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How One Technology Company Managed to Hire a More Diverse Work Force

New York Times - California News - December 19, 2014 - 4:00am
Step 1: Think about gender diversity early in your company’s formation. If you wait until the company is established, it’s too late.

Striking Oil in a Dakota Boomtown

New York Times - California News - December 19, 2014 - 2:00am
Wanting to go beyond his usual Middle East haunts, Bryan Denton went looking for someplace exotic for his latest photo essay.

4 accused of providing alcohol to minors

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 19, 2014 - 12:50am

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said a sting operation Thursday resulted in the arrests of four people on suspicion of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The agency and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had minors try to buy alcohol from various businesses in unincorporated areas of west Ventura County, authorities said.

Three minors tried to buy alcohol from 13 locations, authorities said, and were turned away at nine of the businesses. At four locations, they were furnished with alcohol by someone who either failed to ask for identification or looked at the identification and furnished alcohol anyway, authorities said.

A Ventura 17-year-old, a Camarillo 48-year-old, an Oxnard 24-year-old and an Oxnard 66-year-old were arrested on suspicion of furnishing alcohol to a minor, authorities said.

4 accused of providing alcohol to minors

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 19, 2014 - 12:50am

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said a sting operation Thursday resulted in the arrests of four people on suspicion of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The agency and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had minors try to buy alcohol from various businesses in unincorporated areas of west Ventura County, authorities said.

Three minors tried to buy alcohol from 13 locations, authorities said, and were turned away at nine of the businesses. At four locations, they were furnished with alcohol by someone who either failed to ask for identification or looked at the identification and furnished alcohol anyway, authorities said.

A Ventura 17-year-old, a Camarillo 48-year-old, an Oxnard 24-year-old and an Oxnard 66-year-old were arrested on suspicion of furnishing alcohol to a minor, authorities said.

Companies' data security in question

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 18, 2014 - 11:33pm

ATLANTA (AP) — Companies across the globe are on high alert to tighten up network security to avoid being the next company brought to its knees by hackers like those that executed the dramatic cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The hack, which a U.S. official has said investigators believe is linked to North Korea, culminated in the cancellation of a Sony film and ultimately could cost the movie studio hundreds of millions of dollars. That the hack included terrorist threats and was focused on causing major corporate damage, rather than on stealing customer information for fraud like in the breaches at Home Depot and Target, indicates a whole new frontier has emerged in cybersecurity. Suddenly every major company could be the target of cyberextortion.

"The Sony breach is a real wake-up call even after the year of mega-breaches we've seen," says Lee Weiner, Boston security firm Rapid7's senior vice president of products and engineering. "This is a completely different type of data stolen with the aim to harm the company."

This should signal to all U.S. businesses that they need to "take cybersecurity as serious as physical security of their employees or security of their physical facilities," says Cynthia Larose, chair of the privacy and security practice at the law firm Mintz Levin in Boston.

The breach is particularly troubling in Hollywood, where secrecy is supposed to be paramount to insure that movie secrets worth millions don't get leaked.

"Movie studios have, by and large, behaved as high-security intellectual property purveyors; prints have been tightly controlled, screeners are watermarked, and bootleggers are prosecuted wherever possible," says Seth Shapiro, a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. He said that's what makes it so surprising that email leaks showed that Sony executives apparently gave out passwords in unencrypted emails and made other security blunders.

"The apparently laxity of Sony IT security — given the history of prior hacks — is unprecedented in the history of media technology," he says. Sony Corp.'s PlayStation network was hacked in 2011.

Studios are trying to tighten up procedures in the wake of the Sony attack. Warner Bros. executives earlier this week ordered a company-wide password reset and sent a five-point security checklist to employees advising them to purge their computers of any unnecessary data, in an email seen by The Associated Press. "Keep only what you need for business purposes," the message said.

Even so, some say there is little that corporations can do to prevent such a sophisticated cyberattack. The key may lie more in detection and limiting damage.

