back to article 'Little weirdo' shoulder surfer teaches UK cabinet minister a lesson in cybersecurity

In setting the date for the UK's next general election, prime minister Rishi Sunak this week essentially announced the start of open season for political reporters all hunting for the top scoop of the day by any means necessary. He may need, however, to brief his ministers on basic opsec if he's going to stop any more internal …

  1. disgruntled yank

    Well older than a decade

    See https://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/20/nyregion/shoulder-surfing-life-in-phone-credit-card-theft.html?searchResultPosition=5

    If you can't make it past the paywall, know that it concerns shoulder surfing at Pennsylvania Station in New York. The reporter estimated that about fifteen surfers were active most times.

    1. FBee
      Go

      Re: Well older than a decade

      Firstly visit 12-foot Ladder at https://12ft.io/proxy secondly paste the NYT link - paywall scaled

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Well older than a decade

      https://archive.is/O9HTJ

      Bypass the paywall

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Well older than a decade

      Google Books ngram viewer shows multiple hits from the 1980s. Some of those explain the term, but technical publications such as 2600 use it without explanation, showing it was already a recognized term of art.

      So, yes, more than a decade. More than three decades, and quite possibly more than four.

      (It's missing from the Jargon File / The New Hacker's Dictionary, which surprised me a bit.)

  2. disgruntled yank

    Crud

    I didn't mean to post twice...

  3. SVD_NL Silver badge

    Situational awareness is rare

    It's been a battle making sure we don't let customers just walk into our office where they can see our screens. And I must've shouted "Windows+L" hundreds of times at people getting up from their desk.

    People at my office still like me... i think...

    1. FIA Silver badge

      Re: Situational awareness is rare

      Our head of security used to just walk into peoples offices and send emails from their unlocked machines.

      I'd like to say it helped, but at least the supply of free cakes was nice.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Situational awareness is rare

        Madness is trying the same thing again and expecting different results. Telling users repeatedly to do something and expecting them to listen.

        A design or engineering solution is required. There are plenty to choose from, starting with office layout, translucent dividers, narrow-angle privacy screens, computers that detect the proximity of a work-issued ID card or mobile phone, pressure sensors in the chair, face recognition on the web cam...

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          Cone of silence?

          1. UCAP Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Taser?

          2. UCAP Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Cattle prod (using the BOFH's approach to user training).

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              Experience is a dear teacher and for those who still don't learn there's always the dodgy window fastener.

        2. SVD_NL Silver badge

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          While i do agree with you on the most part, if people are willing this definitely helps with building habits. It's a small office i work at, and they mostly respond with "oh yeah i should do that". If you're just shouting angrily at people who are unwilling to change, you're not getting anywhere.

          I do agree that you get the best results if the solution doesn't require interaction. I'm a huge fan of auto-locking devices, unfortunately we don't have compatible cameras at every desk, but the windows hello camera-based auto-lock is amazing. Even came across some laptops that actually detect when someone is shoulder surfing and dim the screen, or turn it off. That can get quite annoying though, sometimes you just want to show something on your screen to a colleague.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Easier fix - if your screens have confidential information on them, why are outsiders permitted to enter the office? Our HR has two rooms. One we go in to talk to the HR girl, and the other one where going into (*any* excuse including "the building is on fire") is an immediate sanctionable action.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              OTOH setting the building on fire is an extreme way to deal with HR.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                ...but the most satisfying. Or so I've been told...

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Situational awareness is rare

                  ...but the most satisfying. Or so I've been told...

                  ...erm, is that you Milton?

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                Especially if they are behind locked doors

              3. Andrew_C

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                Extreme but perfectly understandable.

              4. LybsterRoy Silver badge

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                But the BOFH would be proud

            2. SW10
              Unhappy

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              She's an HR woman

              #justsaying

              1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                She's an HR waste of space (female).

              2. Sp1z

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                The number of downvotes on your comment worries me about the neanderthal level of consciousness in El Reg readership.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Situational awareness is rare

                  Grow up, and stop white knighting.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              Easier fix - WHF. The kids don’t give a shit what’s on my screen.

            4. Sp1z

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              “HR girl”

              HR lady / woman / colleague

              1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just want to have fun.

                The Eurythmics - Who's that girl.

                Madonna - Material Girl.

                Katy Perry - I kissed a girl.

                Please let me know when you've told them all off for their blatant mysogeny.

          2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Create a bonus pot. For instance 500 per employee (depends on how you value security).

            Nominate someone to walk through the office each week and if there is unattended unlocked computer, let them take a picture (using company secure phone) or hire security person.

            Remove every person with recorded violation from the bonus pool. Distribute the bonus amongst employees without the violation, after paying % the nominated employee for taking the pictures (if it wasn't done by security).

            If a person gets removed from the bonus pool, they'll have to attend mandatory security training.

            If they get violation again, give them final warning and sack them on third strike.

            1. MiguelC Silver badge
              Thumb Down

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              Great, your own in-office Stasi - what's not to like

              1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                You didn't get the bonus, did you?

            2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

              Bonus pot

              The first workplace to try this should be some (any) government ministry. Knives out!

            3. spireite Silver badge

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              Reminds me of what happened to me in my office 20-odd years ago.

              .

              I committed the cardinal sin of leaving my PC open unlocked whilst spending time with mother nature.

              I came back to find I'd sent an email to All Users declaring

              "Join me at the Pheasant, where I will buy you a drink"

              1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                So, same scenario as elsergio's, then.

          3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Biometrics? Ugh. Hard nope. Lousy authentication with terrible failure modes combined with more surveillance.

        3. Cruachan

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          Using technology to change behaviour (IME) rarely works, either someone senior enough to have influence will object to it and become an exception which immediately dilutes the purpose of the policy, or the company implements the technology but does not include compliance with IT policies in their code of conduct so HR can't do anything to stop repeat offenders.

          Used to do security audits for a firm and every year was the same, passwords blank, non-expiring, written on post-its, shared accounts all over the place, browsing habits that would even shock the people looking at "tractors" in parliament. Document it all, write it up, then a year later find the same people were doing the same things. My firm were getting very well paid to visit all their sites for this audit, but they never did anything we recommended until a password was compromised by a disgruntled former employee. Even then most of the directors wanted to be made exceptions to the new password policy.

