How vulnerable is your data?

Is a loss of data caused by a breakdown in physical security any less damaging than a loss caused by a breakdown in cyber security? With all the emphasis on cyber security, physical security has taken a back seat. The purpose of this article is to discuss vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and present easily implemented mitigation.

We will not discuss what a hacker or terrorist can do once inside a data closet. Needless to say, you don’t want those people on the inside of your facility. Understand that if a hacker or terrorist is in your data closet, he or she is already inside your firewall. Data closet doors are often not opened or checked for weeks or even months. These intruders may never be detected.


Inspection story

Let’s review some of the issues related to the physical security of data. Finding a data closet is a very simple matter. Walk down any hallway in a business complex and listen. The noise from the fans used to cool the data switches is a dead giveaway, this is a data closet door.

Recently I had completed an inspection of a data closet. When walking away from the closet, the click of the door closing did not sound right to me. The door had recently been secured with a new badge entry system. As I checked the installation, I noticed the gap between the door edge and the jamb was too wide. I was able to open the door in 1.6 seconds with a piece of plastic, sometimes called the “credit card door-opening trick”.

Become familiar with the proper action of a dead latch on a door lock. Improper installation of the lock on the door mentioned above is what allowed the 1.6-second defeat of the door lock. An internet search as simple as “dead latch not working” will produce an ample list on how to mitigate this vulnerability.


Key control deficiencies

Mechanical key control is probably the most common known weakness of physical security. If a “Grand Master” key is lost and then found years later, it can still open all the locks. Another weakness of mechanical keys is any key can be duplicated. An audited list of keys and keyholders is not a “guarantee” of who has every key. Even “high security” or “patented” keys can be defeated.

At another building I found an unlocked door. I was able to remove the lock cylinder with a power screwdriver in about 17 seconds. When maintenance or security finds a missing cylinder, they may dismiss the issue with “people will steal anything”, replace the missing cylinder and never give it another thought. With that cylinder and a rudimentary knowledge of locks, even the grand master key can be reverse engineered. With a few tools, a block of metal and enough time, a grand master “key” can be handmade, giving access to every door.

A cell phone camera may be the biggest threat to mechanical keys. Because of specifications in manufacturing, a photograph of a key will reveal the depths of the cuts used for a key to open a door. With that information, and a basic knowledge of locks, anyone can handmake a key to your door. Even easier is a key-making service. Visit on the internet.


Key control remediation

One solution to mechanical keys is to eliminate them with just badge access. However, this may not be practical for a hospital. If a data closet goes down taking the badge reader down at the same time, it may become a “life safety” issue if patient monitoring and electronic records are affected. Other institutions may have similar issues with dire consequences if a failed badge reader is the only access to the data closet.

Another solution to mechanical keys is an electronic key system. Several exist, including those manufactured by Medeco and ASSA-Abloy. A desirable feature of electronic keys is that each key has a limited life, from 1 day to 365 days. Before the key expires, the user needs to plug the key into a “refresh station”. The electronic key program provides an audit of where the key has been used. The key then receives a new schedule of where it may be used and a new expiration date. If a key is lost or an employee is terminated, that key can be “blacklisted” very quickly, preventing further use. The user can also be required to use a PIN to refresh his or her key, thus preventing a found key from being used by an unauthorised user.


Door hardware

Heavy duty steel door frames should be a requirement for secure areas, including data closets. Doors should be heavy duty solid core. A door closer is mandatory. Security doors need to close automatically. The door closer should swing the door completely closed so the latch and dead latch engage the strike plate properly. Door locks should be “storeroom” function that stays locked 100% of the time, and require a key or badge swipe every time the door is opened.

For locks with a mortis or rim cylinder, a security ring designed to spin while not allowing pliers or a pipe wrench to collapse around the cylinder, should be used. Pliers can grab the outer rim of a cylinder and force the cylinder to turn and be removed. A mortice cylinder is held in place with a set screw which can be forced or bent allowing the cylinder to be removed. At that point a finger can be inserted into the lock and can usually operate the locking mechanism quite easily, opening the door.


Badge access

Within most badge-access software is a “door propped open” feature. If a door is held open for more than a predetermined length of time, the system will alarm. Security can be dispatched to investigate and ensure the door is properly closed. Another feature in most badge access software is a “forced door alarm”. If the door opens any other way than a normal badge swipe, such as a door being kicked or forced open with a crow-bar, the system will alarm.


Security cameras

Additional security can be achieved with a motion activated camera and two-way voice capability. For each entry into a data closet, require that a work order be in place. Security, once alerted to motion, can view the person entering the closet and require them to show the work permit to the camera. If no permit can be produced, security can be dispatched to escort them from the building.



Question the manufacturers of the hardware used to physically protect your data areas as well as the actual components of your network. Have the printed circuits being used been tested against Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)? Some feel this is a real and imminent threat. Consider this in your business continuity plans.

These suggestions are by no means comprehensive and cannot guarantee that no one will be able to get in your data closet. The goal is: “Harden the target”. Implementing these and other suggestions may harden your data areas enough that a hacker or terrorist who might have been intent on getting physically inside your firewall, will be discouraged and try some other business or location. It is far better to keep that hacker out than to clean up the mess later.

To learn more on the topic of physical data security, and the wider topic of cybersecurity, please see the latest findings from ISACA’s State Of Cybersecurity Report (Part II), and the agenda for the EuroCACS/CSX 2019 conference occurring 16th-18th October in Switzerland.



Carbon Lundgren, CISA, brings a unique perspective to securing IT assets that carry your data. With a background of 50 years in physical security, his career has now taken him to the position of lead security specialist for a world-renowned health care company with over 600 data areas to secure. Carbon has been heard to say, “I have a criminal mind”. Using the criminal mindset, Carbon has developed a best practices protocol that is becoming widely accepted by industry and governments. Some of the skills Carbon has learned is lock picking, and that of a professional safe-cracker. These skills directly relate to establishing physical barriers that will prevent hackers and terrorists from beginning their attacks inside the firewall. Carbon’s knowledge directly relates to several areas of COBIT: Appendix A: Mapping Pain Points to COBIT Processes and NIST: Table D-1: Mapping Access Control Requirements to Security Controls.

