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Flush with cash: UK utility Southern Water names 13 winners who’ll drink up £50m application deal



IBM, Tata Consultancy Services, and Wipro are among 13 winners on a £50m deal to help build and manage applications for UK utility Southern Water.

The £878m-turnover infrastructure company, which provides water services across southern England from Hampshire to Kent, named the vendors as a pool of pre-qualified service providers to build, operate, and transfer applications.

The winners fall into five lots: digital services such as application lifecycle management development; consulting, software development, internet and support; management of assets and geographic information systems; operational technology and telemetry services; and enterprise information management.

Oracle and SAP make up the basis of the utility’s main application estate.

Southern Water has already signed up with MTI Technology (snaffled by Ricoh), a Brit IT services biz, in a £15m contract to provide professional and managed services for data centre modernisation, data protection, and security in what was described as a digital transformation. MTI was also to host business applications, including SAP, Microsoft Exchange, and Oracle databases.

The utility firm, which provides water to 2.6 million customers and wastewater services to more than 4.7 million homes, has a long-running relationship with IT services and outsourcing firm Capita, which it extended for five years in 2018 in a deal worth £30m.

A consortium of investors calling itself Greensands Holdings Limited own Southern Water, with the biggest shareholder being JP Morgan [PDF, see page 8].

Where there’s water, there’s phishing, apparently

A cyberattack led to the shutdown of some Southern Water systems in February last year. An employee had inadvertently opened an attachment in an email purporting to be from the company’s CEO with a subject of “Coronavirus”, a source said. The insider told The Register that networks including the system responsible for Supervision, Control, and Data Acquisition (SCADA) were affected.

The company has also struggled with its business data. In June 2019, Southern Water was hit by £126m [PDF] in penalties from the regulator Ofwat for breaching its statutory duties on sewage treatment, including the “deliberate misreporting” of data, and the dumping of untreated effluent into beaches, rivers, and streams.

The fine illustrates the broader management challenges any IT transformation will be required to support. Ofwat said: “We have… concluded that [Southern Water] has failed: to have adequate systems of planning, governance and internal controls in place to be able to manage its wastewater treatment works [and] to accurately report information about the performance of these works.” ®

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Your data is your future. So why trust it to yesterday’s technology?



Promo 2020 was an impactful year for file storage. Almost overnight, companies were forced to rethink how they manage, access, and derive value from data, casting a bright light on the advantages of cloud-based technologies. After navigating unforeseen business challenges, including ransomware attacks, remote work environments, and more, it is time to discover how to apply those lessons learned.

A broader shift to the cloud coupled with an explosion of unstructured data is driving an increasing realization that managing and extracting value from your data is critical to digital transformation. There’s also the fear that disruption and downtime can seriously imperil your company’s future, whether that’s due to creaking traditional file infrastructures or ever more aggressive attacks from ransomware extortionists and other criminals.

Which is why you should register – for free – for Nasuni CloudBound21, a global online event being hosted by Nasuni, a leading provider of cloud file storage. Nasuni CloudBound21 is dedicated to providing IT leaders with the resources and practical skills required for their organization to thrive in today’s world of modern file storage.

Nasuni CloudBound21 runs from September 28 to 30 with a jam-packed agenda including powerful keynote speakers, innovative sessions, and networking opportunities designed to equip attendees with tangible takeaways during a time zone that best matches your availability.

Learn from peers, industry experts, and Nasuni customers alike as they share practical insights, real-world case studies, and best practices.

Naturally, you’ll get up to speed on the latest technology and thinking in data protection, file backup, ransomware, and cloud-based solutions, courtesy of Nasuni, which services companies such as Pernod Ricard, SDL, and Vossing. You’ll also hear how your file storage strategy underpins and interacts with other key issues, such as digital transformation, cloud migration, and the cloud ecosystem. Each day features four hours of content, meaning you can benefit from all this knowledge, and still get on with your day job.

You’ll learn how you can potentially realize massive cost savings on your file management and storage. And you’ll hear from real world companies who have done just that. Plus, you’ll get exclusive updates on upcoming Nasuni features.

The challenges of managing your corporate data are not going to go away. But by heading here and registering for Nasuni CloudBound21 you’ll be better equipped to tackle them head on.

Sponsored by Nasuni

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Financial Ombudsman Service to ditch tech heads as it open arms to Workday and outside service provider



The UK’s consumer guardian for the financial services sector looks set to chop 38 jobs from its IT department in favour of buying Workday cloud-based HR and hiring an external service provider to support its compute plans.

Just week ago, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) launched a tender for an IT services partner capable of supporting and developing its new data warehouse and CRM systems in a deal that could be worth up to £22m. It is also set to go live in September on Workday’s SaaS finance and HR system under a £6m, five-year contract awarded in November 2020.

In a communication to the IT department – seen by The Reg – CIO Nicola Wadham said the “organisation change journey” was not over, and the team would “need to respond to changes the technology roadmap brings”.

