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The connected player

Gibtelecom has been both building block and beneficiary of the explosion of e-gaming on the Rock. Its Chief Executive Officer, Tim Bristow, makes the links.

 Gibraltar Telecom has sponsored this supplement on e-gaming but you’re a telecoms company. What’s the link?

Gibtelecom built a fibre-optic network throughout Gibraltar in the 1990s which, together with the merger with a local international carrier and mobile business, provides the communications backbone for the e-gaming sector in Gibraltar. Meeting the requirements of some of the biggest and best e-gaming companies in the world has influenced our development and made us raise our game. Without the communications infrastructure, online companies could not have come to Gibraltar in the first place. Since then, we have substantially enhanced our national and international networks, and consequently Gibtelecom remains the communications company of choice in the jurisdiction even after competitors entered the scene.

What makes Gibraltar a competitive jurisdiction for e-gaming?

Though e-gaming companies are attracted to Gibraltar as an EU jurisdiction, with a friendly business environment and competitive fiscal package, they also benefit from a qualified workforce and plenty of ancillary professionals. The online gaming industry is dependent on good telecommunications, and would not be able to thrive here if the industry was not up to speed; it is this all round package that makes Gibraltar competitive. Although Gibraltar has more than one local telecommunications provider, it is Gibtelecom that is still leading the way locally with resilient fibre optic connectivity, multiple diverse international links (partnering with Telefonica, Interoute and Vodafone amongst others). Gibtelecom has huge amounts of bandwidth readily available for expansion or event bursting. Gibtelecom has been committed to investing in providing robust and diverse national and international fibre-optic routes. Gibtelecom’s investment in the state-ofthe- art Europe India Gateway (EIG) submarine cable and quality data centres will help keep Gibraltar a top tier business jurisdiction. The EIG high bandwidth fibre-optic system not only complements existing routes but also provides Gibraltar with an alternative submarine path, without the capacity limitations or the incidence of interruptions that often face land routes.

What does Gibtelecom have to offer and what has it been doing to meet the quality and services required in such a demanding area such as e-gaming?

Gibtelecom prides itself on being in-sync with technology as well as in touch with its customers. Gibraltar is a hub for some of the leading e-gaming companies in the world. The Rock is not just a business friendly environment with a competitive tax regime, it is also well connected and has a stable regulatory framework focused on good corporate governance and customer protection. Indeed, if the communications infrastructure and solutions were not continuously developing then the e-gaming sector couldn’t have thrived in the jurisdiction as well as it has. In a world that is increasingly reliant on round-the-clock high speed communications Gibtelecom is at the forefront of de- veloping the technology to ensure the growing needs of e-commerce and the wider community in Gibraltar are met. At home Gibtelecom is building a next generation network, which can facilitate internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps throughout Gibraltar. Gibtelecom is also an accredited ‘recognised for excellence’ company by the European Foundation for Quality Management, which is a testament to the high standards the Company has delivered to Gibraltar’s e-gaming community.

How has the Company developed its data centre business?

The data centre business as we know it today has changed much since Gibtelecom set up its first hosting environment nearly a decade ago, and as the market needs changed developing this part of the business was a natural move. Gibtelecom’s data centre development plans are very much aligned to customers’ business and IT strategies, as well as their specific regulatory and industry requirements. For example, the facilities being Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant is an essential factor for many of our customers due to the large volumes of financial transactions they process. Our aim is to be the customer’s partner of choice by ensuring that our data centres have the right technical set-up, connectivity, security and environment to meet market requirements.

What challenges does a focus on egaming and finance markets create?

Catering for some of the most demanding e-commerce businesses in the world has resulted in Gibtelecom creating a more robust international network from Gibraltar. In a global business environment, hosting facilities need to be paired with seamless and resilient connectivity. This was the impetus for the Company being one of the founding shareholders of the Europe India Gateway (EIG) consortium, a new 15,000km high bandwidth fibreoptic submarine cable spanning from London to Mumbai. The cable system runs across three continents and has thirteen landing points along the way, of which Gibraltar is one. As well as providing linkages to other international cable systems, the route complements Gibtelecom’s other links, connecting to hubs in London, Madrid and Marseilles.

What is Gibtelecom doing to meet the demands of gaming companies with regards to the contracting of hosting services?

Trends in the sector, which Gibtelecom is actively leading, are towards a one-stopcommunications- shop, embracing telecommunications, computer hosting and value-added services. Gibtelecom is by far the biggest provider of data hosting services in Gibraltar. We operate several stateof- the-art data centres in a secure location; well above sea level and away from the main centres of business on the Rock. Our data centres employ the latest industry standard technologies, including efficient cooling and standby power, and are Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. All Gibtelecom’s data centres are supported by an onsite Network Operations Centre, with engineers available 24/7.

Could you explain what the EIG project represents and what does this investment represent to the Company?

The EIG submarine cable not only complements Gibtelecom’s extant terrestrial and other sea routes, but has placed the company in a position to seek business opportunities outside Gibraltar. This is an exciting project for us. It means Gibtelecom is now a global carrier and able to provide wholesale bandwidth and carrier services with more routing options and diversity. Gibtelecom set up an international marketing arm in 2011 to develop and seek new offshore growth opportunities, since landing partnerships with telco’s headquartered in London, Sydney, New York, Monaco, Johannesburg and Seychelles amongst others. Following the substantial multi-million pound investment in this submarine route, Gibtelecom is looking at expanding its networks further, with plans already underway to increase network diversity via new routes transiting through Monaco and Marseilles into various key communications hubs in Europe. This said, the considerable additional investment has not been endured by the customer. In fact, 2012 saw substantial reductions in IP bandwidth prices of up to 25 percent, and averaging some 14 percent across all e-commerce customers.

A year on from the Spending Review, the coalition's soothsayer has emerged to offer another gloomy economic prognosis. Asked by ITV News whether he could promise that there wouldn't be a double-dip recession, Vince Cable replied: "I can't do that.

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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.


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.