Tag: uk government

Petition calls for Brexit to protect EU collaboration on R&D

European flagA total of 38,370 people has called on the UK government to protect access to European Union research and development programmes in the run up to Britain leaving the bloc.

The petition says that UK access to the programmes “stimulates billions of pounds of investment” and gives us here access to skills and technologies.

“Ending our access to these programmes will weaken our economy which depends on exploitation of innovative science and technology,” the petitioners say.

The government under its own rules has to respond to petitions if over 10,000 people sign.

But as far as Brexit goes, the government hasn’t really made a response except in the blandest of terms.

“The Government continues to value scientists, researchers and students, including those from outside the UK who come to learn and work in our country and recognises the benefits that the rich diversity of our research and scientific communities brings to our society and our economy. The UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to do science and the Government will work to ensure that our excellent education and research remains a magnet for brilliant minds.”

That, according to one of the lead petitioners TechEye spoke to this week, is nothing short of scandalous.

The petition says that while the UK might be able to replace the lost EU funding, it wouldn’t be able to restore research collaboration and indeed they’d have no financial incentive to do so.

You can find the petition here.

Fourth youth arrested over TalkTalk hack

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 14.18.56Police have arrested a 16 year old youth in Norwich related to the recent TalkTalk hack.

The boy is the fourth to be arrested in the inquiry into the hack, which saw TalkTalk data filched in the attack.

TalkTalk claims that the hack was much smaller than it had originally thought.

All four young men have been arrested and released on bail while police inquiries continue.

Meanwhile British MPs are setting up their own inquiry into TalkTalk.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee wants to investigate how firms like TalkTalk store customer data.

IBM pushes for UK raw power

IBM data centreIBM said it is to create a UK Power design centre at Hartree in conjunction with Nvidia, Mellanox and Science and Technology Facilities Council (SFTC).

Power is shorthand for IBM’s microprocessor family, and the centre will focus on high performance computing for modelling, simulation, and big data analysis.

The UK government had recently announced investment into the Hartree Crntre at Daresbury, in the belief it will boost economic growth.

Dr Peter Allan, acting director of the Hartree Centre said the new design centre is aimed at helping industry and academia use IBM and Nvidia’s expertise in supercomputing.

Dave Turek, an IBM VP of high performance computing, said the centre will extend existing acceleration and design centres in Hermany and France, based on the OpenPOWER technologies.

UK government offers internet of things competition

Bee swarm - Wikimedia CommonsThe Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it is offering up to £10 million to UK cities and businesses for projects that show how the internet of things (IoT) will help cities.

Projects must be collaborative and be led by either a local authority or a local enterprise partnership. Projects have to include at least one council, an enterprise partner and several businesses.

All entries must involve the IoT and show benefits for citizens, the city, the environment, economic benefits and security and privacy. The entries also need to work across a number of different sectors.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said that the IoT is becoming part of everyones’ lives. “The UK technology sector is renowned for its creativity and pioneering research and development.”

The idea of the competition is to demonstrate new connections between city services and their users.

Competition entries must be submitted before 30 September 2015, with the deadline for registration on 23 September 2015. You can get more details by emailing support@innovateuk.gov.uk

UK government teams up with IBM

IBM logoIBM will contribute £200 million to support the UK government’s Hartree Centre, it said today.

The UK said in last year’s Autumn Statement that it would invest £113 into the project, aimed at boosting big data research in the UK.

IBM will give the centre access to its “Watson” cognitive computing system, put 24 of its researchers into the project, and jointly commercialise the intellectual property assets in conjunction with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The STFC runs the Hartree Centre.

Jo Johnson, UK minister for universities and science, said the partnership will “help businesses make the best use of big data to develop better products and services”.

David Stokes, IBM UK’s chief executive, said that the Hartree Centre will benefit from developments from the OpenPOWER foundation – a cooperative community that includes Nvidia, Mellanox and another 100 organisations.

Professor John Womersley, who runs the STFC said that data intensive techniques are changing every scientific discipline.

