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COVID-19 In Context: Short History of World’s Top Crises

Scared by the media and UN calling this the “world’s worst crisis”?

I’ve been asked by our terrified students to put Coronavirus into ‘crisis’ context.

Here goes: 

World War 1 (1914-18) = 20 million killed (Source: Robert Schuman Centre)

Spanish Flu (1918/19) = 60 million killed, 165,000 per day. 221,000 Brits. Quarter of world infected. (Source: Epidemiological Record)

Soviet purges under Stalin (1921-53) = six to 20 million killed (Source: Europe-Asia studies centre)

World War 2 (1939-45) = 85 million killed. This number is a possible underestimation as China’s data is potentially underrated.  3% of world’s population dead. (Source: US Census Bureau and National Museum, New Orleans)

Partition of India (1947) = 1 to 2 million killed. 10-12 million displaced. World’s worst peacetime refugee crisis followed. (Source: Talbot & Singh, 2009)

H2N2 Avian Flu pandemic (1957/8) = One to two million killed globally. (Source: World Health Organization) 

Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) = last minute climb downs by US President Kennedy and USSR leader Nikita Krushchev, averted the world from nuclear war. (Sources: Robert Kennedy and Arthur Schlesinger’s book 13 Days) 

Vietnam War (1963 – 1975) = 1,353,000 killed, overwhelmingly Vietnamese. (Source: US Professor Guenter Lewy)

Uganda (1971-79) = 350,000 killed by despot general Idi Amin. (Source: Alistair Boddy-Evans, biographer to Amin)

Cambodia under Pol Pot (1970-81) = 1.5 to three million killed by General Secretary Pol Pot and his psychotic Khmer Rouge. 25% of Cambodia’s population. (Source: Patrick Hueveline, National Academies Press) 

USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan (1979-89) = 2 million Afghanistan civilians killed, 15,000 Soviet soldiers. (Source: Douglas Borer, London, Cass publications)

Iran/Iraq War (1980-88) = One to two million killed. Several million displaced. (Source: Britannica Encyclopedia)

Ethiopia Famine (1983-85) = One million starvation deaths, millions more displaced in one of the world’s worst ever humanitarian disasters (Source: World Vision)

Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005) = Two million killed, four million displaced (Source: US Committee for Refugees)

Bosnian War (1992-95) = 100,000 to 230,000 killed. Up to 75% Muslims. (Sources: Low-end body count: Office of International Prosecutors at The Hague. High-end: Balkan Analysis Research Documentation Centre.) 

Rwanda’s Civil War (1990-94) = One million+ killed. 800,000 in one month during 1994. (Source: BBC)

Congo Civil War (1998-2008) = 5.4 million killed. One of many Congolese civil wars, virtually unnoticed by the world’s media. (BBC)

South East Asia Tsunami (2004) = 280,000 killed and several millions displaced. Follow-on disease suggests a higher death rate that went unrecorded. (Source: World Bank)

‘Swine’ Flu pandemic (2009) = One million killed. Two pandemics this year. (Source: World Health Organization)

Iraq and Afghanistan Wars post 9/11 (2003-ongoing) = 200,000 to 500,000 directly killed. Estimates of war fatalities from 200,000 up to well beyond 500,000 (Sources: Iraq Body Count Project and Brown University, 2018). The 2003-06 Iraq war killed 650,000 between 2003-06 according to The Lancet Journal. 

Syria Civil War (2011-ongoing) = 380,000 killed. 6.5 million displaced. (Sources: Syria Observatory for Human Rights and UNICEF)

Influenza Outbreak (2014/15) = 28,000 killed in England and Wales (2,400 per month) within wider world flu outbreaks that cost 500,000+ lives, described as a “mildly severe pandemic” by the US CDC. (Sources: Center for Disease Control and Public Health England)

Annual deaths from Heart Disease (2016) = 8.8 million globally, or 27,000 deaths each day (Source: World Health Organization)

Annual deaths from Strokes (2016) = 6.2 million globally, 17,000 deaths per day. (Source: World Health Organization)

Annual deaths from Lung Cancer (2016) = 1.7 million globally, 4,650 deaths per day. (Source: World Health Organization)

Annual deaths from Diabetes (2016) = 1.6 million globally, 4,380 deaths per day. (World Health Organization)

Annual deaths from HIV/AIDS (2016) = 1.4 million globally, 3,835 deaths per day. (World Health Organization.)

Coronavirus (2020) = 54,226 globally since January 2020. Rising at 4-5000 per day. (World Health Organization)

Coronavirus (2020) in the UK = 2,921 across the entire UK since January 2020. Rising at 2-500 per day but thought to be peaking by experts. (World Health Organization)

If a student still asks: “is this virus the worst crisis ever?” 

Well, I’m only a qualified teacher, so I’ll reply: “Take a look at the data. Don’t be lazy! Answer it yourself.”

For the rest of you . . . I hope that this context helps.

Stay safe.

Richard Bingley 

uknsa.org

Follow the Evidence: It’s Bad, But Past Flu Data Tells Us We Are On A March Of Folly

According to Public Health England, 2014/15 was quite a bad year for flu. 

Flu claimed the lives of 28,330 in England and Wales. Circa 32,000 of us when we consider Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Around 2,700 lives per month on average, 100 lives lost per day.

(Sadly, we have lost 2352 and rising, to this awful flu outbreak.)

During the first half 2014/2015 George Osborne delivered a budget, Parliament sat as normal, Chelsea won football’s Premier League, Hull and QPR got relegated. 

And then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson attended and hosted dozens of public events.

Without a face mask.

Without calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to lock down London.

That is not to say, that I feel our Prime Minister Boris Johnson and our Government are doing a poor job. 

For me it will require an independent enquiry far down the line to examine and judge.

But it does mean to say that the UK’s own flu and public health data indicates that we are being sold a rather terrifying, Great-Dane-sized-pup, by many in the mainstream media. 

This is not the Spanish flu pandemic of 1917/18 that killed 50 million (220,000 Brits). Nor does it look anything like the 1957/58 H2N2 outbreak that took two million. 

