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Malware tops threats to consumers

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Research by Kaspersky has revealed that over 53% of South Africans have come across, or been targeted by malware online, with 22% falling victim to it as a result. Furthermore 26% of Internet users affected by malware have no idea how it ended up on their device.

Malware has become the most frequent online threat faced by consumers, reveals research from Kaspersky Lab and B2B International. The research shows that over half (53%) of South African respondents have come across, or been targeted by malware online, with a fifth (22%) falling victim to it as a result. Almost a third (26%) of Internet users affected by malware have no idea how it ended up on their device. These results show that due to the nature of malware attacks today, the use of reliable security solutions is the only way for people to stay protected.

The findings, which are part of Kaspersky Lab’s Consumer Security Risks Survey 2016, show the ongoing scourge of malware across society as the route of infection and sophistication of attacks continues to increase. Internet users locally face a range of problems as a result, including device slow down (43%), the presence of pop-ups and unwanted adverts (35%), and being redirected to suspicious websites (19%). For 12%, their device has stopped working as a result of a malware virus.

The impact on consumers is not only physical but financial, with nearly half (41%) of local users saying they have to spend money to fix a problem caused by a malware attack, averaging at $121 per incident.

Malware is increasingly being spread in a wide manner of ways and although the source of malware infections varies for different consumers, the study found the highest number of infections happen when people visit suspicious websites (34%). Fake apps and software (20%) and USB sticks (42%) are also cited by one in five as the source of a malware infection they have experienced.

E-mails and messaging are also a common source of infection. 20% of local users said a virus was transferred to them from an email or other message from someone they don’t know, and 16% even experienced the same in an email or message from someone they do know. However, for 26% of Internet users affected by malware, they have no idea of the source.

“The malware menace is an ongoing headache for consumers as cyber-criminals have become more and more sophisticated and sneaky at launching attacks on the devices we use daily, Andrei Mochola, Head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab, commented. “With a third of Internet users completely unaware of how they became infected, this can help to further spread the virus and put even more of our devices, details and finances in danger. To stay safe, consumers need to increase their cyber-savviness and be more aware of the dangers they are up against in their use of new websites or opening apps or emails from unknown sources. Given the financial costs involved, reliable protection to spot malware which might otherwise have gone unnoticed, coupled with heightened awareness and vigilance is undoubtedly better than a cure.”

Kaspersky Lab’s products, Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security, contain award-winning protection against cyberthreats. They detect malware at the first attempt of device infiltration, be it a Mac, Windows PC or Android device, securing users and their data.

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Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards

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The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.

The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”

Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever AwardShe has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).

The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:

SPORT

The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognitionAge cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.

Click here to see who won the awards for data journalism , CSI/sustainability and photography.

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Cons exploit Telegram ICO

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.

In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.

The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.

Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.

“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:

  • Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
  • Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
  • Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.

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