You may have heard about the recent O2 outage that caused many of their customers unable to use the Internet, but can you do when something goes wrong?
One of the best things you can do is to stay calm, find out what the problem is and keep everyone informed. For your users, knowing that someone is on the case can be reassuring and helps them to be aware that a fix is in progress.
With that in mind, what happened with O2 over the weekend?
Some of the equipment used by O2 is manufactured by Swedish company Ericsson, a well known and highly trusted company with customers worldwide. Given that their equipment handles data ranging from Tweets to highly sensitive personal data and much more inbetween, keeping things secure is vital.
Many websites now use HTTPS rather than the older HTTP, which is often shown through the Green Padlock in the address bar. This helps you to know that anything going between you and the server is encrypted to prevent someone else from eavesdropping. One of the things this needs is an SSL Certificate also known as a Security Certificate. These can be used for other purposes as well, not just websites.
Ericsson makes heavy use of Security Certificates to ensure that data going through their equipment is encrypted because a wide range of data is handled. SSL Certificates do not last forever and must be renewed before they expire - otherwise the encryption will stop working.
On the 6th December 2018, some of the Security Certificates used by Ericsson expired and weren't renewed. The systems correctly picked up on this and blocked all unencrypted data from passing through, effectively shutting down the entire system. As a result, this caused anything that relied on the equipment to also fail - with O2 being one of the worst affected. Fixing the issue required several hours of investigating and a number of attempts. By the evening, some systems had started to recover as the root cause was found and fixed. Both Ericsson and O2 are still cleaning up and it may take some time before the full answers are available.
While an outage of this size doesn't happen every day, it's always important to be prepared for when something does go wrong.
I thought I would make a few comments about Cyber Security and specifically talk about a recent attack in the last year. One year and 5 months ago the NHS was attacked by a hacking attack. Fortunately, someone was able to figure out how to stop the attack. However, this attack weakened the NHS structure both physically and as an operation over the whole of United Kingdom The name of the attack method was called WannaCry and this is a Ransomware attack. A ransomware attack can block a user’s access to their data. The NHS staff could not access the records of patients within the NHS because of the WannaCry. This NHS became vulnerable to this attack through an exploit found previously within the Windows system. This had been patched by Microsoft but if you do not apply patches to your systems regularly then your system will still be Vulnerable. The NHS was not specifically targeted but was caught out in the crossfire by the attack.
So there are a few lessons to be learnt from the attack.
The 1st lesson is to make sure systems are updated regularly to make sure little no vulnerabilities in the software still exist.
The 2nd lesson is to keep information securely hidden and safe from any persons or user’s who you do not want to access your data.
A new "Web Standard" is close to launching, which aims to put an end to the days of forgotten passwords and constant resets. By using "Something You Have" WebAuthn makes it possible to login to a website or service without having to enter a single password. Instead of the current username/password setup, you could swipe your fingerprint or approve an alert on your phone for example, which would send a reply back to the site and grant access. WebAuthn also makes it possible to have a unique "password" for every website without having to ever set one yourself.
Cyber Security is becoming increasingly important, particularly as a result of incidents seen over the last few years. Yet at the same time there is a shortage of experts capable of protecting and defending against Cyber Attacks. The difficulty in recruiting fresh talent into Cyber Security has become a major problem, which may leave the UK at risk in the future.
This is where people with Autism can step in, as they often have skills and traits which are ideal for the job. Unfortunately, many "Aspies" find it impossible to get any jobs as they struggle to get through the recruitment and interview processes used by many employers.
This is where a new project comes in. ASPIE and Wits End Wizardry are working with Dr Emma Philpott from the UK Cyber Security Forum to launch a Community SOC (Secure Operations Centre. The SOC will provide training and opportunities for People with Autism with an interest in IT, with the aim of launching them into a Career in Cyber Security.
The project will run alongside the services ASPIE and Wits End Wizardry already offer, with the aim to provide valuable experience and skills that can help a Member towards a successful future.
Recently, Wits End Wizardry has also partnered with Eco Hosting to provide our Clients a new Web Hosting service that can run alongside our Web Design and Maintenance options. Not only does this allow us to offer affordable Web Hosting, but we are also able to provide extra security, speed and reliability benefits. We can also manage the entire service, giving Clients peace of mind that their websites are always running at their best.
Nearly all computers worldwide - and many other devices - have been exposed to security flaws which leave them vulnerable to attacks by hackers.
Researchers discovered gaps in security stemming from central processing units - better known as the chip or microchip - which could allow privately stored data in computers and networks to be hacked.
So far no data breaches have been reported. So is it a big deal and what does it mean for you?
Ten years ago today, the first iPhone hit stores in the US. On paper, the device was nothing special: it lacked the 3G connectivity which was becoming standard across much of the world, its battery struggled to last a day, and its camera resolution was just two megapixels. It also came with an eye-watering price tag of $499, and a mandatory two-year contract with AT&T. That was for the smallest version, with 4GB of storage.
Wits End Wizardry recently was mentioned in the House of Commons by our local MP, Robin Walker, in the wider debate around the autism spectrum.
Mobile-friendly websites are now essential since the recent so-called mobilegeddon arisng from Google's algorithm changes. A business can have an awesome website, but if it hasn't been optimized for mobiles it now will not be prominent in Google search results. Website builders and business owners must now ensure that their web design is mobile-friendly: so that it still displays as well on smartphones and tablets as it does on a computer. This means that all features including logo design and all aspects of graphic design transpose well on mobiles.
A UK Government survey found that nearly 2 million UK businesses were not online, and only a third of online businesses were transactional i.e. take payment online. The British and global economies have gone digital relatively quickly and there are very few enterprises that can ignore the internet revolution as a short-term strategy.