North Carolina County loses Millions to Business Email Compromise and Phishing

North Carolina County loses Millions to Business Email Compromise and Phishing

Written by Michael Castro, vCISO and founder of RiskAware

Late last year, Cabarrus County in North Carolina fell victim to a crafted email asking to change banking information for a contractor with whom they had started business earlier that year. Within 3 weeks, the County had sent more than 2.5 Million dollars to who they thought was their contractor. It wasn’t.

It took a few more weeks to discover that they had been compromised. When the dust settled, the County was able to recover some funds, including a mere $75 000 from insurance, but even now, more than 1.7 Million remains unaccounted for.

Last year, losses to business email compromise topped 1.2 Billion dollars. As such, it is clear how an easy scheme can net quite large returns, and why it is so popular amongst cyber thieves.

Just the month previous, the city of Griffin in Georgia lost $800 000 in a compromise scheme.

Email as a process is not enough to deal with impersonation email, email fraud and wire transfer processes. Municipalities need to build new processes with checks in place to prevent the easy route of email compromise and fraud. Changes to account payable processes, proposer cybersecurity planning and education can all greatly improve the chance of such a scheme being caught before any money is lost.

Municipalities should also consider bring in cybersecurity experts to help with governance, compliance and process models that go beyond technical security controls and systems. For those government groups that have smaller budgets set aside for cybersecurity, a fractional or virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) is a good resource to help plan and build a more resilient cyber presence within a budget and capability of the municipality.

RiskAware is a boutique Cybersecurity firm, specializing in Security Governance and Strategy, assisting organizations of all sizes with security and risk advisory services and security-on-demand capabilities. RiskAware and its founder Michael Castro also provide fractional CISO services

RiskAware can be contacted at [email protected] or visited at www.riskaware.ca

 

 

 

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What is the difference between LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT?

In short: leaders create risk, and managers reduce it.

LEADERSHIP ANTICIPATES THE BEST OUT OF PEOPLE, AND MANAGEMENT ANTICIPATES THE WORST. While leadership invites others to follow, management ensures the followers are following.

Leadership is the act of inviting others to a new and better future.  A leader inspires and creates change by casting a vision of a destination that is different, better, and achievable.

Management is the ensuring things happen by creating, communicating, and monitoring expectations.  It tracks individual people to see that they perform as expected, as opposed to inspiring a number of them. 

Leadership skills can be summarized as those skills relevant to interacting with large groups of people, and to inspiring and creating vision. Conversely, management skills are those which are relevant to interacting with individual people, and to specifying and monitoring performance.

Many of the skills required to lead people are also the ones used to manage people. However, the expression of these skills can be significantly different.  For instance, a leader needs to effectively communicate to be compelling and inspirational, and a manager needs to effectively communicate to be precise and personal.

Because of the skillset overlaps between management and leadership, it is quite possible that a single person assumes either of these roles.

 

Want to learn more about leadership?  Check out EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

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Why You Should Become an Asset Management Coordinator

Asset Management Coordinator – have you heard this of this career before?  

Well, if you haven’t, you’re about to hear a lot about it from municipalities over the next little while.  

Many municipalities are facing challenges to fund their infrastructure at levels that ensure their sustainability. With ageing assets, increased renewal needs and pressures from changing climate there is a need to do things differently and collaborate to address the “infrastructure gap”.

The end goal is for municipalities, provinces, and the federal government to leverage asset management planning to optimize infrastructure investment decisions. For example, in December 2017, the Province of Ontario passed O.Reg 588/2017 that sets out new requirements for asset management planning for municipalities.  

This makes the need to hire Asset Managers and/or Asset Management Coordinators, even more important and urgent. Therefore this is a rapidly growing and expanding career in Canadian municipalities.

So what is asset management and why do municipalities need an Asset Management Coordinator?

 

What is Asset Management?

 

Asset management refers to the systematic approach to the governance and realization of value from the things that a group or entity is responsible for, over their whole life cycles. It may apply both to tangible assets and to intangible assets. Asset management is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets in the most cost-effective manner.

