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|Critical infrastructure cyber attacks greater concern than enterprise data breaches||26/03/2020|
Claroty, the industrial cybersecurity expert has released research into the state of industrial cybersecurity worldwide, which found that 74% of IT security professionals globally are more concerned about a cyber attack on critical infrastructure than an enterprise data breach.
An independent survey of 1,000 full-time IT security professionals was carried out in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Australia to determine the attitudes and concerns of IT security professionals related to OT security.
Looking at an overall picture of the security of industrial networks, the survey found that 62% of global respondents believe that industrial networks are properly safeguarded against cyber attacks and that 60% believe their country’s critical infrastructure is adequately protected.
However, some regions are more confident than others. Respondents from Australia (93%) and Germany (96%) are much more confident in the overall safety of industrial networks versus respondents from the U.K., U.S. and France. They are also more confident that their country’s critical infrastructure is properly secured against cyber attacks, with 90% of respondents from Australia and 99% from Germany saying that they are adequately protected.
“While IT and OT convergence unlocks business value in terms of operations efficiency, performance, and quality of services, it can now be detrimental because threats, both targeted and non-targeted, now have the freedom to manoeuvre from IT to OT environments and vice versa,” said Dave Weinstein, Chief Security Officer of Claroty. “Our mission is to help security practitioners to bridge the gap between IT and OT cybersecurity, ensuring that all bases are protected from cyber attack. This is even more critical in this new normal of largely remote workforces, which create additional burden on Chief Information Security Officers to remotely secure their production environments.”
In terms of industries and direct threats, the research found that globally, 45% of IT security professionals see electric power as the most vulnerable sector of critical infrastructure, followed by oil and gas (21%). Furthermore, 43% would put hacking at the top of the list of threats to industrial networks that they are most concerned about, followed by ransomware (33%).
The survey also explored whose responsibility it is to protect critical infrastructure from cyber attack, and the results weighed heavily in favour of government over the private sector. In fact, 100% of respondents from Germany believe it is the government’s responsibility, followed by Australia (98%), the U.K. (91%), France (89%), and the U.S. (87%).
|INEOS to build hand sanitiser plant near Middlesbrough in 10 days to make 1 million bottles per month||24/03/2020|
INEOS, one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, has today announced plans to produce 1 million hand sanitisers per month to help with the European shortage. These will be produced according to World Health Organisation specifications and be specifically designed to kill bacteria and viruses.
INEOS is a leading European producer of the two key raw materials needed for sanitisers – isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and ethanol. The company is already running these plants flat out and have been diverting more of this product to essential medical use and will now build two new factories to make hand sanitiser from them.
INEOS intends to produce both standard and the increasingly popular “pocket bottle” hand sanitisers and is already talking to retail outlets across Europe. Supplies to NHS hospitals will be free of charge for the period of the crisis with the public being able to purchase bottles through retailers.
INEOS takes its corporate and social responsibilities extremely seriously, its products are essential to the production of essential healthcare products from rubber gloves, to PVC saline drips, syringes, ventilators, medical tubing. Its products purify the public drinking water. It produces raw materials for soap, acetone for aspirin and paracetamol, and its phenol is being used in pharmaceutical analysis essential in procedures necessary to find a vaccine.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of INEOS adds, “INEOS is a company with enormous resources and manufacturing skills. If we can find other ways to help in the coronavirus battle, we are absolutely committed to playing our part”
|Oxford and King’s developing prototype for rapidly deployable ventilator||24/03/2020|
An interdisciplinary team of engineers and medics is addressing ways to increase the UK’s capacity for ventilator manufacture.
Engineers, anaesthetists and surgeons from the University of Oxford and King’s College London are building and testing prototypes that can be manufactured using techniques and tools available in well-equipped university and small and medium enterprise (SME) workshops.
The team, led by Oxford Professors Andrew Farmery, Mark Thompson and Alfonso Castrejon-Pita and King's College London’s Dr Federico Formenti, have been working to define novel mechanisms of operation that will meet the required specifications for safe and reliable function. The design aims to exploit off-the-shelf components and equipment.
The researchers are working in response to UK government calls to increase the country’s ventilator manufacturing capacity due to COVID-19. Demonstrating safety and reliability and achieving regulatory approval of the opensource design will be necessary, and once this has been achieved, the approach could unlock potential for a new kind of distributed manufacturing effort.
Government coordination and ongoing rapid competitive selection of the best design concepts will enable universities, SMEs and large industry to make and assemble these ventilators close to their local NHS services. This may allow local scaling according to demand, and reduce stress on NHS distribution.
