Cyberthreats primarily international, range from simple to sophisticated

Cybercriminals, just as computer users in general, have a wide range of sophistication and effort in their attacks, noted speakers at the World Affairs Council of St. Louis’s session, “Cyber Security and You” presented May 23.  Speakers Rob Rudloff of RubinBrown’s cybersecurity group, and Matt Flinner of the Better Business Bureau, offered perspective on the nature of the attackers as well as protective strategies.

“We’re finding attacks are mostly coming from four countries, Russia, Romania, Jamaica, and France,” Rudloff said. 

  • Both speakers agreed that threats are constant and their greatest chance of success is when people don’t take appropriate precautions.  Using weak or obvious passwords, opening emails and attachments without some skepticism, failing to check links for unusual URLs (or country codes such as ca for China), and not protecting key information can open people up to cybertheft.Suggestions include:
  • using a password manager, such as LastPass,
  • only using a credit card, not debit card, for transactions,
  • keeping a close eye on your credit score and bank statements
  • avoiding quizzes online
  • don’t follow links from emails but go to the website for the company itself
  • don’t post on social media that you will be out of town, or provide details that can help criminals guess your passwords
  • use different passwords for each online activity


Global Health, Local Focus

On Wednesday, April 25th Dr. Matthew Gabel presented on topics in Global Health as the final presenter in the World Affairs Council’s 2018 Great Decisions Series. His presentation focused on the amount of resources put into public health and the way those resources are used by various agents in the processes that perform public health abroad.

Dr. Gabel’s presentation called for reflection on the allotment of funds to global health initiatives. The presentation emphasized the difficulty that organizations who focus on global health initiatives are faced with when trying to evaluate and better their programs. Any policy change has a large number of surrounding confounding variables that make it difficult to understand the results of the enacted policies and practices.

The goal of global public health may be better suited to be carried out by philanthropic efforts, as the current channels of the US government have  a large emphasis on foreign policy, not a focus on long term sustainable health solutions. United States infrastructure abroad is mainly focused on military structures and group, so the results when health initiatives are put forth by the United States’ government is that they can exclude local experts and officials in ways that make the initiatives unsustainable.

Global Public Health’s role in national security was emphasized as an overlooked objective of the United States’ foreign policy. There is a lot of focus on intentional biological violence, but not as much focus on the more realistic culprit of the unassuming transmission of germs through travelers on a daily basis.

Fischer lauded, named Emeritus Director

Robert A. Fischer, director emeritus of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis, displays a proclamation from St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, recognizing him for 16 years of service to the St. Louis community and declaring March 2, 2018 as “Robert A. Fischer Day”. At left are WAC-STL President Pierce Powers, Jr. and at right is Deepak Kant Vyas, past WAC-STL president.

At the association’s 27th Annual World Affairs Council of St. Louis observance of the Chinese New Year, retiring Executive Director Robert A. Fischer was recognized for 16 years of service by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis. Honors included appointment as Emeritus Director by the WAC-STL board and recognition of March 2 as Robert A. Fischer Day in St. Louis by Mayor Lyda Krewson.

The mayor’s proclamation reads in part “Mr. Fischer has served his hometown well and has done much to connect St. Louis to the world his entire career.”

In naming Fischer Emeritus Director, the WAC-STL Board recognized Fischer for nurturing “a relationship with the State Department’s Global Ties program, and hosted many guests from distant lands as part of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). This hospitality projected Saint Louis as one of kindness and willingness to promote economic and social development for other nations.” Other initiatives spearheaded during Fischer’s term included:

  • the WorldQuest program, which includes high school students to learn more about the world outside their borders and advanced lives of academic excellence and personal achievement.
  • the International Humanitarian of the Year award, which enabled Saint Louis to recognize organizations and individuals for their acts of kindness, compassion, and charity in times of disaster and difficulty.
  • the Great Decisions program to promote learning and discussion on international affairs for students, adults, and senior citizens in the Saint Louis region

Fischer became executive director of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis on January 2, 2002. From 1995 through 2001, he served as Vice President, International with Policy Management Systems Corporation (PMSC) located in Columbia, South Carolina; a publicly traded company that was the largest supplier of insurance industry software in the world.

Fischer began his business career in 1961 as a salesperson for IBM. After several highly successful years, he worked in national marketing and held several sales management positions. In 1973, Fischer became IBM’s Industry Director responsible for IBM’s global business within the insurance industry; a position he held until 1979. In addition to IBM, and PMSC, he held executive management positions with Dun & Bradstreet, McDonnell Douglas, Prime Computer, and Structural Dynamics Research Corporation. From 1982 through 1986, Fischer was the Group Executive of McDonnell Douglas Information Systems Group (MDISG); a business with annual revenues in excess of US $1 billion and that employed about 10,000 people.

Fischer is a native of St. Louis and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with a B.S. in Business Administration. He also served two years on active duty as a Captain in the United States Army. He is married and has five children and six grandchildren.