 

What kind of background and training do I need to have for this career?  

 

Many asset managers have engineering, finance and/or planning backgrounds but another key criterion is Project Management, as addressed in a recent Public Sector Digest webinar, “Hiring an Asset Management Coordinator”, sponsored by muniSERV/muniJOBS, as being integral to the success of someone looking to enter this career. 

Municipalities reported that core competencies should be there but much more important is that you can tell them how you’d add value to the position. Because this is an emerging field, you have a great deal of liberty to build the position as you go.  Articulate it in your cover letter. You may not have all the skills right now but if you’re willing to learn, municipalities are willing to provide you with the right training to do the job.

Top skills reported are;

  1. Willingness to learn on the job
  2. Systems thinking
  3. Relationship building and
  4. Communications skills.

 

At present, there are no courses available at universities, although, the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association of Ontario (MFOA)and Public Sector Digest can help.

For municipalities looking for an Asset Manager or Coordinator, muniJOBS has some candidates with Asset Management listed as one of their skills. To search candidates, simply register for a free Employer profile.

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5 Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss

Dealing with a bad boss

Bad bosses can be deadly. One 15-year study found that when employees had a difficult relationship with their boss, they were 30% more likely to suffer from heart disease. Perhaps really bad bosses have lower coronary disease because their hearts are seldom used!

If you have ever said, “My boss makes me sick!” you might be right. A British study found that stress induced by a bad boss lowers immune response, and participants were more susceptible to a cold virus.

As with much in life, it’s not what happens to us, but what we do about it. A bad boss might victimize you, but you choose whether to be a victim. Strong leaders don’t wait, they initiate. If you have a bad boss, you can decide that he or she’s not unbearable and live with your situation, fire your boss by leaving, or practice upward leadership with some boss management.

Boss management or leading upward is one of the most popular topics on our website. Recently The Globe & Mail published my column on Five Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss in their Leadership Labs section. I condensed years of writing and coaching on this topic into five steps:

  1. Strengthen your credibility and relationship
  2. Check your timing and approach
  3. Don’t wait, initiate
  4. Speak up
  5. Fire a bully boss

Click here to read the column for a brief description of each step.

A reporter once asked the Dalai Lama why he didn’t hate the Chinese Communists. Now they have some bad bosses! The Dalai Lama replied, “They have taken over Tibet, destroyed our temples, burned our sacred texts, ruined our communities, and taken away our freedom. They have taken so much. Why should I let them also take my peace of mind?”

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Thinking about thinking….

Daily we are required to make decisions, recall facts, and balance risks, whether at work or at home.

All of this requires considerable thinking yet we don’t really pay much attention to how we do that. Is it because its so easy or because it is so hard????

Let’s explore….

If we were to ask a friend or colleague “What is capital of France?” most will quickly come up with the right answer. Paris, of course. Easy question and not a lot of effort goes into finding the answer. The same goes if I were to ask you to spot the pattern in this series of numbers 122333….?? Yes, you got it. 4444.

But what if you were asked to come up with the answer to 15 x 24 without using your phone/calculator? If you are like most people, this question requires you to pause and think hard. If you were good at math in school you might be able to recall a shortcut or you just might have to get out pen/paper and figure it out the old-fashioned way. Unless you are a math superstar, it will be difficult to come up with the answer quickly but, given time, we can all do it.  The answer btw is 360.

If you consider yourself in the top 1% in terms of math abilities and are still feeling comfortable, here is my favourite math challenge of all time:

·       A bat and ball cost $1.10 to purchase

·       The bat costs one dollar more than the ball,

·       How much does the ball cost?

Allow me to keep you in suspense as you mull that one over. The answer is at the bottom of the page.

