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Keep mobile kids safe

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Threats are everywhere on the Internet and pose a serious danger to younger users. Kaspersky Lab recommends that users keep their devices up to date with the latest virus protection to prevent phishing, cyberbullying and access to inappropriate content.

Threats are everywhere on the Internet and they pose a serious danger to younger users. Moreover, children who use mobile devices can be even more vulnerable because they are free to surf the Internet at any time or place, without adult supervision.

According to a survey conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, over a 12-month period the children of 22% of respondents were affected by cyber incidents. These incidents included outbreaks of cyberbullying or encountering sites containing material damaging for youngsters.

While surfing the Internet, children may come across web pages containing inappropriate information, for example, websites with erotic content or information about weapons or drugs. Another common problem arises when search results don’t lead to the kind of information the user is looking for. For example, a child might search for cartoons but get results about cartoons for adults.

Social networks are a serious source of threats too. Children can indiscriminately add anyone as a friend, making acquaintances and communicating with people who might upset or mislead them, or try to get confidential information from them. In particular, 21% of parents lost money or confidential information stored on their device due to their child’s activities, the survey showed.

Modern phones and tablets often serve as universal game consoles, and many children use them for little else. However, not all games are suitable for children: some contain scenes of violence, profanity or erotica. Games are not the only danger – any application downloaded from official stores could contain unwanted information.

It is important to remember that some threats are universal and can affect people of all ages. However, because children are less experienced they may be more vulnerable to these. For example, they may not properly understand how dangerous a site or a file can be, leading them to download infected files or enter data on a phishing page.

That’s why it’s vital to make sure the device is properly protected against viruses, phishing and other online threats – especially on Android-based devices since around 99% of all mobile malware is targeted at the Android platform.

Today many children spend too much time on their devices. Most prohibitions and access restrictions are hard to apply to a mobile device which is always with the child but there is a huge arsenal of technical means that could help to limit the time children use their mobile devices, or set times when they can play with the gadget. Of course, the problem cannot be solved by technical means alone. Children need alternatives to their gadgets and only their parents can ensure it – spend more time with the children; get them playing sports or being involved in a hobby, so that they have less time to spend on their mobile devices. It’s also advisable for parents to keep abreast of new cyber threats and tell their children about them. Understanding the rules of safe behaviour on the Web and careful attitude to the information that can be shared online, will help avoid many unpleasant incidents.

Information technologies can help protect children online. Kaspersky Lab offers a number of tools to ensure children are safe from cyber threats on mobile devices. These tools can automatically block dangerous content, filter unwanted sites and provide you with the reports containing information on the applications installed by your children. Among them are the Safe Browsers for iOS and Windows Phone, Kaspersky Internet Security – multi-device 2015, which offers an array of protection for Android devices in particular.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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