Professor Thompson, Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, says: ‘This extraordinary situation demands an extraordinary response and we are pulling all the talents together in an exceptional team combining decades of experience translating research into the clinic, brilliant innovators, and highly skilled technicians.’
Professor Farmery, Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, says: ‘Ordinarily, to develop a medical device such as this would be a huge task, and would take years. We have designed a simple and robust ventilator which will serve the specific task of managing the very sickest patients during this crisis.
"By pooling available expertise from inside and outside the University, and making the design freely available to local manufacturers, we are pleased to be able to respond to this challenge so quickly."
Within a matter of weeks it is hoped a prototype could be developed which would satisfy MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) requirements, and the scientists believe a mature manufacturing network at scale could be achievable within 2-3 months.
The Department of Engineering Science has committed to support prototyping efforts and the team is looking for options to develop regulatory approval. The next steps are ensuring the prototype has buy in from all stakeholders, especially healthcare staff, and to demonstrate compliance with the MHRA requirements of performance, safety and reliability.
Professor Mark Thompson says: ‘The academic partners can provide free to use plans and designs available for download; central communication with workshops at Oxford to provide advice; step-by-step videos and guides for assembly; along with videos to facilitate training and use.’
King’s College London have offered the use of their workshops to manufacture/3D print bespoke components.
Dr Formenti says: "Thinking beyond the current pandemic, we are also aiming to share the know-how and refinement of this relatively inexpensive approach with other countries."
Project website: https://oxvent.org/
|British manufacturers offer to help fight Covid-19||24/03/2020|
The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has issued a call to manufacturers seeking support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components as part of the response to Coronavirus.
Despite a healthy order book for gas analysers, Signal Group has responded positively; formally expressing a willingness to help. “As a developer and manufacturer of precision gas analysis equipment, we are accustomed with the technologies involved in the reliable, measured flow of contaminant-free gases,” says Signal’s MD James Clements. “We have the necessary expertise, experience and appropriate manufacturing equipment, so we would welcome the opportunity to help in any way we can.”
The UK Government is also seeking organisations with skills in design/specification, rapid prototyping, product assembly and certification/regulation/testing, so Signal has also offered its services in this regard. Speaking on Monday 23rd March 2020, James Clements says: “We are waiting to hear if our offer of help is accepted. For the time being, we are carrying on with our normal work, with as many staff as possible home-working and only essential staff coming in to the Camberley factory, whilst maintaining appropriate social distancing.”
|COVID-19 Pandemic will force companies to radically rethink how they operate||20/03/2020|
ABI Research Analysts share their thoughts on the likely short-and long-term impacts the global pandemic will have on technology and end markets
The Coronovirus outbreak and the worldwide reaction to the pandemic will force companies to radically rethink how they operate and embrace technological investment, states global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.
In its new white paper, Taking Stock of COVID-19: The Short- and Long-Term Ramifications on Technology and End Markets, ABI Research Analysts look at the current and future ramifications of COVID-19 across technologies and verticals. Analysts also offer recommendations to weather the storm and strategies to help companies rebound and prosper after the pandemic has slowed.
“To effect change, there must be a stimulation of a magnitude that means companies cannot do anything but make bold decisions to survive. COVID-19 is that magnitude,” explains Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research.
Bold decisions and technological investments could lead to outcomes such as:
“Before we feel this potential long-term impact, there will be some serious short-term implications. Contractions in consumer spending, disruptions to supply chains, and reduced availability of components will create a rough sea for all boats,” Carlaw says. “In the short-term, there will be a retrenchment in outlooks a reduced investment in modernization, as survival instincts trump the drive to prosperity.”
For a clearer picture of the short- and long-term global impacts of COVID-19, download the whitepaper Taking Stock of COVID-19: The Short- and Long-Term Ramifications on Technology and End
|Employment advice on working from home||18/03/2020|
Mini Setty, a partner in employment law at Langleys Solicitors offers the following insight on government advice to work from home.
As the UK’s coronavirus safeguarding measures continue, millions more Britons are preparing to work from home, as social distancing measures develop. Following the news that universities are to implement online lessons and learning plans, there could be as many as 2.4 million more people working from home. This coupled with the almost 12 million UK families with dependent children could mean that a considerable proportion of the workforce is forced to stay at home, if schools close in the coming weeks. Many more UK workers may also have to work flexibly as they care for their family members over the age of 70. It is already estimated that as many as 20 million UK workers can work from home, according to an IWG Global Workplace survey. All this considered, as many as 30 million Britons are preparing to, or already working from home.
