Daily Archives: 02/07/2014

Q&A: Professor Harald Haas discusses the security potential of Li-Fi

Following on from pureLiFi’s success demonstrating the new light-based data transfer system, Li-Fi, at the Smart Lighting Conference in Barcelona in May 2014, Professor Harald Haas (Chief Scientific Officer of pureLiFi) answers questions about the security potential of this new system for all sectors across Government, business and commerce.

What was the feedback from delegates at the Smart Lighting Conference in Barcelona?

“The lighting industry is moving to a much more services-based approach. The focus is on moving to a ‘Light as a Service’ business model. In this context, Li-Fi offers unprecedented capabilities that can be used as a differentiation within a very competitive industry. The general interest in the demonstration was very positive from a number of the participants and speakers, including the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer from Phillips, the VP of Research and Innovation with Osram, the Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice-President of Business Development with ARM, the CTO of GE Lighting as well as the President of Lutron Electronics.”

What commercial interest have you had in the system?

“The Li-1st system has been shipped to a number of organisations with interested parties including top companies in defence, aircraft manufacturing, underwater communications, hazardous environments, telecoms and many more. In fact, due to the high demand, pureLiFi has recently undergone a second production run of the Li-1st system.”

Professor Harald Haas

Professor Harald Haas

What are the challenges that you need to overcome to break into the market?

“There are numerous challenges to such a new technology, including the size of the device for desktop/consumer use, higher data rates and lower power consumption, inertia and maturity within the existing RF industry, addressing the retrofit market, introducing more publicly available implementations of the technology, identifying specific ROI for diverse markets and relevant entities and identifying appropriate price points for various markets, etc. However, none of these aspects is insurmountable. All of these challenges can be solved. The wireless industry was faced with similar obstacles in the early days. Today, wireless connectivity is everywhere.”

How do you aim to overcome these challenges?

“Li-Fi, as with many other technologies, must mature before it is readily available such that the price point, form factor, infrastructure and other aspects are well established. Our product roadmap is designed to match the evolving needs of our customers and track market demand. Active Li-Fi demonstrators are in development and due for completion later in 2014. We are targeting markets and applications where Li-Fi is not competing with traditional RF systems. Indeed, no new communications technology has completely replaced the existing one. Much like 4G complemented 3G, which complemented 2G and Wi-Fi complements mobile connectivity, in the longer-term Li-Fi will complement and augment established RF infrastructure.”

In which markets do you hope and expect to gain success at first?

“Li-Fi is likely to be applied initially in niche areas where existing wireless solutions are not practical. These include underwater communications, electromagnetic sensitive environments such as hospitals and petrochemical plants, businesses requiring highly data-secure environments and many more.”

Will you be working with other partners to bring it to market?

“Yes. The opportunities for technological advancement that Li-Fi offers are unprecedented. In addition, Li-Fi will create fundamental changes to many of the existing business models within a number of different sectors, including the lighting industry and telecoms. pureLiFi is creating an ecosystem of partners from diverse markets to facilitate the development, deployment and distribution of Li-Fi systems which in turn will foster the market growth of this emerging technology.”

Li-1st technology

Li-1st technology

What are pureLiFi’s next steps in further developing this technology?

“Technical development will focus on higher data rates, reduced power consumption and miniaturisation. The fully mobile and networked solution (Li-Flame) will be launched in the second half of this year. It should achieve even better data rates and greater versatility. The company is also establishing a number of technology demonstration projects across the UK with a wide range of partners.”

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PureLiFi technology to deliver “significant security improvements” in fight against cyber crime

A light-based wireless communication network developed by Edinburgh-based mobile communication specialist pureLiFi could become an essential tool for Government and business in combating terrorism and cyber crime.

The pureLiFi system offers a new and secure way of exchanging information over networks, using light rather than radio waves to communicate between devices.

The pureLiFi system offers a new and secure way of exchanging information over networks, using light rather than radio waves to communicate between devices

The pureLiFi system offers a new and secure way of exchanging information over networks, using light rather than radio waves to communicate between devices

The new light-based communication technology, known as Li-Fi, could provide a substantially increased solution to enhance data security for businesses seeking to improve data protection – from Government and defence organisations through to financial, public sector, pharmaceutical or any ‘high data risk’ industries.

Professor Harald Haas, pureLifi’s inventor and Chief Scientific Officer, commented: “Unlike existing wireless systems whose security vulnerabilities have received extensive media coverage in recent months, pureLiFi’s systems are almost impossible to intercept.”

By exploiting specific properties of light, the Li-Fi system prevents both sides of the communications link being intercepted.

Professor Haas continued: “Let us consider what Li-Fi means for the security of public and corporate Internet access. Wi-Fi signals propagate in all directions and pass through walls and all data within range can be recorded. As Li-Fi signals travel in directional beams between an access point and a terminal, and vice versa, a potential interceptor would need to be in the overlapping space of both light beams. Even an unencrypted Li-Fi access point provides better security than Wi-Fi.”

