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Brexit date could be pushed back by a couple of extra weeks – Leadsom

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LONDON (Reuters) – The date Britain leaves the EU could be pushed back by a couple of weeks to give time for legislation to be approved by lawmakers, the leader of Britain’s lower house of parliament said, the most senior figure to make such a suggestion.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Conservative Party’s leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom arrives at Downing Street in London, Britain, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Britain, the world’s fifth largest economy, is due to leave the European Union on March 29 but Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiated exit deal was rejected by lawmakers, leaving open the possibility of a disorderly Brexit.

Parliament will now vote on a series of amendments on Tuesday with the United Kingdom facing its deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.

“We can get the legislation through and I think we do, in spite of everything, have a very strong relationship with our EU friends and neighbours and I am absolutely certain that if we needed a couple of extra weeks or something then that would be feasible,” Andrea Leadsom told the BBC.

Responding to the idea that this would mean extending the two-year Article 50 negotiation period, Leadsom, who is the organiser of government business in the lower house of parliament, told the BBC:

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that. I think we would want to think carefully about it. But as things stand I do feel that we can get, with the support of both Houses – the House of Commons and the House of Lords – with goodwill and a determination we can still get the legislation through in good time.”

A spokeswoman at May’s No. 10 Downing Street office said the government’s position had not changed.

“We are not considering an extension to article 50 and are committed to doing whatever it takes to have the statute books ready for when we leave the EU on March 29th this year.”

But Brexit continues to divide Britain’s ruling Conservatives.

Leadsom told The Sunday Times that “taking no deal off the table has been used as a thinly veiled attempt to stop Brexit.” However, junior defence minister Tobias Ellwood said a no-deal outcome must be ruled out.

“It is wrong for government and business to invest any more time and money in a no-deal outcome which will make us poorer, weaker and smaller in the eyes of the world,” he was quoted as saying.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Kirsten Donovan and Sandra Maler

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Cloud and IoT cybersecurity threats demand an army of security experts

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By 2022, 1.5 billion devices with cellular connections are expected to be scattered around the world

These devices which form the Internet of Things (IoT) coupled with the adoption of cloud services has the potential to create an even more complex cybersecurity landscape and businesses ought to be prepared.

Even today, as the Internet of Things grows, the attack vectors we face in 2019 are far more different than those we saw even five years ago.

What’s more is that according to specialist security sales executive at T-Systems, Lukas van der Merwe the threats a business faces are more sophisticated and more persistent.

“The development of IoT has seen the advent of a multitude of smart devices that are connected to the Internet, which traditionally ran on closed and secure Operational Technology (OT) networks. This can impact an organisation’s risk profile, as these devices are open to a number of new vulnerabilities,” explains van der Merwe.

“Ultimately, the implications of a cyberattack could range from shutting down a small manufacturing plant to affecting power distribution across half of the country,” he warns.

Despite the rise of these threats, the solution remains somewhat the same – a good IT and security team.

That having been said, the rapid adoption of new technologies coupled with the growing cyber threats means that IT and security teams are struggling to keep up with new developments.

“There is a multitude of platforms, developed by third parties, that are constantly changing and growing, based on consumer demand. These are deployed and adopted by the organisation at a pace that the internal security team cannot keep up with. So, your subject matter expert is no longer a subject matter expert in your environment, because your environment has become so much more complex,” explains deal solutions manager at T-Systems South Africa, Andre Schwan.

The manager says that businesses can no longer rely on one person or a small team to handle cyber threats.

Due to the nature of the landscape a team made up of individuals that are experts in specific fields that can address a multi-cloud, multi-device and IoT environment.

In lieu of this a firm can tap up a security service provider that can assist in this regard. Especially in respect of South Africa, cybersecurity skills may be in short supply so drawing on a provider’s services may be the best option.

“The right partner can provide R&D, broad experience and development across a client’s environments, bringing much deeper capability and security experience at a much lower cost than if the client did it themselves,” Schwan explains.