"There are very few companies that can withstand that kind of large assault," says Rich Mogull, an analyst with security firm Securosis in Phoenix. "But a lot of companies do need to improve what they're doing on security, I see it every day with companies I work with."

Companies also need to invest in identifying vulnerabilities on their networks and work quickly to address them. Jonathan Sander, strategy and research officer at data security firm Stealthbits in Hawthorne, N.J., recommends undertaking a comprehensive review to ensure outdated files, such as digital copies of old contracts and electronic conversations that occurred years ago, are no longer being stored on the corporate networks.

"There is a lot of stuff just sitting there waiting to be taken and used for the kind of thing that has happened at Sony right now," Sander says.

He says the Sony breach has been coming up in every customer meeting that Stealthbits Technologies had held since the stolen information began leaking out and making international headlines earlier this month.

"We used to have to lead people to the idea that you need to protect this kind of data," he said. "Now we walk in and they're asking, 'How can I keep my data from ending up on the Internet like Sony's did?"

Some customers have been wondering if they should reduce their reliance on email and switch over to other digital forms of communication, such as messaging systems that don't store the data. Sander doesn't believe that provides as much protection as making a telephone call to share passwords and other sensitive information.

Most importantly, companies need to focus on the ability to detect hacks quickly and limit them as fast as possible. Currently, the average amount of time it takes a company to detect a breach is 200 to 230 days, Rapid7's Weiner said. "That allows the attacker time to gain a lot of knowledge and do a lot of damage," he said.

While none of Weiner's clients have made large-scale changes to their security in reaction to the Sony attack specifically, cybersecurity is becoming a bigger focus in general. "There has been increased investment in information security and increased awareness of the risk and threats of these kind of attacks," he says. "We're starting to see information security as a boardroom issue, it's getting much more attention."

One example companies could follow is in the technology sector, where most firms have been tightening their security measures during the past 18 months in response to revelations about the digital spying tactics of the U.S. government.

Documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. government had been tapping into the computer networks of Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other technology companies in search of emails and other electronic communications that might uncover terrorist plots and other illegal activity. The U.S. government has maintained that it has never collected the kind of highly personal details stolen in the Sony Pictures breach. But tech companies being targeted by the NSA have since tried to thwart the surveillance by encrypting their internal email systems as well as the free accounts available to the general public. Both Google and Apple, the makers of the world's leading software for mobile devices, also are automatically encrypting the data stored on smartphones so the information is indecipherable to unauthorized users, including government authorities.

General Motors says it has bolstered cybersecurity in the past two years by bringing information technology in-house from outside vendors. The auto giant has a cybersecurity chief on staff to prevent hackers from getting into GM vehicle computers and has consolidated electronic data storage from 23 centers worldwide into two located near Detroit.

"I would say we have a higher level (of security) than some other companies do," says spokeswoman Jennie Ecclestone.

A key to thwarting attacks is knowing your enemy and figuring out exactly who might want to hurt your company, adds Tom Chapman, head of cyber-operations at EdgeWave Security in San Diego.

"In the past people were looking for a firewall or an individual product," for protection, says Chapman, a retired Navy intelligence officer who specialized in hunting down hackers. "Now, they're realizing there is a human element. They need to understand who might be after them. By better understanding your likely adversaries, you can better craft your defense."

___

AP Writers Mike Liedtke in San Francisco, Bernard Condon, Anne D'Innocenzio and Joe Pisani in New York, Tom Krisher in Detroit, and Ted Bridis in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

 

 

Camarillo approves funds in response to storms

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 18, 2014 - 9:17pm

During a special meeting Thursday, the Camarillo City Council unanimously approved up to $660,000 in construction improvements in response to the latest mud and debris flow in the Camarillo Springs area.

This is in addition to the original $360,000 the council approved Dec. 10 to come out of the city’s general fund for a project recommended by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a government agency that includes civil engineers.

