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Kaspersky to defend ATMs

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Kaspersky Lab has announced the availability of Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security, a targeted enterprise-grade solution designed to protect ATMs, Point-Of-Sale systems and point of service machines.

Aimed at protecting a diverse variety of Windows-based platforms, handling the most sensitive financial operations, Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security brings world-leading detection capabilities as well as new specialised security options.

ATM threats: physical + virtual

Financial organisations report that the most prevalent threats targeting their ATM fleets are of a physical nature, including skimming and ATM theft. However, cyberthreats or attacks on a software level are catching up: banks are reporting an increasing number of incidents involving ATM malware. This aligns with our threat intelligence: Kaspersky Lab observes dedicated ATM malware starting from 2009. The most recent example actually replaces hardware card skimmers, but also allows attackers to force the infected ATM to dispense cash. One of the most damaging cybercriminal campaigns of 2014-2015, known as Carbanak, also included cash dispensing functionalities as well as other ATM-targeted malware. This year we have observed the rapid development of these high-tech bank robberies.

Unique hardware and compliance specifics

Although ATMs and Point-of-Sale terminals are very diverse, they share similar qualities. Typically these machines are dedicated to one specific task and carry a very limited number of software. Most likely these machines are limited-performance computers, often running outdated operating systems and software like Windows XP. It is also likely for ATMs to connect to the network via slow 3G and wireless channels and they are always geographically scattered. This presents additional security and management challenges. At the same time, compliance requirements including PCI DSS are very broad, and do not necessarily bring the required level of protection. This landscape calls for a specialised solution.

Product highlights

“The first challenge we had to solve was to squeeze in the most up-to-date security technologies in a product designed to run on machines with very limited capacity,”comments Dmitry Zveginets, Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security Solution Business Lead, Kaspersky Lab. “Upgrade cycles for ATM and PoS fleets are slow, and it is not uncommon to find a perfectly working machine that was built more than ten years ago, running similarly outdated software. We’ve created a new product compatible with seven generations of computer hardware, which protects the system, even without an internet connection, and is highly flexible, in order to meet the unique demands of financial organisations as well as regulations such as PCI DSS. On top of this we have included advanced protection technologies like the Default Deny mode that bring financial security to a higher level”.

Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security protects ATMs, PoS terminals and other specialised systems like ticket dispensers from all kinds of threats, with high reliability and a low footprint. It supports all Windows versions starting from Windows XP as well as Windows XP Embedded, Windows Embedded 8.0 Standard and Windows 10 IoT. The solution has the lowest system requirements and can run on systems with only 256 megabytes of memory and just 50 megabytes of disk space. It protects machines from cyberthreats, be it remote attacks, or the on-site compromise of a system via USB sticks.

Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security brings centralised reporting and management as well as a special Default Deny mode that blocks attempts to run any unauthorised executable code or drivers on ATMs and PoS terminals. The solution is also integrated with the cloud-based Kaspersky Security Network to provide the most up-to-date threat intelligence and quickly respond to the latest attacks.

To learn more about Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security visit our corporate website. The solution is available worldwide as a part of Kaspersky Lab’s enterprise portfolio.

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Personal computing devices sales still decline in MEA

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets, suffered a decline of -7.3% year on year in Q2 2017, according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly PCD Tracker for Q2 2017 shows that PCD shipments fell to around 6 million units for the quarter.

“As forecast, the market followed a similar pattern to recent quarters, with the downturn primarily stemming from a decline in shipments of slate tablets and desktops,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “This was the result of desktop users increasingly switching to mobile devices such as notebooks or even refurbished notebooks, while users of slate tablets shifted to smartphones. These trends translated into year-on-year declines of -21.9% for desktops and -15.7% for slate tablets in Q2 2017, while shipments of notebooks and detachable tablets increased 11.0% and 63.3%, respectively over the same period.”

“Market sentiment in the region remained low overall, although an aggressive push from some slate tablet vendors meant the market declined much slower than expected,” continues Charakla. “At the same time, heightened competition has also made it harder for certain players to sustain their slate tablet businesses and generate profits, causing them to lose interest in the slate tablet market altogether. Despite this, slate tablets are still the most popular computing device among home users in the region.”

Looking at the region’s key markets, IDC’s research shows that when compared to Q2 2016 overall PCD shipments were down -11.4% in the UAE, -8.9% in Turkey, and -6.7% in the ‘Rest of Middle East’ sub-region (comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Afghanistan). South Africa and Saudi Arabia bucked this trend, recording year-on-year increases of 3.5% and 9.6%, respectively.