More sober analysis by independent experts in several European countries, and Canada, explains why in so many countries a much more localized, herding, testing-led approach has occurred. 

For those concerned with rigorous facts and context – rather than more emotional anecdotal media reporting – here’s some official data to consider:

  1. As of this week, tragically, two and a half thousand Brits have passed away during the past two months, due to this previously known flu strain: Coronavirus.
  2. Yet, each year, an average of 17,000 of us – across just England and Wales – succumb to the flu. Yearly data fluctuates wildly. In 2014/15, for example, our influenza death toll was 28,000. In 2018/19 it was just 1,692. (Public Health England.) Flu typically ranges from being the fifth to tenth biggest natural killer in the UK.
  3. Every day, some 1,500 of us Brits will die, period. That’s some 535,000 each year. Nowadays the main cause of death is dementia and Alzheimer disease, taking around 190 deaths per day, 70,000 each year. (UK Office for National Statistics.) 
  4. Heart diseases, strokes and some forms of cancer (led by breast and lung) are our next biggest killers. Combined, they take the lives more than half our daily total. 750+ per 24 hours. (UK Office for National Statistics.)
  5. Car crashes account on average for another seven deaths per day; some 2,200 fatalities annually. 
  6. The United Kingdom is made up of one hundred counties and a population of some 66 million. When we see a death toll of five hundred people per day from a single cause, that is spiking, we are very right to be worried. That’s five of us per county.   

Sorely missing at present, here’s some further contextual thinking:

But . . . Flu pandemics occur every year. It’s just this time you’re being shown it like a sports match in ‘real-time’ by media commentators!

We are basically consuming our daily media intake via the World Health Organization crisis room. 

This, in itself, is deeply unhelpful and causes crisis management tunnel vision.

Because, if we wished, we could simply apply this grotesque, ticker tape-sports-style, live coverage to any number of (more lethal) diseases.

Heart Disease kills 8.8million per annum globally. 6.2m per annum succumb to strokes. Lung Cancers kill 1.7m globally during a calendar year. My math is not great but my calculator tells me that’s 24,000, 17,000 and 4,650 deaths from heart disease, strokes and lung cancer every day.

Where is the mass media’s special bulletins and ticker-tape for these poor souls?

Around the world, the flu takes 250,000 to 600,000 lives each year. So far, this year, we are at 45,000, with this flu.  

What is becoming noticeable that those who have implemented the most ferocious lockdown, including the UK, are suffering at present from higher death tolls that other large countries that have rejected authoritarianism: Germany, Russia, Sweden and South Korea.  

To be clear, the only really useful data sets are fatality data rates. 

The ticker tape counts for positive test numbers are almost completely irrelevant and random; like watching in real time drug tests upon athletes. The more you test, the more cases you’ll find. 

With flu, there tends to be a fatality rate of 0.5 per 100. We can mathematically extrapolate that if some 32,000 UK residents and visitors died of flu during 2014/15, then some 6.4 million of us acquired the flu that year.

During 2020, if we hit this benchmark or worse, then we can conclude that several million of us suffered this flu strain. It would certainly bear out the anecdotal evidence that a sizeable number of friends and family have sadly been infected, but not even a big minority.  

This year’s outbreak certainly is relatively concerning. 

But it isn’t Nazi Germany concerning. Or nuclear disaster concerning. 

Boris’s initial calm response mirrored the science. 

But under media pressure and doomsday ‘adviser’ briefings, he moved to enforce a ‘cure’ of prolonged lockdown, punitive legislation and business closures. 

The very centralised, totalitarian approach that he alleged was preferred by ‘Comrade Corbyn’.

Our lockdown should be relaxed (but probably not entirely abandoned) at his next update, as has been successfully the case in The Netherlands, Sweden, South Korea and other leading liberal market democracies.

Now that we are finally beginning to see some independent science and relative data come through, we will learn that continuing such unforgiving social and economic measures, causes far more harm, than the tiny influenza particles they’re designed to smash. 

Let’s now actually “follow the science.” 

Our own national data tells us to return to work, look after our loved ones, then begin to enjoy our country’s many advantages once more.

Richard Bingley is a multiple book author on security, terrorism and emergency planning, university academic and Director at UKNSA.org. He formerly worked in UK government communications and press liaison roles.

Follow the Evidence: UK’s 2014/15 Flu Outbreaks Dwarf This Year

According to Public Health England, 2014/15 was quite a bad year for flu.

Flu claimed the lives of 28,330 in England and Wales. Circa 32,000 of us when we consider Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Around 2,700 lives per month on average, 100 lives lost per day.

(For context, the sexily titled 2020 ‘Coronavirus’ claimed its one thousandth British life on Sunday. If we lose 300 per day, for the next three months, we’ll still not get to 2014/15 – thankfully.)

During the first half 2014/2015 George Osborne delivered a budget, Parliament sat as normal, Chelsea won football’s Premier League, Hull and QPR got relegated.

And then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson attended and hosted dozens of public events.

Without a face mask.

Without calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to lock down London.

What changed?

This time around, this media-driven shock-and-awe show has been of an unseen magnitude in lazy journalism and emotional hype.

Now, the BBC are beginning to backtrack. They’ve now reported a whole range of independent analysts from Cambridge University and elsewhere under an article titled: ‘How to understand the coronavirus death toll.’

The Beeb’s headline is an anodyne mask: they are basically admitting to one almighty, over-reactive, howler.

But when the public begin to understand official national data, set within a recent historical context, the political kick-back is likely to be ferocious.

Put quite simply, if we do actually “follow the science”, then apply it to our UK setting, our Prime Minister, has probably been sold a Great-Dane-sized ‘pup’.

When we clear this flu peak, our country needs a formal, independent national enquiry.

Why is it news organisations and officials can slip into groupthink that takes us so closely toward social and economic peril?

