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Ransomware still nailing business

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A recent survey by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International shows that nearly 45% of businesses recognise the serious threat posed by cryptomalware, also known as ransomware, – an increase from 37% in 2014.

In South Africa, the figure is 41%. However,  despite this rising awareness, cryptomalware attacks continue to severely impact companies, with the CryptoLocker ransomware, for example, believed to have infected more than 234,000 computers worldwide.

The global cyberthreat landscape continues to expand and cybercriminals have discovered that the malicious encryption of data, followed by a ransom demand, can be highly profitable. Many companies admit that they often just pay up.

Businesses are a tempting target for ransom attack. It doesn’t matter if they are very small or of enterprise size, cryptomalware will find a way in if there is no security to block it. Like other forms of malware, it enters a network through emails, malicious attachments or links from a compromised website, which is then opened, downloaded or clicked on by unsuspecting employees. There are no signs to alert a user that they have been infected until they receive the ransom demand.

A reliable, multi-layered security solution is the only thing that will stop cryptomalware in its tracks.

“Cryptomalware attacks are profitable and increasingly popular with cybercriminals. Businesses often pay up without realising that there is no guarantee that their data will be unlocked when they do – and there is evidence that poorly-coded ransomware can mean some information is never recovered. The best way to protect the company’s data and assets is to implement comprehensive cyber-security measures that cover everything from infrastructure and storage to mobile networks – all accompanied by employee awareness and education. Furthermore it’s essential that data is backed up regularly, so that the company doesn’t find itself in the invidious position of having to choose between paying the ransom or losing data,” said David Emm, Principal Security Researcher, Kaspersky Lab.

To help companies, regardless of the size, address the growing threat of cryptomalware and protect all of their IT assets and infrastructure, Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business and Kaspersky Small Office Security provide reliable protection against known, unknown and advanced cyberthreats, including ransomware attacks.

The solution includes Kaspersky Lab’s System Watcher module, designed to keep local, protected copies of files and revert any changes made by cryptomalware. By scanning the most relevant system event data it can track information about the creation and modification of files and identify any changes to the system and data transfers over the network. By independently making decisions about whether a programme is malicious, it can deliver better overall detection of ransomware and security policy breaches for comprehensive protection. The module also enables automated remediation and saves time and effort associated with restoring data from backups and the impact of downtime.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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