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MWC: Stressing about stress



At the Mobile World Congress, currently underway in Barcelona, Action Line Leader Health is showcasing the Affective Health Meter, which displays stressful and engaging moments as well as peaceful moments in an effort to keep a balanced body and mind.

Studies show that work related stress has become a serious problem affecting people of different professions and ages, and is the second most common work-related health problem in the European Union. By 2020 the top five diseases will be stress related. In the Netherlands, for example, stress costs the economy about four billion euros annually.

‚”Modern sensor technologies enable objective measuring of the stress level. Indicators like heart rate variability, galvanic skin response and facial expressions are known to be highly correlated with the level of stress a person experiences‚”, explains Jean Gelissen, Action Line Leader Health and Wellbeing at EIT ICT Labs, which is exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. ‚”Moreover, extensive use of social media and electronic agendas make it possible to develop methods and tools that analyse correlations between the rise and fall in stress levels with the characteristics of our daily activities.‚”

The Affective Health Meter measures movement and arousal and makes it possible to identify, reflect and find patterns in behaviour. With the use of biosensors, the system can mirror your bodily reactions. The movements are visualized through shapes while arousal is fluently represented in a colour scheme. It portrays situations that are stressful and engaging as well as peaceful moments and helps you in balancing the body and mind. The Stress Meter measures stress and discovers the correlations between the stress level changes. A personal e-calendar gives information about what, when, where, with whom. Data and process mining techniques were used in order to discover the correlations between the stress level changes and the data out of the personal calendar. The tool creates stress prediction models and generates recommendations for the user.

Prevention of stress starts with learning how to balance body and mind with the Affective Health Meter and knowing the pitfalls causing stress helping one to cope better with stress. In this sense one has a better chance to avoid a burnout. The validation of both prototypes is ongoing. The expectation is that the Stress Meter will be exploited by a Dutch occupational health company and the Affective Health Meter will be marketed by a Swedish startup MirrorMirror.

EIT ICT Labs brought together technology and expertise to develop a system to measure stress. The technology to measuring and recording galvanic skin response, and heart rate with a high frequency has been developed by Philips. The Swedish university Royal Institute of Technology KTH and the Dutch Technical University Eindhoven put their expertise in data and process mining techniques on top of this technology resulting in a metering system to measure stress and affective health. The system consists of a bio-sensor wristband measuring and collecting data through galvanic skin response. The data is transferred, via Bluetooth, to a mobile phone or tablet in real-time, logging ones bio data. In Sweden the focus was put on the development of the Affective Health Meter and in the Netherlands on development of the Stress Meter.


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Scammers cleaning up with gullible computer users



Kaspersky experts have detected a two-fold rise in the number of users being attacked with fake system cleaners – fraudulent programmes designed to trick users into paying for alleged serious computer issues to be fixed. The number of users hit reached 1,456,219 in the first half of 2019, compared to just 747,322 for the same period in 2018. During this time, some of the attacks have become more sophisticated and dangerous.

A slow-working or poorly performing computer is a common complaint among PC users, and there are many legitimate tools available to solve such issues. However, alongside genuine system cleaners, there are fake ones developed by fraudsters that are designed to trick users into believing their computer is in critical danger, for example through memory overload, and needs immediate cleaning. The attackers then offer to provide such a service in return for payment. Kaspersky defines and detects such programmes as ‘hoax system cleaners’.

Upon receiving user permission and payment, the fraudsters install the hoax programmes that claim to clean the PC, but which often either do nothing or install adware – an annoying, but not critical, storm of unsolicited advertising – on the computer. Increasingly, however, the cybercriminals are using the installation of hoax cleaners to download or disguise malware such as Trojans or ransomware.

The countries most affected by attacks with hoax cleaners in the first half of 2019 show how geographically widespread the threat is; leading the list is Japan with 12% of affectedusers, followed by Germany (10%), Belarus (10%), Italy (10%) and Brazil (9%).