What these mind exercises illustrate is something that Daniel Kahneman refers to as “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, which happens to be the name of his best-selling book from 2011. Kahneman, who is now in his mid-80’s, is acknowledged to be the father of the field of behavioural economics. As a trained psychologist, and proudly not an economist, he has always been considered an iconoclast in his field of study. Along with his now deceased partner, Amos Tversky, he has spent a lifetime studying and gaining insight into how the human mind behaves.

As a result of their ground-breaking studies, Kahneman and Tversky came to realize that there are actually two systems at play in our brains which affect our reasoning, judgement and decision making:        

·       System 1 operates automatically in the background at all times. It is quick and intuitive requiring little or no effort to come up with an answer. System 1 allows us to answer “Paris” to the question about the capital of France. When we use this system to think we are looking for patterns and meaning from the information at hand. Consequently, it is prone to mistakes. We can easily make judgment errors and fall victim to bias and are generally unaware of these errors when they happen.

·       System 2 kicks in when System 1 can’t provide the answer, like in the example of 15 x 24. This type of thinking is necessarily slow and deliberative. It requires great effort and we have to pay careful attention. It works best when it tests and checks results from System 1. It too can be prone to errors if we become distracted and lose our focus on the task at hand.

As someone who has spent their career helping colleagues make important procurement decisions there is much we can learn from Kahneman and the study of the human mind.  How often have we seen rushed evaluations and distracted evaluators lead to the wrong contractor being selected and poor project outcomes?

That is not to say that evaluations need to be dragged out unnecessarily. The use of enabling technology and more effective evaluation methods can make a huge impact and result in better overall outcomes, while still being completed in a timely manner. I advocate for drafting more effective and efficient evaluation schemes. On your next RFP, consider asking suppliers to respond in a structured manner to avoid having evaluators engage in an endless cycle of page flipping as they seek to find the pertinent information.  Try using enhanced consensus scoring where you focus only on the differences in scoring that exceed a pre-determined variance. We often spend too much time debating the merits of a 6 vs 7 and too little time trying to reconcile significant differences of opinion. Finally, spend the time to adequately prepare and train evaluators, even those who have previous experience. Awareness of how the mind operates and the pitfalls to avoid can go a long way towards a better outcome.    

In closing, here are my top advice tips to evaluators:

·       Be prepared to invest the time necessary to the task

·       Don’t rely on your fellow evaluators to bail you out

·       Slow down your thinking and avoid the rush to judgment

·       Pay attention to the details

·       Use critical thinking

·       Be respectful of other viewpoints during consensus meetings

·       Be aware of your biases – everyone has them

 

·       When relying solely on intuition, pause and use slow thinking to check/recheck the result

The ball costs $0.05

https://www.wayfinderconsultinginc.com/

 

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Smiling is Contagious. Try it!

It has been a spring that many will say there was nothing to smile about. It was cold, rainy and dark. From all the rain we have beautiful green lawns and flowers starting to bloom. Again there are many people in parts of the world that are not smiling with all the rain causing flooding and destruction. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about smiling and how contagious it may be in our workplace and for our clients.

Some people are always smiling, cheerful, and they seem to brighten up a room. Their positive attitude and gusto are identified by those they come in contact with. Moreover, we have all encountered those have the opposite effect on people-the “doom and gloom effect.” we often refer to one’s attitude and yet what is that? It is your mental state or the position you take regarding life.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  If you take the word “OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE,” some people see the “no where” while others see “now here.” So is the glass half empty or half full? Often the difference between success and failure is not linked to how we look, how we dress, or how much education we have; it is based on how we think!

Great leaders share the same thought; knowing that a positive attitude is contagious. As leaders, it is vital that we display a positive mindset daily. After all, if we expect our employees to express positive attitudes, we should model such behaviours for them to see.

Each day we have a choice of whether we elect to display a positive or negative attitude. Daily, we encounter negative attitudes at work and in our personal lives. If you remain positive amongst pessimism, you can be contagious.

Some times it is not that easy. I have found some tips I would like to share to help you be positive from “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching” by Patti Wanamaker.

