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The heist: nobody is safe from Russia’s digital pirates

In April, the Harris network of London schools was held to ransom by hackers. ‘The first thing I did was panic,’ said Sir Dan Moynihan, the chief executive. It wasn’t simply that their computers didn’t work; many of the 50 schools couldn’t function. Some couldn’t open because their internet-controlled doors were jammed shut. A demand

I was held to ransom by hackers

I’m the owner of two small galleries which sell 20th-century ceramics and artworks. One of the ways we’ve become known is through Instagram. We’ve got almost 50,000 followers and sell a lot of work through there. In May, I was away for the weekend with friends in Somerset. On Saturday morning, I saw an email

What we can learn from our mistakes in Afghanistan

After two tours of Iraq as a soldier, I spent six months in Afghanistan in 2007 as part of Operation Herrick VI. My deployment came a year after the then Defence Secretary, John Reid, said we would be ‘perfectly happy to leave the country in three years’ time without firing one shot’. However, the very

My failed attempts to be a good Samaritan

I’ve been trying to be a good Samaritan for some time now and failing. But this week I discovered that even well-trained, experienced good Samaritans — who work for the Samaritans — can fail too. Reports have surfaced revealing the ‘abuse’ of vulnerable callers by a small number of the charity’s phone volunteers. It’s a

Italians are seeing red over the Covid ‘Green Pass’

Rome Following Emmanuel Macron’s example, the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, has announced the introduction of a ‘Green Pass’. Draghi’s initiative, which was announced at a press conference on 24 July and comes into effect on 6 August, has sparked protests all over Italy The Green Pass will discriminate between Italians who are vaccinated and


Why I gave up writing fiction

When, three years ago, I announced my retirement from writing fiction, the only thing that surprised me was the surprise it generated. I had long come to the somewhat un-arty view that writing was a job like any other (well, almost) and that nudging 80 was a good time to step back and consider a

Notes on...

The awe-inspiring appeal of aquariums

Fish tanks were probably first conceived in the distant past by the Chinese, but in many respects, aquariums are a distinctly British phenomenon. The first public one opened at Regent’s Park Zoological Gardens in 1853. The word itself seems to have been first used in Philip Gosse’s 1854 book The Aquarium: An Unveiling of the