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The race to make hospitals cybersecure

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As medical centres increasingly come under attack from hackers, Europe is bolstering protection.


Amid the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2021, the Irish healthcare system’s computers were breached by hackers who gained access to patient files and posted hundreds of them online. As a result, the network had to be shut down.

The reverberations were widespread as appointments got cancelled, people’s most sensitive data was stolen and even procedures like CT scans came to a halt. The attack was one of the largest hacks of a healthcare provider in the world.

Mind the gap  

‘At the moment, there is a major gap in the cybersecurity capacities of healthcare,’ said Christos Xenakis, a digital systems professor at the University of Piraeus in Greece. ‘Hospitals need to work properly and protect our data.’

From May 2021 to June 2022, the EU’s cybersecurity agency – ENISA – detected a total of 623 ransomware incidents in Member States similar to the one in Ireland. Healthcare was the fifth most targeted sector of those attacks. 

That in turn has spawned more investment and technological development to secure the industry. Scientists, medical professionals and governments are increasingly taking action to prevent scenarios like the Irish one.

The answer lies not only in better software. Cybersecurity is more often than not about people and changing their behaviour.

That’s one of the conclusions reached by Sabina Magalini, a professor of surgery at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, Italy.

She coordinated an EU-funded project called PANACEA to improve hospital cybersecurity. The initiative ran for 38 months through February 2022. 

Human errors

‘Human error is one of the main cybersecurity risks for hospitals,’ said Magalini. ‘The risk lies with people, which is logical. A hospital isn’t a nuclear power plant and can’t be closed off in the same way.’ 

Hospitals tend to be busy places. Staff need to perform medical duties and, at the same time, work on a variety of computer systems.

Research during PANACEA showed that, during a single day, nurses often had to log in to computer systems more than 80 times.

This is time-consuming and leads to shortcuts, including the same password being used by a group of people or passwords being written down on a piece of paper next to the computer.

In general, the study demonstrated that hospital staff followed cybersecurity precautions poorly and, in the process, left an opening that attackers could exploit.

‘We need to make interactions between healthcare professionals and computers better,’ said Magalini. ‘As a doctor or nurse, you’re treating the patient and using a computer at the same time. It’s hectic.’

Safety precautions

PANACEA came up with ways to make it easier for hospital staff to follow cybersecurity precautions. One example is software ensuring a more secure login system. 

‘The software allows for facial recognition of healthcare workers,’ said Magalini. ‘This would bypass the need for the problems we’re seeing today with passwords.’

The project also experimented with low-tech alternatives. Researchers put up stickers and posters in participating hospitals to nudge healthcare workers into following basic cybersecurity procedures. 

Education also needs to play a role, including for doctors, according to Magalini. 

‘Cybersecurity training should be included in their residency programmes,’ she said.

Easier sharing 

Another EU-funded project, CUREX, facilitated the sharing of health information among hospitals. Xenakis of the University of Piraeus coordinated the project, which ran for 40 months through March 2022. 

‘Health data is the most sensitive data there is,’ he said. ‘Hackers pay more for health data than for credit card information.’

When sending patient information to another health facility, a hospital might not be aware of the extent of the recipient’s cybersecurity arrangements.

CUREX addressed that uncertainty.

The project developed a software that can help detect any vulnerabilities in the security of an outside organisation. The system makes it easier for medical facilities to share information in line with EU data-protection rules.  

‘It’s all about risk assessment,’ said Xenakis. ‘And to do that, you need to know how secure the other organisation is.’

Follow-up work

European researchers and cybersecurity organisations are investing in these types of answers.

As a follow-up to PANACEA and CUREX, the EU is co-funding cybersecurity procurement for hospitals, meeting 50% of the cost of new measures.

So, even while attacks on European hospitals continue on a regular basis, experts see reason for optimism about the future.

