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We can change the world

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Michael Dell kicked off this year’s Dell EMC World by saying the tools for a digital transformation are out there and it is up for companies to grab the bull by the horns and make the change, writes DOUG WOOLLEY, Dell EMC GM: South Africa.

“You are some of the world’s greatest organisations and you are leading through a time of unprecedented change and opportunity. This is your show. It’s about how you are changing the world: reshaping industries, reinventing processes, transforming your organisations to shape your future.”

With those words, Michael Dell started his keynote at Dell EMC World, held in Las Vegas. This year more than 13,500 people attended the event, ready to learn how they can take their transformations forward.

To me it served as a reminder of what we can do and what is at stake. Later, back in South Africa, I spoke to renowned analyst Arthur Goldstuck, who also attended Dell EMC World 2017. He said something very true and crucial: there are no more excuses. The future is being built on digital transformation. The tools and platforms are out there. What remains is for companies and countries to grab the bull by the horns and make the change.

I completely agree with him. But it is easier said than done. Many still struggle to start and maintain the journey to this new era. That’s because it is a fundamental challenge. Digital transformation is not a bolt-on to a business. It starts at the foundation and works its way through the entire organisation. It is both top-down and grassroots. It is corporate, functional and operational. The business vision remains intact, but everything about how it will realise that vision changes. This is a daunting shift.

That problem stayed with me long after the event. Dell Technologies, which emerged from the highly successful combination between Dell and EMC, is an undeniable leader in this transformation. The high utilisation of our services and solutions prove that. But this brings a certain responsibility as well: if we expect the world to change, we must help lead and define that change. Our customers – current and future – look to us for guidance. What I have to ask is how can Dell EMC be a partner for South Africa’s digital transformation?

IT maturity is key. You can’t simply flip a switch and digital magic appears. But it shouldn’t be as complicated and daunting as it appears either. The primary outcome is to get businesses away from the burden of technology procurement and maintenance, and back to what they do best. In the Dell EMC hallways we call this Radical Infrastructure Simplicity. Through a variety of products, we are equipped to create the digital foundations businesses can build on.

An often-cited example is our Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, which deliver turnkey systems ready for digital services to be deployed on them with the littlest of fuss. But we need to go further, which is why Dell EMC has introduced elastic financing models such as Financial Services Flex. We don’t want upfront costs to drain your digital ambition, so we have designed industry-first financing solutions that cater for every type and size of business.

Another example, announced at the Las Vegas gathering, is PC-as-a-Service. This unique offering takes advantage of Dell EMC’s leading consumer devices to equip staff with top computer systems without the hefty capital layout. Let’s be honest: change is not cheap and this is keeping many companies, particularly smaller businesses, from transforming. Both of the aforementioned services are here to take that pain away.

It is obvious that I want to promote what Dell EMC offers the market. But this is not my primary goal. That question of how we can help accelerate digital transformation in South Africa remains the brass ring. I am just fortunate to lead the local office of a very dynamic and progressive company.

Dell EMC has a vast ecosystem, and is rich for its extensive investments in consultation, methodology research and toolsets. We were early evangelists for cloud and pioneers of cloud management and infrastructure. Today that expertise spans across seven major companies, modernising data centres, improving security, driving virtualization and much more. Whether you need a turnkey upgrade of your servers, develop your Internet of Things strategy or place the best devices in the hands of employees, we’ve thought about the challenges and created solutions for you to consider.

This commitment goes beyond product. One of the most exciting announcements I saw at Dell EMC World 2017, beyond the virtual reality sets and mind-blowing gaming systems, was that of Alice: a virtual assistant that specifically serves women entrepreneurs.  The event also made it clear that Dell EMC is very concerned about the environment and sustainability is a guiding principle of our organisation.

Arthur Goldstuck was right: there are no excuses. But to me, there are no excuses for us, Dell EMC, to help you change your business and your world for the better. This is the commitment I reaffirmed after Dell EMC World 2017: we all really can change the world and Dell EMC will be there to help every step of the way.

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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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