For those concerned with facts and context – rather than social-media-fueled emotion – here’s some official data to consider:

  1. As of this weekend, tragically, one thousand Brits have passed away during the past two months, due to this previously known flu strain: Coronavirus.
  2. Yet, each year, an average of 17,000 of us – across just England and Wales – succumb to the flu. Yearly data fluctuates wildly. In 2014/15, for example, our influenza death toll was 28,000. In 2018/19 it was just 1,692. (Public Health England.)
  3. Every day, some 1,500 of us Brits will die, period. That’s some 535,000 each year. Nowadays the main cause of death is dementia and Alzheimer disease, taking around 190 deaths per day, 70,000 each year. (UK Office for National Statistics.)
  4. Heart diseases, strokes and some forms of cancer (led by breast and lung) are our next biggest killers. Combined, they take the lives more than half our daily total. 750+ per 24 hours. (UK Office for National Statistics.)
  5. Car crashes account on average for another seven deaths per day; some 2,200 fatalities annually. (More than double recorded 2020 UK Covid flu deaths, so far.)

Where’s the hyperventilating television news presenters and mortality-rate ticker tape for these poor souls?

To give further context . . . flu is typically our tenth worst killer.

No doubt, this year does have potential to be a bad year.

Three weeks ago, Boris was quite right not to “sugar coat” the challenge.

But at present, this particular outbreak is not even looking like the worst ‘flu of the decade’. (Post-crisis stats also have the strong potential to scale down when other underlying causes are discovered.)

In fact, it looks like the now infamous theoretical modelling used by Imperial College London (ICL), projecting (as one of many scenarios) 500,000 deaths, is distinctly off-kilter. (Smacks to me like Saddam’s Nukes being 45 minutes away.)

This ICL modelling has been the data influencer. A numerical plinth used by the media to terrify us.

 

Now, let’s do some hypothetical math.

If we multiply this year’s existing outbreak fatality number by ten, even twenty, this flu pandemic will still only be the UK’s sixth, seventh or eighth most lethal ailment.

Still awful.

Yes, in some cases, preventable.

But not epoch changing. Nor social-bed wetting territory.

Moreover, data from UK ONS and the World Health Organization tells us that only in extreme circumstances is any form of flu, fatal.

For those without pre-existing conditions, it is virtually harmless, existentially speaking.

Likewise, only in highly unusual circumstances is any form of flu fatal for those with pre-existing conditions: asthma, cancer, and so on. Particularly in advanced healthcare systems.  

 

Let’s now broaden things out for a moment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 300,000 to 500,000 deaths everywhere are caused by influenza. As of last weekend, 32,000 deaths since January have been recorded globally.

If we take the UK flu outbreak fatality data of 2014/15 and apply a death rate of 0.5% (circa 32,000 perished from it) then it suggests to us that around 6.4 million Brits (or visitors) actually contracted flu back then (working to experts assumption that 99.5% survive).

If (it’s still an if) the fatality rate of Coronavirus Flu is slightly higher (microbiologists say 0.5 to 1%), then, again, we can calculate that, so far, some 1-2 million have actually contracted CV flu, because 1,000 fatalities occurred. Of course, I appreciate, this fatality rate is likely to rise substantially.

But to repeat: Covid-19 in 2020 appears to be way below 2014/15’s median average of 2,700 monthly deaths.

To be clear, the only known knowns are fatality rates.

The ticker tape counts for positive test numbers are almost completely irrelevant and random; like watching in real time drug tests upon athletes. The more you test, the more cases you’ll find.

This year’s outbreak certainly is relatively concerning.

But it isn’t Nazi Germany concerning. Or nuclear disaster concerning.

There is a very, very high chance that healthy British people do not need to walk about tooled up in Hollywood-esque face masks as if they are skirting a perimeter fence at Chernobyl.

Even if this sad outbreak quadruples or grows fivefold, it simply does not compare, even fractionally, to the infamous Spanish Flu, a century ago.

That post-war beast snuffed out 50 million humans globally and 228,000 Brits.

Remember also that our population was a lot smaller back then. Medical services less resilient, more dispersed. Equipment less advanced. Public information media scarce.

Likewise, the H2N2 avian flu killed 1-2 million during 1957/8. But the world stayed dynamically open. France and President-elect Charles de Gaulle even took the opportunity to open a democratic Fifth Republic.

 

In sum folks:

Flu pandemics occur every year. It’s just this time you’re being shown it like a sports match in ‘real-time’ by media commentators!

We are basically drawing down our daily media intake via the World Health Organisation crisis room. (Like any global institution, the WHO requires nation state funding, has an expansive mindset, and desires institutional importance.)

This global echo-chamber news environment, cheer-led by our UK media, is distinctly unhelpful to understanding what we need to do domestically, here and now.

There is little evidence to suggest this flu outbreak is as lethal as 2014/15.

Even if it is, prior governments never came close to shutting down Britain’s economy and civil liberties.

The best advice is the same NHS advice as before 2020.

Stay at home, keep two metres apart, wash hands religiously, avoid those with other serious medical conditions.

Getting ‘closure’ on a flu strain is physically impossible. (Unless an asteroid hits.)

You can’t shut a flu down like you can somebody’s lifelong business.

Boris’s initial calm response mirrored the science.

But under media pressure and doomsday ‘adviser’ briefings, he moved to enforce a ‘cure’ of prolonged lockdown, punitive legislation and business closures.

The very things that terrified us about ‘Comrade Corbyn’.

Our lockdown should be relaxed (but probably not entirely abandoned) at his next update, as has been successfully the case in The Netherlands, Sweden, South Korea and other leading liberal market democracies.

Now that we are finally beginning to see some independent science and relative data come through, we will learn that continuing such unforgiving social and economic measures, causes far more harm, than the tiny influenza particles they’re designed to smash.

Let’s now actually “follow the science.”

Our own national data tells us to return to work, look after our loved ones, then begin to enjoy our country’s many advantages once more.

 

Richard Bingley is a multiple book author on security, terrorism and emergency planning, university academic and Director at UKNSA.org. He formerly worked in UK government communications and press liaison roles.

Follow the Evidence: Let’s Start Calling It the ‘Flu’ Again

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

The problem Boris Johnson will have in a few months’ time, is that bankrupted voters will be scratching their heads, wondering why they had to sacrifice their livelihoods, their kids’ education, their mental health, over a reasonably standard, international flu outbreak.

