Infosys chief executive Vishal Sikka resigns

Former Infosys chief executive Vishal SikkaImage copyright Getty Images

Vishal Sikka has resigned as Infosys chief executive and managing director, the company said in a statement Friday.

The firm's chief operating officer U.B.Pravin Rao will take over the role on an interim basis with immediate effect.

Infosys is one of India's largest IT services firms.Mr Sikka was appointed in June 2014 and tasked with turning around the struggling business.

Shares of the company tumbled 7% following the announcement....

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How hackers are targeting the shipping industry

A laptop being used in a mock cyber attackImage copyright Fidra Cyber Security Image caption Breaking into a shipping firm's computer systems could allow attackers to access all kinds of sensitive information

When staff at CyberKeel investigated email activity at a medium-sized shipping firm, they made a shocking discovery.

"Someone had hacked into the systems of the company and planted a small virus," explains co-founder Lars Jensen."They would then monitor all emails to and from people in the finance department."

Whenever one of the firm's fuel suppliers would send an email asking for payment, the virus simply changed the text of the message before it was read, adding a different bank account number.

"Several million dollars," says Mr Jensen, were transferred to the hackers before the company cottoned on.

After the NotPetya cyber-attack in June, major firms including shipping giant Maersk were badly affected[1].

In fact, the company revealed this week[2] that the incident could cost it as much as $300 million (£155 million) in profits.

But Mr Jensen has long believed that that the shipping industry needs to protect itself better against hackers - the fraud case dealt with by CyberKeel was just another example.

The firm was launched more than three years ago after Mr Jensen teamed up with business partner Morten Schenk, a former lieutenant in the Danish military who Jensen describes as "one of those guys who could hack almost anything".

They wanted to offer penetration testing - investigative tests of security - to shipping companies.The initial response they got, however, was far from rosy.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Shipping giant Maersk was a target of the Petya cyber attack

"I got pretty consistent feedback from people I spoke to and that was, 'Don't waste your time, we're pretty safe, there's no need'," he recalls.

Today, that sentiment is becoming rarer.

The consequences of suffering from the NotPetya cyber-attack[3] for Maersk included the shutting down of some port terminals managed by its subsidiary APM.

The industry is now painfully aware that physical shipping operations are vulnerable to digital disruption.

Breaking into a shipping firm's computer systems can allow attackers to access sensitive information.One of the most serious cases that has been made public concerns a global shipping conglomerate that was hacked by pirates.

They wanted to find out which vessels were transporting the particular cargo they planned to seize.

A report on the case by the cyber-security team at telecoms company Verizon describes the precision of the operation.

"They'd board a vessel, locate by barcode specific sought-after crates containing valuables, steal the contents of that crate - and that crate only - and then depart the vessel without further incident," it states.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The control systems on ships are often connected to the internet

But ships themselves, increasingly computerised, are vulnerable too.And for many, that's the greatest worry.

Malware, including NotPetya and many other strains, is often designed to spread from computer to computer on a network.That means that connected devices on board ships are also potentially vulnerable.

"We know a cargo container, for example, where the switchboard shut down after ransomware found its way on the vessel," says Patrick Rossi at consultancy DNV GL.

He explains that the switchboard manages power supply to the propeller and other machinery on board.The ship in question, moored at a port in Asia, was rendered inoperable for some time, adds Mr Rossi.

Seizing the controls

Crucial navigation systems such as the Electronic Chart Display (Ecdis) have also been hit.One such incident is recalled by Brendan Saunders, maritime technical lead at cyber-security firm NCC Group.

This also concerned a ship at an Asian port, but this time it was a large tanker weighing 80,000 tonnes.

One of the crew had brought a USB stick on board with some paperwork that needed to be printed.That was how the malware got into the ship's computers in the first instance.But it was when a second crew member went to update the ship's charts before sailing, also via USB, that the navigation systems were infected.

Departure was consequently delayed and an investigation launched.

Image copyright dmathies Image caption Malware can hit a ship's navigation systems

"Ecdis systems pretty much never have anti-virus," says Mr Saunders, pointing out the vulnerability."I don't think I've ever encountered a merchant ship Ecdis unit that had anti-virus on it."

These incidents are hugely disruptive to maritime businesses, but truly catastrophic scenarios might involve a hacker attempting to sabotage or even destroy a ship itself, through targeted manipulation of its systems.