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DIO: Commercial Transformation in Defence Infrastructure 

Defence Online takes a look at the progress Defence Infrastructure Organisation Commercial Director Jacqui Rock is making in realising her vision to create and sustain a competitive market in the defence facilities management, construction and property advisory sectors. 

Jacqui Rock took up her role as Commercial Director at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) in December 2017; she is responsible for putting in place and maintaining the commercial and procurement strategy and management control systems necessary to manage all commercial commitments made by DIO, as well as personally negotiating and awarding the largest of the agency’s contracts.  

Ms Rock recently delivered a progress update on commercial transformation following last year’s launch of DIO’s Commercial Strategy, which outlined the steps to be taken to make it easier for the supply chain to engage with the organisation.  The strategy contains five guiding principles to support the delivery of DIO’s vision and outlines how the organisation will improve to better serve its customers and work with suppliers.  

These principles  We will be easier to do business with; We will work faster and smarter for our customers; We will have a broader and more diverse supply base; We will engage meaningfully with our stakeholders; and We will focus on value, not price: or the ‘We wills’  define the vision for the commercial strategy, and already significant progress has been made in their delivery.  

On the first  We will be easier to do business with  Ms Rock explained: “I met with our supplier base and asked how it feels to do business with defence and with DIO. By gaining this understanding, I was able to put a programme in place to make sure that we are consistent, proportionate and transparent with how that end-to-end process works.    

“We want to be open and transparent in procurement. This is going to increase our choice of suppliers and I absolutely believe we can reduce the cost of business because of the bidding activity.”   

It is envisaged that a new category-led strategic environment will also improve engagement with suppliers. All the strategic decisions across the MOD estate are done by categories – such as Hard FM, Soft FM, Construction, PFI and Utilities. 

“I have introduced commercial category managers from the private sector to come in with that industry expertise to work in DIO and work with the Front Line Commands in order to deliver our estate.”   

We will work faster and smarter for our customers centres on early engagement, not just with the Front Line Commands but also with suppliers. Ms Rock says it’s about looking strategically and collaboratively at longer-term plans and putting those business cases at the front of the process. To facilitate this, a new cost and price analysis capability is to be introduced by 2020, which Ms Rock envisages will increase DIO’s price data capability.  

Greater strategic collaboration across government will also help to deliver a more considered approach to the publishing of the larger frameworks. 

Ms Rock noted: “We are now able to work strategically with suppliers and ensure we are all connected. One of the important things about that is that, for the first time, we as a government can now be very aware of the impact we have on the market.   

“There have been times when I’ve launched very large procurements at the same time as the Health or Justice departments – in the same industries and in the same arena. This collaborative approach means we now have a much more strategic outlook.”   

The principle of We will have a broader and more diverse supply base is all about SME engagement and reaping the rewards that this brings.  

Ms Rock explained: “It is one of my key objectives to increase the diversification in the supplier base. It’s about delivering a range of services and the different innovation that it brings to defence. With a more diverse supplier base we will increase the value to taxpayers and growth by generating true competition and opportunity that is unhindered by a supplier’s size and experience with DIO.” 

DIO’s shift from a contracts administration business to a valueadded commercial function with Front Line Commands and suppliers is at the forefront of We will engage meaningfully with our stakeholders.  

“It is our job as commercial experts to bring innovation and new ideas in partnership with our suppliers into our stakeholders. When it comes to procurement, I want to exploit technology to make that process as streamlined and as automated as possible. This would allow us to focus a lot more on adding strategic value up-front and carrying out effective contract management, said Ms Rock.  

In the past, procurement was focused on cost and driving down the price. We will focus on value, not price sets out to change this mentality.  

Ms Rock explained: I committed to change and to modernise the way DIO procures, and feedback would indicate that our suppliers are now starting to feel this difference.   

“The way we manage the tender process is changing. There will be a lot more site visits, a significant number of workshops at framework level and lots of face-to-face senior executive meetings.    

“The key message is we are changing how we procure and the award criteria to increase focus on collaboration and behaviours.”   

DIO followed up its Commercial Strategy with the release of its Procurement Plan, outlining its strategy on construction and infrastructure. This marks the first time the organisation has outlined its priorities to existing and potential suppliers.  

Ms Rock commented: “It’s the first time that DIO and MOD have been so visible and transparent about a five-year infrastructure strategy. It literally lays out everything we are going to be doing.  

“Suppliers can select from these hundreds of procurements and projects the ones they are interested in. It gives suppliers the chance to strategically plan and decide what to pitch and bid for.”  

Ms Rock is also keen to highlight the opportunities available to suppliers through the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme. The 25-year strategy was published in 2016 to optimise the defence estate and meet future military requirements.  

The defence estate currently accounts for approximately 1.8% of the UK’s land mass, with over 40% of the estate being over 50 years old. Managing an ageing estate of this size diminishes the MOD’s capability to support the future needs of the UK Armed Forces or, indeed, to represent the best value for the taxpayer. By creating a smaller more focused estate, investment can be directed to enduring sites to meet military requirements and increase prosperity for the surrounding communities. 

The £4 billion committed by the programme to developing the defence estate will create and sustain jobs in the construction industry, while the release of sites that the MOD no longer needs provides opportunities for a wide range of commercial uses, creating regeneration, business growth and local jobs. 

Ms Rock concluded: “The MOD estate is the same size and scale as it was after the Second World War. It’s just a fact that it is too large.    

“We have a commitment that we will reduce that estate by 30% over the next ten years and that is going to be very significant. It’s not all about disposals, it’s about obviously reinvesting that money to upgrade the estate and create innovation.  

“The opportunities for suppliers to get involved on the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme are vast. It touches construction, disposals, new builds, family accommodations – it touches everything.”  

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Transforming the MoD’s defence’s digital capability

The Ministry of Defence recently released its Digital and Information Technologies Strategy, which sets out its plan to effectively exploit information and systems vital to defence. We take a look at the strategy’s scope and implementation. 

