Tag: government

Government launches cyber-security programme

cannonThe UK government has launched a £20 million education programme to train nearly 6,000 teenagers in cyber security.

The Cyber Security Schools Programme is being rolled out to help address the UK’s IT skills shortage.

Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital, said: “Our Cyber Schools Programme aims to inspire the talent of tomorrow and give thousands of the brightest young minds the chance to learn cutting-edge cybersecurity skills alongside their secondary school studies.

“I encourage all those with the aptitude, enthusiasm and passion for a cybersecurity career to register for what will be a challenging and rewarding scheme.”

Aimed at 14 to 18 year olds, the programme will see teenagers study a range of cyber security areas alongside compulsory education through a network of clubs, activities and online content.

The programme will be delivered through BT, online education platform futureLearn, cyber security training institute SANS and Cyber Security Challenge UK.

The government has set the target of having at least 5,700 students graduating the course by 2021, with routes into employment provided to successful participants.

Students, teachers and industry organisations can register their interest in the programme through its official website.

Asite gets into government G-Cloud programme

lightning-cloudAsite has announced it has been signed up to the UK’s Crown Commercial Service’s G-Cloud Programme.

Asite helps outfits manage their projects and supply chains collaboratively; the company has gotten onto the G-Cloud programme with its Adoddle which is a collaborative content management system designed to handle a wide range of content.

The content includes intelligent forms, multimedia supplier catalogues, complex BIM and product models, videos, and other various file types. The government is interested in Adoddle because it allows clients to store all of their content in one central, secure repository while enabling them to fully customise the structure of their content with highly controlled access.

The UK government launched G-Cloud 9 in May of 2017 as a means of enabling public sector bodies to buy cloud-based digital services, directly off the shelf from smaller distributors. The open framework is refreshed every three to 12 months, consistently bringing on new suppliers and services.

Tony Ryan, CEO of Asite, remarked: “Our appointment to the G-Cloud framework builds on our long-standing relationships, which provide project collaboration services in the cloud to the UK government.  Together with our longstanding commitment to supporting the government’s Construction Strategy and in particular to the achievement of Level 2 BIM with our cBIM service, we are fully committed to the improvement of procurement in UK construction.”

 

TechUK and FSB give election candidates their wish-lists

pinocchio-17Lobby group TechUK has brought forward its requests to those hoping to be elected.

It is calling for more of a proactive stance by the next government on digital technology.

TechUK CEO Julian David said that the pace of global digitisation will not slow down and the UK had a choice about whether we want to shape the digital future or be shaped by it.

“The course of the next parliament will see significant technological developments in the way we work and live. It’s crucial that all political parties avoid broad brush and reactionary policy solutions to the complex challenges of the digital age. Politicians must do all they can to cultivate a world-leading tech sector, where a new wave of tech talent can start and scale the next generation of world leading tech companies,” he said.

Resellers want tougher steps to tackle late payers and to make supply chain bullying illegal. Federation of Small Businesses Chairman Mike Cherry has also asked future governments to step up and do something.

He said that there are a series of decisions required by new Government Ministers in their first 100 days in office.

These include export support to tackling our late payments crisis, to co-funding apprenticeships and a new consensus on the future of business rates, to the survival of small businesses.

“Our manifesto sets out what small businesses want to see from all major parties and candidates standing on 8 June. Millions of votes are at stake,” said Cherry.

HPE lets 1000 Enterprise Services staff “go”

INDUSTRY HP 1HPE is planning to tell 1,000 Enterprise Services staff to clean out their desks and pick up their P45s in the UK.

Most of the cuts are in the Infrastructure Technology Outsourcing (ITO) department where 780 people are at risk.

Staff in the UK were sent an “internal use only” memo on Friday afternoon revealing that hundreds of them could be out of work by the end of April. Of course if you send an email like that out someone is certain to leak it.

This is the second jobs warning at HPE. In January. HP told 166 ITO employees in England that they would be fired. Those at-risk workers are based in HP Enterprise’s Lytham site in Lancashire, and they provide infrastructure services for public-sector clients, including the UK government’s Department for Work & Pensions.