Can your employer refuse to let you work from home?
If an individual needs to self-isolate on the advice of NHS 111 or a doctor, then their employer has an obligation to enable this. Whether it is treated as sick leave or the individual is required to work from home will depend on whether the self-isolation is precautionary or because of symptoms of infection.
If self-isolation is an individual choice rather than a policy mandated by the NHS or the employer, then employer and employee should have a discussion about the best way forward. Organisations are being actively encouraged by government and the CIPD to facilitate flexible working wherever possible, for all their staff. Ultimately, if the refusal is deemed unreasonable then the employer can decide it is unauthorised absence which can dealt with under its disciplinary procedure or as unpaid leave.
Does an employer have to pay the employee their full salary if for example they are a front line worker and cannot fully do the role from home?
This depends on the exact situation but generally an employer is obliged to pay its employees for the work that they do.
Lay-offs (where an employee is asked to stay at home unpaid for a temporary period) and short-time working (where an employee is asked to work less than their regularly contracted hours) may both be used. However, there must be express, correctly-drafted clauses in the original employment contracts for this to happen.
I live with an elderly, vulnerable person and don't want to risk them catching coronavirus. What are my work from home rights?
If you are able to carry out some or all of your responsibilities working from home, then it is likely to be considered reasonable for your employer to facilitate this in order to protect the person you live with.
If, however, you are unable to work from home, then an agreement for taking time off as holiday or unpaid leave might be considered more reasonable. Regardless, you should begin by having an open discussion with your employer. All organisations are having to respond dynamically to these exceptional circumstances, and are being encouraged by government and industry bodies alike to exercise caution and act morally and ethically.
What health and safety duties do employers have?
Employers have a duty to take reasonable care of its employees’ health and safety in the workplace. This obligation means that employers must ensure that the workplace is safe for employees to work in.
In the current coronavirus pandemic, we recommend employers:
Self-isolation – is this always necessary?
It is a matter for each employer whether they ask employees to self-isolate or not in this situation. If the employer chooses to ask employees to stay at home for the 14-day incubation period, then the employer will need to consider what pay may be owed during this period. If the employee is able to work from home, then the employer will be able to pay as normal. If working from home is not an option, then, the employer will need to be aware that it could be liable to pay normal salary if the employee is well enough to work but the employer does not wish them to attend work.
Can employers ask their employees to work from home and what if they refuse?
If Government guidance changes and mass movement of people is prohibited/ not recommended then employers can ask employees to work from home. Employers should make clear that it is on a temporary basis and only whilst the employer thinks it is in the best interests of the employees during the coronavirus outbreak. If employees refuse to work from home then an employer should proceed with caution and it is advisable to discuss their concerns, reassure them on the measures being taken but ultimately to remind them that they could face disciplinary action if their continued refusal to work from home is unreasonable.
In an employment contract, there is an implied term that employees should follow lawful and reasonable instructions. An employment contract sets out that an employee will carry out the required tasks and, in return they will receive payment from the employer. However, failing to carry out reasonable instructions, including a request to work from home, could result in disciplinary action.
What happens if employee’s productivity falls below the required standard
Home workers will need an element of self-discipline as they get used to their new home working setup, and employers should exercise some flexibility in these exceptional circumstances. However, if an employer feels that their employee’s performance is particularly poor while working from home action can be taken. The employee may be subject to a performance management review, and will be asked to provide examples of the expected and completed work.
Poor performance does fall under the ‘fair’ categories for dismissing an employee, however employers must be able to demonstrate an honest and reasonable belief in an employee's incapability to do the job to the level required, which can be a long process.
What to do if an employee has coronavirus
If an employee has coronavirus then the business’ usual sickness absence policy will come into effect. All employers should have an effective sickness absence policy, which will help them manage workplace absences consistently and effectively.
Ahead of any further spread of coronavirus, it is recommended that employers should remind their employees of the required standards of attendance and what is expected from them. This is also a good opportunity to remind workers of hygiene standards and other policies of the business.
Businesses should also consider implementing an infectious diseases strategy which details the Company’s response to the spread of infectious diseases. This will safeguard a business from any similar future outbreaks.
How should a business communicate a coronavirus case to its workforce?
If a business does have a confirmed case of coronavirus, it should inform the rest of the workforce, however it must withhold the employees’ identity under UK data protection law.
A worker’s personal health data is 'special category data', and therefore must be omitted from any communication with the rest of the workforce. A business is able to let employees know the geographical location of the confirmed coronavirus case, it cannot provide any details that would allow the individual to be identified.
