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Samsung takes appliance approach to IFA

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Samsung Electronics used its IFA 2016 press conference in Berlin this week to showcase a range of home appliance, visual display and home entertainment devices.

It stayed away from smartphones and tablets, reserving those for its own Unpacked events that will probably commence with Mobile World Congrees in Barcelona in February.

It did make a foray into personal gadgetry, however, with the launch of the Gear S3 smartwatch, which brings GPS and music streaming to a more traditional round watch style.

“At IFA 2016, we want to show delegates how we are continually striving to revolutionise the Samsung experience for all our customers and partners – and across all our product lines, from television and home audio to home appliances,” said Matthew Thackrah, Deputy Managing Director at Samsung South Africa. “Everything Samsung creates is borne out of our determination to enrich peoples’ daily lives with innovative technology, based on a deep understanding of what consumers really want and need.”

During the press conference in the CityCube at Messe Berlin, Samsung reiterated its commitment to Europe, employing 14 000 people in 34 countries. European Q2 revenue is up five percent year on year, and seven out of 10 European households own a Samsung mobile phone, as well as one in three families using Samsung TVs.

Among other, Samsung announced a new partnership with MakerBot, the global leader in 3D printing, which will equip schools, colleges and museums in five European markets with 3D printers, as well as train teachers and students in the use of the technology. With more than 100 000 MakerBot printers around the world, it represents the world’s largest 3D printing community and an incredibly powerful tool inside the classroom. Samsung said that, as part of the European Commission’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, it is on track to deliver its pledge to support 400 000 young people by the end of 2016 – three years earlier than expected.

“Samsung’s investment to Europe is mirrored by its expanding footprint in Africa, with the company strongly focused on creating jobs and developing skills for the future,” said Thackrah. “This is being achieved through its Samsung Academies, Brand Stores, Service Centres and many other local partnerships.”

Samsung provided the following information:

The Future of Television: Redefined by Quantum Dot 

Samsung reinforced its focus on Quantum dot display technology at IFA 2016.

Samsung revealed its new Quantum dot TV, the 88-inch KS9800, offering the ultimate in picture quality, brilliance and, as with all of Samsung’s SUHD TVs, a display capable of producing up to one billion colours. Samsung now offers the largest range of SUHD TVs in Europe, with 19 available sizes from 43” up to 88”, capitalising on the limitless flexibility of Quantum dot in terms of screen size and definition. Samsung also announced the world’s first curved Quantum dot PC Monitors – the new CF791, with a 34” Ultra Wide QHD screen and the stunning new CFG70, the first curved monitor with a one millisecond moving picture response time and 144 hertz refresh rate for smooth, flawless gaming.

Samsung is the only company able to offer consumers cadmium-free Quantum Dot TVs – a point made by guest speaker, Jason Hartlove, President & CEO of Nanosys and one of the world’s top authorities on Quantum dot technology. Hartlove revealed Quantum dot is among the most stable and reliable display materials available anywhere on the planet, enabling superior performance and more environmentally-friendly displays with an extraordinary lifespan. Such is the company’s confidence in the reliability of Qantum dot, Samsung announced a new 10-year warranty for its SUHD TVs with Quantum dot display, protecting consumers against the effects of burn-in for an entire decade.

Samsung introduced its content platform, Smart Hub and announced the formation of a new premium HDR content partnership that will help realise the full potential of Quantum Dot SUHD TV. This included plans to expand Samsung’s TV Plus service – which has proven so popular in South Korea – to both the United States and Europe.

Ever mindful that great television is about amazing content as well as outstanding picture quality, Samsung said it was strengthening its collaborative relationships with global partners, such as Amazon and Netflix. Netflix in particular is expanding its range of HDR content for European customers, with film titles such as Marco Polo, The Do-Over and The Ridiculous Six. European partners including RTVE and Insight TV will also begin to offer HDR content in the second half of 2016.

Samsung also showcased the capabilities of the Samsung Smart Remote, which allows users to easily navigate all of their connected devices with one single remote control. The Smart remote is designed to auto-detect any and all external devices connected to the TV, making it simple for consumers to switch between and use them – without having to hunt around for multiple remotes.