Today’s email to ITO staff is headlined “management update” and was written by Maurice Mattholie, ITO VP in UK and Ireland. It reads:

“I am writing to inform you of the Company’s proposal to implement a Workforce Management (WFM) programme in Q2 FY16. As announced by Meg, Hewlett Packard Enterprise needs to create a more efficient and accountable organisation to ensure a healthy long term sustainable business, with a market competitive cost structure, that will help the company transition to the new style of business.

It is important to point out that we are fully committed to continuing to use redeployment and voluntary exits to manage WFM in the UK and Ireland. It is expected that up to 780 positions within ITO will be impacted through WFM in Q2.

Whilst I appreciate that this announcement may cause concern I am committed to providing regular updates to ensure that everyone is kept informed. Thank you for your continued professionalism at this time of uncertainty.

This comes as HP Enterprise prepares to relocate all ITO roles in the UK to its offices in Cobalt, Newcastle, and Erskine in Glasgow. HPE, which employs about 240,000 people globally, has vowed to axe up to 30,000 workers worldwide over the next couple of years.”

Another  memo sent today to HPE UK staff, Jacqui Ferguson, senior VP for HP Enterprise Services in UK and Ireland, said that:

“In the UK, part of our strategy for Enterprise Services is to move more delivery services to both our Regional Delivery Centres (RDCs) in Erskine and Newcastle and to our Global Delivery Centres (GDCs). In aligning to this strategy in the UK, we have started consultation on our plan for the reduction of additional roles during Q2, with the UK trade unions and HPE employee representatives in the Enterprise Services Business Units.

We’d like to assure you that we remain committed to supporting the employability of our employees through a number of internal initiatives, including re­skilling, redeployment and support to obtain alternative employment, as appropriate.”

Needless to say that morale at HPE is gutted and the fact that the company is doing well now that it has off-loaded its profit sapping PC side means that few could understand why it is happening.

 

Government says G-Cloud will shake up public sector suppliers

funny_faces_of_dogs_shaking_heads_640_17The UK government claims that its G-Cloud procurement makeover in the new year, will “revolutionise” the way suppliers work with the public sector.

The government is trying to make  procurement simpler for buyers and suppliers and is testing it on its Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) framework.

“Plain English” standards were applied to the DOS tendering process, which the government claims it has vastly simplified.

Writing in its bog the government said: “For the redesigned framework, we’ve reduced the length of the documentation significantly. The new documentation includes six tender documents rather than the 11 we had for Digital Services 2.

“The DOS tender pack, which includes the contracts, has around 50 per cent fewer words than the Digital Services 2 tender pack. It’s also 123 pages shorter. If the average adult reading speed is around 250 words per minute, the old documentation would have taken around nine hours to read, and that’s assuming a reader understands everything on a single read-through. We estimate that the new DOS documents will take around three-and-a-half hours to read.”

G-Cloud – which shares a place in the Digital Marketplace alongside the DOS framework – is next in line to get a procurement makeover.

The blog said that in 2016, the government will work in a similar way for the next iteration of G-Cloud (G-Cloud 8) as well as for any new or redesigned frameworks coming onto the Digital Marketplace in the future.

“We think that meeting user needs is important for all government procurement, not just for digital and technology services. We want to share our approach and the lessons we’ve learnt from delivering DOS for the Digital Marketplace.”

Tor wants government freedom

tor-browsingSecurity outfit Tor has said it wants to wean itself off US government cash.

In 2013, Tor received more than $1.8 million from the US government, about 75 percent of the $2.4 million in total annual expenses, according to their latest publicly available tax returns.

While Tor is grateful for the cash, it is worried that conspiracy theorists claim that the US spooks have the system wired up to be a honeypot.

The premise is that while  Tor is meant to keep you anonymous on the Internet but it’s funded in large part by the US government who does not want you to be anonymous. So it must be a way that the government locates those who want to be anonymous and tracks them down.

Technically this is tricky, but it is probably better for Tor if it was free of a government involvement – particularly when that government has been seen as a big fan of snooping.

Developers recently discussed the push to diversify funding at Tor’s biannual meeting in Spain, including setting a goal of 50 percent non-U.S. government funding by 2016.

Tor developers at the meeting also brought up the possibility of lobbying foreign governments within, for instance, the European Union.

However, increasing non-governmental funding is a major priority. Individual donations rose significantly in the last year and Tor plans on soliciting them much more aggressively in 2015. Every new download of Tor—there were 120 million in 2014—will be asked to donate to the project, a change expected to take place in the near future.

