Nation states have been in the news a lot recently, but who are the other cyber threat actors?

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Nation states are turning increasingly to cyber warfare to achieve political, economic and military goals. From the point of view of a nation state, not only are cyber-attacks highly cost-effective but also it can be almost impossible to identify the perpetrators, which means they are less likely to trigger military retaliation.

Cyber attacks carried out by nation states are highly sophisticated and operate on a larger scale than most. In recent years, targets have included government agencies and critical infrastructure. In 2020, a major cyber-attack targeted US federal agencies. …


How quantum computers work and why we should start worrying about quantum cryptography now

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It is a common fallacy that quantum computers are faster than classical computers and it is easy to see where the idea comes from. After all, as processors have shrunk in size, computing has become quicker, which has led some to assume that quantum computers must be even faster because they work with subatomic particles. The truth is that quantum computers are not really faster, but rather do things in a different way thanks to the quantum properties of superposition, entanglement and interference.

The computers we have today store data using bits, which have two states — either on or…


A UN report highlights the vulnerability of the healthcare sector and suggests a cybersecurity code of conduct for nation states

Hospitals are relatively easy targets for cyber-criminals. (Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash)

The United Nations has adopted a landmark report on cybersecurity after a unanimous vote in favour. For the first time, all 193 member states have voted to approve a set of rules, norms and principles for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.

The report notes that in recent years nation states have been turning increasingly to cyber warfare to achieve political, economic and military goals. It highlights the “potentially devastating security, economic, social and humanitarian consequences” of malicious attacks on the critical infrastructures that keep modern society safe and functioning. One of the most widely reported cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure took…


Physical and logical access controls are key to cybersecurity

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There is an old joke that “snowwhiteandthe7dwarfs” is an ideal password because it contains eight characters and a number. It makes us smile because, at one time or another, most of us have been annoyed about having to update our log-in credentials. But access control is no laughing matter.

The news that two major cyber-attacks in recent months likely started with a weak password and stolen credentials has underlined the importance of having adequate measures in place and a strong cybersecurity culture. People are the biggest cause of security breaches, whether it is because they click on a link in…


Why cyber-security relies on understanding the differences between IT and cyber physical systems

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Federal agencies and a cyber-security service provider that counts the government and Fortune 500 companies among its clients are all victims of recent cyber attacks in the United States. There are fears that the hackers may also be targeting the private sector. Analysts suspect that a foreign power is behind the security breaches.

Nation states are turning increasingly to cyber warfare to achieve political, economic and military goals. The attacks do not stop at government agencies, but also target critical infrastructure and private corporations to steal sensitive data that can be sold for profit.

Cyber warfare enables nation states to…


The Digital Factory framework facilitates the sharing and analysis of data

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People had long forgotten how to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs when Napoleon’s army came across a large slab of rock buried under the foundations of a building in the Nile Delta. Thanks to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, as it came to be known, scholars were able to use the ancient Greek inscription to decipher the hieroglyphs carved into the same stone. Something similar is happening nowadays in smart factories, where machines, which often “speak” different languages, are relying on the digital equivalents of the Rosetta Stone to understand and share information.

Information is the lifeblood of modern manufacturing…


A leading technology expert discusses the dos and don’ts of chairing large meetings online

International technology standards not only promote best practices in efficiency, trustworthiness and safety, but also they are essential for the removal of technical barriers to trade. They are developed and agreed through a process of consensus that relies on at least some face to face meetings between engineers, scientists, regulators and other experts from all over the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of these meetings online, which presents challenges when hundreds of experts, most of whom are not native English speakers, come together to identify solutions.

The Australian, Mike Wood, understands these challenges better than most. Wood, who…


An effective governance model ensures that good cybersecurity and practices and procedures are maintained properly

Intrusion detection and prevention in the Wild West. (Publicity still for the Rustlers Of The Badlands 1945 movie with Tex Harding (right) and Dub Taylor (left). Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In the movies, cyber-crime is often portrayed as a modern-day Western, with good and bad nerds shooting code at each other instead of bullets. The truth is far more mundane. Very often data breaches happen simply because employees are negligent or make mistakes.

According to a report from IBM and the Ponemon Institute, human error was responsible for nearly a quarter of all data breaches between July 2018 and April 2019. The best way to mitigate that risk is with a holistic strategy that addresses technology, people, practices and procedures.

Importance of strong leadership

Ensuring those practices and procedures are…


It is crucial to have a clear picture of who exactly you are targeting, how they consume content and what they care about. (Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash)

Choosing the right media channels to reach your stakeholders and clients is a tough challenge because it is easy to get wrong. It is even harder for small teams with limited resources.

A website and corporate presence on the most relevant social media platforms — usually Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube — provide the backbone, but sooner or later you will need to weigh the pros and cons of adding other products and services to the mix, perhaps a blog, newsletter or podcast.

It is essential that you base any decisions on a well-defined strategy that clearly identifies your target…


A new generation of malware is attacking the assets that keep modern society safe and functioning

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A new generation of malware is specifically targeting the industrial automation and control systems (IACS) used in critical infrastructure. These systems include the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) technology and human machine interfaces (HMI) that are at the very heart of the assets that keep modern society safe and functioning, affecting everything from food and water to manufacturing plants and power installations.

Probably the best-known cyber-attack on critical infrastructure took place in Ukraine in 2015, when hackers successfully infiltrated the electric utility’s SCADA system. Key circuit breakers were tripped, and the SCADA system was turned into a “brick”, causing…

Mike Mullane

Journalist working at the intersection of technology and media

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