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Ripple cost of cyber attack

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Organisations are not always aware of the cost a security breach, as the ripple effects of cybercrime are often more damaging than the actual theft of information, writes DOROS HADJIZENONOS, Country Manager of Check Point.

The cost of any type of theft is often a lot higher than just the value of the stolen goods. If your house was broken into, you would feel violated. While your insurance company would reimburse you for the items stolen, you might not have the same sense of security as you did before the break-in. To feel more secure, you might invest in security system upgrades and even change your habits, like going out less often or not coming home in the dark. At the end of the day, you end up spending more – and not necessarily just money – in order to feel safe again.

Corporate breaches are no different and the ripple effects of cybercrime are often more damaging than the actual theft of information. The loss of confidence – both from your company and your customers – make you overspend on security solutions, feel obligated to pay impacted suppliers and cause your customers to flee.

Tallying the cost of cybercrime

According to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach is $154 (R2,180) per record. With many incidents involving thousands or even millions of records, the average cost of a single breach is often in the region of $3.79 million. The initial “splash” costs of a breach – when the stone first hits the water – includes several direct expenses:

  • The value of stolen intellectual property
  • Downtime analysing, repairing and refortifying all compromised systems
  • Checking all systems for additional infections
  • Restoring systems from backups and checking backups for vulnerabilities
  • Changing security procedures and training personnel on new safeguards

The less obvious “ripple” costs, however, can quickly overshadow these direct costs, and include:

  • Reputational damage. Brand value decreases 21% as a direct result of a security breach.
  • Loss of business resulting from breach of trust. Research found that 73% of US customers switch their financial service provider due to personal data theft, and 44% of financial services companies reported business loss of 20% or more due to reputation issues.
  • Knock-on attacks. People often use the same passwords to access different websites. Stolen passwords from one site are used in multiple breaches targeting other sites.
  • Disruption caused to other businesses, such as suppliers and partners. In the case of critical infrastructure, if one grid goes offline, hundreds or thousands of businesses could be impacted in ways not easily quantified.

In 2013, US retail chain Target suffered a data loss event in which 40 million debit and credit card records were stolen. Direct expenses added up to $248 million over two years but some sources estimate costs will exceed $2.2 billion when including losses from fraudulent charges, reimbursing suppliers, and penalties from class action lawsuits.

The ripple effects to company reputation are difficult to estimate, but very real. If a company has strong customer support and handles the situation carefully, customers may be shaken but not leave.

Organisations can protect themselves by taking a holistic approach to security instead of patching together point solutions, and by focusing on threat prevention as opposed to threat detection and remediation. To further reduce risk, they should include data loss prevention in the security mix and use best practices when configuring security.

When considering their cybersecurity goals, organisations should ask the following questions:

  • Understand the situation. How confident are we that our cybersecurity is effective against zero-day threats? How well trained are my employees about cyber threats and the potential consequences of their actions?
  • See what’s coming. Do we have clear visibility of log activity in all of our network segments?
  • Secure workloads not servers. Do the workloads I run in virtual, cloud and software-defined environments receive the same protections as workloads run in my data centre?
  • Get prepared. Do the company’s policies protect information and resources in all environments? How is the executive leadership informed about the current threat level and potential business impact of cyber-attacks?

The volume of attacks and attack points requires complete visibility into operations and centralised security management, but not complete transparency. Security officers should be cautious about exposing protection methods or discussing attack details because when cybercriminals see where attacks have an impact, they adapt their tactics. Because of this, organisations – especially financial institutions – now share attack information through shared threat intelligence feeds. Since most hackers use the same successful attack methods against multiple victims, it increases their costs if a hack method only works once. The more expensive hacking is, the lower the number of hackers, making everyone safer.

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SA consumers buy 3.2m smartphones in Q1

Smartphone sales in South Africa grew by 12.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, reaching around 3.2 million units for the period.

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However, the value of the smartphone segment increased by 22.8% as sales of entry-level devices to low- and mid-income consumers continued to drive the market, according to point of sale data from market research firm, GfK South Africa.

GfK South Africa’s data reveals that telecommunications retail enjoyed a strong start to the year, with revenue growing 22.4% year-on-year. The growing popularity of phablets and higher unit prices (as a result of a weaker rand) helped to drive this increase in revenue, against a backdrop of low or negative growth in many segments of the consumer technology market.

“The mobile device market showed good growth in the quarter, despite rising prices during the period under review,” says Norman Muzhona, Solutions Specialist for Telecommunications at GfK South Africa. “In addition to the exchange rate, the introduction of popular, new mid-tier devices by several leading vendors helped to drive higher retail revenues in the telecoms market.”

Information technology retail revenues for the quarter contracted 4.8% compared to 2017, largely because of decreasing monitor prices and a 38.9% decline in tablet revenues. However, desktop computer revenues grew 39% and mobile computing revenues grew 6.5% year-on-year, thanks to higher prices and increased sales of higher-end products.

Says Berno Mare, Solutions Specialist for IT, Office Equipment and Value Added Services: “Retailers introduced new computing devices priced in the R3000 band during the quarter and enjoyed surprisingly strong demand for these entry-level units.

