A Tech Adventure: Cyber Security Europe Round-up

From GDPR to Ransomware and more


f you have been following our twitter or facebook posts, you will know that recently some of our team went to London. The reason? IPExpo. We were excited to go check out the various security booths and information on offer. This includes the latest information on ransomware, network security practices and more! IPExpo Intro

But what is IPExpo? Well, it’s a fantastic convention held in both London and Manchester throughout the year. With 6 events under its roof including Cyber Security Europe, Data Centre Europe, Data Analytics Europe and more, it’s a great place for people like us to go visit and gather the latest information. You can usually find the latest technology in their respective fields and also it’s host to fantastic training sessions and educational conferences.

Thankfully, our team members who went there have provided a report of their findings and the experience. We’re always eager to expand our knowledge on these topics and so this should be well worth the read. The following will be the experience portrayed by both individuals, sharing their thoughts on the adventure. So, let’s see what they have to report.

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The Journey and Experience. From Ray Blowby

At Canning Town my colleague and I changed to the Docklands Light Rail for the final stint of the journey. As I sat quietly in the packed carriage I listened to the conversation around me.

“The issue with the client machines is that they aren’t fit for the workload”
“…need to redesign for the new DevOps model, the siloed teams are being moved”
“The scale that the Azure platform allows has put so many more options on the table”
“The accounts department is so much more mobile now…”

We were on the right train.

As we disembarked amongst a horde of suits and beards we shuffled toward the towering entrance of the Excel building.
This monolithic building stretched onwards as far as the eye could see. And the long walk to our conference hall began, taking us past two aerospace conference halls entertaining thousands of people – all tagged with lanyards and ID. Expensive food concessions lined the main concourse and I took a mental note of the noodle joint which smelled divine.

Inside the event

Ahead was the IP Expo. A conference given over to big and small names in IT who were keen to shout about the latest trends and IT innovations.
Passing the security cordon I sensed the heady notes of freshly made coffee and made a bee-line for the Veeam stall which sported a rather fancy coffee machine and a professional barista. IPExpo Cyber Security Europe Floor
Soon we were being approached by the various sales people, eager to score new business. Profuse with hyperbole we learned how this and that product would “change the landscape of IT”. It was soon clear that these pitches followed a similar fashion – First the ‘intro’ a quick and often clumsy set of questions designed to hone in on what target market the delegate represents. Then the ‘angle’, get in with the pitch. How *this* product is the best. Next up the ‘bribe’, cheap tat covered with corporate logos and led lights that would be exchanged for a ‘scan’ of the ID tag – Thus ensuring future contact and mass marketing emails.

Despite my cynical view of the process it was really a lot of fun. We got to engage with various interesting developers, entrepreneurs and inventors who were genuinely proud of the products they had built.
There was a large focus on security and some of the ideas such as cloud-based security gateways which reverse proxied your entire WAN throughput were particularly interesting. I saw a live demonstration of the ease of SQL injection techniques using a prevalent open-source tool. Each demo linked back to the USP of a specific product.

GDPR and more

There was a focus on the new GDPR laws that are coming in May 2018 and some speakers had seminars on ways that firms can change their IT strategy to deal with these new regulations. These were particularly interesting and I would recommend that anyone unsure of how GDPR is going to affect their business to give us a call. The focus for the next few months must be on enhancing the security of data storage and associated systems, an area we can certainly help in.

The Alcobot returns

Finishing up the day I stumbled across a robotic bartender put on by the wizards at Kaspersky Labs. In short order it fixed up a rum and coke. These things would do away with queues at bars. Bring them on I say!
Cyber Security Europe Kaspersky Alcobot

Final Thoughts

As the day drew to a close and the event shut its doors, I can happily the event was an experience to remember. A lot of valuable information was acquired from the event. Aside from the slightly uncomfortable journey to the scene, a great time all round!

A new experience and adventure. By Alex

Along with my colleague Ray, I had the opportunity to go to IP Expo in London. A magnificent showcase of the latest tech and information in their respective fields presented. Within the event itself (Cyber Security Europe), the day was packed with seminars on various security practices and tech, that I simply did not have time to visit them all! So, I had to pick and choose the ones that deemed the most interesting. Thus, with careful planning and preparation, I was able to attend 2 of the seminars, alongside visiting the various booths and tech demos on show.

Password security

After a bit of wondering around and visiting the various companies on show that day, I attended the first seminar. This one was all about passwords and security. Cyber Security Europe SQL server hack

The main demonstration here was how, over the years, computing power has increased almost exponentially. Thus, resulting in less secure passwords (fewer than 10 characters and no numbers/special characters) are considerably faster to crack and brute force into. Did you know, 10 years ago, a 7 character password would have been a challenge to crack into. It may take upwards of 21 years to brute force your way through it! However, nowadays and with the right tools, that ordeal has changed to a mere 2 hours or less! It’s a rather scary spectacle to think about. So, if you’re one of those individuals who like to use an easy to remember and short password, now might be a good time to improve it!

There was also a mention about biometric scanners and their security. What surprised me was the fact that biometric scanners are in-fact not that much more secure than a good password! The data from these scanners is still stored as digital data. Hence, it’s still vulnerable to being cracked.

What’s the solution?

Undoubtedly, you’ve already seen the solution. It’s been promoted and advertised a lot by various companies and websites. 2-factor authentication. However, this seminar hit the point home about the extra layer of security 2-factor authentication provides over other conventional means. For those not aware, 2-factor authentication revolves around the use of your phone to also authenticate a login. For example, you enter your username and password. Once those credentials are confirmed, the server will send a code to your phone (that’s tied to said account). From there, enter the code provided. So, if you want to keep your accounts more secure in the future and the service you’re using provides it, set up 2-factor authentication!

However, if 2-factor authentication is not supported or available for the service you’re using, we’d recommend a password of 16 characters, using lowercase, uppercase, numbers and special symbols (eg. !%”^&*£$).

Wi-Fi and wireless connectivity

After navigating a few more booths and other items on display, it was time to visit the second seminar. This one was about Wi-Fi and wireless connectivity. Unfortunately, I arrived a little late and didn’t catch the start of the seminar. However, the general gist of this conference was showing how much information can be gathered from individuals on a public Wi-Fi network. Moreover, another huge factor is the Terms of Service that comes with the free hotspot that people fail to read through. To prove this point, they setup an experiment using a free hotspot that had a ToS. In this ToS, however, was a line saying “you must give away your first born child”. This was on the second line. Here’s the scary part. Nobody noticed it. Now, obviously this was an experiment and no children were given away. But it does show the importance of reading ToS and T&Cs, albeit an arduous task at that.

Another key factor is keeping mind of what is shared on the free wi-fi network. Bear in mind that the owner of the network might be able to see the apps you use. He might also be able to see who you talk to and the things you buy. What could this be used for? Targeted advertisements, etc. The trade of personal information to advertisers is a wealthy business, afteral.

However, even not being connected to the free wi-fi, there’s still large amounts of information that can be gathered by an individual. Whilst you have your Wi-Fi connectivity on, it broadcasts a signal when scanning for Access Points, thus broadcasting information for whomever is there to listen in on. Now, we’re not saying wrap tinfoil around your device and stick to shaded corners, just be a bit more aware of your network usage.

Final Thoughts

After a jam packed day of excitement and information, my review of the event is that it’s a great experience. With all the information, all the latest technology improving network security and more, it’s a worthwhile visit. If only the journey there and back was a little less taxing, but that won’t be the same for all.

So, if you’re ever in the London area, be sure to see if you can reserve your slot for IPExpo next time!

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