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Meet London’s new cyber security hack-busting squad

Cyber attacks are the virtual reality that has just got real . On Friday, hackers suspected of being Russian broke into parliament, in a sustained and determined attack that compromised the network. Using software that reportedly used brute force to overwhelm and guess passwords, only 90 email accounts were breached before the attack was rebuffed, but the UK s defences are looking flimsy against a rising tide of online attacks . Last month, the NHS-crippling WannaCry1 virus crippled dozens of health trusts as computers were frozen . University College London was hit by a major ransomware attack this month that shut down its shared systems.

The devastating nature of such attacks lies in simplicity as much as state-of-the-art technology: it just takes one employee to open or respond to the wrong email . Barclays chief executive Jes Staley was left red-faced last month when he fell for a hoax email purporting to be from Barclays chairman John McFarlane. London, though, is leading a fightback . In February, the Queen opened the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ in Victoria, which worked around the clock to shut down Friday s attack . The booming fintech sector is a magnet for private-sector cyber security companies such as DynaRisk and CybSafe looking to service them . And so the best and the brightest talent are making their way to the capital . This group of ethical hackers and security experts are the new first line of defence.

The parliament attack was pretty unsophisticated the cyber equivalent of a criminal trying a door to see if it s locked properly, says Oliver Rees, 26, CEO of Southwark company Trustlight, whose job is to make sure cyber back doors stay locked .

He s part of London s fightback against cyber crime in the UK . The new normal is the everyday hackers trying to break into our phones, TVs and anything else that s connected . The good news is that with a few simple steps, we can protect against 99.9 per cent of the attacks. CyLon (Cyber London), Europe s first dedicated cyber security start-up accelerator, is based in Hammersmith and pumps 15,000 each into fledgling cyber security companies with bright ideas but bare pockets . It s a three-month programme where entrepreneurial teams with innovative and disruptive business ideas are provided with access to expert training and guidance from an accomplished network of mentors and investors.

The capital is, therefore, a cyber petri dish, where we scoop out virus cultures and stick them under the microscope, then work on an inoculation . But who are they recruiting?

The AI cyber sentry

Emily Orton, Darktrace

(Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures)

Every year hackers are getting better, says Emily Orton, 33, co-founder and director of Darktrace, the 400million-valued London-based cyber security firm, shortlisted for this year s Evening Standard Business Awards, which claims to have beaten the WannaCry hack . There s been an industrialisation of the threat landscape she says, as hackers become better funded and better equipped via the Dark Web.

We re seeing a move towards more automated threats, cleverer cyber weapons, and attacks towards trust in data, where people are in a network for longer, undermining its integrity . The response ? Their machine learning AI which stops emerging threats as they happen . Orton uses the analogy of the human body, with the skin being rudimentary firewall systems that keep out elementary threats .

We re the immune system that works to continually identify anything that gets through, adapting to any internal threat that shouldn t be there, she says . It s an AI that builds an understanding of what s normal for the organisation, so it can spot when a device or person in organisation acts strangely and flag that in real time.

The web s guardian angels

Aleks Koha, Titan Grid

Hackers never sleep, so neither do we, says Estonian Koha, 23, CEO of Titan Grid, one of CyLon s latest incubators . They find the most annoying time to hit you, like a Friday, or a weekend, when the lights are on but nobody s around to defend themselves . Koha works round the clock with his five-man team in Hammersmith, to the extent that his girlfriend is always glaring because my laptop s on in bed late at night .

Titan Grid specialises in cyber counterintelligence it sweeps up and erase clients home addresses, emails, and phone numbers from the internet using automated tools . These are the most basic lockpicks a hacker looks for, with over 60 online identities stolen per second.

It s dangerous, because the information we collect is useful to hackers too, says Koha . We have targets on our backs . Koha practices MMA and jujitsu in his spare time, which helps him develop resistance to high pressure situations . We can t stop 100 per cent of attacks happening in the first place, but we can give you a better lock than your neighbour, he says.

The identity cloaker

Irra Ariella Khi, VChain

I m much more comfortable working with my brain rather than my face, nowadays, says Khi, 33, a former model, an Oxford history and politics grad, and two-time e-commerce founder, who is fluent in nine languages . Her London start-up, Vchain, wants to make your identity unhackable , pitching to replace passports with blockchain technology, a digital ID key that no one can clone, which has so far been chiefly associated with Bitcoin transfers . Data is stored very poorly right now, says Khi .

You trade data for services you need, but have no quality control over how it s captured. International Airlines Group, British Airways s parent company, has already invested megabucks in Vchain which she runs with co-founder Alexander Gorelik after she won the pitch as the only woman on stage . I find that competence wins out, whatever your gender, she says . If in a room full of boys, the girl puts her hand up, chances are you ll be addressed not first or second, perhaps, but you ll be heard . A single mother, she lives in Fulham with her five-year-old daughter.

