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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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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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