Professor Harald Haas

Professor Harald Haas

He added: “Li-Fi removes the uncertainty of joining a network. In a typical Li-Fi installation, ceiling lights which transmit and receive the data are part of the premises and this creates a chain of accountability for the security of the users’ data. The inherent security advantages of Li-Fi, and the accountability that it offers, provide a supplement to the emerging need for greater data security and responsibility.”

Additional layer of data security

Li-Fi is unlikely to replace Wi-Fi or 4G. Rather, it’s intended to provide a complimentary solution as well as an additional layer of data security and communications for organisations or individuals.

Businesses have already shown great feedback to pureLiFi’s first product, Li-1st. The Li-1st system has been trialled within a number of organisations, with interested sectors including underwater communications, hazardous environments, telecoms, finance, aircraft manufacturing and more.

“In fact, pureLiFi has recently undergone a second production run of the Li-1st system due to the high demand,” explained Professor Haas.

Detail of the Li-1st technology

Detail of the Li-1st technology

Technical development of the pureLiFi system in the coming months will focus on higher data rates, reduced power consumption and miniaturisation. The fully mobile and networked solution (Li-Flame) will be released in the second half of 2014.

The differences between Li-Fi and conventional Wi-Fi at a glance:

* Conventional Wi-Fi travels in all directions

* Li-Fi travels in just one direction

* Conventional Wi-Fi permeates structures including walls

* Li-Fi can only be accessed in rooms/buildings fitted with the necessary technology

* Conventional Wi-Fi allows an attacker to hear both sides of a conversation

* In the unlikely event that an attacker intercepts the Li-Fi signal, he only ‘hears’ one side of the conversation.

Further information on pureLiFi

pureLiFi is a communications technology company formed in 2012, as a spin-out from the University of Edinburgh, to create OEM components, including Li-Fi drivers and receivers.

Visible Light Communication (VLC) is the use of visible light to transmit data wirelessly.

Li-Fi – a term coined by pureLiFi’s Chief Science Officer and ‘father of Li-Fi’, Professor Haas – is a technology based on VLC that provides high speed, bidirectional and full networking capabilities similar to Wi-Fi but with significantly greater spatial reuse of bandwidth.

For more information visit: http://www.purelifi.com

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ISC awarded security contract at Brent Civic Centre: ‘Britain’s Greenest Building’

Integrated Security Consultants (ISC) Ltd has been awarded the contract to provide a range of security services at Brent Civic Centre, the new headquarters of Brent Council (heralded as Britain’s greenest building and managed by Bilfinger Europa Facility Management).

ISC is to supplement Bilfinger Europa’s security operation by providing security teams for the building’s special events, including council receptions and public meetings, as well as an enhanced security presence in the building at key times such as match or concert days at the neighbouring Wembley Complex facilities.

“We’re delighted to have been chosen to support Bilfinger Europa in serving this modern and iconic building,” explained ISC’s managing director Pat Carr. “It presents a number of challenges, including its mix of public and private usage, alongside its close proximity to two of the UK’s busiest sporting and entertainment venues.”

Brent Civic Centre

Brent Civic Centre

Carr added: “We look forward to providing a service that balances the needs of Brent Council, its guests and VIP visitors with those of the general public who use the facilities on a daily basis. This contract represents further diversification in our customer base which, historically, consists of a significant number of entertainment clients.”

Experience in multi-agency communication

Carr believes ISC was chosen because of its experience in multi-agency communication at Wembley Stadium, for which the company also provides integral security services.

“As security partners at Wembley,” said Carr, “we manage the day-to-day needs of a large complex and all the associated challenges, whether that’s for a select few VIP guests attending a corporate function or for 90,000 people on a major event day.”

Speaking about the security partnership, Mike Munro (account director at Bilfinger Europa) commented: “ISC’s breadth of experience, and the fact they already look after iconic buildings in this proximity, demonstrates the company’s expertise in managing diverse security requirements for complex buildings. Its team is extremely customer-facing and experienced in handling a diverse range of customers appropriately. We’re delighted to be working with them.”

About Bilfinger Europa Facility Management

As part of the globally operating engineering and service group Bilfinger SE, Germany, Bilfinger Europa Facility Management is a leading property and infrastructure support services business operating right across the UK.

The company employs over 3,300 staff and boasts a turnover in excess of £180 million. It provides property and support services to businesses and public organisations including the Civil Aviation Authority, the CPS, L’Oreal, BP, Barclays and Alexandra Palace.

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University of St Andrews develops online short course in counter-terrorism studies

An online short course is now available from the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews.

Understandably, terrorism has been one of the fastest-growing areas for study and research over the last few years as security professionals try to define the issues behind the threat.

