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Internal cyber threats loom large in SA companies

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At its recent Cyber Security Weekend, Kaspersky Lab revealed that South Africa ranks high in the number of users affected by local threats.

In the third quarter of 2016, 33% of computer users in Europe and South Africa encountered security incidents related to local networks and removable media, and 15% faced web related threats, according to Kaspersky Lab’s analysis of IT threats.

The global cybersecurity company spelled out the implications of these numbers at its annual European Cyber Security Weekend in Malta from 20 to 23 October. The event brought together company experts, guest speakers from the Dutch National Police, journalists and business guests from across the European region, as well as Israel and South Africa.

Statistics from Kaspersky’s cloud service (Kaspersky Security Network) for July to September 2016 show that the Ukraine continues to have the highest number of users affected by local – i.e. internal company network – threats (57.9%), followed by Israel (38.5%), Serbia and Greece (37.6%), and South Africa (36%). The highest number of web threat incidents were reported in Slovenia (23.9% of KSN users) and Ukraine (21.8%), followed by Spain and Greece. The Netherlands, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic have somewhat lower threat levels: 7 to 10% of users were affected by online threats in those countries.

“Cyber threats evolve alongside technology, impacting all spheres of individual and business experience,” said Marco Preuss, director of Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team Europe. “Aside from simply rapidly multiplying, malware is also becoming more sophisticated, inflicting more damage. Ransomware is developing especially fast and is one of the main current IT threats. Our survey shows that 40% of users today are paying a ransom when their data is encrypted, which only serves to indulge the cyber criminals.

“Also, new risks, inspired by the Internet of Things, are appearing on the horizon; we have already seen how Smart TVs can be used to spy on their owners and how a smart door can be unlocked for unauthorised people. It’s imperative we prepare for both the current and future risks posed by these new devices.”

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In 2015 and early 2016, Kaspersky Lab registered more than 2 million cyber incidents involving ransomware, many of which have drawn a wide public response. Compared to the period of 2014-2015, the number of ransomware-based attacks on the corporate sector increased sixfold. Kaspersky Lab experts expect that with the increasing usage of ransomware by cybercriminals, this type of malware could even surpass banking Trojans.

According to the 2016 Corporate IT security Risks Survey, 20% of businesses across the world experienced a ransomware attack in the last 12 months. In Europe this problem appears to be even more prevalent with 28% of companies having experienced a threat. As for South Africa, the rate here is slightly lower – 19%. Ransomware is not only limited to PC users, but is also well developed on mobile platforms; in the second quarter of 2016 we detected 83,048 malicious installation packages developed for mobile.

To help more companies reduce the risk of ransomware infection, Kaspersky Lab has released a free Anti-Ransomware Tool for Business, along with special anti-ransomware features in its key solutions. As well as this, Kaspersky Lab, together with Europol, Dutch National Police and Intel Security, has launched the No More Ransom project – an online portal (www.nomoreransom.org) aimed at informing the public about the dangers of ransomware and helping victims to recover their data without having to pay a ransom to the cybercriminals. Among its current members are 14 different countries’ national law enforcement agencies.

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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