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.
Personal computing devices sales still decline in MEA
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|
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|
“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.”
Gazer cyber-spies exposed
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.