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Vega launches games degree

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Vega School has announced that it will introduce a Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences in Game Design and Development into its 2017 academic calendar, making it one of the first degrees of its kind in South Africa.

South Africa is believed to have a gaming industry worth R 2.5 billion with a positive growth projection which is set to reach R 3.3 billion in 2017. Business is increasingly looking to gamification strategies to bring brands to life. On an international scale gamification has become a core principle in business with companies such as Microsoft using gamification to motivate employees to do bug testing and improve language translations in their software. While it is evident that games and interactive applications are coming to the fore, however in South Africa there is a great need for improvement as a major stumbling block to meeting this need has been the lack of formal training and development of existing and incoming developers.

Heeding calls from industry to fulfill this need, Vega School (Vega) a division of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), has announced that it will introduce a Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences in Game Design and Development into its 2017 academic calendar, making it one of the first degrees of its kind in South Africa.

Vega’s response to introducing this degree clearly shows their commitment as leaders in the design, brand and business sectors. The degree will provide students with the necessary knowledge and expertise to pursue a career in game design and development, allowing them to create gaming content for everything, from home consoles and computers and other platforms such as mobile phones and other hand held devices. The three year degree is industry focused and on completion graduates will be well prepared and qualified with all the knowledge necessary to create two-dimensional and three-dimensional games. Students will have the ability to be employed in business as a developer for gamification applications, business applications and mobile apps, or to consider an entrepreneurial route in designing and developing their own games.

“Making games is a ‘fun’ science which requires lots of dedication while dealing with complex mathematics, real-time coding, cutting-edge digital art and high fidelity sound,” says Vega National Marketing Manager, Nicky Stanley. “Our programme thus facilitates the development of a well-rounded game designer and developer; with a balance of graphic and visual design for games combined with significant programming and database skills, knowledge and insight that will enable our students to find employment in business enterprises as well as further studies in IT or design.”

This new IIE degree, promises to offer the perfect platform to unleash great talent, which will deliver industry-ready game designers and developers. Its offering is contextualised within brand building by seasoned lecturers, who will provide exercises which afford the students with opportunities to integrate their game development with a brand building slant. Industry professionals are rallying behind the degree, Megan Hughes, Brand Manager at RetroEpic Software says “this is only the second degree I’ve seen being offered in South Africa where the students are being equipped with the range of skills that will prepare them for working in the industry.”

While Edward Dennekamp and Neil Jones from Lighthouse Games believe that the degree offered will be a game changer for future developers. “If only this degree was available when we were students; it has a unique approach providing a balance between the design and development of games, with a strong real-world application ensuring industry ready students. The programme supports the possibility for a student to launch their own game, and make money from it, even before they graduate, which is significant.”

As the electronic games industry continues to be one of the fastest growing industries worldwide with no signs of slowing down and video games becoming a primary form of entertainment, it is reassuring to know that South Africa is well on its way to producing ‘game-changers’ that meet the demand for complex and superior games.

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Wannacry still alive

One and a half years after its epidemic, WannaCry ransomware tops the list of the most widespread cryptor families and the ransomware has attacked 74,621 unique users worldwide.

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These attacks accounted for 28.72% of all users targeted by cryptors in Q3 2018. The percentage has risen over the last year, demonstrating more than two thirds growth against Q3 2017, when its share in cryptor attacks was 16.78%. This is just one of the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q3 IT threat evolution report. 

A series of cyberattacks with WannaCry cryptor occurred in May 2017 and is still considered to be one of the biggest ransomware epidemics in history. Even though Windows released a patch for its operating system to close the vulnerability exploited by EternalBlue 2 months prior to the start of the attacks, WannaCry still affected hundreds of thousands devices around the globe. As cryptors do, WannaCry turned files on victims’ computers into encrypted data and demanded ransom for decryption keys (created by threat actors to decipher the files and transform them back into the original data) making it impossible to operate the infected device.

The consequences of the WannaCry epidemic were devastating: as the victims were mainly organisations with networked systems – the work of businesses, factories and hospitals was paralysed. Even though this case demonstrated the dangers cryptors pose, and most of PCs around the world have been updated to resist the EternalBlue exploit, the statistics show that criminals still try to exploit those computers that weren’t patched and there are still plenty of them around the globe.

Overall, Kaspersky Lab security solution protected 259,867 unique users from cryptors attacks, showing a substantial rise of 39% since Q2 2018, when the figure was 158,921. The growth was rapid yet steady, with a monthly observed increase in the number of users.

The rising share of WannaCry attacks is another reminder that epidemics don’t end as fast as they start – there are always long-running consequences. In the case of cryptors, attacks can be so severe that it is necessary to take preventive measures and patch the device, rather than deal with encrypted files later,” said Fedor Sinitsyn, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

 To reduce the risk of infection by WannaCry and other cryptors, users are advised to:

  • Always update your operating system to eliminate recent vulnerabilities and use a robust security solution with updated databases. It is also important to use the security solution that has specialised technologies to protect your data from ransomware, as Kaspersky Lab’s solutions do. Even if the newest yet unknown malware does manage to sneak through, Kaspersky Lab’s System Watcher technology is able to block and roll back all malicious changes made on a device, including the encryption of files.
  • If you have bad luck and all your files are encrypted with cryptomalware, it is not recommended to pay cybercriminals, as it encourages them to continue their dirty business and infect more people’s devices. It is better to find a decryptor on the Internet – some of them are available for free here: https://noransom.kaspersky.com/

·         It is also important to always have fresh backup copies of your files to be able to replace them in case they are lost (e.g. due to malware or a broken device), and store them not only on the physical object but also in cloud storage for greater reliability (don’t forget to protect your cloud storage with strong hack-proof password!)

·         If you’re a business, enhance your preferred third-party security solution with the newest version of the free Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool.

·         To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees and IT teams, keep sensitive data separate, restrict access, and always back up everything.

·         Use a dedicated security solution, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business that is powered by behaviour detection and able to roll back malicious actions. It should also include Vulnerability and Patch management features that automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and installs updates. This reduces the risk of vulnerabilities in popular software being used by cybercriminals.

·         Last, but not least, remember that ransomware is a criminal offence. You shouldn’t pay. If you become a victim, report it to your local law enforcement agency.

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Nokia 6.1 gets slice of Pie

HMD Global has announced that the Nokia 6.1 will start receiving Android 9 Pie – the second smartphone in the portfolio to receive the latest version of Android less than a month after the update arrived on the Nokia 7 plus.

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Packed with Google’s newest software and building on the features of Android 8.0 Oreo, Android 9 Pie’s focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning gives owners a more customised and tailored experience.

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 Mobile Platform, the Nokia 6.1 is over 60% faster than its predecessor. Also, now offering enhanced Dual-Sight, ZEISS optics, USB-C fast-charging, Nokia spatial audio and pure, secure and up-to-date Android Oreo.

The Nokia 6.1 has been selected by Google to join the Android One family and therefore users get exclusive access to Apps Actions – a feature only available to Android One and Google Pixel devices.  App Actions helps users get things done faster by predicting their next move and displaying the right action on right away.

Now with Android 9 Pie, the Nokia 6.1’s already impressive battery life is further complimented with the introduction of Adaptive Battery, an update that uses deep learning to understand usage patterns and prioritise battery power on the most important apps.

Other key features of Android 9

·       Slices – Identifies relevant information on favourite apps to make them more easily accessible when needed

·       Adaptive Brightness – Automatically adapts phone brightness by learning from interactions with different settings

·       New system navigation – Features a single home button that provides intelligent predictions and suggestions (user enabled)

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