Tor is launching a crowdfunding campaign in May of this year.

Intel to spend $550 million in Israel

Intel-logoIntel has pledged to write a cheque for at least $550 million in the Promised Land over the next five years.

This is part of Intel’s promise to spend a total of $6 billion to upgrade its Kiryat Gat plant for the manufacture of new advanced chips for its next generation devices.

The $550 is part of Intel’s offset purchase arrangement with the state, which is providing the company with grants of up to $600 million over the next five years as well as a major tax break through 2023. Intel will get two $300 million grants, distribution of which will be spread over five budget years.

Although these figures look great for Chipzilla, executives will be happier with the news that it will only have to pay a corporate tax of only five percent until 2023.  Others in Israel have to give the tax man 26.5 percent. In return, Intel committed to hiring at least 1,000 new employees, at least half of whom will be residents of communities in southern Israel. In addition, the company promised to spend at least $550 million.

Intel is committing to spend what it is getting from the government in direct grants, but the Economy Ministry claims the arrangement was great for the Israeli economy.

“This arrangement will have a very positive effect on hundreds of small businesses and suppliers,” said Ziva Eiger, director of investments at the Industrial Cooperation Authority.

“Offset agreements such as this are platforms for leveraging public expenditures for the benefit of the Israeli economy, both for training and encouraging further expansion of small suppliers for the local and world market, and to enhance Israel’s brand as an attractive place for foreign investment,” Eiger added.

“As a result of this agreement, Israelis can look forward to thousands of more jobs being available. It is a model for offset agreements that can provide benefits to all sides.”

 

Government to force better mobile coverage

TortureRackThe British government launched a consultation on new legislation to force mobile operators to improve coverage around the country.

Sajid Javid, the government’s culture secretary, said the  consultation will complement the work industry is doing and allow the Government to hear from the wider telecoms sector, businesses and the public,”

Traditionally governments hope that private enterprise will undertake such work voluntarily.  They drop some broad hints, coupled with threats of legislation and private enterprises rushes to it.  But for some reason the concept of rural coverage has not been a starter for the big telcos, so now the government has to make its threats clearer.

One possible option to eliminate poor coverage, which affects about one fifth of the UK, may include a national roaming plan, where subscribers will be able to switch between operators offering the strongest signal, the government said.

The government said it is keen to have comprehensive mobile coverage across the country to boost productivity and help provide jobs and economic security.

While this makes sense, it is the sort of thing that gives telecoms companies nightmares.

EE, the country’s largest mobile operator, said in a separate statement it does not want to implement national roaming as that would deteriorate network reliability and may also lead to price rises.

Vodafone agrees saying implementation “would be technically far more complex, slow to implement and would cause serious problems with network resilience”.

However the consultation include infrastructure sharing, allowing mobile networks to put transmitters on each other’s masts, and obliging the networks to cover a certain percentage of the UK.

What might happen is a group of telecoms will finally give in and agree to provide the sort of coverage the government wants.

Security experts rubbish CBS hacking claim

face-palmSecurity experts have poured cold water on CBS hackettes Sharyl Attkisson’s claim that she was being hacked by the government,

In her new book Stonewalled, Attkisson claims that both her personal Apple laptop and a CBS News-issued Toshiba laptop were hacked in late 2012 while she was reporting on the Benghazi terrorist attacks.

In June 2013, CBS News confirmed that the CBS News computer was breached, using what the network said were “sophisticated” methods and unnamed sources confirmed for Attkisson that an unnamed government agency was behind the attack.

However Attkisson released a video she took with her mobile of one apparent hack of her personal Apple laptop. The video shows words typed into a Microsoft Word document rapidly disappearing. During the video, Attkisson’s voice can be heard saying she’s “not touching it.”

Computer security experts who reviewed the video have told Media Matters that Attkisson’s computer had a broken backspace key.

Matthew Brothers-McGrew, a senior specialist at Interhack was quoted as saying sometimes computers “malfunction, a key can get stuck, sometimes dirt can get under a keyboard and a key will inadvertently be held down.”

Brad Moore, also a senior specialist at Interhack said that based on what he saw and was able replicate, there were multiple explanations for this sort of action and a stuck backcase key was the easiest.

