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ESET closes the window for webcam hackers

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Security software maker ESET has rolled out new Internet security products for home users, becoming one of the first to include specific Webcam protection.

In June this year, a photo of Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, taken when he was celebrating his growing user base on Instagram, sparked massive interest.  An eagle-eyed Twitter user noticed that, in the background, one of the most powerful men in tech had his laptop camera and microphone covered in tape.  Why? Because even a man like Zuckerberg is not immune to security breaches.

With a new line of products rolled out last week, security software company ESET has emphasised the need for privacy while operating PCs and laptops. ESET Webcam Protection, available with ESET Smart Security Premium and ESET Internet Security, regulates access to the camera so users are fully protected.  They will be able to see and block or allow processes and applications, as well as turning off the computer’s camera so processes won’t be able to access it.

People who are not billionaire or CEOs are not without risk. The threat of people scanning the internet for accessible webcams results from a range of motives, from voyeurism to extortion. This has been one of the most popular types of malware on every operating system for a while.

These threats are addressed directly in ESET’s premium line of security solutions for home users launched in South Africa last week. It includes ESET Smart Security Premium, built upon its award-winning NOD32 technology that offers the best mix of detection, speed, and usability.

The new ESET product portfolio for home users has many proven features, such as Banking & Payment Protection,  Antispyware, Anti-Phishing, Exploit Blocker, advanced Personal Firewall, and the ESET LiveGrid Reputation System.

“As internet threats get more diverse, users need more complex internet security features based on individual preferences,” says Steve Flynn, an ESET director. “Our new product portfolio fully reflects this trend.”

Webcam Protection is a feature that controls processes and applications that access computer connected web cameras and displays notifications when unwanted applications try to access the camera.

Home Network Protection enables users to test home routers vulnerabilities, such as weak passwords or out-of-date firmware, and offers them options for remediation. It also provides an easy-to-access list of connected devices, with devices categorised by type and shows who’s connected. This helps users see how safe their home networks are.

ESET Password Manager employs AES‑256 encryption – the world’s leading standard – to store and pre-fill all users‘ passwords. It also generates and stores extra-strong new passwords each time the user needs one.

Script-Based Attack Protection detects attacks by malicious scripts that try to exploit Windows PowerShell. It also detects malicious JavaScript that can attack via the browser; all major browsers are supported.

ESET Secure Data protects against data theft in the event of USB-key or laptop loss, and allows for secure collaboration and data sharing.

* Visit www.eset.com to learn more about ESET flagship products and the new ESET Smart Security Premium.

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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