WannaCry Ransom Notice Analysis Suggests Chinese Link

WannaCry Ransom Notice Analysis Suggests Chinese Link
New analysis suggests Chinese-speaking criminals may have been behind the WannaCry ransomware that affected thousands of organisations worldwide. Researchers from Flashpoint looked at the language used in the ransom notice. They said the use of proper grammar and punctuation in only the Chinese versions indicated the writer was “native or at least fluent” in Chinese.

The translated versions of the ransom notice appeared to be mostly “machine translated”. The WannaCry ransom note could be displayed in 28 different languages, but only the Chinese and English versions appeared to have been written by humans. The English text also used some unusual phrases such as: “But you have not so enough time”.

The WannaCry cyber-attack infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, affecting government, healthcare and private company systems.

The UK’s National Crime Agency, the FBI and Europol are investigating who was responsible for the ransomware.

Some earlier analysis of the software had suggested criminals in North Korea may have been behind it. But the Flashpoint researchers noted the Korean-language ransom note was a poorly translated version of the English text.

“It was only really the Chinese and the English versions that appeared to be written by someone that understood the language,” said cyber-security expert Prof Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey. “The rest appeared to come from Google Translate. Even the Korean.”

Prof Woodward noted that the people behind the ransomware had not attempted to retrieve the money victims had paid in Bitcoin, and added it was likely they were keeping a low profile.

“I actually think they’ve run for the hills,” he told the BBC. “Their so-called command and control system, the thing that controls quite a lot of the software, has all been turned off. They know that so many people are watching them now and that following the money could lead to their downfall. I suspect if they’ve got any sense at all they’ll leave it well alone.”

Sterling Dips after Poll Suggests Hung Parliament

Sterling Dips after Poll Suggests Hung Parliament
The value of the pound dropped after a projection suggested the Conservatives could fail to win an outright majority in the election on 8 June. Previous opinion polls suggested Prime Minister Theresa May’s party would increase its majority, which is currently 17 seats. But the projection, published in the Times and based on YouGov research, suggests a possible hung parliament.

Sterling fell by more than 0.5% before recovering some losses. By Wednesday morning the currency was 0.36% lower against the dollar at $1.2813 and 0.35% lower against the euro at 1.1453 euros.

The pound has been volatile since the UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum last year. On the day of the referendum, 23 June 2016, the pound hit $1.4883. The day after, it fell below the $1.35 mark. Sterling fell further in October and hit a low of $1.2047 in January this year. It has struggled to reach the $1.30 level ever since.

The Times said the YouGov data suggested that the Tories could lose up to 20 of the 330 seats they held in the last parliament, with Labour gaining nearly 30 seats. The Conservatives would still be the biggest party, but would not have an overall majority.

Kathleen Brooks at City Index questioned the accuracy of the research. “This was not a poll, rather it is the outcome of a model that has used untested methodology to come up with this hung parliament conclusion,” she said. “Other polls are predicting a completely different outcome, so we would use this information with a pinch of salt.”

However, Neil Wilson at ETX Capital commented: “This is new territory, The model is based on 50,000 interviews over a week, with voters from a panel brought together by YouGov. It uses a new “constituency-by-constituency” model for polling, which the paper says allows for big variations.

According to the Times, “the estimates were met with scepticism by Tory and Labour figures”.

YouGov’s chief executive, Stephan Shakespeare said the model had been tested during the EU referendum campaign, when it consistently put the winning Leave side ahead. But he added: “It would take only a slight fall in Labour’s share and a slight increase in the Conservatives’ to result in Mrs May returning to No 10 with a healthy majority.”

Theresa May: Online Extremism Must be Tackled

Theresa May: Online Extremism Must be Tackled
Theresa May has urged world leaders to do more to combat online extremism, saying the fight against so-called Islamic State is “moving from the battlefield to the internet”. At the G7 summit in Sicily, the PM said tech companies had to do more to identify and remove extreme material. She also urged more action on tackling foreign fighters who travel to join IS.

Meanwhile, UK police have arrested another man in connection with Monday’s terror attack in Manchester. Twenty-two people were killed and 116 injured when a suicide bomber targeted an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena on Monday evening.

Mrs May warned that fighters returning to their home countries from countries like Iraq and Syria posed a new terrorist threat and urged G7 members to work with “our partners in the region to step up returns and prosecutions of foreign fighters. “This means improving intelligence sharing, evidence gathering and bolstering countries’ police and legal processes,” she said. G7 members needed to be able to share data securely in order to track fighters as they cross borders and make decisions about whether to prosecute them, she said.