Legal implications of getting it wrong
Where an employer overacts or goes against the current guideline outlined by the PHE, it could face claims of constructive dismissal or even race discrimination (harassment and/or indirect discrimination and/or direct race discrimination).
Coronavirus does not have a cure and there is a lot of fear amongst the population as a whole. Employers should keep a close eye on government guidance and be prepared for staff having to work from home and look after young children, or care for sick loved ones, in addition to themselves.
For more information, visit https://www.langleys.com/
|Make UK comments on latest financial measures||18/03/2020|
On Tuesday the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced additional financial measures to support businesses through the coronavirus.
This includes unlimited loans and guarantees to support firms and help them manage cashflows through this period. The Chancellor will make available an initial £330 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP.
At last week’s Budget, the Chancellor provided £30 billion of support to the economy to deal with the crisis by investing in public services, increasing support for vulnerable people and providing business with tax reliefs and loans.
He said he would take further action as the situation evolved and outlined further measures including:
To ensure that businesses have access to the funds they need, the government is providing:
Providing £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cashflow through this period by:
Commenting on the latest financial measures announced by the Chancellor, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK, the manufacturer’s organisation, said:
"At a time of such unprecedented economic volatility industry will be re-assured that the Chancellor recognises the severity of the situation and is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the economy.
"Business understands that dealing coronavirus was always going to be a massive task and, given the speed of events, there may be extra measures needed. Nothing should be off the table to protect people and businesses ."
|World Economic Forum launches global business COVID action plan||12/03/2020|
Companies are being invited to register for a new COVID Action Platform created by the World Health Organization.
The dramatic spread of COVID-19 has disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities and businesses worldwide. But the sum of many individual actions by stakeholders around the world will not add up to a sufficient response. Only coordinated action by business, combined with global, multistakeholder cooperation can mitigate the risk and impact of this unprecedented global health emergency.
In response to this emergency, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization (WHO), has launched the COVID Action Platform. The platform is intended to catalyse private-sector support for the global public health response to COVID-19, and to do so at the scale and speed required to protect lives and livelihoods, aiming to find ways to help end the global emergency as soon as possible.
“COVID-19 is causing health emergencies and economic disruptions that no single stakeholder can address,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Our best and only response to it should be to take concerted action. The COVID Action Platform is at the centre of our mission and we draw upon all our members and partners, communities and capabilities to make it a success.”
“The private sector has an essential role to play in combating this public health crisis through their expertise, innovation and resources,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “We call on companies and organizations around the world to make full use of this platform in support of the global public health response to COVID-19.”
The COVID Action Platform was conceived after a World Economic Forum conference call with over 200 corporate leaders from all over the world. It is supported by WHO and the Wellcome Trust and is the first initiative of its kind, operating globally. The Forum has established a special team to support the platform’s work.
Working with the Pandemic Supply Chain Network, one of the projects which will initially be launched on the Platform aims to strengthen supply chains to ensure that COVID-19 essential health commodities are available, accessible, affordable and of good quality. Other actions will include supporting mechanisms for business donations to the public health response and the development of available and accessible vaccines, diagnostics, treatments and protective equipment, as well as tracking the economic impact of the virus, while pursuing collaboration to address disruptions.
Companies can register for the COVID Action Platform on http://wef.ch/COVIDActionPlatform
Follow World Economic Forum coverage of COVID-19 on https://www.weforum.org/focus/coronavirus-covid-19
|5G in manufacturing to reach US$10.8 Billion by 2030||12/03/2020|
5G and edge computing constitute a technological leap that heralds a significant transformation of business models for all industries, including manufacturing and associated Industry 4.0 verticals. The market for 5G cellular connections in manufacturing is expected to reach US$10.8 billion by 2030, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 187%, finds global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.
“But, to capture the value at stake, ecosystem stakeholders will first need to evaluate how to measure the impact of 5G and edge deployments,” says Don Alusha, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. The current Industry 4.0 digitalization discourse centers around conventional financial metrics (e.g., return on investment, net profit, and cash flow) as the yardstick to measure 5G and edge computing effectiveness. But these metrics are financial measurements to gauge profit and do not lend themselves to the factory floor. “Therefore, Industry 4.0 ecosystem entities must consider an alternative set of measurements that look at how 5G and edge deployments aid manufacturing establish operational rules to run a plant. They are throughput, inventory and operational expense for the incoming flow of capital, for capital located inside, and for capital going out, respectively,” Alusha explains.
