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Big rise in spam malware

The latest Kaspersky Lab Spam and Phishing Report has discovered that although the quantity of spam emails has been decreasing, they have become more criminalised.

At the same time, the level of malicious mailshots has dramatically increased – Kaspersky Lab products prevented 22,890,956 attempts to infect users via emails with malicious attachments in March 2016, twice the number of attempts reported in February 2016.

Since 2012 the level of spam in email traffic has constantly been decreasing. However, the quantity of emails with malicious attachments has increased significantly – in Q1 2016 it was 3.3 times higher than during the same period in 2015. There was also a growing amount of ransomware reported throughout the quarter. This is often propagated through emails with infected attachments – for example Word documents. The main actor on this field in Q1 was the ransomware Trojan Locky, which has been actively distributed via emails in different languages and has targeted at least 114 countries. Locky emails have contained fake information from financial institutions that have deceived users and forced them to open the harmful attachment.

Kaspersky Lab’s findings suggest that spam is becoming more popular for fraudsters to target Internet users, because web browsing is becoming safer. Almost all popular web-browser developers have now implemented security and anti-phishing protection tools, making it harder for cybercriminals to propagate their malware through infected web pages.

During this quarter fraudsters tried to lure users into opening malicious files, gaining their attention with emails about terrorism, a subject which is always in the news. To prevent terrorist attacks many countries have strengthened their security measures and this has therefore become a popular topic for spam emails.

Some spam fraudsters tried to convince recipients that the file attached to their spam email contained a new mobile application, which, after installation, could detect an explosive terrorist device. The email emphasised that the US Department of Defense had discovered this technology and that it was sufficiently simple and accessible. The attachment usually contained an executive file, which was detected as Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Dapato, malware that can steal personal user information, organise DDoS-attacks and install other malicious software.

Well-known Nigerian spammers also used terrorist topics in their emails. According to the Kaspersky Lab report, the quantity of these emails has increased considerably. These spammers previously preferred to send long emails with a detailed story, and links to news to make it more convincing. However, they are now only sending short messages with no detail, asking the recipients to get in touch.

“Unfortunately we are seeing our previous predictions about the criminalisation of spam coming true. Fraudsters are using diverse methods to attract user attention, and to make them drop their guard. Spammers are employing a diversity of languages, social engineering methods, different types of malicious attachments, as well as the partial personalisation of email text to look more convincing. The fake messages often imitate notifications from well-known organisations and services. This is raising spam to a new dangerous level,”  warns Daria Gudkova, Spam Analysis Expert, Kaspersky Lab.

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Mobile is the new branch

Standard Bank has launched an account for mobile devices that gives back 500MB of data a month

Standard Bank has introducd a R4.95p/m bank account called MyMo that customers can open on their mobile devices, loaded with data and airtime offerings and other benefits such as virtual and Gold physical card.

MyMo account holders will also enjoy the convenience of a cheque account through a Visa and Mastercard gold card. Once the account is open, users can choose to either receive R50 in airtime or 500MB of data a month, if their card is swiped more than four times a month. A further megabyte of data is loaded on the account for every R20 spent.

“MyMo is an account for everyone, whether you just landed your first job or have been around the block. With no documentation required it only takes a few minutes to open the account,” says Funeka Montjane, Chief Executive for Personal and Business Banking, South Africa, at Standard Bank Group. “For just R4.95 a month customer will be able to enjoy free swipes and ATM withdrawals at only R6.50 for amounts under R 1 000.

“Mobile is the new branch. This account is about bringing the mobile branch into customers hands, it is about convenience and security while banking.”

She says mobile offers low cost transactional banking which integrates people and businesses into the new connected economy, making mobile the new branch ecosystem that will drive and connect Africa’s growth. Physical connections to the economy are rapidly changing to digital where banks have to move from being financial institutions to service organisations.

“In the past people congregated in communities and eventually cities to maximise the advantages of connectivity. Today a simple hand-held device has the potential to open infinite doors, transforming individuals’ access to opportunities, regardless of where they are, and like never before in history. 