The PM also sought common ground on tackling online extremism as she chaired a counter-terrorism session at the summit in Italy, looking at how countries could work together to prevent online plotting of terrorist attacks and to stop the spread of extremist ideology. She also argued that, as IS militants lose ground in the Middle East, the threat was “evolving rather than disappearing” and that the industry had a “social responsibility” to do more to take down harmful content, arguing it had taken some action but had not gone far enough.

She wants an international forum to develop the means of intervening where danger is detected, and for companies to develop tools which automatically identify and remove harmful material based on what it contains and who posted it.

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed France’s total support for Britain’s fight against terrorism as he met Mrs May at the summit. “We will be here to cooperate and do everything we can in order to increase this cooperation at the European level, in order to do more from a bilateral point of view against terrorism,” he told her, in their first formal meeting since he took office.

Security minister Ben Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the use of online communications was “one of the biggest challenges” in the fight against terrorism, with encryption making it “almost impossible for us to actually lift the lid on these people. The scale of it is not just the UK, it is across the whole of Europe, across the world.”

He said the giant American tech companies like Facebook and Google could be doing more. “We are determined to not let these people off the hook with the responsibility they have in broadcasting some horrendous [material], not only manuals about how to make bombs, but also grooming materials,” he said. “We all think they could all do more… we need to have the tools to make them, where we need to, remove material quicker.”

Google said it was committed to creating an international forum designed to tackle extreme content online, to make sure “terrorists do not have a voice online”. “We employ thousands of people and invest hundreds of millions of pounds to fight abuse on our platforms, and will continue investing and adapting to ensure we are part of the solution to addressing these challenges,” it added.

Call to Raise Retirement Age to at Least 70

Call to Raise Retirement Age to at Least 70
The retirement age should rise to at least 70 in rich countries by 2050 as life expectancy rises above 100, according to a new report. The World Economic Forum said that employees should continue working until 70 in nations such as the UK, US, Japan and Canada.

The increase will be needed, as the number of people over 65 will more than triple to 2.1 billion by 2050. By then, the number of workers per retiree will have halved to just four.

Michael Drexler, head of financial and infrastructure systems at the World Economic Forum, said the expected rise in longevity was the financial equivalent of climate change. “We must address it now or accept that its adverse consequences will haunt future generations, putting an impossible strain on our children and grandchildren,” he said.

In the UK the state pension age is due to rise from 65 in 2018 to 68 by 2046.

A report for the Department for Work and Pensions earlier this year has suggested that workers under 30 may not get a state pension until they are 70. The Forum’s report, We’ll Live to 100 – How Can We Afford It, said that governments need to make it easier for workers to save for their retirement and praised recent reforms in the UK.

The auto-enrolment scheme means more than six million British workers have now been signed up automatically to a pension savings scheme, but fears remain over how much is being set aside.

The WEF said the retirement savings gap was forecast to rise from $70tn to $400tn by 2050 in the eight countries studied: Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Netherlands, the UK and the US. The gap is the amount of money required in each country to ensure a retirement income equal to 70% of a person’s pre-retirement income.

Jacques Goulet, president of health and Wealth at Mercer, which worked with the Forum to produce the report, said the issue was at a crisis point. “There is no one ‘silver bullet’ solution to solve the retirement gap. Individuals need to increase their personal savings and financial literacy, while the private sector and governments should provide programmes to support them,” he said.

The Forum also says that countries should aggregate and combine pensions data to give workers a full picture of their financial position. It cites Denmark, where an online dashboard collates pension information to give individuals details of their different pension savings accounts.

Thousands of Drivers Caught in Mobile Phone Crackdown

Thousands of Drivers Caught in Mobile Phone Crackdown
More than 200 drivers a day were caught using a mobile at the wheel immediately after tougher penalties for the offence came into effect, figures show. UK police caught almost 6,000 drivers using their devices while driving in the four weeks after 1 March. The numbers were obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

In March, the penalty for using a phone while driving doubled to £200 and six penalty points.

Under the rules, new drivers caught using a phone within two years of passing their driving test will have their licence revoked altogether.

The high number of people breaking the law means the “key message still isn’t sinking in”, said Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity The RAC Foundation. “Driving is a safety-critical activity that requires our full attention. Hands need to be on the wheel and eyes looking out of the windscreen, not down at the phone screen,” he added.

Road safety charity Brake called for the £200 fine to be “significantly increased” to deter offenders. “Driver distraction is a growing menace and it’s worrying that drivers don’t seem to be getting the message,” said Brake spokesman Jack Kushner.