        4. General Purpose

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          A keyboard with a single key - for example at top right - that performs Windows-L. It still requires user action (and keeps the user in control) but tapping the corner of your keyboard as you stand up is simple, obvious and gets results - all good for engraining it.

          1. TimMaher Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: A keyboard with a single key

            That’s it!

            That’s the answer to all support problems.

          2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            you'll need to link the computer to the chair so that every time you leave it unlocked the computer reformats itself to see any result

          3. TheMeerkat

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Mac has a great feature - “hot corner”. You just move the noise cursor to the corner of the screen you have configured and it is locked.

            Feels more natural than pressing keys.

            1. gnasher729 Silver badge

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              With Bluetooth it should be easy to have a setup where your computer gets locked automatically if you leave your desk.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                there is -dynamic lock - see my comment above (Anon)

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              move the noise cursor

              Indeed. Though typically the cursing noises come from me.

              (Personally, I can hit Windows-L, or Ctrl-Alt-Del followed by L, faster than I can move the stupid pointer — even when using a Thinkpad with a proper isometric pointing device that doesn't require taking my hands off the home row, where they belong.)

              Feels more natural than pressing keys.

              To you, perhaps. Some people are not you.

        5. chivo243 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          I thought trying the same failed solution over and over was a sign of insanity?

        6. Arthur the cat Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          Madness is trying the same thing again and expecting different results.

          So, you've never thrown dice, called a random number generator or opened a box that contained a cat, a radioactive source and a vial of poison(*)?

          (*) I must admit, I haven't done the last one.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            I know what my cat is like. I'm not letting her anywhere near radioactive materials or poisons. Things could end badly.....

            .....for me.

            1. Citizen99

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              Our cat, sadly no longer with us, shoulder surfed us skyping family in Oz

        7. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          Replace the computers by Neuralink chips?

        8. UnknownUnknown

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          Shirley building solutions. …. Like not f’king open plan offices in the first plan or allowing customer to roam about unsupervised?? ?

        9. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          Madness is trying the same thing again and expecting different results.

          No, it really isn't. This is a cliché which is both tiresome and wrong in every respect. Eschew it.

          1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Or Escher it: madness is trying the same thing, twice, a little bit smaller and in different directions, taking the results, doubling it, and trying it again, a little bit smaller and in different directions, and then taking the results...

        10. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          I actually advise my colleagues to pair their work mobiles (bluetooth enabled android) to their laptops (windows enterprise) and then activate Dynamic lock.

      2. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: Situational awareness is rare

        I used to do similar if less harmful things. Usually change wallpaper to something yuck, or set off a Rickroll video on loop depending on the access rights of the moment.

        It did work with some people

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          Take a screenshot of the current screen and display it full screen.

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Then rotate the screen...

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: Situational awareness is rare

              What was the Intel video driver "flip screen upside down" keyboard shortcut again?

              (And WTF was that a keyboard shortcut?)

              1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                Ctrl+Shift+L ?

              2. imanidiot Silver badge

                Re: Situational awareness is rare

                I seem to recall it was Ctrl+Shift+*arrow keys*. With left and right being "flip 90 degrees", down being "flip upside down" and up being "mirror"

          2. Giles C Silver badge

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            Only if you remember to hide all desktop icons….

      3. Giles C Silver badge

        Re: Situational awareness is rare

        We used to have people do that at one company I worked for, it was either cakes for everyone or declaring their love for someone totally inappropriate (wrong gender, both married etc) in the department

        Depends who it was and how many times they had done it recently…..

      4. TaabuTheCat

        Re: Situational awareness is rare

        We had a guy that would check unlocked machines to see if the user was logged into Facebook and then set their status to "Poopin". Very effective.

      5. Andrew_C

        Re: Situational awareness is rare

        At the one place I worked they rotate the screen 180 or 90 degrees

        1. The Organ Grinder's Monkey

          Re: Situational awareness is rare

          At the ONE place...?

          What were you doing at the others? :)

          1. Casca Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Situational awareness is rare

            rotated the screen 360?

      6. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Situational awareness is rare

        We developed a small script we could activate from someone's PC when let accessible. It was easy and fast to run.

        The script sent a mail to IT, saying the user was sorry for the mistake and would offer us some croissants to apologize. Also, the script changed the background image, chosen randomly from wallpapers saying "you were hacked" the most frightening way.

        It was quite efficient. Most of users were more careful adfter being caught once.

    2. unimaginative
      Unhappy

      Re: Situational awareness is rare

      I see people working on laptops every time I get on a long distance train. Very hard to stop people in seats behind you seeing what you are doing. Some look like they are dealing with potentially confidential information - I often see things like NHS login screens.

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Basic failure

    Privacy screens for laptops have been around for ages. They should be mandatory for anyone using a government (or indeed corporate) laptop in public places. This is not rocket surgery, so why hasn't it become the norm?

    1. Lurko

      Re: Basic failure

      I'd agree, but they've still got a certain angle of view. If you've genuinely concerned about the privacy of what's on your screen then don't have that content on screen in a public place. I don't expect much of MPs, Mercer is a former soldier, he really should know better than this, and know when to take some responsibility.

      Then again, this government has never taken responsibility for anything.

      1. Cruachan

        Re: Basic failure

        "Then again, this government has never taken responsibility for anything."

        Not defending our (soon to be ex) Government, but they are not unique in this and I'm sure their successors will be just as bad for taking responsibility, as indeed all previous administrations have been too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Basic failure

        Yup, the key point here is public space.

    2. 0laf Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Basic failure

      I'm sure MPs and ministers are offered lots of training to avoid such situations but as is usual with people in power despite being people of interest and at high risk of targetted attacks they usually consider themselves too important to make themselves available for training or listen to training if they actually turn up.

      It must be a bloody nightmare to be a parliamentary infosec manager.

      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: Basic failure

        Make it the job of the chief whips.

