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Cyber attacks intensify as SA turns to remote working

South African networks face a 10-fold increase in attacks as workforces shift to remote access, says Kaspersky

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South Africa saw a sharp spike in network attacks from 15 to21 March 2020, with affected devices increasing in number from the usual average of 25,000 to peak at about 310,000, reports Kaspersky. The peak coincides with a massive increase in remote working in response to national emergency containment measures aimed at flattening the curve of spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

“The region is seeing an increase in attempts to break into the organisations systems to establish control over them, sabotage their work, or access sensitive information,” says Maher Yamout, senior security researcher for the global research and analysis team at Kaspersky. “Remote working provides cybercriminals a prime opportunity to target devices, especially those that don’t necessarily have adequate IT security measures in place.

“Such a spike recorded, although temporary, leads us to believe that cybercriminals have keenly been focused on the region given the current circumstances – have been on the lookout for vulnerable devices to exploit – and likely due to the rapid increase in remote working protocols that have been initiated during this timeframe, especially since the growth in attacks continued until the weekend.”

The attack types used varied. A third of them were attempting to penetrate the network with brute forcing of passwords – repetitive attempts at various password combinations. This technique is very common and often works well with weak or repetitively used passwords or poorly configured systems.

Kaspersky, along with other market commentators, have recently shared advice linked to working from home strategies and the important security elements to consider, as this practice becomes more standard for many businesses in light of the global pandemic.

Read more about how company data faces a huge challenge.

“Observing the statistics of network attacks for the past two months, we’ve never seen the numbers going above 45,000 attacks a day, while the last week saw this number reaching over 300,000,” says Yamout. “It certainly reinforces the need to institute critical security measures for remote working strategies, to ensure effective protection. However, with the spike dropping again, such advice is likely being onboarded and taken seriously.”


Kaspersky graph showing sharp increase in network attacks between 15-21 March 2020 in South Africa

Kaspersky shares a recap of top tips employees can follow when working remotely:

  • Make use of a VPN to connect securely to the corporate network
  • Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible
  • Ensure all corporate devices – including mobiles, laptops and tablets are protected with adequate security software
  • Segregate your personal devices/life from corporate computers
  • Ensure the latest available updates are installed regularly
  • Only use corporate-approved teleconferencing software
  • Practice basic cybersecurity rules:
    • Do not click on emails from strangers or unknown sources
    • Do not open attachments received from unknown senders
    • Make use of strong passwords only
    • Do not share passwords
    • Don’t connect to unprotected or public Wi-Fi

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New measures as video production comes to a halt

MultiChoice has announced a range of measures to safeguard the incomes of cast, crew, and creatives, as well as the sustainability of production houses.

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MutliChoice Group has confirmed that production of video entertainment has come to a complete halt in South Africa, as the industry adheres to the national lockdown.

Many sectors across the African continent are adjusting and finding ways to deal with challenges brought about by the current coronavirus pandemic. Among these, MultiChoice Group is one of the best-known brands across Africa, due to its dominance of the video entertainment sector. As a result, it says, it is acutely aware of the challenges its partners in the industry are facing. 

“For many years MultiChoice has been a leader in the sector and are a leading investor in local content production,” it said in a statement on Friday. “The group has deep rooted partnerships and long-standing commitments that have grown the industry for the benefit of many, both in front and behind the camera.”

For this reason, says MultiChoice, it has decided to implement several measures aimed at safeguarding the incomes of cast, crew, and creatives as well as the sustainability of production houses. 

“With these measures the group can hopefully steer the industry through this tumultuous time.”

MultiChoice announced the following measures:

  • “MultiChoice has set aside R80 million to ensure that current productions are able to pay full salaries of cast, crew, and creatives for the months of March and April, by when hopefully we will have the worst of the disruptions behind us. The need to secure salaries of our creatives goes a long way in creating income stability for them and their families. We believe this to be critical for the industry and in our view simply the right thing to do.
  • “Through the MultiChoice Talent Factory we will be launching an online learning portal that will support over 40 000 members of the industry to gain access to courses and online master classes, so they can continue to hone their craft whilst adhering to the public health measures of social distancing and isolation. 
  • “Furthermore, we have committed to guarantee the incomes of freelancers in our SuperSport Productions, who are currently unable to work due to the suspension of sport and the national lockdown. This extends to guaranteeing the income of freelancers in our broadcast technology environment.”

MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela said: “Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill.

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Nintendo South Africa launches online gameathon

Nintendo’s South African distributor has set up live events for virtual participation during lockdown.

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Being stuck inside doesn’t mean not being with the game. Players now have the chance to meet up virtually to play Nintendo Switch Online games like Ring Fit AdventureAnimal Crossing: New Horizons, and Pokémon Sword and Shield

A daily schedule is available for each game. For example, Ring Fit Adventure has a kids challenge at 9am from Monday to Friday, while adults can join in at 2pm. The challenges are co-ordinated by a dedicated Ring Fit coach. 

The challenge instructions will be available via the Discord channel. Join the channel via the invite here

Players of all skill levels are encouraged to join. Plenty tips and tricks will be shared about the games. 

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