AA president Edmund King said changing drivers’ attitudes would take time. “We know we can’t change the attitudes and actions of all drivers overnight. We now have stricter penalties so need to continue with education campaigns (including driving schools) plus more police enforcement.”

Local SEO is Crucial for Local Businesses

Local SEO is Crucial for Local Businesses
Did you know that 97% of customers now search for products and service online? In today’s highly competitive business world, having a high ranking Website is so important if you want to do some serious business online.  When your Website pages achieve high ranking, you can reap the benefits of a prominent position on the major search engines including Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Local SEO will help direct new customers to you first.

The internet therefore offers one of the most effective methods of driving new customers to local businesses. In addition to helping companies increase their levels of traffic, local SEO can help raise your business profile to people searching within specific cities, towns and counties. Studies have shown the natural listings and Google Maps are where over 80% of people click when they are looking for a local product or service; our affordable SEO packages will provide your business with great new source of both leads and sales. More and more people are using the search engines to search for such as plumbers North East or van hire Newcastle and it is reported to be one of the fastest growing areas for ‘searches’ online.

So what exactly is Local SEO or Local Search Engine Optimisation?

Local SEO is a way of bringing local visitors to your Website. It enables search engines to show local specific results for searches that have been filtered using a geographical location.  For example, if you are a garage in Durham who provides a service to your local and surrounding areas, a Local SEO service will help drive local traffic to your Website.

Many local companies now rely almost entirely local, geographic specific business so it makes sense that ‘your business’ should be taking advantage of these search engine changes. This could potentially lead to significant increases in business enquiries and sales.

From the keywords you use and how these are featured in your website content, your local link strategy, Google My Business and Google Reviews, our local SEO experts have helped numerous businesses to become highly prominent in local search results. The team at Direct Submit Internet Marketing Services can provide you with a Search Engine Marketing solution to help your company increase the effectiveness of its website in the Search Engines and give it a distinct advantage over your local competitors’ websites who aren’t optimised for local searches.

For more information on Local SEO, call us today on 0845 2722350 and get your website noticed locally.

First Call Teachers Recruitment Agency

First Call Teachers Recruitment Agency   
With 39 weeks in the academic year to really make a difference and most budgets stretched to breaking point before the summer term has even begun, you may be finding that your supply staff costs are something that may be subject for review in school.

We can arrange a no obligation consultation with your Head Teacher or School Business Manager to break down your current supply charges, giving you full transparency of the daily pay and charge rate. This will also give you a good indication of current agency margin and which in lots of cases can only be described as far from reasonable.

First Call Teachers can then provide a tailored service level agreement whereby your charge rates are reduced and fixed, so you’ll see an instant saving against your current spend. And because most supply staff are registered across multiple agencies, we’re often able to provide you with the same familiar faces who are paid well at that reduced rate.

We offer a prompt and efficient service for schools and provide timely cover solutions. You can book assignments from a single full or half day, week or term-by-term, to the placement of permanent staff!

Our service includes;

  • Cover with a single telephone call 24/7
  • Prompt response to all calls and emails
  • Access to the key stage/subject specialists you need
  • A regularly updated database of local teachers and support staff
  • No sales calls
  • A simple online timesheet solution
  • Minimal paperwork

By working with First Call Teachers not only will you have the advantage of working with an ethical, progressive supply agency who put ‘Quality Education’ at the centre of everything we do! You’ll also have exclusive access to a range or partnership services at a discounted and often fully subsidised cost including; Early Years Dance Classes and CPD from LP Dance in Education, Crafty Spanish classes and after school club solutions, and ArtVenturers after school club and creative days to name but a few!

First Call Teachers are specialists in offering teaching jobs, they supply teachers and support staff, who are highly motivated and a day to day, long term or permanent job in a school. For further information, call them today on 0191 280 5849 or visit their website to review their current vacancies and teaching jobs in and across the North East.

Major Rail Disruption Over Bedfordshire Signal Fault

Major Rail Disruption Over Bedfordshire Signal Fault
Commuters are facing “major disruption” – including cancellations and delays – caused by a signalling fault. A problem on the line between Luton and Harpenden left lines in both directions in the area blocked, Network Rail said.

The fault has been fixed but the Thameslink service between Brighton and Bedford will be disrupted until at least 13:00 BST.

Services between London St Pancras and Nottingham, Leicester, Derby and Sheffield are also affected.

Roger Perkins from Thameslink said that while the problem, which started just before 02:00 BST, has been mended, disruption will continue.

“Network Rail have now got the signalling up and running again and we will soon, we hope, be able to start running our trains again, but they really are very much backed up and completely in the wrong place. It’s such a busy service it takes a really long time to get everything back and running on the normal timetable so there will be disruption right through the morning.”

