Tag Archives: EU

Slowest Broadband Streets Named

Broadband speeds that consumers and businesses have been receiving have been a topic of discussion over the last 6 months and has hit the headlines again.

The results that have been released by uSwitch which detail the download speeds available for each street. The results were based on nearly two million speeds test which were ran by broadband users over a six month period.

The results show that Wheatley Road in Corringham and Erw Fawr, in Henryd, North Wales, topped the charts with an average download speed of 0.6Mbps. To put this in perspective, the average download speeds achieved across the UK is 17.8Mbps. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the fastest download speeds recorded were in Loundes Road, in Unstone, Derbyshire. The download speeds recorded here registered at 57.58Mbps.

This difference is quite staggering and would result in downloading a HD-quality film from the slowest areas taking 15.2 hours whilst it would only take nine minutes from the fastest area.

As a whole, Essex ranked as the worst county with six streets appearing in the top 50 list of streets having the slowest broadband speeds. The results that were obtained by uSwitch also prompted them to state that on 15% of Britons receive download speeds of 30Mbps or higher. These speeds are classed as superfast by the EU.

Ofcom have released a statement in response to the results and believe that the availability of superfast broadband is on the increase which is the result of significant investments but acknowledge that more work still needs to be done.

An Ofcom spokesperson stated, “Ofcom’s own research shows growth in superfast broadband and a rise in average speeds which is testament to the investment in the sector. But the benefits are not shared evenly across the UK.”

The spokesperson added, “There is more work needed to deliver wider availability of broadband and superfast broadband, particularly in rural communities but also in some locations within cities to enable wider access to fast internet.”

Have you run a broadband speed test? Would you like faster broadband speeds to be available in the area that you live?

European data security and cloud computing

Does your off-site data centre have to be within commuting distance? Perhaps not. Should it at least be in the same country? According to Megan Richards, a European Commission director and acting deputy director general of Information Society and Media, it shouldnt matter where data is held as long as our [EC] rules apply.

Since 1995 there has been a directive, rather than a piece of legislature, for EU countries regarding off-site data storage. Currently, individual states can implement the directive as and how they wish, making off-shore data storage very risky for any company with sensitive data.

The proposed reforms, in motion since January of this year, aim to bring all 27 EU member states up to the same speed by binding them under a common law. Thus, in theory, once all members adopt the law, a company based in the UK would have as much confidence that their data would be as securely protected in Romania as it would be in the UK.

Richards comments came at this weeks Cloud Computing World Forum (CCWF2012) in London and were made in relation to the importance of cloud computing to the five biggest European economies between now and 2020 (700 bn and 5 million new jobs of importance to give a rough estimate).

Richards spoke of improving data security as part of progressing cloud computing throughout Europe. However, on top of data security improving, Europes broadband needs to be of a consistently high quality, something that isnt currently so. If internet speeds improve, cloud computing promises to be a tool that all of Europe can utilise.

Data Protection by Design

The new proposed EU Data laws could mean companies face fines worth up to 2% of their annual turnover.

These regulations are a re-vamp of those outlined in 1995 and will have far reaching effects on the way in which public sector bodies process personal information.

New rules include right to be forgotten and a strong obligation for organisations to report data loss as soon as possible.

The commissioner argued that through simplifying the current set of rules in place businesses could expect to save $2bn a year.

Viviance Reding, The Justice Commissioner had this to say:

My proposals will help build trust in online services because people will be better informed about their rights and more in control of their information.

The new laws are predicted to be hugely beneficial to SMEs, as stated by Le Bail, Director General of the Commissions Justice. This is down to them removing much of the red tape which accompanies the old data regime.

One thing which is hugely emphasised by new EU regulation is Protection by Design. Modern privacy strategy has to be strategic, combining people, regulation and understanding.

When considering whether to upgrade certain services there are many safe harbour considerations to take into account such as not moving data out of the EU.

Modern CIOs have to create security by design if they want to do their job properly. We dont have to convince people, either; security is absolutely core working culture, stated Kurt Frary ICT manager at Norfolk county council.