The role of the Digital and Information Technologies (D&IT) function is to harness the potential of new technology and, in close partnership with colleagues across defence, to deliver capabilities and new ways of working that match the increasing speed at which the world is moving.  

With an estimated £37 billion to be spent over the next ten years, the opportunities provided by emerging digital technologies will continue to drive up demand. Making the most of these opportunities will require new levels of teamwork across the function and the whole of defence. It also drives the need for clear strategic intent, prioritisation and efficient use of resources. 

The Ministry of Defence’s D&IT strategy outlines how the function will exploit the benefits of emerging digital capability, how it will undertake that journey and how the function will work across defence to achieve these ambitions. 

The MOD has taken some big steps in recent years in successfully updating its outdated IT systems and introducing the industrystandard Office 365 suite. It now plans to continue these efforts to enable users to exploit new ICT services and tools as they are introduced. 

The strategy is based on three critical principles – to provide cohesion through consistent architecture, standards and management processes; integration by means of digital services and products that connect, integrate and share data by default; and speed and adaptability by meeting user needs quickly, improving services wherever possible. 

It is envisaged these principles will generate significant improvements in a number of key strategic areas. These include digitising the battlespace; responsive cyber defence; promoting information-led wider business transformation; and improvements in efficiency and cohesion. 

Responsible for ensuring the strategy’s implementation is Charles Forte, Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the MOD. As Function Owner he will direct future D&IT design, investment and operation across the Department. 

He explained“Defence has an ambition to put modern digital capability at the heart of how it operates to create winning advantage. This is driven by an underpinning premise that emerging digital technologies together with the effective capture, analysis and use of information will enable transformative military and business performance.” 

The strategy explains that the need to keep pace with adversaries who are rapidly expanding their information capabilities is critical; and that if the UK is to sustain a competitive response, it will have to accelerate its ability to access and deploy game-changing technologies. 

It highlights four challenges to be overcome to meet this requirement: 

  • There is a clear requirement for data to be easy to access, exploit and defend through the implementation of a common technical architecture and IT operation standards. 
  • Expectations should be met in terms of providing a defence-wide IT operating environment supporting simple, standardised processes to service defence needs, at a satisfactory speed. 
  • As with most government departments, there is an expectation that expenditure will be minimised where possible.   
  • There is also a need to work as an aligned function to a common strategy, allowing users to experience the speed and agility of service that they need and to benefit from the latest cuttingedge technologies. 

While measures are already being taken to address these challenges, the MOD recognises there is a need for a step change and views the strategy as an essential step in meeting these challenges. 

Mr Forte continued“This strategy outlines our approach to ensure that we can realise this ambition and fully exploit the opportunities afforded by the transformative nature of emerging digital capability. 

“To do this requires a bold mindset that challenges the way we operate and recognises that success requires fundamental change and will not be achieved by just doing the same things better. Meeting the needs of defence in the future hyper-connected digital society will require a cohesive and joined-up function; the efficiencies and effectiveness we seek lie in building digital and information capability that integrates across existing internal and external boundaries in defence. 

“By creating new levels of teamwork, we can create value-based outcomes that achieve better performance and competitive advantage over our adversaries for each individual part of defence.” 

The strategy will be followed by the D&IT function plan, which will set out in more detail the KPIs and measures of success for meeting these objectives. 

Not all these will be directly measurable, as the effect of this strategy will reach across every part of the Department in the capability, effectiveness and efficiency of UK military and business operations as measured in the outcomes of the TLBs. 

Mr Forte added“This is truly an exciting time to be part of the D&IT function inside MOD. Breathtaking technology is being developed at an unprecedented pace. Defence’s strategic intent to exploit it means the D&IT function plays a critical role in enabling its adoption and use.  

“I am proud to be part of it, and I look forward to helping grow the already impressive contribution D&IT has made to UK defence and to working with colleagues inside the function and across defence to achieve our vision.” 

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3CDSE 2019: Interview with Richard Morgan

Richard Morgan is a Partner and Head of Defence, Security and the Forces Team at Top 100 UK law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys, and the lead for the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE) 2019.

3CDSE – which will take place on Tuesday 16 July and Wednesday 17 July 2019 at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire – has grown significantly from its origin as a networking forum and has established itself as an event that promotes business-to-business networking with key decision-makers and shares and amplifies innovative thinking and ideas within the industry. Now in its third year, the 2019 event will see the team working with the Ministry of Defence for the first time to deliver a unique Industry Day.

In this interview we take a look at the inspiration behind 3CDSE and how the event has grown to become the region’s leading expo for the defence and security industry.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how this links to the launch of 3CDSE?

“The history of the event is an interesting one. I opened Harrison Clark Rickerby’s Hereford office in March 2012 and it was almost immediately apparent to me that there was a need for specialist legal advice arising from ex-military leaving the Hereford Garrison and setting up their own defence and security businesses. Introducing them to each other led to a number of successful joint ventures. I therefore set about developing the firm’s Defence, Security and the Forces sector team in 2013 to serve this need. I am proud to say that the team now has a national reach. 

“Alongside this I also founded Herefordshire Security and Defence Group (HSDG) in 2014, which helped to formalise these introductions by creating a forum where these ex-military business people could meet regularly, share best practice and work together on joint initiatives. In essence, it was a means of trying to promote the interests of those working in the local defence industry to the widest possible audience.

“HSDG has now moved onto another level and evolved into the Three Counties Defence and Security Group Limited (3CDSG), the promoter of the expo, an idea that came to me in the middle of the night as I was pondering HSDG’s next steps!”


This is the first time that the MOD has been involved in the event. Can you tell us how this came about?

“In previous years, the MOD took part in a series of workshops at the event to explain their tendering process; before the inaugural 3CDSE event, the MOD told us that they saw it as an opportunity to engage with SMEs within the D&S industry. Although lean procurement is a buzzword within the MOD, often the process can be drawn out. On the plus side, the MOD recognises that it needs to be closer to SMEs whose creation of innovative products and services isn’t hampered by corporate processes as can happen with some of the larger primes. Often, SMEs have the technology that the MOD requires but don’t have the resources to get through the procurement process. Hence, the event was seen as an excellent opportunity to bring the two together and foster commercial discussion. 