Interestingly, for the first time this weekend, the BBC are beginning to backtrack and report a whole range of independent analysts from Cambridge University and elsewhere under an article titled: ‘How to understand the coronavirus death toll.’

The Beeb’s headline is an anodyne mask: they are basically admitting to one almighty, over-reactive, howler.

For when the public begin to understand official national data, set within a recent historical context, the kick-back is likely to be ferocious.

Forget leading us into Iraq or demolishing the UK economy under #ProjectFear.

This media-driven shock-and-awe show has been of an unseen magnitude in lazy journalism and emotional hype.

Not just in the UK, to be fair.

Broadsheets and the BBC, at least, should know better though.

Put quite simply, if we do actually “follow the science”, then apply it to our UK setting, our Prime Minister, has potentially been sold a Great-Dane-sized ‘pup’ thanks to an unmitigated level of British press schadenfreude.

When we clear this flu peak, our country needs a formal, independent national enquiry, into why we have been taken so closely toward social and economic peril.

Since, when we gather impartial evidence, then take a closer examination: there really shouldn’t be many Churchillian ‘crisis hour’ broadcasts, or momentous, freedom-crushing, legislation passed.

For those concerned with facts – rather than social-media-fueled emotion – here’s some data to consider:

  1. As of this weekend, tragically, one thousand Brits have passed away during the past two months, due to this previously known flu strain: Coronavirus.
  2. Yet, each year, an average of 17,000 of us – across just England and Wales – succumb to the flu. Yearly data fluctuates wildly. In 2014/15, for example, our influenza death toll was 28,000. In 2018/19 it was just 1,692. (Public Health England.)
  3. Every day, some 1,500 of us Brits will die, period. That’s some 535,000 each year. Nowadays the main cause of death is dementia and Alzheimer disease, taking around 190 deaths per day, 70,000 each year. (UK Office for National Statistics.)
  4. Heart diseases, strokes and some forms of cancer (led by breast and lung) are our next biggest killers. Combined, they take the lives more than half our daily total. 750+ per 24 hours. (UK Office for National Statistics.)
  5. Car crashes account on average for another seven deaths per day; some 2,200 fatalities annually. (More than double recorded 2020 UK Covid flu deaths, so far.)

Where’s the hyperventilating television news presenters and mortality-rate ticker tape for these poor souls?

To repeat, each year flu and pneumonia tragically wipe out more than 17,000 of us Brits.

To give context . . . flu is typically our tenth worst killer.

No doubt, this year does have potential to be a bad year.

Possibly our worst attack of the flu since 2014/15.

Three weeks ago, Boris was quite right not to “sugar coat” the challenge.

But at present, this particular outbreak is not even looking like the worst ‘flu of the decade’. (Post-crisis stats also have the strong potential to scale down when other underlying causes are discovered.)

In fact, it looks like the now infamous theoretical modelling used by Imperial College London, projecting (as one of many scenarios) 500,000 deaths, is distinctly off-kilter.

(This threat chimes a lot like the ‘theoretical’ 2003 intelligence assessment that Saddam’s nukes were 45 minutes away.)

This modelling has been the data influencer. A numerical plinth that our media, now our government, have used to terrify everybody into a mode of naked, unthinking, instinctive, survivalism.

 

Now, let’s do some hypothetical math.

If we multiply this year’s existing outbreak fatality number by ten, even twenty, this flu pandemic will still only be the UK’s seventh or eighth most lethal ailment.

Still awful.

Yes, in some cases, preventable.

But not epoch changing. Nor social-bed wetting territory.

Moreover, data from UK ONS and the World Health Organization tells us that only in extreme circumstances is any form of flu, fatal.

For those without pre-existing conditions, it is virtually harmless, existentially speaking.

Likewise, only in highly unusual circumstances is any form of flu fatal for those with pre-existing conditions: asthma, cancer, and so on. Particularly in advanced healthcare systems.  

 

Let’s now broaden things out for a moment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 700,000 persons globally have merely tested positive for this 2020 flu outbreak, culminating in, as of tonight, 32,000 deaths since January.

But, let’s recall that each year the WHO estimates that some 300,000 to 500,000 deaths are caused by influenza.

This year’s outbreak certainly, is relatively concerning.

But it isn’t Nazi Germany concerning. Or nuclear disaster concerning.

Healthy British people simply do not need to walk about tooled up in Hollywoodesque face masks as if they are skirting a perimeter fence at Chernobyl.

Police forces simply should not be closing inner-city parks, such as London’s 180-hectare Victoria Park.

Or spending taxpayers’ money on following dog walkers who choose – quite sensibly and considerately – to isolate themselves away from urban areas within our glorious national parks. (Surveillance of terror suspects is surely a better priority, given that we’ve released so many?)

Even if this sad outbreak quadruples or grows fivefold, it simply does not compare, even fractionally, to the infamous Spanish Flu, a century ago.

That post-war beast snuffed out 50 million humans globally and 228,000 Brits.

Remember also that our population was a lot smaller back then. Medical services less resilient, more dispersed. Equipment less advanced. Public information media scarce.

Likewise, the H2N2 avian flu killed 1-2 million during 1957/8. But the world stayed cautiously open. France and President-elect Charles de Gaulle even took the opportunity to open a democratic Fifth Republic.

 

In sum folks:

This Covid-19 flu strain had been watched now for several decades by biologists.

It will recur.

But we can’t and shouldn’t keep going into shutdown mode.

Especially for one as statistically insignificant as this flu now looks.

For you can’t shut a flu down like you can somebody’s lifelong business.

The best advice is the same NHS advice as before 2020.

Stay at home, keep two metres apart, wash hands religiously, avoid those with other serious medical conditions.

Boris’s initial calm response mirrored the science.

But under media pressure and doomsday ‘adviser’ briefings, he moved to enforce a ‘cure’ of prolonged lockdown, punitive legislation and business closures.

This should be relaxed (but probably not entirely abandoned) at his next update, as has been successfully the case in The Netherlands, Sweden, South Korea and other leading liberal market democracies.

