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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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Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon

On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

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Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.

“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.

Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion.   In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

David Noton advises:

  1. Download the right apps to be in-the-know

The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky.  Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.

 

  1. Invest in a lens with optimal zoom  

On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.

  1. Use a tripod to capture the intimate details

As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.

  1. Integrate the moon into your landscape

Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.

  1. Master the shutter speed for your subject 

The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability.  By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.

 

On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!

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How Africa can embrace AI

Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.

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To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.

These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.

Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed

AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.

According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.

It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.

Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.

It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.

Combining STEM with the arts

Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.

As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.

“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.

Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.

Revisiting laws and regulation

For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.

Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.

Preparing for the future

With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.

To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.

It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.

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