Work will begin Friday to grade the slope above Camarillo Springs from where the mud and debris are flowing. The goal is to prevent debris from reaching the drainage system in the future. About 17,000 tons of debris is expected to be trucked away by the deadline for the work to be completed next week.

The council also agreed to extend an emergency proclamation in the city for 30 days, and is asking California Gov. Jerry Brown proclaim Camarillo in a state of emergency and request a declaration of emergency from President Barack Obama.

With the hillside stripped by the 2013 Springs Fire of vegetation that would normally hold material in place, a major rainstorm during the night on Dec. 11 and in the morning of Dec. 12 caused a significant debris flow in Camarillo Springs and damaged at least 16 homes.

Ten of those homes have been red-tagged as uninhabitable.

“The work on the NRCS project was supposed to commence on Dec. 15, but it never did and the NRCS has prepared a new project,” City Attorney Brian Pierik said.

In a staff report to the council, City Manager Bruce Feng said the new project will increase safety in the Camarillo Springs area and reduce the potential for injuries to residents, and work now will reduce the amount of public funds otherwise required for future emergency services.

Feng also said there are Camarillo Sanitary District facilities in Camarillo Springs that could be impacted and sewage services disrupted.

“Due to the limited time available based upon emergency circumstances, there is not enough time for city to bid for a contractor,” Feng said in the report.

City officials are pursuing reimbursement from the NRCS for 75 percent of the cost for the new project. They also are working with the Springs Homeowners Association and adjacent property owners with respect to the 25 percent funding balance and maintenance of the improvements.

During discussion Thursday, Public Works Director Tom Fox said the 2013 Springs Fire burned vegetation and a large amount of mud was washed away during the Oct. 31 storm. The mud was holding the rock in place.

“Enough mud was washed out that by the last storm, it was rock that came down and in a much greater volume than the mud,” Fox said.

Fox said since last week’s storm, the city has spent more than $300,000 on removal of debris, restoration of access on the streets, debris removal, drain restoration, and rebuilding the hillside.

The goal now is to trap any future debris and keep it from flowing in new directions toward other homes.

“We are not going to be able to protect against all storms. There are just some storms that no matter what we try, we may not be able to stop all debris, but our goal is to create a condition in which we can stop as much as possible and go as far as we can with the resources available,” Fox said.

“When you look at some of the damage on those homes, it’s a fantastic accomplishment that no one’s been injured. When you see a lot of incidences around the state that look similar but the outcome is much worse.”

Camarillo approves funds in response to storms

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 18, 2014 - 9:17pm

During a special meeting Thursday, the Camarillo City Council unanimously approved up to $660,000 in construction improvements in response to the latest mud and debris flow in the Camarillo Springs area.

This is in addition to the original $360,000 the council approved Dec. 10 to come out of the city’s general fund for a project recommended by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a government agency that includes civil engineers.

Work will begin Friday to grade the slope above Camarillo Springs from where the mud and debris are flowing. The goal is to prevent debris from reaching the drainage system in the future. About 17,000 tons of debris is expected to be trucked away by the deadline for the work to be completed next week.

The council also agreed to extend an emergency proclamation in the city for 30 days, and is asking California Gov. Jerry Brown proclaim Camarillo in a state of emergency and request a declaration of emergency from President Barack Obama.

With the hillside stripped by the 2013 Springs Fire of vegetation that would normally hold material in place, a major rainstorm during the night on Dec. 11 and in the morning of Dec. 12 caused a significant debris flow in Camarillo Springs and damaged at least 16 homes.

Ten of those homes have been red-tagged as uninhabitable.

“The work on the NRCS project was supposed to commence on Dec. 15, but it never did and the NRCS has prepared a new project,” City Attorney Brian Pierik said.

In a staff report to the council, City Manager Bruce Feng said the new project will increase safety in the Camarillo Springs area and reduce the potential for injuries to residents, and work now will reduce the amount of public funds otherwise required for future emergency services.