The CIO plans to move some roles from the IT department, including some vacant positions. As a result, 38 people could be at risk of redundancy. Meanwhile, 17 new roles were set to be created to support the new structure, the missive added.

A spokesman of the Ombudsman told us that only said seven roles would be affected as part of the move to Workday.

He refused to comment on the further potential job losses at the organisation, whether team members would be able to apply for the new roles, or whether they would get a chance to do so before the organisation accepted external applicants.

“The Financial Ombudsman Service is moving to a new IT system to improve our HR and finance functions as part of our work to ensure we remain an efficient and cost-effective organisation. This change involves retiring legacy HR and finance systems. We are now consulting staff affected by this process and will continue to work with staff and their representatives going forward,” he said.

Under the ongoing tender, the winning IT services business is set to provide ongoing support, maintenance and development of the ombudsman’s new cloud-based enterprise data warehouse. Currently being built on Microsoft Azure data platform tech, including Synapse, the analytics and BI platform was due to go live in the first quarter of 2022. This deadline appears to have slipped by a few months.

That cloud data warehouse is set to replace the current on-premises system built on Microsoft SQL Server, SAP Data Services and BusinessObjects, the analytics and reporting system SAP bought in 2007.

The new data warehouse system needs to be ready for September 2021, when Workday is scheduled to go live, according to a tender notice.

“The Enterprise Datawarehouse must be in place for the Workday feed by [September] as Workday is an important source of data,” a market notice published in January said.

With redundancies in the air, the ombudsman might be about to find out exactly how much goodwill is needed to meet complex interdependent deadlines. ®

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VPN-encryption: Definition and Main Features



Description: VPN encryption is a godsend for some people. But have you ever wondered how VPN encryption actually works? This article will provide the notion and features of VPN encryption

What VPN Encryption Means?

Let’s begin with the most important thing – the notion of VPN encryption. So, encryption is when a user can convert information and/or data from a readable form to an encoded format. It is converted to an unreadable form utilizing an algorithm. The intended encrypted form can be decoded just with a suitable decryption key. You may wonder how encryption works with a VPN. In its turn, VPN encryption is described as a method of coding data in plain text (like your internet traffic) so that everyone else cannot read it. Especially those who are trying to control you (like your internet service provider).

A Virtual Private Network guarantees that the network activity of users will be known just for these users. VPN operates as a home private network. The information and files shared through a particular VPN are protected and preserved separate from the rest of the Internet.

Importance of VPN Encryption

Many users had a question: how secure is VPN encryption? We have an answer to this issue. VPN encryption helps protect confidential data from cybercriminals. These can include the numbers of your credit cards, information about your bank account, and account passwords. Scammers will lose the possibility to follow on your online connection, for example, when using public Wi-Fi. Moreover, VPN encryption ensures that the government, ISP, and advertisers have no control over your online activities. All you need to do is to turn on the VPN. You can find many free VPN apps on the Internet and pick up the most suitable for you.

How VPN Encryption Works?

This is the process of securing data by tunneling among the VPN user and the server. VPN encryption allows you to hide your data on the Internet from prying eyes and hands. Simply put, when you turn on the VPN user and join the server, your queries are encoded before being transmitted to the server. They are then decrypted by the server and sent to the open Internet. The requested data received in response is encrypted again on the server, which then forwards it to your device. The VPN client decrypts the data on your device, and you can view it.

However, to better understand how VPN encryption in particular works, you need to keep the following in mind:

  • Encryption Keys;
  • Encryption algorithms;
  • VPN cipher types;
  • VPN encryption protocols;
  • TLS-handshake;
  • HMAC authentication;
  • Perfect forward secrecy.

Encryption Keys: What Do They Mean?

An encryption key of a VPN is a random line of bits utilized to encode and decode data. Every key is unique. The length of the key is measured in bits – as a rule. If the key is really long, it will have a high encryption level. Reliable app VPN will use only long keys. The size of the encryption keys can vary greatly. For instance, a 1-bit key allows just two feasible combinations; a 256-bit key allows many combinations in total. For example, the mightiest supercomputers will take many quadrillion years just to figure out a 128-bit key.

The encryption/decryption process uses several types of keys. They are private and public keys. These keys are mathematically connected because any information encrypted with the public key can just be decoded with the associated private key. In addition, the public key is usually in the public domain, while the private key (as its name suggests) keeps private and is known only to the owner of this key.

Encryption Algorithms: Main Types

Typically, algorithms usually are divided into several categories:

  • Symmetric encryption. This algorithm is based on identical Public and Private keys. Hence, this algorithm is regarded as the fastest. For instance, the AES encryption cipher refers to symmetric encryption.
  • Asymmetric encryption. This algorithm type (likewise regarded as public-key cryptography) utilizes various keys for procedures of encoding and decoding. While this can be comfortable, it is likewise very perilous, as a closed one cannot be restored if it is lost. The RSA protocol (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) is a good instance for asymmetric encryption.