“This year we will be launching an MOD Industry Day. The Industry Day will share the vision and work of the Special Projects Programme Delivery Group, which is responsible for the procurement and support of a wide range of equipment used primarily by specialist users. It will also include presentations from each of the teams’ specialist portfolios and allow for smaller breakout sessions to facilitate more detailed discussions with MOD staff.

“Although the event continues to grow, it still maintains its original premise, which is to provide a forum for military, suppliers and security agencies to come together to discuss interests, solutions and opportunities.”


You’ve touched on the importance of SMEs to the MOD; can you expand on this?

“In essence, 3CDSE is now recognised by MOD Special Projects as aligning with their requirements to promote agile procurement to SMEs. These companies have long been recognised as uniquely innovative and of vital importance to an industry worth an estimated £22 billion, £7 billion of which comes from exports.

“Our event is specifically designed with the SME at the core and focuses on issues from affordability through to exposure to these government procurement agencies. The bottom line remains that the event will maximise the opportunity for SMEs to join the MOD, government and law enforcement supply chains.

“Furthermore, the event comes at a critical time as the MOD has confirmed that – as part of diversifying its supply base by 2020 – it plans to spend 25 per cent of the UK’s defence budget with SMEs. This is encouraging news as 90 per cent of the defence industry is based in the Three Counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire; the event is therefore perfectly placed for them to showcase their products and services and, ultimately, obtain government contracts.

“The net result is an event that is truly diverse in representing the spectrum of technologies, manufacturers, consultancies and software developers regardless of turnover or marketing budget. SMEs exhibit side by side with global primes, allowing products and services to ‘do the talking’ to a unique audience of users and procurement agencies with transparent objectives for 2019 and beyond.”


You mentioned that 90 per cent of the defence industry is based in the Three Counties; is that the main reason why the event is being held in the region or are there other factors as well?

“There are a number of factors but the overriding one is that it is at the heart of the industry it is seeking to serve, being based in the Three Counties, a hub of innovation often referred to as ‘the golden triangle’, from Special Forces in Hereford and GCHQ in Cheltenham to QinetiQ in Malvern, as well as a huge number of satellite industries which have grown up around them.

“Other factors include feedback from both delegates and exhibitors following the first expo, who told us that they did not want it to grow into a big, London-based event. It really is the only event of its kind in the middle ground between the large international events and smaller local ones. 

“We have now scaled up the event because of the demand from exhibitors and delegates, and for the second year running it will be held at the larger, more easily accessible site of the Three Counties Showground, with its purpose-built exhibition centre and ample free parking. Although we are expecting more than 150 exhibitors and 2,000 delegates this year, we will still ensure it is local and intimate.”


What sort of organisations are likely to benefit most from attending?

“The event will appeal to those from a wide range of backgrounds and sectors including those working in Command, Control, Communications, and Computers Information Systems (C4IS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Cyber Security, as well as anyone already involved in the defence and security industry, the military and the police, and their procurement departments.  

“It will also appeal to primes, SMEs and start-ups in the industry, as well as those, such as manufacturing and technology businesses, looking for opportunities to expand into the industry.”


What are the main benefits for those attending as either exhibitors or visitors?

“One of the main benefits is that the event facilitates a more open communication process with the MOD. 

“The event will be split between the Industry Day on Tuesday 16 July and the exhibition and conference on Wednesday 17 July. There will also be extra external space where vehicles, hardware and demonstrations can be visited. Wednesday will also see the introduction of MOD Connection Zones where companies and individuals will be given the chance to meet MOD officials, fostering conversation and networking.

“There will also be a special 3CDSE Networking & Innovation Dinner which will take place on the Tuesday at Eastnor Castle in Ledbury, providing an excellent opportunity for sponsors to raise their profile with more intimate groups of key decision makers from the military, law enforcement, security agencies and industry. This innovation themed evening will also provide a forum for jHub Innovation to present on some of the successful projects that have been achieved over the last 12 months and inform industry about how to be involved.  

“Visitors will learn about the anticipated needs of the military and the police over the next five years and what they are looking to the industry to provide. From industry, visitors will learn about current innovation, research and development, and the new technologies which these leading technology, hardware and cyber businesses are refining.”   


Apart from the MOD’s involvement, are there any other new features for this year’s event?

“A new feature for this year will see the ADS Group – Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space – running a series of free to attend introductory masterclasses on understanding and accessing the security and resilience market. The event will also host the first Defence, Equipment and Support Special Projects (DE&S SP) and Joint Forces Command Capability Special Projects (JFC Cap SP) Industry Day since 2016.”


The defence and security industry is likely to be affected by Brexit; what can the event do to alleviate this?

“The event aims to cater for the fact that with Brexit there may be fewer opportunities in Europe, and with defence cuts, there are potentially going to be many fewer opportunities on our doorstep, so a lot of companies need to find a wider market.”  


The small print

Tickets for the Industry Day – security clearance is required – can be purchased via the website at Entry to the conference and exhibition is free and aimed at senior members of the military, law enforcement agencies, government agencies and defence and security industry.

To find out more, visit or email 

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DPRTE 2019: The defence industry comes together in Farnborough

Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre played host to Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2019 for the first time as representatives from the Ministry of Defence and other public bodies, preferred contractors, the supply chain and academia came together at the event, held on 28 March.

The event, held across a single day, drew a record attendance as over 1500 visitors made their way to Farnborough to engage within a marketplace valued at over £20 billion annually.

DPRTE 2019 hosted five unique Knowledge Transfer Zones, each designed to increase the knowledge and skills of both buyers and suppliers at the event.

Each zone – Technology & Innovation; Supply Chain & Partnering; Buyer Excellence in Procurement; Export & Business Growth; and Doing Business with the US DoD – featured a range of educational sessions that allowed attendees to discover and share ideas for the five themes.

The Keynote Arena was a huge draw for attendees as it brought together some of the most influential speakers from across the defence procurement and supply chain marketplace.