Feng also said there are Camarillo Sanitary District facilities in Camarillo Springs that could be impacted and sewage services disrupted.

“Due to the limited time available based upon emergency circumstances, there is not enough time for city to bid for a contractor,” Feng said in the report.

City officials are pursuing reimbursement from the NRCS for 75 percent of the cost for the new project. They also are working with the Springs Homeowners Association and adjacent property owners with respect to the 25 percent funding balance and maintenance of the improvements.

During discussion Thursday, Public Works Director Tom Fox said the 2013 Springs Fire burned vegetation and a large amount of mud was washed away during the Oct. 31 storm. The mud was holding the rock in place.

“Enough mud was washed out that by the last storm, it was rock that came down and in a much greater volume than the mud,” Fox said.

Fox said since last week’s storm, the city has spent more than $300,000 on removal of debris, restoration of access on the streets, debris removal, drain restoration, and rebuilding the hillside.

The goal now is to trap any future debris and keep it from flowing in new directions toward other homes.

“We are not going to be able to protect against all storms. There are just some storms that no matter what we try, we may not be able to stop all debris, but our goal is to create a condition in which we can stop as much as possible and go as far as we can with the resources available,” Fox said.

“When you look at some of the damage on those homes, it’s a fantastic accomplishment that no one’s been injured. When you see a lot of incidences around the state that look similar but the outcome is much worse.”

California: Arson Ruled in Downtown Los Angeles Fire

New York Times - California News - December 18, 2014 - 9:00pm
A fire that reduced an unfinished apartment building to a block-long mountain of blackened wood was purposely set, the Fire Department said.

California: Oakland Bans Bullhooks

New York Times - California News - December 18, 2014 - 9:00pm
The circus will stop coming to Oakland in a few years after a tool used by elephant handlers was banned there.

DUI checkpoints planned in Simi Valley, Oxnard

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 18, 2014 - 8:20pm

Police planned extra efforts this weekend looking for people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Oxnard and Simi Valley, authorities said.

Police in Oxnard will set up multiple checkpoints looking for people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs from 8 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. Officers also will check drivers for valid licenses, authorities said.

Anti-DUI patrols will be deployed in Simi Valley from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. starting Saturday and Sunday nights in areas where DUI arrests and DUI-related traffic collisions are frequent, authorities said.

Funding for both efforts is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 

Panel Finds Deep Flaws at Secret Service

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 8:01pm
The Secret Service needs more training, staff and a leader from outside its ranks to run an organization that has been stretched beyond its limits and become too insular, according to a panel of outside experts.

Thousand Oaks sees flare-up of violence

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 18, 2014 - 7:44pm

Police were investigating a flare-up of disturbances Thursday evening in Thousand Oaks, at least one of which had possible gang ties and sent two people to a local hospital with knife wounds. 

There was no indication that all the incidents were related, but it’s unusual in Thousand Oaks — known for its very low crime rate — for so many incidents to occur in such a short period.

First, police investigated a report of a disturbance about 6 p.m. near Hodencamp and Wilbur roads. Reports indicated there was a person armed with a handgun as well as a bow and arrow. Not long after they arrived, officers at the scene said a suspect had been hit four times by a nonlethal weapon used by police but that the suspect still had a handgun. Soon afterward at 6:18 p.m., police said they used a stun device on the man and he was taken into custody. Some roads in the area were blocked as the events unfolded.

While the Hodencamp incident was coming to a close, police received a report of another disturbance in the 800 block of Warwick Avenue. When police arrived, they found no victims or suspects, but only witnesses. Officers found a broken window and other physical evidence of a struggle. Police said the area has a history of gang-related activity. 

Soon after the Warwick disturbance was reported, rescuers and police responded to a stabbing report in the 600 block of Avenida De La Plata. Crews found two victims, one of whom had been stabbed and one whose face had been slashed, and took them to a local hospital about 7:17 p.m. 

