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Hacktivism at all-time high

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Check Point’s 2015 security report has revealed that among other issues, known and and unknown malware is on the increase, mobile devices are a company’s biggest weak-point and preventing data loss is a concern for most enterprises.

Check Point Software Technologies has issued its 2015 Security Report, the company’s third annual report revealing the major security threats that impacted organisations across the world.

The 2015 Security Report provides insight into the degree of infiltration and sophistication of new threats in the enterprise. Mobility, virtualisation and other technologies have changed the way we do business. While organisations have adopted these tools to enhance productivity, they often forget about the security implications that arise when they lack the proper security implementations. The Check Point 2015 Security Report reveals the prevalence and growth of threats on enterprise networks, through information obtained over the course of 2014. This report is based on collaborative research and in-depth analysis of over 1,300 organisations (including 39 South African organisations), over 300,000 hours of monitored network traffic, from more than 16,000 threat prevention gateways and 1 million smartphones.

Key findings include:

Known and Unknown Malware Increased Exponentially

Malware rose at alarming rates in 2014. This year’s report revealed that 106 unknown malware hit an organisation every hour: 48 times more than the 2.2 downloads per hour reported in 2013. Unknown malware will continue to threaten the enterprise in the future. Even worse than unknown malware is zero-day malware, which is effectively built from scratch to exploit software vulnerabilities, of which vendors aren’t yet even aware. Cybercriminals are also continuing to use bots to amplify and accelerate the spread of malware. 83 percent of organisations studied were infected with bots in 2014, allowing constant communication and data sharing between these bots and their command and control servers.

Mobile Devices are a Company’s Biggest Vulnerability

Mobile devices are the weak links in the security chain, providing easier direct access to more valuable organisational assets than any other intrusion point. Check Point research found that for an organisation with more than 2,000 devices on its network, there’s a 50 percent chance that there are at least 6 infected or targeted mobile devices on their network. 72 percent of IT providers agreed that their top mobile security challenge is securing corporate information, and 67 percent said their second biggest challenge is managing personal devices storing both corporate and personal data. Corporate data is at risk, and being made aware of these risks is critical to taking the proper steps to secure mobile devices.

Using Risky Applications Comes at a High Price

Corporations frequently rely on applications to help their business be more organised and streamlined. However, these applications become vulnerable points of entry for businesses. Some applications, such as file sharing, are obviously risky. The rise of ‘shadow IT’, applications that aren’t sponsored or supported by the central IT organisation has led to even riskier business. Research revealed that 96 percent of organisations studied used at least one high-risk application in 2014, a 10-point increase from the previous year. Check Point research also unveiled that 12.7 high-risk application events happen every hour. That creates many opportunities for cybercriminals to access the corporate network – that is risky business.

Data Loss is Top of Mind

Cybercriminals are not the only threat to the integrity and security of corporate data. Just as quickly as a hacker could penetrate a network, in-network actions can also easily result in data loss. Check Point found that 81 percent of the organisations analysed suffered a data loss incident, up 41 percent from 2013. Data can unknowingly leak out of any organisation for a variety of reasons, most of those tied to current and past employee actions. While most security strategies focus on protecting data from hackers coming in, it is equally important to protect data from the inside out.

“When it comes to cyber security, we can no longer segment threats on a country-by-country basis. The same threats that cripple multinational organisations in America can take down an SME in South Africa – malware does not discriminate when it comes to organisation size or territory. The Internet has made the world a very small place, and new malware can infect millions of devices all over the world in minutes,” said Doros Hadjizenonos, Country Manager of Check Point South Africa.

“Today’s cybercriminals are sophisticated and ruthless: they prey on the weaknesses in a network, approaching any security layer as an open invitation to try to hack it. In order to protect themselves against attacks, security professionals and organisations alike must understand the nature of the latest exploits and how their networks are potentially impacted. Only by arming themselves with a combination of knowledge and strong security solutions can organisations truly protect themselves against these evolving threats. By making security a critical asset to your business, you can turn security into an enabler, and in doing so, you’re able to unlock innovation and foster an environment for high performance and productivity.”

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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