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Malware demands Bitcoin ransom

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Security software provider ESET has reported that it has received multiple reports of a new malware-spreading campaign in various countries.

Security software provider ESET reports that it has received multiple reports of a new malware-spreading campaign in various countries, mostly in Latin America and Eastern Europe. It starts with a fake email purporting to contain a fax, but is in reality a campaign to spread malicious code. The code encrypts the victim’s files and is then used to extort a ransom in bitcoins for retrieval of the encrypted information.

Called CTB-Locker Ransomware, the malware has caused headaches for thousands of users. Poland, Czech Republic and Mexico iare the most affected, as shown in the following graphic:

The attack began with a fake email arriving in the users’ inbox.  The subject of the email pretends that the attachment is a fax; the file is detected by ESET asWin32/TrojanDownloader.Elenoocka.A.  If you open this attachment and your antivirus software does not protect you, a variant of Win32/FileCoder.DA will be downloaded to your system; all your files will be encrypted and you will lose them forever, unless you pay a ransom in bitcoins to retrieve your information.

Files with extensions such as mp4, .pem, .jpg, .doc, .cer, etc. are encrypted by a key, which makes it virtually impossible to recover the files. Once the malware has finished encrypting user information, it displays a warning and also changes the desktop background with a message similar to that seen in the image below:

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Another peculiar detail of CTB-Locker is this: not only is the message shown to the user in different languages , but it also displays the currency appropriate to that language. If the user chooses to view the message in English, the price is in US dollars, otherwise the value will be in Euros.

While the encryption technique used by CTB-Locker makes it impossible to recover files by analysing the payload, there are certain safety measures that are recommended for users and companies:

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·         If you have a security solution for mail servers, enable filtering by extension. This will help by allowing you to block malicious files with extensions such as .scr, as used by Win32/TrojanDownloader.Elenoocka.A

·         Avoid opening attachments in emails of dubious origins where the sender has not been identified.

·         Delete emails or mark them as spam to prevent other users or company employees being affected by these threats.

·         Keep security solutions updated to detect the latest threats that are spreading.

·         Perform up-to-date backups of your information.

Mitigating such attacks is no simple task, and you need to take a proactive stance by supporting security technology with awareness and education.

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These are the trends driving innovation in Africa

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According to new research, across all consumer industries, innovation in sub-Saharan Africa is seeing new products and services offered to address challenges the continent faces. 

Global market research company Euromonitor International revealed the top trends in the African retail market at its first conference in Johannesburg this week.

The research identified eight trends driving innovation in sub-Saharan Africa:

  1. Accommodating basic services: There is a long-term benefit in helping communities gain access to basic services, such as water, electricity, and agricultural expertise to develop farm lands.
  2. Going Rural: Urbanisation has been the standard metric for defining the development of a country. The continent has a lot to gain by looking at opportunities within rural areas.
  3. Sustainability: In a region that already suffers from droughts, heat stress and flooding, sustainability is not just about using recycled products but addressing water shortages on the continent.
  4. Local ingredients: Despite the wealth of ingredients available in sub-Saharan Africa, ingredients are still imported from other countries, as the technical expertise for processing is lacking.
  5. Technology: mobiles, hubs and Apps: Many Africans are using technology to create opportunities beyond mobile payments.
  6. Partnerships and cooperatives: Small business is fast becoming the success story of Africa, with many of them locally based and able to tap into the needs and interests of the local community.
  7. Go very local: While Africans are embracing modern technology, they also want to keep cultural and social nuances alive. 
  8. Creative paying systems: Payment systems are helping businesses and consumers alike – get access to basic needs and services.

Matthew Carty, Euromonitor global sales director for academics, said: “The eight trends impacting innovation in sub-Saharan Africa provide insight into opportunities to win in Africa. These trends leverage local resources and infrastructures influencing the flow of goods between countries – or through the supply chain and into the hands of the end consumer.”

The sub-Saharan African market faces numerous challenges. Opportunities can be developed by turning challenges into concepts and turning those concepts into opportunities. The eight trends see innovation and solution-provision going hand in hand. This will foster economic empowerment, enabling Africa to continue its story as a continent on the rise.

Download a free copy of the presentations here: https://bit.ly/2Uyu5I4

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Diversity is crucial to tech

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By DOUG WOOLLEY, GM Dell EMC South Africa

Gender inequality has dogged the ITC world for a long time. According to research from McKinsey, less than 20% of roles in the sector are filled by women. Overall, the report found that women under-contribute to global GDP because they are more likely to be employed in low-productivity sectors instead of high-productivity ones such as business services. This needs to change.

Humans are social creatures. It’s hardwired in us to communicate, collaborate and lift each other to achieve. There isn’t a single example in history where someone accomplished anything great on their own. Behind every iconoclastic moment stands a group of people who were there to help, advise and create. Humans are stronger together – that’s how we’ve come so far.

For Dell Technologies this is not even a matter for debate. Its culture code includes winning together, selflessness and relationships. A long time ago the company affirmed not only that people are its most valuable assets, but that diversity is fundamental especially in today’s fast-evolving world. This is why it’s proud to sponsor the Women In Tech Africa summit, due to happen on 18 and 19 March in Cape Town.

Brian Reeves, our international chief diversity and inclusion officer, said it best: it’s in the DNA of the company. It’s not what we do, it’s who we are. That message has particular importance in South Africa, where we have a constitution that celebrates equality. Yes, this is a very unequal country, but that’s why we must take this responsibility even more seriously. Diversity is a competitive advantage, but in the case of South Africa it’s how we are defining the future.

Summits such as these are very important. We have to move past the perception that diversity and inclusion are only for window dressing. The fact is I can tell you all the time how serious Dell Technologies is about this, but only action grows real change. So we are very happy and keen to support this summit because it tackles a very crucial and multi-dimensional topic.

Our team is very focused on expanding Dell EMC SA’s diversity. Last year he sponsored the launch of the Black Network Alliance’s first non-US chapter, right here in South Africa, and initiated by Dell EMC’s Black Networking Alliance (BNA) EMEA Lead Angela Allen. The BNA is one of numerous Dell Technologies employee resource groups (ERGs). Spread across more than 60 countries and 300 chapters, these ERGs include groups for a variety of concerns, including empowering women.

Not only are there ERGs, but Dell Technologies audits and scrutinises its diversity projects with the same rigour and expectations as it would for other parts of the business, taking into account how it impacts the top line, bottom line, and innovation. Sponsoring the Women in Tech Africa summit is yet another confirmation of how seriously Dell EMC SA treats diversity as a business advantage. It’s a message resonated by partners such as VMWare, another sponsor for the summit.

Lorna Hardie, regional director at VMware sub-Saharan Africa, said: “As part of a global business where inclusion has moved from a discussion around the boardroom table to one we live and breathe every day, it is critical that we bring these actions, and not just teachings to all women in Africa. Supporting platforms such as the Women in Tech Africa summit, provides us with an opportunity to put the spotlight on diversity and inclusion, to share the collective experiences that as sister companies we share, and work on bringing a working inclusive model to the African workplace.”

The Women in Tech Africa summit will take place on 18 and 19 March in Cape Town, South Africa, at the Century City Conference Centre. Visit https://www.women-in-tech-africa-summit.com/ and use the code DELL20 for a 20% discount.

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