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How WannaCry changed the world

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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.

Multi-Vector Tools:

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.

Conclusion: 

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.

Three percent.

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.

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PC sales crash as virus hits

COVID-19 is now an integral element of forecasting of computer sales, as the impact of coronavirus begins to be felt in the supply chain

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Overall shipments of personal computing devices (PCD) will decline 9% in 2020, reaching 374.2-million by the end of this year, as a result of the impact of coronavirus, or COVID-19, on manufacturing, logistics and sales.

According to new projections from the Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker,  International Data Corporation (IDC) has lowered its forecast for PCDs, inclusive of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets. 

The long-term forecast still remains slightly positive, with global shipments forecast to grow to 377.2-million in 2024, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.2%. However, this is based on an IDC assumption that the spread of the virus will recede in 2020. Since the figure represents only marginal growth, the ongoing impact of the virus could quickly reduce long-term forecasts into negative expectations. IDC did not provide alternative scenarios should this occur.

The decline in 2020 is attributed to two significant factors; the Windows 7 to Windows 10 transition creates tougher year-over-year growth comparisons from here on out and, more recently, the spread of COVID-19 is hampering supply and leading to reduced demand. As a result, IDC forecasts a decline of 8.2% in shipments during the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20), followed by a decline of 12.7% in 2Q20 as the existing inventory of components and finished goods from the first quarter will have been depleted by the second quarter. In the second half of the year, growth rates are expected to improve, though the market will remain in decline.

“We have already forgone nearly a month of production given the two-week extension to the Lunar New Year break and we expect the road to recovery for China’s supply chain to be long with a slow trickle of labour back to factories in impacted provinces until May when the weather improves,” said Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices & Displays. “Many critical components such as panels, touch sensors, and printed circuit boards come out of these impacted regions, which will cause a supply crunch heading into Q2.”

“There’s no doubt that 2020 will remain challenged as manufacturing levels are at an all-time low and even the products that are ready to ship face issues with logistics,” added Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “Lost wages associated with factory shutdowns and the overall reduction in quality of life will further the decline in the second half of the year as demand will be negatively impacted.”

Assuming the spread of the virus subsides in 2020, IDC anticipates minor growth in 2021 as the market returns to normal with growth stemming from modern form factors such as thin and light notebooks, detachable tablets, and convertible laptops. Many commercial organizations are expected to refresh their devices and move towards these modern form factors in an effort to attract and retain a younger workforce. Meanwhile, consumer demand in gaming, as well as the rise in cellular-enabled PCs and tablets, will also help provide a marginal uplift.

Worldwide Topline Personal Computing Device Forecast Changes, Year-Over-Year Growth %, 2020-2021 (Annual)

Product Category Forecast Version 2020
Shipments (M)
2020 Year-Over-
Year Growth
2021
Shipments (M)
2021 Year-Over-
Year Growth
2021 Year-Over-
Year Growth
Total Traditional PCs 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 248.0 -7.1% 251.2 1.3% 1.3%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 252.4 -4.6% 248.3 -1.6% -1.6%
Total Tablets 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 126.2 -12.4% 125.4 -0.6% -0.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 127.8 -10.8% 125.2 -2.0% -2.0%
Total Personal Computing Devices 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 374.2 -9.0% 376.6 0.6% 0.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 380.2 -6.8% 373.5 -1.8% -1.8%

Worldwide Topline Personal Computing Device Forecast Changes, Year-Over-Year Growth %, 2020 (Quarterly)

Product Category Forecast Version 1Q20 2Q20 3Q20 4Q20
Total Traditional PCs 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 -6.4% -10.3% -6.4% -5.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 -2.0% -6.8% -5.7% -3.5%
Total Tablets 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 -11.8% -17.5% -15.0% -6.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 -8.1% -10.7% -16.3% -7.8%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, February 19, 2020

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The chip that will drive the 5G smartphone era

No less than 15 manufacturers have announced they will use Qualcomm’s new mobile platform to power the first wave of 2020 5G smartphones

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Qualcomm Technologies has announced that 15 global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and brands have selected the Snapdragon 865 5G Mobile Platform for their 5G device launches this year. The OEMs are ASUS, Black Shark, Fujitsu, iQOO, Lenovo, Nubia, OPPO, realme, Redmi, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, vivo, Xiaomi and ZTE.

The company made the announcement at a media event in San Diego this week under the banner, “What’s Next in 5G”.

Qualcomm described the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform as “the world’s most advanced mobile platform, designed to deliver the unmatched connectivity and performance required for the next wave of flagship devices”. It features the company’s second-generation 5G Modem-RF System, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55, while redefining Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth audio with the Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 mobile connectivity subsystem. The  865 enables premium devices with breakthrough features, from Gigapixel-speed photography and Elite Gaming with desktop-level features, to intelligent and intuitive experiences due to the 5th generation Qualcomm AI Engine.

“As the world’s leading wireless technology innovator, we are committed to driving and scaling 5G to the consumer,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile at Qualcomm Technologies. “This year, the Snapdragon 865 will help make 5G accessible to billions of smartphone users around the world, further enabling immersive mobile experiences like high-speed gaming, intelligent multi-camera capture and all-day battery life.”

Qualcomm says that, after introducing the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform in December 2019, more than 70 designs have been announced or are in development based on the platform. Additionally, more than 1,750 designs have been announced or are in development based on the Snapdragon 8-series mobile platforms. Smartphones announced or coming soon based on the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, include:

  • Black Shark 3*
  • FCNT arrows 5G*
  • iQOO 3*
  • Legion Gaming Phone*
  • Nubia Red Magic 5G*
  • OPPO Find X2*
  • realme X50 Pro*
  • Redmi K30 Pro*
  • ROG Phone 3*
  • Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra
  • Sharp AQUOS R5G*
  • Sony Xperia 1 II*
  • vivo APEX 2020 Concept Phone*
  • Xiaomi Mi 10* and Mi 10 Pro*
  • ZenFone 7*
  • ZTE Axon 10s Pro*

*Features Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 mobile connectivity subsystem

For more information, visit the Snapdragon 865 5G Mobile Platform Product Page.

Read more about new 5G technologies unveiled by Qualcomm this week.

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