Lastly, Samsung underlined its position as the leader in European home audio and the number one soundbar manufacturer in the region. On display were products including Samsung’s Wireless Audio 360 line-up and HW-K950 Soundbar featuring Dolby Atmos audio technology for cinematic, multi-dimensional sound. Combined with its SUHD TV, UHD Blu-ray Player and HDR content ecosystem, such a range makes Samsung the only company capable of providing the complete 4K home entertainment experience.

Redefining Home Appliances

Samsung’s drive to redefine the consumer experience goes well beyond the living room. Over the last three years, Samsung’s home appliance business has grown approximately five times faster than the rest of the industry in Europe. The success of new products such as AddWash, first revealed at IFA 2015, have made Samsung the number one premium washing machine brand in France, Poland, Italy and the UK. At IFA 2016, Samsung announced two new AddWash products – the AddWash Combo, which eliminates the need to purchase a separate dryer and the AddWash Slim, which can fit into a smaller kitchen space without compromising on load size.

Following extensive research into what European consumers really want from their kitchen, Samsung introduced three new built-in line-ups, the Contemporary Line with a new built-in refrigerator, the Black Line which uses a semi-matte black that delivers a modern, timeless look and the original Chef Collection. The new true built-in refrigerator unit from the Contemporary Line delivers a seamless fit and flawless, advanced performance thanks to innovative technologies such as No Frost, Twin Cooling PlusTM, Cool Select Zone Plus.

In addition, Samsung announced that its sensational Family Hub is coming to Europe. This top-of-the-line refrigerator features Twin Cooling Plus TM technology to maximise food freshness, as well as Precise Chef Cooling TM, which keeps temperature fluctuations within plus or minus 0.5 degrees. Family Hub also features a special ‘Chef Zone TM’, which is ideal for managing temperature-sensitive proteins. It also provides three interview cameras, which take photos that consumers can access via their mobile devices, enabling them to see what’s inside, wherever they may be.

Family Hub also features a 21.5-inch Full HD touchscreen, offering consumers a wide range of functionality. It can serve as the family’s interactive white board for notes, photos, shared calendars and artwork. Content can be uploaded directly via the touchscreen or remotely by mobile phone or tablet. Consumers can use the touch screen and online shopping app to order groceries straight from their kitchen for delivery right to their door. Samsung is partnering with a range of European online grocery shopping portals including premium Italian food provider, Eataly, to other European food delivery services such as Supermercato24 and Switzerland’s coop@home.

Family Hub will give European customers a chance to cook with the masters, via the Club des Chefs App. Straight from the Family Hub screen, Club des Chefs offers professional cooking tips through text and video advice. Being able to watch world-class culinary experts at work on the upper half of the screen while being talked through a recipe on the lower half is an excellent example of how Samsung is redefining the kitchen experience.

“IFA has always provided a wonderful opportunity for Samsung to showcase its latest technologies, with 2016 being no different,” said Thackrah. “The innovative new offerings on show at this event, both in the TV and large appliance space, indicate that Samsung takes both the present and future of technology extremely seriously. The appliances on display at IFA represent Samsung at its best and offer a window into the amazing technologies that South Africa can expect to experience in the near future.”

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Crouching Yeti strikes

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Kaspersky Lab has uncovered infrastructure used by the Russian-speaking APT group Crouching Yeti, also known as Energetic Bear, which includes compromised servers across the world.

According to the research, numerous servers in different countries were hit since 2016, sometimes in order to gain access to other resources. Others, including those hosting Russian websites, were used as watering holes.

Crouching Yeti is a Russian-speaking advanced persistent threat (APT) group that Kaspersky Lab has been tracking since 2010. It is best known for targeting industrial sectors around the world, with a primary focus on energy facilities, for the main purpose of stealing valuable data from victim systems. One of the techniques the group has been widely using is through watering hole attacks: the attackers injected websites with a link redirecting visitors to a malicious server.

Recently Kaspersky Lab has discovered a number of servers, compromised by the group, belonging to different organisations based in Russia, the U.S., Turkey and European countries, and not limited to industrial companies. According to researchers, they were hit in 2016 and 2017 with different purposes. Thus, besides watering hole, in some cases they were used as intermediaries to conduct attacks on other resources.

In the process of analysing infected servers, researchers identified numerous websites and servers used by organisations in Russia, U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America that the attackers had scanned with various tools, possibly to find a server that could be used to establish a foothold for hosting the attackers’ tools and to subsequently develop an attack. Some of the sites scanned may have been of interest to the attackers as candidates for waterhole. The range of websites and servers that captured the attention of the intruders is extensive. Kaspersky Lab researchers found that the attackers had scanned numerous websites of different types, including online stores and services, public organisations, NGOs, manufacturing, etc.

