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.

.eu domain deadline approaches

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, UK citizens and organisations will no longer be allowed to hold the registration of a .eu domain when the transition period ends on 31 December. Those .eu domains registered to UK entities will cease to operate on 1 Jan 2021 and will be revoked and made available to other registrants within the EU on 1 Jan 2022.

To be eligible to keep the domain, a registrant must be one of the following: a legally established entity in an EU or EEA country, a resident of an EU or EEA country or a citizen of an EU member state. If you think you remain eligible, you will need to update your domain contact details before the deadline. If your domain is registered through eukhost, please contact us.

If you have a .eu domain and you are not eligible to keep it, you may need to purchase another domain and transfer your website to it before the deadline. If you need help with this, please get in touch.

Robo-taxis operating in Shanghai

Autonomous taxis are now operating across China’s biggest city, Shanghai. Although there’s a human in the driving seat just in case there’s an urgent need, the taxis are completely self-driven. Using a combination of cameras, sensors, street maps and GPS, they can navigate safely around the busy city streets, stopping for pedestrians, following traffic signals, slowing down for other vehicles and manoeuvring between lanes.

One British reporter who took a ride described the city’s RoboTaxis, as they have been called, as perfectly safe and perhaps even a little overcautious when it came to manoeuvres that had elements of risk, such as pulling away from a junction. He was reassured, however, to have a real driver ready to take over. So, while we can expect to see this type of vehicle becoming far more common in the near future, it’s not the end of the road for taxi drivers just yet.   

Blackbaud hack lost National Trust payment details

The Blackbaud hack that happened earlier this year has hit the headlines yet again after the company belatedly admitted that the data stolen included some of its clients’ customer’s payment details.

One of the clients believed to be affected is the National Trust, which has 5.6 million members throughout the UK. According to its latest filing, Blackbaud’s forensic investigations had discovered that the hacker may have accessed bank account, username and password details. What makes this more concerning is that this sensitive data had not been encrypted by Blackbaud and so could be exploited by the hackers.

In the UK, the ICO, which is investigating the matter, said 166 UK organisations, including universities, charities and trusts, were affected by the breach. The National Trust is working with Blackbaud to find out the extent of the attack and will contact any members who may have had their data stolen.

The unhackable network

While cybercriminals might be up to speed with the latest hacking techniques, it takes a genius to understand the principles of quantum physics. It’s this strange and rather quirky science, however, that is at the heart of the UK’s first unhackable quantum-secure network.

Created in a joint project by BT and Toshiba, the network will transmit data between two UK R&D facilities researching digital engineering for the aerospace, energy and automation industries. As these projects require high-level security, quantum key distribution is being used to ensure that data travelling between the facilities is unhackable.  

A quantum-secure network uses a stream of single photons to share encryption keys between the two sites and can distribute thousands of keys per second. Another advantage is that the multiplexing compatibility of the network allows the data and quantum keys to be transferred using the same fibre, in this case, Openreach’s fibre cables, and this eliminates the need for additional infrastructure.

IoT vulnerabilities coming to light

Smart IoT devices are becoming common in both the home and the workplace, but security experts are beginning to uncover a range of security loopholes that sophisticated hackers could exploit.

In a recent investigation, experts discovered issues with a smart coffee machine that enabled it to be ransomed. It stopped working when connected to a network and displayed a bleeping ransom message. The security firm didn’t even need to hack into the router or the internet connection to carry out the attack. Instead, they accessed a firmware update via an unencrypted connection to a smartphone app. The firmware was then downloaded to a computer and rewritten to introduce the ransomware.

While it will take a smart hacker to hack a smart device, it’s a clear indication that there are more devices under threat than computers and smartphones.  

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