Next crash could stem from cybercrime, says Lord Darling

Former UK chancellor Alistair Darling has warned that the next global financial crisis could be triggered by cybercrime. In an interview with Business Insider, [1] Darling – now a peer – warns that the preconditions for the next worldwide meltdown will very likely break with tradition and sweep in off the back of technological threats.

“If you look at the causes of the last crisis,” he said, “yes, the banks are stronger – but don’t assume that the next crisis will come from the same place … This is why, rightly, regulators are looking at things like cyberattacks.” Lord Darling used corporate digital networks to illustrate his point, adding: “Never mind attacks, just look at TSB recently, or look at the difficulties British Airways had a year ago. If your systems – on which we now totally depend – go down for any length, what can that do?”

Lord Darling’s warning has arrived one month after the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018 report, [2] which found that more than four in every 10 UK businesses (43%) and almost a fifth of charities (19%) had suffered a cyber breach in the previous 12 months. Just a few weeks later, a survey from cybersecurity experts Tanium [3] revealed that 40% of UK firms feel more exposed to cyberattacks than ever.


Huge train timetables overhaul spawns commuting chaos

A decision by one of the UK’s biggest rail operators to introduce new timetables to four of the country’s busiest franchises all on the same day has sparked fury among commuters. Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) implemented fully rewritten timetables across the Great Northern, Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services on Sunday 21 May – which instantly resulted in swathes of cancellations. The problems then spilled over into the working week, with many commuters registering their displeasure on social media.

GTR described the scheduling overhaul – which affects around 3,000 routes – as a “significant logistical challenge”, and added: “We are introducing the biggest change to rail timetables in a generation and, as we have been informing passengers, we expect some disruption to services in the initial stages. The improvements we are making will lead to a significant boost in capacity with a 13% increase in services across the GTR network immediately.”

However, Twitter-linked travellers were less than enthused with what they could see of the immediate results. A tweet from aspiring passenger Matt Townsend typified commuters’ reactions, saying: “When will this end? Absolutely ridiculous. Fewer trains, worse times – and half of them cancelled, the others delayed or inaccurate board info. Shocking.” [4]


Retail leaders continue to grapple with online challenge

The change-management riddles posed by digital retail have come to the fore in two, different ways this week: while Marks and Spencer has announced extensive store closures to back the growth of its online offering, Tesco has gone the other way by calling time on a large chunk of its web presence. In a BBC interview, [5] M&S boss Steve Rowe explained the thinking behind the firm’s aim to shut 100 branches by 2022 under a radical transformation plan, noting: “The fact is, customer shopping habits are changing – and we’ve said that we believe we’ll have a third of our business online within the next five years.”

Meanwhile, Tesco has announced that it is pulling the plug on its Tesco Direct website, which had sought to establish itself in the non-foods league as a competitor to the likes of Amazon and Argos. According to Tesco, the firm was unable to bring the site into profit, and the brand’s non-food lines will now be sold through its main foods site. The decision has put 500 jobs under threat. Tesco UK retail chief Charles Wilson said: “This decision has been a very difficult one to make, but it is an essential step towards establishing a more sustainable non-food offer and growing our business for the future.” [6]


UK and overseas bosses gloomy over protectionism

Leaders in the UK and around the world are increasingly worried about the impacts of protectionist policies upon their firms’ growth prospects, according to new research from KPMG. [7] In a poll of 150 UK CEOs and 1,150 of their international counterparts, the Big Four auditor discovered significant opposition to the current return to territorialism, with 64% of UK leaders and 55% of those overseas pessimistic about the trend. Their main worry is that prolonged protectionism could lead to a lack of competition, higher consumer costs and sluggish innovation.

KPMG UK chairman Bill Michael said: “Many governments and businesses are still grappling with unforeseen developments, such as Brexit and the rise of economic nationalism, which are having a seismic impact on their decision making.” He added: “We need a connected economy – both internationally and domestically – for Britain to thrive. It must be a priority to increase collaboration between business, government and academia, drive social mobility and unlock the talent British businesses need.”


CEO tops list of jobs most suited to psychopaths

Leading a company is the vocation with the greatest appeal to psychopaths, according to Oxford University researcher Dr Kevin Dutton. [8] Promoting his book The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, Dutton points out that the role of CEO is a natural draw for psychopathic individuals, because it provides a readymade opportunity for them to control and manipulate other people: the activities they most enjoy. In full, Dutton’s Top 10 says that psychopaths are most likely to want to be…

1. CEOs

2. Journalists

3. Media presenters

4. Public servants

5. Police

6. Clergy

7. Salespeople

8. Surgeons

9. Lawyers

10. Chefs

Source references: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

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