      2. PB90210 Bronze badge

        Re: Basic failure

        Lucky it wasn't Neil Parish (former) MP, just researching tractors...

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-61290017

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Basic failure

      Yeah, we have a stock. A small(is) number were requested when we first got them. AFIAK, very few, if any, have been requested since that initial mini-flurry. Considering what goes on there, it would have been better to have paid the little extra for laptops with the privacy screen built in for everyone, then there'd be no concerns that people who should be using them are using them. It's badge entry to the office and non-staff visitors are rare, so on the desks with the large screens is less of an issue. Although it has been suggested that maybe the conference rooms with the floor to ceiling windows directly facing another office block might want to draw the binds when presenting on the big screens :-)

      On the other hand, not even the best quality privacy screen can block all shoulder surfing, that's down to the user to be fully aware of where they are and be careful what they choose to work on where it may be seen, bearing in mind the quality of camera sensors and lenses. Remember the Minister walking into Downing street and the "important document" that photographed from 20 or so meters away and was readable?

    4. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Basic failure

      -- so why hasn't it become the norm? --

      Cost?

      I just followed the link and put the info in for my main laptop (17.3" screen) and from Amazon it was £74

    5. imanidiot Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Basic failure

      Have you TRIED telling a government employee what to do?

  5. vulture65537

    I saw a commuter on the tube carrying a pack of paper in a transparent case. In the front of the pack was a letter reading Dear $name, ...

    I spoke to her by name (great shock) and suggested the transparent case in public was a bad idea.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Quiet bat people

      Macom Tucker ensures this phrase is visible to journalists in order to embarrass the idiots who brainstormed it.

    2. mhoulden

      There's been more than a few times where politicians have wandered down Downing Street with transparent folders: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/29/brexit-leak-downing-street-papers-caught-on-camera. That's one place where it's pretty much guaranteed to end up on camera.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Joke

        The should replace the current infosec manager at 10 Downing Street (the cat) by a new one (a dog) to ensure that all homework is properly shredded before leaving the premises.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        I can't help but suspect that given the number of times it has happened more than a few of them have been entirely intentional.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Nice to see Mercer's taken time out from defending the nation against Carol Vorderman to warn us about little wierdos. Was he talking about the PM?

    1. ibmalone

      Typical reaction

      Doesn't inspire much confidence really, well known security risk (at a university and /we/ get trained on this, Mercer makes a big deal about his army background), but the reaction is to play the 'weirdo' card as if it's somehow cheating or unforseeable. See also Trump and the overweight people in their parents' basement accusation. As if the odder (and by implication in both cases more pathetic) the person who waltzed through your security the more understandable it was.

      Is it 'cheating'? Depends who defines the rules of the game. Is it utterly foreseeable? Yes. Is "I was being stupid and got caught out by some weirdo" a reasonable excuse? No.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Typical reaction

        Makes you wonder if the best spies are the ones that look a bit weird or strange, not the rugged, handsome James Bond types :-)

        1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

          Re: Typical reaction

          IMHO the best ones aren't the weird looking ones or the rugged looking ones. They're the ones you don't notice.

    2. Carlos TuTu III

      I was under the impression that he had tasked his bulldog missus with taking care of Vorders on the socials?

      Definitely haven't seen a lot from any of them recently, but maybe they've just been algorithmed away.

  7. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Socks

    Carry spare socks. Wear leather shoes. Wash and dry between your toes. Place cotton wool between your toes if you are really struggling to keep them dry. Dry your shoes when not wearing them by using a shoe tree or fans - don't use heat.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Socks

      And you do, of course, carry all that stuff with you at all times, especially when boarding a train :-)

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Socks

        and while cycling through the rain...

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Socks

          When you cycle through the rain (or are likely to), you would pre-plan at least by keeping spare socks and/or something to dry off your shoes with.

          Mercer had no excuse to sit in first class with bare feet.

          1. Fred Dibnah

            Re: Socks

            You mentioned he was in First Class. Are you implying that going barefoot would have been absolutely fine if he had been in Standard?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Socks

              Well, only people in 1st class can afford shoes currently...

              1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: Socks - Being Prepared.

                Well having got throughly soaked to the skin in a very violent rainstorm prior to taking a train from Paddington (I had my eldest son with me), I invested in two pairs of expensive socks from the SockShop on Platform 1 allowing us to make the journey home in relative comfort with dry feet, while our shoes dried out.

                Having learned the hard way, from being forced to take a unplanned hotel night. I now keep in my workbag a little tin which contains an emergency kit of fresh socks, underwear, asprin, a little sample bottle of cologne, toothbrush & toothpaste.

            2. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: Socks

              Not necessarily, but it would be more likely to happen there than in First.

              Although... maybe those in Standard *do* ascribe to the concept of keeping their footwear on, regardless of moisture content.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Socks

      And use sun-screen if it's not raining.

  8. iron Silver badge

    > more popular members of the Conservative party, such as Kemi Badenoch and Penny Mordaunt

    Who?

    Mind you I've never heard of this Tory plonker either.

    1. Oh Matron!

      Badenoch is even denser that Cruella Braverman. Hope that helps with the context

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        It's a close match.

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        IT Angle

        IT angle: she's also a self-confessed hacker:

        https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/09/bafflement-over-tory-mps-admission-she-hacked-harriet-harmans-website

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Pirate

          Admin access was (and still is): admin/password

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
            Stop

            From TFA: "Harman’s username and password were 'harriet' and 'harman'...British computer crime law does not distinguish between technically sophisticated attacks and lucky guesses. “What’s interesting about the CMA is that it doesn’t explicitly bring up the sophistication of a hacking offence, so legally, the defacement here does break the CMA, regardless of the weakness of the credentials of the victim. The problem is the law itself,” said Davis."

            Still technically hacking, then.

    2. monty75

      It's a comparison on the same lines as "which is your favourite strain of plague?"

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Who?"

      You been living under a rock this last year or just not living in the UK? They've been in the news quite a bit recently, especially the Sword Wrangler Royal, Penny Mordant.