This internationally revered Terrorism Studies programme is the most popular choice for knowledge-building among military personnel, civil servants, policing professionals, private security organisations, business professionals, first responders and others involved in terrorism prevention and counter-terrorism response.

Understandably, terrorism has been one of the fastest growing areas for study and research over the last few years

Understandably, terrorism has been one of the fastest growing areas for study and research over the last few years

Module options for the Terrorism Studies course are as follows:

Key Issues in International Terrorism
Terrorist Ideologies, Aims, Beliefs and Motivations
Terrorist Modus Operandi
Homeland Security
Radicalisation and De-Radicalisation
International Policing Policy
Intelligence
IEDs: Threats and Countermeasures
Critical Infrastructure Protection
Aviation Terrorism and Security
Maritime Terrorism and Security
CBRN Weapons in Terrorism
Cyberterrorism
Terrorism and Human Rights

Learners can take four modules for the Certificate, eight for the Advanced Certificate or simply begin with a module or two and build to the Certificate or Advanced Certificate over time.

Each module is deigned to be studied over four weeks. However, students are in control of their own study plan and can take a shorter or longer time. Flexibility is built-in to the programme in order to accommodate learners’ other commitments.

Further information on the Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Terrorism Studies

In particular, the University of St Andrews welcomes UK and international military personnel to undertake the course, either using ELC funding (provider 2035), by way of funding through their own service units or using the course for their own personal development purposes.

*For further information contact the University of St Andrews on (tel) +44 (0)20 3377 3210/+1 (646) 957 8929. Lisa Gouveia is the course administrator for both the Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Terrorism Studies

**View the course website and download the prospectus

***If starting this October isn’t a possibility for prospective students, enrolments are also being accepted for February 2015 and June 2015

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BSIA: ‘UK security companies celebrate 20 years of export support’

Security exporters from across the UK gathered alongside key industry stakeholders at IFSEC International to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the British Security Industry Association’s Export Council.

Established in 1994, the BSIA’s Export Council serves as a dedicated forum for relationships between the UK’s security industry and overseas buyers to be founded and cultivated, and acts as an invaluable port of call for overseas-based contacts interested in developing a relationship with a UK company as a partner, customer or distributor.

Celebrations marking the 20th Anniversary of the Export Council took place on the BSIA’s Stand (D1500) at IFSEC International, and featured brief presentations from current Export Council chairman Greg Stuttle (GJD Manufacturing Ltd), as well as founding member of the Export Council Julie Kenny CBE DL (Pyronix) nd UKTI DSO’s senior security advisor and head of business strategy, Simon Everest.

BSIA CEO James Kelly kick-starts celebrations marking the 20th Anniversary of the Trade Association's Export Council

BSIA CEO James Kelly kick-starts celebrations marking the 20th Anniversary of the Trade Association’s Export Council

Speaking at the event, Greg Stuttle welcomed the support of key stakeholders, including BSIA members and the UKTI. “Exporting has become very important to our business and for all those involved in exporting,” said Stuttle. “We receive incredible support from stakeholders, the BSIA and UKTI.”

Reflecting on the progress made by the Export Council over the past 20 years, Julie Kenny CBE DL added: “In the last 20 years, Pyronix has worked together with the BSIA and UKTI to grow exporting within the industry. At the time of the formation of the Export Council, we did not export more than 5% of our annual turnover. That number has now exceeded 40%. For some members, this figure is as high as 70%.”

Commenting on the prosperous relationship between UKTI and the BSIA, Simon Everest explained: “We work closely with the BSIA and exhibitions around the world, and our relationship continues to grow from strength to strength supporting companies to grow their exports all over the world.”

Exporting: important for UK security companies

Visitors to the stand for the celebrations included commercial officers from British Embassies around the world, as well as companies new to exporting, seeking advice and guidance on getting started.

Daren Wood, membership and export services manager at the BSIA, commented: “For BSIA members, exporting became increasingly important throughout the economic downturn. Now that the country enters a period of growth, we expect more and more of our members to be exploring opportunities abroad.”

Wood continued: “UK security suppliers enjoy a favourable reputation in overseas markets for their experience and track record in supplying quality security products and services, and the Export Council continues to help businesses capitalise on this through facilitating contacts with overseas buyers and the organisation of UK Pavilions at trade shows including Intersec Dubai, Security Essen and, of course, IFSEC International and its overseas counterparts.”

In conclusion, Wood stated: “For two decades, the help and assistance offered by the Association’s Export Council has enabled UK security exporters to grow their business on a global scale, and we’re very proud to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.”

For more information on the BSIA’s Export Council visit: http://www.bsia.co.uk/export-council

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Home Secretary Theresa May: ‘UK needs capability to defend its citizens’

The world is a dangerous place and the UK must maintain its capability to defend its citizens in the digital age, Home Secretary Theresa May has stated.