Could that happen?Could, for example, a determined and well-resourced attacker alter a vessel's systems to provoke a collision?

"It's perfectly feasible," says Mr Saunders."We've demonstrated proof-of-concept that that could happen."

And the experts are finding new ways into ships' systems remotely.One independent cyber-security researcher, who goes by the pseudonym of x0rz, recently used an app called Ship Tracker to find open satellite communication systems, VSat, on board vessels.

In x0rz's case, the VSat on an actual ship in South American waters had default credentials - the username "admin" and password "1234" - and so was easy to access.

It would be possible, x0rz believes, to change the software on the VSat to manipulate it.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Commercial ships carry 90% of the world's trade

A targeted attack could even alter the co-ordinates broadcast by the system, potentially allowing someone to spoof the position of the ship - although shipping industry experts have pointed out in the past[4] that a spoofed location would likely be quickly spotted by maritime observers.

The manufacturer behind the VSat unit in question has blamed the customer in this case for not updating the default security credentials.The unit has since been secured.

Safe at sea

It's obvious that the shipping industry, like many others, has a lot of work to do on such issues.But awareness is growing.

The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have both recently launched guidelines designed to help ship owners protect themselves from hackers.

Patrick Rossi points out that crew with a poor understanding of the risks they take with USB sticks or personal devices should be made aware of how malware can spread between computers.

This is all the more important because the personnel on board vessels can change frequently, as members go on leave or are reassigned.

But there are more than 51,000 commercial ships in the world.Together, they carry the vast majority - 90% - of the world's trade.Maersk has already experienced significant disruption thanks to a piece of particularly virulent malware.

The question many will be asking in the wake of this and other cases now being made public is:What might happen next?...

References

  1. ^ were badly affected (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ revealed this week (www.maersk.com)
  3. ^ NotPetya cyber-attack (www.bbc.co.uk)
  4. ^ pointed out in the past (www.bbc.co.uk)

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Is 'tap and go' a better way to give to charity?

Contactless carImage copyright Stand Up to Cancer Image caption Stand up to Cancer and Hyundai clubbed together to make a charity donation car

A quick tap of my card and I've given Macmillan Cancer £10.It beats trying to avoid eye contact every lunch hour with a "charity mugger" or chugger.

In today's fast-paced world, although we may hate to admit it, not many people have time to chat or reel off card details to a stranger for 10 minutes.

And figures show that while cash is still very widely used, people are increasingly turning to "tap and go".

According to trade body UK Payments, contactless cards are "having a clear impact" on the use of cash in the UK.

In a world full of smartphones and contactless cards, having cash on you no longer has to be a priority.

And YouGov recently found that 34% of Brits think the UK will be cashless[1] within the next 20 years.

So what future does this hold for charity donation buckets, collection tins and clip-board wielding charity reps?

Contactless donation boxes

"Today's consumers are increasingly using card and mobile payments rather than cash, and this has a knock-on impact on fundraising," says Paulette Rowe, managing director of Barclaycard Payment Solutions.

"Ten years after we introduced contactless to the UK, more than half of all transactions today - up to the £30 spending limit - are made using 'touch and go' technology."

Last year Barclaycard worked with 11 charities, including the NSPCC and the RNLI, to trial contactless donation boxes.

The lightweight, portable payment boxes look similar to cash donation boxes, but with a contactless payment point embedded in them.

More Technology of Business

Image copyright Getty Images

The boxes were used by volunteers at events and placed at checkouts in supermarkets.

During the trial, the average donation for the NSPCC was £3.07 - higher than the average amount the charity receives through spare change.

The child protection charity also used a contactless donation box to accept a one-off gift of £1,000.

A fundraiser had given a speech about how his brother's suicide has inspired him to support Childline, and this had moved a donor in the audience to make the instant payment.

More than 40 organisations have now signed up to use the contactless donation boxes in the future.

Spare change

But with fewer people carrying cash, where does that leave people, like the homeless, who rely on loose change from kind strangers?

An Amsterdam-based company, N=5, is trying to come up with a solution with its Helping Heart jacket for the homeless.

The jacket, which was piloted in Rotterdam and Amsterdam late last year, is a warm winter coat that incorporates a payment reader and an LCD screen.

Image copyright Helping Heart Image caption A Helping Heart jacket can collect digital donations that can be redeemed later

Passers-by can make a card donation of a set €1 with one tap of their card.