      1. Cloudseer

        Prefer living under a rock these dsys

    4. nobody who matters

      His opinion (also held by a good number of other Conservatives - both within and without Parliament) that the likes of Kemi Badenoch and Penny Mordaunt are above average, really rather sums up why the current Conservative Party is in the ineffective state that it is :(

      1. nobody who matters

        Is Johnny Mercer on here??

  9. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Pride

    Civil service is probably getting training about security including the risk of shoulder surfing.

    Do ministers also get it? If so, it may be the case "the rules for the pleb don't apply to me. Who would have dared to look at the screen of the me almighty anyway?".

    It's comforting though, that soon these types will be flushed out of the system.

    Remember to register to vote folks!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Pride

      If you think post July will be better than pre July you must be an optimist. Different, yes, better, no.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Pride

        "If you think post July will be better than pre July you must be an optimist. Different, yes, better, no."

        I must admit, with the choice we have this year, I'm bordering slightly on the side of voting Tory purely on the basis of "better the devil you know" and that a change of Government costs quite a bit of money, both in the change over and the cancelling, delaying or changes to ongoing projects. It's a very thin margin though. Just my 2p worth. I'm not going to argue with anyone who feels strongly one side or the other, or for any of the no hoper parties :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pride

          Based on the last few years, for any governmental IT project, you don't need any party change to get delays...

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Pride

          "7 thumbs up & 11 thumbs down "

          Oh well, that's a wrap on the campaign trail then. Labour win!! :-)

          Not that it matters where I live. Labour have held the seat more or less since the founding of the Labour party, so my vote, either way, means nothing anyway. Their majority isn't as big as it used to be, but it's one of the very, very safe seats for Labour.

    2. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Pride

      Remember to register to vote folks!

      I was shocked that voter suppression as suggested by the shoulder surfing isn't a dirty little secret but overt (caretaker) government policy. This prat was complaining about his veteran mates being suppressed not the principle itself.

      So in addition to registering to vote also ensure you have the required identity documents to cast a vote.

      Here in AU the toryoid* (LNP) government (at the time) unsuccessfully attempted this piece of contemptible skulduggery.

      Having compulsory voting and registration makes voter id largely unnecessary.

      High time the UK adopted both preferential voting and mandatory voting and ditch the lords for an elected regional representative assembly.

      * like haemorhhoids but involving the genitourinary tract.

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Pride

        I thought it was practically common knowledge that the whole policy was designed on the basis that the demographic for labour voters was less likely to hold or carry the required ID than those those people making up the Conservatve voting demographic. Therefore decreasing the Labour voting percentage via a side channel attack..

        The same thing goes for redrawing constituency boundaries which practically every government does when they get in.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Pride

          Allowing old person's rail cards, but banning the otherwise identical young person's railcard was particularly egregious though.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Pride

          "The same thing goes for redrawing constituency boundaries which practically every government does when they get in."

          It's done once every 8-12 years because that's a reasonable time for populations to move, grow or shrink, and the rules on constiuancy size and populations are quite specific, give a take a small percentage. Other changes may be allowed/agreed in-between the main reviews, but only on a small scale and unlikely to favour one party over another unless it really is a tight marginal seat involved.

          The parties, especially the sitting government might like to think they can make changes willy nilly to benefit themselves, but it's more nuanced than that, even though I'm sure they do everything in the power to influence the outcomes.

        3. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Pride

          Jacob Rees-Mogg has already complained on the record that this piece of voter suppression backfired.

          Perhaps Conservative party members often have poor memories, like a certain dishonourable Johnson.

          In the last two years, there have been more Tory MPs turned away from the polling station for not having ID than people convicted of electoral fraud.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pride

            Let's not forget that Boris Johson himself got in trouble for electoral malfeasance often enough that he decided to remove the investigatory powers from the body that fined him over the Brexit referendum law breaking, and that investigated him for the unlawful bung to decorate his house in Irish traveller style, and has been the bane of his anti-democratic life ever since joining politics.

            A fantastically corrupt country indeed.

        4. nobody who matters

          Re: Pride

          <<"....I thought it was practically common knowledge that the whole policy was designed on the basis that the demographic for labour voters was less likely to hold or carry the required ID than those those people making up the Conservatve voting demographic. Therefore decreasing the Labour voting percentage via a side channel attack..

          The same thing goes for redrawing constituency boundaries which practically every government does when they get in......">>

          Similarly to the intention of Labour to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote - they clearly think (and all the evidence suggests that they are correct) that the number of that age group who can be relied upon to vote Labour massively outweighs the number that will vote Conservative.

          Anyone who thinks that politics (at any level) is anything other than a continuous round of self serving dirty tricks is very naive!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pride

            That is a good point, though nowadays the inflection point at which people are more likely to vote Conservative is close to 60 so any way to make it easier for the under-60's to vote is a benefit to Labour, LibDems, Greens, SNP, etc. If the Conservatives want to do better at elections they should make it harder for people with a full-time job to vote.

            1. nobody who matters

              Re: Pride

              I would be interested to know the source of that rather dubious assertion. In my experience (I am over 60!), I come across rather more younger people who are Conservative inclined than the older generation who are often very set-in-a-rut, dyed-in-the-wool in their political leanings, and among what would have been called 'the working class' a few years ago, the over 60s remain very solidly left-wing socialist Labour.

              As has always been the case, many people hold more radicalist views when they are very young, and it is only as they mature during their 20s and 30s that maturity, knowledge and experience moderate their viewpoint and they take a more measured attitude to where their political affiliations lie.

              As always, and regardless of whether you have a first-past-the-post or a proportional system, it is the 'floating voters' who change sides from one election to the next who ultimately decide who gets elected, not those with any solid longstanding party affiliation. These people have very short memories, and always forget the reasons why they voted 'the other way' at the previous election!

              1. nobody who matters

                Re: Pride

                Presumably a young person doesn't agree that they haven't yet matured. Downvoting that just proves it tbh.

          2. nobody who matters

            Re: Pride

            Must be a politician in here - can't think of anyone else who would disagree that politics is a dirty business.