Jim Carter, Commercial Director, Supply Chain, MOD; Dr Lucy Mason, Head of DASA; Jacqui Rock, Commercial Director, DIO; Professor Trevor Taylor from RUSI; and Tracy Buckingham, Head of Operations and Security Exports at DIT DSO, all gave insightful takes on the latest developments within the defence industry.

Topics covered included deeper collaboration with the supply chain; innovation in defence; DIO’s progress on implementing its commercial strategy; the use of artificial intelligence in defence; and the role of the DIT’s Defence & Security Organisation.

Jason Fox, best known for his role on hit TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins, closed the keynotes with a talk on leadership centred on his experiences serving in the Armed Forces.

The event also featured seven Networking & Collaboration Zones – Supply Chain Engagement; Defence Procurement Pavilion; Innovation; Defence Market Engagement; International Exporting; US DoD Engagement; and the Product Showcase Exhibition – which provided a wealth of opportunities for attendees to meet and discuss buyer and supplier opportunities.

The Product Showcase Exhibition featured around 120 exhibitors from a diverse range of organisations demonstrating their products and services directly to key decision makers engaged within the defence supply chain.

A full, in-depth review of DPRTE 2019 will appear on Defence Online soon

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Assessing the economic and financial standing of bidders under the DSPCR

Central government has recently come under criticism following the collapse of Carillion in January 2018. The criticism is related to the award of large public contracts to the company despite its publication of a profit warning in July 2018. In light of this criticism, Emily Powell, partner at top 100 law firm Hugh James, asks to what extent can contracting authorities exclude companies from the tendering process following profit warnings? 

In the UK, the award of contracts by public bodies is governed by a range of procurement regulations. Most contracts awarded by the Ministry of Defence will be governed by the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 (DSPCR). The DSPCR sets out several conditions that may be imposed on those bidding for public contracts in the defence sector. These include minimum requirements for the economic and financial standing of bidders and grounds for excluding bidders from competitions.  

The grounds for exclusion of bidders are found at regulation 23 DSPCR and should be familiar to those awarding public contracts in defence. These include a discretion to exclude any bidder which has 

passed a resolution or is the subject of an order by the court for the company’s winding up otherwise than for the purpose of bona fide reconstruction or amalgamation, or has had a receiver, manager or administrator on behalf of a creditor appointed in respect of the company’s business or any part of the company’s business or is the subject of the above procedures or is the subject of similar procedures under the law of any other State 

Therefore, formal steps must be taken before a discretion to exclude a bidder can arise. This would not assist a contracting authority in a situation such as Carillion  where a profit warning is issued or there are rumours that a company is in difficulty.  

While the exclusion criteria may not offer a contracting authority the tools to avoid a Carillion-type situation, selection criteria may be used to impose minimum requirements upon bidders. Requirements for the use of selection criteria relating to the economic and financial standing of a bidder are found at regulation 24 DSPCR. This regulation sets out that in assessing the economic and financial standing of a bidder, a contracting authority may take into account: 

(a)appropriate statements from the economic operator’s bankers or where appropriate, evidence of relevant professional risk indemnity insurance; 

(b)statements of accounts or extracts from those accounts relating to the business of the economic operator where publication of the statement is required under the law of the Member State in which the economic operator is established; and 

(c)where appropriate, a statement, covering the three previous financial years of the economic operator, of— 

(i)the overall turnover of the business of the economic operator; and 

(ii)where appropriate, the turnover in respect of the work, works, goods or services which are of a similar type to the subject matter of the contract 

or, where this information is not appropriate “other information to demonstrate the economic operator’s economic and financial standing”. 

It can be seen that on the basis of the DSPCR, contracting authorities have a margin of discretion in determining the information they require to demonstrate the economic and financial standing of a bidder. Any bidder not meeting the published requirements for a specific contract may not be awarded that contract. Therefore, selection criteria which would identify a Carillion-type situation may operate to prevent the award of a contract to a company in financial difficulty 

While the DSPCR affords a margin of discretion in the application of the selection criteria, the Cabinet Office mandates the use of its standard selection questionnaire (SSQ) for all contracting authorities in England, plus those in Wales and Northern Ireland exercising wholly or mainly reserved functions. This SSQ at Part Three contains standard questions for the establishment of the economic and financial standing of bidders. These questions cover: 

  1. the bidder’s previous two years accounts; or if these are not available, one of the following: 
  2. Statement of Turnover, Profit and Loss Account/Income Statement, Balance Sheet/Statement of Financial Position and Statement of Cash Flow for the most recent year of trading; or 
  3. a statement of the cash flow forecast for the current year and a bank letter outlining the current cash and credit position; 
  4. any alternative means of demonstrating a bidder’s financial status if any of the above are not available; and 
  5. any specified minimum level of economic and financial standing.  

In addition, where a bidder has indicated that it is part of a wider group, the bidder is asked to confirm whether it can provide parent company accounts and a parent company or bank guarantee. 

It is important to note, however, that these questions drive a contracting authority towards an assessment of a bidder’s historical financial data, which is not necessarily a good indication of a bidder’s current economic and financial position. Nonetheless, the Cabinet Office has indicated1 that it expects contracting authorities not to deviate from the questions set out in Part Three of the SSQ; and where any deviations are made, these must be reported to the Crown Commercial Service Mystery Shopper scheme. While this may help bidders that are participating in multiple competitions, it is perhaps less helpful for contracting authorities, particularly those awarding highvalue or longterm contracts  common in the defence sector  

To avoid awarding contracts to a bidder in a Carillion-type situation, it is imperative that contracting authorities give careful consideration to the appropriate selection questions at the outset of a procurement. These questions need to ensure that the contracting authority is able to assess a bidder’s current and not historical financial situation. Suitably experienced staff, with the use of specialist expertiseshould be used and contracting authorities should not shy away from deviating from the SSQ to conduct a suitable and proportionate financial assessment of bidders. Finally, contracting authorities are entitled to require uptodate information prior to contract award; and in lengthy procurement exercises, it is advisable for contracting authorities to ensure that a winning bidder’s economic and financial standing continues to meet the selection criteria before contract award.  

image © Crown Copyright

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Get ready for DPRTE 2019 and join the defence discussion

Anticipation is building for DPRTE 2019 ahead of the UK’s premier defence procurement event of the year, taking place at Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre on 28 March.

Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2019 will bring together buyers, suppliers and defence thought leaders in an engaging environment where they can network and discuss the latest market developments and opportunities.

The Ministry of Defence, DE&S, Dstl, DASA and ISS are just some of the defence organisations that will be sharing their business opportunities and insights.

Attendees will have access to the DPRTE Product Showcase Exhibition (featuring over 100 suppliers), Live Keynote Arena, five Knowledge Transfer Zones and seven Networking and Collaboration Zones.

Live Keynote Arena

The DPRTE 2019 Live Keynote Arena will host a range of the leading and most influential speakers from across the defence procurement and supply chain marketplace.

Attendees will have an invaluable opportunity to hear directly from those personnel who are actively engaged in both setting and delivering the direction of the UK’s defence procurement and supply chain strategy.

Chairing the Live Keynote Arena again this year will be Commercial Strategies Ltd CEO and former Ministry of Defence Commercial Director Les Mosco.

Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Defence Procurement; Jim Carter, Commercial Director, Supply Chain at the MOD; and Lucy Mason, Head of the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), will deliver keynote addresses alongside Professor Trevor Taylor, Professorial Research Fellow in Defence Management at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Tracy Buckingham, Head of Operations and Security Exports at the Department for International Trade’s Defence & Security Organisation (DIT DSO).

Ant Middleton, best known for his role as Chief Instructor on hit TV show ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’, will bring proceedings to a close with a session on leadership and teambuilding.

Technology & Innovation Knowledge Transfer Zone

The Technology & Innovation Knowledge Transfer Zone will host a series of training sessions aimed at providing participants with an insight into the latest developments and opportunities within this area. These sessions will encourage a greater level of collaboration with industry, academia and allies, in order to target new providers to boost the competitive advantage of UK defence and find answers to the most pressing national security questions from across sectors.

Sessions will include Andrew Cunningham, Executive Director – Innovation at the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC), take on ‘Cross Sector Innovation From a Defence Perspective’.

Peter Marshall, Professional Services Director at Commerce Decisions, will give a session titled ‘There’s a Lot More to Evaluation Than Meets the Eye’. This will be followed by Phil Blunden, Communications Manager at the Defence Cyber Protection Partnership (DCPP), with ‘Defence Contracting – How Suppliers Are Required to Protect MOD Electronic Data’.

The zone will also host a session from Cyber Essentials Marketing Executive Megan McGinty on gaining a competitive advantage through Cyber Essentials.

Supply Chain & Partnering Knowledge Transfer Zone

The Supply Chain & Partnering Knowledge Transfer Zone will provide attendees with the chance to hear directly from prime contracting and supporting organisations such as Airbus, Boeing and DxC Technology as to how they can engage and actively pursue new business development opportunities across the wider supply chain.

In the MOD report ‘Industry for Defence and a Prosperous Britain: Refreshing Defence Industrial Policy’, current Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that the MOD would continue to spend with SMEs. The report states that the goal is to place 25% of direct and indirect defence procurement spend with SMEs by 2020, compared with the 18.1% total in 2015/16.

Also appearing within the Supply Chain & Partnering zone at DPRTE 2019 will be Defence Contracts International (DCI) Marketing Manager David Young, who will talk about ‘Accessing International Opportunities’; the Crown Commercial Service and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) will also collaborate to deliver a session while Jon White, Sales Director Europe at GE Aviation, will discuss ‘Supply Chain Opportunities With GE Aviation’.

Export & Business Growth Knowledge Transfer Zone

Supported by the Department for International Trade, the Export & Business Growth Knowledge Transfer Zone will provide exhibitors and visitors with specialist export advice and practical assistance, enabled through DIT’s Defence & Security Organisation and its close working relationship with the MOD and the Export Control Organisation (ECO).

Delegates have the opportunity to visit the DIT DSO stand to meet civilian and military advisers and to attend a number of seminar sessions aimed at the UK SME defence and security community.

The zone launches with Team Leader Small Business Unit at DIT DSO, Tim Clewes, presenting on ‘DIT DSO Support for SMEs’.

Training continues with sessions from other DIT DSO experts on areas such as ‘Military Support for Defence and Security Exports’, ‘DIT DSO Media Support and Opportunities’ and ‘Security Exports’.

Andrew Cunningham, Executive Director – Innovation at UKDSC, will round things off with a discussion on support for UK SMEs.

Buyer Excellence in Procurement Knowledge Transfer Zone

In addition to accessing a wealth of industry expertise, DPRTE attendees can also visit the Buyer Excellence in Procurement Knowledge Transfer Zone, where Principal PASS Consultant Eddie Regan will be leading on procurement best practice and advice, which defence buyers can utilise to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their procurement exercises.

These sessions will cover topics such as ‘Developing Your Business Case’, ‘Planning Your Exit Strategy’, ‘Effective Evaluation’, ‘Managing Change in Your Contract’, ‘Market Engagement Benefits’, ‘Developing a Risk Strategy’ and ‘Commercial Awareness’.

Doing Business with the US DoD Zone

The US defence market is the largest in the world, with a proposed defence procurement budget of over $686 billion for the forthcoming financial year.

The United States Department of Defense’s (DoD) enduring mission is to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of the nation. Its National Defense Strategy acknowledges an increasingly complex global security environment, characterised by overt challenges to the free and open international order.

Representatives from the US DoD will be on hand to provide advice and guidance on how to access the wealth of opportunities available within the world’s largest defence procurement marketplace, through a range of training sessions and one-to-one meetings.

Defence Procurement Pavilion

The Defence Procurement Pavilion, one of DPRTE’s Networking and Collaboration Zones, will provide visitors with an unrivalled opportunity to engage directly with key defence procurement organisations such as DE&S, DIO, FLC Army/Air/Navy, the Submarine Delivery Agency, ISS and Doing Business with Defence.

For MOD and wider public sector personnel engaged within procurement, the Pavilion will bring together these key organisations, offering a unique networking opportunity.

