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Green Duck

Hundreds of cyber-attacks are hitting British Universities every year.

By Emma Crawford

Hundreds of cyber-attacks are hitting British Universities every year.

A report by The Times has shown that some of the county’s top universities have seen the number of cyber-security breaches double in the last two years with more than 1,152 intrusions between 2016 and 2017.

Data acquired under freedom of information laws highlighted that cyber criminals are targeting scientific, engineering and medical advancement, including research into missiles.

Carsten Maple, director of cyber-security research at Warwick University and chairman of Britain’s council of professors and heads of computing, told the newspaper: “Universities drive forward a lot of the research and development in the UK. Intellectual property takes years of know-how and costs a lot. If someone can get that very quickly, that’s good for them.”

Mr Maple added, “Certainly somebody might attack a university and then provide that information to a nation state.”

Many of the attacks used ransomware which blocks access to a computer systems until a ransom is paid. This form of attack also crippled the NHS in May and was blamed on hackers based in North Korea.

Ciaran Martin, head of CGHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, said that this year alone, Britain had suffered 188 high-level attacks within just three months, “many of which threatened national security”. The centre has also called for organisations to ensure that online security measures be as robust as possible.

Louise Haigh, shadow Home Office minister, said that underinvestment in defence systems have left many public and private sector organisations vulnerable. She added, “There should be no compromise on cybersecurity but in difficult financial times, many public sector organisations are being left with outdated operating systems.”

Is splitting BT and Openreach the answer?

Ofcom have a very difficult situation on their hands now. Understandably, BT seem to be very averse to investing in Openreach with the threat of a divorce looming. BT as a group have all of the capital funds though. If the proposed split was to occur, how much money would Openreach be left with, and would this be more than is available to them currently?

At the end of the day, everyone wants to be receiving a better service than is currently being received. Astoundingly, businesses often seem to be the last on the list to receive fibre connectivity, with the government tasking BT/Openreach to reach as many homes as possible before businesses.

From a purely financial perspective, this makes sense. By introducing fibre to a cabinet that serves 100 homes, you can charge 100 customers FTTC services. Alternatively, introducing fibre to a cabinet which serves an industrial estate with 50 businesses on it, and you could potentially only be charging 50 FTTC services. The point being missed though is that by prioritising businesses, these businesses can then introduce new technologies (cloud services/VOIP) which in turn increase efficiencies, which in turn could lead to more employment.

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