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UK Government agency the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued an alert recognising an increase in ransomware attacks targeting the education sector.Institutions infected with ransomware have seen their ability to operate and teach effectively significantly affected.The success of a ransomware attack depends on the level of cyber security in place – the better the cyber security posture, the lower the chance of the attack being successful and causing disruption.Our partners, Six Degrees have put together a free Education Cyber Security Syllabus which includes three modules that, when followed, will enable you to align your institution to the NCSC's ransomware guidance:
- Module 1: Where We Are Today - an overview of the current NCSC alert and threat landscape.
- Module 2: How To Mitigate The Immediate Threat - immediate steps you can take to mitigate risk of a ransomware attack.
- Module 3: Developing Your Cyber Security Strategy - a longer term view of your cyber security strategy to continually protect your institution.
With more people working from home for longer, offices are likely to become smaller and focused on collaboration
Working from homeCoronavirus has changed homeworking from a minority pursuit to a mainstream one. In 2019, just one in eight workers had worked from home in the week they were surveyed by the Office for National Statistics (see ‘Homeworking by the numbers’, p17, In Our View issue 19). By April this year that had risen to nearly half according to updated ONS data, reaching two-thirds for managers, directors, senior officials and professionals.Socitm’s own research has found an even bigger shift, with the proportion of local authority staff working from home rising from 5% before the pandemic to 82% in May and June this year. This has generated some technology-related problems, exacerbated by a lack of training in advance of moving to new working practices. Nonetheless, nearly half of respondents said that homeworking has improved their work-life balance.The vast majority have moved to homeworking because of the impact of coronavirus. But as employers plan for a time when Covid-19 is under control, the question is whether this inadvertent mass experiment in remote working should continue? And if so, what should happen to significantly less-used offices as a result.
“I think the future of local government has a lot less office space in it,” says Socitm President Sam Smith. “What’s become clear from this crisis is that authorities are not about the physical spaces, but the people, the technology, the procedures.”
What are offices for?Except for those in face-to-face roles such as in social care, working from home has not damaged most employees’ productivity. But offices are about more than that.“It’s the wraparound, seeing people you don’t normally see, the vibe of just being with other people,” Sam says. With homeworking, “we are at risk of seeing a lot of silos developing where people only interact with a certain group of other colleagues and don’t get to chat in kitchens and corridors as they would previously”.The way we use offices could shift. No longer locations for routine work they become places primarily used for:
- social contact
- other team-based work
Homing in on trainingMoving many staff to homeworking most of the time will create significant challenges. Socitm’s research found that just 22% of respondents had been trained in using digital tools that are essential for homeworking, while 38% had experienced issues with remote working tools.A permanent shift of workplace to people’s homes will require replacements for the informal technical support provided by someone at a nearby desk. And help for newer staff who will need an alternative to learning on the job from those around them.Nadira Hussain, Socitm’s leadership development and research director, says that online learning can help fill some of these skills gaps. These arrangements could be run within organisations or across the sector. Training would provide additional skills and confidence that would boost the use and performance of platforms and tools.As well as helping people collaborate digitally with the council, assisting citizens to do more online will enable them to save time and effort and improve their lives more broadly.Collaboration between NHS organisations and councils running social care has long been seen as desirable. More online working could make it much easier.
Changing placesIt looks likely that several economic sectors will greatly increase their use of homeworking and this will change the communities that local authorities serve. Much attention has focused on the economic damage caused by fewer people in city and town centres. But there are advantages. Less congestion and more vibrant towns and villages - if people spend more time in the places they live.“Local shops may get a boost and economies revive, which would help local authorities in many service areas, reducing pressures resulting from a range of issues such as poverty and loneliness,” says Jos Creese, CCL independent digital analyst and an associate director of Socitm.There are huge changes ahead for offices, the nature of work and for individual employees. “That will impact building use, processes and service design,” says Jos. “But there is a wider impact that has yet to play out and councils need to keep in step with the needs of the public, politicians and professionals.”This is an edited version of an article in issue 21 of In our View. Read the whole issue: Shall we meet in the office? [post_title] => Shall we meet in the office? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => shall-we-meet-in-the-office [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-10-22 11:25:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-10-22 11:25:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://socitm.net/?p=100019125 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 100019040 [post_author] => 1104 [post_date] => 2020-10-21 09:44:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-10-21 09:44:10 [post_content] =>
Older people, those in less-skilled jobs and the unemployed are significantly less likely to have home internet connections, according to new research by Ofcom.More than two-fifths of people aged 75 and over do not have any kind of home internet connection. Meaning they cannot use web-based services or send emails without help from family, friends or by using a public computer.The same is true for around a quarter of those aged 65-74, as well as those in the D and E socioeconomic groups, who work in semi-skilled and unskilled manual jobs and the unemployed.The data was released as part of the regulator’s Communications Market Report 2020 on 30 September. It drew on the organisation’s technology tracker survey, which carried out research with 3,959 people.The research found that home internet access was lower for all three groups in Scotland. With the differences particularly significant for older people, with fewer than half aged 75 and over being online at home. The figures for England, Northern Ireland and Wales were close to the UK average.
SMSMobile telephones were the most common form of communication technology, used by the great majority even among older age-groups. This means that SMS text messaging has the greatest reach of any automated method of communicating.The UK government took advantage of this, sending messages to all mobile phones in March to tell people to stay at home during the coronavirus lockdown. From 26-29 September the Gov.uk Notify service processed nearly 24 million text messages as the government used SMS to promote the NHS contact tracing app for England and Wales.Ofcom’s research suggests that mobile apps have significantly less reach than SMS, web or email among older people, those in less-skilled jobs and out of work.
SmartphonesOfcom’s data for 4G mobile phones, which are usually smartphones capable of running apps, shows they were used by:
- just over half of 65-74 years-olds
- two-thirds of those in the DE socioeconomic groups
- fewer than a quarter of those aged 75 and over.
"Digital technologies underpin the delivery of the council's essential services; therefore strong security standards are imperative to protect data and maintain business-as-normal."
Steve Makin, ICT Contracts Officer
"I welcome this report, not only because it advances the debate about cyber security, but also because it raises awareness of the cyber threat."
Stephen Baker, SOLACE