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  • A new breed of public servants: skills and staffing after the pandemic
    Civil servants have broken new ground during the COVID-19 pandemic – using hackathons, scientific advisory groups and private sector volunteers to shape policy and deliver services, for example. But at the Global Government Summit, it became clear that these innovations may be dwarfed by the changes to come. Matt Ross listens in as leaders debate the future of governance When the pandemic struck, demand for some public services suddenly spiked. Many countries responded by moving staff between departments and agencies, short-circuiting the usual processes to get people where they were needed; some even reached out to furloughed private sector staff. “There was a need for surge manpower: we needed people to be safe distancing ambassadors; to distribute masks; to give out COVID support grants,” recalled Jacqueline Po, Deputy Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office Strategy Group in Singapore. “Sectors like aviation and hospitality were quite badly disrupted, and we were able, through our Public Service Division, to channel that manpower to some of the needs of the Public Service. Singapore Airlines stewardesses were helping out, working in hospitals rather than hospitality!”
  • Ex-NCSC chief Martin asks whether the new cyber strategy will make the UK safer
    The signature achievement of the government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Foreign and Development policy was a coherent plan to base future security and prosperity on scientific and technological excellence. The plan has everything need to give it strategic credibility: funding, policy, legislative and governance changes. But one underdeveloped part of this part of the document is cyberspace. Despite a narrative emphasis on Britain as a ‘cyber power’ there were no new policies or pounds. The only new ‘announcement’ was that there would be a national cyber strategy later this year. Intriguingly, this is to be a ‘whole of cyber’ strategy, replacing the two previous national cyber security strategies of 2011 and 2016. This seemingly arcane bureaucratic change matters. That’s because the strategy now incorporates not just the UK’s efforts to secure its digital homeland, but also offensive cyber – hacking others – in support of our own national security.
  • Government tells NHS Digital to collect sensitive GP records – patients have until 23 June to opt out
    The government has directed NHS Digital to collect sensitive health data in GP records, with citizens given until June 23rd to opt out. The move, which updates existing practices, has alarmed medConfidential, a group that campaigns for the privacy and confidentiality of health data, which says the measure was not flagged up, and despite promises of anonymisation and encryption of the data the programme may make sensitive data saleable to commercial companies and other third parties, as is already possible with hospital data. The General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) Directive by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock requires NHS Digital to “establish and operate an information system for the collection and analysis of General Practice data for health and social care purposes,” according to NHS Digital’s website (page since taken down), adding health data should be collected for health and social care purposes that “include but are not limited to health and social care policy, planning and commissioning purposes; public health purposes, including Covid-19 purposes… and research”. Its scope is limited to General Practices in England.
  • AWS wins yet another UK public-sector contract – this time to provide £15m health data system for NHS Scotland
    NHS Education for Scotland has awarded AWS a £15m contract to host its National Digital Platform, an architecture to share data across the nation’s health service. The education and training body within NHS Scotland said that the platform would be designed to “create and deploy real time data at the point of care”, “operate to a predictable architecture to enable new and innovative products to be developed and implemented” as well as “enable the use of data at scale for quality improvement and to support research and innovation”, according to a tender notice. The cloud infrastructure biz is set to host the data platform, including repositories of structured and unstructured clinical data, web services to power web and mobile applications, an integration layer, and web app. The platform is intended to enable the creation and use of information at source and facilitate the interoperability of existing and new healthcare technologies following the publication of the Digital Health and Care Strategy for Scotland in 2018.
  • EU court says Amazon won’t have to pay its $300 million tax bill
    Amazon has won an EU appeal after being hit with a €250 million ($303 million) tax bill by the European Commission (EC) in 2017, the WSJ has reported. After a similar decision in favor of Apple, the judgement is another setback for the EU in its effort make US tech giants pay more taxes. While Apple’s case centered around so called “state aid” from Ireland, Amazon came under fire for the use of an operating company based in Luxembourg. From 2006 to 2014, Amazon paid a significant royalty to that company, called Amazon Europe Holding Technologies SAS, reducing its taxable income. The commission accused it of inflating that royalty to reduce its operating profit. (Amazon has since changed its tax structure.) However, Amazon argued that the decision was full of “methodological errors” and that the payments were legal according to international tax principals. Europe’s second-highest court agreed, ruling that the setup didn’t confer any advantage to Amazon over other companies and that “the contested decision must be annulled in its entirety.” It’s not yet clear if the EC plans to appeal.
  • 2021 Queens Speech Touts Online Safety Bill and Broadband Boost
    The Queen has today carried out the first State Opening of Parliament since the pandemic began, which sets out the UK Government’s agenda for the coming session. As expected this included various references to gigabit broadband and mobile connectivity, as well as their plans to publish the controversial Online Safety Bill. As usual the speech is historically more of a ceremonial affair, which often only serves to feed the media with a tiny sliver of new information on forthcoming Government policy and precious little else in the way of detail. On the other hand, you do sometimes get a few surprises and as usual we keep an eye out for anything to do with broadband or telecoms. In terms of broadband and internet policy, this year there were no huge surprises as most of what the Queen announced has already been reported on before. Most of the policies relate to cutting more red tape and supporting the deployment of new fixed (full fibre) and mobile (4G, 5G) networks via the Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit programme and the £1bn Shared Rural Network (SRN) industry scheme.
  • Indian government says 5G doesn’t cause COVID-19. Also points out India has no 5G networks
    As COVID-19 continues to ravage India, the nation’s government has told it populace that 5G signals have nothing to do with the spread of the virus – if only because no 5G networks operate in India. A statement from the nation’s Department of Telecommunications states “several misleading messages are being circulated on various social media platforms claiming that the second wave of coronavirus has been caused by the testing of the 5G mobile towers.” After pointing out that the very notion is a nonsense, the department points out that India approved 5G trials on May 4th and they won’t start for months.