Although it could be seen as a little impersonal, the organisers hope the jacket will be a topic of conversation for both parties.

The donations could then be redeemed by the jacket wearer for food, shelter or other support, through participating homeless shelters and organisations.

"We wanted to make a real difference to those in the homeless community who are becoming increasingly excluded from our more cashless economy," Silvia van Hooft, strategy director at N=5, told the BBC.

The company is now working with other homeless charities and organisations all over the world to make the jacket available in different cities.

Pooch power

Other charities have used wearable card readers to get the attention of potential donators.

Last May, Smudge, Maverick and Ralph all helped raise money for animal welfare charity Blue Cross.

The "tap dogs" all wore coats embedded with contactless payment stations - so while you were giving Smudge a cuddle you could also donate money.

Image copyright Nigel Davies Image caption Ralph the dog wore a jacket that could be used to collect donations for Blue Cross

The contactless readers were set to accept £2 donations per tap, although dog handling volunteers can manually change the amount if the giver wants.Paypal has now joined forces with the charity to fund more card readers and dog coats.

"The dogs have been extremely popular," says Matt Cull, deputy director of fundraising at the Blue Cross.

"It hasn't had an impact on our overall fundraising, as it's been more about raising awareness, but hopefully down the line we will see it play more of a significant part."

Billboards and cars

Other charities are also embracing the new technology.

This year cancer charity Macmillan embedded contactless payment ports into giant foam hands to use at Fujitsu's World Tour.

Cancer Research UK has five "smart benches" around London that not only act as phone charging and wi-fi points but also allow people to donate with a tap of their card.

And Singapore has gone for a larger scale with smart digital billboards.

Ad agency Tribal Worldwide Singapore and charity Community Chest turned billboards into digital donation boxes.

Commuters could tap their EZ-Link cards - used to pay for public transport - on the billboards and make donations to or from work.

Environmental charities are also riding the contactless wave.

Surfers against Sewage has teamed up with Visa to try and reduce plastic use at music festivals.Branded vending machines will sell reusable aluminium water bottles for £2 each, which can be bought with contactless devices.

Stand up to Cancer and Hyundai have also clubbed together to make a charity donation car.Passengers take a selfie and make a £5 donation to the charity.

Image copyright Simon Way Image caption Cancer Research has five "smart benches" around London

The car, designed by Foolproof, has five contactless payment points positioned around it and combines a number of different technologies, including Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi microcomputers.

When the car was unveiled at Kings Cross station in May it received more than 200 interactions in the first few hours of operation.

So are contactless cars and dogs that can take payments really the way forward for charities?

Missing out?

Payments UK predicts that cash will shift from being used for less than half (40%) of all payments made in 2016 to just one in five (21%) by 2026.

And Barclaycard believes that charities will miss out on £80m a year if they only accept cash donations.

Simon Black, chief executive officer of epayment company the PPRO Group, adds:"If charities don't implement alternative payment methods as a priority, they will risk being left behind by organisations who do.

"Retailers have acted swiftly to introduce contactless payments, it is now time for charities to do the same."...

References

  1. ^ think the UK will be cashless (yougov.co.uk)
  2. ^ Twitter (twitter.com)
  3. ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  4. ^ Click here for more Technology of Business features (bbc.in)

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Pensioners told to head to West Sussex for happiness

Arundel Castle in West SussexImage copyright Getty Images

Its pleasures range from a visit to the stately Arundel Castle to flight delays at Gatwick airport.

Yet it seems West Sussex offers retirees the best possible lifestyle.

In a quality of retirement index, the county has overtaken Dorset as the top place for pensioners to live.

The research, from Prudential insurance, is based on a range of criteria including access to healthcare, crime and the weather.

The study looked at the 55 counties in England and Wales, but excluded Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Sunny weather

The south coast county is already so popular with the over-65s that it has the second-highest inflow of pensioners, after Devon.

It also scores well for ongoing health, high pensioner incomes, and relatively sunny weather.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption West Sussex has beautiful countryside

Dorset was in second place, with East Sussex and Devon next in the rankings.

Pensioners in Surrey enjoy the highest income, those in Gwynedd have the best access to healthcare, while residents of Essex get the nicest weather.

But the Isle of Wight has the highest concentration of pensioners overall....

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