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Ransomware thrives in SA

Ransomware industry flourishes in SA while business are largely unprepared for the business interruption and financial fallout of a breach

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The ransomware industry is flourishing in South Africa, while business are largely unprepared for the business interruption and financial fall-out of a breach.

In a recent Carte Blanche episode, the investigative news programme revealed that South Africa had been ht by numerous major cyberattacks during 2019. State agencies were key targets: the Civil Aviation Authority was hit in July 2019;  City Power was hit with ransomware twice in a matter of months. Both incidents occurred at the end of the month when most South Africans receive their salaries and do payments, highlighting the fact that ransomware attackers will exploit flaws in IT infrastructure at critical times to gain optimum leverage. 

In July 2019, South Africa also experienced the longest running cyber-attack campaign among all the regions monitored by email and data security company Mimecast, according to its quarterly Threat Intelligence Report.  Four major cyber-attack campaigns were detected in South Africa between July and September and several local financial services companies bore the brunt.  According to Mimecast, it detected more than 116 000 attacks in SA over an eight-day period in July by an unknown actor or group, using various malware types. 

The increasing frequency and voracity of cyber concerns are mirrored in Aon’s 2019 Global Risk Management Survey where participants ranked cyberattacks and data breaches as #6 in the top 10 risks facing organisations today. Startling figures are changing business and public perceptions of cyberattacks:

  • Malware attacks in SA increased by 22% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the first quarter of 2018, translating to around 13 842 attempted cyberattacks per day – Kaspersky Lab
  • A data breach in South Africa costs an average of R36.5 million, and the long tail costs of a data breach can be felt for years after the incident. SA ranked 7 out of 16 countries polled for the highest cost of a cyber breach.  – IBM security study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.
  • Alarmingly, in terms of the cost per record breached, SA ranks much higher at 11 on a scale of 16 polled countries, costing US$155 per record – the same as for the UK and not that far behind the US ($242 per record), which is alarming when you consider the size of the US economy compared to South Africa. – IBM security study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.
  • In 2019 in South Africa, the average time to identity a breach was 175 days and 56 days to contain it. IBM security study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.
  • Large businesses are not the only targets and hackers are indiscriminate.  In fact 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses according to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR).
  • Small businesses face disproportionately larger costs relative to larger organisations, which can hamper their ability to recover financially from the incident. IBM security study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.
  • Lost business was the biggest contributor to data breach costs.  The loss of customer trust had serious financial consequences for the companies studied, and lost business was the largest of four major cost categories that contributed to the total cost of a data breach. IBM security study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

Visit the next page to read about why cybercrime has become so rampant, and how you can protect yourself.

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Alexa can now read all messages

For the first time, an Alexa skill is available that makes it possible to listen to any kind of message while driving

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For the first time, Alexa users can now hear all their messages and email read aloud.

Amazon’s Alexa has become a household name. The world’s most popular virtual assistant is getting smarter every day and now, with Amazon Echo Auto, it’s in cars too. 

“In today’s highly connected world, messaging in the form of emails, texts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and work channels like Slack, are integral to our daily routine,” says Barrie Arnold, chief revenue officer at ping. “However, distracted driving is responsible for more than 25% of car crashes and thousands of preventable fatalities every year.” 

ping, a specialist in voice technology founded by Arnold and South African Garin Toren, has developed a new Alexa skill as a companion to its patented smartphone app, that enables any message type to be read aloud. Designed for safety, productivity and convenience, “pingloud” is the first skill of its kind for keeping users connected when they need a hand or an extra pair of eyes.

“The ping Alexa skill is specifically designed to help drivers stay off their phones while giving them exactly what they want – access to their messages.” says Toren, ping CEO. 

Opening up Alexa to developers has resulted in an explosion of new skills available either for free or for a fee that unlocks premium services or features. These tools magnify the usefulness of Alexa devices beyond common tasks like asking for the weather, playing music or requesting help on a homework assignment. According to App Annie, the most downloaded apps in 2019 were Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s main app and WhatsApp, highlighting the importance of messaging. 

“The ping Android app is available worldwide from the Google Pay Store, reading all messages out loud in 30 languages,” says Toren. “The iOS version is in global beta testing with the US launch coming very soon.” 

Once you’ve signed up for ping, it takes a few seconds to link with Alexa, enabling all messages and emails to be read aloud by a smart speaker or Echo Auto device. Simply say, “Hey Alexa, open pingloud.” ping links an account to a voice profile so unauthorised users with access to the same Alexa cannot ask for the authorised user’s messages.

All major message types are supported, including Texts/SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram, Twitter DM’s, Instagram, and all email types. Promotional and social emails are not read by default.

*For more information, visit www.pingloud.com

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Coronavirus to hit 5G

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Global 5G smartphone shipments are expected to reach 199 million units in 2020, after disruption caused by the coronavirus scare put a cap on sales forecasts, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global 5G smartphone shipments will grow more than tenfold from 19 million units in 2019 to 199 million in 2020. The 5G segment will be the fastest-growing part of the worldwide smartphone industry this year. Consumers want faster 5G smartphones to surf richer content, such as video or games. We forecast 5G penetration to rise from 1 percent of all smartphones shipped globally in 2019 to 15 percent of total in 2020.”

Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “China, United States, South Korea, Japan and Germany are by far the largest 5G smartphone markets this year. The big-five countries together will make up 9 in 10 of all 5G smartphones sold worldwide in 2020. However, other important regions, like India and Indonesia, are lagging way behind and will not be offering mass-market 5G for at least another year or two.”

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The global 5G smartphone industry is growing quickly, but the ongoing coronavirus scare and subsequent economic slowdown will put a cap on overall 5G demand this year. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently restricting smartphone production in Asia, disrupting supply chains, and deterring consumers from visiting retail stores to buy new 5G devices in some parts of China. The first half of 2020 will be much weaker than expected for the 5G industry, but we expect a strong bounce-back in the second half of the year if the coronavirus spread is brought under control.”

Exhibit 1: Global 5G Smartphone Shipments Forecast in 2020 1

Global Smartphone Shipments (Millions of Units)20192020
5G19199
Rest of Market13941165
Total14131364
 
Global Smartphone Shipments (% of Total)20192020
5G1%15%
Rest of Market99%85%
Total100%100%

Source: Strategy Analytics

The full report, Global Handset Sales for 88 Countries & 19 Technologies, is published by the Strategy Analytics Emerging Device Technologies (EDT) service, details of which can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/wep83gc.

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