A year ago, after multiple days of digital bombardment, the cyber-security world changed forever.
Over one weekend, the notorious ransomware attack that would become widely known as WannaCry infected more than 200,000 machines around the world, causing billions of dollars in damages. Ransomware attacks occur all the time, but the speed and the scale of this particular attack – likes of which were never seen before – made international headlines as WannaCry spread to 150 countries. And just a few months ago, we saw WannaCry’s fingerprints on the ransomware attack that shut down the city of Atlanta.
WannaCry changed the cybersecurity game not just through its outsized impact; it made waves because of its outsized influence on the cyber-threat landscape. Marking a turning point in the cybersecurity environment, we were looking at the first global-scaled, multi-vectored cyberattack powered by state-sponsored tools. WannaCry marked a new generation – the fifth generation – of cyber-attacks.
And it certainly wasn’t the last Gen V attack. It’s time for organisations to adjust to our new normal of cyber-attacks, which involves…
Leaked State-Sponsored Tools:
About a month before the WannaCry attack, a hacker group called the Shadow Brothers leaked an exploit developed by the National Security Agency (NSA). This exploit, labeled EternalBlue, would later be used as part of the WannaCry attack.
In the past, cyber criminals traditionally used simplistic, homegrown tools for their hacking activities. WannaCry marked the shift toward using military-grade weapons, hacking tools that are powerful enough for a national cyberdefense agency to use on international cyber-warfare. Just six weeks after WannaCry, NotPetya used the same exploit in its infamous attack on mostly Ukrainian critical infrastructure systems. And just recently, the SamSam ransomware attack that shut down the city of Atlanta relied on DoublePulsar – another NSA-developed exploit.
Cyber-criminals are upgrading their firepower and setting their sights higher than ever before.
Globally Scaled Tools:
As mentioned earlier, the WannaCry’s impact sparked an upswing in severe large-scale cyber-attacks.
In 2015, ransomware attacks caused $325 million in damage. By 2017, the attacks were up 15x at $5 billion, as companies lost productivity through the downtime and reputational hit. Along with the impact, WannaCry spawned hundreds of variants of ransomware. Recorded Future showed that before WannaCry, at the end of January 2017, they were tracking 635 variants of malware. Fast forward to February 2018, where 1,105 different malware variants were discovered – a 74 percent increase from just a year ago.
This globalised ambition is a defining element of the new generation of cyber-attacks – Gen V hackers are thinking bigger than ever before, as more and more criminal organisations are developing lucrative hacking operations.
Cyber-attacks are thought to be “computer hacks,” where they infect your personal computer.
Spreading through cloud networks, remote office servers, and network endpoints, WannaCry was able to “divide and conquer” because it needed just one entry point in order to infect the entire system. This multi-level approach allowed WannaCry to easily overwhelm companies that followed the usual security strategy of picking their favorite product from different vendors for each entry point.
This best-of-breed strategy means that companies often pick one specific product for their mobile devices, a different one for their cloud networks, and another unique product for their network security.
It’s not an illogical strategy, per se, but that’s what WannaCry (and other Gen V attacks) want: a disparate, disconnected defense that isn’t working in unison to cover all bases.
As we acclimate to our new normal, organisations simply have no choice but to adapt.
We’re a long ways away from organisations getting up to speed with their cybersecurity infrastructure. Our recent survey revealed that only three percent of companies are equipped today to handle a WannaCry-style Gen V attack.
Taking on an attack like WannaCry requires cyber security that can proactively prevent threats (as opposed to reactively detecting them once the damage is done). To combat Gen V attacks’ multivector approach, organisations must also secure their cloud and mobile system. Together, unified threat prevention systems that secure all vectors are able to defend against these modern, innovative attacks.
Yet today, the vast majority of organisations are as vulnerable to WannaCry as they were exactly a year ago. Whether they’re ready or not, the new normal is here.
Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’
The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.
Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.
The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.
The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.
The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.
“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”
The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.
Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.
Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page.
How Quantum computing will change … everything?
Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.
“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”
The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential:
- Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts.
- Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand
- Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
- Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials.
Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.