Tech and Hosting News Round-Up

Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.

30-minute Prime delivery a step closer

Amazon’s vision for the future is that when a Prime customer orders a product, they’ll have it delivered within 30 minutes. That’s a big ambition – not just because of the speed of shipment but also because of the vast quantities of deliveries needed to fulfil the company’s promise.

The key to that success lies with the successful launch of Prime Air, its drone delivery service, which this week, finally got its long-awaited approval from the US Federal Air Administration to deliver products up to 2.3 kgs by drone.

While this is a significant step forward, the company isn’t quite ready to roll out the service just yet. At present, Amazon is still developing and refining its technology so that the drones can be fully integrated into regional airspaces.

Google Maps expands services

Already widely used to help people get from A to B, whether by car, foot or public transport, Google is now in the process of adding quite a few new services to the much-loved app. Over recent months, it has added COVID-19 busy transport alerts, traffic light locations and wheelchair accessibility information for business destinations.

This week it has added a car parking payment system which will offer travellers directions to the car park, information on available places and payment facilities. Once a driver parks in a metered space, the app will launch and prompt the user to pay for parking. They will then enter their licence plate and parking space numbers and pay. The system will then track how long the car is parked for and if needed, send an alert for the user to top up the meter. For convenience, the app will also remember licence plate details for later use.

At present, the service is undergoing trials in Texas and its use is limited to car parks that have connected parking meters. Most car parks seem to be moving in this direction anyway, enabling people to pay by card, phone or various apps.

Dark Web service providers

It looks like the ‘as a service’ business models (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, etc.) offered by today’s service providers are being adopted by criminal gangs who are now setting themselves up on the dark web as cybercrime vendors.

The notorious ransomware outfit, NetWalker, has been so successful with its own operations, it has recently branched out into Ransomware as a Service (RaaS), selling its successful ‘product’ to other criminal gangs. Since it began offering the service six months ago, the ransomware product has netted over £22 million from its victims.

Now, criminal gangs who previously lacked the technical capacity and expertise to deploy ransomware attacks can simply purchase the managed service and have it undertaken on their behalf. This has resulted in a significant spike in the number of ransomware attacks seen over the last six months. It’s also a model that other cybergangs, like NetWalker, will adopt in future.

21st Century classroom disruption

Unruly kids have been disrupting lessons for as long as there have been schools; however, in the 21st Century, it looks like the methods they are using are becoming much more advanced. One particular 16-year-old from Miami, Florida, was so determined not to recommence virtual lessons at the start of the new academic year, that they decided to take their school’s online lessons down using a DDoS attack.

Since the term began on 31 Aug, the pupil carried out eight DDoS attacks, disrupting the networks not just of their school, but the entire school district and the My School Online teaching platform used by the district’s teachers to deliver lessons. As a result, 20,000 teachers and 275,000 pupils had lessons disrupted.

The youth, who cannot be named because of their age, was eventually tracked down and arrested but only after the local police department called in help from Miami state police, the FBI and the CIA.

Severn Trent uses cloud to manage water

UK water utility company, Severn Trent, is adopting cloud and IoT technology to improve its services. It is currently developing a cloud-based platform that will unify data from a wide range of sources to help it monitor and manage its equipment.

The aim is to provide it with an overarching system that will cover every situation from predicting the impacts of weather forecasts, detecting issues with machinery and calculating expected usage and predicted surges.

The adoption of cloud technology will increase Severn Trent’s network situational awareness:  enabling it to perform insight and predictive analytics, monitor machine health and carry out scenario analysis and forecasting. The hope is that this will allow the company to better manage its operations and control its assets more effectively

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