There was a strong police presence Thursday night in the neighborhood a few blocks southeast of the Amgen campus as officers looked for evidence and talked to people on both sides of the street. Residents came outside to their porches and yards to watch the investigation, which at 9 p.m. along with the Warwick incident involved about 12 units from the Thousand Oaks Police Department. 

Officers told dispatchers there were reports of a gold vehicle at the scene with the occupants yelling “Chiques.” Various gang groups in the Oxnard area go by that name, including in that city’s La Colonia neighborhood, which was rocked Tuesday night by a fatal shooting that police said was gang-related. The dead man, David Lara, 28, had a Ventura County criminal record dating to 2005 and was Oxnard’s third victim of a fatal shooting in three days. 

In Thousand Oaks, police didn’t believe the incident at Hodencamp and Wilbur roads was related to the others. They initially thought the Warwick and Avenida De La Plata incidents were related, but later said they could not be sure. 

There were a some other incidents Thursday in Thousand Oaks around the same time or area of the others, although their relationship with the other matters, if any, was unclear. Among those incidents:

— At 7:30 p.m., there was a report of an injured person at Avenida De Los Arboles and Moorpark Road, not far north of the Warwick and Hodencamp disturbances. A patient was taken to a local hospital, officials said.

— Around the same time as the Avenida De La Plata and incidents, police were investigating a report of a domestic disturbance outdoors on Los Feliz Drive. 

— At 9:07 p.m., rescuers were sent to the 800 block of Warwick Avenue on a medical call. Fire dispatchers said the report was made by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. 

 

Thousand Oaks sees flare-up of violence

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 18, 2014 - 7:44pm

Police were investigating a flare-up of disturbances Thursday evening in Thousand Oaks, at least one of which had possible gang ties and sent two people to a local hospital with knife wounds. 

There was no indication that all the incidents were related, but it’s unusual in Thousand Oaks — known for its very low crime rate — for so many incidents to occur in such a short period.

First, police investigated a report of a disturbance about 6 p.m. near Hodencamp and Wilbur roads. Reports indicated there was a person armed with a handgun as well as a bow and arrow. Not long after they arrived, officers at the scene said a suspect had been hit four times by a nonlethal weapon used by police but that the suspect still had a handgun. Soon afterward at 6:18 p.m., police said they used a stun device on the man and he was taken into custody. Some roads in the area were blocked as the events unfolded.

While the Hodencamp incident was coming to a close, police received a report of another disturbance in the 800 block of Warwick Avenue. When police arrived, they found no victims or suspects, but only witnesses. Officers found a broken window and other physical evidence of a struggle. Police said the area has a history of gang-related activity. 

Soon after the Warwick disturbance was reported, rescuers and police responded to a stabbing report in the 600 block of Avenida De La Plata. Crews found two victims, one of whom had been stabbed and one whose face had been slashed, and took them to a local hospital about 7:17 p.m. 

There was a strong police presence Thursday night in the neighborhood a few blocks southeast of the Amgen campus as officers looked for evidence and talked to people on both sides of the street. Residents came outside to their porches and yards to watch the investigation, which at 9 p.m. along with the Warwick incident involved about 12 units from the Thousand Oaks Police Department. 

Officers told dispatchers there were reports of a gold vehicle at the scene with the occupants yelling “Chiques.” Various gang groups in the Oxnard area go by that name, including in that city’s La Colonia neighborhood, which was rocked Tuesday night by a fatal shooting that police said was gang-related. The dead man, David Lara, 28, had a Ventura County criminal record dating to 2005 and was Oxnard’s third victim of a fatal shooting in three days. 

In Thousand Oaks, police didn’t believe the incident at Hodencamp and Wilbur roads was related to the others. They initially thought the Warwick and Avenida De La Plata incidents were related, but later said they could not be sure. 

There were a some other incidents Thursday in Thousand Oaks around the same time or area of the others, although their relationship with the other matters, if any, was unclear. Among those incidents:

— At 7:30 p.m., there was a report of an injured person at Avenida De Los Arboles and Moorpark Road, not far north of the Warwick and Hodencamp disturbances. A patient was taken to a local hospital, officials said.

