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Malware leaves destruction in its cyber wake

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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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

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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.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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