Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this month.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned several well-known businesses to make it clear to users that cookies are optional. While cookies are helpful for website analytics, personalising ads and monitoring browsing habits, legally, not only do users have the right to decline them, but doing so should be just as easy as accepting them. Websites that fail to make this clear or don’t make it easy to decline cookies can be fined by the ICO.
To comply with regulations like GDPR and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), websites have to display cookie consent forms when visitors first arrive. However, changes may be in the pipeline. As the popups are unpopular with visitors and site owners, new rules have been proposed that, if approved, will potentially reduce popup frequency in exchange for some forms of data being collected without the user’s consent. In the meantime, we advise all our customers to check their cookie consent settings to ensure their websites comply with regulations.
Ocean Climate Robot
Scientists from the Scottish Association for Marine Science have begun to use robotic underwater gliders to monitor ocean currents for signs of climate collapse. In particular, they are focusing on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) system which carries warm and cool water between the Caribbean and the Arctic. Crucial for distributing heat across the globe and maintaining the temperate climate of northern Europe, any weakening of this system can have a catastrophic impact.
To monitor the health of AMOC, the underwater robots have been deployed on five-month autonomous missions between the UK and Iceland. Able to reach depths of a kilometre, they can collect data on water temperature, oxygen and salt levels before surfacing every five to six hours to communicate with the research team. Before now, scientists have been limited to observations from ships and usually only in summer. The robots, however, allow data to be gathered all year round and in areas that were previously inaccessible. Besides learning more about AMOC, the research will also improve understanding of the ocean’s impact on the atmosphere and enhance weather forecasting.
Cloud Skills Crisis
A global shortage of cloud skills is causing major challenges for developer teams, according to SoftwareOne’s recent Cloud Skills Report. As a result, over 40% of businesses in the UK, Benelux, North America and Australia are struggling with security, governance and compliance tasks, with the knock-on effect of project delays and issues with staff retention.
While 9 out of 10 companies expect the situation to improve as more specialised staff enter the workforce over the next few years; for the time being, they are having to upskill their existing IT teams and work with consultancies or managed service providers to address current skill gaps. Indeed, most companies now consider managed cloud services as a crucial solution as cloud providers can offer many of the services that companies cannot deliver in-house.
Cybersecurity firm, WithSecure, has reported a large increase in data breaches in the first nine months of 2023, much of it due to new ransomware groups. The firm tracked 60 groups over the period, with 29 of them turning out to be new entities. What set the new groups apart was their use of multipoint extortion tactics. This is where, instead of just encrypting data and demanding a ransom for the decryption key, the attackers also threaten to sell the stolen data to others or make it public. These tactics often result in faster and bigger ransom payments.
Overall, around a quarter of all data leaks in 2023 were attributed to the new groups, many of which employed tactics and resources used by defunct ransomware gangs – a potential sign that the new groups were made up of experienced members of former operators. However, by reusing old methods, the new groups make it easier for security teams to understand and prepare for these attacks as they can better predict the gang’s behaviour and develop strategies to combat them.
UK Compliance Fatigue
According to Vanta’s State of Trust Report, the time and cost of completing compliance work have led to widespread compliance fatigue. The average UK business spends eight hours a week on compliance activities, more than the global average, and over half of the businesses surveyed claimed it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep up to date with regulations. Financial constraints are another concern, with less than 10% of IT budgets being allocated to security and many firms planning to cut their security budgets even further. This makes compliance and security even more challenging.
To address these issues, many IT leaders are looking at AI and automation as potential solutions. Automating compliance tasks can save considerable time and resources, and the report showed that two-thirds of companies were considering its implementation. Of the companies already using automation, 81% were planning to increase its use.
Visit our website for more news, blog posts, knowledge base articles and information on our wide range of hosting services.