Now that we are finally beginning to see some independent science and relative data come through, we will learn that continuing such unforgiving social and economic measures, causes far more harm, than the tiny influenza particles they’re designed to smash.

Let’s therefore now actually follow the science.

Taken in sound perspective, our own national data tells us to return to work, look after our loved ones, then begin to enjoy our country’s many advantages once more.

 

Richard Bingley is a multiple book author on security, terrorism and emergency planning, university academic and Director at UKNSA.org. He formerly worked in UK government communications and press liaison roles.

Do you keep up with your Windows Updates?

Windows systems have long been a target for attackers. One of the most recent of those attacked effects the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and its ability to ensure confidentiality, authentication, integrity, and non-repudiation of data and entities. Neal Zitring, Technical Director of the Cybersecurity Directorate of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) says “This kind of vulnerability may shake our belief in the strength of cryptographic authentication mechanisms and make us question if we can really rely on them.”

The vulnerability, known as CVE-2020-0601, was first discovered and reported by the NSA on 14 January 2020. According to a recent tweet from Brian Krebs, an American journalist best known for his coverage of cybercrime: “Sources say this disclosure from NSA is planned to be the first of many as part of a new initiative at NSA dubbed ‘Turn a New Leaf’ aimed at making more of the agency’s vulnerability research available to major software vendors and ultimately to the public.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) describes in its National Vulnerability Database that CVS-2020-0601 is “A spoofing vulnerability exists in the way Windows CryptoAPI (Crypt32.dll) validates Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) certificates. An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by using a spoofed code-signing certificate to sign a malicious executable, making it appear the file was from a trusted, legitimate source, aka ‘Windows CryptoAPI Spoofing Vulnerability’.” It is also described as a zero-day exploitation meaning that there was no advanced notice that the vulnerability exists.

This vulnerability for would be attackers is a golden opportunity to pose as legitimate user or resource with supporting credentials. If not mitigated, the very fabric of trust on which the internet itself exists would collapse. 

Mitigation is rather simple. Windows Update will automatically download and install the patch for the vulnerability. If Windows is not set to auto update or a stand alone patch is needed it can be downloaded from Microsoft directly at:

https://portal.msrc.microsoft.com/en-US/security-guidance/advisory/CVE-2020-0601

Richard Bingley: A cyber war is on the way


Originally Published at Conservative Home

Richard Bingley is the CEO of the London-based Global Cyber Academy, an independent education organisation dedicated to making technology safer.

Iran’s government often causes incumbent American presidents a headache during election year, although Donald Trump seems immune to diplomatic migraines.  His decisive swoop to eliminate top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani will certainly provoke a response from Tehran. But it might not be in a format we expect or understand.

After all, this was not a clandestine attack by an American secret agency practicing stealth-like ‘plausible deniability’. Rather, it was a highly brazen and visceral public lashing by Trump’s White House.

Iran’s government views herself as being humiliated in her own backyard. Soleimani was viewed domestically as leader (now martyr) who rekindled the military power of Hizbollah in Lebanon and a man who was instrumental in helping Assad’s government in Syria – so far – to defeating Daesh (ISIS).

Yet even among her allies in Asia and The Gulf, Tehran is struggling to drum up much genuine sympathy for – if you believe western media hype – a cartel of uniformed gangsters who, seemingly, operated almost with a carte-blanche licence to kill beyond their own borders.

If any credit is to be had from this sorry episode, it is that the USA didn’t even bother with an ambiguous operation that could be batted away in the United Nations with suppressed smirks, nods and winks which follow ‘plausible deniability’ covert ops.

Tehran therefore has no dilemma to struggle with. Iran will tangibly respond. The only questions remaining are when and how.  This week’s symbolic missile attack of US troop bases in Iraq is highly unlikely to draw a line under this recent escalation from both sides.

Although numerically strong, Iran’s military rank-and-file will be acutely aware that it will, in all likelihood, produce a feeble, disjointed performance on any battlefield.  Moreover, such a bedraggling spectacle – of high-tech machinery pummeling the futile billows of religious-inspired rhetoric – will occur under the full spotlight of 24/7 satellite television and mass digital voyeurism.

Coupled with likely trade sanctions from some Gulf partners, then Russia and China, sitting on their hands, there can only be one short-term winner, if full-scale military confrontation broke out: the United States. Nevertheless, beneath her fighting rhetoric, Tehran’s boisterous government is often clever, agile, highly rational and practices – most of the time – a strong, survivalist, realpolitik.

For a prediction of what’s about to come, we should analyse the life of last week’s target: General Soleimani.
According to some defence journalists and journals, Soleimani was an expert exporter of asymmetric warfare; the types of lethal guerilla operations that can bring great humiliation, and even draw out precautionary fear and retreat, from larger military giants.

Soleimani’s speciality was hybrid and deniable covert operations, which terrorized opponents and sent an intimidating ‘signal’ or projection of power to Iran’s regional adversaries: principally Iraq’s fledgling government, Saudi Arabia, non-Shia of the Lebanon and, of course, Israel.

Hybrid means the mixing up of attack methods; allegedly in the general’s case, utilizing good old traditional ammonium nitrate fueled bombs that can liquidate an apartment block or garrison, but also increasingly deploying advanced technical capabilities: phone intercepts, target espionage and tracking, drone navigation, communications jamming, etc.

The second part of this modus operandi, technical sabotage, is likely to be Tehran’s principle chosen retaliation.
Tehran will know that President Trump is consistent only ever in his dramatic inconsistency. If a bombing campaign is launched against US or allied troops in the Middle East, Trump is likely to strike hard, possibly to the point of driving regime change.

Ringing in his ears will be two presidential scenarios. President Kennedy who noted, that his personal approval ratings rose despite the unsuccessful 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion to topple Fidel Castro. Voters like ‘tough’ and they like ‘action’.

Second, nice guy Jimmy Carter’s attempt to skillfully negotiate the way out of post-revolutionary Iran for seventy trapped US embassy officials in 1979. The debacle lasted 444 days.

