The UK Minister for Europe David Lidington (Flickr: Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
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Weekly round-up: politics, business and news from Gibraltar

A selection of the best articles about politics, business and life on the Rock from the last seven days

 

  1. Commons debate: FAC Chairman 'disappointed' by Lidington's response

GBC News reports: “The Minister for Europe David Lidington did not reveal any change in the UK government’s policy towards the Rock in a long and often passionate debate on Gibraltar in the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon.”

  1. Rock mourns the loss of Bernard Linares

Gibraltar Chronicle reports: “Sadness touched Gibraltar as news broke that one of the community’s leading citizens Dr Bernard Linares had passed away in London on New Year’s Day after battling with illness for several years.”

  1. Spain blocks Gibraltar from new EU air safety deal

Olive Press reports: “A British minister stormed out of a top EU meeting after Spain successfully blocked Gibraltar from entering a new EU air safety deal.”

  1. Spain urged US congressman to drop Gib resolution

Gibraltar Chronicle reports: “Spain tried to persuade US politicians to drop an initiative calling for the House of Representatives in Washington to formally recognise Gibraltar’s right to self-determination.”

  1. ‘Our people’ exhibition by local photographer

Gibraltar Chronicle reports: “A photographic exhibition by local photographer, Stephen Ignacio, entitled ‘Our people’ captures numerous moments of daily Gibraltarian life. Opening on February 2 the exhibition will be held in 92 Irish Town at a new cultural installation area called ‘Space 92’.”

For more on the Foreign Affairs Committee’s call for a tougher stance towards Spain, take a look at the article Sir Richard Ottaway wrote for the Gibraltar Hub earlier this year.

Photo: Getty
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Promoted

Cyberspace: the final frontier

With a Gibraltarian team set to enter the finals of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, Guy Clapperton looks at some of the fundamental mistakes people still make in securing their personal and business networks.

A few years ago I was stand-in news editor for a computing publication which had better remain nameless. I was asked to go and check the regular person’s database of press releases for stories. It was inaccessible unless you had the password, so I just tried p-a-s-s-w-o-r-d. I was in immediately.

It wasn’t a problem as the organisation wanted me to have the information, but what if it hadn’t? What if I’d been in HR or finance instead, and had malicious intentions? Presumably that little hole has been plugged by now but it’s indicative of the sort of managerial rather than technological issue people can face if they’re not careful. The Cyber Security Challenge UK laudably highlights the talents of young people when it comes to working out means of protection and the excellent progress of the Gsec team from Gibraltar is promising. However, two things stand out as needing to be addressed: first, the extent of the problem, and second, the basic errors people like my ex-client still make.

Extent

The extent of the problem is hard to pin down when you’re in the press. Walk into a room full of CEOs and ask who’s been hacked and regardless of the truth, nobody is going to confirm it’s happened to them because nobody wants it publicised. This is reasonable enough, and when someone like Sony a few years ago or Ashley Madison more recently suffer Cyber-attacks you can be sure these are just the ones the press has heard of. There is other data, though, to suggest the issue will continue to grow. This article is being published on Tuesday 9th February, designated Safer Internet Day, and to mark it security company Kaspersky Lab has published research that suggests 12% of 16 to 19 year olds in the UK know someone who has done something illegal on the Internet; 35% would be impressed if a friend hacked into a bank’s website and replaced the homepage with a cartoon and one in ten would be impressed if a friend hacked into an airport’s traffic control systems.

There wasn’t any data on how many teenagers would say any old thing to shock a researcher. However, the first point is the most salient – over one in ten suggest they’ve seen someone do something illegal electronically. So, if you’re a business owner or just concerned about your security it’s just as well to ensure that a number of previous clangers don’t affect you.

Managerial errors

Security is far from just electronic. A handful of things can go wrong because staff haven’t been briefed:

  • You protect all electronic copies of every sensitive document and someone prints one of them out – and leaves it on the printer for an hour before picking it up. Or leaves it in a hotel lobby, on a train…all of these things have happened and hard copy print isn’t protected or encrypted.
  • You have visitors to your company and one of your employees nips to the loo. This is fine as long as their screen saver covers anything sensitive pretty quickly, and as long as the screen saver is password protected so someone wiggling the mouse or pressing a key won’t be able to get at all the details.
  • Pet names, partner names and the word “password” have never been good passwords and it remains poor practice to keep the default PIN that came with your phone’s voicemail.

Finally, back on the technology side, if you have a small network and it’s big enough to have a network administrator, don’t forget to ensure their administrator password is changed frequently and not easy to guess. There have been instances in which this hasn’t been done, and that password controls the system that can change all the other passwords and lock you out.

A lot of it is common sense. The Gsec team will be looking to defend people from more sophisticated attacks – but never overlook the obvious.

The New Statesman will be publishing a supplement on Cybersecurity in the issue dated 26 February.

Guy Clapperton is the freelance journalist who edits the New Statesman’s Gibraltar hub. You can also find him in the Guardian, Computer Business Review and Professional Outsourcing which he edits.