Monday, May 27, 2013

Connecting Dots in the Dark: The Waldo Factor, part 20

Recently I recorded an interview with Mike O'Connell for I know Mike from Federal News Radio where he is the web editor and he is adept at social media. The interview focused on the many uses of LinkedIn, including why it is important for journalists and others.

During the interview I used a phrase that shows up in many of my live presentations on LinkedIn: connecting dots in the dark. The dots are things you know or suspect are "out there", you are just not certain where and who.

Even by itself, this is an interesting metaphor. In the context of LinkedIn it means several things, among them-

   * the ability to find people who share their discipline, but people you did not previously know

   * key people at companies you want to do business with

   * finding people you have not seen in years

   * finding groups (communities) of like-minded thinkers

   * ideas - coming across interesting discussions that are pertinent to what you do, started and commented on by people you probably need to know

   * and so much more.

I view LinkedIn as one of the coolest, most useful and versatile marketing tools I have run across in my thirty-plus years of marketing, with literally something for anyone in business.

You can read the interview (it's not long) at

Monday, May 13, 2013

SmartPay Update on Amtower Off Center

David Shea, Director of the Office of Charge Card Management, FSA,GSA appeared on Amtower Off Center on May 13 (Federal News Radio, 1500 AM) to discuss the state of the government charge card, SmartPay(tm).

If you have an interest in the government charge card program, listen to this show. Here is the link:

During the hour long show Mr Shea shared the following:

- during 2012 the card was used for $29.3 billion (this includes purchases, travel and fleet). Of that, $18.1 billion was on the purchase card.

- 2013 year-to-date (first two quarters reporting): $18.1 billion

- Top agencies using the SmartPay cards:
     - VA
     - DOD
     - DOJ
     - HHS
     - DHS

- top merchant categories (a merchant category is how the credit card companies categorizes vendors):
     - Miscellaneous retail
     - Dental, pharmaceutical
     - Industrial supply
     - Office supplies;
     - Education/colleges;
     - Business services not elsewhere categorized;
     - Health practice;
     - Government services;
     - Computer/IT.

- Level 3 processing on cards is required for all Strategic Sourcing Initiatives on the GSA Schedules;

- 20% of the purchase card activity in 2012 was over $10,000 per purchase, well above the "micro-purchase" level;

- There are approximately 280,000 purchase cards in use;

- Due to travel restrictions, there is a migration of charge card training programs to virtual training events.

Advice for vendors from Mr Shea includes:

- shop around for your acquirer (card processor) to get the best rates;
- make certain you get the proper merchant (MCC) category when setting up your account;

And much more.

You can find more information on the SmartPay program at

Friday, May 10, 2013

Broadcast media web sites, including, hacked

In case you've missed it, you can't listen to Federal News Radio on the web, at least through Internet Explorer. In order to access the site, it is recommended that Chrome, Firefox and Safari be used.

Here's the message from

If you are getting this page, you are using the Internet Explorer browser to reach is currently dealing with a malicious cyber attack, which attempts to use our site to infect computers with malware when using the Internet Explorer (IE) browser.

To help protect our website visitors and prevent any further damage, we have blocked access to from Internet Explorer. We believe Chrome, Firefox and Safari are safe alternatives, and suggest you use one of these browsers to access the Federal News Radio website.

Federal News Radio's sister website,, was also affected by the attack in the same manner.

The cyber attack that compromised our web servers injected code into and, redirecting vulnerable browsers to rogue websites, which spread the FakeAV malware or a variant of it.

If you have been on either site recently using IE, you should perform a malware scan to check for an infection and get it cleaned.

Additional information on the malware and how to respond to an infection can be found here and a removal tool, which may help, can be found here.

Federal News Radio is still in the process of performing a thorough analysis to ensure our systems are free of malicious content. We will update readers and listeners with new information on the situation as soon as it is available.

"We take cybersecurity very seriously, and ensuring that our listeners and readers can safely come to our site is of the utmost importance," said Lisa Wolfe, program director of Federal News Radio. "Federal News Radio has been and will continue to be the most trusted source of federal news for more than a decade."

Federal News Radio is one of several media websites that "were compromised and redirecting user traffic to an Exploit Kit serving the same FakeAV malware variant..." according to a blog post by Eddie Mitchell, a security engineer with Invincea.

Mitchell wrote the attacks against Federal News Radio and its sister station, WTOP, are "likely an indicator of a larger more widespread attack against online media sites."