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Ransomware rockets – Trend Micro blocks 61m attacks

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No less than 110 American state and municipal governments and agencies fell victim to ransomware last year, with Trend Micro reporting a 10% increase in detections. In total, the cybersecurity solutions provider blocked 61-million attacks in 2019.

In its 2019 security roundup report, released this week, Trend Micro confirmed that ransomware continued to be a mainstay cyber threat last year. The 10% increase in ransomware detections came despite a 57% decrease in the number of new ransomware families. The healthcare sector remained the most targeted industry, with more than 700 providers affected in 2019.

The report details the most important issues and changes in the threat landscape to provide businesses with insights into best practices and strategies for protecting their infrastructures from current and emerging threats.

“Digital transformation has been a business buzzword for decades, and the concept has yielded very positive results over time,” said Jon Clay, director of global threat communications for Trend Micro. “But security is often an afterthought, which leaves digital doors wide open for cybercriminals. A lack of basic security hygiene, legacy systems with outdated operating systems and unpatched vulnerabilities are still a reality.

Emmanuel Tzingakis, Tech Lead for Trend Micro Sub Saharan Africa, said that this scenario was ideal for ransomware actors looking for a quick return on investment.

“As long as the ransom scheme continues to be profitable, criminals will continue to leverage it,” he said.

To improve the ransomware business process, alliances between ransomware groups were formed in 2019. For example, the Sodinokibi ransomware operators launched coordinated attacks on 22 local government units in Texas, demanding a combined US$2.5 million ransom.

This attack also demonstrated the “access-as-a-service” trend, in which criminal groups rent out or sell access to company networks. This service ranges in price from $3,000 to $20,000 USD, with the most expensive offering including full access to a company’s server hosts and corporate virtual private networks (VPNs).

Known vulnerabilities remain key to successful cyberattacks, including ransomware. In 2019, Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) disclosed 171% more high severity vulnerabilities than in 2018. The criticality score reflects the likelihood of these flaws being leveraged by attackers, so high severity bugs are more likely to be weaponized and the patches should be prioritized.

To protect against today’s threat landscape, Trend Micro recommends a connected threat defence across gateways, networks, servers and endpoints. Additionally, these best practices can increase a company’s security posture:

  • Mitigate ransomware with network segmentation, regular back-ups and continuous network monitoring.
  • Update and patch systems and software to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Enable virtual patching, especially for operating systems that are no longer supported by the vendor.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication and least privilege access policies to prevent abuse of tools that can be accessed via admin credentials, like remote desktop protocol, PowerShell and developer tools.

For more on the cyber threat landscape of 2019, access the full report here: https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/research-and-analysis/threat-reports/roundup/the-sprawling-reach-of-complex-threats.

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New measures as video production comes to a halt

MultiChoice has announced a range of measures to safeguard the incomes of cast, crew, and creatives, as well as the sustainability of production houses.

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MutliChoice Group has confirmed that production of video entertainment has come to a complete halt in South Africa, as the industry adheres to the national lockdown.

Many sectors across the African continent are adjusting and finding ways to deal with challenges brought about by the current coronavirus pandemic. Among these, MultiChoice Group is one of the best-known brands across Africa, due to its dominance of the video entertainment sector. As a result, it says, it is acutely aware of the challenges its partners in the industry are facing. 

“For many years MultiChoice has been a leader in the sector and are a leading investor in local content production,” it said in a statement on Friday. “The group has deep rooted partnerships and long-standing commitments that have grown the industry for the benefit of many, both in front and behind the camera.”

For this reason, says MultiChoice, it has decided to implement several measures aimed at safeguarding the incomes of cast, crew, and creatives as well as the sustainability of production houses. 

“With these measures the group can hopefully steer the industry through this tumultuous time.”

MultiChoice announced the following measures:

  • “MultiChoice has set aside R80 million to ensure that current productions are able to pay full salaries of cast, crew, and creatives for the months of March and April, by when hopefully we will have the worst of the disruptions behind us. The need to secure salaries of our creatives goes a long way in creating income stability for them and their families. We believe this to be critical for the industry and in our view simply the right thing to do.
  • “Through the MultiChoice Talent Factory we will be launching an online learning portal that will support over 40 000 members of the industry to gain access to courses and online master classes, so they can continue to hone their craft whilst adhering to the public health measures of social distancing and isolation. 
  • “Furthermore, we have committed to guarantee the incomes of freelancers in our SuperSport Productions, who are currently unable to work due to the suspension of sport and the national lockdown. This extends to guaranteeing the income of freelancers in our broadcast technology environment.”

MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela said: “Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill.

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Nintendo South Africa launches online gameathon

Nintendo’s South African distributor has set up live events for virtual participation during lockdown.

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Being stuck inside doesn’t mean not being with the game. Players now have the chance to meet up virtually to play Nintendo Switch Online games like Ring Fit AdventureAnimal Crossing: New Horizons, and Pokémon Sword and Shield

A daily schedule is available for each game. For example, Ring Fit Adventure has a kids challenge at 9am from Monday to Friday, while adults can join in at 2pm. The challenges are co-ordinated by a dedicated Ring Fit coach. 

The challenge instructions will be available via the Discord channel. Join the channel via the invite here

Players of all skill levels are encouraged to join. Plenty tips and tricks will be shared about the games. 

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