The week in tech

No deal Brexit

The UK’s tech sector where offered some painful truths this week when the UK government outlined its contingency plan in the event of a”no deal” Brexit.

In a speech yesterday, Brexit secretary Dominic Raab said the government had a duty “to plan for every eventuality” and consider that the EU’s plan might not “match our ambition and pragmatism”.

Although Raab believed that getting a good deal was “by far the most likely outcome” and said that “roughly 80% of the withdrawal agreement” was now settled, many in the tech sector do not share his enthusiasm.

>See also: Brexit White Paper: TechUK calls for clarity on digital services

Commenting on this, techUK Deputy CEO, Antony Walker, said: “These papers show more clearly than ever why it is so important that the UK secures a comprehensive deal with the EU. They show that No Deal would mean significant new bureaucracy for businesses, and higher costs and reduced choice for consumers. Most significantly, the papers make clear that No Deal means a full third country customs regime with the EU. That would create significant and unpredictable disruption to supply chains, new costs for UK tech businesses exporting to the EU and long delays for those trying to get goods into the UK, including the millions of packages sent via just-in-time e-commerce services.”

“The notices also lay bare some of the other challenges facing the UK tech sector in the event of a no deal. Rules covering Payment Services will cease to apply, affecting many new FinTech companies and meaning charges for using credit cards would likely increase, and payments in different currencies could slow. The UK would no longer be able to approve new medical devices for use in the EU and all UK businesses and businesses selling Dual Use equipment would have to apply for new licenses. All of this would create cost and complexity that would damage some of the UK’s fastest growing and most innovative businesses.”

>See also: Will UK lose global business and tech leader status post-Brexit?

GCSE results and tech

This week thousands of students across the UK collected their GCSE results, but what does it mean for the tech sector and gender equality?

While 11.8% more students took computing in 2018 compared to the year before, 24% fewer students took ICT. There was also a drop in the number who took maths. Furthermore, the total number studying both Computing and ICT as subjects has decreased with around 9,000 fewer young people taking either course this year than in 2017.

>See also: GCSE results: computing is up, ICT is down, but how relevant are they?

The figures also showed a disparity between boys and girls taking these subjects. Although, this year the number of girls taking computing did increase by 1,814 from last year. Despite many female students achieving high results in STEM subjects, studies suggest they will be disparaged from studying them at higher levels.

Eleanor Bradley, COO, Nominet said: “We don’t want a situation in which we lock out half the talent pool from vital technology-related career paths before they’ve given them proper consideration.”

>See also: Do today’s A-level results matter to the needs of a CTO

“To engage girls with Computing and other STEM subjects, we need to combat any unconscious bias that unwittingly steers girls away from STEM-based career paths.”

Rachid Hourizi, Director, Institute of Coding said: “With increasing numbers choosing to explore further education and employment in the UK’s booming digital sector. It is vital that the next generation is made fully aware that digital now represents an increasingly diverse area of study; from the creative industries, to heavy engineering and is open to everyone from all walks of life.”

“Never has there been a better time to consider these routes, particularly with employers openly stating their need to attract technically-skilled workers, and the many examples of digital businesses thriving and playing an increasingly influential role in the UK economy.”

Superdrug hack: is GDPR to blame?

British high street pharmacy Superdrug has been held to ransom following a hack that affected 20,000 customers.

No bank details have been stolen, but names and addresses have been accessed.

A company spokesperson said: “The hacker shared a number of details with us to try and ‘prove’ he had customer information – we were then able to verify they were Superdrug customers from their email and log-in.”

>See also: Why the cyber threat landscape could grow under GDPR

Martin Jartelius, CSO at Outpost24: “Obtaining this data and using it to blackmail data controllers will likely be a rising trend due to the GDPR’s fines and the limited understanding of what the fines are based on. Data which earlier held little or no financial value to an attacker can now, due to the legislation put in place to protect it, be financially more interesting for attackers to obtain.”

Jartelius added: “It should be noted that by being open rather than paying the criminals, Superdrug has taken the responsible call. When a breach is suspected to have occurred, it is the obligation of the data controller to inform affected individuals without delay. At this time, it still seems uncertain how the breach occurred, or how many individuals are affected. Due to this, the only way to meet regulatory requirements is to inform everyone. The GDPR does not protect us all from breaches, it does, however, act to give a better guarantee that we will be informed when said breaches occur.”

>See also: How cyber threats could grow under GDPR

Nominations are now open for the Women in IT Awards Ireland and Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley. Nominate yourself, a colleague or someone in your network now! The Women in IT Awards Series – organised by Information Age – aims to tackle this issue and redress the gender imbalance, by showcasing the achievements of women in the sector and identifying new role models

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future