Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this month.
Russian Cyber Threat
A minister from the Cabinet Office has warned that hackers aligned with Russia are directing their efforts towards the critical infrastructure of the UK. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has released a threat alert urging critical businesses, such as those responsible for energy and water supplies, to safeguard themselves from this evolving cyber threat.
The hacking groups, who sympathise with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, operate independently of formal state control, making them less predictable. Some of these groups have reportedly expressed their desire to cause greater disruption and destruction to the critical national infrastructure of the UK and other western countries.
Supermarket Asda has launched a year-long trial of autonomous grocery delivery from its Park Royal superstore in west London. Believed to be the largest trial of its kind in the UK, it will cover a catchment area of 72,000 households.
The venture involves a partnership with start-up company, Wayve, which is providing the self-driving vehicles that will deliver customers’ online orders. Wayve’s technology uses machine learning to train its AI to operate safely in any environment, monitoring the road to identify potential hazards. However, for assurance, a staff member and safety driver will always be in the autonomous delivery van to ensure safety. The trial will help Asda understand how the technology can assist its store operations.
At the same time, UK ministers have approved Ford’s BlueCruise technology, which enables drivers to take their hands off the wheel while driving on certain motorways. The technology controls the steering, acceleration and braking of the vehicle, while a camera monitors the driver’s eyes to ensure they remain alert. The system can maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and bring the car to a complete stop in traffic jams. The technology will be available for 2023 models of Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E SUV.
Online Fraud Arrests
Genesis Market, one of the largest criminal marketplaces with over 80 million login credentials, digital fingerprints, IP addresses and other personal information for sale, has been shut down in a global crackdown. The marketplace allowed fraudsters, who often paid less than £1 for credentials, to log into victims’ bank and shopping accounts.
The operation, which involved law enforcement agencies from 17 countries carrying out 200 coordinated raids, was led by the FBI and Dutch National Police. Overall, 120 people were arrested worldwide, with the UK’s National Crime Agency arresting 24 suspects.
West Cumberland Hospital in Cumbria has invested £350,000 in a state-of-the-art robot in a bid to help free up staff so they can spend more time with patients. Known as the dispensing robot, it uses robotically controlled arms to pick prescription items from the hospital’s pharmacy and then distribute them, in large numbers, to staff in wards around the hospital.
The North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust hopes the new technology will speed up the process of issuing stock medicines to patients while enabling human staff to concentrate on looking after patients.
West Cumberland isn’t the only UK hospital to adopt robotic technology. A Bristol hospital is now using robots to make behind-the-scenes roles more efficient, while in Lincoln, a robotic system that emulates the hand movements of a surgeon using a console has been deployed to carry out delicate operations on cancer patients.
Swedish Heating Innovation
Swedish energy firm Mälarenergi is planning to fill giant caverns beneath the town of Västerås with hot water at temperatures of up to 95°C in an attempt to create the largest underground thermal storage system in Europe.
After decontaminating the caverns, which once stockpiled 300,000 cubic metres of oil during the Cold War, the stored water will be sent via heat exchangers to a district heating network. This will provide Västerås with 500MW of heating power, enough to supply 98% of the district’s households.
To ensure the process is as sustainable as possible, the water will be warmed using excess heat from a nearby waste and biomass combustion power plant. At the same time, Mälarenergi is considering installing carbon capture technology to reduce emissions from the plant. This project is one of several ways of caching warmth in the ground, which some experts say we should be making more of, given concerns about energy security and environmental damage caused by traditional heating processes.
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