        5. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Pride

          Redrawing boundries is actually something that, in the UK, as far as I understand it shouldn't be that easy for the government to influence since they don't have direct control (See at it's most basic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering#Redistricting_by_neutral_or_cross-party_agency). It's definitely not something that every government can just do willy nilly when they get in just because they feel like it. It isn't the US.

      2. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

        Re: Pride

        My only issue with mandatory voting is what if you don't think any of the candidates is worthy? Mandatory voting only if there is a binding "none of the above" option. If "none of the above" wins then the vote is rerun with none of the previous candidates allowed to stand.

        A democratic vote is a precious thing and no-one should be forced to give theirs to a candidate they don't think is worthy.

        1. MrReynolds2U

          Re: Pride

          That, my friend is why spoiled votes are counted.

          And then there's our old friends The Monster Raving Looney Party, which have been somewhat usurped by the main political parties fielding questionable candidates lately.

          1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

            Re: Pride

            In the UK, protest votes or spoilt ballots certainly are counted but they don't count for anything.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Pride

          >My only issue with mandatory voting is what if you don't think any of the candidates is worthy?

          That's the nice thing about the Australian system (IIRC) , all the support agreements are worked out in advance.

          So you can vote Communist / Green / Nazi, safe in the knowledge that the vote is actually going to transfer to the Labour / Lib-Dem / Conservative - but you feel like you are being individual

        3. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Pride

          Alternative Vote or (better) Single Transferable Vote - choccy hobnobs are my favourite, plain are good, ginger nuts will do, don't like the rest.

          There is almost always someone on the ballot that you'd support - often an independent.

          The problem is that FPTP mean the majority of people simply cannot vote for the person (or party) that they actually want, because it risks letting in the party they absolutely cannot stand.

          The fact that people "Hold their nose and vote X" is absolute proof that it's a failure.

          FPTP also promotes a vicious "us vs them" line, which has occasionally resulted in violence, even murder.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Pride

            FPTP voting is always, universally and unequivocally an absolutely shit system set up by those in power to remain in power and gain more power.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pride

          My response to somone who says that they don't believe anyone is worth voting for is to ask whether they would rank all the candidates the same. By not voting, you are in effect stating that you are happy with whoever gets in (or at least equally unhappy with who gets in).

          If, however, there are one or more candidates whose views run very contrary to your own views, then they're not all the same and - the way I see it - you should vote for the "least worst" candidate on that basis.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pride

            The worst people in politics are the people who think all politicians are the same.

        5. nobody who matters

          Re: Pride

          A core part of Democracy is not just having the opportunity to vote, it also includes the choice to not vote ;)

          Making voting mandatory is merely one step on the road to turning democracy into autocracy.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Pride

            It is always possible to spoil a paper ballot.

            Turn up, draw a massive turd across the whole thing and that'll do.

            Or just toss it straight into the box un-marked.

            On the whole I'd recommend the giant poop approach before picking up your democracy sausage though.

          2. nobody who matters

            Re: Pride

            Four people appear to think that democracy is being ordered to do something. I call that dictating. I believe democracy is allowing individuals to make that choice for themselves!

            1. Casca Silver badge

              Re: Pride

              If you dont vote you have no cause to complain on what the government is doing.

              1. nobody who matters

                Re: Pride

                Whilst that is true, it is still not a valid reason why people should be made to vote if they do not wish to ;)

            2. nobody who matters

              Re: Pride

              The four now seem to have been joined by a fifth fan of dictatorship. Fortunately, democracy means that you won't prevail!

        6. Snapper

          Re: Pride

          The 'None of the above' is much better than a spoiled paper. It shows you have checked the various party's offerings (and history) and in your opinion found them wanting.

          I think you'd see a much larger number of people get interested in politics if they could count on officially showing their disapproval at election time.

        7. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: Pride

          My only issue with mandatory voting is what if you don't think any of the candidates is worthy? Mandatory voting only if there is a binding "none of the above"

          USAian here with a question for those with mandatory voting in their country. If all candidates for a particular office are distasteful, or is there is only one candidate on the ballot, unopposed, is it allowed to leave that office unvoted, as long as you turn up and cast a ballot? I often find one of the two options above, and I have betimes left that race blank, voting the other questions as normal. It is called an undervote, and is perfectly legal here, although the electronic voting machine will flag it and ask you to confirm that is your intention.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Pride

            > is it allowed to leave that office unvoted, as long as you turn up and cast a ballot?

            Yes and it's why the Australian election people have the world's largest collection of cock and balls drawings

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Pride

        "an elected regional representative assembly."

        We have and/or are having "regional Mayors" foisted on us, which is a sort of half hearted attempt at what you describe, although they have more local and devolved powers than a pure "representative" and less of the national representative cachet. I could see that changing over time as regional mayors of the same party form "working groups" of their own though and effectively force a national representation.

  10. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    Wait a minute, there are "popular" politicians???

    I thought you just picked the best of a bad lot the least smelly turd from the septic tank to vote for...

  11. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Obviously

    We make it a crime to read government laptops

    Tough on embarrassing leaks, tough on the causers of embarrassing leaks

    1. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: Obviously

      Ironically it's Mercer who may, possibly, end up in jail. Captain Hogwash seems to have contempt for everything - security, people who reveal his security failings, people on trains forced to endure his feet, inquiry judges and indeed the Conservative Party, being in which he likened to “working in a really shit company” with those in charge not having “a clue”. Still, he has all the necessary qualities to stand again for election.

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Obviously

      And don't forget: no exception to the rule!

  12. may_i

    Just a PIN to unlock your banking app?

    If your bank's idea of security is that all you need to unlock your banking app is a PIN, I'd suggest you find a bank which has a clue.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Just a PIN to unlock your banking app?

      You can be on the opposite side of the spectrum and have a bank that will block and cancel every transaction you make and ask to call their fraud department to explain it was you each time.

  13. heyrick Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Bare feet on a train?

    Please, I'm eating...

    (icon closest to "just threw up on the keyboard")

  14. tyrfing

    I'm just vaguely surprised that a minister was taking public transit instead of a private car with driver.

