Back to Basics in Information Security

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Complexity heralds return of ‘back to basics’ approach in 2019 for information security professionals according to Infosecurity Europe poll and more than half (55%) of respondents say they plan to ‘go back to basics’ while 45% reveal they will invest in more technology

It appears that many organizations will begin the New Year and the new financial year by reviewing their security infrastructure and taking a ‘back to basics’ approach to information security. This is according to the latest in a series of social media polls conducted by Europe’s number one information security event, Infosecurity Europe 2019.

Asked what their ‘security mantra’ is for 2019, more than half, that is to say 55%, of respondents say they plan to ‘go back to basics’ while 45% reveal they will invest in more technology. According to Gartner, worldwide spending on information security products and services is forecast to grow 8.7 per cent to $124 billion in 2019.

When it comes to complexity, two-thirds believe that securing devices and personal data will become more (rather than less) complicated over the next 12 months. With Forrester predicting that 85 per cent of businesses will implement or plan to implement IoT solutions in 2019, this level of complexity is only set to increase with more connected devices and systems coming online.

However, many organizations will be looking to reduce complexity in their security architecture this year by maximizing what they already have in place. According to Infosecurity Europe’s poll, 60 per cent of respondents say that maximizing existing technologies is more important than using fewer vendors (40%).

If they'd really be honest about this then most of it would go back to paper and the filing cabinet as has, to a great extent with highly sensitive information, the Russian FSB and other of their security agencies have done.

It is easy to steal hundreds of thousands and more of electronic data with a simple click, a USB stick, and a little transfer time, and at times, via hacks, no direct physical access to the machines is actually needed. Stealing some locked filing cabinets, on the other hand, is a different task altogether and might require a truck or two. They, generally, do not fit into the palm of the hand.

Data theft is but one issue, however. They other, as far as digital infrastructure is concerned, is unauthorized access with the aim of manipulating data, erasing data, or even disrupting whatever operations the systems run, including power distribution, air traffic control, etc.

We have become, and this is not the first time that I am stating this, far too reliant on computers and especially the IoT (Internet of things). There was a time we were concerned that our homes, especially those of us where that was a concern, might be bugged. Today we invite the bugs right into our homes and offices. Do you really know what Alexa and Siri are listening to? Who or what your web-cam may be watching? You Internet-connected monitor in your child's room may be hijacked and the images being viewed remotely. Even your remote-controlled alarm system at home and business premises is hackable.

Let's get truly “back to basics” in data security and digital security and keep a much tighter check on what information we hold on potentially hackable systems. Let's remember all digital systems are hackable, it is only a matter of time, and that time is not written in days or hours even but can be minutes to but seconds.

© 2019

Which Plants Should I Prune in January?

Check out which garden favourites will benefit from a trim this month

January is a great time to prune plants, because you can see their framework, which makes the job a lot easier. Read on to find out just a few of the varieties that will benefit from a prune in their dormant period, then, before you start snipping, make sure your tools are clean and sharp.

Circular Electronics Day aims to extend the lifespan of electronics

Press Release

Today’s extensive consumption of electronics lead to alarming amounts of waste and the release of substances hazardous to human health and the environment. Finite natural resources are extracted from the ground at a fast rate and reserves are running low. By prolonging product life, individuals and organizations can contribute to a more sustainable future.

On January 24, Circular Electronics Day takes place for the second time. More than twelve organizations internationally stand behind the initiative which aims to increase awareness of why electronic products should be given a longer life through repairs, upgrades and reuse.

50 million metric tons of electronic waste is being generated per year worldwide. E-waste contains valuable metals as well as hazardous substances that are often released into the environment s and affect human health. Even more waste is generated when the products are manufactured — to make a notebook computer, 1,200 kilograms of waste is produced, for example from the mining and metals industries. The environmental problems are a result of today’s linear economy where raw materials are extracted to manufacture products which often have a short lifespan before they are discarded.

“We need to make the transition to the circular economy where products and materials are handled in a responsible way. The aim is to maximize product lifetime and handle discarded products as valuable resources, used to manufacture new products”, says Andreas Rehn, project manager of criteria development at TCO Development, the organization behind sustainability certification for IT products, TCO Certified.

The organizers of the initiative encourage both individuals and organizations to contribute to a more sustainable use of electronics by sharing tips and inspiring others to reuse products with the hashtag #CircularElectronicsDay.

Five easy steps that can extend the lifespan of electronics
  • Buy your product second hand. By asking for used products or products that are designed for reuse, both individuals and organizations can contribute.
  • Consider if it is possible to repair or sell your product. By erasing old data, refurbishing and upgrading it, you can give it a longer life.
  • If you must buy a new product, choose one that is certified according to a sustainability certification compliant with ISO 14024. Criteria must then be comprehensive, relevant and cover the product’s full life cycle and compliance with the criteria must be verified by an independent part.
  • Purchase a high-performance product. It enables you to keep it for a longer period of time.
  • Electronics contain valuable resources and shouldn’t be treated as waste. If it’s not possible to reuse or sell your old products, hand them in to a recycling facility or another collection point where the materials are taken care of. Many retailers accept that you leave your old products with them for recycling.
About Circular Electronics Day
The aim of Circular Electronics Day is to encourage the reuse of electronics. Standing behind the initiative are Blocket, Chalmers Industriteknik, Closing the Loop, European Environmental Bureau, iFixit, Elgiganten, El-kretsen, Inrego, IVL Svenska Milj├Âinstitutet, Lenovo, Recipo, and TCO Development.



