GCHQ Admits £1b Investment in Cyber Security “Hasn’t Worked”

Over the last five years, UK intelligence service GCHQ has spent nearly £1 billion on its cyber security initiative, but the civil servant in charge of the program has admitted, “the bottom line is it hasn’t worked.”

Alex Dewedney, Director of Cyber Security for CESG (Communications-Electronics Security Group) – a division within GCHQ – told the audience at the RSA security conference in San Francisco last week that, in order to fight cyber security threats to businesses, services, and governments, GCHQ needs more manpower, not money.

“I think the best way to sum up the challenge we face is that while we’ve done a lot over the past five years and spent quite a lot of money as a government, particularly in those years of austerity we’ve been through, the bottom line is it hasn’t worked,” Dewedney said, according to Computing.

“[People believe that] if we keep doing that, then somehow it will magically cause improvement to happen. That approach by itself is not sufficient,” he added. “We can’t just pass information on threats to businesses and tell them to go and deal with it themselves.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has, despite a fiscal policy of austerity, announced plans to double GCHQ’s cyber security budget to £1.9 billion by 2020, but Dewedney thinks that throwing money at the problem is the wrong approach, saying that it’s “not so much a money issue as it is a human resources issue.”

One place that the government should be spending money, argues Dewedney, is on upgrading IT systems. “Not […] spending money on fixing legacy IT issues […] is killing us.”

“I’ve tried to make this argument to my bosses that surely you have to start [with legacy] before you try to do anything more sophisticated,” he said. “But the response has been ‘I’m not spending cyber security programme money to subsidise other departments’ IT budgets’.”

Touch Screen Devices are ‘Eroding’ Digital Skills for Children

Hands up if you own a touch screen phone? How about a touch screen laptop/tablet? How many of your devices use a touch screen these days? It would seem that this may not be amazing news if you’re handing these devices to children as an Australian educational body noted that there was a ‘significant decline’ in what is classed as IT literacy among some students, in part due to the wide adoption of touch screens.

Think about how you open up a link or perform an action on your phone or your tablet compared to how you would do it on your computer, now think about how often do you use a touch screen for office work.

The report produced by Australia’s National Assessment Programme states that 16-year-olds have a lower than average IT proficiency than any other year. Among the tasks to complete were creating invitations using graphics software, setting up a tablet and installing apps and even promoting an event through social media.

The lower results could be due to the use of mobile technology, an area where skills are developed but are not commonly associated with ICT literacy. A new emphasis was put on teaching relevant knowledge and the skills and understanding to use this knowledge in both personal and professional environments.

Should We Replace Doctors With Computers?

A new announcement from Jeremy Hunt is yet another cost cutting attempt at trimming down front line services with the aim of saving cash. The health secretary wants to remove more medical decisions from the hands of doctors and therefore let computers and protocols decide aspects of care instead” I like tech, but I would prefer a qualified human doctor and not Microsoft XP handling all aspects of my care if I were to be in hospital. Mr Hunt also states that this implementation has been successful within the US health system and therefore we in the UK should be adopting similar processes.

It would not be an elected politician without a bizarre example, and Mr Hunt gave just that with the notion of production techniques that have been copied from a, (you may think originally from a hospital) no, a “Japanese car company had been copied and applied to healthcare” within a hospital in the US. Not sure human organs and brake pads can be particularly compared when devising healthcare policy. If you’re wondering, it was a hospital in Seattle that copied the production techniques from Toyota and by doing so is ranked among the safest hospitals in the world, read that in a Clarkson voice if you will.

This idea depends on the agenda of execution. Yes we all want safer hospitals and any PROVEN protocol is to be welcomed, but, is this with the aim of cutting both doctors and also staff from wards. The Tory government is aiming to cut billions from spending and is also looking to force through a new working contract for junior doctors that will see penalties for over working doctor’s scrapped and longer working hours implemented. There has been a track record in many sectors of reducing staff in favour of computer IT systems, hopefully staffing levels can be maintained and increased to meet demand, after all, a virtual paperclip cannot treat you in real life.

Thank you independent for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of twitter.

Australia To Teach Coding From Primary School

Every day we use computers if we use them at our fingers or just by buying something from a store or driving down the road. Technology is a big part of everyone’s lives these days, and this has been recognised by many countries pushing for STEM subjects (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) to become a focus in many educations, the latest of which seems to be Australia.

As one of his last acts as Education Minister, Christopher Pyne has given the approval for a new national curriculum which will see subjects like History and Geography replaced with Coding. Australia is seeing a large push towards STEM subjects as its new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pushes a focus on innovation and preparing the future generations for the jobs and economies of the future.

Pyne said in a statement that “high-quality school STEM education is critically important for Australia’s Productivity and economy well-being, both now and in the future”.

With big plans such as Summer Schools supporting and teaching STEM to underrepresented groups, the development of the maths curriculum and a new P-TECH style school which will bring together education and industry in hopes of further strengthening students futures in the job market.

Thank you Mashable for the information.

Image courtesy of Gizmondo.

US Wont Regulate Hacking Software – For Now

We all know about hackers. They’ve been in the news a lot in the last few years, from the Xbox and Sony Christmas Day hacks to the large databases of customer details being hacked on a nearly monthly basis. One hack was actually targeted on a hacking group, the Hacking Team and ended up with 400GB of their data being taken. This included everything from their hacking tools and the information required to use them to target companies and everyday users. After this, a small piece of legislation was developed and marketed to the US government, a piece of legislation which is now possibly going to be scrapped following concerns from pretty much everybody in the IT security industry.

The Department of Commerce first put the legislation forward and stated that the development and testing of exploits, zero-day and intrusion type software should not only be limited and controlled but also made illegal in some aspects. Say hello to the outcry from professionals who not only deal with writing but also stopping software like this from being used for malicious means, who even stated that not only would it limit and criminalise the research into nasty software, but also mean that all those nasty bugs and exploits that you don’t want people using, would be pushed onto the black market.

While the department of commerce stated that “a second iteration of this regulation will be promulgated”, it’s clear that while they may not be able to get away with vague descriptions and tight control on security software, they will still attempt to get some form of control pushed regarding what they call “weaponised software”.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of the Art of Add.

UK Banks Will Have Their Cyber Defenses Tested in Live Cyber War Games

Banks in the United Kingdom will have their network security tested over the next few months, as part of a live cyber war demonstration.

This will present banks and the UK government with better analysis of where the financial industry currently stands, with the threat of a major data breach frightening IT security experts. The Bank of England helped spearhead the project, while banks continue to have a close relationship with the GCHQ.

Here is what Stephen Bonner, KPMG cybersecurity team partner, recently noted:

“It’s the first time that banks are having their systems tested for security threats in a live environment as opposed to a simulated or isolated one.”

Global cybercrime ravages the economy, racking up £248 billion in costs each year, and the number is only climbing higher, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) claims.

Here is what Paul Docherty, Portcullis Computer Security technical director, recently said regarding the tests:

“A defender has to block every possible route of entry and the attacker only has to find one. That’s the position the banks are still in, the world is so connected now they have to look in every direction to protect themselves.”

Following the successful data breach of JPMorgan Chase in the United States, cybersecurity experts in the UK have become alarmed about a similar breach in the UK. Although financial institutions tend to have better security defenses against data breaches, stealing money – and compromising bank customers – remains a lucrative goal for criminals.

Image courtesy of Phoneworld.com.pk