  • Be enthusiastic – people love to be around enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious and draws others to you like a magnet.
  • Associate with positive people – if you want to stay positive, stay away from people that drag you down. Associate yourself around like-minded people.
  • Smile – smiling makes it all better. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, which are known as the feel-good hormones. It is a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when you feel good!
  • Change your thoughts – positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to an adverse reaction.
  • Stop complaining – limit your complaints. Whining and griping about anything and everything will not create a positive attitude. When you are complaining, you are spreading negativity.

·        If you want more success in your leadership role and to have a positive impact on your employees, then make sure your attitude is worth catching.

Many of you are thinking, what is there to smile about, and why maintain a positive attitude when there are doom and gloom around us? Research has shown that there are health benefits of smiling in the workplace. We are dealing with conflict, mental health issues and have difficult situations arising every day as we manage our workplace. Interestingly many years ago, it was declared that “the smile is the best medicine for the happiness of humanity.” Later scientific research explained the effects and physiological benefits of smiling for a healthier life. Smiling can be beneficial, in dealing with illness, pressures of everyday life, stress at work, and smiling can even substantially change the quality and forecasts of our lives.

Would life not be better if people smile regularly? I think smiling every day would keep you away from the doctor and feeling self-confident. Try these:

  • By smiling, we can reduce the level of stress hormones. Smiling helps us to increase the number of antibody-producing cells and improve the effectiveness of other cells.
  • Smiling is good for our general health. Smiling 100 times is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or cycling in fifteen minutes.
  • Sometimes we just want to laugh or cry. That means you want to release all the pent feelings in your head, making you feel both physically and mentally better. So to reduce anxiety smile often, even when you are not happy. Smiling at others will, in turn, help them be happy.
  • Smiling can take you from being angry, stressed, feeling guilty, and negative to putting you in a more favourable frame of mind. Smiling will make you change yourself and improve the attitudes and thinking to other people to the better.
  • When people can view an event that may be frightening as funny, they may be able to feel more content and see the events occurred just merely as a “challenge” in life, rather than a threat.

There are times when smiling, and laughter can be contagious. If you smile more than you can make other people around you also smile more. So by smiling yourself, you can reduce the stress levels of people around you and change their moods. Maybe even improve the quality of social interaction, and reduce your stress level as well.

They say that optimists have a stronger immune system and can fight disease better than the pessimists. There is a link between a positive attitude and good health, which is measured in many different ways. In general, researchers have discovered that optimistic people are more healthy, and they have a stronger immune system.

According to the British Organization of Dental Health, a smile has the level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars.

A smile does not cost you a cent, and it is easy to spread. A recent study showed that preschool children laugh 400 times a day, but the time we reach adulthood, we just laugh an average of 17 times per day.

So take the challenge and smile more often and find things in your lives that you can laugh about.

Stay great and healthy.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD is Principal of the Aviary Group and can be contacted by email at [email protected]

 

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A reverse what….?

As a steward of taxpayer dollars, municipal buyers face tremendous pressure to get the best price for your organization. This keeps the tax burden low amid always tight budgets. The mantra often heard is “do more with less”.  Often the “best price” isn’t always the “lowest price.” You need the most qualified vendors to give you their lowest possible price, and you need to settle on those prices quickly.

You are already relying on your purchasing staff and group organizations, to ensure the vendors you select are qualified. Are you aware that you can now take savings to a whole new level with Electronic Reverse Auctions? A “reverse what?” you say….  

The term “Electronic Reverse Auction” or “ERA” may not be known to you now but it is a tool that every municipality in Canada will be hearing more of as it becomes a standard part of the municipal procurement tool kit.

