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The British Library begins to recover from the largest cyber attack in its history | Culture

The butterfly effect of the largest cyberattack ever suffered by a public library flutters in London, bounces in Melbourne and explodes in Rome. This is what Flavia Marcello, a professor of architectural history at the Swinburne University of Technology, has felt. Marcello is an Australian citizen of Italian descent who is married to a British national and who, like the bears, travels to the capital of the United Kingdom for one month every year to fill herself with knowledge and “hibernate” and digest it for the rest of the year.

This time it has been different, though. “My friends had already warned me about the tragedy at the British Library (BL), so I decided to put aside my subject of study and focus on other topics. Most of the time I have been working in the archives of the Royal Institute of British Architects,” Marcello explains to EL PAÍS.

On October 31, officials at the British public library admitted for the first time that the institution had suffered a devastating computer attack. Its online catalog, with nearly 36 million books and up to 170 million items, including documents and historical objects, had been completely destroyed. The access system for readers and researchers had been rendered unusable.

Extortion attempt

Rhysida, a ransomware group, claimed responsibility for the attack. This group has already carried out similar attacks against educational, health and government institutions. They even managed to hack the Chilean army. The British media has indicated that the amount claimed from the BL was around $760,000.

“A crude attempt at extortion” is how Roly Keating, executive director of the library, defined it in a blogpost. “Our experience of the past two months has highlighted a great paradox for knowledge institutions in the digital age,” wrote Keating. “Our deep commitment to openness, access and discovery means that we fully embrace the amazing possibilities that technology enables; while as custodians of our collections we also face an ever-increasing challenge in keeping our digital heritage safe from attack.”

Aldebrandín de Siena
Illumination of a book by the doctor Aldebrandin of Sienna (13th century), which is part of the collection of the British Library.British Library / Getty Images

The efforts at protection have had little success, the attack evidenced. For almost three months, BL users have not been able to access their digital services, nor have they even been able to use the catalog so that library staff could get them the books they needed. As a result, research and study projects have been placed on hold, due to users’ inability to properly prepare for talks and presentations.

“I am a regular reader, and I need to come often to prepare my talks and classes,” explains William White, a history professor at the University of Hertfordshire who specializes in 17th-century Britain. “With the usual system, you requested the material from the office or from home through the BL website, and they promised to have it ready within a maximum period of 70 minutes,” he says.

Many of these books and documents are precious. The library has reading rooms that can only be accessed with an accredited pass, once all personal belongings have been deposited in a transparent bag to avoid damage or theft.

Only since last Monday has some normality been restored. Users can consult the catalog of works again in the same building, and the BL staff will search for items, but these cannot be ordered for use from outside the premises. And the material archived at the Boston Spa headquarters in Yorkshire (in northern England) cannot yet be requested.

The London library building, in King’s Cross, was in its day the largest construction in terms of volume carried out in the city in the 20th century. It soon proved insufficient, however. The addition of Boston Spa, 200 miles away, alleviated the lack of space. More akin to an Amazon logistics warehouse than a symbolic building, its 746 kilometers of shelves and its robotic system for finding books, documents and objects relieved the pressure that researchers and scholars from all over the world exerted on the British Library.

Italian snipers

Marcello is a specialist in Italian architecture of the country’s fascist period. Her latest obsession is the statue dedicated to the bersaglieri in the Roman square of Porta Pia. Bersagliere means “sharpshooter.” They made up an infantry unit that deployed quickly, rode bicycles and wore wide-brimmed hats with grouse feathers. Worshiped as a symbol of the feat of Italian unification, the dictator Benito Mussolini sponsored this statue that is so beloved by the people of Rome. “Something similar must have happened in Spain with Franco’s monuments, right?” asks this specialist. “It is incredible the number of books and documents on the bersaglieri that the Department of History and Humanities of the BL has got. That’s why I was very interested in coming this year, but I’m almost ready to return to Australia. Do you know that they even keep one of the first copies of the Bersagliere March on hand?” she says, humming the military anthem. “The bad thing is that you have to travel to Boston Spa to see it.”

George Frideric Handel
Beginning of the eleventh scene of the second act of ‘Orlando’ in the manuscript by George Frideric Handel (1732), preserved in the British Library.THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Patent documents, stamps, musical recordings, maps, musical scores, newspapers, magazines, diaries, film scripts, photographs, letters… The BL’s collections are not limited to books. Much of that material had been digitalized for easy access. Today, for the moment, it remains out of the reach of researchers.

The library also houses a Jane Austen desk, a Beethoven tuning fork, one of the first copies of Homer’s Iliad, and the manuscript with lyrics of the Beatles’ Yesterday.

Personal and economic damages

A month after its attack, the Rhysida ransomware group began releasing personal data of BL workers and its users on the dark web, which can only be accessed with specialized browsers, after realizing that the library was refusing to pay the ransom.

Library officials contacted their partners and researchers by email to warn them of the situation. But the damage to the system has been enormous, and it couldn’t even make it easier for users to change their password.

Meanwhile, nearly 20,000 authors, whose works are part of the library’s collection, had been receiving 13 pence each time a user borrowed one of their books, up to a maximum of about $8,400 per year. Payments have been suspended while system repairs continue.

The Financial Times has suggested that the return to normality will cost around £7m ($8.9 million), although the director of the BL has indicated that it is still too early to make that calculation. While online services are slowly returning, the London Metropolitan Police and the National Cyber Security Center are investigating an attack that has significantly damaged the prestige of the institution, and has become a serious warning for public libraries around the world.

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

— Contact us: info@VoiceOfEU.com

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