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SA improves in threat index

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Check Point Software has published its latest Threat Index for May 2016, revealing that while South Africa improved its global ranking, the number of active global malware families increased by 15 percent in May 2016.

South Africa ended May ranked 61st in the world, according to the Global Threat Index, an improvement of 36 places and a far cry from April 2016 that saw the country ranking 25th. There are 112 countries on the overall Index.

Globally, Check Point detected 2,300 unique and active malware families attacking business networks in May. It was the second month running Check Point has observed an increase in the number of unique malware families, having previously reported a 50 percent increase from March to April. The continued rise in the number of active malware variants highlights the wide range of threats and scale of challenges security teams face in preventing an attack on their business critical information. Most notably:

·       While Virut was the most commonly used malware in the period, banking malware Trojan Tinba became the fifth most prevalent form of infection last month in South Africa, allowing hackers to steal victim’s credentials using web-injects, activated as users try to log-in to their banking website. Tinba ranked second in the overall international threat list

·       Attacks against mobile devices also remained constant as Android malware HummingBad persisted in the overall top 10 of malware attacks in South Africa during the period. Despite only being discovered by Check Point researchers in February, it has rapidly become commonly used; indicating hackers view Android mobile devices as weak spots in enterprise security and as potentially high reward targets.

“This is a significant improvement in South Africa’s global ranking on the Threat Index, but also reflects a large degree of volatility in the month-to-month rankings,” said Doros Hadjizenonos, Country Manager at Check Point Software Technologies South Africa. “Check Point continues to see a substantial escalation in the number of families of active malware attacking business networks. We feel this reflects the considerable effort hackers and cybercriminals are putting into new attack methods. South African companies must remain conscious of the sheer scale of the threat facing them from malware, and invest accordingly in securing their networks using advanced threat prevention measures on all devices, as well as networks and endpoints.”

In May, Virut was the top malware threat in South Africa. Dnschanger and Conficker were the second and third top threats in South Africa during the month.  Internationally, Conficker was the most prominent malware family, accounting for 14 percent of recognised attacks.

1.       Virut – This is one of the top malware and botnet distributors in the Internet, and uses DDoS attacks, spam distribution, data theft and fraud methods. Spread through executables originating from infected devices, Virut alters the local host files and opens a backdoor to remote attackers via an IRC channel.

2.       ↔ Dnschanger – A backdoor targeting Windows platform, this malware is often distributed by Mamba, another malware. It changes DNS settings by replacing the name server, and survives reboots by creating a scheduled task that runs daily.

3.       ↔ Conficker – Worm that allows remote operations, malware downloads, and credential theft by disabling Microsoft Windows systems security services. Infected machines are controlled by a botnet, which contacts its Command & Control server to receive instructions.

Mobile malware families continued to pose a significant threat to business mobile devices during May with six entries into the global list of top 100 overall malware families. Most of these targeted Android, but in a continuation of the trend seen in April several targeted iOS. South Africa’s top mobile-specific threat was Hummingbad.

4.       ↔ HummingBad Android malware that establishes a persistent rootkit on the device, installs fraudulent applications, and with slight modifications could enable additional malicious activity such as installing a keylogger, stealing credentials and bypassing encrypted email containers used by enterprises.

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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