VPN Encryption Types

A cipher refers to an algorithm that is used to perform the procedure of encoding and decoding. In contradistinction to keys, which in fact cannot be hacked, ciphers have their own flaws that allow them to hack the encryption. Fortunately, this type of problem with security can be simply shunned by utilizing a complicated cipher along with a powerful key. Remember that the name of the VPN encryption cipher is usually indicated along with the key length. Next, we’ll cover the main types of ciphers commonly used by VPN applications.

AES cipher

This cipher has 128-bit, 192-bit, and 256-bit keys. It is really widespread among VPN clients because of its NIST certification. Another interesting fact is that the government of the USA likewise utilizes this cipher. Some VPNs use particularly strong encryption. For example, Military-level Encryption. Military-grade encryption means AES-256 encryption. Moreover, VeePN VPN for Windows uses its own encryption protocol AES-256. This is an extra reason to download this VPN for the desktop.

Blowfish Cipher

Blowfish usually assumes a 64-bit key. While this is a fairly secure cipher, many internet users doubt it. Bruce Schneier, the creator of this cipher, didn’t patent the algorithm. Therefore, it can be used by anyone for free. The developer made an odd comment about Blowfish in a 2007 interview: “However, I’m amazed that it’s still popular today.”

Twofish Cipher

Twofish is the successor to Blowfish. The basic distinction is that Twofish possesses a 128-bit key instead of a 64-bit like Blowfish has. This means that it is not as susceptible to attacks. Bruce Schneier likewise advises utilizing Twofish instead of Blowfish.

3DES Cipher

This cipher is likewise regarded as TDEA/Triple DEA. It is more dilatory than Blowfish and just maintains 56-bit, 112-bit, and 168-bit keys. Moreover, like Blowfish, it maintains a 64-bit key. This makes it vulnerable to attacks. It is also important to consider that this cipher has been officially withdrawn from circulation. It will be banned from use after 2023.


MPPE cipher refers to Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption. This cipher is usually utilized for dial-up modem connections. It maintains 40-bit, 56-bit, and 128-bit keys.


RSA is an algorithm that can be utilized for safe online communication. However, most VPN services only use RSA to establish a connection because the cipher is comparatively dilatory. Generally, because of this, RSA is usually not used to directly encrypt user data. It’s worth mentioning that a 1024-bit RSA key is no longer regarded as safe, and security specialists recommend utilizing 2048-bit or 4096-bit keys.

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Gartner dumps IBM from 2021 enterprise backup’n’recovery MQ leader corner



IBM has been demoted from Leader to Challenger in Gartner’s 2021 Enterprise Backup and Recovery Magic Quadrant – the only leading 2020 supplier to be so treated.

The MQ positions suppliers in a four-box 2D space, defined by an ability to execute on the vertical axis and completeness of vision on the horizontal axis. The four boxes are Leaders, Challengers, Niche Players, and Visionaries, with the bottom left to top right diagonal representing a balance between the two axis qualities. Here’s the latest MQ:

Gartner Storage and Backup July 2021

Click to enlarge

Here is last year’s equivalent MQ:

Gartner Storage and Backup July 2020

Click to enlarge

Last year’s edition of the MQ shows seven leaders: Veeam, Commvault, Veritas, Dell, IBM, Rubrik and Cohesity. Only IBM has been demoted from the Leaders box this year, while both Rubrik and Cohesity move up in the box. Gartner’s MQ report points out that IBM’s Spectrum Protect suite does not integrate with Azure native snapshot APIs. Further, backup of Google Cloud Platform environments, AWS RDS, Azure Managed SQL, and others is not supported. 

IBM depends on third-party vendors to backup Microsoft SharePoint, 365 Exchange Online, some NoSQL databases, Nutanix AHV VMs, and others. The Spectrum Protect suite also trails other leaders in its ability to provide proactive issue discovery through AI and automated incident management and response.

Gartner Enterprise Backup Table 2021

Tabulated list of changes from 2020 enterprise backup and recovery MQ to the 2021 edition. Click to enlarge

The other Challenger supplier, Arcserve, has been promoted from last year’s Niche Players box. This is despite Arcserve not responding to Gartner’s requests for supplemental information. The Gartner analysts based their ranking on publicly available Arcserve literature.

New supplier MicroFocus enters the Niche Players box. Zerto, which has diversified into backup and recovery from its disaster recovery capabilities, is a new entrant in the Niche Players box. SaaS backup supplier Druva is the third new entrant, and is placed in the Visionaries box.

Cohesity was quick off the blocks with a statement about this MQ. Since last year it has introduced backup as a service, recovery and protection from ransomware, and automated disaster recovery.

CMO Lynn Lucas said: “We believe being named a Leader in this report speaks to Cohesity’s success in delivering next-gen data management, which starts with helping organisations protect their data and rapidly recover from ransomware attacks – critically important in today’s world. Couple that with the ability to easily backup, recover, and manage data across a host of use cases – in the data centre, edge, cloud, or through as a service – all on one platform. That is radical simplicity at its best.”

Poor IBM. It hasn’t invested enough in adding new capabilities to the Spectrum Protect suite and has fallen behind the competition in the Leaders Box. ®

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