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Mobile ransomware trebles

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The global nightmare of ransomware shows no sign of slowing down, with the volume of mobile ransomware rising over three-fold (3.5 times) during the first few months of the year, according to Kaspersky Lab’s Malware Report for Q1, 2017.

The number of mobile ransomware files detected reached 218,625 during the quarter, compared to 61,832 in the previous quarter, with the Congur family accounting for more than 86%. Ransomware targeting all devices, systems and networks also continued to grow, with 11 new cryptor families and 55,679 new modifications making their appearance in Q1.

Congur ransomware is primarily a blocker – setting or resetting the device PIN (passcode) so this requires the attackers to have administrator rights on the device, and some variants of the malware take further advantage of these rights to install their module into the system folder from where it is almost impossible to remove.

Despite the popularity of Congur, Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Fusob.h remained the most widely used mobile ransomware, accounting for nearly 45% of all users attacked by this threat during the quester. Once run, the Trojan requests administrator privileges, collects information about the device, including GPS coordinates and call history, and uploads the data to a malicious server. Based on what it receives, the server may send back a command to block the device.

The USA became the country hardest hit by mobile ransomware in Q1, with Svpeng ransomware the most widespread threat.

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In all, 55,679 new Windows ransomware modifications were detected during the quarter representing a near two-fold increase on Q4, 2016 (29,450). Most of these new modifications belonged to the Cerber family.

“The mobile threat landscape for ransomware was far from calm in Q1. Ransomware targeting mobile devices soared, with new ransomware families and modifications continuing to proliferate. People need to bear in mind that attackers can – and increasingly will – try to block access to their data not only on a PC but also on their mobile device,” notes Roman Unuchek, Senior Malware Analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

Other online threat statistics from the Q1, 2017 report include:

·         Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 479,528,279 malicious attacks from online resources located in 190 countries all over the world.

·         79,209,775 unique URLs were recognised as malicious by web antivirus components.

·         Attempted infections by malware that aims to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered on 288,000 user computers.

·         Crypto-ransomware attacks were blocked on 240,799 computers of unique users.

·         Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected a total of 174,989,956 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.

·         Kaspersky Lab mobile security products also detected:

  • 1,333,605 malicious installation packages;
  • 32,038 mobile banking Trojans (installation packages).

 

To reduce the risk of infection, users are advised to:

·         Use robust security solutions and make sure they keep all software up to date.

·         Regularly run a system scan to check for possible infection.

·         Stay wise while online. Do not enter personal information into a website if you are at all unsure or suspicious.

·         Back up valuable information.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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Epic Games brings a
Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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