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1.4bn data records breached

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Gemalto’s recent findings of its Breach Level Index revealed that 1,792 data breaches led to almost 1.4 billion data records compromised worldwide during 2016, an increase of 86% compared to 2015.

Gemalto has released the findings of the Breach Level Index revealing that 1,792 data breaches led to almost 1.4 billion data records compromised worldwide during 2016, an increase of 86% compared to 2015. Identity theft was the leading type of data breach in 2016, accounting for 59% of all data breaches. In addition, 52% percent of the data breaches in 2016 did not disclose the number of compromised records at the time they were reported.

The Breach Level Index is a global database that tracks data breaches and measures their severity based on multiple dimensions, including the number of records compromised, the type of data, the source of the breach, how the data was used, and whether the data was encrypted. By assigning a severity score to each breach, the Breach Level Index provides a comparative list of breaches, distinguishing data breaches that are a not serious versus those that are truly impactful (scores run 1-10).  According to the Breach Level Index, more than 7 billion data records have been exposed since 2013 when the index began benchmarking publicly disclosed data breaches. Breaking it down that is over 3 million records compromised every day or roughly 44 records every second.

Last year, the account access based attack on AdultFriend Finder exposing 400 million records scored a 10 in terms of severity on the Breach Level Index. Other notable breaches in 2016 included Fling (BLI: 9.8), Philippines’ Commission on Elections (COMELEC) (BLI: 9.8), 17 Media (BLI: 9.7) and Dailymotion (BLI: 9.6). In fact, the top 10 breaches in terms of severity accounted for over half of all compromised records. In 2016, Yahoo! reported two major data breaches involving 1.5 billion user accounts, but are not accounted for in the BLI’s 2016 numbers since they occurred in 2013 and 2014.

In the local context, South African Breaches increased from 6 in 2015 to 11 in 2016.  Overall, from 2015 to 2016, the South African Government had to contend with the most attacks – reported at nearly 60% in 2016 as compared to the 50% reported in the previous year. Government entities including the South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs as well as the Government Communications and Information Services (GCIS) accounted the 5 800 and 33 000 records respectively breached in 2016.

“The Breach Level Index highlights four major cybercriminal trends over the past year. Hackers are casting a wider net and are using easily-attainable account and identity information as a starting point for high value targets. Clearly, fraudsters are also shifting from attacks targeted at financial organizations to infiltrating large data bases such as entertainment and social media sites. Lastly, fraudsters have been using encryption to make breached data unreadable, then hold it for ransom and decrypting once they are paid, said Jason Hart, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Data Protection at Gemalto. 

Data Breaches by Type

In 2016, identity theft was the leading type of data breach, accounting for 59% of all data breaches, up by 5% from 2015. The second most prevalent type of breach in 2016 is account access based breaches. While the number of this type of data breach decreased by 3%, it made up 54 % of all breached records, which is an increase of 336% from the previous year.  This highlights the cybercriminal trend from financial information attacks to bigger databases with large volumes of personally identifiable information. Another notable data point is the nuisance category with an increase of 102% accounting for 18% of all breached records up 1474% since 2015.

Data Breaches by Source

Malicious outsiders were the leading source of data breaches, accounting for 68% of breaches, up from 13% in 2015. The number of records breached in malicious outsider attacks increased by 286% from 2015. Hacktivist data breaches also increased in 2016 by 31%, but only account for 3% of all breaches that occurred last year.

Data Breaches by Industry

Across industries, the technology sector had the largest increase in data breaches in 2016. Breaches rose 55%, but only accounted for 11% of all breaches last year. Almost 80% of the breaches in this sector were account access and identity theft related. They also represented 28% of compromised records in 2016, an increase of 278% from 2015.

The healthcare industry accounted for 28% of data breaches, rising 11% compared to 2015. However, the number of compromised data records in healthcare decreased by 75% since 2015. Education saw a 5% decrease in data breaches between 2015 and 2016 and a drop of 78% in compromised data records. Government accounted for 15% of all data breaches in 2016. However, the number of compromised data records increased 27% from 2015. Financial services companies accounted for 12% of all data breaches, a 23% decline compared to the previous year.

All industries listed in the other category represented 13% of data breaches and 36% of compromised data records. In this category, the overall number of data breaches decreased by 29%, while the number of compromised records jumped by 300% since 2015. Social media and entertainment industry related data breaches made up the majority.

Last year 4.2% of the total number of breach incidents involved data that had been encrypted in part or in full, compared to 4% in 2015. In some of these instances, the password was encrypted, but other information was left unencrypted. However, of the almost 1.4 billion records compromised, lost or stolen in 2016, only 6% were encrypted partially or in full (compared to 2% in 2015).

Knowing exactly where their data resides and who has access to it will help enterprises outline security strategies based on data categories that make the most sense for their organizations. Encryption and authentication are no longer ‘best practices’ but necessities. This is especially true with new and updated government mandates like the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, U.S state-based and APAC country-based breach disclosure laws. But it’s also about protecting your business’ data integrity so the right decisions can be made on, your reputation and your profits.”

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Small South African town goes smartphone-only

Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones

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All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.

The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.

Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.  

“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.

“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”

Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.

For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.

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10 more African countries join Facebook fact-checking

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Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join  Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,

In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.

Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”

When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”

Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”

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