According to a recent report, 2017 is shedding light on a new trend – simple, yet highly effective malware families are causing rapid destruction globally.
2017 has proved to be a lucrative year for cybercrime. Prominent malware and attack methods continue to evolve, creatively bypassing existing security solutions. In 2016, we witnessed sophisticated new malware emerging on a regular basis, exposing new capabilities, distribution methods, and attack services offered for sale through multiple platforms. 2017 is shedding light on a new trend – simple, yet highly effective malware families are causing rapid destruction globally.
So far, in 2017 cyber-attacks are occurring at a higher frequency than previous years. Recent infiltrations have demonstrated the agility, scale and persistence of an attack that criminals are capable of executing. All regions have suffered from these large-scale attacks, reinforcing the need for proactive solutions. Massive attack campaigns such as WannaCry, NotPetya and Fireball showcase the nature of today’s threat landscape. As the year progressed, we were able to witness the reoccurring global trends listed below:
- Nation-state cyber weapons are now in the hands of criminals
Data leakage incidents have significantly evolved in sophistication, frequency and volume of data being accessed. As seen in several incidents throughout the first half of 2017, the theft and consequent availability of key nation-state hacking tools, combined with wide scale zero-day vulnerabilities, now enable unskilled hackers to carry out highly sophisticated attack campaigns.
- The line between Adware and malware is fading, and mobile adware botnets are on the rise
Adware, which automatically displays or downloads advertising material on an infected machine, was until recently not among our greatest concerns, as while sometimes annoying, its sole purpose is to generate revenue and not to cause actual damage. In parallel, mobile adware botnets continue to expand and dominate the mobile malware arena. In the first half of 2017, we witnessed a persistent rise in the spread and technical capabilities of mobile adware botnets.
- Macro-based downloaders continue to evolve
As malware continues to evolve, the same is true for its delivery methods. During the past six months, we have seen some new methods for exploiting Microsoft Office files, which no longer require victims to open the door for the attackers by enabling macros.
- A new wave of mobile bankers on GooglePlay
On top of the large adware campaigns which we have grown accustomed to finding on Google Play, a new wave of mobile bankers, most of which belong to the BankBot family managed to enter the play store undetected and infect users. This is an alarming development as the bankers malware harm users directly, and supposed to be easier to detect. However, the perpetrators combined open-sourced banking malware code with complex obfuscation techniques to successfully and repeatedly bypass Google’s protections.
When we look at the main malware categories – banking, mobile an ransomware – we see that ransomware is by far the most prevalent across all regions, including Europe, Middle East and Africa. The below infographic clearly shows the prominent spread of ransomware in each region:
Even with massive outbreaks such as WannaCry and NotPetya making global news, most organisations continue to rely on a strategy of detection and response after an attack has occurred rather than prevention. Many of these prominent attacks use known malware variants that could easily have been blocked had the proper security been implemented before the attack had occurred. To stay one step ahead of cybercriminals, organisations should remain attuned to the ever-changing threat landscape.
By understanding emerging threats and implementing the latest prevention technologies, organizations can create a solid cyber security defensive posture. The Cyber Attack Trends: Mid-Year Report provides you with a comprehensive overview of the cyber landscape; ransomware, banking and mobile threats based on data drawn from the ThreatCloud World Cyber Threat Map between January and June of 2017.
Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets
Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.
Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.
Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps.
Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.
Vodafone Smart Kicka 4
At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.
The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018.
Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games.
Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.
Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer.
The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past.
Huawei Y3 (2018)
The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are.
Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.
Comparing the 3
All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker.
Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.
SA gets digital archive
As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive.
The southafrica.co.za site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.
Designed as a nation building, educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.
The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.
At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.
Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.
“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.
Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island. The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.