According to IDC, 66% of CEOs will have digital transformation at the heart of their corporate strategy, but 70% of siloed digital transformation initiatives will fail by 2018.
This means that if organisations are to implement successful security strategies, they will have to ensure that these initiatives are at the core of the overall digital transformation of the company.
Research released at the recent 2016 IDC IT Security Roadshow showed that CIOs put cyber security and privacy technologies at the top of the list of technology priorities to support digital transformation. 85 percent of South African organisations surveyed also stated that they have plans to implement advanced security solutions by 2017.
Says Ido Naor, Senior Researcher in the Global Research and Analysis team at Kaspersky Lab: “Ransomware attacks are definitely on the increase and this is something that Kaspersky Lab anticipated two to three years ago already. Couple this with new ransomware variants that keep multiplying themselves and the fact that attacks are not being limited to specific industries or necessarily have mitigation and you have a major battle on your hands.”
“We are also seeing growth in mainly Android malware, particularly when large events take place such as the Olympics in Rio and the Euro Cup, during which users are more likely to download apps to keep abreast with the latest news about the events.”
When the attacker becomes the target
Targeted attacks by organised groups also continue to evolve. Continues Naor: “A year ago at the Kaspersky Security Analyst summit, we revealed a very sophisticated group, which uses targeted attacks against governments, military, telecoms, aerospace and more, called Equation, operating since 2001. Subsequent to that, a group that calls itself The Shadow Brokers announced that they had stolen malware code from the Equation Group, which led to the release of the tools and script they use and vulnerabilities they had discovered and kept in order to use again as part of their attack.”
So how do you protect yourself?
Awareness is still the most traditional, yet effective method of protecting an organisation. Adds Naor: “Ensure that every employee in the company is aware of the existence of malware in general and educate them about the growing danger of ransomware and what some of the scenarios are to look out for. Basically, it is about teaching users or employees not to open suspicious emails or click on links they are not familiar with or which are not intended specifically for them. Also teach them not to use their corporate email when registering for services online. In addition, IT and security managers should apply security procedures that restricts malware from spreading from one machine to the other, by enforcing user group policies and segmented networks within the corporate LAN.”
While awareness certainly has an important role to play, organisations of all sizes also have to invest in security solutions to protect themselves. “You need to ensure that every entry and exit point for your organisation is secure. This includes protection at the endpoint and on the server side. It is also important to monitor encryption attacks through components such as a system watcher, which will enable you to revert back to the place where the station is not compromised.”
But what about the general consumer?
The proliferation of mobile devices on the African continent and an increase in Android malware means that individuals can also be at risk. Firstly, mobile users should make sure their device is updated at all times and they are using the latest version of their operating system on their phone. Secondly, they should be aware of what types of applications they are downloading and ensure they only download apps from credible sources such as their relevant app store and not from links that are being distributed via email or on social networks.
“I would recommend watching what you download. As mentioned earlier, big events often rely on apps to disseminate information to visitors, which creates an opportunity for attackers. So, if you are going to download an event-specific app or a trending game like Pokémon GO, make sure you have downloaded the right app from a reputable, valid source and that you are not downloading something that looks similar.”
Nowadays one cannot even rely on reviews to determine authenticity as these apps will often have good reviews, because the hackers know how to buy reviews or get reviews from compromised victims.
Where to from here and beyond?
“I believe that every cycle of an emerging attack trend or cycle of threats takes time to eliminate. We do find that in some regions, cyber security is taken more seriously. It also depends on the industry affected, as we find that the telecommunications, military and government sectors take these breaches far more seriously than for example retail. On a general note, we know that cyber threats are around and that they are going to get more severe, but there are security companies out there that are doing all they can to protect users. Collaboration will be key in fighting the scourge, though. So, for example, when Facebook faced a malware issue, we worked with them to create a plug-in to clean your machine if you were infected. Our best arsenal in the fight against cyber attacks will be collaboration, constant research and continuously retracing the attackers to make sure fewer people will fall victim to these attacks.” says Naor.
Small South African town goes smartphone-only
Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones
All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.
The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.
Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.
“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.
“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”
Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.
For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.
10 more African countries join Facebook fact-checking
Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,
In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.
Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.
Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.
Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”
When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.
Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”
Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”
Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”
Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”