Carter’s cerebral, plaintive, attempt failed dismally. Ronald Reagan nailed Carter for his dithering and hand-wringing weakness, to successfully defeat him in 1980, sending the esoteric one-termer back, figuratively, to his Peanut farm in Georgia.

Iran’s government knows all of this. Her President, Hassan Rouhani, was educated as a postgraduate at a Glasgow university and is deeply steeped in security and philosophical strategy. As such, Iran has perhaps one of the most finely tuned asymmetric warfare strategies out there. As with her partly successful nuclear enrichment negotiations with Barack Obama’s White House (and the EU), Tehran thinks that it knows exactly how far to push back at an adversary, or camouflage a glitch, without necessarily provoking a Washingtonian trigger-pull.

Tehran’s retaliation will probably be in the form of escalating cyber attacks upon the USA, its infrastructure and its close allies. Namely, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Dubai Emirate, part of the UAE.

Why?

Because, even though the evidence of a cyber-attack stemming from Iran would be almost incontrovertible to insiders, general public audiences are still susceptible to claims that cyber space is too ambiguous. (Most of us are, thankfully, optimists, unless we see damning proof of something!)

Cyber-attacks are a little like taking a complicated fraud case before a jury. The evidence trail is often too difficult to prove, then the end result is perceivably not lethal. Thus, at present, few countries, if any, have gone to war over a cyber-attack.

However, let’s think back to form. Iran has the capability, in spades. In June 2017 MPs email accounts in the Houses of Parliament were successfully hacked. Initial suspicion fell upon Russia, China and North Korea’s infamous Lazarus cyber-crime group.

But after a four-month investigation, forensic investigators at GCHQ (the UK government’s signals intelligence agency) pointed HMG’s finger squarely at Tehran.

In 2005, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard established a cyber army, most notably attacking Chinese tech firm Baidu in 2009 and also Twitter. World-leading cyber analysts at the Israel Institute for National Security Studies ranked the IRG as the world’s fourth most powerful cyber army by 2013.

Moreover, if (for example) planned troop movements, or traffic planning systems, or hospital systems, power station systems, car GPS systems – many coordinated by automated and unchecked supervisory controls – are breached, then it simply is a fact of life that any decent cyber-attack upon a critical system will cause physical harm to citizens. And lots of us.

It’s worth recalling that North Korea’s cyber-attack using the WannaCry ransomware led to more than one thousand NHS operations being cancelled back in 2017.  Unlike Israelis or Iraqis, we Brits simply do not believe that a devastating cyber attack will happen to us. Nor do we fully understand what the impacts might be.

Therefore, time spent away from television news, updating our antivirus software, subscribing to VPNs, organizing data back-up and storage, and avoiding dodgy URL links that promise enthralling Instagram images, might be the best retaliation by the UK citizen to this unfolding, highly worrying, skirmish.

Boris’s Safer Streets

On December 12, 2019, Boris Johnson’s Conservatives Party was convincingly elected as the UK Government. Please find the attached link from their manifesto commitment to safer streets in the UK. Periodically, the UKNSA will be hosting events to review progress on these very important domestic security commitments.

https://vote.conservatives.com/our-priorities/police

UK PM Speech Promises Investment in Tech Security

My Lord Mayor, My Late Lord Mayor, Your Grace, My Lord Chancellor, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Chief Commoner, ladies and gentlemen, this weekend our country came together to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice.

Gathering around memorials across the length and breadth of the land, people of every faith and background stopped and stood together to remember the sacrifice of a generation.

A sacrifice that touched almost every family and every community – including this one, when in 1915, the then Lord Mayor raised the “Bankers Battalion” of the Royal Fusiliers.

From the stories we have heard, to the names we have read, their memories live on engrained in our national consciousness. And will do so, rightly, for evermore.

We will remember them.

As we do so we should reflect with pride on the progress we have made in the last one hundred years, working together with our partners across the international community, to make the world a safer, better, place to live.

From the formation of NATO to the establishment of the United Nations, we have not just stood up to defend global security, we have forged the international partnerships that maintain it.

In the shadow of Mount Washington, with the world at war for the second time in a generation, the foundations for economic reconstruction were laid. And with the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund the basis for global economic cooperation was set.

As a global trading hub, the United Kingdom has always understood that our prosperity depends on the global rules we uphold and the partnerships we build.

From the world’s first insurance market to the creation of the biggest Islamic finance centre outside the Islamic world, we have not only driven the trade and investment that fuelled unprecedented growth, but helped to shape the institutions and governance that sustains it. Not least, right here in this great City of London.

When we look forward to the next century of progress, we know our security can only be upheld by collective endeavour. We know our prosperity can only be advanced by cooperation across borders. And we know our success as a nation depends not just on a strong economy at home, but our role in the world.

At this Banquet last year, I said we could not turn a blind eye to the threats we faced. That as open economies and free societies we needed to increase our collective resolve to tackle them – most pressingly those threats emanating from Russia.

The past year has tragically proven those threats to be ever more real – not least through the reckless use of a chemical weapon on our own streets by two agents of the Russian intelligence services.

But it has also proven our commitment to respond – exactly as I said we would.

Together with our allies, in response to the attack in Salisbury, we coordinated the largest ever collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers, fundamentally degrading Russian intelligence capability for years to come. And our law enforcement agencies, through painstaking investigations and cooperation with our allies, produced the irrefutable evidence that enabled our Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges against those responsible.

In response to the activities of the GRU in Europe, through the cooperation of western security agencies, the Dutch government were able to prevent and expose Russian attempts to penetrate and undermine the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

In these actions, we have seen the impact of international unity and a collective response to these threats.

We have shown that while the challenge is real, so is the collective resolve of likeminded partners to defend our values, our democracies, and our people.

But, as I also said a year ago, this is not the relationship with Russia we want.

We remain open to a different relationship – one where Russia desists from these attacks that undermine international treaties and international security, and its actions that undermine the territorial integrity of its neighbours – and instead acts together with us to fulfil the common responsibilities we share as permanent members of the UN Security Council. And we hope that the Russian state chooses to take this path. If it does, we will respond in kind.

