Online security is seemingly getting more compromised with each passing year. 2017 has witnessed some of the worst security breaches in history – such as the breach of Equifax, which impacted over 143 million clients in the U.S. and abroad.
There were also three major state-sponsored ransomware attacks, affecting hundreds of thousands of targets around the world. Unfortunately, it looks like this is just the beginning.
“Ransomware assaults seem to be getting increasingly dangerous,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “Besides, system administrators are not ready to protect their networks from more sophisticated breaches. We believe that attacks will only keep getting worse.”
In addition, Internet freedom has been on a steady decline. For example, in the US, ISPs have the right to track customer data without consent and sell it to third parties, and net neutrality is under attack. Other countries are also passing freedom-limiting laws.
Below please find the predictions for 2018 by NordVPN, as well as advice on how to protect oneself.
1. Increase in IoT attacks. As Internet of Things (IoT) devices become common-use, they will continue to come under attack. When one device is compromised, the hacker can easily overtake the whole system of interconnected devices. One of the biggest fears is that hackers might compromise medical IoT devices, and patients’ information can be leaked. A connected smart home will be another popular target for hackers. What’s more, breached IoT devices can be used in vast scale DDoS attacks, putting down virtually any Internet based service or website.
2. Increase in travel data breach. Hackers are discovering that travelers who book their trips online share their passport and credit card data, which can be stolen. This marks the move towards specific online breaches, targeting groups of people – such as travelers, online Christmas shoppers, and others.
3. New, larger ransomware attacks. This year has shown the power of one ransomware attack that can disable hundreds of thousands of computers around the world. Companies are not yet up to speed with sophisticated hacker technologies, so there is a huge risk of new, larger ransomware attacks.
4. China to ban VPNs. China’s government passed a regulation that requires telecommunications carriers to block users’ access to private, government unapproved VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) by Feb. 1. This would mean that lots of people in China will not be able to reach the global internet, as many sites – such as Google or Facebook – are blocked in China.
5. The EU is implementing General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR, coming into force in May, is going to introduce stricter rules for companies on storing personal user data and on obtaining customer consent. The regulation will have global reach and force companies to protect user data – being one of the rare examples of governments striving to actually protect data privacy.
6. Digital Economy Bill in the UK. The UK is planning to pass a bill that requires age verification for adult site visitors. Age verification is done through collecting various data about the user, which poses a huge risk of data leaks and data loss, with sensitive private information being stolen.
7. Dutch referendum on government surveillance powers. The Netherlands will hold a referendum next year to determine if the law enforcement authorities can have far-reaching surveillance powers. Many privacy activists are striving to overturn the law passed in July, which allows government agencies to collect data from large groups of people at once.
How to secure your web presence in 2018
Internet users can still take matters into their own hands and secure their own computers or smart devices. It’s important not to click on strange emailed links, not to download from unofficial app marketplaces, to always have strong passwords, and to be generally cautious when going online.
It’s also highly recommended to use online privacy tools, such as VPNs, which encrypt all the information that is being shared between the user and VPN server. NordVPN helps secure browsing the Internet with its modern security protocols and no logs policy.
With the decline in online security and privacy, cybersecurity specialists will be in big demand, and companies will be looking to fill new job openings for cybersecurity professionals. Those who want to protect their own data at home, need to learn simple cybersecurity tricks themselves.
Get your passwords in shape
New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.
Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions. Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.
Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.
I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords
Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication. However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.
As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.
But what constitutes a strong password? A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).
Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to
Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future
By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.
On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:
- A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
- Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
- Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.
With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.
Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.
In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.
As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:
AFRICA CODE WEEK
Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.
In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.
The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.
Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.
SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)
A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.
According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.
Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.