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Fitbit launches Ionic

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Fitbit has announced its first smartwatch – the Fitbit Ionic.  The Ionic will be available in select South African stores mid October 2017, at R5,499 and is available in three colours – silver gray, smoke gray and burnt orange.

In addition, accessories will be available in a black and charcoal or cobalt and lime two-toned breathable Sport Band, as well as a hand-crafted and perforated Horween leather strap in cognac or midnight blue.

A health and fitness first platform, Ionic offers a highly personalised experience not previously seen in other smartwatches. Ionic builds on Fitbit’s health and fitness expertise with a new relative SpO2 sensor, making it possible to track deeper health insights like sleep apnea in the future, industry-leading GPS tracking, on-device dynamic workouts, improved heart rate tracking, and water resistance up to 50 meters. Plus, smart features like contactless payments, on-board music, smart notifications, and a variety of popular apps and clock faces available in the Fitbit App Gallery. Ionic also has all the core features our users love from Fitbit like 4+ day battery life, automatic activity and sleep tracking, and cross-platform compatibility. Ionic will be available at select local retailers from mid October 2017, with a new Fitbit Ionic adidas special edition device coming in 2018. The Fitbit app software development kit (SDK) will be open to developers in September 2017.

“Ten years ago, Fitbit pioneered the wearables category with the introduction of its first health and fitness tracker. Since then, we have become the leading global wearables brand, setting the pace of innovation in the category and establishing the largest social fitness network that helps millions of people around the world be healthier,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “With Ionic, we will deliver what consumers have not yet seen in a smartwatch – a health and fitness first platform that combines the power of personalization and deeper insights with our most advanced technology to date, unlocking opportunities for unprecedented health tracking capabilities in the future.”

Ionic follows a long line of innovative and popular Fitbit products that redefined how we learn about and manage our health, and even helped save lives. Ionic continues to deliver on this promise by offering more personalized insights and guidance, coupled with an engaging experience and sleek design, to help drive meaningful behavior change and better health outcomes.

Everything you need, all in one device

From beginners to experienced athletes, Fitbit’s most advanced device to date offers personal, actionable guidance to motivate you to reach your goals – all while keeping you connected with apps and notifications.

  • Personal trainer with Fitbit Coach: Access dynamic, on-device workouts that adapt based on feedback you provide on your wrist, or listen to expert-designed running and walking Audio Coaching sessions (available 2018) to increase endurance, speed and form on your schedule.
  • Running companion: Automatically track your run with the new Run Detect feature that kicks in GPS tracking – just step out the door and go; see real-time pace and distance; auto-pause to grab some water or take a breather and automatically resume when you start running.
  • New swim exercise mode: With water resistance up to 50 meters and industry-leading lap counting, use Ionic in the pool and see your real-time laps, exercise duration and calories burned for pool swims.
  • Industry-leading GPS: The unique design and integrated antenna inside Ionic provide a stronger connection to GPS and GLONASS satellites, delivering industry-leading GPS performance. Leave your phone behind and see pace and distance right on your wrist, as well as record elevation climbed, split times, and a map of your walk, run or ride in the Fitbit app.
  • Improved heart rate technology: Ionic has enhanced PurePulse® heart rate tracking with greater accuracy during exercises like cycling, intervals and running; better measure calorie burn, see real-time heart rate zones to optimize intensity, and track resting heart rate 24/7.
  • New sensor technology: The introduction of a relative SpO2 sensor for estimating blood oxygen levels opens the potential for tracking important new indicators about your health, such as sleep apnea.
  • Motivation through music: Leave your phone at home and find the motivation to jumpstart your workout by storing and playing more than 300 songs on device (2.5 GB of storage). Connect Ionic to any Bluetooth device of your choosing. Make payments using Fitbit Pay™: Leave your wallet and phone at home and effortlessly pay for items right from your device, wherever contactless payments are accepted. Over the coming months you will be able to add eligible credit and debit cards from top issuing banks in over 10 markets across the globe, with more countries and banks planned soon.
  • Smart notifications you need most: With extended smartphone notifications, receive call, text and calendar alerts, as well as notifications from apps on your smartphone like Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, Slack, Snapchat and more.
  • Multi-day battery life: With 4+ days battery life on a single charge (10 hours with GPS or playing music), Ionic will outlast any activity you do during the day and still track your sleep all night.

In addition to these new features, Ionic has everything you love about Fitbit – automatically track your steps, calories, floors climbed and sleep stages, see your cardio fitness level (estimated VO2 Max), maintain moments of calm and more.

“Whether I’m trying to stay in shape during the off-season or train for the playoffs, tracking my activity and health on and off the court is crucial to my success,” said Harrison Barnes, Fitbit Ambassador, Olympic gold medalist and star forward for the Dallas Mavericks. “With Ionic, I can see my heart rate zones in real-time so I can gauge how hard I’m pushing myself during a workout, and track my sleep each night to make sure I’m rested and recovered so I’m at my best on the court the next day.”