— Around the same time as the Avenida De La Plata and incidents, police were investigating a report of a domestic disturbance outdoors on Los Feliz Drive. 

— At 9:07 p.m., rescuers were sent to the 800 block of Warwick Avenue on a medical call. Fire dispatchers said the report was made by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. 

 

White House Proposes Vetting Projects for Climate Change

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 6:57pm
The White House is calling on federal agencies to consider the climate-change impact of a wide range of energy projects that require government approval.

Pentagon Program Used Improper Intelligence Tactics, Probe Finds

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 6:30pm
A major Pentagon program responsible for reducing the danger posed by improvised bombs improperly gathered intelligence on American executives and firms working in South Asia, according to an investigation.

Medicare to Cut Payments to Some Doctors, Hospitals

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 6:25pm
More than 257,000 U.S. doctors will see their Medicare payments cut by 1% next year because they didn’t meet federal goals for using electronic medical records, said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Boston Bombing Suspect Appears in Court

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 6:18pm
Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made his first public appearance in more than a year on Thursday, attending the final federal court hearing ahead of his scheduled trial next month.

3 arrested in connection with Ventura burglaries

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 18, 2014 - 5:54pm

Three Port Hueneme residents were arrested in connection with residential burglaries Thursday in Ventura, police said.

A Ventura resident called the city’s police department at 12:03 p.m. to report that a suspicious person knocked on the front door of her home in the 7300 block of Pierce Street and asked for someone who did not live there. The resident saw the suspicious person, later identified as 23-year-old Rodney Bennett of Port Hueneme, walk from the door and into an awaiting vehicle occupied by a female driver and male passenger, authorities said.

Officers responding to the call saw a vehicle matching the resident’s description of the one waiting nearby and conducted a traffic stop on it at Loma Vists Road and Jefferson Avenue. Stolen property taken from two Ventura residential burglaries was located in the car, officials said.

Some of the property was reported stolen at 11:37 a.m. from a resident who lives in the 300 block of Westminster Street. The other property was reported stolen at 12:18 p.m. by a person who noticed the front door of their neighbor’s home in the 5400 block of LaFayette Street had been forced open, police said.

Sara Ayala, 21, was driving the car and Austin Ervin, 22, was the passenger. Both were identified as Port Hueneme residents. Bennett, Ayala and Ervin were booked into county jail after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and resident burglary, officials said.

3 arrested in connection with Ventura burglaries

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 18, 2014 - 5:54pm

Three Port Hueneme residents were arrested in connection with residential burglaries Thursday in Ventura, police said.

A Ventura resident called the city’s police department at 12:03 p.m. to report that a suspicious person knocked on the front door of her home in the 7300 block of Pierce Street and asked for someone who did not live there. The resident saw the suspicious person, later identified as 23-year-old Rodney Bennett of Port Hueneme, walk from the door and into an awaiting vehicle occupied by a female driver and male passenger, authorities said.

Officers responding to the call saw a vehicle matching the resident’s description of the one waiting nearby and conducted a traffic stop on it at Loma Vists Road and Jefferson Avenue. Stolen property taken from two Ventura residential burglaries was located in the car, officials said.

Some of the property was reported stolen at 11:37 a.m. from a resident who lives in the 300 block of Westminster Street. The other property was reported stolen at 12:18 p.m. by a person who noticed the front door of their neighbor’s home in the 5400 block of LaFayette Street had been forced open, police said.

Sara Ayala, 21, was driving the car and Austin Ervin, 22, was the passenger. Both were identified as Port Hueneme residents. Bennett, Ayala and Ervin were booked into county jail after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and resident burglary, officials said.

Arson Caused Massive Los Angeles Fire, Investigators Say

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 5:53pm
Investigators determined arson caused a massive fire that destroyed an unfinished apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 8.
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