The e-psychology gurus

Oliver Rees and Alexander Walker, Trustlight

We re new here, says Oliver Rees, 26, CEO of Trustlight, another Cylon incubator that uses both technology and psychology to stop email fraud . He s not just talking about the company . We ve had 200,000 years of human evolution to learn to sense when there s a physical threat behind a bush, he says, but only 20 years to learn to sense threats online.

It s the people who most often accidentally give up the secrets, rather than the machines, agrees CTO Alexander Walker, 29 . Ninety per cent of attacks start with someone receiving an email that isn t genuine, he says . Trustlight, with the permission of companies, crafted fake emails in their testing stage to see who would take what bait.

Invite anyone to be the keynote speaker at an event and they ll click on the link every time, says Walker . Not all hackers are the enemy, though . A Jordanian contacted them to highlight a security flaw, asking for a bug bounty ; Rees replied that they couldn t pay the money, but sent him a T-shirt instead . He sent us a selfie, wearing it, and the happy ending is that now we work together.

The cybersecurity credit raters

Andrew Martin, Dynarisk

Born in Toronto, Canada, Martin, now 35, was a typical hacker in his teens, a near high school dropout, terrible at every subject apart from IT . Having enjoyed the adrenaline rush of breaking into systems , he realised the risks if he actually stole anything , so he stopped, and started working for a bank to stop people like me breaking in . (With his skills, getting a job when he moved to the UK in 2012 was easy.) His best trick was reverse engineering viruses , allowing him to find out where they were talking back to . According to Martin, he uncovered state-sponsored hacking, criminal groups in Eastern Europe, Asian and Central America , handing intelligence to the police . He s now left the fun stuff behind: his own company, Dynarisk, assesses an individual s risk to see how likely they are to be hacked, giving them a credit score and a tailored action plan of the things they need to do to protect themselves.

It also scans devices for vulnerabilities, check to see if emails were breached (his own has been five times), send safe, probing phishing emails and scan home browsers to see if can be accessed via the internet . He and his wife, Yasmin live in south London . They met in cyber security, so you see, you can find love in this line of work too .

The university of hacks

Oz Alashe, CybSafe

Oz Alashe, 40, is the daddy of all cyber security experts . As a father of two, a boy, five, and a girl, 19 weeks old, he worries about the online safety of his kids as much as the work of his GCHQ-accredited Canary Wharf firm CybSafe . He s also served in the UK s special forces, so he knows how to keep us safe . He s therefore all about education: CybSafe is a cloud-based educational tool allowing companies and their staff to learn how to look after their own.

Originally, we worked with cyber security experts, including ethical hackers, to learn the tools of cyber hackers: we then built a platform and modules that address what we learnt . They then assess to see if staff behaviour is changed by simulating attacks, via phishing emails, corrupted SMS text messages or USB stick drops (they work with both government and commercial entities) . You d be amazed at how many people pick up a USB stick with the word bonuses written on it and plug it straight in, says Alashe.

The counter-coders

Pedro Ribeiro, Immersive Labs

If you re going to protect against hackers, you need to know how to hack, says Pedro Ribeiro, 33, CTO of Immersive Labs, another CyLon incubator, which teaches companies staff how to be hackers themselves . It s like playing a game of chess, and if you don t have all the pieces, you don t stand a chance .

Ribeiro s been a legal ethical hacker for eight years, exposing companies flaws on their payroll, earning between 500 and 2,500 a day .

The problem is, there s a severe skills shortage, which means we re expensive, he says . To bring the costs down and with increasing demand for hack-literate employees Immersive Labs shows them how to do it, teaching them to pull source code, manipulate sites to their advantage, spot problems with programmes and exploit them . Ribeiro is a devoted martial arts disciple . These days you have two types of hacker: the old-school doesn t see the daylight type, and the opposite . It s good for the body and the mind, and it fits with the hacking mind-set: you re fighting something big, always going against the current.

Follow Samuel Fishwick on Twitter: @fish_o_wick2

Meet London's New Cyber Security Hack-busting SquadReuse content3

References

  1. ^ WannaCry (www.standard.co.uk)
  2. ^ @fish_o_wick (twitter.com)
  3. ^ Reuse content (www.standard.co.uk)

How climate change will threaten food security of world’s poorest countries

Some of the world s poorest countries will be hit hardest as climate change affects marine fisheries all over the world, according to a new study. The global fishing industry produces a total catch worth of about $90bn ( 71bn) but the warming ocean temperatures are causing many valuable species to shift their usual ranges. The potential for water to hit temperatures lethal to corals such as Australia s Great Barrier Reef, which support vast amounts of other marine life, is a particular problem.

