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Ransomware: Should you just pay up?

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Many companies are faced with the decision of paying an attacker when their data is held up for ransom, however JORNT VAN DER WIEL believes that companies should not pay the ransom, as if they don’t, there is no business model for the hacker.

The problem with ransomware (a malicious software used to block/encrypt access to a computer/device until a ransom is paid) is that it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. In fact, recent examples of wide-spread ransomware attacks, like CoinVault and CryptoLocker, indicate that cybercriminals are increasingly using these types of attacks.

At a recent Cyber Security Summit in Boston, the FBI advised companies that fall victim to hacks involving ransomware to pay the ransom. They were quoted “To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom”.

Many companies face ransomware attacks and ask themselves: to pay or not to pay? In the security industry, however, we believe that paying criminals does not make the ransomware problem go away and should not be encouraged. If you pay, you keep the criminal business model rolling. If you don’t, there is no business model for them anymore.

Moreover, paying up will not guarantee that your files will be retrieved. Instead, think about securing your system, in advance. Today, ransomware is a very popular way of earning money for criminals, and the risk of infection is high. This is why it is essential (both for corporate and individual users) to make backups; to keep antivirus software updated; not to open any suspicious links or attachments; and be careful of the social engineering techniques used by criminals, to infect your files.

If your files are being held at ransom, first check to see if decryption keys are available – as often they are, which means that it may be possible to get your files back, at no cost.  In fact, Kaspersky Lab recently collaborated with the Dutch police on the CoinVault ransomware attacks, and the result was amazing – it led to the extraction decryption keys and the development of a decryption tool to help victims retrieve their files without paying any ransom. The Dutch police even caught the suspects, so there is always a hope that criminals will be caught and you’ll get your files for free.

So for us, the best possible solution is prevention. While today’s threats are becoming more sophisticated, we have found that too many users – both on the corporate and consumer side – could improve their cybersecurity practices to ensure they don’t fall victim to such attacks. It is important to choose the most effective protection available and ensure that this solution is updated regularly for the devices you use to be fully protected from such attacks. A good practice is also backing up files regularly and ensuring that you are aware of the types of ransomware attacks taking place.

If, however, you or your organisation does become a victim of ransomware, we urge you to first check this out and seek professional advice – certainly don’t pay the criminals.

* Jornt van der Wiel, Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Happy Emoji Day! Here’s 10 reasons to be cheerful

First created by Shigetaka Kurita in 1999, the emoji has become a huge part of everyday communication. Whether you love them or hate them, flying dollar bills, applauding hands and rolling eyes are here to stay.

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Scientist suggest that the use of emojis will help us gain the same satisfaction from digital interactions as we enjoy from personal contact.

Almost two decades later, and we have over 2600 unique emojis to perfectly express what we feel, thank you Mr Kurita! Join HMD, the home of Nokia phones as we celebrate World Emoji Day on the 17th of July with these interesting emoji facts:

The most popular emoji used is “Person Shrugging”

1.       The Nokia 3310 was chosen as one of the first 3 “National” emojis for Finland… it represents unbreakable!

2.       South Africa’s favourite emoji is the “Kiss and wink”… how sweet SA!

3.       French is the only language where a ‘smiley’ does not top the list for its use

4.       On average, over 60 billion emojis are sent on Facebook every day

5.       For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year was a pictograph! The “Face with Tears of Joy” was crowned word of the year in 2015

6.       According to Emojipedia, some of the most requested emoji’s include afro, a bagel and hands making a heart

7.       To include all races, a diversity pack was released in 2017

8.       It has become so trendy that the Museum of Modern Art displays the original emoji collection on canvas

9.       In 2009, Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick was completely translated into emoji’s

 

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