‘European cybersecurity providers are rapidly becoming more mature,’ said Xenakis. ‘In turn, hospitals are recognising the necessity to buy new tools and upgrade their security.’

Research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine. 

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Centre for the 4IR Malaysia to Accelerate Green Transition, Digital Transformation

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The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Malaysia (C4IR Malaysia) was officially launched today by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, and the President of the World Economic Forum, Børge Brende.

C4IR Malaysia will play a crucial role in driving the advancement of the digital economy in Malaysia, with a focus on supporting the country’s energy transition and digital transformation. The centre will serve as a public-private platform, bringing together leaders from government, business, civil society, academia and other sectors to advance new partnerships and initiatives that can unlock the value of technology for Malaysia’s economy and society. The centre is hosted by MyDIGITAL, a national initiative aimed at transforming Malaysia into a digitally driven, high-income nation and a regional leader.

This initiative marks a significant milestone in Malaysia’s journey to becoming a global leader in technology governance and innovation. C4IR Malaysia is the first centre in the Asia-Pacific region as part of the World Economic Forum’s global C4IR Network. With this launch, Malaysia has now joined a community of 18 centres, where new and innovative approaches to technology governance, adoption and scaling are being developed and implemented at the national, regional and international levels.

Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said: “Malaysia is honored to be part of the global network of Centres for the Fourth Industrial Revolution with the first Centre for 4IR in Southeast Asia. This is a testament to the critical value of Malaysia’s efforts to become an advanced, digitally-driven, high-income nation and a regional digital economy leader fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and collaborations between stakeholders. The Malaysia Centre for 4IR will further strengthen Malaysia’s human-centered policy towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution and contribute towards our target of entering the Top 20 in the Global Innovation Index. We are confident that a resilience-oriented approach will also improve the nation’s People’s Wellbeing Index score and enhance productivity to create inclusive, balanced, responsible and sustainable economic growth.”

Addressing the leaders at the launch, Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum said: “Malaysia’s leadership in the region and commitment to driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution is commendable. Through the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Malaysia, we are excited to work together with the government, business and civil society leaders to unlock the value of technology for the benefit of all Malaysians. This partnership will not only drive transformation but also help build a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient future for Malaysia and the region.”

Following the official launch, C4IR Malaysia hosted two roundtable discussions to address its thematic priorities, inviting leaders from business, government and other sectors to share key priorities and opportunities for the energy transition and digital transformation. These insights will serve as the foundation for C4IR Malaysia’s core initiatives, informing its strategic planning and programme development.

Fabian Bigar, CEO of MyDIGITAL and Head of Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Malaysia said, “MyDIGITAL team is proud to be entrusted with the responsibility of making Centre for 4IR Malaysia a success in achieving its goals. The establishment of the Centre for 4IR Malaysia aligns with and further fortifies our initiatives to catalyse homegrown technology development by enhancing collaborative opportunities among stakeholders to unlock value in 4IR technologies, with a focus on supporting the country’s energy transition and digital transformation.”

From adoption to transformation to regional leadership, C4IR Malaysia is a critical establishment that will help drive the country’s transition to an advanced digital economy. By joining the global ecosystem of technology governance innovators and leaders, C4IR Malaysia is poised to contribute significantly to Malaysia’s economic and social development in the years to come.

The World Economic Forum’s global C4IR Network is a platform for multistakeholder collaboration, bringing together the public and private sectors to maximize technological benefits to society while minimizing the risks associated with 4IR technologies.

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Graphic Design for Beginners: Tips and Tricks to Get You Started

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Are you a beginner in the world of graphic design? Are you eager to learn the tips and tricks professionals use to create stunning visuals, logos, and websites? Look no further! This blog post is dedicated to helping beginners understand the fundamentals. We will provide helpful advice to improve skills in using such important features as or to start creating works with special software tools. Whether you are a designer, a business owner, or just someone looking to dabble in graphic design, these recommendations will come in handy. So grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive in!

