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How business and consumers can stay safe against cyber-attacks

As hacker attacks, breaches and ransomware escalate in 2019, these 5 tips could keep you safe, writes SIMON MCCULLOUGH of F5 Networks



Data breaches and cyberattacks are on the rise in 2019 as hackers become increasingly sophisticated. Across the globe, businesses are finding it difficult to grapple with rapidly shifting cybercriminal motivations, tactics and appetites for destruction. 

To both understand and keep pace with cybercrime, businesses and consumers should both be wary and adopt the tools to fight fire with fire. With edge computing – its data and the application thereof – distributed across multiple locations,  cybersecurity remains a very critical part of business. This is most imperative in the case of South Africa where digital banking is growing and research has shown that South Africans lose more than R2.2bn to internet fraud and phishing attacks annually.

The reality is that both organisations and consumers are affected by cyberattacks and fraudulent activities, making education around cybersecurity more relevant than ever before as the country moves to greater reliance on digital technology.  Here are some key cybersecurity tips for any growing business, and consumers, to avoid any cyber-fraud tricks.

Tips for organisations:

  1. Get an annoying mail to ask if you have logged on to one your usual platforms from a different device? Don’t ignore it. To help detect fraudulent activity, business should be monitoring regular customers and the devices they normally use for purchases. If an alternative device is used, they can challenge the transaction with additional checks – which includes the above-mentioned mail you should head.
  2. Organisations must ensure that they can gather enough transactional data, and therefore evidence, to prove the fraudulent nature of a transaction, or its validity in the case of ‘friendly fraud’. Tactics such as using e-signatures or voice verification can help keep high-value transactions secure.
  3. It’s vital to be able to detect new accounts that have been opened on an online store that may be used for fraud purposes. This information can be hooked into shared real-time fraud databases to cross-reference known fraud data such as flagged delivery addresses and mobile numbers, as well as highlighting inconsistencies in sales transactions.
  4. Cyber-attacks also mainly involve distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that saturate bandwidth, consume network resources, and disrupt application services.  To defend against this it’s important for organisations to look at deploying an advanced firewall manager that can mitigate threats before they disrupt critical data centre resources.
  5. App security that detects financial malware, identifies fraudulent transactions, and combats phishing scams without requiring customers to download anything is also quite essential. Solutions such as F5’s WebSafe and MobileSafe help organisations in this regard.
  6. Teach and learn – often time many organisational cyber-attacks are due to minor mistakes like opening a link in phishing email or unintentionally allowing backdoors into a network. As a result, it is critical for organisations to keep abreast with the latest hacking tricks and educate employees on how to best stay protected.

Tips for consumers:

  1. Limit your transactions on public Wi-Fi networks, hackers can easily tap into public networks and install malicious malware that gathers sensitive information and passwords.
  2. Consumers should use well-established, trusted websites, which are much easier to find if you avoid shopping via search engines. Signs of flawed authenticity such as wording or formatting errors are often an indication of fake websites.
  3. Only shop on locations that are encrypted demonstrated by the ‘https’ prefix in a retailer’s website and a padlock symbol in the browser.
  4. It’s important to keep an eye out for phishing emails and SMSes. These usually appear to come from a well-known brand and ask for personal or financial information – something a retailer would never normally do.
  5. Consumers should avoid retailers that ask for payments via money order, pre-loaded money card or wire, methods often associated with scammers.

Download apps from the trusted sources – each device comes with operation software and a store where users can download verified and safe applications instead of downloading application of the internet where links may very well direct you to an untrusted site or replica of the application you wish to download.

* Simon McCullough is major channel account manager at F5 Networks in South Africa


ASUS puts more screen into gaming

While others battle over the thinnest bezel for maximizing screen space, ASUS released a dual screen laptop that uses the space where one’s palms would usually rest, writes BRYAN TURNER



When one imagines dual screen, it’s usually two screens side-by-side on a desk, providing a horizontally long desktop experience. There have been clunky dual screen laptops in the past, some that folded out horizontally, but these never really caught the attention of the consumer.  

Enter Asus with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. Like the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, the ROG Zephyrus Duo features two screens – the main screen on the top panel (as we’re all used to) and another screen just below that, where the top of the keyboard would usually be. The main difference is the secondary screen pops out at a 13-degree angle to bridge the gap between the two screens, and to give better viewing angles.  