  • AWS, Microsoft and Google secure spots on £750m UK government Cloud Compute framework
    Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google and Microsoft are among the nine suppliers to have secured a place on the Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) £750m hyperscale-focused Cloud Compute framework The four-year framework is set up to allow public and third-sector organisations to purchase cloud infrastructure and platform-as-a-service offerings in high volume directly from suppliers that specialise in the provision of hyperscale, general-purpose compute environments. “[This framework is] necessarily restricted to pure compute requirements which do not require additional services such as design, detailed configuration, tailoring or any ongoing management or professional services to assist with data migration in or out,” said the original tender notice for the framework. Framework suppliers must also be able to host and provide their services primarily within the UK, and must be able to point to at least one example of a contract where they have delivered public cloud services to a private or public sector organisation during the last three years, the tender stipulated. As well as AWS, Google and Microsoft, the other suppliers on the framework are IBM, Oracle, Fordway Solutions, Frontier Technology, UKCloud and UKFast.net.
  • Working from home, the office and the cloud
    In March, the UK’s largest building society Nationwide announced that its 13,000 staff could choose where to work from. A staff survey showed that 57% wanted to work from home full time, while 36% said they would prefer a mix of office and home-based work. In October 2020, Microsoft advised its employees of its goal to offer as much flexibility as possible. Bill Gates subsequently predicted that more than half of all business travel and more than 30% of days in the office would not return post-pandemic. These are just two high profile examples of how the response to COVID-19 is changing the way we work. As Nationwide’s Chief Executive noted: “How we do our jobs is more important than where we do them from.” During the lockdowns, with commuting suspended, many organizations are realizing that they can save costs and have happier employees by supporting flexible working, but this is not set to be all home-based. We’re seeing a shift to a hybrid working environment – part home, part office, and with central ‘hubs’ being created as meeting spaces. Yet while employees have the luxury of choice, employers need to consider the options and create a communications and engagement strategy to keep this new dispersed workforce, and its customers, connected. They also need to ensure that their new ways of working are sustainable in the long term.
  • Why Companies Are Migrating Legacy Systems to Cloud Infrastructure
    At no point in time have industry leaders in IT desired a secure, cost-effective way to access their data more than they have in today’s post-COVID location-distributed world of remote work. It’s no wonder, then, that enterprises are migrating their legacy systems to the cloud with virtualization to reduce infrastructure costs and increase security while allowing their users to connect to business applications from any device at any time. The migration of legacy systems to the cloud infrastructure typically occurs alongside specific events which, more often than not, relate to the optimization of storage resources and the acceleration of a business’s digital transformation. As the pandemic continues, though, more enterprises are likely to realize just how constrained they are with an on-premise IT infrastructure that can’t accommodate a remote workforce. As more companies continue to migrate their legacy systems to cloud infrastructure, it’s important to examine the reasons behind their migrations as well as what they should expect once their systems are on the cloud. To that end, let’s dive into the biggest challenges that companies face as they make the move, as well as the most important tips they should bear in mind to make their transition as stress-free and seamless as they can.
  • US fuel supply company hit by ransomware, government steps in to restore services
    The Biden administration is working closely with fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline to help it restart operations as quickly as possible following last a cyber attack last week that forced the company to shut down its IT systems, halting critical pipeline operations. US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Sunday that resolving the issue quickly was a top priority for the government, and that all measures were being taken to prevent more severe disruptions to fuel supply. “It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ effort right now,” Raimondo said on CBS’s Face the Nation programme.
  • NCSC records 15-fold increase in online scam removal
    The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) took down more online scams last year than in the previous three years combined. The NCSC says a surge in coronavirus and NHS-themed cyber crime since the start of the pandemic led to the agency recording a massive 15-fold increase in the removal of online frauds in 2020 compared with 2019. The findings are included in the fourth annual report on the NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme, a pioneering service that was started in 2016 to protect Britons from millions of cyber attacks and which was expanded during 2020. The agency says there was a surge in the number of phishing campaigns using NHS branding to deceive victims; its ACD programme dealt with 122 NHS-related phishing campaigns in 2020, compared to 36 in 2019. Attackers used Covid-19 vaccine rollout as a primary lure in their text and email messages to steal people’s personal data for fraud. Some 43 fake NHS Covid-19 Test and Trace apps hosted outside of official Google and Apple app stores were pulled by NCSC last year.
  • Vodafone extends 12 months free broadband offer to UK small businesses
    Vodafone is relaunching its offer of 12 months free broadband for small businesses, hoping the deal will aid their post-pandemic recoveries after a challenging year for many. Lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures mean offices, shops and hospitality venues have been forced to close, while economic challenges have stifled demand. SMBs that have been able to continue operating have become increasingly reliant on their broadband connection to support a disparate workforce and serve customers. For example, cloud-based collaboration tools allow staff to work together remotely, while e-commerce platforms allow retailers to make sales.
  • In good health
    Technology has been vital to managing the pandemic, as well as helping other aspects of healthcare to run as smoothly as possible at a time of unprecedented strain. Devices, communications, and software are helping deliver new treatment pathways and patient interactions – both within the NHS and for private healthcare businesses. For Dave O’Shaughnessy, healthcare solutions consultant at Avaya, change is here to stay. He said, “Proactive, digitally enabled patient engagement will be a transformative development of both public and private healthcare for the foreseeable future. How can healthcare organisations better communicate and collaborate between their patients and appropriate staff, and over a patient’s channel of preference? Partners and MSPs should become aware and closely familiar with the strategies and projects for this unstoppable evolution in delivery and access to healthcare services that the pandemic has accelerated us towards. “Partners and MSPs must identify and develop relationships with the key personnel who will be responsible for this transformation in patient engagement. Look to share compelling use-cases and examples of the latest in technological innovations that align with patient or customer engagement and experience goals you’ve learned about.” Ian Wilcox, public sector strategist at MLL Telecom, said it is worth knowing the public sector, including NHS trusts, are mandated to use Crown Commercial Service (CCS) frameworks for procurements over £1,000,000 unless they can justify otherwise. “Local authorities and health organisations do have local procurement rules and may have approved supplier lists they can go to for contracts under the Government’s procurement threshold.
