To protect their privacy, paranoid users are turning to a multitude of methods to keep their personal data away from prying eyes in the online world, including hiding their computers, yet Kaspersky Lab warns that many people are still not aware of other risks lurking in cyber-world.
The research shows Internet users turning to a number of different methods to keep their privacy safe. 13% of South Africans admit that they cover up their webcam, in an attempt to protect their privacy. Useful in itself, it’s important to recognise that covering a webcam cannot prevent audio interception and protect users from being listened to by hackers or malicious groups.
34% of Internet users locally store their sensitive data on devices that have no Internet access, mistakenly thinking that this will guarantee the protection of their data. However, although this theory is grounded in logic, and is essential for securing backup data from the effects of a ransomware attack, even without an Internet connection it is possible for a device to be infected via a connected smartphone or USB stick.
11% of those surveyed admitted that they try to avoid using popular websites like Google and Facebook because of the personal information they gather, despite the fact that it is normal practice for almost all websites to track users and collect some user data today.
Moreover, globally 8% of paranoid respondents admitted to hiding their computers from other people, even though this will not help protect them from Internet threats. 7% also said they devote time to entering, then erasing credit card data when paying online, in an attempt to confuse viruses, despite the fact that malware, especially keyloggers, cannot be confused this way.
Whilst some use these extreme, but inadequate methods, the statistics show that other Internet users are severely lacking in cyber-savviness. Only 26% locally said they feel targeted online and 16% said that they do not think a security solution is necessary, raising questions about their online awareness and ability to protect themselves from harm.
David Emm, Principal Security Researcher from Kaspersky Lab says, “These findings demonstrate two extremes – on the one hand there are people who think they can keep their data safe by, for example, hiding their computers; but on the other hand there are still those who are simply not taking the necessary precautions online. People need to become more cyber-savvy – with today’s security solutions it’s possible to protect yourself from cyberthreats, without having to go to the extreme lengths of hiding a computer.”
It is possible for users to protect themselves from online threats, without having to resort to extreme – or inaccurate – methods. Kaspersky Internet Security, for example, can safeguard users without affecting their digital lives. The Webcam Protection feature for Mac and Windows can maintain user privacy, whilst specialist anti-tracking features – such as the Private Browsing function – can help users who want to avoid being tracked by websites – by cutting off user data from Internet traffic.
Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards
The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.
The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).
Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”
Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever Award. She has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).
The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:
The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognition, Age cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.
Cons exploit Telegram ICO
Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.
In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.
Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.
The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.
Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.
“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:
- Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
- Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
- Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.