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Cyber threats: Don’t panic!

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Building and running your own website can be a daunting task, especially with the cyber crime that you are exposed to. But, says MYRON SALANT of Webafrica, there is no need to panic as there are various services to keep you safe.

The cyber-world can be a dark and daunting place, especially if you are building and running your own websites or have an online business. Cyber-crime in the form of hacking could result in your website being blacklisted by Google, equating to a drop in search rankings, a damaged reputation, and a loss of revenue as you try to get your site back up.

“But there is no need to panic,” says Myron Salant, web services product manager at Webafrica. “Many website owners only think about security after their site gets hacked, but knowledge is power: if you know what the threats are you can arm yourself appropriately and get one step ahead of the hackers.”

Myron has identified the top 10 threats to your website that you should be aware of:

Injection

Injection happens when hostile data is sent to an interpreter as part of a query or command. This data tricks the interpreter, resulting in unintended commands and corrupt data. It’s a common problem in web applications, particularly with SQL injection.

Cross-site scripting

When an application sends user-supplied data to a web browser without first validating or encoding it, cross-site scripting (XSS) can occur. This lets hackers execute scripts in the victim’s browser that hijack user sessions or vandalize websites.

Insecure direct object references

Web applications don’t always verify that the user is authorized for the target object. Without an access control check or similar protection, supposedly secure data can be accessed and stolen by attackers.

Cross-site request forgery

CSRF tricks a victim into submitting fake HTTP requests via cross-site scripting or image tags. It’s an issue for web applications that inadvertently allows hackers to predict the details of a transaction – for example, automatically-generated session cookies. Attackers create hostile web pages which generate forged requests indistinguishable from real ones.

Insecure cryptographic storage

It’s hard to believe but many web applications still do not properly protect sensitive data such as credit card numbers and personal details. Attackers can easily access poorly encrypted data and use it to commit credit card fraud, identity theft and other data-related crimes.

Failure to restrict URL access

An application may protect sensitive functionality only by not displaying relevant URLs to unauthorized users. By accessing those ULRs directly, attackers can exploit this weakness to perform unauthorized operations.

Invalidated re-directs & forwards

Web applications may re-direct and forward visitors to other pages and websites without proper validation. Attackers can then re-direct victims to phishing or malware sites or use forwards to access unauthorized pages.

Broken authentication & session management

Account credentials and session tokens are sometimes not properly protected. Attackers simply use stolen passwords, keys and authentication tokens to steal other users’ identities and commit crimes.

Security misconfiguration

Attackers exploit security configuration weaknesses at any level whether it’s the platform, web server, application server, framework or custom code. These flaws give attackers unauthorized access to default accounts, unused pages, un-patched flaws, unprotected files and system data.

Insufficient transport layer protection

When applications fail to authenticate, encrypt and protect sensitive network traffic, they may support weak algorithms, use expired or invalid certificates, or execute commands incorrectly.

“The above threats can simply be avoided by implementing an online security system, such as SiteLock, for example,” says Myron. “If you are unsure about the right security solution for your website, speak to your web developer – as the cliché goes, prevention is better than cure!”

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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