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Android attacks escalate

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The Kaspersky Lab study ‘Financial Cyberthreats in 2014’ reports that the number of financial malware attacks against Android users grew by 3.25 times in 2014.

Following an initial decrease in March 2014, Kaspersky Lab researchers registered a significant increase in the number of attacks by Trojan-SMS malware during the second half of the year.

·         48.15% of the attacks against users of Android-based devices, that were blocked by Kaspersky Lab products, used malware targeting financial data (Trojan-SMS and Trojan-Banker) ;

·         The number of financial attacks against Android users in 2014 increased 3.25 times (from 711,993 to 2,317,194 attacks) compared with 2013, and the number of users attacked rose 3.64 times (up from 212,890 to 775,887);

·         98.02% of all attacks by Android banking malware were accounted for by only three malicious families.

Android is one of the most popular mobile operating systems in the world, and therefore attracts the attention of cybercriminals targeting users’ private information and money. During 2014, Kaspersky Lab’s Android products blocked a total of 2,317,194 financial attacks against 775,887 users around the world. The lion’s share of these (2,217,979 attacks against 750,327 users) used Trojan-SMS malware, and the rest (99,215 attacks against 59,200 users) used Trojan-Banker malware.

Although the Trojan-Banker contribution to the overall volume of financial attacks against Android users is relatively small, it continues to grow. During the year Kaspersky Lab products detected 20 different malicious Trojan-Banker programmes. But there were only three star performers among them: Faketoken, Svpeng and Marcher. Svpeng and Marcher are capable of stealing credentials for online banking as well as credit card information by replacing the authentication fields of mobile banking apps and app stores apps on an infected device. And Faketoken is made for intercepting mTAN codes used in multifactor authentication systems and forwarding it to criminals. These three families accounted for 98.02% of all Trojan-Banker attacks.

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Trojan-SMS comeback:

During Spring in Europe in 2014, Kaspersky Lab researchers noticed a significant decrease in the number of attacks by Trojan-SMS malware. One possible reason for this fall was the introduction by mobile-phone operators in Russia (the main source of Trojan-SMS threat) of an Advice of Charge (AoC) mechanism. This means that every time a customer (or an SMS Trojan) attempts to send a message to a premium number, the operator notifies the customer how much the service will cost and requests additional confirmation from the user.

The decrease ended in July and was followed by a steady increase throughout the rest of the year. The growth sped up in December, traditionally a “high” season for online shopping and online payment transactions and for criminals targeting financial data.

“During the year our cumulative Android user base grew significantly, which led to a rise in the number of financial malware detections and affected users. However, the overall growth rate of attacks with financial malware was faster and greater than could be explained by the increased number of Android devices alone. This growth rate is mainly down to Trojan-SMS. We believe that the main reason of the Trojan-SMS comeback is the appearance of malware capable of infection and theft even with AoC implemented in the cellular network. For example, we discovered such functionality in Opfake.a and Fakeinst malware modifications. Both are very active Trojan-SMS representatives”, said Roman Unuchek, Senior Malware Analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab has many years of highly respected experience in combating mobile cyberthreats. This experience underpins Kaspersky Lab’s security solutions. For example, a mobile software developer kit is included in the Kaspersky Fraud Prevention platform that enables banks to protect their customers from online financial fraud. This allows banks to create mobile banking applications that are resilient to cyberthreats. Kaspersky Lab’s solutions for home users, such as Kaspersky Internet Security – Multi-Device and Kaspersky Total security – Multi-Device, also include security applications for the most popular mobile platforms.

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Samsung clears the table with new monitor

For those who like minimalism and tidy desks, Samsung’s new Space Monitor may just do the trick, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The latest trends of narrow-bezels and minimalist designs have transcended smartphones, spilling into other designs, like laptops and monitors. 

The new Space Monitor line by Samsung follows in this new design “tradition”. The company has moved the monitor off the desk – by clipping it onto the edge of the desk.

It can be put into three configurations: completely upright, where it sits a bit high but completely off the desk; half-way to the desk, where it is a bit lower to put some papers or files underneath the display; and flat on the desk, where it is at its lowest.

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The monitor sits on a weighted hinge at the edge of the desk, providing sturdy adjustment to its various height configurations. It also swivels on a hinge at the point where the arm connects to the display. This provides precise viewing angle adjustment, which is great for showing something on screen to someone who is standing.

