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Massive profits for hackers

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With automated tools and hackers for hire, cybercrime has turned into a game for profit. Recent research from F5 Labs shows that out of 429 reported breaches studied between 2005 and 2017, hackers gained $2.75 billion on the black market.

The digital world has opened the door to unprecedented levels of malicious attacks, putting applications, corporate data, operational infrastructure, and reputations at risk. The consequence is that many CISOs and C-Suite executives are falling on their swords due to serious data breaches. In addition, cuts to IT budgets and slashes in resources mean the onslaught of cyber-attacks is leaving many organisations vulnerable.

Offensive Moves

New cloud-based apps create a host of complex challenges and new risks. Hackers thrive in this fast-paced environment of uncertainty and development. In fencing, a “disengage” is a move used to trick the opponent by attacking a specific target and moving in a semi-circle arc to strike a different area. Today’s hacker is similarly deceptive, wielding seven common threat techniques for maximum disruption and profit. Their key offensive moves include Malicious Bots, Credential stuffing, DDoS, Ransomware, Web fraud, Phishing, and Malware.

What do these attacks have in common? They are frequently associated with malicious bots as the delivery mechanism or the exploit kit. According to Verizon’s latest Data Breach Investigations Report, 77% of web application breaches were associated with the use of botnets to carry out the attacks.

On the web fraud front, attacks often stem from Man-in-the-Browser Injection techniques, delivering a Trickbot via phishing, drive-by-download, or SMB ports. Java-script is then injected into users’ browsing e-commerce or banking sites. This allows attackers to access credentials and steal from bank accounts.

Phishing scams are also on the rise. Attackers typically use this method to trick people into clicking on a link that can infect their system with malware or take them to a fake website designed to steal personal information. In the first quarter of 2017, a new specimen of phishing and malware emerged every 4.2 seconds.

Credential stuffing is another growing concern. Here, cybercriminals turn to the dark web to purchase previously stolen usernames and passwords. They then make repeated attempts with automated tools to “stuff” the login fields of other websites with the credentials to gain access to accounts held by corporate users or customers. If users reuse their passwords, then the likelihood is that their credentials have already been stolen.

DDoS, meanwhile, is here to stay and becoming increasingly tricky to defend against. These days, attacks can range from prankster activity to targeted acts of retaliation, protest, theft and extortion. Attackers often use readily available DDoS tools to disrupt service availability and businesses’ performance. There are four main types of attacks: volumetric (flood-based attacks), asymmetric (invoke timeouts), computational (consume CPU and memory), and vulnerability-based (exploit application software). The most damaging DDoS attacks mix volumetric attacks with targeted, application-specific attacks.

Defensive moves

Security experts recommend that a robust web application firewall (WAF) is the first piece of your armour against credential stuffing attacks. It is the equivalent of the fencer’s “riposte” – an adroit transformation defence into attack. A full-featured modern WAF, enables businesses to tackle offensive moves head on with advanced bot detection and prevention. This is essential as most attacks are launched using automated programmes. By analysing behaviours, such as IP location, time of day, and connection attempts per second, a WAF can help your security team identify non-browser login attempts.

It is also important to ensure that data in the browser or on your mobile applications is encrypted, protecting all the information transferred from users and rendering any intercepted data worthless. As an added layer of security, you can force the form parameters to be encrypted using a client-side function. Automated credential stuffing tools will be hard-pressed to properly execute the page to encrypt the form fields and send the correct secure channel cookie. When the bots submit unencrypted credentials, it will trigger a system alert to let your security team know that a credential stuffing attack is taking place.

Set up policies that make it easy for users to change passwords regularly so they avoid repeat usage on multiple sites and can report an incident to IT immediately if they think they have clicked on a malware link in a phishing email.

A smart move

In the cut and thrust of cybercrime, threat intelligence is fundamental. Greater visibility, context, and control are critical to protecting infrastructure, applications, and sensitive data. It is vital to adapt your strategy to fortify applications with cutting-edge security tools, and shift resources to deliver a swift blow to malicious moves from hackers, ensuring operations remain smart, fast and safe – On guard!

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Happy Emoji Day! Here’s 10 reasons to be cheerful

First created by Shigetaka Kurita in 1999, the emoji has become a huge part of everyday communication. Whether you love them or hate them, flying dollar bills, applauding hands and rolling eyes are here to stay.

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Scientist suggest that the use of emojis will help us gain the same satisfaction from digital interactions as we enjoy from personal contact.

Almost two decades later, and we have over 2600 unique emojis to perfectly express what we feel, thank you Mr Kurita! Join HMD, the home of Nokia phones as we celebrate World Emoji Day on the 17th of July with these interesting emoji facts:

The most popular emoji used is “Person Shrugging”

1.       The Nokia 3310 was chosen as one of the first 3 “National” emojis for Finland… it represents unbreakable!

2.       South Africa’s favourite emoji is the “Kiss and wink”… how sweet SA!

3.       French is the only language where a ‘smiley’ does not top the list for its use

4.       On average, over 60 billion emojis are sent on Facebook every day

5.       For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year was a pictograph! The “Face with Tears of Joy” was crowned word of the year in 2015

6.       According to Emojipedia, some of the most requested emoji’s include afro, a bagel and hands making a heart

7.       To include all races, a diversity pack was released in 2017

8.       It has become so trendy that the Museum of Modern Art displays the original emoji collection on canvas

9.       In 2009, Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick was completely translated into emoji’s

 

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