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Ask your IT Department about Shodan
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Ask your IT Department if they have heard of Shodan and, further, what are they doing about it?

Shodan finds cameras, power plants, or anything that is connected to the Internet.  Where Google looks for words and content, Shodan looks for connected devices.  It is the “go to” site for hackers.  It has been written about by CNN, Forbes and other publications. 

The biggest failure of security is that IT managers have failed to use even simple password encryption to protect complex operating processes.  “Admin” and “12345” are still the most popular passwords on the Internet. 

Shodan has also been used by sleazy characters to hack baby monitoring cameras and other such devices.  They have turned off wine cellar refrigeration systems, looked inside nuclear power plants, and shut down heating systems.  Your company is vulnerable.

If it is on the Internet, Shodan can see it.  If you have been too lazy to use sophisticated passwords, hackers can get in.  Fix this, in your company and in your home today.

Consolidation & Rationalization Continues

Since I last penned this column, PCA has announced the acquisition of Boise (it will be interesting to see what they do with the printing & writing portions of the business).  There is also a rumor that UPM and Stora Enso may be in long term talks to merge.  International Paper says they are closing Courtland, Alabama and, less than 200 miles away, they will spend over USD 100 million on renovations at Rome, Georgia.  And, by the way, Pratt has announced a new linerboard mill in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Finally, let’s not forget that the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill in Russia claims to be permanently closed, too.

Now, if you listen to Pulp & Paper Radio International each week, all of this is already old news to you. 

It used to be the case that pulp and paper industry news was delivered by trade magazine once per month or by friends calling friends at other mills (but you had to watch that—the long distance charges could be 15 cents per minute and the accounting department audited them for unauthorized calls). 

What modern technology has brought us, besides an ever-shrinking printing & writing grade market, is the realization that the pulp and paper industry is not a sleepy old backwater, but a vibrant, living and nimble industry.  International Paper is the shining example of this.  International Paper—who used to be perceived as a lumbering giant too big to manage?

Just look what they did in September.  On the 10th, they announced an increase in the dividend and a large share buy-back program.  On the 11th they announced the closing of Courtland.  And then, before the end of the month, they announced the investment at Rome.  In the old days, that would have been two years’ worth of work by a board of old cronies.

For over twenty years, I have been saying this industry needs to be managed by real managers and perhaps (gasp) some marketing people.  I am not taking credit for the change, my trumpet is too small and insignificant.  However, I think the analysts can—they held the industry accountable for being a business, not a clubby full employment society.

There was even a time when, in the US, if you didn’t hold a graduate degree from a certain institution you weren’t considered worthy of managing (or even commenting) on the industry.  In fact, a sad story—when I started writing about the industry, a former professor of that institution (now deceased) was at the time suffering from dementia.  He would write me railing that I didn’t have the credentials to comment on the industry because I was not a graduate of said institution. 

That education is still needed, for it turns out fine scientists who understand the inner workings of the processes.  But the inner workings of the processes have become routine and now reaction to the markets (and the public and the government and the environmental advocates) has become the rest of the story. 

Hence the nimble industry of today.

Jim Thompson is Executive Editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at jthompson@taii.com.

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