While a firm may be hesitant to look outside of its walls for help, the rising threats mean that any firm can become a target. Perhaps then it’s time to consider employing the service of a firm made up of cybersecurity experts rather than going at it alone.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

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Facebook lists countries backing the stability of its Libra cryptocurrency

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When Facebook first debuted its new cryptocurrency, Libra, a few months ago, the general reaction was mixed. Most people were hesitant to use “Zuck bucks” if the divisive social media company was behind it, whereas governments raised concerns over stability of the currency and what the endgame was for Facebook.

While we cannot speak for consumers, governments have been poking around under the hood of Libra, with those in the European Union in particular wanting to know more about the cryptocurrency.

To that end Facebook sent a letter to German politician, Fabio De Masi, in a bid to explain how the cryptocurrency is backed and that it will not suffer from the same volatility and instability that Bitcoin and others suffer from.

Having read the letter, published by Der Spiegel, it goes on to list the countries and currencies that will be backing Libra. Perhaps unsurprisingly the United States is the largest backer, with the dollar accounting for 50 percent of its backing. The US is followed by the EU at 18 percent, Japan at 14 percent, Britain at 11 percent and Singapore with seven percent.

As Reuters points out, it is rather telling that the Chinese Yuan has not been listed, with tensions between the US and China potentially scuppering any plans that Facebook has for Libra in Southeast Asian markets.

It’s also interesting to see that no African, South and Central American countries or currencies are backing Libra at this stage.

With Facebook noting that it is a solution designed specifically with the previously unbanked in mind, many of which live in those aforementioned regions, not having backing in those areas may mean a launch in less developed nations is still some ways off for Libra.

Added to this is continued uncertainty in the EU, with French and German officials having already raised issues regarding how a cryptocurrency like Libra could prove destabilising for their economies, not to mention others.

With the cryptocurrency facing heavy scrutiny before it has even been launched, which is still unknown at this stage, it’s clear that Facebook has an uphill battle on its hands with Libra, not to mention whether its intended target audience are even interested in the platform.

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Paypal brings back policy to take percentage of refunds from sellers

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If your business or site routinely uses PayPal to facilitate online payments, you may want to think twice about using the platform.

There hasn’t been a data breach or any kind of security threat of late, but rather a change in policy that will leave many sellers scratching their heads, with the firm noting that it will once again take a percentage of any refunds handled on the platform.

The controversial policy was removed for obvious reasons, but will once again be reinstated, seeing PayPal netting a cool 2.9 percent commission fee from sellers. This fee will be applied across the board as of 11th October this year, even if you’re refunded a customer in full, which essentially means your business will be taking a small loss.

As The Verge reports, PayPal had rolled out this new policy in April, but sellers were none too pleased and voiced their anger over the fees. Now the firm says it has updated its policy, and cites costing structures as the reason for the latest change, as well as it being in line with industry practices.

“Earlier this year, PayPal updated its User Agreement to change our refund policy. In line with industry practice, and according to our updated policy, we do not charge fees to process refunds, but when a seller refunds a transaction to a buyer, the fees originally paid will not be returned to the seller. The policy change is going into effect beginning on October 11, 2019,” an unnamed PayPal spokesperson told The Verge.

It’s unclear if both reasons given are indeed correct, but sellers using PayPal are naturally irritated by the policy change.

“We believe that this policy change is in line with industry practice. We know businesses depend on us and the decision to update our policy was not made lightly. The policy change allows us to align more closely to our cost structure, to the policies of our payments partners and to industry practice,” the spokesperson added.

“We only adjust our policies when we are confident the changes are fair and aligned with the value that our services provide to businesses,” they concluded.

With PayPal arguably being the largest online payment platform globally, this latest policy could well see the company net quite a bit in fees while earning and seemingly ignoring the ire of its seller community.

If it persists with this refund policy, it will be interesting to see if sellers opt to move to a different platform with the festive season around the corner. Either way we should have a better idea of the impact this will have among sellers after 11th October.

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