  • Global WAN Competition Alarms for the Telcos
    Recently there came some alarms for the major telcos about the global Wide Area Network (WAN) market dynamics. That is, some cloud hyperscalers like Google and Cloudflare are entering the global WAN infrastructure and access market. Cloudflare just announced the launch of its Network as a Service (NaaS) named Magic WAN & Magic Firewall. The firm will partner with SD-WAN vendors VMware and Aruba, whose SD-WAN appliances can be configured to direct traffic to a Cloudflare global PoP and then ride on its massive private backbone. Another announcement is that Google has expanded its relationship with Cisco to automate the provisioning of WAN links over Google’s global private backbone network, which can be called a Software defined underlay. As the WAN technologies are transforming from MPLS to SD-WAN/SASE, we know that regional/national vs. global SD-WAN/SASE may have different flavors especially in terms of the underlay network. In developed countries like the US, UK, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Singapore, etc., the public Internet backbone and access are robust and reliable enough to support SD-WAN/SASE overlay in country services.
  • National Cyber Security Centre launches new small business guide
    In an effort to support improving the cyber security among small business, the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has released a new guide to give practice advice to business owners. Outlining five quick and easy steps which small businesses can take to improve their security and protect their data, the steps can be taken by any and all organisations to improve their cyber security. NCSC highlighted the steps’ ability to save organisations time, money and even business’ reputation or trust – which would potentially be lost in the event of a cyber attack.
  • New smart city cyber security guidance published
    As local authorities continue to develop more data-driven, smart city environments, cyber security is becoming an increasingly important consideration, with new security principles guidance being released by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The new report – Connected Places Cyber Security Principles – is designed to help authorities build awareness and understanding of the security considerations needed to design, build and manage their increasingly interconnected places. The greater the volume of data which is being shared and transferred around these smart cities, the more challenging it becomes to both maintain resiliency to cyber threats and effectively manage the data gathered. Within the new guidance, the NCSC outlines a series of recommended cyber security principles to help ensure the safety and optimum management of connected places and their underlying infrastructure.
  • Entries are open for the Digital Technology Leaders Awards 2021
    “Digital is the future”. It’s been a maxim for over a decade, but it’s clearly out of date: digital is now. That’s why the Digital Technology Leaders Awards 2021 are so important. The last year has seen a huge shakeup to what we consider ‘normal’. Businesses, customers and private individuals are using technology to a greater level than ever before, and those who have tried to maintain business-as-usual have been left behind. Companies have had to re-evaluate their approach to not only their daily business, but their overall strategy. In this landscape, innovative firms and individuals have used technology to stand out from the crowd.
  • Belgian public-sector network suffers cyberattack, affecting parliament
    The attack disrupted a planned meeting of Belgian’s Foreign Affairs, which had been due to discuss the human rights situation in Xinjiang Belgium suffered a large-scale DDoS attack on Tuesday, impacting the activities of many of its key institutions including Parliament, ministries, educational establishments and public administration offices
  • Ofcom research shows 1.5 million UK homes do not have internet access
    A new research conducted by the UK telecom regulator Ofcom shows that nearly 1.5 million homes in the UK still do not have internet access. It also noted that the proportion of homes without internet access has fallen from 11% in March last year to 6% in March this year. People aged above 65, lower income households, and the most financially vulnerable are least likely to have home internet access. Ofcom’s research found that nearly all children of school age have online access in the home where 4% depend on only on mobile internet during the Covid-19 pandemic while 2% of them can get online only using a smartphone. It is found that about 5% of school-aged children from the most financially vulnerable homes were more likely than those 2% children from least financially vulnerable households to have mobile-only access. Ofcom Strategy and Research Group director Yih-Choung The said: “For many people, lockdown will leave a lasting legacy of improved online access and better digital understanding. “But for a significant minority of adults and children, it’s only served to intensify the digital divide.
  • What did the pandemic mean for Microsoft? A 44 percent jump in profits.
    One thing we’ve learned over the past year: the COVID-19 pandemic has been awful for humanity, but a boon to most big tech companies. That’s truer than ever for Microsoft, which announced a 19 percent increase in revenues for the third quarter ($41.7 billion), compared to last year. Even more impressive, the company’s profits jumped by 44 percent to reach $15.5 billion. Microsoft narrowly beat out Wall Street analyst expectations, who projected it would hit $41.05 billion in revenues during the quarter, according to Yahoo Finance. The reason for Microsoft’s success isn’t hard to figure out. Information workers are relying more on the company’s cloud and digital services more than ever, a trend that won’t slow down until they start returning to offices. (And it’s unclear if office attendance will ever return to the Before Times.) Microsoft says its Azure business revenues are up 50 percent compared to last year, while its overall Intelligent Cloud revenues are up 22 percent (reaching $15.1 billion). “Over a year into the pandemic, digital adoption curves aren’t slowing down. They’re accelerating, and it’s just the beginning,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “We are building the cloud for the next decade, expanding our addressable market and innovating across every layer of the tech stack to help our customers be resilient and transform.”