Speaking at the annual Lord Mayor’s Defence and Security Lecture in London, the Home Secretary talked of the threat the country faces, including that from British people returning home from the conflict in Syria.

The Home Secretary said that threat – whether from terrorism or organised crime – is changing fast and, on that basis, the UK needs the capabilities to defend its interests and protect its citizens.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Theresa May stressed it was important to talk about the balance between privacy and security “in the full context of the threats we face” rather than “in a strange vacuum, as if the debate was entirely academic”.

The Home Secretary stated: “The terrorist threats to this country and our interests are changing faster than at any time since 9/11. We continue to face possible attacks by Al Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but we face further threats from Syria and now from Iraq where Al Qaida, ISIL and others have created a safe haven with substantial resources including advanced technology and weapons.”

May continued: “They are on the doorstep of Europe, just a few hours’ flying time from London, and they want to attack us – not just in Syria or Iraq but here in Britain.”

Challenges to be faced

The Home Secretary told the guests at Mansion House that it’s important to be clear about the UK’s capabilities and the challenges faced in maintaining them in a digital age.

“We are living more of our lives online, using an array of new technology,” said May. “This is hugely liberating and a great opportunity for economic growth. However, this technology has become essential not just to the likes of you and me but also to organised criminals and terrorists.”

The Home Secretary added: “Far from having some fictitious mastery over all this technology we, in democratic states, face the significant risk of being caught out by it. Governments have always reserved the power to monitor communications and to collect data about communications when it’s necessary and proportionate to do so. It is much harder now – there is more data, we do not own it and we can no longer always obtain it. I know some people will say ‘hurrah for that’ – but the result is that we are in danger of making the Internet an ungoverned, ungovernable space and a safe haven for terrorism and criminality.”

Loss of capability: the great danger

The Home Secretary described loss of capability as “the great danger we face”. May said: “The real problem is not that we have built an over-mighty state but that the state is finding it harder to fulfil its most basic duty which is to protect the public. That is why I have said before – and I will go on saying – that we need to make changes to the law to maintain the capabilities we require.”

In conclusion, Theresa May explained: “Yes, we have to make sure that the capabilities can only be used with the right authorisation and with appropriate oversight, but this is quite simply a question of life and death. A matter of national security. We must keep on making the case until we get the changes we need.”

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Fight against metal theft boosted by UK Government funding

The crackdown on the illegal trade of metal has been boosted by UK Government funding of £500,000.

The Home Office and Department for Transport have agreed to provide further funding for the National Metal Theft Taskforce. The taskforce develops intelligence, co-ordinates activity and targets and disrupts criminal networks – both the thieves and also the criminal market, including rogue elements of the scrap metal industry.

The funding follows a request from the British Transport Police (which leads the taskforce), and means the Government has invested more than £6 million in the initiative since it was launched in January 2012.

The latest funding, which runs to the end of September this year, will allow the taskforce to continue its hugely successful programme of co-ordinated national days of action.

These targeted operations against unscrupulous scrap metal dealers, in conjunction with police and local agencies, have so far resulted in more than 1,000 arrests for theft and related offences. Police have also seized more than 600 vehicles involved in criminality.

More difficult for thieves to profit from crime

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “The coalition Government has made it harder than ever for metal thieves to prosper. Our £6 million investment in the National Metal Theft Taskforce is reaping rewards.”

The minister continued: “Alongside our reforms to ban cash payments and regulate the scrap metal trade, the taskforce has helped to make it much more difficult for thieves and unscrupulous dealers to profit from crime. This additional Government funding will enable the taskforce to continue its programme of co-ordinated national days of action, which have so far resulted in more than 1,000 arrests and the seizure of hundreds of vehicles involved in criminality.”

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “I am pleased we can continue to fund this nationally important organisation. The potential impact cable theft has on the railways is huge, not least the inconvenience to passengers. Network Rail has to compensate operators for the disruption. This is money that could be better spent on improving the network which is a vital part of our economic plan.”

In conclusion, Baroness Kramer added: “For the last two years the taskforce has had a big impact in reducing the number of cables being stolen. Network Rail continues to report that the trend is in decline, with delays to passengers being at an all-time low.”

Crackdown on the illegal trade of metal

The taskforce forms part of the Government’s programme of work to crack down on the illegal trade of metal, and its activities have been boosted by legislation.

Under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which came into effect in October 2013, scrap metal dealers are now required to hold licences issued by local authorities.

The licences set standards for record keeping and customer verification, and councils may revoke a licence at any time if they believe the dealer is no longer suitable to hold one.

Cash payments for scrap metal have been banned since December 2012.

Statistics published in November 2013 show that UK Government action is working. There was a 40% fall in the number of offences for the three months to the end of March 2013 compared to the three months to the end of June 2012.

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