Week Ending: 1st October - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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Pinch, punch, it’s the first of the month. October has arrived, along with a chill in the air and the beginning of Cybersecurity Month. Luckily one thing that will keep your mind off the cold and focused on cybersecurity is our Weekly Roundup.

This week’s round-up covers everything from AI predicting the weather within 2 hours, how Apple Pay Visa feature could be hacked to drain your wallet and the Isle of Wight NHS trust trials drones for chemotherapy deliveries.

Let’s get you up to speed.

AI can predict if it will rain in two hours’ time

Experts at Google owned London AI lab, DeepMind, have developed an artificial intelligence-based ‘now-casting’ system which can accurately predict the chances of rain within the next 90 minutes.

The model uses high-resolution radar data from the past 20 minutes to estimate whether medium to heavy rain is likely to fall up to two hours ahead of time. The radar repeatedly fires a beam into the lower atmosphere to track the amount of moisture in the air. This is then measured by the relative speed of the signal and how much it is slowed by water vapour.

The hope is that this technology will be able to improve the accuracy of short-term weather forecasts, particularly the prediction of storms and heavy rain.

Niall Robinson, Met Office partnerships and product innovation head commented

“Extreme weather has catastrophic consequences, including loss of life and, as the effects of climate change suggest, these types of events are set to become more common. As such, better short-term weather forecasts can help people stay safe and thrive.”

The use of AI in this latest weather development has shown that it can be a powerful tool, enabling forecasters to spend less time trawling through ever growing piles of prediction data and instead focus on better understanding the implications of their forecasts.

Read more here.

Apple Pay Visa feature could be hacked to drain your wallet

Cybersecurity researchers have demonstrated what they claim to be security issues in Visa and Apple payment mechanisms to make fraudulent contactless mobile payments.

Research conducted by the University of Birmingham and the University of Surrey found large, unauthorised contactless payments can be made on locked iPhones by exploiting an Apple Pay feature, Express Transit, designed to help commuters pay quickly at ticket barriers.

But how could this be used against us? The attack works like this, by placing a small, commercially available piece of radio equipment near the iPhone it tricks the phone into believing it is dealing with a ticket barrier. As the iPhone thinks it is paying a ticket barrier, there is no need for the phone to be unlocked.

The demonstration performed showed the researchers were able to make a Visa payment of £1,000 without unlocking the phone or authorising the payment.

Ken Munro, a security researcher with Pen Test Partners commented

“This is a really innovative piece of research and needs to be fixed quickly. It’s a similar attack to having a contactless credit card terminal tapped against your walled or purse. But this attack is rather more insidious, as it doesn’t need the card terminal anymore, just a small box of electronics that can relay the fraudulent transaction elsewhere.”

Discover more here.

Isle of Wight NHS trust trials drones for chemotherapy deliveries

Cancer patients could soon have their chemotherapy drugs delivered to them by drones under a new plan to prevent disruption to supplies during the lorry driver crisis.

A three-month trial researching the benefits of using un-crewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been launched by Isle of Wight NHS Trust.

Lifesaving medicine will be flown by unmanned aircrafts to St Mary’s Hospital, on the Isle of Wight, in a privately funded project described as ‘revolutionary’ by NHS chiefs.

The delivery method will be faster and more efficient than transporting medicine on lorries and ferries and comes as the heath service looks for new ways to beat logistical problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 85kg drones which are capable of carrying up to 20kg of payload, will be based at an Army barracks and flown by specialist former RAF, Royal Navy and airline pilots.

Maggie Oldham, chief executive of the Isle of Wight NHS trust commented

“We are delighted to be part of this pioneering project researching a revolutionary way of transporting life-saving chemotherapy drugs. During the Covid-19 pandemic we have faced several challenges, including unprecedented supply chain and logistical demands worldwide and this led to us exploring different ways of working to ensure a safe and efficient service for our patients.”

Research on the drones will be carried out until November to see how the impact of flight, like vibration and temperature, affects redundant medicine. If successful, the Isle of Wight NHS Trust will then approve the first flight for chemotherapy treatment, believed to be the first in the world.

Explore more here.

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