SALISBURY, ENGLAND - APRIL 10:  The spire of Salisbury Cathedral is seen in the distance whilst investigations continue into the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal on April 10, 2018 in Salisbury, England. Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were attacked with nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury on March 4, 2018 and have since been under the care of Salisbury District Hospital. Yulia Skripal has now been discharged from the hospital and taken to a secure location while her father remains at the hospital but no longer in a critical condition.  (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
<p>The spire of Salisbury Cathedral in the distance whilst investigations continue into the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Photo Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images</p>

Army rolls into Salisbury to begin Novichok clean-up

Military clean-up crews in camouflage and gas masks have arrived in Salisbury, England to deal with nine chemical “hotspots” left after the Novichok attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Three army trucks brought soldiers and diggers to lift paving stones, bricks and turf on Tuesday. The operation began in the city centre where Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench on March 4. The clean-up crews are also expected to take soil samples during operations that will last months, possibly until Christmas.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said specialist teams from the Army, RAF and Ministry of Defence will carry out “thorough testing to ensure that any residual nerve agent used in the attack is chemically cleaned, or removed and safely destroyed”.

Defra’s chief scientific adviser Ian Boyd said last week that the deadly nerve agent remains in high concentrations at some locations in Salisbury.


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"We have to make an assumption that in certain circumstances there will be relatively high concentrations, probably in very, very specific locations, which could be at levels that could be toxic to individuals."

Defra’s priority is making the nine hotspots safe for the public. Each area is likely to contain traces of Novichok, possibly still as toxic as when the nerve agent was left there, Mr Boyd said.

The Skripals are thought to have come in contact with the poison in liquid format on the doorknob at Mr Skripal’s home.

The hotspots include Zizzi’s restaurant, where the pair ate lunch, the home of police detective sergeant Nick Bailey who was also poisoned, two ambulance stations and a police station. The garage where Mr Skripal parked his car will also be decontaminated.

Mr Skripal's home and the Mill pub, where the Skripals went after lunch, remain crime scenes and will be the last of the nine sites to be cleaned.

The military operation comes after the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Britain's analysis that the nerve agent Novichok was used in the attack. Russia has denied any involvement.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills from Wiltshire Police said it was “business as usual” as soldiers in breathing apparatus and military uniformed moved around the market town. Public Health England have said the risk to the general public is low.

Top tips to avoid cyber fraud

Microsoft’s ‘hacker-in-chief’ David Weston, creator of the tech company’s Windows Red Team, advises simple steps to help people avoid falling victim to cyber fraud:

1. Always get the latest operating system on your smartphone or desktop, as it will have the latest innovations. An outdated OS can erode away all investments made in securing your device or system.

2. After installing the latest OS version, keep it patched; this means repairing system vulnerabilities which are discovered after the infrastructure components are released in the market. The vast majority of attacks are based on out of date components – there are missing patches.

3. Multi-factor authentication is required. Move away from passwords as fast as possible, particularly for anything financial. Cybercriminals are targeting money through compromising the users’ identity – his username and password. So, get on the next level of security using fingertips or facial recognition.

4. Move your personal as well as professional data to the cloud, which has advanced threat detection mechanisms and analytics to spot any attempt. Even if you are hit by some ransomware, the chances of restoring the stolen data are higher because everything is backed up.

5. Make the right hardware selection and always refresh it. We are in a time where a number of security improvement processes are reliant on new processors and chip sets that come with embedded security features. Buy a new personal computer with a trusted computing module that has fingerprint or biometric cameras as additional measures of protection.

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