UK Government harnesses Google and Apple tech to tackle COVID 19

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The UK government has announced that it has officially changed the framework style of its coronavirus app tracing model and has since shifted to tech provided by Apple and Google.

The Apple-Google design has been promoted as being privacy-focused, which is key to ensuring compliance to the public.

At the Downing Street briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested the original plan might have worked had it not been for Apple’s restrictions on third-party apps’ use of Bluetooth.

“Apple software prevents iPhones being used effectively for contact tracing unless you’re using Apple’s own technology,” he said.

“Our app won’t work because Apple won’t change that system… and their app can’t measure distance well enough to a standard that we are satisfied with.What matters is what works. Because what works will save lives.”

In response to the UK government’s use of its software to its arsenal, Google has revealed that theri company and Apple developed an app interface that was built for others to program rather than a fully-fledged app itself.

“We have developed an Exposure Notification API with Apple based on consultation with public health experts around the world, including in the UK, to ensure that our efforts are useful to authorities as they build their own apps to limit the spread of Covid-19, while ensuring privacy and security are central to the design,” added a spokeswoman.

Paul Farrington, EMEA CTO at Veracode added “It’s great to see the government take initiative in launching online cybersecurity courses to shape the next generation of cyber security talent. Given the current technology skills shortage, especially in security, this is a big step in the right direction. In addition to educating teenagers on cracking codes, analysing and dissecting digital trails, application security and secure coding practices should be considered in the course categories.”

Time will tell if the app will be able to help the spread of the virus but the Apple-Google model carries the process out on the handsets themselves, making it more difficult for the authorities or hackers to infiltrate the records and use them for other means, so it is the most secure option for now.

Paul continues:

“As digital transformation is accelerating and modern threats are evolving. One of the most stark observations is that there are only five undergraduate computer science degrees that are certified by the UK’s NCSC for cybersecurity content. This means new professionals enter the workforce without sufficient knowledge of what secure software looks like, or how to perform application security testing during the build. We know from our Veracode State of Software Security research that 83% of apps have at least one security flaw on the initial scan. There’s no shortage of security flaws to be fixed in the applications we use every day. It is therefore essential for teenagers to begin learning skills in application testing and secure coding, which will help improve the security posture of organizations across the country over time as we grow this workforce.”

Time will tell if the app will be able to help the spread of the virus but the Apple-Google model carries the process out on the handsets themselves, making it more difficult for the authorities or hackers to infiltrate the records and use them for other means, so it is the most secure option for now.

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