Apart from form factor, there are some neat goodies packed into the box. It comes with a two-pin power adapter, with no adapter box on the midpoint between the plug and the monitor, and a single cable that carries HDMI-Y and power to prevent tangling. 

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However, it’s slightly disappointing that there isn’t a Mini Display Port and power cable “in one cable” option for Mac and newer graphics card users, who will have to run two cables down the back of the screen. Even worse, the display doesn’t have a USB Type-C display input; a missed opportunity to connect a Samsung device to the panel.

A redeeming point is the stunning, Samsung-quality panel, which features a 4K UHD resolution. The colours are sharp and the viewing angles are good. However, this display is missing something: Pantone or Adobe RGB colour certification, as well as IPS technology. 

The display’s response rate comes in at 4ms, slightly below average for displays in this price range. 

These negatives aside, this display has a very specific purpose. It’s for those who want to create desk space in a few seconds, while not having to rearrange the room. 

Final verdict: This display is not for gamers nor for graphic designers. It is for those who need big displays but frequently need to clear their desks.

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Can mobile fix education?

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By Ernst Wittmann, global account director for MEA and country manager for Southern Africa, at TCL Communications

Mobile technology has transformed the way we live and work, and it can be expected to rapidly change the ways in which children learn as smartphones and tablets become more widely accepted at primary and high schools. By putting a powerful computer in every learner’s schoolbag or pocket, smartphones could play an important role in improving educational outcomes in a country where so many schools are under-resourced.

Here are some ways that mobile technology will reshape education in the years to come:

Organisation and productivity

For many adults, the real benefit of a smartphone comes from simple applications like messaging, calendaring and email. The same goes for schoolchildren, many of whom will get the most value from basic apps like sending a WhatApp message to friends to check on the homework for the day, keeping track of their extramural calendar, or photographing the teacher’s notes from the blackboard or whiteboard. One study of young people’s mobile phone use in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa confirmed that many of them got the most value from using their phones to complete mundane tasks.

Interactivity

One of the major benefits smartphones can bring to the classroom is boosting learners’ engagement with educational materials through rich media and interactivity. For example, apps like Mathletics use gamification to get children excited about doing mathematics—they turn learning into a game, with rewards for practicing and hitting milestones. Or teachers can set up a simple poll using an app like Poll Everywhere to ask the children in a class what they think about a character’s motivation in their English set-work book.

Personalisation

Mobile technology opens the doors to more personalised and flexible ways to teach and learn, making more space for children to work in their own style and at their own pace. Not very child learns in the same way or excels at the same tasks and subjects – the benefit of mobile phones is that they can plug the gaps for children seeking extra enrichment or those that need some additional help with classroom work.

For example, teachers can provide recommended educational materials for children who are racing in ahead of their peers in some of their subjects. Or they can suggest relevant games for children who learn better through practical application of ideas than by listening to a teacher and taking notes. 

In future, we can expect to see teachers, perhaps aided by algorithms and artificial intelligence, make use of analytics to track how students engage with educational content on their mobile devices and use these insights to create more powerful learning experiences. 

Access

South Africa has a shortage of teachers in key subjects such as mathematics and science, which disproportionately affects learners in poor and rural areas. According to a statement in 2017 from the Department of Basic Education, it has more than 5,000 underqualified or unqualified teachers working around the country. Though technology cannot substitute for a qualified teacher, it can supplement human teaching in remote or poor areas where teachers are not available or not qualified to teach certain subjects. Video learning and videoconferencing sessions offer the next best thing where a math or physical science teacher is not physically present in the classroom.

Information

Knowledge is power and the Internet is the world’s biggest repository of knowledge. Schoolchildren can access information and expertise about every subject under the sun from their smartphones – whether they are reading the news on a portal, watching documentaries on YouTube, downloading electronic books, using apps to improve their language skills, or simply Googling facts and figures for a school project.

Take a mobile-first approach

Technology has a powerful role to play in the South African school of the future, but there are some key success factors schools must bear in mind as they bring mobile devices into the classroom:

  • Use appropriate technology—in South Africa, that means taking a mobile-first approach and using the smartphones many children already know and use.
  • Thinking about challenges such as security – put in place the cyber and physical security needed to keep phones and data safe and secure.
  • Ensuring teachers and children alike are trained to make the most of the tech – teachers need to take an active role in curating content and guiding schoolchildren’s use of their devices. To get that right, they will need training and access to reliable tech support.

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