  • Google Cloud remains in the red despite revenue jump
    Alphabet’s Google Cloud unit failed to dig itself out of the red, despite posting first quarter revenue that increased a whopping 45% year on year. During an earnings call, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted “three distinct market trends” driving growth in Google Cloud, citing interest in its Data Cloud for analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads, cloud infrastructure for enterprise IT overhauls and its Workspace product for hybrid work environments. “We are winning large IT transformation deals with the companies that are migrating their data centers to Google Cloud,” he said. “Multi-cloud remains a differentiator as it provides the easiest and most open development environment for customers like Telus, allowing them to access and move their data between various plants.” Consolidated Alphabet revenue of $55.3 billion was up 32% year on year in Q1 2021 from $41.2 billion, with Google Search and other advertising revenue accounting for the bulk of this ($31.9 billion). Google Cloud revenue of $4 billion was up from $2.8 billion in the year-ago period. Total net income skyrocketed from $6.8 billion to $17.9 billion, thanks in part to a $4.8 billion boost CFO Ruth Porat on the earnings call attributed to “unrealized gains in the value of investments in equity securities.” Google Cloud remained in the hole, although it significantly narrowed its loss to $974 million from $1.7 billion in the year-ago quarter. Porat reiterated the company expects Google Cloud’s “operating results should benefit from increased scale over time,” but noted for now it remains “focused on continuing to invest to build the cloud organization for long-term performance.”
  • Openreach Campaign Raises Awareness of Analogue UK Phone Retirement
    Network access provider Openreach (BT) has today launched a new national “Call Waiting List” campaign, which aims to raise awareness among UK businesses of their plans to withdraw old copper-based analogue phone (PSTN / WLR etc.) services by December 2025 and replace them with digital (IP / VoIP) alternatives. At present many homes and businesses still connect a traditional phone or DECT handset directly to a Master or Extension Socket on the wall, but the shift to Internet Protocol (IP) based digital connectivity – via both copper and full fibre (FTTP) lines – means that new phone services are increasingly becoming optional and are instead handled by your broadband connectivity (e.g. handsets connected to a router, rather than a wall socket).
  • Remote working security truths after a year of lockdown
    When the last lockdown finally ends, life and business will never be the same again. The pandemic has brought huge changes to the working world, many of which look likely to become long-term, permanent and irreversible. One of the most significant legacies of the pandemic is likely to be a wider acceptance of home working, which many workers and organizations have to come to see as the new normal. According to a CIPD survey, two-thirds of 2,000 UK companies plan to embrace a hybrid model which will see staff split their time between home and the office. It’s a big change for organizations to grapple with and few businesses have had time to calmly plan policies to suit this new era – until now. Rapid shifts to new ways of working exposed unexpected security weaknesses, but we are now armed with the benefit of experience to better prepare for the year ahead, whatever it may bring. So how should security professionals prepare for the challenges of this new era.
  • Over half of employees using own devices and software to work from home
    The majority of employees are still using personal devices to work from home during the pandemic, despite possible security risks, new research has found. A global survey of over ten thousands workers by analyst firm Gartner found that 55% of those surveyed are using personally owned smartphone or laptop devices for their work at least some of the time. This change in becoming more sel-reliant has led a growing number of workers to consider themselves to now be experts in using digital technology, with 18% of those surveyed by Gartner claiming to be so.
  • The UK’s plan to tackle big tech won’t be one-size fits all
    The director of a new unit set up this month inside the UK’s competition watchdog — with a dedicated focus on tech giants’ impacts on digital markets — has been giving a hint of how it could operate, once it’s on a statutory footing and imbued with powers to sanction problem platforms and potentially even order some forms of structural separation. The government announced its intention to regulate big tech in November last year — saying it would establish a “pro-competition” regime to tackle concerns associated with digital markets, such as ‘winner takes all’ network-effect dynamics. It’s not clear when exactly that will happen — the government has only said it will do so as soon as parliamentary time allows.
  • Cyber security and the power of analogy at Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea councils
    Effective cyber security begins with good communication. Explaining the risks to people and making them feel confident of handling or escalating incidents is every bit as important as installing the latest firewalls, network monitoring and anti-malware systems. Zakki Ghauri, interim head of cyber security & information governance at London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council, has made cyber risk communication something of a mission. As someone whose background is change management and transformation rather than cyber security, he says he approaches the issue from a different angle than a typical CISO. “I have a really good team around me, very knowledgeable, and I think a lot of what I try to do is pull out their expertise and use it in slightly different ways of working,” he said. “What I’m doing is around culture change.”
  • Senior Civil Servants Admit They Have No Idea What Businessman Lex Greensill Was Doing In Downing Street
    The country’s most senior civil servant Simon Case said he is alarmed Australian businessman Lex Greensill had a Downing Street pass but no official job contract, and it is unknown what he was doing there. Greensill, who wrote on his own business card that he was “senior adviser, PM’s Office”, was granted a security pass under David Cameron, which was signed off by former minister Francis Maude and former permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office Ian Watmore. Cameron went on to work for Greensill once he had left government and has been at the centre of a lobbying scandal since it emerged he had tried to secure finance for Greensill Capital by lobbying the Treasury during the pandemic.
  • London UK ISP G.Network to Train 255 New Full Fibre Engineers
    UK ISP G.Network, which is building a 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network for homes and businesses across London, has launched a new recruitment and training programme that it hopes will tackle the shortage of qualified telecoms engineers by training up an extra workforce of 255 people this year. At present the provider has already managed to cover 190,000 premises in the city (up from 160k in Dec 2020). On top of that they’ve since been boosted by a major fund raise from USS and Cube Infrastructure Managers, which will enable them to invest £1bn in order to extend their “full fibre” network across 1.4 million premises in London (13 boroughs) over the next 5 years (here). Naturally such a large project will require significantly more engineers and G.Network are keen to build up their own in-house team, hence today’s announcement. We should point out that the £1bn funding deal envisaged the need to create 1,250 new jobs (mostly engineers), thus the plan to add 255 engineers – those without any previous experience – will not be their only recruitment exercise (they also intend to recruit lots of qualified staff).
