigation pits spy vs. spy.How do you get started in this world of electronic crimes investigation (ECI)? You begin by getting the buy-in from key stakeholders, including legal, human resources,  information technology, information security, and perhaps your internal audit or compliance office, in order to draft policies that address the risk.First, you will need a terms-of-use policy. This is critical in ensuring that your employees understand that when they are using company assets, such as their assigned computer, intranet, and Internet access, that there is no expectation of privacy. You will need your policies to support everything from the practical use of those IT resources to the protection of passwords and the protection of confidential data.To combat the problem with employee espionage and other electronic crimes, we employ a model of an electronic crimes unit that includes four main branches—surveillance, first response, evidence repository, and computer forensics, which is the backbone of the ECI unit.Surveillance provides a practical and proactive approach to e-crimes investigation. These tactics include the use of many electronic monitoring solutions that enable us to filter through network traffic to look for policy violations, such as employees surfing to eBay or pornographic web sites.These monitoring solutions include network sensors that use analytics to detect unauthorized credit files being transmitted through a firewall. Mailbox and desktop monitoring allows us to view the mail from both internal and external mail systems, such as a Yahoo email system. A well-developed mail review program also enables us to filter out competitor email and other email to specific domains that may be of concern for further examination and study.In addition to using the many new technologies for monitoring computer systems, we also employ traditional methods such as CCTV, office sweeps, and access control systems.By developing a strong partnership with our information security resources, we have enabled many other tools and techniques too sensitive for publication. The partnership with information security is key to building a strong ECI unit.First responders are virtually everyone that would normally respond to a criminal incident. These would include your information security team or CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team), loss prevention managers, store managers, corporate managers, and others who could potentially be involved with an investigation.The primary mission of the first responders is to preserve evidence. First responders are trained to document and photograph the scene, seize hardware, and collect information related to the digital evidence. This information may include the serial, make, and model number of all hardware seized and inventory of other digital evidence, such as thumb drives, floppy disks, CDRs, and DVDs.It is the mission of the first responder to freeze the evidence in the state in which it was found. First responders document, preserve, and protect the chain of evidence so the forensic investigator may properly take the chain of custody to complete the cycle of the investigation. It goes without saying that the first response team requires detailed training. Training is crucial since the result of the e-crimes investigation process will be challenged in a court of law. The use of new technology and procedures will require a substantial amount of knowledge that is not regularly attained in traditional loss prevention roles.Evidence repository is the third branch to the ECI unit. We not only store items of evidence related to electronic crimes, but we also support other investigations where a computer may have been involved, including unemployment claims, Sarbanes-Oxley investigations, business continuity, and patent-infringement claims to name a few. By supporting a variety of investigations outside of the traditional role of loss prevention, we continue to add value to the organization by providing these valuable services to other departments, such as HR, legal, risk management, and information security.The critical key to the success of managing evidence is maintaining the chain of custody. When handling electronic evidence, such as computer disk drives, one needs to understand that this particular kind of evidence is susceptible to the environment and can be easily damaged or destroyed. For example, we use specialized containers lined with antistatic bubble wrapping and antistatic collars when handling this type of evidence to prevent discharge of static electricity.Another threat to electronic evidence is the simple fact that the data can be easily changed or manipulated, unlike hard evidence such as stolen merchandise. To prevent the unauthorized manipulation of evidence, we use tamperproof bags and tape along with securing the evidence in an access controlled environment requiring entry through the use of proximity photo ID badges. The access-control system not only ensures that only permitted individuals are granted access, but also logs the event so that you may use this log as evidence during the course of any litigation that may arise.Finally, documentation and training is required for a sound evidence repository program. Not only is it important to document the evidence, assign control numbers, and case numbers alike, but you need to have a trained custodian who can follow procedure as well as speak to the procedure and its meaning if ever challenged in court.Computer forensics is the heart of the operation. As mentioned before, computer forensics requires specialized hardware and sophisticated software. A computer forensics operation will require the expertise of a trained computer forensics investigator who not only can perform a forensic analysis, but more importantly can testify in court as to what that process is and how it was conducted.Computer forensics is defined as “the preservation, identification, extraction, and documentation of computer evidence.” In the course of computer forensics, several steps are taking to preserve the evidence. A simplistic view of the process begins with the example at the beginning of this article, where the suspect drive was duplicated in such a way that there is an exact copy made so that the evidence is never touched during the exam and is filed away for a later date. Second, the duplicated evidence is processed by specialized software that indexes every byte of data found on the drive in a physical manner. This is different than how the operating system views data in a logical manner.For example, logically speaking the operating system views deleted data as no longer available. But when computer forensics techniques are performed, every byte, including those that have been flagged for deletion, are recovered and viewed as part of the chain of evidence.Complex Crimes Require Complex SolutionsIt is true that electronic crimes investigations are complex operations with associated costs. It is also true that there are significant costs in hiring a third-party contractor to conduct just one investigation. When you review the value that a program such as this can add to your overall loss prevention program, the benefits are obvious and, at least in our case, far out way the costs.Identity theft, phishing, and corporate espionage are the new age of e-crime that is attacking American business on a daily basis. The explosive growth of technology is here and retailers must quickly adapt to the ever-changing world in which we conduct our business.We have both legislation that supports us as well as new tools that enable us. Now is the time to develop a key partnership with your information security department and begin an electronic crimes investigation program to protect your company against this growing threat. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more