The traditional procurement tool kit in Canada consists of tenders and RFPs that function under the notion that bidders get one chance to give you a price which is sealed in an envelope and opened later by the purchasing staff. Once the envelopes are opened, changes cannot be made to the price and the lowest price bidder is duly rewarded, either with the contract outright or by being assigned the most points for that criteria if there are other criteria to consider. What is generally believed is that we received the best possible price…..only we do not have any way of knowing if bidders collectively would have bid lower, had they been given the opportunity to make further reductions in price. We may have gotten the best value that was offered but buyers are left to wonder if we received true market value. Many in the municipal sector are familiar with the terms “municipal premium” or “public sector premium”, usually spoken of in whispers and behind closed doors. We often think that it would have been much less expensive if we were buying the same thing for a private sector organization. A buyer in the private sector likely would have been able to, or even encouraged to, negotiate a better deal.

What if municipal buyers did not have to take the first and only offers presented? What if they could negotiate with the qualified suppliers in a fast, fair and honest way? Could suppliers be allowed to reduce their bid, if they felt it was in their best interest, in order to secure the public contract.       

Until recently, this type of scenario was not realistic in Canada in the public sector, but that has now changed. In 2017 the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement both came into effect. These trade agreements, for the first time, explicitly recognize electronic reverse auctions as a legitimate public procurement method in Canada and include provisions to govern their use in public sector procurement.   

While this is a new development in Canada, reverse auctions have been recognized internationally for many years in leading standards like the United Nations Model Law on Public Procurement as well as the European Union Procurement Directive. Countries around the world, including the US, UK, and Australia, have successfully used reverse auction in municipal procurement for the past two decades with significant savings in a variety of categories of spend.    

An Electronic Reverse Auction (ERA) is an online, real-time purchasing technique which involves the presentation by suppliers of successively lowered bids during a scheduled period of time and the automatic evaluation of bids. A reverse auction can be configured in two ways that align with the traditional procurement process: 1) as the entire competition when price is the only criteria and the winner is the lowest bid at the end of the electronic auction; or 2) as the second stage in a two-stage competition when other quality-based criteria have already been evaluated, in which case the winner is the supplier judged to have the highest overall evaluated bid.

Respected Canadian public procurement lawyer, Paul Emanuelli, stated in his recent whitepaper, Electronic Reverse Auctions: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions, published in 2018:

“The question is no longer whether ERAs can or should be used…. The question is how much further can ERAs be expanded across all sectors, …., to achieve improved process efficiencies and cost savings.”[1]

Emanuelli goes on to recommend that “organizations interested in implementing ERAs should take the following seven steps:

1. Adopt legally vetted Negotiable RFP templates with ERA protocols

2. Update to ERA‐friendly policies and procedures

3. Develop an industry strategy to select the right projects

4. Create a rollout plan to control internal deployment

5. Ensure appropriate internal training and awareness

6. Get initial launch support from experienced advisors

7. Develop a plan for self‐sufficient long‐term use”

For Canadian municipalities, ERA’s represent an opportunity to reduce spending in a disciplined and strategic way. While not fool-proof and certainly not applicable to all purchasing categories, when ERA’s are strategically used, you can expect to generate savings of 8-20% depending on the category. What kind of impact would that level of savings have on your organization?       

Qualified vendors. Lowest prices. Best use of taxpayer dollars. That’s what you get from a reverse auction.

To learn more please contact Craig Milley at Wayfinder Consulting Inc. – Your Procurement & Supply Chain Guide

[email protected]    

250-882-4955   

https://www.wayfinderconsultinginc.com          

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Now available on demand: Ecofiscal Commission online course – Using Market-Based Tools for Municipal Sustainability

Municipalities are missing out on the full potential of market-based tools!

Municipal governments are facing multiple, growing, and overlapping challenges. Yet, there are tools available to address these challenges that are not being used to their full potential. Market-based policies such as well-designed user fees can help reduce traffic, cut water use, and improve solid waste management, while generating revenue that can be used to fill financial gaps.

These challenges include:

  • Municipal infrastructure is aging and faces a growing investment gap;
  • Municipalities have limited ability to raise revenues. Only so much can be raised from property taxes. They also often face constraints on debt financing; and
  • To attract people and investment, livability is key: cities must provide job and recreational opportunities, ensure affordability, make it easy to move people and products, and protect clean air and water.

