Royal Navy Nuclear Submarines to get £2.5bn Boost

Royal Navy nuclear submarines to get £2.5bn boost
The defence secretary is expected to announce a £2.5bn investment in the UK’s nuclear submarine programme. Under the plans, an Astute hunter-killer submarine will be built costing £1.5bn, and £960m will go towards completing a fleet of four nuclear-armed Dreadnought submarines.

Gavin Williamson will say it is part of a commitment to secure the UK “from intensifying threats”.

The Ministry of Defence says the deal will help to sustain thousands of jobs. Mr Williamson will announce the plans during a visit to defence giant BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.

He will say the Astute submarine – which will complete the Royal Navy’s seven-strong fleet of hunter-killer attack subs – will be called Agincourt.

The deal with BAE will also help with the second phase of construction for the UK’s Dreadnought submarines.

While at the factory, Mr Williamson will unveil a plaque and officially open a new £100m sub-construction building which will be used to outfit and test the submarines. He will say: “This multibillion-pound investment in our nuclear submarines shows our unwavering commitment to keeping the UK safe and secure from intensifying threats.

“Agincourt will complete the Royal Navy’s seven-strong fleet of hunter-killer attack subs, the most powerful to ever enter British service, whilst our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate defence against the most extreme dangers we could possibly face.”

He will also stress the importance of the boost for Barrow – “the heart of sub-building in this country”. “Today’s news supports 8,000 BAE Systems’ submarine jobs, as well as thousands more in the supply chain, protecting prosperity and providing opportunity right across the country,” Mr Williamson will say.

The announcement comes days after MPs criticised the Ministry of Defence for its “unrealistic” spending plans.

‘Serious’ Flaw Found in Secure Email Tech

PGP: ‘Serious’ Flaw Found in Secure Email Tech
A widely used method of encrypting emails has been found to suffer from a serious vulnerability, researchers say. PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is a data encryption method sometimes added to programs that send and receive email.

Details about the vulnerability were released by the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper prior to a scheduled embargo.

Previously, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had advised immediately disabling email tools that automatically decrypted PGP.

The problem had been investigated by Sebastian Schinzel, at Munster University of Applied Sciences.

After the embargo on releasing details about the vulnerability was lifted, Mr Schinzel and colleagues published their research revealing how the attack on PGP emails worked.

A website explaining the issue has also now been made public.

There was initially concern among cyber-security researchers that the issue affected the core protocol of PGP – meaning that all uses of the encryption method, including file encryption, could be made vulnerable.

However, one provider of software that can encrypt data using PGP explained the problem specifically concerned email programs that failed to check for decryption errors properly before following links in emails that included HTML code.

The issue had been “overblown” by the EFF, said Werner Koch, of GnuPG.

Security expert Mikko Hypponen, at F-Secure, said his understanding was that the vulnerability could in theory be used to decrypt a cache of encrypted emails sent in the past, if an attacker had access to such data.

“This is bad because the people who use PGP use it for a reason,” he told the BBC. “People don’t use it for fun – people who use it have real secrets, like business secrets or confidential things.”

Alan Woodward, at the University of Surrey, agreed, adding: “It does have some big implications as it could lead to a channel for sneaking data off devices as well as for decrypting messages.”

The researchers have said that users of PGP email can disable HTML in their mail programs to stay safe from attacks based on the vulnerability. It is also possible to decrypt emails with PGP decryption tools separate from email programs.

Store Footfall in ‘Unprecedented’ Decline

Store Footfall in ‘Unprecedented’ Decline
The BBC is reporting that poor weather and a squeeze on spending caused a slide in the number of people visiting shops last month. Footfall fell by 3.3% last month according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard. That was lower than the 6% decline in March, but was still an “unprecedented” 4.8% decline over the two-month period.

Diane Wehrle, of Springboard, said: “Not since the depths of recession in 2009 has footfall over March and April declined to such a degree.” “Even then the drop was less severe at minus 3.8%.”

New data also showed that the town centre vacancy rate rose to 9.2%, with all areas of the UK, except Greater London, reporting an increase.

BRC chief Helen Dickinson said changing shopping habits and tough trading were weighing on high streets. As well as “a wet start to April”, she said a shift in shopping habits, along with a “highly challenging” business environment, was having a significant impact on high streets: “In April nearly 1 in 10 shops in town centres was vacant.”

There were 4,083 new store openings in 2017, the lowest since 2010, but 5,855 outlets closed, meaning a total of 1,772 shops disappeared, according to the Local Data Company.

The latest threat to the High Street came on Saturday when it emerged that the owner of Poundworld had put the discount retailer up for sale, the BBC understands.

Private equity firm TPG had been looking at closing about 100 of Poundworld’s 355 stores as part of a restructuring plan. However, that process has been put on hold after receiving expressions of interest in the chain.

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