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The 800 million Pound cyberattack

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

24th February 2013

Post Type: Education Item

Cyber attack “Shady Rat” ran from 2006 until it’s exposure in 2011. It targeted 72 institutions across 30 different industries including the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations.  Unsurprisingly, a 2012 PWC report on data security1 discovered that 76% of UK SMEs had suffered a significant cyber security breach in 2012 – large corporations fared far worse.  Companies are often reluctant to report such attacks for fear of losing public confidence.  Unfortunately this secrecy usually benefits the hacker – timely information sharing might allow others avoid a similar fate.

Whilst delivering the Lord Mayor’s lecture last year Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, revealed that one listed UK company had lost £800m in a recent cyberattack.  Last Sunday, Israel’s second largest mobile phone network was disabled for four hours in what was widely believed to be an online attack from political opponents.  2012 saw both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal fall victim to sophisticated attacks routed through American universities.  It is suspected that emails containing malicious code were opened by employees, which then stole every single employee password, turned on webcams and microphones and recorded keyboard strokes.  Worryingly, The NYT’s security software only intercepted 1 of the 45 types of malware2.

The EU wants to force European companies to strengthen their online defences.  In a proposed directive on Network and Information Security (NIS), the EU seeks to impose a legal obligation on institutions such as public bodies, financial services, energy, health, e-commerce/payment platforms, cloud computing, search engines, social networks etc to establish minimum standards for risk control.  More controversially, significant breaches would carry a reporting obligation to a national Computer Emergency Response Team.

The European parliament is also concerned about the security of Europe’s data in the cloud.  A recent report highlighted the access granted by the 2008 US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendment Act (FISAA).  This grants US authorities permission to access data stored within the US, even when the data originates from overseas.  When data moves across national boundaries issues of legal jurisdiction can become obscure and practically unenforceable.  Future users of cloud computing might be more choosy about who holds their data, and where.

1      PWC UK Information Security Breaches Survey Results April 2012

2     Sunday Times – New Review – 10/2/2013


April Fools Day for electricity prices

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

16th February 2013

Post Type: Education Item

The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (‘ETS’) requires the union’s 11,000 power stations and major industrial installations to buy permits for each tonne of carbon they emit.  The quantity of permits issued will be gradually reduced year by year, progressively increasing both scarcity and price.  The intention is to “squeeze” the cost of conventional high-carbon fuels and drive investment towards low-carbon alternatives.  Unused permits can be retained for future use or sold.  They have real cash value – in 2011 hackers stole € 30 million worth of emissions allowances from government repositories.

ETS has now entered Phase 3 which runs from Jan 2013 to Dec 2020.  The quantity of permits issued in 2020 will be 21% fewer than when the scheme began in 2005, however the recession has reduced demand even faster.  Permit prices fell steeply from £25.50 in 2008 to £2.39 in Jan 2013 – hardly a strong disincentive.  Best estimates suggest that ETS permit prices would have to return to £25 to have any real effect.  The only recourse would seem to be to drive prices upwards by temporarily restricting supply.  On Jan 24th 2013, MEPs in the EU’s Industry, Research, and Energy (ITRE) committee voted against temporarily restricting issuance to support the price.

The decline in ETS permit prices carries a sting in the tail for the UK.  George Obsorne’s 2011 budget contained a commitment to maintain a carbon “floor” price of approximately £16 per tonne of CO2 from April 1st 2013, increasing to £30 by 2020.  ETS permits contribute towards this requirement.  When this strategy was formulated in 2010 ETS permit prices were expected to rise steadily, so any “top-up” would be modest (the Carbon Floor level actually set for April 1st is £15.70 per tonne).  But as explained above, ETS permit prices are minimal, and considered by some to be heading for zero.  The top-up required between an ETS permit price of £ 2.39 and a Carbon Floor commitment price of £15.70 could add 20% to UK electricity prices1 in 2013, and almost double them by 2030.

1 Daily Telegraph “George Osborne’s CO2 tax will double UK electricity bills” 29th September 2012


Sending coals to Newcastle - a unique packaging job

by Noel Greenwood from GWD

13th February 2013

Post Type: Education Item

In the Western world we’re well into our New Year, and 2013 has brought us cold weather and…well, more cold weather.  However, on Sunday, over in the Far East, Chinese New Year celebrations began.  Also referred to as the ‘Spring Festival’ in China, Chinese New Year is the most important annual Chinese holiday and this year celebrates the year of the snake.  GWD has had a couple of orders related to the celebration of Chinese New Year and given that they are quite off the wall I thought we’d share them with you.

Exporting Chinese New Year to China

IMG_4471
Set of three boxes sent to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year

In a job that brings to mind the old adage ‘sending coals to Newcastle’, we received an order for a number of confectionery boxes commissioned in order to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  ‘That’s not particularly noteworthy’, I hear you exclaim.  And you’re right; it wouldn’t be noteworthy if it weren’t for the fact that after being produced these boxes were exported to…Hong Kong, a special administrative region in China.

IMG_4468
A swivel box for Hong Kong to celebrate Chinese New Year

If it isn’t strange enough that we’re exporting Chinese themed goods to China, then never fear, it doesn’t end there.  China just so happens to be the country that produces the most boxes and packaging in the entire world.  Clearly there’s something about what GWD provides that has ticked all the right boxes and made it a superior option for companies seeking high quality presentation packaging.  The confectionery boxes needed to be produced and shipped fast and it was our capability of guaranteeing a fast turnaround that got us the job.

