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Manufacturing is main cyber target

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In the first half of the year, manufacturing companies were the most susceptible to cyber threats: their ICS computers accounted for about one third of all attacks, according to the Kaspersky Lab report “Threat Landscape for Industrial Automation Systems in H1 2017”.

During the first six months of the year, Kaspersky Lab products blocked attack attempts on 37.6% of ICS computers from which we received anonymised information, totaling several tens of thousands. This figure was almost unchanged compared to the previous period – it is 1.6 percentage points less than in the second half of 2016. The majority of them were in manufacturing companies that produce various materials, equipment and goods. Other highly-affected industries include engineering, education and food & beverage. ICS computers in energy companies accounted for almost 5% of all attacks.

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While the top three countries with attacked industrial computers – Vietnam (71%), Algeria (67.1%) and Morocco (65.4%) remained the same, researchers detected an increase in the percentage of systems attacked in China (57.1%), which came fifth, according to the data released by Kaspersky Lab. Experts also discovered that the main source of threats was the Internet: attempts to download malware or access known malicious or phishing web resources were blocked on 20.4% of ICS computers. The reason of the high statistics for this type of infection lies in interfaces between corporate and industrial networks, availability of limited Internet access from industrial networks, and connection of computers on industrial networks to the Internet via mobile phone operators’ networks.

In total, Kaspersky Lab detected about 18,000 different modifications of malware on industrial automation systems in the first six months of 2017, belonging to more than 2,500 different families.

Ransomware Attacks

In the first half of the year the world has been facing a ransomware epidemic, which also affected industrial companies. Based on the research from Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT, the number of unique ICS computers attacked by encryption Trojans increased significantly and had tripled by June. Overall, experts discovered encryption ransomware belonging to 33 different families. Most of the encryption Trojans were distributed through spam emails disguised as part of the business communication, with either malicious attachments or links to malware downloaders.

The main ransomware statistics from the H1, 2017 report include:

  • 0.5% of computers in the industrial infrastructure of organisations were attacked by encryption ransomware at least once.
  • ICS computers in 63 countries across the globe faced numerous encryption ransomware attacks, the most notorious of which were the WannaCry and ExPetr campaigns.
  • The WannaCry epidemic ranked highest among encryption ransomware families, with 13.4% of all computers in industrial infrastructure attacked. The most affected organisations included healthcare institutions and the government sector.
  • ExPetr was another notorious encryption ransomware campaign from the first half of the year, with at least 50% of the companies attacked being from manufacturing, and Oil & Gas industries.
  • The Top 10 most widespread encryption Trojan families include other ransomware families, such as Locky and Cerber, operating since 2016 and since that time have earned the highest profit for cybercriminals.

“In the first half of the year we’ve seen how weakly protected industrial systems are: pretty much all of the affected industrial computers were infected accidentally and as the result of attacks targeted initially at home users and corporate networks. In this sense, the WannaCry and ExPetr destructive ransomware attacks proved indicative, leading to the disruption of enterprise production cycles around the world, as well as logistical failures, and forced downtime in the work of medical institutions. The results of such attacks can provoke intruders into further actions. Since we are already late with preventive measures, companies should think about proactive protective measures now to avoid ‘firefighting’ in future.” says Evgeny Goncharov, Head of Critical Infrastructure Defense Department, Kaspersky Lab.

In order to protect the ICS environment from possible cyber-attacks, Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT recommends the following:

  • Take an inventory of running network services with special emphasis on services that provide remote access to file system objects.
  • Audit ICS component access isolation, the network activity in the enterprise’s industrial network and at its boundaries, policies and practices related to using removable media and portable devices.
  • Verify the security of remote access to the industrial network as a minimum, and reduce or completely eliminate the use of remote administration tools as a maximum.
  • Keep endpoint security solutions up-to-date.
  • Use advanced methods of protection: deploy tools that provide network traffic monitoring and the detection of cyberattacks on industrial networks.

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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:

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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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