Catch up on this week’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
Newcastle University ransomed
A cybercriminal group, known as DoppelPaymer, has carried out a ransomware attack on Newcastle University and is holding it to ransom by threatening to release personal data about its staff and students. Timed to take place at the busy start of the academic year and in the midst of the chaotic, post-lockdown return to campus, it has hit the university at one of its most critical times.
According to the university, it could take weeks to fix the IT issues caused by the ransomware, and, as such, many of its services will remain offline. This could be particularly damaging if, like many other universities, it intends to carry out much of its teaching over the internet. The cost is likely to be significant, with third-party security experts needing to be contracted to deal with the scale of the damage.
Qbot malware alert
An improved and stealthier version of the data-stealing Qbot malware has become highly prevalent during August, according to Check Point Research. Cybercriminals have been using it heavily in malware campaigns during the month and it is believed to have affected 5% of organisations globally.
Qbot is distributed using the Emotet Trojan, itself the most potent malware during the last month, and through spam emails. The malware’s recent advances mean it is now capable of stealing data on a huge scale from both organisations and individuals.
Check Point Research advises businesses to deploy anti-malware solutions, such as the firewalls and intrusion preventions systems we use to protect our customers at WHUK, and to train employees to be cautious about opening emails, even those purporting to come from trusted sources.
Remote workers work for longer
If you are planning to bring remote workers back to the office, think again. According to a survey by Vodafone, most of them are doing more work at home than they did in the office. The study of over 1000 UK SME employees shows that 60% of them are using the time they previously spent commuting to put in extra hours. Indeed, 40% have worked an average equivalent of 26 days extra since lockdown began.
Concern about the impact of remote working on town centre businesses has led the government to call for more employees to return to the workplace. However, a survey of over 6,000 workers by Cardiff University found 88% would prefer to work from home more often and half of them permanently. And while they are not spending money in town centre cafes and eateries, at least a quarter of them are supporting local businesses nearer to home.
Water company adopts cloud
Utility company, Severn Trent, is adopting cloud technology to help it manage its water even better. Using cloud and IoT, it is developing a platform that will gather data from across its estate to monitor and manage its equipment and infrastructure. The company aims to create a system that can predict the effects of weather, detect issues with equipment and infrastructure (reservoirs, sewers, machinery, etc.) and forecast usage.
The IoT sensors, together with the cloud technology, will enable it to carry out predictive analytics, equipment and infrastructure health monitoring and scenario forecasting, providing it with insights to manage its operations in better ways.
UK Data Strategy
In a bid to drive the UK economy forward, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has launched the UK Data Strategy and put Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, in place to oversee it. The strategy’s immediate aim is to help the economy recover from the impact of the pandemic. However, over the longer term, it aims to drive digital transformation throughout the country.
The strategy wants to see businesses and organisations take more advantage of the opportunities that data offers and is planning to employ and train 500 data scientists across the public sector in the next 12 months. In addition, it will create the post of Chief Data Officer to lead digital transformation within the public sector.
The government is also planning to introduce legislation that will increase involvement in smart data initiatives and which will give organisations the means to use their own data to find better solutions. At the same time, there will be a £2.6m project looking at ways to support innovation and make it easier to share data.
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