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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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SA startups in Visa final

Leading fintech companies from the Sub-Sahara Africa technology startup community have made it to the finals of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative.

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Among the 12 chosen, from the 238 total entries, South African startups Howler and FinChatBot will compete against innovators from across Sub Sahara Africa for a chance to secure funding of up to US$50,000 to develop their ideas when the initiative concludes in Johannesburg on July 24. 

Fintechs in Africa are making incredible strides; not only to bring more convenience to consumers, but also to enable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services or even a way to connect to the formal banking system. Venture funding for African startups jumped by 51% to $195 million in 2017 and fintech in Africa is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as it continues to disrupt the traditional financial sector. With a clear goal of reducing reliance on cash, building digital payment based economies and increasing financial inclusion, Visa is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in its payments landscape. 

The Sub Saharan Africa edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenged local fintech startup to deliver solutions based around three real life business challenges: 

  • How can startups leverage Visa Developer APIs to either:  Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
  • How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments? 
  • How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?. 

Entrants were asked to submit ideas to leverage Visa’s network and technologies to resolve against at least one of the challenges. One winner per brief will be selected, with each receiving funding of US$25,000. Winners will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional US$25,000.

Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director – Digital Solutions, Sub-Sahara Africa, Visa, said: “We are delighted with the response to our Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and the quality of submissions we received is an indication of the region’s rich talent pool and innovative spirit.”

“Launching this innovation program in the region has been an exciting time for the Visa SSA team, and the takeup reflects Africa’s enthusiasm to develop and pioneer solutions to the continent’s challenge – particularly in the payments technology space. I would like to congratulate the finalists and  wish them luck as they enter the final stretch.  When they come together for the final, they will not only have the chance to turn their ideas into reality, but also potentially help shape the future of payments in the region.”  

Howler which enables cashless transactions and end-to-end ticket handling for consumers and event organisers is competing in the first challenge and FinChatBot, which aims to automate part of customer services for financial service providers through AI-powered conversations is competing in the third challenge. 

The SSA edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will wrap up on July 24 in Johannesburg, with each finalist having an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges from Visa and the payments industry. 

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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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