    As for voter ID, it's always necessary. When you go to vote, how do they know if you're who you say you are? Chances are very good the voting officer doesn't know you by sight after all.

    1. WanderingHaggis
      FAIL

      ID what ID?

      A few years back the UK rejected ID cards, now they are required for people to vote. There are advantages to having an ID card system if guess people wanted someone other than the govt to run it. ARGH !!!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: ID what ID?

        Different things.

        ID cards were to give the police reasons to stop anyone they wanted

        Voter ID is to reduce the number of opposition voters

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ID what ID?

        "There are advantages to having an ID card system"

        Fuck off! There aren't. Ubiquitous stasi-style pervasive surveillance can't ever be an advantage.

    2. Adair Silver badge

      Think about it...

      none of the ID requested for voting proves you are who you say you are.

      BECAUSE: the polling staff have no means of authenticating the document.

      PLUS: most of the documents are easily faked; even a driver's license is pretty easy to mock up by anyone with half a clue and widely available tech.

      IOW: the whole exercise is a complete scam and 'security theatre', solving a non-existant problem, but allowing the cynical prats implementing it a chance to skew the vote at least somewhat in their favour—so they believe.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Think about it...

        >solving a non-existant problem, .. a chance to skew the vote at least somewhat in their favour

        That was the problem it was solving.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        a driver's license is pretty easy to mock up

        Which means it's a good job we have driving licences in this country.

        I'm voting for the party that will bring in the death penalty for American spelling,

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: a driver's license is pretty easy to mock up

          You should see my other mistakes!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the UK politicians, including ministers, use public transport quite often. It's often the quickest way to get around, that helps. When I lived in Amsterdam you could bump into the mayor cycling to the market for his grocery shopping. Here in London all mayors to date have often cycled to work and they definitely use public transport, they'd lose half their working day if they had to use a car to get anywhere.

      It's mainly the developing world where politicians like to keep a distance from the electorate.

  15. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Disneyification

    What are 'veterans' in Great Britain ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disneyification

      Former members of the Armed Forces are referred to as "veterans". The office of Minister of State for Veterans' Affairs (incumbent J. Mercer) has only existed since July 2022 (and it's only been a Cabinet post since then), but there has been a junior minister with a similar title containing the term (e.g. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Veterans) since 2005.

      Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_State_for_Veterans%27_Affairs

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: Disneyification

        I'm reminded of one of the more surreal conversations I've ever been in. A colleague asks if I know how warp engines work. I reply in the affirmative and begin running through their income tax treatment.

        I'd misheard that as "war pensions".

        Silly me. After all this was what was then the Inland Revenue, and of course no self-respecting civil servant is going to take the time to find out about the rules they are applying.

  16. snowpages
    Unhappy

    Pedantry alert

    " UK citizens decide on their next leader"..

    The UK electorate NEVER decides on their next leader (althought they may think that they do).

    Effectively they just elect a political party. The party decides upon the leader (and could change it very soon after an election if they wanted).

    All we can do is choose the particular flavour of well-meaning (sometimes) and clueless (often) clowns.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Pedantry alert

      And <pedantmode=11> not all UK citizens are entitled to vote

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Pedantry alert

        Labour will sort that out. It's their policy to allow children and foreigners to vote.

        1. abend0c4 Silver badge

          Re: Pedantry alert

          It'll be women next, if we're not careful.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pedantry alert

      "All we can do is choose the particular flavour of well-meaning (sometimes) and clueless (often) clowns."

      I object in the strongest way to the use of the term 'Clowns'. !!!

      Clowns are unjustly sullied by this association and deserve much greater appreciation/respect !!!

      Why not just use the right word 'Politician' [Cough spit !!!] ....

      Please don't ask me to say that word out loud unless I have 'sick bag' handy !!!

      :)

    3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

      Re: Pedantry alert

      We don't even elect a party. You vote for your local MP and and if they win, whichever party they belong to gets a point in the ruling party race.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Pedantry alert

        In that case the candidates party affiliation should not be on the ballot form.

    4. Mage Silver badge

      Re: they just elect a political party

      No, they vote for a person, who usually happens to be in a particular party and can change their affiliation.

      There are places where you vote for a party, but not the UK.

      The party can choose their own leader, but AFIAK the UK PM has to be elected (or ratified) by Parliament, which will usually be the person picked by the majority party, and need not be the party leader. Possibly the Monarch can refuse a choice or sack a PM, but that was maybe 150 years ago.

      1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        Re: they just elect a political party

        > The party can choose their own leader, but AFIAK the UK PM has to be elected (or ratified) by Parliament,

        Its a bit simpler than that, usually the Party Leader of the largest political part is invited by the King to form a government as long as thy can command Parliament based on their ability to command confidence in the House of Commons.

        https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/article/explainer/appointment-prime-ministers-and-role-king

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: they just elect a political party

          AFIAK the UK PM has to be elected (or ratified) by Parliament

          Although not necessarily by voters. There's no requirement for the PM to be an MP

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: they just elect a political party

            They do have to be a member of the Lords or Commons in order to answer questions put to them by other members.

  17. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Mercer also wrote "I don't feel part of the team"

    Get used to the feeling, cos I don't think you're going to be part of it much longer after being caught whinging about your boss like this..... and even if you're forgiven by him, your real employers (i.e. constituents) might also have something to say about the matter quite soon.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Mercer also wrote "I don't feel part of the team"

      Unless _everybody_ is whinging.

      I thought it was amusing, though: PM calls election in a last-ditch effort to keep his job and the whinging includes "giving the PM too much airtime". With friends like these....

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Mercer also wrote "I don't feel part of the team"

        Although in this case: PM calls election to screw over his own MPs might be closer.

        I don't think this PM is over concerned about keeping the pay packet

  18. SiggyMax
    Windows

    X-cretion

    "So some little weirdo has gone round snapping my laptop reading private messages from a private email account," Mercer Xeeted.

    Xeeted? Surely, that should have been X-creted?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: X-cretion

      "Xeeted? Surely, that should have been X-creted?"

      Well done .... that is now the correct term and should be added to everyones lexicon !!!

