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The Advisory View: March 2019

Google Cloud acquires Alooma

Google Cloud’s chief executive, Thomas Kurian, announced the acquisition of California and Tel Aviv based start-up Alooma. Alooma is a program that offers a single data pipeline which can get data from multiple sources such as Amazon Redshift, Azure, BigQuery (another Google tied program) and Snowflake to name a few. By acquiring Alooma, Google Cloud has gained an open source program that adds to its unique cloud offering.

Created in 2013, Alooma has been a long-term Google partner with several native integrations including Google Analytics, Google Ads and BigQuery. The company has received over $15 million across three funding rounds during its six years and already has some high-profile customers in Sony and The New York Times.

NHS to phase out pagers

This week the NHS announced its plan to phase out the use of pagers in favour of modern technology by 2021.

After the switch the primary source of communication will be mobile phones and apps.

The change comes because of the gap in technological power between the two devices and the significant difference in cost to run each one. In the NHS over 130,000 pagers are used, which is more than one-tenth of the world’s usage.

They cost £6.6 million a year to run, with only one pager provider (PageOne Communications) in the UK, and each device costs roughly £400 a year to run. Mobile phones are now more cost effective, can transfer documents and most importantly; can display more than 2 lines of text at a time. However, with potential complications like Wi-Fi crashes the decision has been made to keep some pagers around in the event of a problem.

Shortage of cyber security skills could affect the UK public sector.

In May last year WannaCry, the global ransomware attack, crippled the NHS, costing them £92 million and cancelling over 19,000 appointments in 7 days. This attack not only damaged the NHS but also exposed the fragility of cybersecurity in the public sector.

Since then research has been made into the attack and found that the malware was relatively simplistic. Despite 65% of the public sector outsourcing their cybersecurity to external suppliers it’s clear that there is still much work to do improve organisational cybersecurity skills and increase resilience to potential hacks. SunGard Availability Services, who have worked with Enfield council and other public sector organisations recommend investing in staff communication & IT skills, as well as looking into how AI and machine learning can further assist with improving security.

Is ZeroTrust networking the answer to connectivity within the public sector?

ZeroTrust networking, first introduced in 2010 by former analyst John Kindervag, is the idea of removing the corporate network, putting everything out on the internet but then deciding who, with what device can access the data based on several metrics. For example, only giving access to verified users who are also able to confirm their physical location via GPS.

Kindervag created Zero Trust after noticing that organisations were adopting a ‘Keep and Moat’ method when it came to network security. When the world started to migrate to cloud-based applications like Google Docs, this began to break down as people wanted to access corporate applications from their own devices, outside of the corporate moat.

There has been the idea to create a Zero Trust network for the whole of the public sector, but problems begin to arise immediately. There are 4.5 million registered servants of the public sector and to be able to identify what each of those people can access based on location and on what device they want is no easy task. Another big concern is security. Recently, due to an ‘accidental’ routing error, in Nigeria, all of Google’s internet traffic to and from North America was routed via Russia and China where it ’disappeared’ for an afternoon. Such potential for even encrypted traffic to go ‘missing’ may well prove to be a deal breaker.

MoD invites applications for the design phase of Cyber Risk Tooling

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced it is prioritising cybersecurity with thorough cyber risk tooling - a tool that ‘ingests and analyses all cyber risk data’. It identifies risks and issues and prioritises them by severity and need of attention.

In the last 12 months, 40% of business have experienced some form of security breach or attack and the government views emerging solutions as the best defence. The government have created a plan to make the UK the most cyber-secure in the world and will try to do this by getting rid of the most dangerous of cyber threats that face businesses and customers alike. The MoD's risk tool will support the Cyber Security Operations Capability (CSOC) in understanding the risks that the country is under and prioritise the most serious threats.

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