“We’ve been watching how the phenomenon of hoax cleaners has been growing for the last couple of years, and it is a curious threat. On the one hand, many samples that we have seen are spreading more widely and becoming more dangerous, evolving from a simple ‘fraudulent’ scheme into fully functioning and dangerous malware. On the other hand, they are so widespread and seemingly innocent, that it is much easier for them to trick users into paying for a service, rather than frightening them with screen blockers and other unpleasant malware. However, these two ways end up with the same results with users losing their money,” says Artemiy Ovchinnikov, security researcher at Kaspersky.

Kaspersky detects hoax system cleaners as:






To avoid falling victim to hoax threats, Kaspersky researchers advise users to:

  • Always check that the PC services that you are about to adopt are legitimate and easy to understand. If it sounds confusing, use a search engine to find out more about the service as there may be a more detailed explanation available
  • Use a reliable security solution for comprehensive protection with a clean-up function for a wide range of threats and PC cleansing, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud.
  • If you are purposely looking for a PC cleaner, use reliable, IT-targeted sources of information for recommendations, with a long-built reputation and software reviews.

Read the full report on Kaspersky Daily.

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Trend Micro unveils security suite for Azure in Africa



Cybersecurity leader Trend Micro Incorporated has announced highly optimised security solutions for Microsoft Azure workloads for customers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Trend Micro Deep Security suite takes into consideration that a customer needs to approach cloud security differently than one would traditional security. As a result, it is fully optimised for Microsoft Azure. The suite ensures that a customer can tap into a solution that provides flexible, scalable protection of operating systems, applications, and data without slowing you down.

“Microsoft is an important partner to Trend Micro and as a result we have built a series of technologies that support their position in the cloud,” says Indi Siriniwasa, vice president at Trend Micro Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our security solutions are uniquely optimised for Microsoft Azure and complement Microsoft Azure Security Centre so customers across the world continue to turn to Trend Micro to help better secure their Azure real estate. With Microsoft Azure now available from new cloud regions in South Africa, customers can rest assured that we support the use of Microsoft to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads. 

“This will help customers to ensure that their security follows them from their physical environment to the cloud and back again, customers can automate security with Microsoft PowerShell scripting to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads plus many other orchestration tools for Azure, including Chef, Puppet, and RightScale, we can also help clients to better automate security control deployments.”

With Deep Security for Azure, businesses can detect and protect against intrusions as well as protect their business against serious vulnerabilities with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS). The solution will also help uncover suspicious changes to a system and immediately highlight and alert the business to these activities – without security admins having to manually sort through logs.

It also has the ability to keep malware off of workloads by using predictive machine learning mechanisms to detect unknown threats and prevalent attacks, so that a user can identify and then remove malware and blacklist domains known to be command-and-control (C&C) servers. Customers can also stop applications attached with IPS rules that block XSS or SQL attacks and other serious vulnerabilities until systems can be patched, as well as increase application visibility and control.

A particularly relevant feature within the South African context is that Deep Security is able to speed up a client’s route to PCI DSS compliance. The Deep Security solution allows a client to meet multiple PCI requirements with a single product, including intrusion detection and prevention, file integrity monitoring, and log inspection.

“Trend Micro’s integration with Microsoft Azure reduces the dependence on multiple point security tools, helping you to identify and address security and configuration issues quickly,” says Adwait Joshi, director, Azure Product Marketing at Microsoft Corp.

Trend Micro provided the following information:

Trend Micro’s Deep Security currently secures more servers globally than any other solution and specialises in protection for cloud and virtualised workload. It acts as part of the Trend Micro Hybrid Cloud Security solution, powered by XGen and provides comprehensive, flexible security for Azure workloads in a single product, so you can build new applications or move existing resources to the cloud with confidence.

Deep Security protects workloads by:

  • Defending against network threats with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS)
  • Immediately protecting against vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed
  • Keeping malware off Windows and Linux workloads
  • Alerting when unplanned or suspicious changes are made to systems
  • Stopping SQL injection and XSS attacks on applications
  • Gaining visibility and control of elastic workloads with application control that fits DevOps

Local Trend Micro customers can also turn to the company’s Trend Micro Cloud App Security which is directly integrated into Office 365 via APIs. This includes advanced email protection, as well as compliance on third-party cloud file sharing services such as: Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.

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