UK government puts PCs at risk

Microsoft campusThe UK government has decided not to renew a service agreement with Microsoft for continuing support of Windows XP computers and that means thousands of machines will be vulnerable to hacking.

According to the Guardian, last year the government paid £5.5 million to continue supporting Windows XP computers and its own digital unit said XP machines will now be exploitable.

While the government stumped up for extended support last year, each department is now expected to make its own deal with Microsoft for patches and the like.

The government has pledged to upgrade its Windows machines but some have made slow progress and there may be an understandable reluctance to move to Windows 8.1, given that Windows 10 will arrive this year.

Despite the fact that the situation is patchy, the Guardian report said that departments have been sternly told not to use unsupported software.

UK offers money for new ideas

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 17.21.47Innovate UK – which is a UK government body – said that it is making available £3 million to offer small businesses for feasibility studies.

The areas the department is concentrating on are in advanced materials, biosciences, electronics and sensors, and information and communication technologies.

The competition is open to businesses of any size but the projects must be led by a small or “micro” company working with at least one other research partner or business.

Innovate UK said the competition will open on the 18th of May, and the deadline for registration is noon on the 2nd of Septmebr 2015.

Small businesses could receive up to 70 percent of their eligible project costs – and the projects should have total costs of between £50,000 to £150,000 and last between six to 16 months.

You can apply here.

SMEs ride to the rescue of government IT plans

Medium sized IT companies ought to be given a chance to tender for IT plans for government departments, particularly after the cock ups damned in a report last week.

That’s what Andrew Gilbert, MD of Node4 thinks anyway.

The report pointed out that too many governments have relied in the past on a small group of large IT suppliers – a desktop PC that costs £3,500 although unusually high priced to you and me, was common fare when supplied by the cosy cartel to the civil servants.

Gilbert said that the tendering process should be urgently reviewed and claimed that would “dramatically improve” IT services. The report suggested that government departments shift to smaller companies to improve their services and keep a better handle on their costs.

Gilbert said that tax payers would benefit from using SMEs rather than the big boys.

Node4 is an SME.

UK gov departments encouraged to upgrade to IE8

Late last month we confirmed that the Home Office is taking a u-turn on the safety of Internet Exploder 6 and will be upgrading to IE8. Will this be a domino effect, we pondered? We can reveal that it appears that way – No. 10 Downing Street has confirmed to us that it will be upgrading to a newer model. And all departments are being recommended to upgrade to the “most recent version”.

In a statement released to TechEye, a spokesperson said: “Although the Cabinet Office sets our mandatory requirements for information security and assurance through the Security Policy Framework it is up to individual departments to put the processes and measures in place to meet these requirements.  There is no specific requirement in relation to web browsers.  

“Decisions such as which web browser to use will be based on a number of criteria including a risk assessment as well as business requirements – cost will obviously be a factor in this.  CESG gives advice and guidance to departments on managing information risks, including the security of government IT systems. 

As part of this they have recently published guidance to departments using Microsoft Internet Explorer, encouraging them to upgrade to the most recent version of the web browser and continue to patch vulnerabilities where necessary.”

At long last! It seems a petition filed earlier this year with much support from the press and public to upgrade from the archaic and flawed browser has been taken seriously, and pairs well with Theresa May’s concerns on cyber security.

Home Office does u-turn on Internet Explorer 6

A government department has abandoned browsing policy by deciding to upgrade its machines from Internet Explorer 6 to IE8.

The UK government has received severe criticism from many security companies for sticking to IE6 – a now non-supported Microsoft browser which is considered insecure.

A Home Office representative confirmed to TechEye today that it will upgrade to Internet Explorer 8, although the department gave no indication when the move will happen.

Even Microsoft has urged the government to upgrade to Microsoft. In September, Microsoft said it has consistently recommended that people and organisations upgrade to the latest version of its browser.

The government rejected a petition that it upgrade from IE6.  The government in its response says that there is “no evidence” that upgrading away from the “latest fully patched versions of Internet Explorer to other browsers will make users more secure.”

The question now is whether other departments will move to Internet Explorer 8, now the first domino has fallen.