Global Nuclear Facilities at Greater Risk of a Cyber Breach than Previously Thought

We all know various connected infrastructure defences are vulnerable; these include recent attacks on high-profile websites and also communication arms of governments and well-known individuals. Technically anything can be hacked and therefore robust implementations need to be focused on securing data within organizations. Nuclear facilities are one such example and a new report warns of an increasing threat of a cyber attack that focuses on these plants.

The report by the influential Chatham House think tank studied cyber defences in power plants from around the world over an 18-month period; its conclusions are that “The civil nuclear infrastructure in most nations is not well prepared to defend against such attacks”. It pinpoints “insecure designs” within the control systems as one of the reasons for a possible future breach, the cause of this is most likely the age of the facilities and the need for modernization.

The report also disproves the myth surrounding the belief that nuclear facilities are immune from attacks due to being disconnected from the Internet. It said that there is an “air gap” between the public internet and nuclear systems that was easy to breach with “nothing more than a flash drive” Great, in theory that little USB drive could cause a nuclear holocaust. The report noted the infection of Iran’s facilities was down to the Stuxnet virus that used the above route.

The researchers for the report had also found evidence of virtual networks and other “links to the public internet on nuclear infrastructure networks. Some of these were forgotten or simply unknown to those in charge of these organisations”.

It was found by the report that search engines that sought out critical infrastructure had “indexed these links” and thus made it easy for attackers to find ways into networks and control systems.

This report has cheered me right up, it is noted that nuclear facilities are stress tested to withstand a variety of long-standing scenarios, though there does need to be a better understanding from staff in charge of the infrastructure in order to limit any potential damage a breach could inflict. The industry needs to adapt, gone are the days of one or two experts who could hack into a system, from state-sponsored cyber attacks to a teenager in their bedroom, the knowledge base is growing day by day and many companies are paying the price for poor security.

Let’s hope it’s not a nuclear power plant,

Thank you bbc for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of zeenews

BT Promises ‘Ultrafast’ Broadband Speeds in Excess of 300Mbps by 2020

BT’s Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, has promised broadband speeds between 300 and 500Mbps by 2020. Currently, BT is one of the major UK internet service providers and aims to provide super-fast broadband to over 10 million homes. The company also said they will offer a 1Gbps service to the cope with severe network demands from heavy users. This could include 4K streaming, downloading huge games or backing up data on a home server.

2020 seems like an ambitious figures for rural areas which struggle to even access relatively low speeds of 5Mbps. BT is hoping the combination of their G fast technology and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connectivity can help revolutionize the service’s internet speeds. Patterson argued speed increases are integral to BT’s market strategy:

“BT would ‘never say no’ to providing faster broadband to communities, promising the company would instead explore innovative funding and technical solutions.” 

Even if BT manages this feat, I’m not entirely convinced it will be able to beat Virgin Media’s network speeds and a great deal depends on network traffic management. It’s unknown if the latest BT network will begin to throttle speeds after so much is downloaded or during peak times. This is becoming a more well-known phenomenon, and customers should access the speeds they pay for all the time.

Thank you The Next Web for providing us with this information.

All aboard The Circle Lines Giant Three-Speed Travelator

I’m not sure this concept is particularly sane, a group of architects revolutionary idea centres on replacing run of the mill trains with high-speed travelators.

According to the architecture practice NBBJ who envisage a future where trains are replaced on the line’s 17 miles of track with three speeds of travelators, the result according to them would be a “considerably quicker, more enjoyable and healthier journey”. Below is the concept artwork for this idea of three travelators which would run alongside each other at various speeds, this is from walking speeds of 3mph to a top speed of 15mph. Commuters would therefore move between three moving conveyor belts which would in theory increase their speed each time.

What is compelling is there are more than 114 million people who use the circle line each year, this makes it one of the most congested lines in London and the company reckons commuters would in theory travel faster on foot than on conventional public transport.  There are two separate narrative thought patterns when contemplating such a vision, the pro side would be a healthier and spacious environment with which to reach a destination, after all, trains are known for being hot and rather uncomfortable even at the best of times.  The negative side would be how safely you could travel on foot without injuring yourself or others, moving onto a 15 mile an hour platform would be rather interesting.