  • EC proposes tough new AI rules including 6% of turnover for violations
    The European Commission is seeking to govern the impact of AI on humans and business. The EC proposed new rules to cover the impact of AI on humans and businesses. It wants a trustworthy environment for the development of innovative products and services in the European Union (EU). Trust is a must The EC said the rules would take a risk-based approach to AI, looking to balance promoting the technology – which it sees as key to economic growth in Europe – with protecting people. It also wants to be seen as setting a global standard. The EC’s EVP Margrethe Vestager oversees digital strategy in Europe and competition. She said the regulations will be “future-proof and innovation-friendly”. She also said, “On artificial intelligence, trust is a must, not a nice to have. With these landmark rules, the EU is spearheading the development of new global norms to make sure AI can be trusted.”
  • Intellectual Property Office explores ways to help SMEs bring ideas to market
    The UK government is exploring how its Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) IP for Business tools can enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to take their ideas to market. An intellectual property (IP) can include a website, company name or logo. Assets of IP can also include designs, innovative technology, know-how and secret recipes. The IP for Business tools are aimed at helping know how IP works and find out what can be protected using patents, copyright, trademarks and designs. It also helps understand the management and usage of IP and use it to protect investments and products. Using the IP Equip e-learning tool, both corporate and business advisers can obtain more information about IP rights. The UK government stated that the IP Health Check helps in identifying and understanding the IP assets that one owns in a business. Initially, the individual needs to answer a questionnaire and will receive a free, confidential report with advice and recommendations. It also noted that four modules cover the basics of copyright, designs, trademarks and patents.
  • 9 in 10 businesses using Microsoft Teams
    A new study has revealed that 98 per cent of UK businesses are using at least one team collaboration tool. Microsoft Teams is by far the most popular, with 90 per cent of UK businesses currently using it. The study, commissioned by Enghouse Interactive and conducted by ContactBabel, also showed that half of survey respondents using Microsoft Teams do so not only for communication within their internal team, but also for customer-facing contact, whether for voice, chat, video, messaging or a mixture of these. This indicates the platform and the contact centre environment are now integrated in many organisations.
  • Global chip shortages to last for another six months, Cisco CEO
    Jaguar Land Rover has suspended production at two plants due to a shortage of computer chips The global computer chip shortage is set to impact supply chains for the rest of the year, according to Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins. “We think we’ve got another six months to get through the short term,” Robbins told the BBC in an interview. “The providers are building out more capacity. And that’ll get better and better over the next 12 to 18 months,” he added. The problem at the moment is “big”, Robbins thinks, simply because semiconductors are used “in virtually everything.” The curtailed supply of chips has disrupted many industries, who reduced chip orders at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, thinking that the demand would fall. The fall in demand led chipmakers to reduce production at their facilities. But the demand for consumer electronics, such as smartphones, laptops and PCs, increased during the pandemic after most firms asked their employees to work from home. This led to a chip crisis, affecting many industries worldwide. The global chip supply has also been worsened due to other factors, including a drought in Taiwan and a blaze at a semiconductor factory in Japan.
  • Deskflix: Digital Workplace – supporting the new way of working
    Tackling the cultural and technical challenges of WFH The Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on our lives with most organisations making a sudden switch to mass remote working. As restrictions are progressively eased, the impact continues, with organisations having to decide when to allow staff back into offices, what proportion of remote working should be expected, and how all of this should be supported. Whilst in the early days of lockdown teething troubles with overloaded networks, malfunctioning video calls and patchy remote access to certain systems was tolerated, both staff and customers now expect far higher levels of service. This means tackling both the cultural challenges of understanding how and where employees want to work, and the technical challenges of offering a seamless IT experience whatever the new world looks like.
  • TalkTalk Sees UK Internet Traffic Fall by 13% as Lockdown Eases
    The combination of good weather and the further easing of COVID-19 related lockdown restrictions has, according to UK ISP TalkTalk, seen weekly broadband traffic on their network fall by 13% since the latest relaxation of rules started on 12th April 2021. In short, we’re all spending more time outside. The news comes after TalkTalk revealed in February 2021 […]
  • Ofcom Will Stop Requiring UK Phone Providers to Offer Local Dialling
    Ofcom has today launched a second consultation on the future use of UK telephone numbers, which among other things proposes to remove the obligation on phone operators to provide a “local dialling” facility (this requirement is less relevant on modern internet based networks) and to prohibit “cash for calls” schemes. Last year saw the regulator move to reshape how phone numbers will be handled and ported in the future (here), which reflected the rapidly increasingly move away from traditional fixed line phone (PSTN) services and toward modern Internet Protocol (IP / VoIP) style platforms. Indeed, Openreach intend to withdraw traditional phone services by the end of 2025, in favour of IP based services (e.g. BT’s Digital Voice).
  • New research reveals employee tech frustrations
    New research from Citrix has revealed that the majority (76 per cent) of UK office workers experienced changes to both their workplace technology and culture in 2020, but these changes left almost a third more frustrated at work. The poll, conducted by 3GEM, surveyed 1,000 UK office workers in large businesses about how their workplace culture and technology had changed in 2020, and the impact on productivity and employee engagement levels. Mark Sweeney, regional VP of UK and Ireland, Citrix, explained, “Many UK businesses successfully invested in workspace technology and working policies that enabled truly collaborative and productive remote working for their staff last year. Yet, in some cases, Covid-driven changes to workplace technology clearly fell short.
