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Protect against the threats of open Wi-Fi

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Open Wi-Fi or unencrypted Internet access may sound enticing, but there are thousands of threats that come with it. BRENDAN MCARAVEY, Country Manager at Citrix South Africa, believes it is imperative for users to protect their devices before taking any chances.

“Open”, Wi-Fi is available almost everywhere, different cities have their own implementation strategies. While cities like Cape Town have implemented a strategy where the city owns and manages WiFi points to the value of R10 million. Tshwane on the other hand has relied on their private sector partner, the NGO Project Isizwe for their roll out. And, City of Johannesburg in January 2017 rolled out 1 000 WiFi hotspots in public areas.

Open Wi-Fi is generally defined as wireless networks that provides free, unencrypted access without the need to identify yourself, or for the Wi-Fi access point to identify itself (authentication). Providing open Wi-Fi is considered a value-added service or feature of many consumer-oriented businesses today. Combined with sometimes unacceptable cellular bandwidth or signal strength, and data plan limits, it is difficult to resist the lure of open, free Wi-Fi.

But in life, cause and effect is a reality virtually everyone acknowledges. The convenience of open Wi-Fi (cause) introduces security threats (effect), and places the responsibility of safely utilising these services on the end user (effect). The principal threat impacting users of open Wi-Fi is traffic sniffing, or eavesdropping, whereby an attacker “listens” in on wireless traffic that is not encrypted, potentially providing access to sensitive data. Probably the best public display of the consequences surrounding the use of unencrypted, open Wi-Fi is the “Wall of Sheep”, a staple at the DefCon security conference in Las Vegas for more than fifteen years.

The Wall of Sheep tracks people (sheep) at the conference that use open, unencrypted Wi-Fi to send email, login to websites, message their friends, etc. These sheeple (Riverside’s term, not ours) are publicly shamed by posting redacted login details for each of their infractions on the “wall of sheep”. In virtually every case, these conference attendees connected to either DefCon-Open, the purpose-built open Wi-Fi network hosted at DefCon for catching unsafe Internet users, or a researcher or attacker’s “rogue” open Wi-Fi. DefCon attendees can connect securely to the official, encrypted DefCon Wi-Fi network by downloading their certificate.

The above mentioned dangers of using ‘Open Wi-Fi’ are fast becoming a reality in South Africa as well.  The high cost of data often forces people to use these hotspots, most often, for job searches, banking and other essential activities which are also be data intensive. This highlights that there is a growing need to create awareness among South Africans that; security of personal information is at high-risk when using these hotspots.

Citrix has educated customers about wireless security since at least 2010. Today, customers have several options available to help secure end users’ Wi-Fi use when outside the office. One of the easiest and best-known solutions is utilising NetScaler Gateway, which provides network protection via Full VPN access to its users. In addition to encrypting traffic from the remote device to the NetScaler, access profiles can be configured to forward (proxy) traffic to a content filtering system or other security infrastructure for inspection.

After all, there is more to networking than HTTP and HTTPS (“HTTP/S”). In fact, some mobile applications don’t use HTTP/S at all. Organisations may never know all of the apps a user has installed unless a full device management solution is deployed, encrypting all traffic with Full VPN is a more sensible choice. And with NetScaler Gateway, organisations can keep track of these remote users effectively.

We do not live in a perfect world, and cyber-attacks are now more frequent than ever before. It is essential for people to know that getting access to open WiFi does make life easier, but it can soon turn into a problematic situation as well. It is imperative that people become aware of the dangers and protect themselves accordingly.

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Smash hits the
Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. delivers what the fans wanted in the latest “Ultimate” instalment, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latest addition to the popular Nintendo Smash series, has landed on the Nintendo Switch with a bang, selling 5-million copies in the first week of its release. The game has been long-anticipated since the console’s release, as many fans consider iy to be a Nintendo staple. And the wait was well worth it.

It features 74 playable fighters, 108 stages, almost 1300 Spirit characters to collect while playing, and a single-player Adventure mode that took about three days (or 28 hours) of gameplay to complete. The game offers far more gameplay than its predecessors, making it the Smash game that gives its players the best bang for their buck.

For those new to the game, the goal is to fight opponents and build up their damage score (draining their health) to knock them off the stage eventually. This makes the game seem chaotic, as many players jump around the platforms as if they were on quicksand, in order to avoid being hit by the other players.

It also services two kinds of players: the competitive and the casual.

Competitive players can be matched on the online service by skill ranking to enjoy playing with similarly high-skilled opponents. This is especially important in e-sports training for the game, and for players wanting to master combos against other human players. The casual gamer is also catered for, with eight-player chaos and button-mashing to see who comes out luckiest. This segment is also important for those wanting to learn how to play.

Training mode is also a place to go for those learning to play. It offers “CPU” players that are graded by intensity to train as a single player to learn a character’s moves, combos and general fighting style. More challenging CPU players can also be used by competitive players to train when there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection available.

Direct Play features in this game, allowing two players with two Switch consoles to play against each other over a direct connection – no Wi-Fi needed. This is especially useful to those who want to have a social gaming element on the go, similar to that of the cable connector of the Gameboy.

Click here to read Bryan Turner review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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Win Funko Fortnite in Vinyl

Gadget and Gammatek have nine Funko Fortnite figurines to give away.

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A Funko Pop figurine based on a character set is indicative of reaching the heights of pop culture. It is no surprise, then, that the world’s biggest online game, Fortnite, has its own line of Funko Pop figurines. The Funkos are modeled on the characters in game, including Drift, Ragnarok, Dark Vanguard, Volar, Tracera Ops, and Sparkle Specialist.

Now, local Funko distributor Gammatek has released the Fortnite figurines in South Africa. To celebrate, Gadget and Gammatek are giving away a set of three Funko Fortnite figurines to each of three readers (9 figurines in total). To enter, first click on your favourite Funko Pop on the next page and post the Tweet that appears. Then, follow Gadget on Twitter.

You can put the tweet in your own words, but entries must have the competition’s hashtag (#FunkoFortnite) and mention @GadgetZA to be considered valid.

Click here to select the Funko Fortnite character you want to tweet.

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