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Endpoint connections leave security holes



In a world where organisational endpoints leave the office, and employers are increasingly allowing employees to work remotely, the risk that these endpoints pose when connecting to the corporate network is immense. This has brought some significant consequences from a security perspective, with these devices expanding the network perimeter and thus making it more vulnerable. 

“Digital transformation has led to endpoints being able to connect anywhere, anytime, which increases their risk of attack,” says Stefan van de Giessen, general manager of cybersecurity at value-added distributor Networks Unlimited Africa. “Because employees also use these devices for personal consumption and are bypassing network controls and policies, organisations cannot control them outside their VPNs. Simply put: more devices logged into a network brings a greater need for endpoint security.”

Endpoint security, which focuses on individual devices, plays a very important role in network security overall, addressing how the devices interact, and the connected pathways between them. Because endpoints offer gateways to a network, we can see why it is important to safeguard them against those of ill intent, who attempt to gain entry into the network in order to steal information through malware, or shut the network down through distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), and/or hold the network to ransom. 

How to protect your endpoints in this BYOD world?

Endpoints in the mobile world offer vulnerabilities because employees operating their own devices may not always be empowered to run the latest software and operating systems, or aware of suspicious activity and attacks. This clearly makes the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) arena a key vulnerability. 

Endpoint security ensures that employees are following the right security protocols and that all devices are running on updated systems and programs, which will help prevent security breaches. 

Networks Unlimited Africa says it offers a combination of unfiltered data collection, predictive analytics, and cloud-based delivery to provide endpoint protection that puts the network operator back in control. 

“Endpoint protection technologies give organisations the ability to detect and respond to security events within their environments,” he says. “It takes a number of different security technologies to enable a complete endpoint security stack. The good news is that, while attackers have multiple tools for exploiting endpoints, organisations also have a number of solutions that can be used to make up a complete endpoint security stack.” 

Tools that can be used in the complete endpoint security stack include:

  • Endpoint protection platform (EPP): the goal is to prevent code execution and technologies include anti-virus (AV) and anti-malware technologies that aim to block malicious code from running on endpoints, as well as encryption and data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities. 
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR): EDR gives organisations the ability to see what’s happening on an endpoint and adds to a security professional’s information over and above the EPP. Capabilities commonly found in EDR include a recording system, behaviour detection capabilities, data search, suspicious activity detection and response capabilities. 
  • Application whitelisting:Application whitelisting can be beneficial for static servers or point-of-sale (POS) systems that are intended to be limited to certain range of tasks. 
  • Privilege management:Privileged accounts include local administrator accounts as well as domain-level accounts, and the protection of privileged accounts is a core element of endpoint security. 
  • Vulnerability and patch management: Vulnerability management technology is used to identify unknown security vulnerabilities within an organisation. Patch management follows on from vulnerability management, as security managers can only patch the vulnerabilities that they know about. 
  • OS hardening: Organisations can take multiple steps to harden desktop operating systems to make it harder for attackers to compromise. 
  • Deception: Deception is an early indicator of threat actors in your environment. Deception technologies present bogus credentials and services to an attacker. When the deception services are attacked, the organisation is alerted and can take additional steps to limit risks and protect the rest of their environment. 
  • Central alerting and monitoring: Visibility into alerts from a central location is key to being able to respond timeously, and having the ability to ingest alerts from across an enterprise infrastructure is critical. 

Van de Giessen says: “Endpoint protection technologies give organisations the ability to detect and respond to security events, but must tackle issues such as insufficient security controls, poor patch management and lack of environment hardening in order to avoid compromise. As a result, network security professionals need to use different types of endpoint security methodologies in order to prepare a holistic defence stack in order to detect, prevent and respond to the most advanced endpoint cyberattacks.”


Small SA 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.

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Facebook fact-checking goes to 10 more African countries



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.”

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