The researchers assessed 147 countries based on their vulnerability to the effect of future warming on fishing in their waters and their ability to cope with the changes. The worst-affected countries were mostly small islands, with Kiribati, Micronesia, the Solomon Islands, the Maldives and Vanuatu making up the top five, according to a paper in the journal PLOS ONE1. However, large countries like China, in eighth place, Nigeria (15th) and Indonesia (26th) also featured high on the list.

Ireland was predicted to be the least vulnerable country in 147th place, followed by Chile, the UK, Iceland and Namibia, with the US in sixth. The five worst-affected countries were given a vulnerability score that was eight to nine times higher than those at the bottom of the list. Writing in the journal, the researchers warned that climate change s effect on fisheries could harm food security, people s livelihoods and public health particularly in poor countries that are less able to cope.

More than 87 per cent of least developed countries are found within the top half of the vulnerability index, while the bottom half includes all but one of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member states wealthy countries, they said.

This is primarily due to the tremendous variation in countries adaptive capacity, as no such trends are evident from the exposure or sensitivity indices.

And the countries that have done the least to cause climate change appear to be the ones that can expect their fisheries to be the worst affected by it.

A negative correlation exists between vulnerability and per capita carbon emissions, and the clustering of states at different levels of development across the vulnerability index suggests growing barriers to meeting global commitments to reducing inequality, promoting human well-being and ensuring sustainable cities and communities, the researchers wrote.

How Climate Change Will Threaten Food Security Of World's Poorest CountriesReuse content2

References

  1. ^ a paper in the journal PLOS ONE (journals.plos.org)
  2. ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)

Trooping the Colour: Security stepped up at Buckingham Palace for Queen’s birthday celebrations

A major police security operation was underway today as thousands flocked to London1 to see Trooping the Colour to mark the Queen2‘s official birthday. All senior royals including The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William will gather for the major occasion, also known as The Queen s Birthday Parade. The Duchess of Cambridge along with Prince George and Princess Charlotte are expected to appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace following the spectacle.

Extra police will be on duty around the palace to ensure the area is secure following the London and Manchester terror attacks. Prince William at last year’s event (EPA)

Snipers will be positioned on nearby roof tops and plain clothes officers will mingle among the crowds to bolster the uniformed police presence. The traditional celebrations came as The Queen, ahead of the event, issued a statement saying the UK has been “resolute in the face of adversity” following recent tragedies in London and Manchester.

Happy family: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at last year’s event (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

She said: “Today is traditionally a day of celebration . This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood.”

The Head of State released her statement on her official birthday, the day after she visited the survivors and heroes of the Grenfell Tower tragedy accompanied by Prince William.

“In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies,” Her Majesty said.

“As a nation, we continue to reflect and pray for all those who have been directly affected by these events. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh leaving Buckingham Palace in central London to view the Trooping the Colour ceremony (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

“During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need.”

The monarch visited the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital following the Manchester Arena attack in which 22 people were killed following an Ariana Grande concert.

She added: “Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity.

“United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.”

Prince Philip waves to crowds as he and the Queen travel to Horse Guards Parade for Trooping the Colour last year (AFP/Getty Images)

Trooping the Colour is an annual event that is part of the Queen s official birthday celebrations. It begins with an impressive pageantry parade which includes her personal troops, the Household Division and Horse Guards. The Queen rides in a carriage before inspecting the troops and taking a salute from the officers and men on parade.

Troops line the street during ast year’s event (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

The Queen has two birthdays – her actual birthday in April and an official birthday marked every summer by the Trooping the Colour ceremony. Today the Queen leaves Buckingham Palace accompanied by a Sovereign s escort from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. She then takes a Royal salute from officers and inspect the troops before the Regimental Colour, flag, is carried down the ranks.

After Foot Guards, the Household Cavalry, The King s Troop and Royal Horse Artillery troop past, the Queen will head back to Buckingham Palace to the balcony for the Royal Air Force fly-past. The tradition for monarchs to have two birthdays was started by George II back in 1748. George was born in November and it was felt that it was too cold to host an annual birthday parade at that time.

It was decided that his birthday festivities would be combined with a military parade known as the Trooping the Colour, which was held in spring. Subsequent monarchs helpfully had birthdays at more convenient times of the year, but the Queen s father, King George VI, reintroduced the tradition which she has continued. The Queen has taken the salute every year since her coronation in 1953, apart from in 1955 when there was a national rail strike.

Trooping The Colour: Security Stepped Up At Buckingham Palace For Queen's Birthday CelebrationsReuse content3

References

  1. ^ London (www.standard.co.uk)
  2. ^ Queen (www.standard.co.uk)
  3. ^ Reuse content (www.standard.co.uk)