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MWC: BlackBerry launches security consulting service

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BlackBerry used Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week to announce the launch of a new Professional Cybersecurity Services practice.

The services are intended to expand BlackBerry’s security portfolio by offering organisations new consulting services, tools and best practices to assess and thwart ever-changing cybersecurity risks.

BlackBerry says its Professional Cybersecurity Practice is intended to address a market demand resulting from cybersecurity being a persistent and increasing business risk for organisations that depend on mobile endpoints that connect through networked and cloud-enabled platforms. It is estimated that data breaches currently cost the global economy more than $400 billion every year. Some industry sectors, such as automotive, are being forced to grapple with cybersecurity threats for the first time as cars become more connected, intelligent and self-sufficient. As cybersecurity threats become more pervasive with increasing Internet connectivity, there is a greater demand for more robust defensive tactics to combat these risks.

Cybersecurity consulting is currently estimated to be a $16.5 billion annual global business that is forecast to grow to $23 billion per annum by 2019. As such, cybersecurity consulting represents a natural market opportunity for BlackBerry, it says, since it already securely manages hundreds of millions of mobile endpoints and provides critical systems software for more than 60 million connected cars.

BlackBerry’s new cybersecurity consulting services and tools, combined with BlackBerry’s existing security solutions will help customers identify the latest cybersecurity threats, develop risk appropriate mitigation strategies, implement and maintain IT security standards and techniques and defend against the risk of future attacks. BlackBerry’s new global Professional Cybersecurity Services practice will address:

·         Strategic Security: best practices in IT operation ranging across enterprise mobility management and cloud services.

·         Technical Security: technical assistance for infrastructure and product development lifecycle.

·         Automotive and IoT Security: security consulting services as the rapid commercialization of IoT solutions makes security and privacy a top priority.

·         Detection, Testing and Analysis: threat detection and mitigation penetration testing, vulnerability assessment and incident response analysis. This includes forensic services, business security status via IT health checks, training, regulatory compliance and security breach management through incident response.

As part of the new Professional Cybersecurity Services practice – and aligned with BlackBerry’s core emphasis on securing mobile communications across all platforms – BlackBerry acquired UK-based Encription Limited, which brings years of cybersecurity consulting experience to the organization. The acquisition of Encription was completed on February 19, 2016. Specific terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

Encription’s specialties range from deep technical skills in software security to hardware capabilities. This includes industry-leading assessments in penetration testing, mimicking the techniques of malicious hackers to ensure organizations are aware of cyber risks posed by criminal hackers and how to address them. Additionally, Encription has been entrusted by one of the UK government’s highest security standards with the CESG CHECK IT and ISO/IEC 27001 certifications. This adds another significant security certification to BlackBerry’s portfolio in order to meet the stringent standards and requirements for countries the company serves.

“BlackBerry is the gold standard when it comes to security and we’re always evolving to maintain this high standard as the complexity of enterprise mobility and security increases,” said John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO, BlackBerry. “We recognize that security vulnerabilities are a top risk concern for public and private sector organizations alike. The creation of our Professional Cybersecurity Services practice and acquisition of Encription reinforces our commitment to providing customers the industry’s most secure mobility solutions and helping them to assess and mitigate risks.”

BlackBerry has provided the world’s most secure mobility solutions for more than two decades, and has earned more than 70 government certifications and approvals – greater than any other mobile vendor. BlackBerry is also the trusted mobility partner of all G7 governments, 16 of the G20 governments, 10 out of 10 of the largest global banks and law firms, and the top five largest managed healthcare, investment services, and oil and gas companies.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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