A massive education delivery in Pakistan acted as a key driver for notebook shipments in the region overall. Similarly, the education sector was the biggest driver of detachable tablet shipments, triggered by a huge delivery in Kenya, as well as two other deliveries in Pakistan and Turkey, which enabled this category to achieve the fastest growth of all the PCD categories.

“While a component shortage prevented market players from reducing their prices too much, the average price of consumer notebooks experienced a considerable year-on-year decline in Q2 2017,” says Charakla. “This played a key role in driving demand from the consumer segment, and was reflected in the growing popularity of lower-priced notebook models.”

Looking at the PC market’s vendor rankings, each of the top five vendors maintained their respective positions compared to the previous quarter, with the top four all gaining share.

Middle East & Africa PC Market Vendor Shares – Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017

Brand Q2 2016 Q2 2017
HP Inc. 23.7% 27.6%
Lenovo 19.8% 21.5%
Dell 16.3% 16.7%
ASUS 8.7% 9.4%
Acer Group 5.9% 4.1%
Others 25.7% 20.7%

Although Samsung continued to lead the tablet market, the vendor rankings in the space saw quite a few changes, with Huawei catapulting itself to second place. Lenovo also climbed up a position compared to the previous quarter, causing Apple to drop to fourth place.

Middle East & Africa Tablet Market Vendor Shares – Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017

Brand Q2 2016 Q2 2017
Samsung 20.5% 18.9%
Huawei 11.2% 15.8%
Lenovo 12.7% 9.8%
Apple 9.1% 8.8%
Alcatel 2.9% 5.0%
Others 43.5% 41.7%

“Looking to the future, the MEA PCD market is expected to decline at a faster rate than previously forecast for 2017 as a whole,” says Charakla. “Technological shifts are playing a pivotal role in deciding the future of this market, with demand for certain products shifting to other PCD products and beyond (i.e., smartphones). Accordingly, shipments of slate tablets are expected to continue declining over the coming years as demand is cannibalized by smartphones. Meanwhile, the ongoing shift to mobile computing will see growth in the desktop market remain close to flat throughout IDC’s forecast period ending 2021. Notebook shipments will experience very slow growth beyond 2018, while detachable tablets will remain the fastest growing PCD category, eating away share from other computing devices.”

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Gazer cyber-spies exposed

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ESET has released new research into the activities of the Turla cyberespionage group, and specifically a previously undocumented backdoor that has been used to spy on consulates and embassies worldwide.

ESET’s research team are the first in the world to document the advanced backdoor malware, which they have named “Gazer”, despite evidence that it has been actively deployed in targeted attacks against governments and diplomats since at least 2016.

Gazer’s success can be explained by the advanced methods it uses to spy on its intended targets, and its ability to remain persistent on infected devices, embedding itself out of sight on victim’s computers in an attempt to steal information for a long period of time.

ESET researchers have discovered that Gazer has managed to infect a number of computers around the world, with the most victims being located in Europe. Curiously, ESET’s examination of a variety of different espionage campaigns which used Gazer has identified that the main target appears to have been Southeastern Europe as well as countries in the former Soviet Union Republic.

The attacks show all the hallmarks of past campaigns launched by the Turla hacking group, namely:

  • Targeted organisations are embassies and ministries;
  • Spearphishing delivers a first-stage backdoor such as Skipper;
  • A second stealthier backdoor (Gazer in this instance, but past examples have included Carbon and Kazuar) is put in place;
  • The second-stage backdoor receives encrypted instructions from the gang via C&C servers, using compromised, kegitimate websites as a proxy.

Another notable similarity between Gazer and past creations of the Turla cyberespionage group become obvious when the malware is analysed. Gazer makes extra efforts to evade detection by changing strings within its code, randomizing markers, and wiping files securely.

In the most recent example of the Gazer backdoor malware found by ESET’s research team, clear evidence was seen that someone had modified most of its strings, and inserted phrases related to video games throughout its code.

Don’t be fooled by the sense of humour that the Turla hacking group are showing here, falling foul of computer criminals is no laughing manner.

All organisations, whether governmental, diplomatic, law enforcement, or in traditional business, need to take today’s sophisticated threats serious and adopt a layered defence to reduce the chances of a security breach.

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