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Week Ending: 14th February - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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With storm Dennis on the horizon you could be forgiven for leaving the hatches battened down after storm Ciara last weekend. If amongst all that you missed the headlines this week, never fear our trusty roundup is here to bring you right up to date. Despite storms it’s been a busy week in the world of I.T. and tech, with Ofcom being awarded powers over social media companies, councils in the North of England subject to cyberattacks and the RAF joining the sustainability race.

Ofcom to be given powers over social media

The UK regulator Ofcom is to be given powers to force social media firms which operate in the UK, to act over harmful content. Until now companies have self-regulated here in the UK, defining their own rules of what is acceptable content. However, critics claim that regulations are needed to keep people safe.

Ofcom currently regulates media and telecommunications and it is hoped that the government will set the direction of policy but give Ofcom the freedom to draw up and adapt the details. In doing this the regulator will be able to act quickly to new and emerging online threats.

It is still unclear what penalties the regulator will be able to enforce upon the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but it will have the power to make the firms responsible for harmful content such as violence, terrorism, child abuse and cyber-bullying. They will also be expected to minimise the risk of it appearing at all, meaning they will have to reassess their current content review processes. Full details will be available early spring. Read more here.

Council targeted by cyberattack

Redcar and Cleveland council has confirmed that it was hit by a cyberattack seven days ago and is still struggling to get its systems back online. The council has said that there is no evidence that any personal data is at risk and is currently investigating the issue. At present the council has limited access to phone and email systems but its other systems and website – where customers are usually able to pay their council tax, report issues and view planning applications – are currently unavailable.

The council’s I.T. team worked over the weekend to try and restore systems but were forced to bring in further security experts on Tuesday. It is unclear what the purpose of the attack is at the moment. Cyberattacks are usually launched to access data, functions or other restricted areas of systems, however, the council claims there is no evidence of this at this time.

The attack has prompted calls for a ‘serious review’ of the Teesside council’s systems. Independent member, Colin Monson speaking at a meeting of the council’s Governance Committee, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said; "I think this history of what has happened over the last couple of days is a clear indication that disaster recovery systems across the authority need a serious review. This is a serious disaster, not just a little upset."

RAF engineers join sustainability race

Royal Air Force engineers based at Braise Norton in Oxfordshire have been granted a £1m fund to develop waste reducing technology. The innovative technology will enable the RAF to recycle waste aircraft oils and lubricants. They claim that the technology will save the RAF money and deliver environmentally friendly by-products in the process.

Three universities and one engineering firm have been awarded contracts to develop the technology which will turn waste oil into water, organic fertiliser and CO2. This will build on the innovative concept of recycling waste hydrocarbons utilising microbes which was developed by a small team from 47 Squadron at Brize Norton. The team proved that waste oils and lubricants generated from servicing the Squadron’s C-130 Hercules aircraft could be broken down using microbes through a process known as bioprocessing.

In addition to being used on Military bases here in the UK, it is hoped that the technology will be adapted into portable systems that can be used on overseas bases and operational deployments.


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