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Hacktivism at all-time high

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Check Point’s 2015 security report has revealed that among other issues, known and and unknown malware is on the increase, mobile devices are a company’s biggest weak-point and preventing data loss is a concern for most enterprises.

Check Point Software Technologies has issued its 2015 Security Report, the company’s third annual report revealing the major security threats that impacted organisations across the world.

The 2015 Security Report provides insight into the degree of infiltration and sophistication of new threats in the enterprise. Mobility, virtualisation and other technologies have changed the way we do business. While organisations have adopted these tools to enhance productivity, they often forget about the security implications that arise when they lack the proper security implementations. The Check Point 2015 Security Report reveals the prevalence and growth of threats on enterprise networks, through information obtained over the course of 2014. This report is based on collaborative research and in-depth analysis of over 1,300 organisations (including 39 South African organisations), over 300,000 hours of monitored network traffic, from more than 16,000 threat prevention gateways and 1 million smartphones.

Key findings include:

Known and Unknown Malware Increased Exponentially

Malware rose at alarming rates in 2014. This year’s report revealed that 106 unknown malware hit an organisation every hour: 48 times more than the 2.2 downloads per hour reported in 2013. Unknown malware will continue to threaten the enterprise in the future. Even worse than unknown malware is zero-day malware, which is effectively built from scratch to exploit software vulnerabilities, of which vendors aren’t yet even aware. Cybercriminals are also continuing to use bots to amplify and accelerate the spread of malware. 83 percent of organisations studied were infected with bots in 2014, allowing constant communication and data sharing between these bots and their command and control servers.

Mobile Devices are a Company’s Biggest Vulnerability

Mobile devices are the weak links in the security chain, providing easier direct access to more valuable organisational assets than any other intrusion point. Check Point research found that for an organisation with more than 2,000 devices on its network, there’s a 50 percent chance that there are at least 6 infected or targeted mobile devices on their network. 72 percent of IT providers agreed that their top mobile security challenge is securing corporate information, and 67 percent said their second biggest challenge is managing personal devices storing both corporate and personal data. Corporate data is at risk, and being made aware of these risks is critical to taking the proper steps to secure mobile devices.

Using Risky Applications Comes at a High Price

Corporations frequently rely on applications to help their business be more organised and streamlined. However, these applications become vulnerable points of entry for businesses. Some applications, such as file sharing, are obviously risky. The rise of ‘shadow IT’, applications that aren’t sponsored or supported by the central IT organisation has led to even riskier business. Research revealed that 96 percent of organisations studied used at least one high-risk application in 2014, a 10-point increase from the previous year. Check Point research also unveiled that 12.7 high-risk application events happen every hour. That creates many opportunities for cybercriminals to access the corporate network – that is risky business.

Data Loss is Top of Mind

Cybercriminals are not the only threat to the integrity and security of corporate data. Just as quickly as a hacker could penetrate a network, in-network actions can also easily result in data loss. Check Point found that 81 percent of the organisations analysed suffered a data loss incident, up 41 percent from 2013. Data can unknowingly leak out of any organisation for a variety of reasons, most of those tied to current and past employee actions. While most security strategies focus on protecting data from hackers coming in, it is equally important to protect data from the inside out.

“When it comes to cyber security, we can no longer segment threats on a country-by-country basis. The same threats that cripple multinational organisations in America can take down an SME in South Africa – malware does not discriminate when it comes to organisation size or territory. The Internet has made the world a very small place, and new malware can infect millions of devices all over the world in minutes,” said Doros Hadjizenonos, Country Manager of Check Point South Africa.

“Today’s cybercriminals are sophisticated and ruthless: they prey on the weaknesses in a network, approaching any security layer as an open invitation to try to hack it. In order to protect themselves against attacks, security professionals and organisations alike must understand the nature of the latest exploits and how their networks are potentially impacted. Only by arming themselves with a combination of knowledge and strong security solutions can organisations truly protect themselves against these evolving threats. By making security a critical asset to your business, you can turn security into an enabler, and in doing so, you’re able to unlock innovation and foster an environment for high performance and productivity.”

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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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