Hackers target vaccine cold chain distribution network
New research suggests that hackers are escalating attacks on the distribution networks of COVID-19 vaccines. While it does not appear the hackers have targeted a specific vaccine, a campaign tracked by tech giant IBM revealed that the cyber attackers – believed to be acting on behalf of a nation-state – have organized a sophisticated spear-phishing campaign against vaccine cold supply networks.
The hackers have not been identified so far and it is not known whether they have been successful. However, IBM have warned that the campaign has exhibited the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft rather than an attack by cybercriminals.
The campaign supposedly began in September this year when hackers targeted organizations in six countries linked to the Cold Chain Equipment Optimisation Platform (CCEOP) of Gavi, the international vaccine alliance.
The Coronavirus pandemic has significantly altered the cyber threatscape facing organizations and consumers over the past year, with data showing that spear-phishing campaigns have been disproportionately targeting schools and universities since the start of the pandemic. This is the first time that a significant phishing campaign has been used on a global scale to disrupt the progress of the battle with COVID-19.
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Businesses warn of goods shortages as Brexit deadline chaos builds at UK ports
Businesses in the UK have raised concerns over shortages and rising prices due to a surge in containers going through UK ports, as the economy begins to recover and companies try to stockpile ahead of the Brexit deadline.
Shipping costs have quadrupled for some companies, and delays at the UK’s largest port – Felixstowe – are causing vessels to skip the stop altogether, instead unloading their goods at Rotterdam or other European ports. The delays add to the Brexit chaos as the transition period ends on 31st December, with the UK and EU still negotiating a deal. The congestion has been building up for several weeks and has spread from Felixstowe to other major ports.
Retailers are concerned they are struggling to import goods, partly due to congestion that was caused by a backlog of 11,000 containers of PPE ordered by the government. The issue of port delays was raised with government ministers a month ago.
John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders’ Merchants’ Federation said that the government is supportive but not much of an improvement has been seen since. The closer it gets to Brexit day, any additional pressure put on the ports and the affect it’ll have on the smooth flow of goods is a concern, particularly if there is no deal.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the building trade for example faces tariffs of up to 10%, and further price increase as well if the pound Stirling falls against other currencies. Other industries such as vehicle manufacturing are expected to be more severely impacted by port delays and rising costs.
The flow of trade out of the UK is expected to experience severe delays, the worst-case scenario predicted by the government being queues of 7,000 lorries in Kent. It is forecasted that UK firms will face an additional £7.5bn administrative costs, even with a deal.
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Volvo’s VNR electric launches advanced technology trucks
The Swedish manufacturer, which sells under the Volvo and Mack truck brands in North America, wants to shift its entire product range to vehicles that are zero-emissions or powered by renewable resources like hydrotreated vegetable oil fossil-free by 2040. Volvo Trucks’ production of electric Class 8 trucks at its main factory in Virginia shows how regulatory and business trends will transform the trucking industry.
Volvo’s move toward building and selling electric trucks in the US is an important market signal, according to Bill Van Amburg, executive vice president of Calstart, a nonprofit clean transportation industry consortium.
Globally, a growing body of environmental regulations, low-emission zones and company sustainability goals, combined with an improving operational cost equation, are launching a long-term transition toward alternatively fueled commercial vehicles. Volvo and other manufacturers are beginning to redirect capital from internal combustion engine development to zero-emission electric powertrains, coupled to either a battery pack or hydrogen fuel cell stack.
There is likely to be a continuing shift away from investment in combustion engine technology and manufacturing, with only minimal levels of investment to be expected to keep plants operational, or to allow the development of technologies that support future engine emission standards.
Volvo is targeting its VNR Electric at customers who have an operating range of approximately 150 miles. It is already in pilot programs, hauling goods back and forth from Southern California’s port complex to inland distribution centers. The VNR has 264-kWh lithium-ion batteries, which charge up to 80% within 70 minutes. The electric powertrain is rated at 455 horsepower and generates up to 4,051 pound-feet of torque. The Volvo VNR Electric uses a two-speed Volvo I-Shift transmission and it needs a very low gear to start the truck into motion.
The truck maker will finance both the lease and the purchase of the VNR Electric, which includes the funds needed to build charging infrastructure. It also offers a contract that includes scheduled and preventative maintenance, towing and vehicle repair.
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