“Historically, a bank account represented access to economic citizenship. Today, having a simple device enabling digital access to a modern banking platform is a passport to global connectivity and vast human development potential.”

The bank says it is using technology, and mobile phones in particular, to deliver low-cost transactional channels accessible to all our customers. The evolution in mobile can be seen in transaction options like cash back at the retail checkout till rather than the ATM, free digital banking rather than using a branch, and the ability to transact using digital wallets, even without a bank account.

“Developing comprehensive connected ecosystems requires a mind-set change from Africa’s banks,” says Montjane. “Banks will evolve away from traditional financial service organisations, into service ecosystems enabling broad universal access to almost everything like enhanced purchasing experiences of vehicles and homes, online procurement of goods and services and lifestyle elements like rewards and travel. 

“These connectivity drivers will also act to future-proof evolving connectivity ecosystem by allowing us to offer untold future services while deriving income from as yet unrealised revenue streams,.   

From a customer perspective, the kind of ecosystems of knowledge, access and, ultimately, connectivity that banks will come to provide will radically transform the share of life that almost all individuals will be able to access.”

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Two-thirds of SA staff hide social media from bosses

With 90% of people in employment going online several times a day, it can be hard for most workers to keep their private and work-life separate during the working day (and beyond). The recently published Global Privacy Report from Kaspersky Lab reveals that 64% of South African consumers choose to hide social media activity from their boss. This secretive stance at work also extends to their colleagues, with 60% of South Africans also preferring not to reveal online activities to their co-workers.

Globally, the average employee spends an astonishing 13 years and two months at work during their lifetime. Interestingly though, not all this time is directly related to solving work tasks or earning a promotion: almost two thirds (64%) of consumers admit visiting non-work-related websites every day from their desk.

Not surprisingly, 35% of South African employees are against their employer knowing which websites they visit. However, more interestingly, 60% of South African are even against their colleagues knowing about their online activities. This probably means that colleagues constitute an even greater threat to future perspectives of an office slouch or maybe the relationships with colleagues are more informal and therefore, more valuable.

On the contrary, social media activity appears to be a less private domain for many and therefore, more suitable for sharing with colleagues but not the boss. This is probably because workers fear harming the public image of a company or interest in decreased staff productivity motivates companies to monitor employees’ social networks and make career changing decisions based on that. Such policies have led to 64% of South Africans saying that they don’t want to reveal their social media activities to their boss and 53% even don’t want to disclose this information to their colleagues.

A further 29% are against showing the content of their messages and emails to their employer. In addition, 3% even said that their career was irrevocably damaged as a consequence of their personal information being leaked. Thus, people are worried about how to build a favourable internal reputation and how not to destroy existing workplace relationships.

“As going online is an integral part of our life nowadays, lines continue to blur between our digital existence at work and at home. And that’s neither good nor bad. That’s how we live in the digital age. Just keep remembering that as an employee you need to be increasingly cautious of what exactly you post on social media feeds or what websites you prefer using at work. One misconceived action on the internet could have an irrevocable long-term impact on even the most ambitious worker’s ability to climb the career ladder of their choice in the future,” comments Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky Lab.

To ensure workers don’t fall prey of the internet threats at a work, there are some core guidelines to adhere to in the digital age:

  • Don’t post anything that could be considered defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libellous. If in doubt, don’t post.
  • Be aware that system administrators may at least, in theory, be informed about your web browsing patterns.
  • Don’t harass, threaten, discriminate or disparage against any colleague, partner, competitor or customer. Neither on social networks or in messages, emails, nor by any other means.
  • Don’t post photographs of other employees, customers, vendors, suppliers or company products without prior written permission.
  • Start using Kaspersky Password Manager to ensure your social media and other personal accounts are not at risk of unauthorised access by someone else in an office. Install a reliable security solution such as Kaspersky Security Cloud to protect your personal devices.

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