These three measurements enable Industry 4.0 partners (e.g., ABB, Bosch, Siemens) to institute a direct connection between the 5G’s utility and what takes place on the factory floor. In turn, they will be able to use that connection to find a logical relationship between daily plant operations and the overall company’s performance. Only then, will Industry 4.0 verticals have a basis for knowing the real benefit of 5G and edge computing. “Furthermore, equally important is the ability to measure risk when looking to adopt 5G and edge technology assets. Discussions on new technology adoption have always been based on an assessment of risk and reward. If the reward is truly compelling, adopters will take the risk. 5G and edge offer unprecedented commercial opportunities, but they inherently constitute new technologies and therefore there is a risk attached,” says Alusha.
Continued attempts to keep up productivity growth, increase process automation to meet changing client demands, and the need to establish a reliable supply-chaining that spans multiple geographies are forcing manufacturers to be more flexible. According to Alusha, “To understand the importance of supply chaining and its significance in terms of competitive advantage, one need not go any further than Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world (Amazon being second) and it does not produce a single item. All it “makes” is a hyper-efficient supply chain.” The capacity, reliability, high-quality service, and speed provided by 5G and a hyperconverged edge compute can optimize operations for a super-efficient supply chain.
With greater reliability and data speeds that will surpass those of 4G networks, a combination of 5G and local edge compute will pave the way for new business value. Commercial benefits will accrue along three broad aspects: agility and process optimization; better and more efficient quality assurance and productivity improvement. “The implications for solution providers such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE are that they must enhance their “value add” by complementing their deep technical expertise with business expertise including vertical industry knowledge, new functional expertise (sales, marketing, and accounting) and solution design and consulting expertise tailored at niche use cases,” Alusha concludes.
These findings are from ABI Research’s 5G and Edge Networks in Manufacturing application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s 5G Core & Edge Networks research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.
|A third of Ireland’s electricity now comes from wind energy||10/03/2020|
Ireland’s wind energy industry broke new records last year and a third of the country’s electricity now comes from wind according to the annual report from the Irish Wind Energy Association.
There were 24 new wind farms connected in 2019 with a combined installed capacity of 463 MW making it the second-best year on record for new connections. There is now more than 4,100 MW of installed wind energy capacity in the Republic of Ireland.
Headlines results from the annual report include:
Dr David Connolly, CEO of IWEA, said: “Wind energy in Ireland is going from strength to strength. Every year we are cutting more CO2 emissions, reducing Ireland’s dependency on imported fossil fuels and driving down the wholesale price of electricity.
“The two dozen new wind farms we connected last year will enable us to build on our success in 2019 and we have already set new records for the amount of wind energy on the system in the first two months of 2020.”
Dr Connolly went on to highlight that wind energy in Ireland has not come close to matching its potential.
Dr Connolly continued: “Our target in the Climate Action Plan is to double our installed onshore wind capacity and we are confident we have the pipeline to enable us to do so. We also have enormous offshore wind energy resources with more than 12 GW of offshore projects at some stage of development.
“With the right planning systems, on land and offshore, and the right policies there is no reason why most of Ireland’s electricity should not be coming from wind energy in the second half of this decade.
“That is why it is so important that the Government moves ahead to ensure the first auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, announced last week, concludes, on time, in June.
“The delays so far in getting the scheme set up mean we’re already looking at a serious slowdown in construction when we need to be building at a much faster rate.
“Any more time lost would slow down the development of new projects and pose a threat to the delivery of the Climate Action Plan.”
Lost wind energy
Despite the strong results there is growing industry concern about the amount of wind energy lost every year. In 2019 this amounted to more than one million MWh of electricity, just under 8 per cent of total production, and enough to power more than 200,000 homes.
This is due to a practice known as ‘Dispatch Down’ which occurs when EirGrid, as the transmission system operator, instructs a wind farm to produce less electricity or even to shut down entirely.
This mainly occurs for two reasons. First, the transmission system in a particular part of the country might not be strong enough to transport all of the wind energy from where it is generated to where it is needed.
The second possibility is a practice known as curtailment where, to ensure system stability, the amount of wind energy on the system is not currently allowed to exceed a limit of 65 per cent of demand.
David Connolly said: “EirGrid is a world leader in integrating renewable energy onto the system. Together with ESB Networks they ensure we can operate the system with large volumes of renewable energy, connect new projects and maintain the stability of the grid.
“But these record levels of dispatch down mean an enormous amount of lost clean energy which must be replaced by fossil fuels.
“We need a stronger transmission system to ensure that we are not wasting electricity and, if we are to achieve our 2030 targets, and beyond them to 2040 and 2050, then we are going to need a plan to build a stronger electricity grid.”