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New threats face m-banking

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Kaspersky’s latest security bulletin has revealed that for the first time mobile financial treats ranked among the top ten malicious programs designed to steal money.

The Kaspersky Security Bulletin Overall Statistics Report for 2015 highlighted a new trend: for the first time ever, mobile financial threats rank among the top ten malicious programmes designed to steal money. Two families of mobile banking Trojans – Faketoken and Marcher – were included in 2015’s top 10 banking Trojans. Another remarkable and alarming trend for the year is the rapid spread of ransomware. Kaspersky Lab detected this in 200 countries and territories in 2015 – including South Africa.

In fact, looking at the geography of banking malware attacks in 2015, South Africa ranked in the top 10 countries – at 09th position.

 Other main trends in cybercriminal activity in 2015 included:

·         Cybercriminals looking to minimise the risk of criminal prosecution switched from malware attacks to the aggressive distribution of adware. In 2015, adware accounted for 12 of the top 20 web-based threats. Advertising programmes were registered on 26.1% of user computers.

·         Kaspersky Lab also observed new techniques for masking exploits, shellcodes and payloads to make the detection of infections and analysis of malicious code more difficult. Specifically, cybercriminals used the Diffie-Hellman encryption protocol and concealed exploit packs in Flash objects.

·         Cybercriminals made active use of Tor anonymisation technology to hide command servers, and used Bitcoins for making transactions.

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Mobile financial threats mature:

In 2015 two families of mobile banking Trojans (Faketoken and Marcher) appeared in the rankings of the top 10 financial malware families. The malicious programmes belonging to the Marcher family steal payment details from Android devices: they track the launch of two apps after infecting a device – the mobile banking app of a European bank and Google Play. If the user starts the banking application or Google Play, Marcher displays a false window requesting credit card details which then go to fraudsters. Representatives of the Faketoken family work in partnership with computer Trojans: a user is manipulated to install an application on their smartphone, which is actually a Trojan that intercepts the one-time confirmation code (mTAN).

“In 2015, cybercriminals focused time and resources in developing malicious financial programmes for mobile devices. This is not surprising as millions of people worldwide now use their smartphone to pay for services and goods. Based on current trends, we can assume that in 2016, mobile banking malware will account for an even greater share,” – says Yury Namestnikov, Senior Security Researcher at Global Research and Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab.

“Traditional” financial cybercrime hasn’t declined, however: in total, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked almost two million (1,966,324) attempts to launch malware capable of stealing money via online banking on computers in 2015, an increase of 2.8% on 2014 (1,910,520).

ZeuS dethroned:

The numerous modifications of the most widely-used malware family, ZeuS, were dethroned by Dyre/Dyzap/Dyreza. Over 40% of those attacked by banking Trojans in 2015 were hit by Dyreza using an effective web injection method in order to steal data and access the online banking system.

The global nightmare that is ransomware:

In 2015, ransomware rapidly expanded its presence on new platforms. One in six (17%) ransomware attacks now involves an Android device, barely a year after the platform was first targeted. Kaspersky Lab’s experts identified two big ransomware trends during 2015. The first is that the total number of users attacked by encryption ransomware increased to almost 180K, up 48.3% compared to 2014. Secondly, in many cases, the encryptors are becoming multi-module and, in addition to encryption, include functionality designed to steal data from victim computers.

The geography of online attacks:

Kaspersky Lab’s statistics show that cybercriminals prefer to operate and use hosting services in different countries where the hosting market is well-developed: 80% of attack notifications blocked by antivirus components were received from online resources located in 10 countries. The top three countries where online resources were seeded with malware remained unchanged from the previous year: the USA (24.2%), Germany (13%), and the Netherlands (10.7%).

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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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