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HSE hackers ‘most probably’ located in Moscow, says Russia’s top cybersecurity tycoon

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Hackers in Russia who target foreign firms and critical infrastructure such as Ireland’s health service will enjoy impunity until the West works more closely on the issue with Moscow, according to the head of Russia’s top cybersecurity firm.

Before speaking at a conference on cybercrime in Dublin on Thursday, Eugene Kaspersky also denied that his company has links to Russia’s powerful security services, despite it being blacklisted by the US and British governments over fears that its products could be exploited by intelligence agencies in Moscow.

Kaspersky said his experts were quick to assist Ireland via Interpol when the HSE was hit by a major ransomware attack in May, and within three days pinpointing “the internet provider that the bad guys were using in Moscow”.

“We don’t have their names. We’re not the police so we can’t go to the internet provider and ask who is behind these IP addresses,” Kaspersky told The Irish Times at the headquarters of Kaspersky Lab overlooking the Moscow canal.

The Moscow headquarters of cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, founded in 1997, which via Interpol helped Ireland respond to the HSE ransomware attack in May. Photograph: Daniel McLaughlin
The Moscow headquarters of cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, founded in 1997, which via Interpol helped Ireland respond to the HSE ransomware attack in May. Photograph: Daniel McLaughlin

“But we have everything for the Russian cyberpolice if they call us about the case. And we shared all this information with Interpol, of course.”

That call is unlikely to come, however, due to an almost complete breakdown of co-operation between Moscow and the West in the political and security fields, which Kaspersky says makes Russia a “paradise” for cybercriminals.

Shadowy deal

Yet he puts this down to a combination of legal issues and poor relations for which the West and the Kremlin are both to blame, rather than any shadowy deal by which Russia’s security services shield – and sometimes deploy – the country’s hackers as long as they only attack foreign targets.

“It’s not an agreement, it’s the law. It’s about all crime, not just cybercrime – if the crime is done abroad, then the Russian police don’t have any reason to start an investigation,” he said.

If the US asks Russia for help in such cases, Kaspersky said there is “no response”.

“And it’s the same the opposite way. If Russia asks the United States or the UK to do something with suspects, nothing happens. There are win-win situations and this is lose-lose,” he added.

“What I heard from law enforcement and people working with law enforcement is that this co-operation is completely broken, and it is not [only] Russia’s fault – it’s both sides’ fault. So in Russia, for cybercrime, it’s a paradise.”

US president
Joe Biden has repeatedly urged Russian counterpart
Vladimir Putin to tackle the issue, apparently without success

Kaspersky said the HSE hackers were “most probably” located in Moscow at the time of the attack, and described Russia as a “major source” of cybercrime, where hackers who attacked foreign targets were “safe, absolutely, at the moment.”

“But if Russia and the [United] States agree about more close co-operation, they will not be safe. It must be solved on the top,” he added, referring to the political leadership of both countries.

Many analysts believe the Kremlin views Russian cybercrime against foreign firms and governments as a useful card to hold in talks with the West.

US president Joe Biden has repeatedly urged Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to tackle the issue, apparently without success, and at a summit in June he gave him a list of 16 infrastructure sectors that should be “off-limits” to hackers, including energy and water supply and the health, election and banking systems.

In 2017 the US banned government departments from using Kaspersky Lab software over fears it could enable Russian spying and threaten national security.

Warning

The UK’s national cybersecurity centre told government agencies the same year not to use anti-virus products from Kaspersky Lab and other Russian firms, in a warning issued by its then director Ciaran Martin, who is also expected to attend the Irish Reporting and Information Security Service conference at the Aviva Stadium.

The company, which has offices in more than 30 countries and declared revenue of $704 million (€622 million) for 2020, insists it is not subject to sweeping rules that oblige Russian communication firms to save data on users’ activity for six months, and it assures customers outside Russia that their data is stored in Switzerland.

Kaspersky denies that the firm he co-founded in 1997, a decade after graduating from a KGB technical university, has moved closer to the Russian security services in recent years, particularly after the brief kidnapping of his son in 2011.

“When you talk about pressure from [security officials], I think it’s mostly the same in the States, the UK and many other nations. In some less, and some like China are even more strict. But the government coming and asking [us] to do something wrong? I don’t believe in this scenario, because it would be seen,” he said.

So in front of your smart devices, just don’t do something that you don’t want to be seen tomorrow on
YouTube

Kaspersky (56) also brushes off strong claims from opposition politicians that electronic voting in September’s Russian parliamentary elections was massively rigged in Moscow to hand victory to ruling-party candidates, using a system that incorporated Kaspersky block-chain technology.

“A couple of our engineers were there. They didn’t see everything, but I know others with more information there and I trust them…I don’t have any indicator that something was wrong.”

Kaspersky expects state regulation of the internet to increase globally in the coming years, in response to fears over the security of critical infrastructure and the vast amounts of personal data now in digital storage.

‘Less freedom’

“I believe there will be more and more regulation and less and less freedom, not just in Russia and China but in the States and the rest of world…There will be much more data collected about you, even very private data, to make your life easier. Do you want to choose privacy or comfort?” said Kaspersky, who has anti-drone systems made by his firm standing by his desk and on the roof of the building.

“So in front of your smart devices, just don’t do something that you don’t want to be seen tomorrow on YouTube, ” he advised.

“Do I like it? Do you like this weather? It’s reality. I can’t change it.”

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Barings and HBD secure planning for London logistics scheme (GB)

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Barings and HBD have secured detailed planning for a strategic logistics scheme in Rainham, London, transforming a 20-acre brownfield site. The new development, Momentum London, is being delivered by Barings and HBD in a joint venture partnership. It will create 381,814ft² of new logistics and industrial space across four units ranging from 41,000 -171,000ft².

 

The scheme will target Net Zero Carbon, BREEAM “Excellent” and an EPC “A+” rating. This is being achieved by dynamic design, careful consideration of materials, zero use of fossil fuels, maximizing photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and intelligent building systems. The units will be 100% EV ready, including passive fleet charging to the yards.

 

The logistics park will be set in landscaped environment with picnic and public areas, as well as direct access onto the Thames Cycle Path, so that it brings further social benefits to the area. Positioned on the River Thames, with potential for jetty access, Momentum will offer an easy stepping stone into Central London and out via the A13, just minutes away.

 

Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: Momentum London will be a strategically located logistics scheme with strong environmental and social credentials, beneficial both to future occupiers and the communities around it. Logistics is one of Barings’ preferred investment sectors and Momentum London exemplifies the kind of developments we’re seeking, with a keen interest in exploring joint ventures like this one with HBD.”

 

Simon Quine, Senior Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Industrial and logistics space remains in very limited supply across London, particularly larger distribution units. Momentum will plug that gap within the M25 and provide modern, sustainable logistics and distribution space to serve London and the wider South East market. Landscaping and wellness have been thoroughly considered, with careful design considerations and enhancements to the Thames Foot and Cycle path, which we hope will help occupiers to attract and retain staff.”

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

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Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is also half-price at £22.

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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