UK skills shortage holding back fight against cyber attacks

The UK’s fight against cyber-crime is being hampered by a lack of relevant skills, engineers warn.

Small businesses are coming under increasing attack from hackers, according to new government data, but a survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) found only 30 per cent of such companies felt they had sufficient cyber protection.

Recent research by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) found that 87 per cent of small businesses (and 93 per cent of large ones) experienced a breach in their cyber security in the last year, an increase of over 10 per cent.

But the IET survey of 250 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) found only 14 per cent of them said cyber security threats were the highest priority and that they already had sufficient skills and resources in place to manage the threat.

The IET’s cyber security lead, Hugh Boyes, said the problem was both a lack of engineers going into the cyber security sector and a failing of universities to include an awareness of the issue in the computer programming courses

‘It’s a combination of software skills and system engineering skills,’ he told The Engineer. ‘For example, many university engineering courses teach students basic programming skills but don’t focus on the trustworthiness of the software they produce – making it secure and reliable.

‘Because of the interconnection of systems, we need to increasingly think about how a piece of hardware or software works with everything else …

‘A lot of courses focus on the maths of engineering rather than the big picture of building systems and the consequences if it goes wrong.’

The government-run Technology Strategy Board recently extended its voucher scheme offering SMEs the chance to bid for up to £5,000 from a total pot of £500,000 to improve their cyber security with outside expertise.

But the IET survey found that only half of the SMEs contacted were aware of the government’s Cyber Security Strategy.

The IET is also developing its own scheme to sponsor cyber security masters degree courses at selected universities, which aims to give the sponsored students cyber security skills they can apply in their current job, or the opportunity to develop a career in a cyber security role.

Shortage of science graduates will thwart manufacturing-based recovery

Too few women studying science, maths and engineering and a curb on immigration make government hopes forlornyoung scientists

The government’s hope that it can drive an economic recovery by growing the UK’s manufacturing industry will be thwarted by a lack of science and technology graduates, a report suggests.

The report – which concludes that there is an annual shortfall of 40,000 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates – has been released amid calls for a national campaign to boost the number of women in science.

A spokesman for the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank, said the number of home-grown graduates in STEM subjects needs to increase by half just to keep science-related industries at their current size.

If the government would like to grow these sectors to drive a recovery at the same time as reducing migration, the shortfall balloons even further.

Nida Broughton, a senior economist at the SMF, said: “The government has made clear its aim to rebalance the UK economy towards manufacturing and away from financial services. But it has also pledged to reduce immigration. Our analysis shows that the gulf between skills and jobs makes these aims incompatible in the short-term.”

The manufacturers’ association, the EEF, estimates that 90% of Britain’s engineers are male and 80% of workers in the manufacturing industry are male. That compares with other sectors, where men are an average of 51% of the workforce.

Volvo launch pedestrian cushions.

Lane detection, blind-spot sensors, pedestrian detection system… Volvo has long been synonymous with protecting humans in cars.

Now the Swedish automaker has decided that it’s not enough to just protect drivers; those in the roads and streets around them now also have a cushion that could save life.

Volvo’s pedestrian air bag, launched with the V40 at the 2012 Geneva auto show, will deploy if a pedestrian hits the bonnet. It works with Volvo’s pedestrian detection system but the overall goal is crash avoidance and mitigation.

When sensors in the front bumper detect imminent contact with a pedestrian a section of the bonnet will rise and a U-shaped airbag will deploy across the car’s windscreen. The bag covers about a third of the glass and the bottom of the car’s A pillars to cushion the impact for anybody unlucky enough to be hit.

The V40 also features pedestrian detection and the city safety technology, which automatically stops the vehicle from rear-ending another car at low speed.

Other safety highlights of the V40, borrowed from the XC60, include lane maintenance, automatic road sign detection, active head light technology and parking radar.

Nest – the Learning Thermostat

Visionary Tony Fadell who, back in the day, was in charge of the iPod at Apple *just* launched a brand new product called Nest, the world’s first Learning Thermostat.

Nest learns from your temperature adjustments, programs itself to keep you comfortable, and guides you to energy savings. You can control the thermostat from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet or laptop, and Nest never stops learning, even as your life and the seasons change.


Learn more at

Mf, studio, dbda

Minister calls for computer science education “revolution”

The UK minister for culture, communications and creative industry has called for a revolution in the way computer science is taught in our schools. Fearing a future drop in the number of students able to properly write programs (as opposed to those able to simply operate programs such as word processors and spreadsheets), Mr. Vaizey hopes to bring a “stronger” computer science curriculum to secondary schools.


Update: Dr. Richard Wilson of TIGA has responded to Ed Vaizey’s comments. (via EDGE)

Functioning Lego greenhouse

“This fantastic greenhouse made entirely of Lego bricks was just unveiled at the 2011 London Design Festival. Designed by Sebastian Bergne, it is made up of around 100,000 Lego bricks. All parts of the greenhouse are made from Lego elements, including, reportedly, the “earth,” which would seem to imply that the very real vegetables growing inside are sustained hydroponically.”

(via MAKE)

How cool is this! Real stuff made of toys 🙂

MF, studio, dbda

The Secret Life of Buildings

On last night’s The Secret Life of Buildings, Channel 4, architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff explored the impact the design of buildings can have on us – on our identity and self-esteem, and on relationships, our chances at school, and even our weight and immune system.

“Armed with this new knowledge, Dyckhoff meets and challenges pre-eminent architects including Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid to re-evaluate their creations. He brings them face-to-face with the people who use their buildings every day. He even tries working in their buildings himself while taking part in an experiment to measure the impact on his brain.” – Channel 4

Very interesting to see that some of London’s most iconic office buildings from the outside were in fact rather uncosidered from within, a lovely example of architectural ingenuity from Holland built in the 70s, and a re-structured school in south London that saw massive improvements in both behaviour and exam results after understanding the psychology of a work space to make the students’ environment both stimulating and pleasant to be in.

I would definately recommend this, find it on 4oD here.

MF, studio, dbda

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