It all sounds a little daunting. Yet an under-used policy option might lie at the intersection of these challenges. Municipalities can use market-based tools to fund critical infrastructure and create incentives for individuals and businesses to make choices that improve the livability and sustainability of our communities.

Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, with support from the McConnell Foundation, has developed a unique online course on municipal market-based tools for sustainable development that will help municipal employees, and those that work with municipalities, successfully design and implement these solutions.

Through five self-directed and on demand modules that include recordings of webinars led by experts and experienced practitioners and a series of online exercises, participants will learn how Canadian municipalities can practically use a variety of market-based tools. The five modules include:

 The course is guaranteed to provide unique insight and practical guidance on the selection, design and implementation of municipal market-based tools.

Who should attend?
The course is intended for municipal employees, as well as federal and provincial employees that work with municipalities on related issues. It is open to anyone, including students and private sector employees, that has an interest in topics such as municipal finance, asset management, infrastructure financing, environmental policy, urban planning, traffic management, water and wastewater management, and solid waste management.

The course is well suited to busy professionals. You can complete the modules at your own pace and on your own schedule.

Registration details:
You can purchase individual modules for $50, or sign up for all 5 modules for $200 (a $50 savings). Complete at least 3 modules, including course exercises, to receive a certificate! While modules can be mixed and matched, Module 1 is a pre-requisite for modules 2-5 as it is foundational. 

French option:
We’ve also made available a mini-course that summarizes the material for $70. Presented by Justin Leroux in French, this mini-course includes videos that cover the highlights of our traffic, water and wastewater, and municipal waste modules as listed above.

Go to courses.ecofiscal.ca for more information and to register. If you have any questions, contact [email protected]

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Exclusive Opportunty for muniSERV Professionals Only!

You know muniSERV is a powerful online platform that helps consultants/professionals and municipal service providers showcase themselves directly to municipal decision-makers. Your muniSERV professional membership includes an SEO optimized professional profile with access to exclusive and targeted marketing to municipal clients. We help you build your reputability and visibility within Canadian municipalities to grow your business.

Now, muniSERV.ca and the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) are happy to announce the development of a Members in Transition Toolkit to help Canadian CAO members in transition access the information and professional services they need as they navigate their way through transition.

Our partnership with CAMA provides an exclusive and unique opportunity for your muniSERV professional profile to link directly to the CAMA Members in Transition Toolkit on their website – and to those CAMA members in transition who need your professional services. Participating in this special category increases your opportunity to build your practice/business locally and across Canada.

We are now looking for the following professionals from each province to provide specific services for inclusion in the toolkit: 

  • Employment Lawyers (who represent employees)
  • Financial Planners/Accounting Planning/Taxation Advisors
  • HR Advisors/Career/Transition Counsellors/Life Coaches
  • Recruiters/Executive Recruitment Firms/Head Hunters
  • Pension Advisors
  • Messaging/Communication Experts
  • Psychiatrists/Counsellors/Therapists
  • Business Coaches

How can you participate in the special transition/career services category?

muniSERV Members: If you’re already a muniSERV professional member, you’re all set. All you need to do is go to your dashboard and add the new, special Transition/Career Services in the “Build Membership Package” section.

New muniSERV Members:

  • Become a muniSERV member today to create your profile in your dashboard
  • Start appearing in searches in the Find Municipal Experts & Services database right away and get a Free Members Only rotating ad (value of $120) for your first month of membership.
  • Go to your dashboard in the “Build Membership Package” section and add the special “Transition/Career Services” category to your cart. 
  • Then select as many subcategories as you like in “Manage my Profile”
  • Membership and participation in the Transition/Career Services category is just $489/year. And, if you’re a CAMA member or sponsor, you pay only $460 annually.

*muniSERV is pleased to share the revenue from this special category with CAMA to support their members and future projects.

Click Here to get started or Contact us [email protected] for more information.

 

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