We will continue to show our willingness to act, as a community of nations, to stand up for the rules around the world.

When the Syrian Regime used chemical weapons on its people again in April, we took military action, together with France and America, reinforcing the global norm against the use of such abhorrent weapons.

As part of a global coalition, we have continued to degrade Daesh in Syria and Iraq to roll-back their so-called caliphate.

And as we seek to protect and advance our common security, it is vital that we and our partners in the international community demonstrate our common adherence to the rule of law.

We have seen this most recently in the terrible murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And as the Foreign Secretary made clear again in his visit to Riyadh today, there must be a transparent and credible investigation and those responsible must be held to account.

And because we know that instability or the erosion of global rules in any part of the world damages our collective security, the UK will continue to increase the depth of our global security partnerships.

We continue to increase our security co-operation in Asia, undertaking our first land exercises with Japan and deploying three Royal Navy ships to work alongside America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan to enforce sanctions against the DPRK and reinforce the maritime security on which all trading nations depend.

And today I am proud to be able to announce the naming of HMS London – one of our eight planned Type 26 Frigates.

As she upholds global stability, she will also bear the name of this great centre of trade and finance, reminding us all of the critical link between global stability and global prosperity.

Just as we must work together to uphold those rules that govern our collective security, we must also show leadership in upholding and shaping the rules that govern the global economy.

We are in a time of unprecedented interconnectedness.

And each barrier to trade that has been taken down has brought tangible benefits to everyday lives. For example, before the elimination of quotas for textiles and clothing under the World Trade Organisation in 2005, British consumers were paying a third more for clothes.

But for nations to open up their markets to others, they need the confidence that everyone will play by the same rules. And today this global system is under real stress.

A damaging trade war with spiralling tariffs is in no-one’s interests. But we must be honest in identifying problems and do more to work together to fix them.

So we need an ambitious and urgent process for reform of the World Trade Organisation.

This includes increasing transparency so countries can see whether rules and commitments are really being honoured – whether on the declaration of subsidies or respect for intellectual property rights. And updating dispute settlement processes to ensure they operate fairly and efficiently.

It also includes promoting trade in services and digital, not just physical goods.

For while services now account for 65 percent of global GDP, recent trade negotiations to deliver more ambitious trade in services have stalled.

And while companies like Amazon and Alibaba have changed the nature of consumer behaviour, the World Trade Organisation has been struggling to remove barriers to e-commerce trade for almost two decades.

So these reforms must ensure the rules themselves remain relevant to the modern economy.

But even as we work to bring the rules up to date, we need to go further.

For we are now living through the most extraordinary technological transformation.

A time when flows of data account for a higher proportion of growth than trade in physical goods.

When Artificial Intelligence could almost double the value of the global digital economy to $23 trillion by 2025.

And when it could increase global GDP by 14 per cent by 2030.

In this new context, our standing in the world – and our ability to retain our position as a global economic hub – will depend not only on the steps we take to innovate at home, but crucially also on the role we play in shaping the rules that will define this new era.

So I am determined that we will lead the way.

At home we will continue to pursue our modern Industrial Strategy: matching the innovation of our world-class scientists and entrepreneurs with growing public investment in research and development and a regulatory environment designed to encourage, not stifle change.

Internationally we will build on our role as an innovator in technology policy and cyber security, and a trusted economic hub between East and West, to position the UK as a pivotal innovation-driven digital economy with global reach and ambitions.

Our new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation will work with partners across the world to advise on the rules and best practice needed to build the best, most trusted, most innovative AI and data ecosystem in the world. An ecosystem that will help build the foundation of public support for the tech economy that is so critical to its future success.

And we will use our influence in organisations like the Internet Governance Forum, meeting in Paris this week, to establish global norms for free and open development of these technologies.

Because this is not just about economics.

It goes to the heart of who we are and the kind of society we want to build.

Being an open democracy means standing up for our values and freedoms whilst protecting intellectual property and safeguarding against those who would abuse or misuse the access to information that technology brings.

So the global rules and norms we need are those that ensure these transformative technologies develop in line with our values and secure the trust of our citizens

And the UK will be at the centre of this global agenda.

So it is clear that both our security and prosperity will depend on the strength of the relationships we build right across the world.

This begins with our long-standing partners with whom we share the same values – including the transatlantic alliance that is the bedrock of our security and prosperity.

And, of course, it includes the new relationship we will forge with our European allies as we leave the European Union.

The negotiations for our departure are now in the endgame. And we are working extremely hard, through the night, to make progress on the remaining issues in the Withdrawal Agreement, which are significant.

Both sides want to reach an agreement.

But what we are negotiating is immensely difficult.

I do not shy away from that.

The Brexit talks are not about me or my personal fortunes. They are about the national interest – and that means making what I believe to be the right choices, not the easy ones.

Overwhelmingly, the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit, and I am determined to deliver for them.

I want them to know that I will not compromise on what people voted for in the referendum.

This will not be an agreement at any cost.

Any deal must ensure we take back control of our laws, borders and money. It must secure the ability to strike new trade deals around the world.

And it must also be a deal that protects jobs, our security and our precious Union.

We will have a new relationship with the EU when we have left. But it will still be a close one.

We will still be neighbours, championing the same values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, underpinned by a rules-based global order.

But as we leave the EU, it is also an opportunity to raise our horizons towards the rest of the world.

Because the economic and demographic balance of the global economy is shifting. And technology is collapsing the distances between markets.

That is why this summer I visited Africa, where I set out a new partnership of shared interest, including using our international development budget to help enable the private sector to deliver the jobs and investment Africa needs.

Such a partnership will not just be in Africa’s interests but also in our own national self-interest. And this is entirely right. For if African countries are able to attract the investment they need, there will be significant global economic opportunities. And they will also be able to mitigate the risks of conflict, instability and mass migration.

And as we look at the coming decades, it is clear our relationships with the high-growth, high-innovation economies of Asia will be increasingly important – not only to our growth, but also to the shape of the global system in the face of technological transformation.

