IP EXPO is a busy hub for everything in IT – from established technologies to brand new innovations. Held over two days at ExCeL London, IP EXPO is one of Europe’s top IT events, drawing some of the best speakers in the business.
Fasthosts attended this year offering CloudNX demos (and free t-shirts) to delegates who got to see first-hand how quickly a server matching specific requirements can be set up. We also had an Oculus Rift up for grabs (congratulations to Sam Adams) and a big bowl of Haribo, both of which were of great interest.
While PaaS and containers were certainly a theme, and there was certainly a lot of GDPR talk, there were a few surprises.
Professor Brian Cox OBE
With many arriving early to get a good seat in a packed house, the UK’s best known physicist, Professor Brian Cox, was certainly a pull. Learning about how IT and physics collide first thing in the morning after just one coffee is no easy task, however Brian educated with ease while the audience tapped away at their smartphones capturing snaps and tweets.
The fascinating lecture was full of head-spinning facts, such as ‘in one second the earth moves 18km, so a ball bounced cannot return to the same place’, and answered questions like ‘can I see objects so far away, that I see them at the Big Bang?’ (apparently you almost can). We were then shown how quantum theory fits alongside computing with illustrations of neurons being fired at a screen through slits, and a brief lesson in how quantum computers convert years into seconds. It may have been a tenuous connection to the event theme, but it didn’t really matter; we were all mesmerised by the subject and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the delivery.
AI, IoT and the Bloodhound Supersonic Car
Both AI and IoT were the hot abbreviations of the event (along with GDPR). However, this talk drew the crowd’s interest as speaker Ian Sharp, Lead Data Scientist at Oracle, had a genuine interest in ‘inspiring the next generation to get involved in science and technology’. With several school programmes and a supersonic record-breaking vehicle, Ian described the ‘ripple effect of interest across school children’ to understand the many avenues a career in IT can offer.
The car is set to run at 1,000mph through the Namibian desert next year (the previous record in 1997 achieved 690mph). Ian explained how they applied machine learning to the build, with an output also available on the dashboard, initially via Raspberry Pi, and now via an Intel router. They receive data visualisation for fuel leakage and offer predictions based on breaking speed. Keeping with the ‘make everything interesting’ ethos, Ian works with NASA on data analytics, writes open source note books and shares scripts targeting A Level age students to inspire a new generation of creative IT professionals.
Being human: a cyber security issue
Security remains a concern as tech develops and new bugs and hoaxes find their way into systems. However, there’s one particular threat which appears to be on the increase: the human being.
From several talks it was made clear that with any business’ internal complexities of devices and people, the easiest way to bypass systems is by tricking someone. And now it has developed to incorporate both a digital and a far more personal, intrusive approach. Where we once received messages from dodgy email addresses asking us to send money to someone we’d never heard of in Nigeria, we now receive emails from ‘colleagues’ asking if we enjoyed Game of Thrones last night, and requesting funds be sent to a ‘supplier’.
Our profiles are publicly available on sites like LinkedIn, and fraudsters know where we work and who we work with. Eavesdropping (both digitally and in person) helps the fraudster compose a convincing email. Whether we’re talking about football in the pub on Friday night, or last night’s Bake Off in a coffee shop at lunchtime, this can all make for seemingly genuine content bait.
At the talk, we were warned about the ‘invisible employee’ going about their day while popping thumb drives into the backs of machines to gather data. Even Santander and Barclays were susceptible to this. Other cases illustrated included a video screen in a board room unknowingly streaming live images and converting speech to text by some handy malware, before sending the content of business dealings to the criminal, in some cases for insider trading.
Another case included a fraudster targeting a junior member of a financial team in a large corporation. The fraudster posed, via a very convincing email, as the Chief Executive authorising payment. The audience heard how Ryanair lost £5m and Leoni lost €40m, after an office junior sent payment to a Chinese bank account. With speakers from a range of companies, and a comedian who lost everything following identity theft, delegates were reminded to be vigilant. This means carefully considering the people we’ve already given our information to, or who could gain access to our data – from colleagues to cleaners and security guards – and always checking USB points on our devices. That is, until we have AI assistants to do it all for us, of course.
These topics only cover some of the key moments from IP EXPO. There were still more suprises and interesting panel debates during the course of the two days. It was also a great way to speak to delegates about the benefits of Root Servers, Managed Stacks and Applications. Live demos went down extremely well, with the speed of deploying a new project impressing attendees in particualr. Visit the Fasthosts website for more information on our CloudNX platform.
IP EXPO 2018 is already on a countdown, will you be attending?