Fitbit + adidas

Fitbit is partnering with adidas to deliver a Fitbit Ionic special edition device and training programs in 2018. This relationship will leverage adidas’ robust performance program expertise with Fitbit data and insights from millions of global users to help athletes of all levels perform better, play better and feel better.

Make Ionic your own

Ionic runs on Fitbit OS, the company’s new operating system for smartwatches that will be regularly updated to add new user experiences. This includes the launch of the Fitbit App Gallery, where you can select the apps and clock faces that appeal to you so you’re always armed with the information you want most, in a way that reflects your own personal needs and style.

The App Gallery offers a range of health and fitness apps from Fitbit like Exercise, Fitbit Coach, Relax, Timer and more, as well as popular apps that are designed to make life easier and more convenient when you’re on the go. Each app is designed specifically for Ionic so you don’t have to download an accompanying mobile app or have your smartphone nearby. Leading partner apps available on Fitbit Ionic at launch include:

  • Strava, the leading social network for millions of athletes at all levels, makes it easy to get inspired, stay motivated, track activities and analyze your performance data for your runs, bike rides and swims. Using the exclusive Matched Runs feature, you can benchmark yourself against past performances on your most common routes – right on your wrist.
  • Weather, powered by global leader AccuWeather, gives you real-time weather predictions with Superior Accuracy from your three favorite locations. Get personalized forecast information with your exact location, so you can better plan your workout or weekend.
  • The App Gallery will continue to expand with more popular apps expected this Spring, as well as clock faces created by our developer community.

Developer tools and benefits

If you’re interested in building for the Fitbit App Gallery, you will be able to use the SDK, including our Web-based developer environment Fitbit Studio, starting in September 2017. In developing apps and clock faces for Ionic, you will have access to sensors on the device and the opportunity for your content to be available to all Ionic and future Fitbit smartwatch users. We have built upon the Pebble platform to provide these industry-leading developer benefits and tools:

  • Fast development: Open platform based on standard technologies using JavaScript and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) offers a quick, easy way to build apps and feature-rich, beautiful clock faces on the Web.
  • Choose who you develop for: Skip the review process and create apps or clock faces just for friends and family, or submit for approval to be included in the curated Gallery.
  • Cross-platform compatibility: Develop one app and reach Fitbit’s large, global community of users across Android, iOS and Windows platforms.
  • Open platform for health partners: The SDK creates an easy way for enterprise health companies to encourage better health outcomes by utilizing Fitbit devices and access to its sensors to build customized wellness programs for their customers.
  • Future opportunities: The built-in NFC chip opens the opportunity to develop apps that provide keyless and cardless access to buildings, hotels, sporting venues and transportation in the future.

Fitbit’s strongest and lightest GPS watch

  • As Fitbit’s first device designed fully in-house, Ionic features new processes and materials that improve weight, fit, durability, breathability and daily wear – resulting in an extremely lightweight, ergonomic design comfortable enough to wear all day and night.
  • Our most advanced design: Utilizing nano-molding technology, the unibody watchcase allows it to double as the Bluetooth and GPS antenna. This construction creates a stronger GPS signal that works in busy cities or on remote trails.
  • Built to last: Ionic is built to be more durable with new materials, new bands and more extensive testing than ever before.
  • Easy to read display: A color, spherical glass touchscreen with crisp graphics and amplified brightness of up to 1,000 nits lets you read your stats wherever you are – in bright sunlight or a low-lit room.
  • Trending styles and accessories: Ionic comes in a range of styles and colours with interchangeable Classic, Sport and Horween leather accessories so it can seamlessly transition from work to a workout or a night out.
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Crouching Yeti strikes

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Kaspersky Lab has uncovered infrastructure used by the Russian-speaking APT group Crouching Yeti, also known as Energetic Bear, which includes compromised servers across the world.

According to the research, numerous servers in different countries were hit since 2016, sometimes in order to gain access to other resources. Others, including those hosting Russian websites, were used as watering holes.

Crouching Yeti is a Russian-speaking advanced persistent threat (APT) group that Kaspersky Lab has been tracking since 2010. It is best known for targeting industrial sectors around the world, with a primary focus on energy facilities, for the main purpose of stealing valuable data from victim systems. One of the techniques the group has been widely using is through watering hole attacks: the attackers injected websites with a link redirecting visitors to a malicious server.

Recently Kaspersky Lab has discovered a number of servers, compromised by the group, belonging to different organisations based in Russia, the U.S., Turkey and European countries, and not limited to industrial companies. According to researchers, they were hit in 2016 and 2017 with different purposes. Thus, besides watering hole, in some cases they were used as intermediaries to conduct attacks on other resources.