That ZenBook Pro Duo is also a pretty good machine for gaming, because it features Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics, but it doesn’t have the latest graphics. With the new machine, Asus is one of the first manufacturers to release a laptop featuring Nvidia’s latest RTX 2080 Super Max Q GPU for mobile devices. This is a momentous feat, considering that not only are the external features  cutting edge, but also the internals. 

The main panel is configured to be either 4K 60Hz or 1080p 300Hz. The former is most likely going to be picked up by video editors and photoshop gurus, because it covers 100% of the Adobe RBG colour space, and the latter will appeal to gamers who want to see their high frame rates in action. Both panels are Pantone Colour Calibrated for high colour accuracy. 

The secondary panel features a 32:9 resolution, which is equal to putting two standard 16:9 widescreen panels together. The touchscreen panel outputs a 3840 x 1100 resolution at 60Hz.  

The combination of these panels will be ideal for portable gamers. The main game can be on the main panel, while Discord and game streaming software can be on the secondary panel, all at a glance. Not to mention the game developers that have support for two screens, where the second screen highlights stats and other components that had to be crammed into the main screen’s space.   

On the inside, the laptop features liquid metal cooling, which lowers the temperatures by 8°C and allows the computer to function with less fan noise. Asus has also slipped some very interesting cooling tech behind the secondary panel, when it pops open, to maximise airflow into the computer from both the bottom and the top of the device. 

The laptop features the biggest battery Asus has yet put in a computer, at 90Wh. This is incredibly close to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA’s) limit of 100Wh batteries being allowed on flights to the US. Fortunately, this computer can be taken around the world if necessary. 

These computers will come in two variants of 10th Generation Intel processors, namely the i9-10980HK or i7-10875H. They support up to 2 M.2 NVMe PCIE 3 slots for SSDs. 

The new ROG gaming range from Asus will be available later this year. The price of the computer has not yet been confirmed

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Vodacom, Discovery launch free virtual COVID-19 tests

Vodacom and Discovery have teamed up to launch free virtual COVID-19 testing for all South Africans – not only for their customers.



Vodacom and Discovery have partnered to deliver a powerful online healthcare platform for the benefit of all South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform provides easy access to a COVID-19 risk tool for all South Africans, to help understand your personal risk for COVID-19. Where needed, it assists immediately to schedule virtual healthcare professional consultations and get advice.

Globally, telemedicine has proved to be vital in the management of this disease, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating for digital healthcare tools and virtual consults to be the first step and primary means of healthcare support during the COVID-19 outbreak. The risk assessment and virtual healthcare tools can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to a hospital.

The online healthcare platform therefore makes it possible for South Africans to access a healthcare professional without them having to travel to a healthcare facility.

This reduces overcrowding at clinics and doctors’ rooms where there is greater risk of the virus spreading. It also protects healthcare professionals from potential repeated exposure to COVID-19.

It is free to use and available on any web browser or mobile phone to facilitate a full consultation with a doctor, either through video calls, voice calls, or by text. The service can be accessed by visiting either the Discovery or Vodacom websites. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.

Through a partnership with Vodacom, Discovery’s existing DrConnect platform, which was previously available only to Discovery clients, is now accessible to all South Africans. Vodacom and Discovery have also jointly created a fund to pay doctors for approximately 100,000 consultations, making them free to any South African.

There are seven easy steps to use an online doctor consultation:

  1. Start the process by visiting Discovery’s COVID-19 information hub or Vodacom’s website. Members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme can access the service through the Discovery app. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.
  2. Utilise the COVID-19 self-screening risk assessment tool, by answering a few easy questions.
  3. If you are confirmed as high risk of having COVID-19, a short registration and consent process on the DrConnect app will follow.
  4. Book a virtual consultation with a doctor who is available to assess the need for COVID-19 testing.
  5. If the doctor recommends testing, a photo of the completed pathology form will be sent to you by SMS, WhatsApp or email. The same process will apply to scripts for medicine.
  6. Testing and collecting of medicine will be facilitated by the relevant essential healthcare service providers that you must visit.
  7. Doctors will receive test results electronically and can then advise if you should schedule follow-up appointments to discuss results and next steps.

The Vodacom COVID-19 information hub contains other up-to-date information for consumers about COVID-19.

With virtual consultations, the location of the doctor or the location of the patient will not restrict access to fast and effective healthcare. All doctors can register to help.

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