      :)

  19. Vern not Winston Smith

    Shoulder Surfing is only 10 years old.....

    In the dark ages of the internet (late 1990s), I would fly from San Jose to Boston. A couple times during the flight I would stroll down the aisle of the plane to see what people were working on; layoffs, firings, preso for products under NDA, earning reports etc. I guess what is old is new...except for me.

  20. Great Bu

    "Shoot me now"

    See ? We can agree on something...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Finally a good idea !

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Situational Awareness Is Rare

    It's Friday evening. Paula Vennells has been giving "testimony" for three days:

    - I did not know

    - I know now, but I wish I had known then

    - They didn't tell me

    - I'm so sorry

    If five million pounds get this level of competence........how much do you need to spend on a CEO who actually knows which way is up?

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

      Have any of these 'executive' types any awareness and understanding of the word 'responsibility' and how it is relevant to the role of an 'executive'?

      It doesn't matter whether Vennells, or her senior subordinates, knew what was going on or not. They should have known, they were paid to know, and they were paid to take responsibility when everything goes tits up through incompetence, malice, or greed, etc.

      Don't waste time and money on prison. They should all be fined 75% of their assets. And quit the whining, you were happy to take the benefits when it all looked good, be happy you're only losing wealth when you have to take responsibility for your institution's crapness and the pain and misery you have helped to cause.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

        "Have any of these 'executive' types any awareness and understanding of the word 'responsibility' and how it is relevant to the role of an 'executive'?

        It seems to me that most of the people who reach these heady heights of responsibility come from monied backgrounds, public schools, Oxbridge and so often have little idea of what it's like to have actual responsibility or to be told "no" through most if not all of their life. I suppose, to some extent, it's not entirely 100% their fault if they have been sheltered from the harsh realities that the other 99.99% of the population have to live through. IT'S THE PARENTS FAULT! :-)

      2. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

        "they were paid to take responsibility when everything goes tits up through incompetence, malice, or greed, etc."

        That may be true.

        It would have been better that they had been paid to avoid those things.

        -A.

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

          That too, but that smells like 'hard work'. :-)

        2. Jonathon Green
          Trollface

          Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

          I think the theory is that if they’re going to have to take responsibility they’ll avoid fscking things up in the noble cause of self preservation…

          1. Adair Silver badge

            Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

            But they never do 'take responsibility'. They may occasionally use the word, but nothing ever actually happens.

            Witness one Mr. Johnson, who frequently 'took responsibility' during the pandemic. Can anyone demonstrate any evidence whatsoever that his claim actually had substance, i.e. resigned over the failures that were manifest even at the time, and which he directly claimed to take responsibility for?

            Back in the day Lloyds' names took responsibility for their investments by being personally liable for losses, e.g. the total loss of a cargo when the ship sank (which happened not too infrequently). As a name you could literally lose everything, including the proverbial shirt off your back.

            When did any recent 'executive' ever pay a significant personal price for the incompetence of the company they were notionally in charge of, let alone for their own uselessness? They take the money for 'success'; they never pay the price of 'failure', except to move on to another well gilded position, or to retire to enjoy the spoils of their entitlement.

            1. R Soul Silver badge

              taking responsibility

              Witness one Mr. Johnson, who frequently 'took responsibility' during the pandemic. Can anyone demonstrate any evidence whatsoever that his claim actually had substance, i.e. resigned over the failures that were manifest even at the time, and which he directly claimed to take responsibility for?

              Resigning over his many failings in public office would not be taking responsibility. Johnson (and the rest of his clown parade) need to be held to account in the courts for their actions. Prosecution for 300,000+ counts of manslaughter for his starring role in the COVID shit-show should be a no-brainer. Johnson should also take responsibility and be facing prosecution for many other serious crimes: perjury (lying to parliament and the monarch), conspiracy to pervert the course of justice (protecting his criminal MP cronies and violations of the ministerial code), misconduct in public office, Partygate, etc, etc. That lying crook deserves to be in jail for a long, long time. And that would be taking responsibility.

              1. Adair Silver badge

                Re: taking responsibility

                You are talking about 'criminal' charges, which is a completely different category to 'political responsibility'.

                In the past, if a cabinet minister, or even the PM, was seen to have demonstrably failed in their responsibility to ensure a particular policy was carried out, or if their department had failed in its statutory duty, that person, who is functionally 'responsible' for ensuring these things are done properly, would have immediately (or as soon as it became obvious their position was compromised) offer their resignation, which would generally be accepted, unless there were unusual extenuating circumstances.

                This no longer happens. Cabinet Ministers cling on until they are sacked, even in the most egregious circumstances, i.e. they no longer take responsibility. They are irresponsible ministers—in principle they are unfit to hold office.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

        sorry downvote,

        they should have all their money taken and thrown in jail for life.

        they killed people with their fuckery.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

        "Don't waste time and money on prison. They should all be fined 75% of their assets."

        That's nowhere close to justice. For starters, all of the assets of the evil fuckers responsible for the Horizon scandal could only pay a tiny percentage of the compensation due to their victims. And how on earth do you properly compensate someone who was falsely imprisoned for years because of Fujitsu's and POL's deliberate lies? How does this get done for those who died as a result of those deliberate lies?

        Everyone responsible for this scandal MUST get long custodial sentences. Because they're guilty of very serious crime. [No shit, Sherlock...!] It's also high time boardroom crookery got properly punished, if only to provide a deterrent. Hopefully this would also put an end to the sudden epidemics of amnesia whenever these criminals get forced to explain themselves,

    2. JamesTGrant

      Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

      I don’t recall

      Which interestingly isn’t saying ‘I can’t remember’ it’s saying ‘I haven’t accessed the memory and retrieved the information therein’.