Hamper Boxes to sunny southern France

For those of you who aren’t aware of what Hamper Boxes are: a Hamper Box is a large gift box designed to contain a number of large items.  Hamper Boxes quite often contain food and drink and they are often great as promotional gifts for corporate events or circumstances.  They are designed to be eye-catching and also to showcase whatever it is that our clients want their customers to receive.

We received an order for 150 Hamper Boxes – nothing unusual in itself.  However, amusingly the Hamper Boxes were also intended for Chinese New Year, and not only that: they were for an international company of architects with an office in St Tropez.  So, having never done any business to do with Chinese New Year before; all of a sudden we had two jobs – one a back to front job for China, the other a celebration of Chinese New Year but for customers in the French Riviera.  Sadly, despite our best attempts, we weren’t able to make the Hamper Boxes big enough to fit ourselves in – we could do with a few days of sun in this bleak midwinter.

Hamper Boxes for an Architecture company in St Tropez
Hamper Boxes for an Architecture company in St Tropez

What I find most interesting about these jobs is that it highlights the fact that packaging is important the world over.  The Hamper Boxes are designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as having the functionality required to present multiple items.  Whether you’re in China, in St Tropez, in the UK or anywhere else in the world you’re going to need things packed, and if you’re a commercial company, you’ll need your products packed in something that can make a statement to your target audience.

About the Author

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Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website: www.gwd.ltd.uk


Do you store data in the cloud ?

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

10th February 2013

Post Type: Education Item

The 2012 KPMG Audit Committee Institute report highlighted cyber security as a major area of concern.

Warfare is forever evolving.  The ability to conduct remote, technology-based attacks behind enemy lines (such as Predator drone strikes in Afghanistan) offer results without placing friendly troops at physical risk.  Major military powers are turning increasingly to cyber attacks as these have the ability to disable an opponent’s infrastructure without inflicting casualties or physical assets.  Industrial or government installations usually run on bespoke software collectively known as Industrial Control Systems (ICS).  These are often vulnerable to attack.  2010 was a watershed year – in June, Stuxnet came to light.  Stuxnet was a software “worm” targeting the burgeoning Iranian nuclear programme.  Iran’s uranium enrichment relied on industrial centrifuges, covertly obtained from Siemens.  These were controlled by “Step 7” software running under Windows 7.  Stuxnet caused the centrifuges to spin uncontrollably and suffer damage.  The attack was precisely targeted – 60% of the affected units were located in Iran.  In 2012 Iran also suffered cyber attacks which temporarily disabled power stations and oil terminals.

Even global companies with considerable IT proficiency are not safe.  In 2010 the Google mail accounts of activists, journalists and diplomats critical of the Chinese authorities were hacked so professionally that – allegedly – Google sought help from US security agencies.  American prisons use ICS to control internal access – a “proof of concept” simulated attack managed to open every internal cell door whilst concealing this information from the central control room.

Cyber attack is now officially part of the US arsenal.  In 2012 the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched Plan X – a $110m 5 year project to develop and deploy cyber weapons.  The increasing interconnectivity of computer-controlled systems bring not only greater efficiency, but also far greater vulnerability to the migration of malware between systems.  The roll-out of Smart Meters across Europe – potentially interconnected via a Europe-wide ‘Smart Grid’ – allow the remote disconnection of electricity supplies.  More worryingly, some experts believe that the software controlling Western nuclear power stations is potentially vulnerable.

The threat to most non-strategic companies is unlikely to be a state-sponsored cyber attack, but data theft by competitors or disgruntled employees.  Robust procedures obviously reduce this risk, but generally hinge on maintaining password secrecy.  This makes them vulnerable to “social engineering” type attacks where employees are duped into disclosing password information.Further risks are posed by information leaving the building on laptops or memory sticks.  ISO27001 is an information security management system (ISMS) standard which gives company management comprehensive control over sensitive information held in physical, logical or human form.  Companies privy to client’s data – such as cloud services – are increasingly obtaining ISO27001 accreditation to reassure their clients.


Growth Accelerator: A Client's praise for her Growth Coach Tina Dulieu of Coaching Dynamics

by Tina Dulieu from Coaching Dynamics: Tina Dulieu, B.Ed., Dip CEC

06th February 2013

Post Type: Other

Tina Dulieu, of Coaching Dynamics, was introduced to me through an existing client in September 2012.  I was at the stage in the business where I needed to focus on growth and expansion with the end result of doubling my business within 3 years. Having invested in moving to bigger premises to help achieve that growth, I was overwhelmed with how I was going to start planning for it.

I had my first business coaching session with Tina at the end of November 2012, and with her recommendation and help, I managed to get the coaching part funded by being accepted onto the Government’s ‘Growth Accelerator’ scheme with Tina as my Growth Coach. 

Tina then helped me form a “Growth Team” with my Operations and Sales managers to be also present in the coaching sessions, and by the end of December we had formalised a solid 3-year plan that will enable us to double our business by 2016.

In just a short space of time, Tina has helped me focus on analysing the core services we offer our clients with an outcome of completely re-designing and re-packaging them, which I know, will be the contributing factor to our success.

The areas we are now working on for 2013 are: expanding our core opening hours; changing the blend of business so we focus on selling the more profitable services; developing more targeted marketing; and becoming recognised as market leaders through Awards and recognitions to help us stand out from our competitors.

Tina’s dedication and support to our business is amazing and her advice and knowledge is truly inspirational. I would recommend Tina to any business owner who is serious about growing their business. 

Chella Heyes
Managing Director
Zoom Answercall Service Limited

 

Tina's profile can be viewed at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/profile/8/953/760

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