Peter Theobald, computer forensics investigator with TC Forensics said that if a hacker tried to infiltrate her laptop and delete her files there would be better ways to do it and it it wouldn’t be so obvious to her.

 

Government hackers take down Tor

glastonbury-torOne of the last refuges of dissidents in oppressive regimes has been taken down by hacker agencies working for the US government.

The Tor system, which was often the only way that dissidents could communicate in repressive regimes or that whistle blowers could leak their information, warned that many of its users might have been identified by government-funded researchers.

Tor Project leader Roger Dingledine said the service had identified computers on its network that had been altering Tor traffic for five months in an attempt to unmask users connecting to what are known as “hidden services.”

Dingledine said it was “likely” the attacking computers were operated on behalf of two researchers at the Software Engineering Institute, which is housed at Carnegie-Mellon University, but funded mainly by the US Department of Defence. The computers have been removed from the network, but the damage has already been done.

The pair had been scheduled to speak on identifying Tor users at the Black Hat security conference next month. After Tor developers complained to Carnegie-Mellon, officials there said the research had not been cleared and cancelled the talk.

Dingledine said that users who operated or accessed hidden services from early February through July 4 should assume they were affected.

Those navigating to ordinary websites should be in the clear.

Hidden services include underground drug sites such as the shuttered Silk Road, as well as privacy-conscious outfits such as SecureDrop, which is designed to connect whistle blowers with media outlets.

Dingledine said the physical locations where the hidden services were housed could have been exposed, although probably not the content on them that was viewed by a visitor.

All that matters now is if the spooks will just pop around to the researchers with a warrant and ask that they hand over all the details.

The FBI had no immediate response to questions about whether it would seek the data and the Defence Department was not sure if it had the right to raw research from the Institute.

Dingledine advised users to upgrade to the latest version of its software, which addresses the vulnerability that was exploited. He warned that attempts to break Tor were likely to continue.

 

 

 

Governments need to go cloud busting

cloudbustA report from Gartner said that by 2017 public cloud offerings will account for over 25 percent of government business services, not counting defence and security.

But CIOs need to get themselves into the debate on public cloud sourcing, and kick of sourcing strategies with politicos.

By 2017, predicted Gartner, 35 percent of government shared service organisations will be managed by private sector companies. Public private partnerships are already embracing infrastructure as a service but governments will move to integration and software as a service.

And, Gartner predicts, by 2017 as many as 60 percent plus of government open data programmes that do not use open data internally will be discontinued.

And if you’ve a job in government software development, mind your back, because at least 25 percent of such jobs will be axed while governments hire data analysts from outside.  Data analysis is now a high priority.

“Public Cloud First” gets round of applause

cloud 1A cloud service provider has welcomed the government’s “Public Cloud First” mandate.

Earlier this month the Cabinet Office confirmed that the cloud would be mandated as the first choice for all new IT purchases in government, as part of moves to push more departments into using commodity cloud services.

The announcement coincided with the third G-Cloud supplier framework going live, offering more than 700 suppliers and over 5,000 services to the UK public sector. Around 80 percent of all suppliers were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), said the Cabinet Office.

A recent survey by Fasthosts found  that over two thirds of small and medium businesses in the UK have said that adoption of the cloud will be an important factor to contribute to the growth of their business in the next 12 months, with the same number claiming that the cloud was “extremely important” to their business growth strategy.

Skyscape agreed claiming that both government announcements were “excellent news for the UK public sector.”

Phil Dawson, CEO of Skyscape said that by putting the ‘Cloud First’, the Government was further demonstrating the “growing confidence” in G-Cloud, where suppliers have proven that highly secured, resilient utility services can be rapidly deployed at transparent price points, helping to drive innovation and competition.

He added the G-Cloud Programme had “quite simply started a revolution in the way that the UK public sector deployed ICT.”

“With the arrival of Giii, the Framework will continue to make this process easier, helping to broaden the market and providing a platform for SMEs, such as Skyscape, to market their services to the public sector,” he said.

UK government’s building software plans stuffed up

urinalsResellers of Building Information Management (BIM) software packages say that the UK government is stuffing up the introduction of such software in the industry, by failing to make sure that the software is compatible.

When the government announced in May last year that BIM software would be made mandatory on all public sector building projects, resellers of the software started to rub their paws eagerly.