In addition, the Pavilion offers the chance to share and explore the ideas and best practices that are actively supporting and developing current objectives and initiatives.

To be at the forefront of the discussions by attending, sponsoring or exhibiting at DPRTE 2019, book now at

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Saab takes sensor technology to bold new heights

In this article defence features writer Robert Atherton speaks exclusively to Saab about the evolution of radar, the company’s 21st century sensor tech and the critical importance of the UK marketplace.

All too often the name of the long-established Swedish defence and security company, Saab, is associated foremost with its former automotive spin-off, and not without reason – the car business is still looked back on as one of the world’s most recognisable brands. But if you’re at all familiar with the defence and security sector you will know that the company’s enduring presence is as a long-standing pillar of the defence industry, having pioneered state-of-the-art sensor technology over the past 60 years.

Saab first took shape in 1937, and has served the defence and security sector ever since – initially as a manufacturer of military aircraft for the Swedish Air Force. Today, that remit has broadened significantly, with a full spectrum offer and a 16,000-strong workforce. Saab now operates across the globe, boasting an annual turnover of around SEK 31 billion, of which around 23% is reinvested into various R&D initiatives each year. Crucially, this pattern of continued reinvestment has enabled Saab to make major surveillance inroads, specifically around state-of-the-art sensor technology.

Sea Giraffe on a Visby Corvette

It’s here that the company has established itself as a world leader, with diverse sensor capabilities that span the land, sea and air domains. What’s interesting, however, is that this expertise has been shaped by the complexities of the Swedish coastline and the Baltic littorals that historically made navigation an uneasy prospect. It’s an ingenuity born of actual need, and it has driven Saab to carve out an innovative range of sensor-related technology.

Undoubtedly, innovation is essential in the sensor space. If commanders are to react and respond to threats in real time, sensor technology must keep pace with the cutting edge. And so, through new approaches, Saab hopes to hand back the reins to the commanders themselves, affording them greater latitude when time and space are in short supply. Here, adaptability is key; with recent innovations enhancing the range, accuracy and mobility of land sensors in response to a noticeable rise in manoeuvre warfare.

“At Saab we exploit our technology across multiple domains which allows us to transfer lessons learned from any one product or environment into all our products very quickly,” said Andy Thomson, Saab’s UK Director of Land Surveillance Marketing and Sales.

But what should commanders expect from a 21st century radar system? Chiefly, that it’s multifunctional. It is no longer enough to have siloed land, sea and air surveillance. Cutting-edge technology allows all three to be integrated, and today’s commanders expect nothing less. Here, Saab’s use of innovative AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) technology has allowed the business to boost the flexibility of its sensor tech and integrate key software upgrades to enable clients to take the initiative when new threats emerge.

“We’re very familiar with open architectures and interoperability,” continued Thomson. “We have consistently demonstrated our ability to integrate our sensors into other people’s systems, and from a UK perspective we have an established track record integrating our sensors into existing and future UK-based weapon and C2 systems.”


Chief among Saab’s surveillance offering is GlobalEye, an iteration of the Erieye radar system, which has found widespread success in the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) marketplace. GlobalEye is something of a two-hander. It pairs the powerful Erieye extended range radar with the modified ultra-long range Global 6000 jet aircraft from Bombardier, delivering a single centralised solution for air, maritime and ground surveillance in the process.

According to Matthew Smith, UK Director Airborne Surveillance Marketing and Sales at Saab: “With Erieye ER (extended range), the goal is to detect everything from very slow, even stationary targets such as hovering helicopters, right the way through to extremely high-speed hypersonic, dynamic targets – both close-up and a long way away. It really is a quite demanding set of requirements.”

But for Erieye ER to fully meet the needs, both present and future, of the defence community, a comprehensive programme of research and development would first be required: “We arrived at Erieye ER following a ten-year R&D initiative,” added Smith, “to ensure we understood how the threat was evolving, where the market was going, and the kinds of capabilities our customers would require in the future.”

Thus, Erieye ER is a true multi-role system – one able to occupy either dedicated or combined roles, with the ability to instantly switch between them should the need arise. GlobalEye is flying today, with the latest Erieye ER radar and associated mission equipment; this brings the number of aircraft types equipped with Erieye sensors to five, and the number of nations to eight – further proof of the system’s interoperability.


Known as MAMBA in the UK, Saab’s weapon locating system ‘Arthur’ is another innovation in the sensor space. It is able to detect ballistic trajectories such as rockets, artillery and mortars, and calculate the firing site and point of impact – enabling effective counter-fire within seconds. In addition to the UK, Arthur has found widespread use across 12 separate militaries – among them Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Spain, Italy and Greece.

Meanwhile, the Giraffe Agile Multi Beam (AMB) 3D surveillance radar has proven a hugely popular land-based air defence solution. Generating a real-time, 360-degree panorama of the surrounding airspace, Giraffe AMB is able to track incoming aircraft, missiles, rockets and drones on a highly mobile platform. Its lofty mast, which rises higher than any other radar of similar class, allows the system to survey distances of up to 120 kilometres. Crucially, this technology has helped save countless lives, providing early warning against incoming threats during international operations.

Clearly, the Ministry of Defence has taken notice. Having recently acquired its tenth Giraffe AMB from Saab, the UK has become the single biggest operator of land-based Giraffe AMB radars in the world today. In fact, the Giraffe AMB surveillance radar system is poised to play a pivotal role in the UK’s new ground-based air defence (GBAD) Sky Sabre system, while also providing air target tracking to the Land Ceptor air defence platform – as demonstrated at a recent weapons test in the north of Sweden. And to illustrate the cross-domain nature of the Saab range, over 65 systems from the maritime version (the Sea Giraffe AMB) are in use with 11 different navies including the US, Australia, Canada and Singapore.

According to an MOD spokesperson: “The Giraffe radar system provides our military with unmatched surveillance capabilities, keeping the UK safe and protecting our troops on operations. Giraffe provides our cutting-edge Sky Sabre air defence system with crucial battlefield intelligence, so it is brilliant to see our defensive strength bolstered by the arrival of the tenth radar system.”

