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Prepare for these cyber attacks in 2018

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Online security is seemingly getting more compromised with each passing year. 2017 has witnessed some of the worst security breaches in history – such as the breach of Equifax, which impacted over 143 million clients in the U.S. and abroad.

There were also three major state-sponsored ransomware attacks, affecting hundreds of thousands of targets around the world. Unfortunately, it looks like this is just the beginning.

“Ransomware assaults seem to be getting increasingly dangerous,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “Besides, system administrators are not ready to protect their networks from more sophisticated breaches. We believe that attacks will only keep getting worse.”

In addition, Internet freedom has been on a steady decline. For example, in the US, ISPs have the right to track customer data without consent and sell it to third parties, and net neutrality is under attack. Other countries are also passing freedom-limiting laws.

Below please find the predictions for 2018 by NordVPN, as well as advice on how to protect oneself.

1. Increase in IoT attacks. As Internet of Things (IoT) devices become common-use, they will continue to come under attack. When one device is compromised, the hacker can easily overtake the whole system of interconnected devices. One of the biggest fears is that hackers might compromise medical IoT devices, and patients’ information can be leaked. A connected smart home will be another popular target for hackers. What’s more, breached IoT devices can be used in vast scale DDoS attacks, putting down virtually any Internet based service or website.

2. Increase in travel data breach. Hackers are discovering that travelers who book their trips online share their passport and credit card data, which can be stolen. This marks the move towards specific online breaches, targeting groups of people – such as travelers, online Christmas shoppers, and others.

3. New, larger ransomware attacks. This year has shown the power of one ransomware attack that can disable hundreds of thousands of computers around the world. Companies are not yet up to speed with sophisticated hacker technologies, so there is a huge risk of new, larger ransomware attacks.

4. China to ban VPNs. China’s government passed a regulation that requires telecommunications carriers to block users’ access to private, government unapproved VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) by Feb. 1. This would mean that lots of people in China will not be able to reach the global internet, as many sites – such as Google or Facebook – are blocked in China.

5. The EU is implementing General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR, coming into force in May, is going to introduce stricter rules for companies on storing personal user data and on obtaining customer consent. The regulation will have global reach and force companies to protect user data – being one of the rare examples of governments striving to actually protect data privacy.

6. Digital Economy Bill in the UK. The UK is planning to pass a bill that requires age verification for adult site visitors. Age verification is done through collecting various data about the user, which poses a huge risk of data leaks and data loss, with sensitive private information being stolen.

7. Dutch referendum on government surveillance powers. The Netherlands will hold a referendum next year to determine if the law enforcement authorities can have far-reaching surveillance powers. Many privacy activists are striving to overturn the law passed in July, which allows government agencies to collect data from large groups of people at once.

How to secure your web presence in 2018

Internet users can still take matters into their own hands and secure their own computers or smart devices. It’s important not to click on strange emailed links, not to download from unofficial app marketplaces, to always have strong passwords, and to be generally cautious when going online.

It’s also highly recommended to use online privacy tools, such as VPNs, which encrypt all the information that is being shared between the user and VPN server. NordVPN helps secure browsing the Internet with its modern security protocols and no logs policy.

With the decline in online security and privacy, cybersecurity specialists will be in big demand, and companies will be looking to fill new job openings for cybersecurity professionals. Those who want to protect their own data at home, need to learn simple cybersecurity tricks themselves.

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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