Understand the Basic Principles

Before attempting any design project, it is crucial to grasp the basic principles that underlie successful designs. They include concepts such as:

  • balance;
  • contrast;
  • hierarchy;
  • alignment.

Familiarizing yourself with these principles enables you to effectively create visually appealing compositions and convey your message. There is a wealth of resources online, from tutorials to full-fledged courses, that can help you master these basics.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Whether you are learning to ride a bike or to design visually stunning graphics, practice is the key to improvement. Dedicate time each day to work on your skills, explore new techniques, and experiment with tools and features. Start by replicating existing designs or working on personal projects to train your creative muscles. Eventually, you will develop your own unique style and build a strong foundation in design.

Keep It Simple

One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make is trying to do too much with their work. Remember that less is often better, and keep your creation simple and easy to understand. Avoid using too many colors or fonts, and focus on creating a clear information hierarchy.

Use High-Quality Images

The images you use in your designs can make or break the final product. Make sure to use high-quality ones that are relevant to your message. If you are unsure where to find good variants, there are plenty of stock photo websites that offer free or affordable choices.

Remember about Regular Breaks

Designing can be mentally taxing, so taking breaks and stepping away from your work from time to time is necessary. It can help you return to your design with fresh eyes and a renewed perspective.

Seek Inspiration and Learn from Others

Graphic design is an ever-evolving field, with new trends emerging constantly. Stay inspired and informed by following tailored blogs, joining online communities, and browsing social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.

Learning from other designers can also be incredibly helpful in your journey. Reach out and connect with fellow designers to exchange ideas and share resources. Study the work of others to understand their thought processes and techniques, but always remember to stay true to your own creative vision. You can even seek critiques and feedback from fellow designers to help develop your skills and style. Building connections in the design community can also lead to opportunities for collaboration or even potential job offers.

Build a Portfolio to Showcase Your Work

A strong portfolio demonstrating your best work is essential for securing freelance projects or positions in a design agency. Begin by curating a collection of your favorite personal projects, and over time, replace them with professional work as you gain experience. A well-rounded portfolio should illustrate your versatility in multiple styles, along with your proficiency in various software programs. Put your portfolio on a personal website or on popular design platforms like Dribbble and Behance.

Break the Rules

While it is necessary to understand design basics, do not be afraid to experiment and break the rules. Sometimes the most creative and innovative creations come from pushing the boundaries and trying something completely new.

Closing Thoughts

Graphic design can be a rewarding and exciting career when you are equipped with the right tools and knowledge. With these beginner-friendly tips and tricks, you will be well on your way to establishing yourself as a talented designer. Remember to stay curious, practice frequently, and continuously seek inspiration from the world around you. As your skills grow, so will your passion for creating eye-catching designs that captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression. Happy designing!

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Key Investment in Airport Infrastructure Needed Now to Meet Demand for Hydrogen and Electric Aircraft by 2050

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Hydrogen and electric aircraft could require 600-1,700 terawatt-hours (TWh) of clean energy by 2050, according to a new white paper from the World Economic Forum. For context, the total amount of renewable energy produced in 2021 was just over 8,000 TWh globally.

To meet the estimated energy demand from hydrogen and electric aircraft in 2050 would require the amount of energy produced from 10-25 of the world’s largest wind farms, or a solar farm half the size of Belgium, the paper suggests.

Alternative, carbon-free propulsion options, such as battery and hydrogen-powered aircraft, are some of the options the aviation industry is pursuing to reach its net-zero carbon goals. By some estimates, hydrogen and electric planes could account for 21%-38% of flights by 2050.

“The aviation sector must make key investments in its infrastructure now if it wants to reach its net-zero target by 2050,” said David Hyde, Aerospace Projects Lead, World Economic Forum. “Given that the share of aviation’s global warming impact is set to rise significantly if action is not taken, the sector must consider all the options available for decarbonization. This includes preparing to use aircraft that are powered by carbon-free fuels at scale.”