  • Crown Commercial Service extends G-Cloud 12 to 2022
    Crown Commercial Service has announced that it has extended G-Cloud 12 to 2022, a further 12 months from its original end date Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has extended G-Cloud 12 to 27th September 2022, a further 12 months from its original end date of 27th September 2021. The extension will allow CCS to make improvements to the customer journey before the next iteration of the agreement is delivered.
  • Building momentum for digitisation at an NHS trust
    At the core I’m a nurse but I could see processes struggling to keep up with the times’, says CNIO Dione Rogers Dione Rogers, chief nursing informatics officer (CNIO) at Kettering General Hospital (KGH) NHS Foundation Trust seems, at first glance, to be an unusual inclusion in the judging panel at the Women in Technology Excellence Awards. However, she is a former winner of the Digital Leader of the Year award. In 2020 judges recognised her outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of patients and employees of KGH by means of her highly successful stewardship of digital initiatives within the KGH Trust. Rogers has been a nursing professional for 26 years, working in acute care and also in rehabilitation, but by 2019 could see that the digital access to services in common use in other industries had the potential to deliver huge benefits to the NHS and its patients. She was so convinced of the power of digital transformation that she turned down a promotion in favour of her present role as CNIO.
  • Are hybrid events the future for tech?
    There was never a compelling reason to blend physical and digital audiences – but the pandemic has changed the conversation around hybrid events Despite the UK’s successful vaccination programme, the Coronavirus pandemic is set to remain for some time, so where does that leave face-to-face tech events? Whilst Computing has found significant success in its virtual events, there is no doubt appetite for some physical interaction. How can we as an industry enable that where appropriate, without losing the undoubted benefits of the virtual world?
  • Five things we learned about the future of digital government
    It is safe to say that the last year has been, for most of us and in so many ways, like nothing we have ever experienced before. If restrictions and infections continue to ease, what is less certain is what happens next, and the ways in which life after coronavirus will be both different and the same to the pre-pandemic world. For many of us, the most manifest and profound changes have come in our working lives. This surely includes large numbers of civil servants and other public sector employees; no sooner had the country gone into its first lockdown, then almost all departments switched to a model in which well over 90% of their workforces were performing their duties remotely. With many local and central government officials now having done so for more than a year and counting, the experiences of the last 13 months will surely resonate well beyond the end of the Covid-19 crisis. Some of the many changes that will result from the Covid crisis have already taken place. For example, the new standardised contract for HM Revenue and Customs staff enshrines their right to at least two days of homeworking each week.
  • 26 Percent of UK People Never Use their Landline for Phone Calls
    A new Opinium survey of 2,001 UK adults, which was conducted in mid-March 2021 and commissioned by Uswitch, has revealed that 26% of people with a landline don’t even have a phone attached to it and 35% of respondents said they only have a landline because it’s needed for their broadband connection. By now it’s a well-known fact that traditional landline phone services are in terminal decline, at least they are for the residential market. Today most of us own a Mobile phone and probably make way more use of it than our dusty home phones, many of which are connected via a copper line over the traditional phone (PSTN / POTS) network. This is hardly a surprise, given the higher cost of call packages via traditional home phones.
  • UK risks own goal with open RAN diversity plan
    The security of the UK’s telecom infrastructure and the sanctity of the beautiful game would seem to have little in common, but the same government officials preside over both in the oddly named Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Previously lampooned as the Ministry of Fun, it is suddenly on a crusade to overthrow both telecom and soccer tycoons, all in the name of openness. If that principle looks impossible to uphold when policymakers are this interventionist, the government seems oblivious. Not since Galtieri invaded the Falklands has there been as much Conservative government outrage as when six of the UK’s biggest soccer clubs this week said they would unite with foreign clubs such as Spain’s Real Madrid in the breakaway European Super League (ESL). Conscious that soccer is the opium of the British people, and possibly the only thing between him and a vicious mob of publicans and small business owners angry about lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was apoplectic. “I’m going to do everything I can to give this ludicrous plan a straight red,” he appealed to the masses in the Sun newspaper.
  • How much extra are Brits willing to pay for a full fibre home?
    A new survey conducted on behalf of Zen Internet suggests that the UK public would be willing to pay over £1,500 extra for houses with fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband According to a new survey, Brit’s are becoming increasingly aware of the value of quality broadband connectivity and are willing to pay accordingly for its availability when buying a new home. The survey, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Zen Internet, questioned 2,026 UK adults about the importance of quality broadband when considering purchasing a new home. In total, 75% of respondents said they would not buy a home if they knew local connectivity was poor, with 79% saying they would like to see housing developers and estate agents offer broadband quality tests prior to sale. The survey also showed that UK adults would be willing to pay an average of £1,514 more for homes that had FTTP connectivity, a figure that represents an additional 0.6% on top of the average UK house price as of the end of 2020.
  • UK government signs new three-year Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft
    The UK government has signed a new three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Microsoft to enable public sector organisations to continue to unlock the benefits of cloud computing and business applications. The new MOU, entitled the Digital Transformation Arrangement 2021 (DTA21), allows all eligible public sector organisations to benefit from discounts and beneficial terms for Microsoft 365, Azure as well as associated Support and Consulting services, and for the first time – Dynamics 365 and Power Platform cloud services. DTA21 renews the existing DTA MOU as a three-year agreement starting on May 1, 2021, and runs until April 2024. It brings together Microsoft 365, which includes Modern Workplace offerings such as Teams, the current Azure Pricing Arrangement (APA) and expands into new areas such as Business Applications. The new MOU was negotiated by Microsoft and Crown Commercial Service, an Executive Agency of the Cabinet Office and the UK’s largest public procurement body. The MOU’s between Microsoft and the UK government have increasingly focused on cloud services since the Government launched its Cloud First policy in 2013. The policy was reassessed in 2019 and remains a flagship technology policy. The MOU builds on the Government’s One Government Cloud Strategy and the principles of the Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) strategy, which focuses on modernising technology, strengthening cyber defence, improving digital skills and embedding a culture of innovation. It also supports more recent issues such as supporting the UK’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainability and the social value agenda.