      I’m realising that I am very easily influenced by what someone says (ahh she seems nice..) but the guy questioning her is masterful at letting her words stack up against her. Either she somehow became CEO whilst being incompetent, or became suddenly incompetent once appointed and sucked at her job. Or, was completely callous and knew but didn’t care about the impact on real people being falsely accused. Starting to appear to be the latter.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

        She was always incompetent. The was a tickbox hire. The actual work is done by underlings.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Situational Awareness Is Rare

      Above a certain level of management I get the feeling there is suddenly an inversion in the pay to competence ratio and the higher up the ladder and the higher they pay the less competent someone in that function is actually expected to be by those above them (since they're even less competent). I have an aversion to management in general which can be summed up thusly: "If a company manager actually does their job properly and his underlings are properly instructed and capable a manager (any manger) can drop dead tomorrow and the company and it's customers would not ever notice". That doesn't mean that managers don't have their uses, but it does mean they regularly need an ego check and their numbers strongly limited.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't be surprised if it were deliberate. They are all posturing for the next leadership campaign. Some, such as Cruella, have been doing so ever since they entered government.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Conspiracy theory!

      I love it! But calling your henchman a little weirdo is not the way to instill loyalty. So still a plonker.

  23. DS999 Silver badge

    I guess this is a use case for Vision Pro

    Even privacy screens can't stop someone directly behind you from reading your screen, but if the screen is visible only to you no worries. Maybe they need to mandate that sort of solution for anyone working with sensitive information in a public place? Or a private car? Or not working anywhere within public view? Then there is the risk of calls/videoconferences done in public. Even if you wear headphones so they can't hear the others speak they could hear you speak, or read lips on the screen of a videoconference.

    Nah, rules would inconvenience the Important People. Rules and laws are for the little people like us, not them!

  24. Blackjack Silver badge

    [His memo states that he was upset that his attempts to let military veterans, who had previously been turned away from polling stations, use their ID cards to prove their identity when voting had been denied. Downing Street special advisers apparently blocked these proposals because it could also "open the floodgates" and allow students to also use their ID cards too.]

    Democracy at work gentlemen!

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Sounds like Texas, where thanks to republicans "protecting your vote" (but only if they think you'll be voting for them) you can use your gun license for a voter ID, but not your University of Texas student ID!

  25. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Hmmm..... They were asking for it, reading private documents in a public place/wearing a short skirt/walking in a dodgy neighbourhood. Is this really today's society?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why isn't AI solving this ?

    C'mon guys. It's our duty to burst the stupid fad bubbles that lead to a lot of shiny in bankrupt businesses.

    Funny, when you suggest uses for AI, rather than having the marketing mafia tell you what they are selling, there's instant tumbleweed.

  27. Daedalus
    Coat

    Xeeted?

    Well, there's an opportunity that Elon missed. If he'd felt a bit more masculine when renaming Twitter, he could have hijacked a bit of the current nasdat for his own purposes.

    NE1 4A Yeet?

    I'll yeet myself out.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Technically, shoulder surfing is not social engineering

    Shoulder surfing is a form of passive spying. You don't persuade the victim to do anything, you just watch the stuff they were going to do anyway. Social engineering requires tricking the victim to do something they wouldn't have otherwise done.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Technically, shoulder surfing is not social engineering

      Indeed. More succinctly social engineer is active, shoulder surfing is passive.

  29. steviebuk Silver badge

    Vision Express

    Vision Express in town still has their monitors by the window. Was hanging outside once and noticed the user had got up to sort out a customer but left the PC wide open. You could see all the users data so I took a photo. Sadly it was on my old Nokia E71 so it was shitty but still, it was to prove a point. I mentioned it to their head office, they said thanks and I heard no more about it.

    About a year later I visit another one of their branches to get new glasses with my partner. The woman serving us said "Sorry, I just have to unlock the screen as we've had new system implemented for security and we're still getting used to it. Always happens when we leave the desk". My partner and I smiled, pretty sure that was because of my "shoulder surfing" incident and the report to head office.

    Despite suggesting the other branch that is surrounded by big windows might want to angle their screens away from the window, they never did. Can still see them to this day. Speaking of that, I need to get another photo now I have a good camera phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vision Express

      So they had a meeting and decided they have to do something about this, but the "something" they decided on was a lock screen rather than change the angle. The old management "tick the box we have done something we don't have to worry about this problem anymore" psychology strikes again...

  30. xyz123 Silver badge

    Give the recent scandals, for both Tory and Labour it appears to be open-legs season.

  31. xyz123 Silver badge

    Most voters will never change their vote from Tory OR Labour.

    So you have to target the "floating voters" (i.e. the vast minority) which is why Labour have been targetting small demographics based on sexuality and some on religion. To tip the elction over to them.

    It's how politics goes, and why you see Prime Ministers and MPs sucking up to vocal groups that make up around 0.1% of the population.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Not quite true. You have to target floating voters in a few marginal constituencies. There's no point in worrying about somebody who might be torn between labour and Reform but live in Barnsley

  32. ChrisBedford

    Use of weird English, El Reg?

    Preumably they meant the mind boggles

    "The mind baffles as to why[...]"

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All shoulder

    Did they publish the full photos of Mercer's gaff?

    I wonder given that he was criticising the throne and the powers behind it if this story was helped along a bit? If anyone remembers "Yes, Minister", the country is not run by the elected alone.

  34. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Typical answer from a politician: "not my fault" - What a bunch of irresponsible people, and they are the ones in charge.

  35. CPU

    Something about...

    Something about the blind leading the stupid, with the ridiculous bring up the rear...

  36. xyz123 Silver badge

    Penny Mordaunt sounds like the ghost of a mutilated victorian girl that haunts Parliament trying to get people to view her unfinished business.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Send them to school

    Not for explicit training per se. Shoulder surfing, physical and electronic, has been part of Basic Security Awareness training at least as far back as 2007 (the earliest example in my collection), and physical shoulder surfing training going back to at least the 90s. (Heck how many movies have we seen it in)

    If UK secondary school is anything like my daughter's Canadian high school then they'll get comprehensively red-teamed within days. My eldest is 6 years older is less security savvy, phones were less capable and laptops not as ubiquitous and missed many of the "high jinx" that school kids get up to now.

    Youngest, most definitely not a tech person (they've seen what it did to me): asked for the password manager, let's me know if the backups aren't happening, changes passwords if she thinks if could have been compromised.

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