The development in cyber attacks over the past couple of years has been rapid, but what is even more worrying, says BRYAN HAMMAN of Arbor Networks, is that companies are only now waking up to the idea that their current defences are inadequate.
The last couple of years have seen rapid and complex developments in the cyber threat landscape. A significant portion of cyber attacks are now being made up of brute-force, volumetric distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which look to disrupt on-line presence and conceal malicious activity, often with the aim of stealing data. What’s worrying is the fact companies are only now starting to realise their defences might not be ready for these types of attacks.
Adding to this concern is the fact that attackers are becoming increasingly adept at combining tools to their best effect and targeting all sorts of organisations. It’s not solely large companies that are being hit. Businesses large and small, across all industry sectors, public and private, even charities, are being targeted, for a variety of reasons. The rise of ideological hacktivism, the use of DDoS attacks to distract or disguise from other kinds of cyber-crime and the use of DDoS as a “competitive weapon’” in some industry sectors are just some of the key motivations behind those attacks, as shown in Arbor’s 11th annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report.
As a consequence there has been a clear increase in the level of interest from businesses in solutions and services to help protect themselves. Executives within a wide variety of businesses are now aware of the severe consequences of a successful DDoS attack – both in terms of financial and reputational damage – and businesses are starting to realise the fact that a one-size-fits-all approach to security is unlikely to be successful in the long term.
Specific threats require, in a lot of cases, specific solutions and DDoS is a good example. On-premise firewalls and intrusion detection system (IDS) products can deal with small, more simple attacks – but they can’t stop the more sophisticated application layer attacks that have become more prevalent over the past five years. As such, firewalls or cloud-only mitigation solutions are no longer comprehensive enough to protect the network. Firewalls can’t deal with volumetric attacks, which saturate Internet connectivity, while cloud-based solutions may not proactively detect more stealthy attacks and take several minutes to activate, by which time significant damage has already been done.
Clearly then, organisational defences, from all kinds of threats, need to be multi-layered. To successfully deal with DDoS attacks, businesses need specialised defences at the network perimeters to proactively protect their networks from attacks and at the same time, cloud-based DDoS protection that can be called upon when an attack saturates the connectivity.
This layered approach is also needed when organisations try and protect themselves from compromise via malware or insider misuse. Organisations can have firewalls, IDS and antivirus systems in place but these aren’t always enough. With modern network and service architectures and the increasing prevalence of obfuscation techniques available to malware, businesses now need to monitor “inside” their network perimeters, as well as “at” the perimeter, to detect suspicious and malicious activities or compromised devices on their networks.
When thinking about enterprise security, it’s important to remember that additional layers of security need not be more complex to operate or deploy. If the right solutions are selected, with the right workflows, then organisations can actually help their operational security teams to become more efficient and effective. This helps IT pros to protect the organisation against the growing number of cyber threats out there. Thinking proactively about security and combining different layers of defences will ultimately help companies keep the front foot in the cyber war over customer data.
* Bryan Hamman, territory manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Arbor Networks
Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data
A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs
The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom.
The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.
“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.
ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period.
The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively. On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149.
Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).
“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.
The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).
Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.
The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).
For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.
Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in
A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK
Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.
Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.
Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.
Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.
“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”
The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.
Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.
Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”
Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.