  • Data sovereignty challenges in the cloud landscape
    Data sovereignty could jeopardize the safety of a business and its customers There are continuous developments in the tech space, which can make choosing cloud computing and cloud storage solutions and vendors an overwhelming experience. (Need I mention Scott Brinker’s famous martech map, which saw a growth of 13.6% in martech solutions alone in 2020). So it’s no wonder that some decision-makers feel like flipping the research aside and crowning one solitary cloud provider to reign over their global domain. Rather than by choice, some decision-makers have felt they’ve had to do this due to a lack of clear options. Consolidation is trending, particularly among large cloud providers, who are either buying up or wiping out smaller local offerings. A monopoly in this space would certainly see customers locked into dependencies, and cause a wave of anti-competitiveness across the market.
  • MI5: Spies are using LinkedIn to steal secrets from UK nationals
    As many as 10,000 Brits have been targeted, including security and military officials, civil servants, defence contractors and pharmaceutical industry experts Security agency MI5 has warned that foreign spies are using LinkedIn to contact British officials and steal classified information from them. The agency said that people using fake profiles LinkedIn had approached at least 10,000 Brits with access to sensitive information, across government departments and key industries, over the past five years. China and Russia are thought to be among the hostile states using professional networking and social media sites to trick staff into revealing classified secrets.
  • The 10 big digital trends dominating 2021
    The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way that people interact with each other, as social distancing and stay-at-home directives have forced millions to seek new ways of staying connected. This shift is certainly reflected by many of the most significant digital marketing trends that have emerged so far in 2021. Though trends are usually independent of economic factors, COVID-19 was a major influencer throughout 2020 as companies had to adapt to the crisis, with late digital adopters much more likely to be affected than those who had already incorporated digital processes into their operations. Taking all that has happened over the past 12 months into account, here are 10 of the biggest trends that are set to dominate the digital world in 2021.
  • Moving to remanufactured laptops could save the UK a million tonnes of carbon and £1bn a year, says Circular Computing
    Because the reconditioned units reuse much of the original device, emissions, water and raw materials are significantly reduced, with costs 40 per cent less If all businesses in the UK used refurbished laptops instead of buying new, they could save almost £1 billion per year and reduce carbon emissions by one million tons annually over the next nine years. That’s according to Portsmouth-based vendor Circular Computing, which specialises in remanufacturing and reselling enterprise laptops to businesses, education and the public sector. Remanufacturing, according to British Standard BS 8887-211, means: ‘returning a product to at least its original performance with a warranty that is equivalent or better than that of the newly manufactured product’. Circular Computing claims its remanufactured machines offer 97 per cent of the performance of a new device. Because the reconditioned units reuse much of the original device, embedded emissions, water use and raw material requirements are significantly reduced compared with new equipment, and the devices are about 40 per cent cheaper, the company says. According to Circular Computing’s calculations, by moving completely to remanufactured devices UK businesses would reduce carbon emissions by of nine million tons and water usage by 5.4 trillion litres by 2030, with financial savings amounting to an estimated £7.7 billion.
  • How the pandemic has accelerated the future of work
    Hybrid working could soon become the new normal 2020 was a year like no other with organizations around the world having to transition to remote working at an unprecedented pace. While working from home has become more common in recent years, up until now it was considered a perk that businesses could offer potential employees to sweeten the deal. Last year though saw employees scrambling to set up home offices as they learned to use video conferencing software, VPN services, remote desktop software and other tools needed to communicate with their teams while trying to stay secure online. Organizations themselves also had to come to terms with all of these changes and learn how to manage their now remote workforces. To learn more about some of the lessons learned during the pandemic by Lenovo, TechRadar Pro spoke with the company’s VP and CMO of its Intelligent Devices Group, Emily Ketchen.
  • Dispelling the myths around passwordless authentication
    When it comes to password managers, the humble combination of a username and password has secured our access to information since the start of IT. Although this model is still largely the norm, a paradigm shift is on the horizon as new passwordless solutions and technologies gain in popularity, such as biometrics, laying the foundation for a more secure standard for accessing information in the digital world. Yet, while a combination of passwordless authentication and biometrics could transform digital authentication and security, misconceptions about privacy breaches, accuracy levels and security risks may hinder widespread adoption. This article will debunk some of the most common myths associated with passwordless authentication and biometrics, as well as the improvements that need to be made to the current passwordless model.
  • Five tips for creating an effective digital workplace
    Digital workplaces create less friction for employees, wherever they may be
  • New Government Changes to Boost 5G Mobile Cover in England
    The Government has today begun a consultation on their proposed changes to Permitted Development (PD) rights for mobile infrastructure, which seeks to extend 5G and 4G (mobile broadband) coverage in rural areas of England via key changes (e.g. allowing taller masts of up to 30 metres and softening planning permission). At present all the major Mobile Network Operators (MNO) – Three UK, Vodafone, O2 and EE (BT) – are in the process of deploying gigabit-capable 5G networks across the country. On top of that the £1bn industry led Shared Rural Network project (inc. £500m of public investment) is also working to extend geographic 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025, which may also aid future 5G coverage.
