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6 steps to email security

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With the holidays officially behind us, everyone is back at work and companies are in full swing again. Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones. Would-be hackers are looking ahead to another lucrative year of cybercrime. Here are six steps you can take to secure your email.

2015 was a ‘successful’ year for cyber criminals with millions of data records being lost or stolen around the world.  In 2016 we can expect the attacks to continue and to see even more advanced attacks like spear-phishing where victims are specifically targeted using their personal information. And the level of sophistication the criminals use to dupe us is also rising. According to Mimecast research conducted in December, 55% of organisations saw an increase in the volume of whaling attacks – highly personalised emails targeting the finance and accounting departments within an organisation usually to extort cash.

“The barriers to entry for whaling attacks are dangerously low,” says Mimecast’s Managing Director Brandon Bekker. “As whaling becomes more successful for cyber criminals, we are likely to see a continued increase in their popularity, as hackers identify these attacks as an effective cash cow.”

So how can your organisation stay safe in the face of this dangerous new threat? Here are six email security tips to protect yourself.

Educate senior staff

Spear phishing and whaling attacks are so effective because they target named individuals within an organisation. Often appearing to come from a trusted colleague. Whaling in particular is the result of careful social engineering. While fostering a culture of security at all levels is important, it’s crucial to educate senior management, key staff and finance teams specifically on these new attacks aimed at them.

Defend your domain

Today’s phishing emails are so dangerous precisely because they appear to be authentic, right down to the embedded links. Domain-spoofing constitutes 70% of whaling attacks, so it’s important to use email security services that review domain links. Also consider registering top-level domains that look or sound like your own so that hackers can’t exploit a similar domain name in an attack.

Make your mark internally

Educated employees will be on the lookout for emails that come from outside sources, but what if they appear to come from someone significant within the organisation? Most whaling emails are designed to look like they come from the CEO or CFO. One simple trick to mitigate this is to use email stationery on all emails that alerts employees to emails originating outside the corporate network.

Consider all your platforms

Chances are your employees don’t just access their corporate emails from a secured company laptop. For many their mobile device is their preferred way of reading and responding to emails. Also the lines between personal and corporate devices are beginning to blur thanks to BYOD and your security practices need to account for that. Whatever email security technology and procedures you have in place, make sure they’re also optimised for mobile use.

Hack yourself

No security strategy is waterproof, particularly as threats and technology evolve. The trick is to find those gaps before the bad guys do.  It’s advisable to carry out regular tests within your organisation to identify vulnerabilities.  And don’t limit this to your IT systems – test your human firewall too. Look for ways to test your employee base regularly in a safe environment to support your security education programme.

Review and revise

Your security practices aren’t the only things that should be under close scrutiny. Conduct a thorough audit of your finance departments’ authentication procedures. Cyber criminals excel at taking advantage of unsafe processes, so consider revising how financial transactions with third parties are conducted. Requiring additional checks when transfer requests are made over email (or phone for that matter) could help tackle the whaling threat.

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro matches camera benchmark record

A benchmark by DxOMark sees the triple-cam handset tie with the P20 Pro for best smartphone camera on the market.

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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has come out top in a camera benchmark test that assesses all aspects of smartphone camera performance.

DxOMark, which conducts rigorous hardware testing and is trusted as an industry standard for image quality measurements, has just released the results of its in-depth analysis of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone camera. 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest top-end device. Building on the P20 Pro’s camera technology, the Mate 20 Pro comes with a Leica-branded triple-camera setup, but swaps its stable-mate’s monochrome camera for a super-wide-angle module, offering a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 16 to 80mm—the widest of all current smartphone cameras.

The handset is in direct competition with the Apple iPhone XS Max, the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, among other. How does it fare?

“With a total photo score of 114, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro ties the record-setting score of its cousin, the P20 Pro,” says DxOMark. “The overall Photo score is calculated from sub-scores in tests that examine different aspects of its performance under different lighting conditions.”

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro achieves a photo score of 114 points. In stills mode, the Mate 20 Pro’s triple camera captures images with good target exposure and a wide dynamic range, recording both good highlight and shadow detail even in difficult high-contrast situations. Noise levels are well under control down to low light levels, and the camera’s white balance system and colour rendering settings produce a pleasant colour response in almost all circumstances.

At 97 points, the Mate 20 Pro is very close to the best for video as well, thanks to a fast and smooth autofocus system with good tracking performance, accurate white balance as well as pleasant colour rendering, and low levels of noise, especially in bright shooting conditions. Our testers also liked the exposure system’s ability to adapt quickly and smoothly to changes in illumination.

It was not all good news. DxOMark also had some criticism for the device.

Click here to read about the drawbacks of the Mate 20 Pro camera, and other positives.

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SA car wins
Dakar Rally

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The final stage of Dakar 2019 drew to a close at the bivouac in Pisco, Peru, and saw Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel bring home their South African-built Toyota Hilux for an historic victory. Not only was it a first win for Toyota, but it was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South-American era.

The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 years old on Thursday, 17 January, received a great birthday present, when the pair arrived at the final time control of Dakar 2019 with teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Toyota Hilux crews completed the entire stage together, as De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage, in order to shadow them to the finish.

The emotions bubbled over for Team Principal Glyn Hall, who found himself without words as his two crews drove into the media area after the time control. “This victory was long overdue,” he finally managed, before being swamped in a sea of well-wishers.

The winning driver, however, was much more vocal: “We are so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah/Baumel drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz during stage 2. But then a disastrous Stage 3 saw the Qatari retake the lead – a lead he didn’t relinquish despite some of the toughest stages yet seen on any South-American Dakar.

“When we first heard that the rally was going to take place only in one country, we were skeptical,” said Hall after regaining composure. “But the organisers made sure that this year’s race will long be remembered as one of the toughest tests in the last decade.”

Al Attiyah / Baumel’s victory at Dakar 2019 means that Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the DakarRally.

Click here to read Glyn Hall’s comment on winning the Dakar Rally, as well as the rankings.

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