Wool and the Gang is excited to share it's latest fibre innovation: New Wave. Our new conscious yarn for the new wave knitter.

47% Recycled Plastic Bottles
53% Cotton
100% Making Change

The global plastic problem has been widely reported and brought into consumer consciousness over the past few years, and we have started to see some industries respond.

Finding new ways to turn what could be waste into beautiful yarns has always been part of the Wool and the Gang mission. New Wave is our way of doing our bit for the planet, offering conscious crafters the opportunity to help reduce plastic waste while making their next project. The Gang cares deeply about provenance and collaborates with the best producers to source their yarns.

New Wave is made with a cotton casing which is filled with a fibre made from recycled plastic bottles. Each 100g ball contains the equivalent of 3 recycled bottles. It is a soft and squishy breathable yarn, which has excellent stitch definition, and can also be machine washed.

Launching with the yarn is a collection of 9 new kits and 2 free patterns, inspired by fisherman's tales. Now it's your turn to get creative, and our New Wave is begging for a little off-shore inspiration. Try a chunky fisherman's jumper a la Steve McQueen, a Team Zissou-style beanie or a slouchy cardigan, lightweight enough to transcend the seasons.

Jade Harwood, Founder of Wool and the Gang, was shocked by the vast amount of fast, disposable fashion and the waste that this produced during her time at Central St. Martin's. She is passionate about sustainable design and connecting communities to create change for future generations to bring back values, skills, and community.

Jade says of the New Wave launch: “Finding a way to use recycled plastic in a yarn that is both really good to knit with and doing its bit for the planet has been a mission of mine since I started Wool and the Gang. Together with our Gang, we are finding ways to use our passion for knitting with small steps to help protect our planet.”

Bring back the edge

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The, what I call, trench edge was a standard feature around flower and shrub beds and borders in municipal formal gardens, parks and also in the formal gardens at general homes.

In the former two cases it has been largely done away with due to, it is claimed, labor time and thus labor costs but this has been to the detriment of the aesthetics of the gardens and parks.

An “unmade”, that is to say an unplanted, bed can be, theoretically, have a trench edge cut by using a machine but the already planted up bed requires manual edging by means of edging knife and spade.

With a trench edge even a bend left fallow for a season, for instance, as long as it is kept free of weeds and raked, looks attractive and not like just a bare part of ground (in a lawn).

Creating this edge “by hand” is somewhat a laborious job but it is, nevertheless, worth is for sure. The time that is takes, obviously, depends on the size of the bed.

© 2019

Sharing bar soap cannot make you sick

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A communal bar of soap will not make you sickSharing a bar soap cannot make you sick and it is way better for the environment than is liquid soap. Bar soap, contrary to current public belief, does not spread germs, is way more environmentally friendly, and way cheaper

Liquid hand soaps have replaced bar soaps largely because of unfounded fears that bar soap is “covered in germs.” Study after study, however, has shown this is not the case.

If we all switched back to bar soaps and shampoos, we could make a significant dent in plastic waste.

If you walk into the average American household and you will, most likely, find at least five plastic bottles of hand soap, body wash and shampoo.

Let's give an educated guess and say that these soaps and shampoos are replaced every three months, it seems fair to guess the average American household goes through at least 20 plastic soap and shampoo bottles a year.

Multiply that by 126 million American households and that are 2.5 billion plastic bottles per year, most of which end up in a landfill.

The only problem is, many people believe that sharing bar soap can transmit infection and we have, in the last ten or so years, been basically been indoctrinated to believe that by advertising.

There is a tendency to think that, since everyone is using the same bar of soap, and who knows where their hands might have been, the soap can somehow pass around infections. But, let's face it, that tendency did not exist a couple of decades back.

Germs do not stick to soap

A recent health column in the New York Times explains that this beoief of germs sticking to a bar of soap is simply not the case.

Study after study has shown that bar soap is not a suitable environment for germs to live.

The most famous study on the matter was published in 1965. Scientists conducted a series of experiments in which they contaminated their hands with about five billion bacteria, such as Staph and E. coli, and then washed their hands with a bar of soap.

When a second person used the bar of soap shortly after, the germs were not found on their hands.

The researchers concluded that the level of bacteria that may occur on bar soap, even under extreme usage conditions (heavy usage, poorly designed non-drainable soap dishes, etc.) does not constitute a health hazard.

A second major study in 1988 inoculated bars of soap with pathogenic bacteria to see if it could be transmitted to soap users, but test subjects had no traces of the bacteria on their hands after washing.

Subsequent studies have continued to show the same results, while proving the ability of simple bar soap to fight serious infections, such as Ebola.

Save money

Not only does bar soap spare the environment billions of plastic bottles, it saves you lots of money. You can also use it to replace shampoo and conditioner. You don't need those two. Hand soap and body wash are no different.

If you want it in liquid form then use liquid dish soap, such as Fairy or supermarket own equivalent. I have been doing so for years. In fact I used to have a serious dandruff issue and tried all shampoos and none made a difference until dish soap. Dish soap, whether Fairy or supermarket own, also removed oil and grease even when used in cool water.

So, time to counter the con and go for bar soap and, if you wish, liquid dish soap. It saves money and lots of plastic bottles. You only need a little when using liquid dish soap for shower gel or shampoo and even less when washing hands.

© 2019