For Saab, Giraffe AMB sits at the centre of a wider family of surface radars which collectively offer a multitude of land and sea solutions for ground-based air defence and surveillance.

Giraffe 1X

Weighing less than 150 kilograms, the lightweight Giraffe 1X is the company’s newest member of the Giraffe family. Named ‘X’ to denote its X-band radar characteristics and designed with mobility in mind, the G1X can be integrated onto any platform, irrespective of size. Furthermore, its compactness means that it can easily be relocated by means of manpower alone – from a vehicle to the rooftop of a building, for example – making it ideally suited to the rapidly changing pace of mobile forces.

Similarly, the Giraffe 4A is a fully multifunctional radar which blends capabilities of the Arthur and Giraffe AMB with an all-new AESA-inspired radar sensor. Crucially, this new radar offers unparalleled range, performance and operational flexibility in a single solution. And in the maritime domain, the Sea Giraffe AMB applies that same methodology to open water in an effort to safeguard ships and secure superiority at sea; indeed, the solution can now be found across five classes of US Navy ships.

In many cases, the UK seems to be an early adopter of Saab technology. And given that 23% of the Giraffe AMB’s content comes from the UK, Saab has a vested interest in supporting British business. The company’s Gripen fighter jet, which derives 37% of its value from the UK supply chain, has the potential to generate £2-3 billion in economic benefit and a further 5000-6000 British jobs over the next decade. As the company continues its expansion, the UK is increasingly seen as a home market – so much so that a state-of-the-art UK-based Innovation Centre is now in the works.

“Saab is actively seeking to expand its manufacturing and export base here in Britain,” concluded Saab UK’s Head, Andrew Walton. “We see the UK as a strategically critical customer because of the global renown of British Armed Forces and we want them using our products.”

“The UK is absolutely a Tier 1 customer,” Walton continued. “Saab has a long-established history with the Royal Air Force dating back 40 years, during which we have developed systems for the Harrier, Tornado and Typhoon. The performance and technology requirements across the Services, together with the high standards we place on ourselves, means we’re very much looking to leverage our experience to become an even more trusted supplier of advanced technology to the UK.”

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The next giant leap: The UK launches its space ambitions

The UK is looking to capitalise on its worldleading expertise in aerospace with the development of vertical and horizontal spaceports, taking one giant leap into next phase of space travel. 

The UK Space Agency selected Sutherland on the north coast of Scotland as the first vertical launch site. 

An initial £2.5 million will go to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the vertical launch site in Sutherland, which will use a combination of proven and innovative rocket technologies to pave the way for a world-leading spaceflight market. 

However, new horizontal launch sites have significant potential in a future UK spaceflight market, which it is anticipated could attract companies from all over the world to invest in Britain.  

These horizontal launch sites will host runways that will support space planes capable of carrying satellites and tourists and will be located in Cornwall, Glasgow and North Wales. The sites will be boosted by a new £2 million horizontal spaceport development fund to grow their sub-orbital flight, satellite launch and spaceplane ambitions. 

The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain also put the UK in a strong position to further develop horizontal launch sites. The Government’s decision to make available a £2 million strategic development fund, should also help accelerate this early-stage market further. 

It is envisaged that small-satellite launch and sub-orbital flight from the UK will support organisations across the country to remain at the forefront of commercial space services, driving new highly skilled jobs and boost local economies – not only in the communities around spaceport sites, but in the UK’s space sector as a whole. 

Business Secretary Greg Clark explained: “As a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs, we want Britain to be the first place in mainland Europe to launch satellites as part of our Industrial Strategy. The UK’s thriving space industry, research community and aerospace supply chain put the UK in a leading position to develop both vertical and horizontal launch sites. 

“This will build on our global reputation for manufacturing small satellites and help the whole country capitalise on the huge potential of the commercial space age.” 

The first launch at Malness spaceport is set to take place in 2023, with a team led by Lockheed Martin set to deliver six cubesats tasked with assisting weather monitoring projects. 

The move is a clear endorsement of commercial spaceflight, said to be worth £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the coming decade, with the potential to usher in a new era of space travel. However, the possibilities for military use have stirred the interest of the defence industry.  

Speaking at a briefing at this year’s Farnborough Airshow, Air Vice-Marshal Simon Rochelle, Chief of Staff for Capability and Force Development with the Royal Air Force spoke of his hopes that responsive military launches would soon be a possibility. 

Although the process is still early in its development, the ability to deliver emergency supplies via a small satellite and restock them within 72 hours would be of significant strategic value. 

Given the collaborative nature of manufacturing and procuring within the defence industry, there also exists the further potential to open up the spaceport to the UK’s military allies. 

Rochelle explains: “We go and buy airplanes together; we can buy AWACS together; think of federated capability; think of how partners work symbiotically with each other. 

“The more we – Five-Eyes and allies – can respond effectively, or even offer deterrence, dissuasion, we may actually control that space domain rather than being threatened or outmanoeuvred in the space domain.”

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Vehicle hire companies to reduce terrorism risk

Counter Terrorism Policing has teamed up with The Department for Transport to reduce the risk of rental vehicles being used as weapons in acts of terror.

The Rental Vehicle Security Scheme (RVSS) is voluntary and is open to all UK hire firms who offer long and short-term rentals to consumers.

RVSS requires participating companies to meet a set of requirements included in a 10-point Code of Practice, which includes a commitment to:

  • Lawfully share data and information with law enforcement
  • Train staff to identify and report suspicious behaviour
  • Appoint a recognised security contact
  • Only accept electronic payment for all or part of the transaction

Counter Terrorism Policing, National Coordinator for Protective Security, Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth said: “The police work closely with Government, local authorities and businesses to look for new and innovative new ways to keep people safe. Officers from the Counter Terrorism Policing network have been working with industry and Government to support the development of a security culture within the vehicle hire industry.

“The introduction of the scheme shows a real commitment by industry to increase the levels of security awareness, promote the reporting of suspicious behaviours, enhance security checks and encourage support for law enforcement activity against crime and terrorism across the industry. This can only be a positive thing when helping keep people safe.”

Companies are encouraged to apply and sign up to the scheme.

image ©  Brian Minkoff /

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