Taking over as health secretary during a pandemic was never going to be a walk in the park, but the public health crisis is only one among several daunting tasks awaiting Sajid Javid in his new post.
Javid was announced as the U.K.’s new health secretary on Saturday, after his predecessor Matt Hancock quit when a video of him kissing an aide and breaching coronavirus restrictions in the process emerged.
The former banker is no stranger to taking on big jobs, having previously served in a host of major Cabinet roles including home secretary and, most recently, a short stint as chancellor. But there is enough awaiting the new health secretary in his in-tray to strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned political operative.
John Timpson knows a thing or two about the high street. The chairman of the UK shoe-repair chain that bears his family name was, after all, entrusted to lead a 2018 government review into what the future UK high street would look like.
Though at one time he envisaged a future where the number of shops in British town centres would have halved, he could never have imagined how quickly that revolution would come. The impact of the pandemic on our towns and cities has, he says, been seismic: “What we have seen is ten years of change on the high street all in one go, but it’s been all the negatives, without any positives,” he explains.
The SolarWinds hack of the software supply chain, as well as the recent ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline, the critical energy infrastructure company, has elevated the importance of governments adopting a risk-based approach to cybersecurity.
Not long after disclosing the SolarWinds attack, the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced its Systemic Cyber Risk Reduction Venture. This is an effort to develop actionable metrics and quantify cybersecurity risk across the US’s critical infrastructure sectors, focusing on the relationship between threat, vulnerability, and consequence.
Shortly after this, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) provided advice and guidance to security teams and IT companies on what actions they should take to minimize the impact on them and their customers. Using tools such as the Cyber Information Sharing Programme (CiSP), they shared technical information on assessing if an organization was at risk and what actions they should take if they were. The industry and government initiative allowed UK organizations to share cyber threat information in a secure and confidential environment, providing organizations the ability to detect early warning of cyber threats and access to free network monitoring reports tailored to organizations’ requirements.
UK ISP BT and satellite operator OneWeb, which is partly owned by the UK government, have reached an agreement that will see the two working together to bring ultrafast low-latency broadband speeds to some of the hardest to reach rural parts of the country, where even their £5bn Project Gigabit programme would struggle to go.
At present OneWeb has launched a total of 218 small Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites into space, with another 36 set to join those on 1st July 2021, and the initial plan is to build a constellation of 648 satellites, which is enough for a reasonable level of global coverage by around the end of 2022.
GDPR is a ‘threenager’ this year, and despite battling through the terrible twos many organizations are still struggling to protect their data. Last year alone, the UK had the second-highest total value of GDPR fines across the EU, with companies paying £39.7m in total. And, at the start of the year, figures indicated that GDPR fines had reached a staggering £245m.
The risk of fines are, however, not confined to GDPR. Currently, there are 128 countries with data protection and privacy legislation — including CCPA, CCPA, PSD2, GLBA and a whole host of other acronyms.
At the same time, the business landscape has changed considerably in the last three years – cue obligatory mention of Brexit and COVID-19. To complicate the data protection challenge, the legislation itself could not have anticipated the fast-track adoption of technologies or the accelerated shift to cloud computing caused by the pandemic. A risk compounded by an unprecedented uptick of remote working and employees using home devices, and networks, that are almost certainly less secure than those found in the corporate environment.
These are not new concerns when it comes to data management and protection but the issue is that few businesses were prepared for how quickly things escalated. After all, many were focused on digital transformation to simply keep their business going so security in the design of new systems and processes was often neglected, albeit not through choice. The good news is valuable lessons have been learnt, particularly when it comes to protecting and managing data to ensure compliance. And through talking with many of our own customers, we can share a few.
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