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Why a messy fridge means a messy digital life

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Businesses across the world are struggling to secure their data due to employees not recognising their responsibility for digital clutter; the proliferation of digital documents and files without thought for managing the security consequences. The global report “Sorting out digital clutter in business” from Kaspersky Lab1 found a number of correlations between the creation of digital clutter at work and human habits behind it, such as… organising a fridge. It revealed that nine out of ten (95%) people who see their fridge as organised said the same about their working digital life. 

Digital clutter includes the files, documents and data created at work without the business’s full visibility or control over how they are stored and who has access to them. It becomes a security risk when we consider that 72% of employees store documents at work that contain personally identifiable or sensitive data, which if exposed could either reputationally or financially damage a business, its employees and potentially its customers.

Tackling digital clutter is a challenge for businesses and one of the most important steps is understanding who is responsible for it. Nearly three quarters (71%) of employees believe either business leaders, the IT or security team should be responsible for ensuring emails, files and documents have the appropriate access rights, rather than themselves. The problem is that while IT and security teams can control the access given to employees to access files and folders, there is room for human error. Whether accidentally or intentionally, for example, employees could give their colleagues or those outside the business access credentials or bypass IT administrators with new collaboration tools. With employees creating and collaborating on multiple documents simultaneously, they all must take responsibility for their actions causing digital clutter.

Source: ‘Sorting out digital clutter in business’, Figure 2

As the report showed, in employees’ everyday life there are habits that may correlate with the creation of digital clutter. As well as the majority of people who have similar habits with their fridge organisation as they do their digital life, 88% of those who re-organise their fridge before a holiday, also do so for their work files. 

Source: ‘Sorting out digital clutter in business’, Figure 4

“With data volumes increasing exponentially, business leaders should take notice of digital clutter and its potential security risk,” said Maxim Frolov, Vice President of Global Sales at Kaspersky Lab. “It is true that organising your fridge won’t guarantee your defense against security breaches, but implementing the same mindset towards digital clutter will make you more resilient against cyber threats. Employees need to be educated on how to best manage their digital assets, and there should be simple but effective protection in place; one that does not add complexity but reduces it.” 

To avoid becoming a victim of digital clutter, Kaspersky Lab urges businesses to consider:

  • Getting employees trained up – it is very important that training teaches practical skills applicable to employees’ daily work such as with Kaspersky Automated Security Awareness Platform.
  • Regularly reminding staff how important it is to follow cybersecurity rules to not to let cyber skills fade away, for example by hanging posters with advice around the office
  • Making backups of essential data to ensure corporate information is safe and regularly updating IT equipment and applications to avoid unpatched vulnerabilities
  • Finding a dedicated solution for small and medium businesses with simple management and proven protection features; such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud.

To read the full report on digital clutter, please follow this link.

[1] Kaspersky Lab commissioned research specialist OnePoll to survey 7,000 employed adults from December 2018 to January 2019 across UK, USA, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Brazil, China, Mexico, Japan, Malaysia, South Africa, Russia, and Turkey who work in an office and use computers

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SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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