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How to stay one step ahead of cyber threats

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Just under half of the companies surveyed in South Africa and the Middle East said they detected 50 or more threats in the last year. BRENDAN MCARAVEY, Country Manager, Citrix South Africa provides some tips on how to keep up with the cybercrime world.

In the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global State of Information Security Survey 2016, 41.44% of companies in South Africa and the Middle East reported that they had detected 50 or more cybersecurity incidents in the past 12 months. This was in comparison to the global total of 31.59%. A further 17.47% of South African and Middle Eastern companies had identified between 10 and 49 threats in the same time period.

These statistics are indicative of a constantly evolving beast – today’s information security landscape. As attack vectors continue to grow, assaults become more frequent and attackers become even more sophisticated. The need to continually adapt to an increasingly hostile environment has resulted in a significant change from the familiar security measures that kept us “comfortable” a mere five years ago. Although these measures are still valid, the reality is that they are nowhere near sufficient to combat the dangers of today’s increasingly complex threats.

Here are seven recommendations to help you keep up with the rapid pace of change in cybersecurity:

1.       Say goodbye to generic “best practices” security

Compliance is not a security programme – it’s a starting point. Any organisation that is still just ticking the boxes on their audit report is getting breached. Have this conversation in the boardroom and use it to drive the culture towards security that is specifically tailored to the business.

2.       Patching is a daily event

Flaws in applications, services such as DNS and foundational software, including OpenSSL, mean that, unlike a few years ago, we can’t wait a month or more for patches.  Ensure your organisation can respond with instant remediation across workstations, mobile, servers and clouds. Manage at the application level to respond without having to push new desktop images.

3.       Security just got personal

Targeted attacks go after specific individuals with personalised messages and payloads from an apparently trusted source. It’s getting more and more difficult – even for security professionals – to differentiate the malignant from the benign. And the highly rare APT ups the ante when the attacker has found a truly valuable target. More education is necessary, but can only go so far. Hardening must reduce the default attack surface as much as possible, and containment strategies further sandbox attacks.

4.       Breaches are to be expected

Formerly denied and only discussed in secret, breaches are now a reporting requirement for many organisations. A prescribed approach to incident management includes both technical and reputational responses. Containing breaches and their impact has been a deciding use case for app virtualisation across governments, healthcare and financial services. Virtualising all browser-based access is a leading practice for containing attacks against one of the most popular entry points for organisational breach.

5.       End-to-end strong encryption is mandatory

Encryption is no longer just for networks and hard drives. Encryption must protect sensitive data within and between applications, from desktops to mobile. Criminals have also recognised the value of encryption, with ransomware leveraging encryption as a weapon. And, as the painful death of SSL has shown, outdated encryption can be as bad as no encryption at all. Ensure that you control encryption for endpoints through app and desktop virtualisation, on mobile devices with enterprise mobility management, and for cloud and web apps with an application delivery controller with embedded web app firewall.

6.       Security begins with access 

A deep knowledge of situational context is necessary to control identity, authentication, authorisation and access control. Focus on the 5Ws of Access for employees and non-employees – who needs access, what are they accessing and when, where do they need access from, and why do they require access. Use virtualisation to provide fine-grained access control for privileged users and to ensure that there is no direct access to sensitive data.

7.       IT has competition

End users think they can do computing better themselves. And in some ways, they can. But not security. Ensure that Shadow IT, unsanctioned BYO and the use of consumer-grade apps, clouds and services for sensitive data are replaced with IT-controlled and sanctioned offerings. Simplify things for users by enabling single sign on, improving their access and automating a superior experience across devices.

This is by no means a prescriptive list. Information security teams should remain on guard at all times and aim to stay one step ahead of those who will take advantage of any negligence or ignorance. Nobody can afford to stand still. Attack vectors and exploitation methods will increase alarmingly, as more devices, people and locations become connected. And, as IoT becomes more of a reality, the need for sophisticated cybersecurity will increase exponentially. It’s time to keep watch, with both eyes open.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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