However, it turned out that the issue of compatibility in BIM software packages is delaying its wider use in the building services sector.

H&V news  quoted BIM reseller Mintronics’ John Minto, saying that the government’s BIM plans were “largely failing”.

NG Bailey Engineering principal mechanical engineering manager Will Pitt and Interserve Engineering Services head of business development Edward Halford have agreed that while  BIM was set to transform the design and delivery of buildings, the software was being scuppered by inter-operability problems.

Halford said that BIM software was sufficiently developed to allow multi-disciplinary co-ordination at early stages but the transfer of BIM information into a format suitable for manufacture and beyond is still tricky.

Some design and detailing required by the government cannot currently be handled by many of the BIM systems being used by architects and consultants.

Halford’s company recognised how some SMEs can struggle with BIM integration, due to cost, time and resource considerations, but some of it was to do with the lack of compatibility across various software packages, as well as the non-availability of supply chain components appear to be holding a number of small and medium-sized enterprises back.

He wanted more standardisation of software packages, improved compatibility, and better integrated technical libraries from manufacturers and suppliers.

To make matters worse, the use of level 2 BIM will become mandatory within public sector projects by 2016, before many have got the hang of level 1.

E-fags cause regulatory stink

efagThe days when sparking up a fag with a drink in the warmth in public is a misty memory for those who live in the UK.

Instead smokers have had to endure the cold, snow, and often spaces smaller than a battery farm in a bid to get that nicotine hit after a meal at a UK restaurant, in a bar or in a club.

However, it seemed that some smokers’ problems were stubbed out thanks to the E-cigarette, which steam rolled into the market.

Marketed as a lower risk option to smoking and a way to help quit the habit, this new product
also had the added extra of allowing people to “smoke” inside.

The e-cigarette comes in two parts. One end contains the liquid nicotine, while the other has a rechargeable battery and an atomiser.

When the user inhales, the liquid nicotine is vaporised and absorbed through the mouth.

As there is no tobacco in these products, there is no harmful, and potentially lethal tar, and the “smoke” that these emit is mainly water vapour.

According to the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) around 700,000 people in the UK were using e-cigarettes last year, with around 300,000 more predicted to use these this year.

However, new proposals could now see the industry, which has around 100 manufacturing companies, go up in, er,  smoke.

Earlier this year the British Medical Association (BMA) called for more regulation and research around these products, advising  health professionals to use regulated and licensed nicotine replacement therapy instead to help patients stop smoking.

It is also calling for restrictions to the marketing, sale and promotion of e-cigarettes, and for clear labelling on the contents of cartridges and their safe use.

In an updated online briefing, it pointed out that these battery-operated devices were not licensed as a medicine in the UK and there was a lack of peer-reviewed evidence on their value in helping smokers cut down or stop.

It also said there were concerns that the use of e-cigarettes could threaten the norm of not smoking in public places and workplaces.

BMA director of professional activities Vivienne Nathanson said: ‘It took us many decades and hundreds of thousands of deaths to understand the connection between cigarette smoking and disease. We must not encourage use of a new system of nicotine delivery when we are unsure about its safety, or efficacy as a means of stopping smoking.

‘We are especially concerned that e-cigarettes might reinforce the smoking habit as they are designed to closely mimic smoking actions.’

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is set to report on nicotine product regulation this spring.

Public sector drawing up cloud contracts

cloud (264 x 264)Vendors will find themselves bidding for lucrative European government cloud projects soon.

According to the IDC Government Insights report for Cloud Trends for Western European Government Sector more than 56 percent of local government survey respondents and 42 percent of central government respondents have adopted or are planning to adopt internally hosted private clouds.

More than half of public sector groups are adopting or planning to adopt provider-hosted private clouds. Public clouds come second, with 28 per cent of respondents, and hybrid cloud is a distant third.
Among central governments, citizen Web portals and assembly management are the areas most under consideration.

Silvia Piai, research manager, IDC Government Insights said that the reseach suggests that public and hybrid cloud will gradually replace private clouds.

The study, with the catchy title, “Western Europe Government Sector IT Cloud Computing Trends, 2012–2013 (IDC Government Insights #GIPP12U, January 2013)”, is the third in a series of studies which say more or less the same things.
Not only are central and local governments about to make large cloud investments, but eventually Public clouds will become more important.