Also, experts found that the group used publicly available malicious tools, designed for analyzing servers, and for seeking out and collecting information. In addition, a modified sshd file with a preinstalled backdoor was discovered. This was used to replace the original file and could be authorised with a ‘master password’.

“Crouching Yeti is a notorious Russian-speaking group that has been active for many years and is still successfully targeting industrial organisations through watering hole attacks, among other techniques. Our findings show that the group compromised servers not only for establishing watering holes, but also for further scanning, and they actively used open-sourced tools that made it much harder to identify them afterwards,” said Vladimir Dashchenko, Head of Vulnerability Research Group at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT.

“The group’s activities, such as initial data collection, the theft of authentication data, and the scanning of resources, are used to launch further attacks. The diversity of infected servers and scanned resources suggests the group may operate in the interests of the third parties,” he added.

Kaspersky Lab recommends that organisations implement a comprehensive framework against advanced threats comprising of dedicated security solutions for targeted attack detection and incident response, along with expert services and threat intelligence. As a part of Kaspersky Threat Management and Defense, our anti-targeted attack platform detects an attack at early stages by analysing suspicious network activity, while Kaspersky EDR brings improved endpoint visibility, investigation capabilities and response automation. These are enhanced with global threat intelligence and Kaspersky Lab’s expert services with specialisation in threat hunting and incident response.

More details on this recent Crouching Yeti activity can be found on the Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT website.

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R5m in software fines

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South African companies paid almost R5.2 million in damages for using unlicensed software in 2017 up from R3.6 million in 2016.

This is according to data from BSA | The Software Alliance, a non-profit, global trade association created to advance the goals of the software industry and its hardware partners.

The significant increase in unlicensed software payments – which includes settlements as well as the cost of acquiring new software to become compliant – is the result of more accurate leads from informers, says Darren Olivier, Partner at Adams & Adams, legal counsel for BSA. In 2017 BSA received 281 reports in South Africa alleging the use of unlicensed software products of BSA member companies – this up considerably up from 230 leads in 2016.

“BSA’s recent social media campaign also helped to create awareness among local companies about the need to comply with existing legislation in order to avoid legal action,” Olivier says.

The result has been a 13% increase in settlements paid in 2017, with the settlements total reaching almost R2.5 million.

While the average settlement paid by companies in 2017 was around R36 094, in some cases the amount owed was far greater, as is evidenced by Shereno Printers, a print and design company based in Gauteng, which ended up paying a hefty settlement amount of R260 000 last year in an out of court settlement.

The company’s case was in line with a broader trend, which saw the print and design industry as a whole rank among the top sectors plagued by unlicensed software.

Aside from settlements, companies also paid more than R2.6 million in licenses purchased to legalise their unlicensed software.

And the ramifications of software piracy extend beyond financial implications. “It also results in potential job losses and loss in tax revenue. This is not to mention the financial and reputational damage brought about by security breaches and lost data,” comments Olivier.

As unlicensed software has not been updated with the latest security features, it leaves businesses vulnerable to cyberattack, he explains.

This is a particular problem for companies operating in South Africa where economic crime has recently reached record levels, according to the Global Economic Crime Survey. Indeed, 77% of South African organisations have experienced some form of economic crime. What’s more, instances of cybercrime totalled 29% of economic crimes reported.

This in turn, raises questions around government policy and the adequacy of existing copyright legislation, which only enables the registration of copyright in films, but not in computer programs.

Olivier notes that it is likely the percentage of unlicensed software on South African computers has increased over the past year. “We received many more leads this year, which is an indicator that the amount of pirated software is greater than in previous years,” he comments.

Often unlicensed software is not so much a case of deliberate piracy as it is a result of poor software asset management (SAM).

“For this reason, the BSA encourages all businesses to ensure they have effective SAM practices in place. Companies should be able to confirm what software they are using and are licensed to use – this will help them to identify unlicensed software and can also bring about cost savings. Even the most basic SAM practices such as regular inventories and software use policies can help,” says Chair of the BSA SA Committee, Billa Coetsee.

With this in mind the BSA offers a range of SAM solutions, not only to help organisations reduce legal and security risks, but also to create business value.

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