“Telcos enjoyed robust growth in mobile computing retail sales, thanks to credit deals, subsidised contracts and attractive data offers. However, South African consumers are heavily indebted, which may dampen growth for the rest of the year.”

With consumers rapidly migrating to smartphones, sales of traditional mobile phones continued to decline, down 1.6% year-on-year to around 2 million for the quarter. However, the exchange rate and the introduction of higher-priced brands helped to drive a 8.9% year-on-year revenue increase in mobile phone revenues during the period under review.

This follows the 21% drop in mobile phone unit sales in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. “Operators continue to lead the transition from feature phones to smartphones as they pursue higher data revenues,” says Muzhona. “The entry-level market for smartphones is fiercely competitive, and the minimum specs of lower cost smartphones is improving all the time.”

GfK South Africa expects the migration from mobile phones to smartphones to accelerate in 2018. However, it remains to be seen if the introduction of 4G-enabled, Voice-over-LTE-ready feature phones will have any impact on the South African mobile phone market.

Sectors of the consumer electronic market that showed strong growth for the first quarter of 2018 include loudspeakers—revenues up 21.6% year-on-year, thanks to demand of Bluetooth-enabled product—and ultrahigh definition (UHD) panel TVs—where revenues grew 33%, thanks to the growing affordability of the technology. UHD unit shipments were up 76%, while the average selling price of the products fell 24%.

Other market highlights for the first quarter of 2018 include:

  • Photo category revenues were up 8.1% year-on-year.
  • Small domestic appliance revenues grew 8%, following a 10.3% decline in Q1 2016 over Q1 2015. Hot air fryers sold well, as did kettles and toasters.
  • Major domestic appliances showed small year-on-year growth over Q1 2016, despite a decline in average selling price in many sub-categories of this market. Cooling products continued to make the highest contribution to growth in this segment.
  • Office Equipment revenues declined 18% year-on-year, led downwards by lower printer and cartridge sales volumes.
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What kids want online

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Kaspersky Lab’s latest report on the online activities of children – based on statistics received from its solutions and modules with child protection features – highlights children’s online activities and the importance of protecting them when online. For example, video content globally, comprised 17% of searches over the last months. Although many videos watched as a result of these searches may be harmless, it is still possible for children to accidentally end up watching videos that contain inappropriate content.

The report shows anonymised statistics from Kaspersky Lab’s flagship consumer solutions for Windows PCs and Macs that have the Parental Control module switched on and from Kaspersky Safe Kids, a standalone service for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

In South Africa, communication sites (such as social media, messengers, or emails) were the most popular pages visited by computers with parental controls switched on – with users in South Africa visiting these sites in 69% of cases over the previous 12 months. Software, audio, and video accounted for 17% of searches. Websites with this content have become significantly more popular since last year, when it was only the fifth most popular category globally at 6%. The top four is rounded off with electronic commerce (4.2%) and alcohol, tobacco, and websites about narcotics (3.9%), which is a new addition compared to this time last year.

The report presents search results on the ten most-popular languages* for the last 6 months. The data shows that the video & audio category – including requests related to any video content, streaming services, video bloggers, series and movies – are the most regularly ‘googled’ by children (17% of the total requests). The second and third places go to translation (14%) and communication (10%) websites respectively. Interestingly, games websites sit in fourth place, generating only 9% of the total search requests.

We can also see a clear language difference for search requests: for example, video and music websites are typically searched for in English, which can be explained by the fact that the majority of movies, TV series and musical groups have English names. Spanish-speaking kids carry out more requests for translation sites, while communication services are mostly searched for in Russian.

More than any other nationality, Chinese-speaking children look for education services, while French-speaking kids are more interested in sport and games websites. In turn, German-speaking requests dominate in the “shopping” category. The leading number of search requests for porn are in Arabic, and for anime are in Japanese.

“Kids in different countries have different interests and online behaviors, but what links them all is their need to be protected online from potentially harmful content. Children looking for animated content could accidentally open a porn video. Or they could start searching for innocent videos and unintentionally end up on websites containing violent content, both of which could have a long-term impact on their impressionable and vulnerable minds,” says Anna Larkina, Web-content Analysis Expert at Kaspersky Lab.

As well as analysing searches, the report also looks into which websites children visit or attempt to visit that contain potentially harmful content which falls under one of the 14 preset categories** for the last 12 months.

The mobile trend is again highlighted in the figures for computer games, which are now in fifth place locally on the list at 3%. As kids continue to show a preference for mobile games rather than computer games, this category will only continue to decrease in popularity on computers over the coming months and years.cleardot.gif

“No matter what they are doing online, it is important for parents not to leave their children’s digital activities unattended, because there’s a big difference between care and obtrusiveness. While it is important to trust your children and educate them about how to behave safely online, even your good advice cannot protect them from something unexpectedly showing up on the screen. That’s why advanced security solutions are key to ensuring children have positive online experiences, rather than harmful ones,” adds Anna Larkina.

The Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security consumer solutions include a Parental Control module to help adults protect their children against online threats and block sites or apps containing inappropriate content. In turn, the Kaspersky Safe Kids solution allows parents to monitor what their children do, see or search for online across all devices, including mobile devices, and offers useful advice on how to help children behave safely online.

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