So we will significantly step-up our partnership with Asia, and do so with the confidence of knowing we have an offer they want, just as they have an offer we want.

We are doing so already – as many of you will know better than me.

Trade with China is at record levels. And we are gaining increased access to China’s market and looking to expand our co-operation on services.

We have taken significant steps to deepen our strategic relationship with Japan, collaborating on the Grand Challenges we have both identified as being critical to the future of our economies.

Now we will do more to help British business connect with new opportunities, including as we build a new partnership with the Association of South East Asian Nations.

We will work to secure ambitious trade deals when we leave the EU, including potentially embracing the opportunity to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

We will use our aid budget to work with the private sector to improve regional economic co-operation, trade and connectivity – ensuring this is done in line with international standards across the region.

And we will base this long-term partnership on our shared strengths in innovation.

Because from the UK-Republic of Korea FinTech Bridge to our co-operation with Singapore on cyber security capacity building, this is a region that is home to some of the most advanced, tech-friendly and open economies in the world with huge demand for British innovation, design and quality. And it is a natural partner for the UK in shaping the rules of the future global economy in a way that can support a new era of innovation.

Given the scale of the opportunity, I am pleased to announce that the destination of my first trade mission post-Brexit will be to Asia Pacific next spring.

For I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to accelerate the progress we are making in strengthening relationships across this region.

So tonight, here in this great Guildhall that stands as testament to the pioneering trade and innovation of our forefathers, let us look forward to the future we want to build for our country.

And let us do so with confidence.

Confident that we can secure our place in the world as a global economic hub and once again help write the global rules of the future as we have in the past.

Confident that in this very room we have the unique strengths and ingenuity to forge a global future for our country that is every bit as exciting as anything that has come before.

And confident, that in doing so, together, we can secure our future prosperity, now and for generations to come.

#ProjectThankYou – Police, Blue Lights, Armed Forces and Veterans Get Bulk 40% Fee Reductions for Cyber Sec Diplomas

The UK’s first business Academy for cyber and tech security has launched #ProjectThankYou in a bid to make the UK more cyber resilient.

The London-based Global Cyber Academy, the first in the UK to deliver formal accredited, online Diploma education to working-adult students, begins with its first cohort of UK-based students this October. The Academy will be providing a flat 40% course fee reduction for every single UK Blue Lights or Armed Forces application – including for veterans.

Chief Executive of the Global Cyber Academy, Richard Bingley, said:

“Money is tight for emergency workers, and our armed forces, and for the government too. Yet, the UK economy and infrastructure are now under industrial-scale threats from cyber-criminals and external state-backed harassment. We’ve got a duty as educators to step up and help.”

Mr Bingley added: 

“There’s little point just educating a tiny fraction of the workforce. Our Academy is in a unique position to offer mass accredited education across our entire security and emergency-services base, and that’s exactly what we’re offering to do. 

“The only way to stop industrial-level cyber crime is to introduce industrial-level education, particularly for those who are tasked to defend us. Our Academy is thankfully in a position to give something back and in our own way say a big ‘thank you’ to public servants who help look after us.”

The new Academy came up with the plan after trying to apply to be registered with the UK MOD’s Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCAS) scheme. This would have potentially enabled service personnel to access funding and earn advanced credits for studying the Academy’s programmes. 

“But because our Academy was only formed earlier this year it did not qualify for ELCAS admission,” said Mr Bingley. “We didn’t hit the two-year operating rule” 

“It was a bizarre situation, because certified police investigators, senior qualified academics and international book authors had written and filmed our course content Also, our Diploma programmes are issued by a UK-Ofqual-approved awarding body, therefore they go through tons of formal quality vetting. Yet we couldn’t reach in to our own natural audience. The situation within UK policing is similar where only a selected few receive funded cyber training. So, we all just said ‘forget it’, we set this thing up to help people, and help build a resilient society, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do!”

The Level 3 Diploma (online) in Cyber Security Management and Operations begins on October 9th 2018 and enrols monthly thereafter. Modules include: Threat and Risk; Network Architecture, Communications and Protocols; Mobile Data Risks and IoT; Investigations and Incident Response; Solutions: Future-Proofing your Business; EU GDPR and Data Security 

The Level 4 Diploma (online) in Cyber Security begins on October 16th 2018 and enrols monthly thereafter. Modules include: Threat and Risk; Network Security and Data communications; Databases and Programming; Incident Response, Investigations and Forensics; Security Strategy Laws, Policies and Implementation; Banking and Finance (elective) or Cyber Wars (elective).

A Level 5 Diploma covering Cryptography is available from February 2019 which maps directly into a final year Cyber Security degree programme at a UK University. 

#ProjectThankyou applicants receive a course fee discount of 40% on all Diploma applications up to January 31st 2019.  

Delivery is self-paced and flexible with lots of videos, audio, exercises and real-world formal assessments. “Basically, wherever you are in the world, you can log on and learn,” Mr Bingley said. “We have students based in most of the world’s seven continents,” Bingley added. “Our WhatsApp student chat groups are keeping us awake at night!”

Academic support class workshops are run every other month in London and filmed for those who can’t personally attend. Industry network meetings with policy-makers and key recruiters are held each month in London. 

Will students get a job at the end? A recent study of Chief Information Officers reported a “recruitment crisis” in cyber security. The UK economy now spends an estimated £7bn on cyber security. This figure is approaching £200bn globally. These stats are likely to grow even more exponentially now that EU GDPR is in force. 

“Although no promises can be made, most public sector and business organisations are massively recruiting into cyber and information security roles. Existing security professionals need to be in an educational position to exploit this sea-change,” Mr Bingley said. “The validation of a formal cyber Diploma and close contact with recruiters is really going to help an individual’s market position, for sure.”

Mr Bingley added: 

“These courses provide a pathway for the individual to stay relevant and upskill, and for our country to be much more cyber resilient. In difficult times, this surely is a win-win scenario.” 

Further course details can be found at the Global Cyber Academy website: https://www.globalcyberacademy.com/ 

Any course bookings made via the website should put the code #ProjectThankyou into the application form 

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