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How companies can escape ransomware clutches

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As the world feels the after effects of the WannaCry Ransomware virus, South African businesses are asking what they can do to prevent the next attack. BRENDAN MC ARAVEY, Country Manager at Citrix South Africa sheds some light.

Recent news of possibly the largest ransomware attack in history — WannaCry — has permeated the globe. WannaCry is an operating system exploit, one of many that were exposed by Wikileaks. While the original exploit has been patched, that doesn’t mean attackers aren’t trying again.

The traditional approach to mitigating ransomware attacks — user education, anti-malware, frequent backups, and keeping a supply of Bitcoin on hand — is no longer a viable option by itself. Organisations need to turn to a more robust, systems-level approach to keep data out of an attacker’s reach. It’s critical that organisations step up their game — today. And it is more important than ever that we all prepare for multiple versions of attack as well as net new attacks.

The WannaCry attack has already resurfaced and its target list is expanding. Immediately patch the vulnerability, if you haven’t already and follow these steps to ensure you organisation isn’t the next victim.

Patch and virtualize: Paying the ransom does not mean your files will be restored. Aside from the cost, payment only rewards criminal activity, and strengthens the incentive for more attacks across industries. If the bad actor does provide to keys to decrypt, restoration is often a manual process and can take weeks to recover, depending on the number of files impacted.

Run a system check to ensure all patches have been made and that employees are using the most up-to-date softwareWe strongly encourage companies to migrate to Windows 10 and virtualize applications and browsers through Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop, and AppDNA to keep sensitive data off the endpoint. By using Citrix XenApp to run a hosted browser, IT can introduce a layer between the corporate environment and the Internet to shield the trusted computer and its data from attack.

Educate your employees about this attack and their role in protecting the company and themselves. First and foremost, let employees know they shouldn’t open a file or click on a link under any circumstances unless they know whom it’s from. If they are concerned or need to confirm, tell them to pick up the phone or ask a manager.

Mobile devices are prime targets for ransomware and other malware. Containerization is key to preventing attacks on mobile devices by centralizing management, security and control for apps and data without interfering with personal content on a bring your own device (BYOD). Containerization also contains an attack to a single user.

Backup everything with a secure enterprise file sync-and-share service like Citrix ShareFile. Even if the ransom is paid, there’s no guarantee the files will be restored. The options are to restore data from a recent back up or live without the files. ShareFile keeps multiple versions of each file so that in the event a file is encrypted by ransomware, users can revert to the most recent, uncompromised version, eliminating the need for a hacker’s decryption key.

It is therefore clear that virtualization, enterprise mobility management and enterprise file synchronization help shield devices and organisations — computers, tablets, smartphones and other endpoints — against ransomware attacks and allow for quick recovery if an incident does occur. Many of the operating system hacks published by Wikileaks can be mitigated with these types of technologies.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

Use the page links below to continue reading about Tan’s visions.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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