Security News This Week: Brexit Edition (Hey, at Least Bitcoin Is OK)
It’s hard to think about much beyond Brexit this week—and we’ll get to its sweeping security implications in just a minute—but there was plenty of ado before the UK voted to divorce the EU.
Legal proceedings continue apace for convicted Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht, as prosecutors filed a nearly 200-page argument against an appeal. Meanwhile, if you guessed that the DIY assault rifle community was experiencing an uptick in the wake of Orlando, you were correct. Well done. On the other side of the gun debate, House Democrats staged a sit-in to protest a lengthy Republican blockade against any sort of reform measure votes, and resorted to Periscope to get the word out when the GOP pulled C-SPAN’s plug. In a somewhat lighter move, a Chrome bug makes pirating movies a cinch.
But there was more: Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t break or cover in depth at WIRED, but which deserve your attention nonetheless. In this case, that means the security implication of Brexit, aka, British Exit, aka, Bripocalypse. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted. And stay safe out there.
Experts see this week’s Brexit vote as potentially damaging to the defense industry, in the same way Congress’s 2013 sequester was. The real culprit: Uncertainty. Not only do most major defense firms have offices and businesses based in the UK—whose economic outlook is severely in question—but also the geopolitical framework has just been upended. For an industry that relies heavily on international trade, that’s a serious concern.
It used to be that volatility meant buying gold. It still does, but Bitcoin has crowded into that space as well. With the British pound crumbling, everyone’s favorite cryptocurrency has hit its highest level in two years. That bump isn’t likely to last forever, any more than the precipitous drops in global equity markets will, but provides a new potential maxim for the 21st century economy: When in doubt, blockchain.
When the UK officially disbands from the EU–which won’t happen for anywhere between “a few months” and “two years”—Northern Ireland will find itself in a difficult position. Currently, the EU’s open borders mean travel between Ireland and Northern Ireland is relatively unfettered. Absent that infrastructure, though, border checkpoints may well return, which would have implications both practical and symbolic; they were a mainstay of the Troubles of the late 20th century.
At least the cybersecurity industry doesn’t seem to be fazed; a recent survey of IT security professionals found the majority expected no major difference post-Brexit. After all, the Internet doesn’t care much about borders to begin with.