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Beware these DDoS myths

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As a rapidly evolving threat, Distributed Denial of Service attacks are surrounded in a haze of confusion. DARREN ANSTEE, chief security technologist at Arbor Networks explores some of the most-common myths.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have appeared on the threat horizon as one of the most pressing issues for security experts. In today’s cloud-based, always-on business environment, DDoS attacks can pull down an organisation’s online systems, bring workflow and mission-critical processes to a halt, and cause untold reputation damage.

Yes, many businesses and organisations remain at risk, lulled into a false sense of security by believing in one, or more, of the many ‘DDoS myths’. Here are nine of the most-common examples:

1. My type of organisation isn’t a target… Big businesses are not the only targets of malicious web bots. Almost every type of organisation – from corporates to small businesses, banking, governments, hospitals, universities, schools and non-profit organisations have all suffered from debilitating attacks in the past few years.

2. The costs of DDoS protection outweigh the impact of attacks… Many organisations only wait to address the issue of DDoS protection after they have already been hit. Unfortunately, by this stage, it’s already too late and the damage has been done. Don’t fall into the trap of underestimating the combined impact of DDoS attacks at a number of levels:

·        Direct financial loss

·        Costs to recover from an attack

·        Brand damage and loss of consumer trust

·        Supply chain disruption

·        Contract fines from SLA beaches

·        Regulatory fines from compliance breaches

3. My firewall or IPS will keep me safe… While traditional perimeter security solutions are certainly vital aspects of an integrated security set-up, they are not designed specifically to cater for DDoS attacks. Attackers look for gaps in traditional security solutions, they’ll look for devices that conduct stateful inspections of network connections, and take advantage of networks that are left unguarded.

4. My Internet Service Provider guarantees protection… Remember that modern attacks blend volumetric TCP-state exhaustion and application-layer attack vectors. While ISPs upstream may well be able to detect some of the most blatant, larger attacks, it’s the more subtle application-layer attacks that can only be properly managed at the customer premises.

5. I have more than enough bandwidth to survive an attack… Some of the coordinated attacks saturate hundreds of gigs in bandwidth. In fact, Arbor’s most recent Annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report confirmed sightings of attacks of an astonishing 800Gpbs in scale. That’s 60 percent bigger than the previous year’s largest reported attack – and in the future they’ll only get worse. It’s unlikely that anyone has enough bandwidth to cater for attacks like this!

6. I have DDoS protection in place, now I can forget about it… DDoS attacks are evolving at an alarming rate – growing in scale and sophistication. They’re moving in new directions, such as connected sensors and devices like cameras and DVRs that are being weaponised into devastating zombie armies of botnets to launch massive attacks.

7. The odds of being attacked are low – I’ll take the chance… In fact, the odds of DDoS attacks hurting your business are at an all-time high. The Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report revealed that more than half of service providers are now seeing upwards of 21 attacks per month (a 44 percent increase). Twenty-one percent of data centre respondents see more than 50 attacks per month (versus only eight percent last year). Finally, a surprising 45 percent of enterprise, government and education respondents experience more than 10 attacks per month (17 percent up on the previous year).

8. DDoS isn’t an advanced threat (which is where I should focus my resources)… Arbor research shows that more than a quarter of all DDoS attacks are actually used as a diversion tactic, or smokescreen, to cover up the exfiltration of confidential data. Today’s sophisticated attacker often uses a combination of techniques, and DDoS attacks often have a complicated interrelationship with other forms of advanced threats.

9. All DDoS protection tools are the same… There is a vast difference between vendors and between different solutions. Ensure you select a trusted provider with deep experience and resources dedicated to the field of DDoS security. Ensure you have a specialised market-leading DDoS protection, as a key component of your broader security estate.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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