National Rail has warned passengers services may be cancelled or delayed by up to 90 minutes.

Tickets are being accepted on Great Northern, South West Trains and Southern services via any reasonable route, buses between Elephant and Castle and Elstree and Borehamwood, and the London Underground by any reasonable route.

Getting the Right Insurance for your Business

Getting the Right Insurance for your Business
Getting the right insurance for your business can be a time consuming and confusing process, especially if you have many different considerations to make, with so many different types of policy available and many different offers and deals available on the market it can sometimes be hard to work out what provider will be the right one for you. Why not get in touch with an independent insurance broker such as Weir Insurance for some help and advice so you can be certain that you’re are getting the correct cover for a reasonable price.

If you have a business based in Newcastle and Northumberland you can be sure that Weir Insurance will be able to offer you all the advice and information that you may need to be sure that you select the best policy options for your business, with over forty years’ experience working within the industry they have all the expertise and knowledge required to help you make sure that you have got the best deals available.

With a dedicated and professional team available at all times they will be able to guide you through the whole process and make sure that you have all the correct levels of cover that you require. With excellent industry links at Weir Insurance they have extensive knowledge of what various insurance companies are able to offer both locally and nationally so you can be certain that they will be able to help you really look at every option available to ensure that you get the best policy for your business.

So if you are looking for insurance for your business and would like some help and advice why not get in touch with Weir Insurance? As experts within the field no matter what type of insurance you require for your business you can be certain that they will be able to find you the best values deals available and if you do ever need to make a claim they will also be able to offer you help and advice so you can be sure to get the payments that you are entitled to

Weir Insurance aim to offer an informative and personal service to each of their clients and aim to offer policies that are completely suited to all their requirements at the best possible price, no matter how complicated the situation may be. So no matter whether you are a business or domestic customer and regardless of what items you may want to insure you can be certain that Weir Insurance will do everything they can to get you the insurance that you need.

Contact Weir Insurance Brokers
For further information please call one of our experienced insurance team today on 01670 365533 or visit the Weir Insurance brokers website. We have been helping our clients’ with their insurance needs since 1972. We talk to you about your requirements, work with you to figure out what cover you need (and what cover you don’t) and then use our relationship with dozens of insurers to find the best solution for you.

London City to Get Remote Air Traffic Control

London City to Get Remote Air Traffic Control
London City is to become the first UK airport to replace its air traffic controllers with a remotely operated digital system. Instead of sitting in a tower overlooking the runway, controllers will be 80 miles away, watching live footage from high-definition cameras.

The new system, due to be completed in 2018, will be tested for a year before becoming fully operational in 2019. It has already been tested in Australia, Sweden, Norway and Ireland.

The technology has been developed by Saab, the Swedish defence and security company, and will be introduced as part of a £350m development programme to upgrade London City Airport which will also include an extended terminal building, enabling it to serve two million more passengers a year by 2025.

It will provide controllers with a 360-degree view of the airfield via 14 high-definition cameras and two cameras which are able to pan, tilt and zoom. The cameras will send a live feed via fibre cables to a new operations room built at the Hampshire base of Nats, Britain’s air traffic control provider.

As well as being able to see it, controllers will be able to hear the airport, as if they were in situ. Unlike the old tower, the new system will allow controllers to zoom in for a better view and put radar data onto the screen to track aircraft.

Responding to questions about safety and potential system failure, London City Airport said it been independently stress-tested by security specialists. The system will use three different cables, taking different routes between the airport and the control centre, to ensure there is a back up if one of those cables fails.

Declan Collier, London City Airport chief executive, said he was “absolutely confident” that the system is safe from the threat of a cyber attack. “No chief executive is complacent about threats from cyber security,” he said. “But we are very confident that the systems we’re putting in place here are secure, they’re safe, they’re managed very well.”

Steve Anderson, Nats Air Traffic Control, told the BBC he has been won over by the technology after being initially “sceptical”. He said: “They give the controller more information in terms of what they can see, what they can hear.”

The airport is planning to decommission its traditional tower in 2019, replacing it with a new 164ft (50m) digital tower – 104ft (32m) taller than the existing one. The system made its world debut in Sweden at Ornskoldsvik Airport, where flights have been controlled by a remote tower in Sundsvall, 110 miles (177km) away, since 2015.

Nats airports director Mike Stoller said: “Digital towers are going to transform the way air traffic services are provided at airports by providing real safety, operational and efficiency benefits. “We do see this as being a growing market place across the UK and the world.”