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New threats face m-banking

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Kaspersky’s latest security bulletin has revealed that for the first time mobile financial treats ranked among the top ten malicious programs designed to steal money.

The Kaspersky Security Bulletin Overall Statistics Report for 2015 highlighted a new trend: for the first time ever, mobile financial threats rank among the top ten malicious programmes designed to steal money. Two families of mobile banking Trojans – Faketoken and Marcher – were included in 2015’s top 10 banking Trojans. Another remarkable and alarming trend for the year is the rapid spread of ransomware. Kaspersky Lab detected this in 200 countries and territories in 2015 – including South Africa.

In fact, looking at the geography of banking malware attacks in 2015, South Africa ranked in the top 10 countries – at 09th position.

 Other main trends in cybercriminal activity in 2015 included:

·         Cybercriminals looking to minimise the risk of criminal prosecution switched from malware attacks to the aggressive distribution of adware. In 2015, adware accounted for 12 of the top 20 web-based threats. Advertising programmes were registered on 26.1% of user computers.

·         Kaspersky Lab also observed new techniques for masking exploits, shellcodes and payloads to make the detection of infections and analysis of malicious code more difficult. Specifically, cybercriminals used the Diffie-Hellman encryption protocol and concealed exploit packs in Flash objects.

·         Cybercriminals made active use of Tor anonymisation technology to hide command servers, and used Bitcoins for making transactions.

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Mobile financial threats mature:

In 2015 two families of mobile banking Trojans (Faketoken and Marcher) appeared in the rankings of the top 10 financial malware families. The malicious programmes belonging to the Marcher family steal payment details from Android devices: they track the launch of two apps after infecting a device – the mobile banking app of a European bank and Google Play. If the user starts the banking application or Google Play, Marcher displays a false window requesting credit card details which then go to fraudsters. Representatives of the Faketoken family work in partnership with computer Trojans: a user is manipulated to install an application on their smartphone, which is actually a Trojan that intercepts the one-time confirmation code (mTAN).

“In 2015, cybercriminals focused time and resources in developing malicious financial programmes for mobile devices. This is not surprising as millions of people worldwide now use their smartphone to pay for services and goods. Based on current trends, we can assume that in 2016, mobile banking malware will account for an even greater share,” – says Yury Namestnikov, Senior Security Researcher at Global Research and Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab.

“Traditional” financial cybercrime hasn’t declined, however: in total, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked almost two million (1,966,324) attempts to launch malware capable of stealing money via online banking on computers in 2015, an increase of 2.8% on 2014 (1,910,520).

ZeuS dethroned:

The numerous modifications of the most widely-used malware family, ZeuS, were dethroned by Dyre/Dyzap/Dyreza. Over 40% of those attacked by banking Trojans in 2015 were hit by Dyreza using an effective web injection method in order to steal data and access the online banking system.

The global nightmare that is ransomware:

In 2015, ransomware rapidly expanded its presence on new platforms. One in six (17%) ransomware attacks now involves an Android device, barely a year after the platform was first targeted. Kaspersky Lab’s experts identified two big ransomware trends during 2015. The first is that the total number of users attacked by encryption ransomware increased to almost 180K, up 48.3% compared to 2014. Secondly, in many cases, the encryptors are becoming multi-module and, in addition to encryption, include functionality designed to steal data from victim computers.

The geography of online attacks:

Kaspersky Lab’s statistics show that cybercriminals prefer to operate and use hosting services in different countries where the hosting market is well-developed: 80% of attack notifications blocked by antivirus components were received from online resources located in 10 countries. The top three countries where online resources were seeded with malware remained unchanged from the previous year: the USA (24.2%), Germany (13%), and the Netherlands (10.7%).

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Epic Games brings a
Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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How to take on IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, whether you like it or not and organisations today will look to platforms and services that help them manage and analyse the streams of data coming from connected devices, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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Today, we are witnessing an explosion in IoT deployments and solutions and are moving towards a world where almost everything you can imagine will be connected. While this opens the door to many possibilities it also comes with its own challenges such as privacy and security.

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life; it has been a free for all on a daily basis. IoT is a difficult concept for many people to wrap their minds around. Essentially, nearly every business will be affected.

Managing vast quantities of data across increasingly mobile workforces can be tremendously beneficial if done well, but equally can be cumbersome and ineffective if not managed properly. This is why technologies such as mobile edge computing are becoming increasingly popular, helping to increase the prevalence of secure mobile working and data management in the age of IoT.

Unlocking IoT

The evolution of IoT, despite rapid and ongoing technological innovation, is still very much in its fledgling stages. Its potential, though, is demonstrated by the fact that by 2020, Bain anticipates a significant shift in uptake, with roughly 80 per cent of adoptions at that point to have progressed to the stage of either ‘proof of concept’ or extensive implementation. This means that technological innovation in IoT for the enterprise is progressing at a similarly fast rate with many of these solutions being developed with utilities, engineering, manufacturing and logistics companies in mind.

Processing at the edge

For IoT to be adopted at the rate predicted, technology which does not overwhelm current or even legacy systems must be implemented. Mobile edge computing solves this. Such solutions offer processing power at the edge of the network, helping firms with a high proportion of mobile workers to reduce operational strain and latency by processing the most critical data at the edge and close to its originating source. Relevant data can then be sent to the cloud for observation and analysis, thereby reducing the waves of ‘data garbage’ which has to be processed by cloud services.

A logistics manager can feasibly monitor and analyse the efficiency of warehouse operations, for example, with important data calculations carried out in real-time, on location, and key data findings then sent to the cloud for centrally-located data scientists to analyse.

The work of wearables

The potential of IoT means it not only has the scope to change the way people work, but also where they work. While widespread mobile working is a relatively new trend in industries such as banking and professional services, for CIOs in sectors where working on the move is inherent – such as logistics and field maintenance – mobility is high on the agenda.

Wearables – and specifically smart glasses – have started to gain traction within the business world. With mobile edge computing solutions acting as the gateway, smart glasses such as Toshiba’s assisted reality AR 100 viewer solution have been designed to benefit frontline and field-based workers in industries such as utilities, manufacturing and logistics. In the renewable energy sector, for example, a wind turbine engineer conducting repairs may use assisted reality smart glasses to call up the schematics of the turbine to enable a hands-free view of service procedures. This means that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert and have additional information sent through, thereby saving time and money by eradicating the need for extra personnel to be sent to the site.

The time is ripe for organisations to look to exploit the age of IoT to improve the productivity and safety of their workers, as well as the end service delivered to customers. In fact, Toshiba’s recent ‘Maximising Mobility’ report found that 49 per cent of organisations believe their sector can benefit from the hands-free functionality of smart glasses, while 47 per cent expect them to deliver improved mobile working and 41 per cent foresee better collaboration and information sharing. Embracing IoT technologies such as mobile edge computing and wearable solutions will be an essential step for many organisations within these verticals as they look to stay on top of 21st century working challenges.

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