  • Virgin Media hits 2.2Gbps speeds in latest broadband innovation trial
    Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media has successfully completed a broadband innovation trial in which it achieved multi-gigabit speeds. In the trial, Virgin Media achieved speeds of 2,200Mbps in Manchester and Southampton—around 40 times faster than average local connections. Jeanie York, Virgin Media’s Chief Technology and Information Officer, said: “We invest more than £1 billion into our network every year to deliver leading connectivity today, but our talented teams never stop pushing forward to ensure we’re ready to power our customers’ connectivity needs for whatever comes next. Our services are being relied on and used more than ever before, and these innovative trials in Manchester and Southampton demonstrate how Virgin Media’s existing network is fit for the future with hyperfast, multi-gigabit broadband speeds delivered straight to customer homes.” Virgin Media uses DOCSIS technology across its network. The latest trial used the company’s existing cable network with DOCSIS 3.1 technology. Multi-gigabit speeds will help to futureproof against emerging demands such as real-time AR/VR and streaming of boxsets and video games in 8K and upwards. The hyperfast speeds of Virgin Media’s latest trial were verified using tools from British telecoms regulator Ofcom’s technical partner, SamKnows. Virgin Media already offers a gigabit broadband service known as Gig1, which launched in late 2019 and delivers average speeds of 1,130Mbps. The latest trial used the same Hub 4 router which comes as standard with Gig1.
  • How immersive tech can revolutionise our public services
    The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyone’s reality. This crisis has catalysed the need to digitise across sectors and has shown the positive impact technology can have when it comes to working from home at least. But as we look forward, many public service organisations are looking for innovative ways and technologies to enhance services for everyone. One such area is immersive technologies. From Augmented Reality (AR) to the fully immersive Virtual Reality (VR), immersive technologies vary in terms of complexity, immersion and usually cost. For some, VR and AR are just the latest video-games headset on the market, but their uses are already much wider such as virtual house viewings, training firefighters and workplace safety training. The potential of AR/VR systems is endless: according to Forbes, the market will reach $571bn by 2025 as we continue to see the technologies integrate into our everyday lives. Immersive technologies have the potential to make a huge difference to the delivery of public services. COVID-19, and continued social distancing, has increased the need for solutions to engage communities and provide essential ‘in field’ services remotely. Unlike many new technologies, there is scope for public services to take a lead on the use of immersive technologies over the private sector. With this in mind, I see four main areas where they are already making an impact and can go further:
  • Rethinking collaboration: 8 vendors offer new paths to remote work
    With the need for efficient collaboration tools exploding in recent months, a variety of companies hope to refine how those tools work and what they can do. We look at eight now pushing the envelope. Keeping employees connected and working productively has become the glue holding many businesses together during the COVID-19 pandemic. And with social distancing ruling out face-to-face meetings anytime soon, the need for new digital tools to help teams collaborate better has soared. In addition to mainstays like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet, there are range of start-ups and scale-ups working on innovative ways to connect workers. Increasingly, collaboration isn’t just about team chat: people work together in countless ways — meaning the tools they now need will likely come in many shapes and sizes. The rush to work from home, and more recently, to figure out how to safely re-open offices, has spurred companies to move quickly. There are a range of communication apps from which to choose: apps for instant messaging, video and email, work management tools to coordinate projects for teams, and collaborative productivity apps more tuned to teamwork than shuffling papers.
  • Digital procurement: What do suppliers really need from the Government?
    As someone who is involved with the public sector’s digital transformation work on a daily basis, the Government’s Green Paper on transforming public procurement was a thought-provoking read for me. I am also a strong believer that making an effort to be transparent and demonstrating social value are infinitely important for everyone involved in the process. The Government’s aim is for this Green Paper to prompt an overhaul of public procurement, creating more opportunities for innovative, smaller companies to win business. Despite the paper making the right kind of noises, there doesn’t seem to be anything that signals a big change. Aiming for openness and a process that supports SMEs is one thing, but the practicalities of implementing it, and enforcing the rules, is a wholly different story.
  • What Criminals Plan Via Encrypted Messaging Services
    The infiltration of an encrypted phone messaging service by Belgian authorities led to a record cocaine haul, showing how such secretive communications are crucial both to those operating international drug trafficking rings and those seeking to dismantle them. Between February 20 and April 5, 28 tons of cocaine, with a street value of nearly $1.5 billion, were seized as part of an international operation involving Belgian, Dutch and French police. Dozens of arrests have also been made in connection with these seizures. These seizures were made after the three countries targeted Sky ECC, an encrypted phone network popular with criminal organizations. The transportation of this cocaine from a number of Latin American countries had been planned via Sky ECC messages. The hack revealed that Belgian and Dutch criminal groups had been sub-contracted by Colombian groups to then ensure the product reached other buyers in Italy, Albania, the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to the Guardian
  • Priti Patel: Facebook encryption plan ‘could harm’ fight against child abuse
    Home Secretary Priti Patel will use a virtual conference today to urge Facebook to “take the safety of children as seriously” as it does the business of advertising on internet. Patel will warn the tech giant that its plan to roll out end-to-end encryption across all its messaging platforms could jeopardise the ongoing work to combat child abuse. “We cannot allow a situation where law enforcement’s ability to tackle abhorrent criminal acts and protect victims is severely hampered,” Patel will tell the conference.
  • UK invokes national security to probe Nvidia’s ARM deal
    The UK government will look into the national security implications of U.S. group Nvidia’s (NVDA.O) purchase of British chip designer ARM Holdings, it said on Monday, putting a question mark over the $40 billion deal. Digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Monday he had issued a so-called “intervention notice” over the sale of ARM by Japan’s SoftBank (9984.T) to Nvidia. “As a next step and to help me gather the relevant information, the UK’s independent competition authority will now prepare a report on the implications of the transaction, which will help inform any further decisions,” he said. Nvidia said it did not believe the deal posed any material national security issues.

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