EU and US Cyber Security Experts Join Forces to Test Defences

EU and US cyber security officials have come together to find out how they would most appropriately co-ordinate their response to a hacking incident. This is the first time that such an event has taken place between the two governing bodies, who acted out how they would respond to two scenarios.

The first scenario that was tested, involved a cyber-attack which attempted to steal secret information from the EUs security agencies and publish it online. The second scenario was based on an attack which aimed to disrupt energy industry control systems.

The main aim of these tests was for each country to gain a clear understanding of who would be able to support them and what assistance would be available if they were to come under a similar attack.

Professor Udo Helmbrecht from the EU’s security adviser Enisa stated “We have to detect the incident and where it comes from. Then we have the computer emergency response teams in the various countries which have to exchange information and decide what can be done – this will depend in part on legal requirements.”

The event was obviously seen as a success with plans already being made to organise a similar event with Enisa hoping to involve more countries.

This event followed on from a similar one that took place last year which only involved European nations. The outcome from this resulted in the organisers feeling that nations “must increase their efforts”.

As countries throughout the world have started to experience a significant increase of cyber-attacks, weaknesses in the current defensive measure that have been installed are being blown wide open. This has led to confidential data being compromised which has had a detrimental impact on many companies and the economy of their nations.

Neelie Kroes, EU Digital Agenda Commissioner stated “Recent high profile cyber-attacks show that global threats need global action. Today’s exercise provides valuable lessons for specialists on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Professor Helmbrecht supports such claims and states “We have an increase in cyber threats and incidents so we need co-operation. The internet is an important backbone of our society – we use it for business and in our private lives. The more we depend on it, the more we need to share information to protect the infrastructure.”

What Happens to the Data of the Deceased

The number of applications which people have accounts with online has grown exponentially in recent years. This is leading to an increased tendency to leave account passwords in wills for friends and relatives.

A study by Goldsmiths at the University of London found that 1 in 10 people are leaving such information behind. This has come from the recognition that people can have their digital identity stolen by hackers if it is left hanging online. Furthermore such accounts are often hit with large amounts of spam.

Matthew Strain, a solicitor told Sky New With more photos, books, music and so on being stored online and in digital format, the question of what happens to these when people are gone becomes more important everyday. Such data held in the cloud is collectively worth billions of pounds.

Viviane Reding, the EU justice commissioner stated the burden of proof should be on controllers those who process your personal data. They must prove that they need to keep the data, rather than individuals having to prove that collecting their data is not necessary.

U S Patriot Act Dampens Microsoft Cloud Services

Organisations should be wary when entrusting their data to Cloud providers based in the U.S.

Microsoft, one of the first Cloud providers to come clean, have revealed that the U.S. authorities have the right to access any data stored by them, even if that data resides within the EU.

This isnt the first time that the U.S. Patriot Act has come under fire. After the Act was passed 2001 because of Sept 11 terrorist attacks, students and staff from a Canadian university campaigned against their emails being routed through the States.

This will make firms more wary of utilising the new Microsoft roll-out as the software giant cannot guarantee data will not leave its place of origin.

In addition, Gordon Frazer CEO of Microsoft admitted that customers would only be informed whenever possible with respect to authorities extracting data.

Such an example is where the FBI has the ability to issue a National Security Letter demanding a companys data. Frazer stated that in this case he wouldnt even be able to admit he had received such an order.

In a limited number of circumstances, Microsoft may need to disclose data without your prior consent, including as needed to satisfy legal requirements or to protect the rights or property of Microsoft or others (including the enforcement of agreements or policies governing the use of the service) said Frazer.

The head of Independent State Centre for Data protection in the German state of Schleswig Holstein, Thilo Weichert claimed that the sharing of data outside of the EU conflicts with EU laws. He argues that at the very least under such a service agreement companies should have the opportunity to terminate contracts with immediate effect.

So in summary, the best recommendation would be to use service providers who can ensure your data will remain in Europe.


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