It’s radical and would require a complete redesign of the transport infrastructure, one school of thought would be as the population increases year on year, eventually public transport would reach its limit despite a drive for expansion by successive governments and alternatives would therefore need to be considered.  This concept may not be the best solution, but it would be very entertaining to Wizz to your destination, especially if you laid down for a nap while on the conveyor belts.

Thank you cityam for providing us with this information.

BT And Alcatel-Lucent’s Fiber Optic Tests Reveal 1.4 Tb/s Speeds

BT and Alcatel-Lucent have been reportedly working on a way to address the current internet speed bandwidth and congestions which some parts of the UK are facing. In an experiment performed, the companies managed to achieve a speed of 1.4 Tb/s over an existing fiber optic connection and commercial grade hardware, something which is the equivalent of transmitting 44 uncompressed HD films in one second.

The test has been performed from the BT Tower in London, all the way to a research campus located 255 miles away. The team has reportedly reached a speed of 5.7 bits/second/Hertz as part of a “Flexgrid” infrastructure, having a 50 GHz transmission channel rate and allowing a 42.5 percent data transmission efficiency compared to common fiber optic networks. But the best part still remains the means through which this has been achieved. Having the tests successful on the current fiber optic network means that ISPs will be able to deploy the new system without the need of additional physical cables, drastically reducing the costs.

The current broadband users will have no say in this, since the system requires at least fiber optic connection, though it will improve bandwidth for both broadband and fiber optic users. The discovery also has also opened some doors into the high-bandwidth Internet service required for heavy traffic, such as streaming high quality tracks and even 4K resolution videos in the future.

Thank you electronista for providing us with this information

Indian Consortiums In Talks With The government To Build Microprocessor Fab Plants

India maybe known as of one the favourable locations for outsourcing, but the government wants to have a homegrown industry for computer hardware.

The government officials hope that it could start this manufacturing business of computer goods by offering certain incentives. Currently the government has a broad definition of ‘locally made PC hardware’ since very few electronics are currently made here. As of now, Dot-matrix printers which is outdated in most parts of the world is one of the few products India manufacturers. According to Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology, 400,000 dot matrix printers were sold in India by the end of March 31st, which shows 2% increase in comparison to last year. There are many assembly lines for PC and other hardware made by Lenovo and Dell.

Keeping aside the manufacturing of the end products, the country hopes to build a fabrication plant for processors which would as high as $5 Billion to build. There’s also a requirement that Chip makers will need large amount of clean water and reliable energy supply.

Dr. Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary of the Department and Information Technology said,”If at least 30 percent of a computer’s components are made in India, then it would qualify. The policy also allows prospective suppliers to show “value addition” in lieu of actually manufacturing the goods in India.”

According to few reports, 2 consortiums have been negotiating with the government to build microprocessor foundries, one of them being led by Jaypee Group, one of the largest construction companies which was the one who built the Formula One Track in Uttar Pradesh. The construction company has partnered with IBM. The second consortium is lead by Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation. Despite the name suggest, this is an American based company and does not manufacture chips, but it has partnered with Geneva-based chip maker STMicroelectronics.

Ron Sommers, the president of U.S.- India Business Council doubts that India would be able to provide the infrastructure and resources required for the chip fabrication plans as the country required basic infrastructure required to supply power to keep the lights on. He also pointed out that there have been many failed attempts to set up chip plans in the past.

There are other issues as well. Critics note that if India wants to encourage high-tech manufacturing of processors and good, it will have to reduce some of its barriers to do business. PVG Menon, President of Indian Electronics and Semiconductor Manufacturing Association said that import duty on finished products is cheaper than on components and also pointed out that the end product maybe more expensive due to lack of reliable power and extra time taken to move good due to poor roads in many locations. An anonymous industrial official said,”They flew in their suppliers from China and Taiwan to see if they could set up facilities. They said no. The market is too small, and logistically it is a nightmare.”

But India does have infrastructure of manufacturing and a very successful business model. In the 1980s, India has opened its doors to automotive industry to foreign companies, where Suzuki Motors have bought a stake in Maruti Udhyog in 1982. Currently, India is the 6th largest auto industry in the world because of the eco-system that the government created in the past.

Source: NY Times