In the process of analysing infected servers, researchers identified numerous websites and servers used by organisations in Russia, U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America that the attackers had scanned with various tools, possibly to find a server that could be used to establish a foothold for hosting the attackers’ tools and to subsequently develop an attack. Some of the sites scanned may have been of interest to the attackers as candidates for waterhole. The range of websites and servers that captured the attention of the intruders is extensive. Kaspersky Lab researchers found that the attackers had scanned numerous websites of different types, including online stores and services, public organisations, NGOs, manufacturing, etc.

Also, experts found that the group used publicly available malicious tools, designed for analyzing servers, and for seeking out and collecting information. In addition, a modified sshd file with a preinstalled backdoor was discovered. This was used to replace the original file and could be authorised with a ‘master password’.

“Crouching Yeti is a notorious Russian-speaking group that has been active for many years and is still successfully targeting industrial organisations through watering hole attacks, among other techniques. Our findings show that the group compromised servers not only for establishing watering holes, but also for further scanning, and they actively used open-sourced tools that made it much harder to identify them afterwards,” said Vladimir Dashchenko, Head of Vulnerability Research Group at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT.

“The group’s activities, such as initial data collection, the theft of authentication data, and the scanning of resources, are used to launch further attacks. The diversity of infected servers and scanned resources suggests the group may operate in the interests of the third parties,” he added.

Kaspersky Lab recommends that organisations implement a comprehensive framework against advanced threats comprising of dedicated security solutions for targeted attack detection and incident response, along with expert services and threat intelligence. As a part of Kaspersky Threat Management and Defense, our anti-targeted attack platform detects an attack at early stages by analysing suspicious network activity, while Kaspersky EDR brings improved endpoint visibility, investigation capabilities and response automation. These are enhanced with global threat intelligence and Kaspersky Lab’s expert services with specialisation in threat hunting and incident response.

More details on this recent Crouching Yeti activity can be found on the Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT website.

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R5m in software fines

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South African companies paid almost R5.2 million in damages for using unlicensed software in 2017 up from R3.6 million in 2016.

This is according to data from BSA | The Software Alliance, a non-profit, global trade association created to advance the goals of the software industry and its hardware partners.

The significant increase in unlicensed software payments – which includes settlements as well as the cost of acquiring new software to become compliant – is the result of more accurate leads from informers, says Darren Olivier, Partner at Adams & Adams, legal counsel for BSA. In 2017 BSA received 281 reports in South Africa alleging the use of unlicensed software products of BSA member companies – this up considerably up from 230 leads in 2016.

“BSA’s recent social media campaign also helped to create awareness among local companies about the need to comply with existing legislation in order to avoid legal action,” Olivier says.

The result has been a 13% increase in settlements paid in 2017, with the settlements total reaching almost R2.5 million.

While the average settlement paid by companies in 2017 was around R36 094, in some cases the amount owed was far greater, as is evidenced by Shereno Printers, a print and design company based in Gauteng, which ended up paying a hefty settlement amount of R260 000 last year in an out of court settlement.

The company’s case was in line with a broader trend, which saw the print and design industry as a whole rank among the top sectors plagued by unlicensed software.

Aside from settlements, companies also paid more than R2.6 million in licenses purchased to legalise their unlicensed software.

And the ramifications of software piracy extend beyond financial implications. “It also results in potential job losses and loss in tax revenue. This is not to mention the financial and reputational damage brought about by security breaches and lost data,” comments Olivier.

As unlicensed software has not been updated with the latest security features, it leaves businesses vulnerable to cyberattack, he explains.

This is a particular problem for companies operating in South Africa where economic crime has recently reached record levels, according to the Global Economic Crime Survey. Indeed, 77% of South African organisations have experienced some form of economic crime. What’s more, instances of cybercrime totalled 29% of economic crimes reported.

This in turn, raises questions around government policy and the adequacy of existing copyright legislation, which only enables the registration of copyright in films, but not in computer programs.

Olivier notes that it is likely the percentage of unlicensed software on South African computers has increased over the past year. “We received many more leads this year, which is an indicator that the amount of pirated software is greater than in previous years,” he comments.

Often unlicensed software is not so much a case of deliberate piracy as it is a result of poor software asset management (SAM).

“For this reason, the BSA encourages all businesses to ensure they have effective SAM practices in place. Companies should be able to confirm what software they are using and are licensed to use – this will help them to identify unlicensed software and can also bring about cost savings. Even the most basic SAM practices such as regular inventories and software use policies can help,” says Chair of the BSA SA Committee, Billa Coetsee.

With this in mind the BSA offers a range of SAM solutions, not only to help organisations reduce legal and security risks, but also to create business value.

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