While the timeline may feel distant, the first commercial flights by such aircraft are expected to take place this decade. Airports, airlines and others will need to make heavy infrastructure investment to deliver the green hydrogen and electricity the aircraft will need.

The white paper, Target True Zero: Delivering the infrastructure for battery- and hydrogen-powered flight, developed in collaboration with McKinsey, explores what these infrastructure changes entail and how airports and other stakeholders can begin to prepare for them. In terms of investment, this research finds that shifting to alternative propulsion will require a capital investment of between $700 billion and $1.7 trillion across the value chain by 2050.

“Ground infrastructure will be an important unlock for battery-electric and hydrogen aircraft as they become available in the next decade as an additional option to make aviation sustainable,” said Robin Riedel, Partner and Co-Leader, McKinsey Center for Future Mobility. “It is important that stakeholders across the value chain, from governments to airports to electricity and hydrogen players to airlines begin planning and investing in it.”

Ten key findings

The report explores multiple areas where expanded infrastructure is needed to prepare for these new aircraft. It identifies 10 key findings for the aviation sector.

1. Global demand for alternative propulsion could require 600-1,700 TWh of clean energy by 2050. This is equivalent to the energy generated by 10-25 of the world’s largest wind farms, or a solar farm half the size of Belgium.

2. Large airports could consume 5-10 times more electricity by 2050 than they do today, to support alternative propulsion.

3. Alternative propulsion will require two new infrastructure value chains – one for battery electric aviation and one for hydrogen – which may include a whole variety of new partners that are not currently part of the aviation ecosystem.

4. Most airports have space for hydrogen liquefaction and storage infrastructure but not enough land to generate all of the clean energy needed to power battery-electric and hydrogen aircraft.

5. Shifting to alternative propulsion will require capital investment of between $700 billion and $1.7 trillion across the value chain by 2050. Approximately 90% of this investment will be for off-airport infrastructure, primarily power generation and hydrogen electrolysis and liquefaction.

6. Investment needed for airport infrastructure will be significantly higher for large airports than for smaller airports but of similar magnitude to other major investments, such as building a new terminal.

7. Costs to operators of alternative propulsion are expected to be around 76-86% over the market price for green electricity – reflecting additional aviation infrastructure operating costs.

8. The investment needed to meet 2050 goals must start now. The first elements of on-airport infrastructure must be in place by 2025 to meet expected energy demand.

9. To harness the power of network effects and regional connectivity, coordination of infrastructure investment will be required to make alternative propulsion operations feasible.

10. The aviation industry will need to partner with other industries to secure enough green electricity and hydrogen in a supply-constrained environment and have a voice in shaping the future of the hydrogen ecosystem.

Investment requirements and pathways

Despite high price tags, the infrastructure investment needed is similar to what airports may spend on similar expansions or upgrades. Investment needed for airport infrastructure will be significantly higher for large airports than for smaller airports but of similar magnitude to other major investments, such as building a new terminal.

The costs for an international hub or major regional airport, for example, would be roughly equivalent to the LaGuardia Airport terminal expansion or about 20% of the cost of London Heathrow’s third runway project. The costs for smaller airports will be much lower as these will not have to support larger aircraft that require more advanced infrastructure.

Given that about 90% of this investment will be for off-airport infrastructure, primarily power generation and hydrogen electrolysis and liquefaction, the aviation sector will need to partner with other industries to support their infrastructure needs. This could include partnering with energy suppliers for green hydrogen and electricity production or partnering with equipment manufacturers for energy storage needs.

Airports can already begin to map the local ecosystem of hydrogen and energy projects to identify specific stakeholders to partner with. To this end, the World Economic Forum is launching the Airports of Tomorrow initiative, convening executives from the airport ecosystem to proactively address their energy, infrastructure and financing needs in the coming decades.

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