Check Point Software Technologies has revealed that an increase in video-on-demand and an increase in e-commerce over the festive season could be why South Africa shot up the list of countries most attacked by cybercriminals in January 2016.
South Africa appeared at number 22 on the list last month, up from 67th in December. Namibia remains the most-attacked country for the second month in a row, with Ethiopia ranking in the 10th position. After spending two months in the top 20, Nigeria improved its ranking to 30th position, from 17th, while Kenya slid 10 places to 54th.
“We’ve seen an increase in phishing attacks targeting video-on-demand users, who are tricked into handing over their passwords under the guise that their accounts need to be updated,” says Doros Hadjizenonos, Country Manager of Check Point South Africa. “These mails also install malware onto the user’s PC, which steals personal information, such as banking details, without the user knowing.”
A rise in e-commerce and online shopping over the festive season is another reason for the increase in cyber-attacks, says Hadjizenonos. “Cybercriminals also use phishing to get users to visit dodgy websites and download fake apps. Tactics often involve ‘discounts’ when shopping online or through a retailer’s app. What consumers are often unaware of is that, even though the app or URL look legitimate, they have been designed with the sole purpose of stealing information.”
Based on threat intelligence drawn from its ThreatCloud World Cyber Threat Map, which tracks how and where cyberattacks are taking place worldwide in real time, Check Point identified more than 1,500 different malware families during January, continuing the trend first seen in December 2015 when the number of active families rose by 25%.
While the Conficker and Sality families remained the two most commonly used malwares for the second month running, collectively accounting for 34% of all attacks globally, Dorkbot, associated with DDoS attacks and exploits targeting sensitive data, was a new entry to the top three, responsible for 5% of attacks during the month.
The top three malware families, which accounted for 39% of the total attacks in January were:
1. ↔ Conficker – accounted for 24% of all recognised attacks; machines infected by Conficker are controlled by a botnet. It also disables security services, leaving computers even more vulnerable to other infections.
2. ↑Sality – virus that allows remote operations and downloads of additional malware to infected systems by its operator. Its main goal is to persist in a system and provide means for remote control and installing further malware.
3. ↑Dorkbot – IRC-based Worm designed to allow remote code execution by its operator, as well as download additional malware to the infected system, with the primary motivation being to steal sensitive information and launch denial-of-service attacks.
Check Point’s research also revealed the most prevalent mobile malware during January 2015, and once again attacks against Android devices were significantly more common than iOS. The top three mobile malware were:
1. ↑ AndroRAT – malware that is able to pack itself with a legitimate mobile application and install without the user’s knowledge, allowing a hacker full remote control of an Android device.
2. ↓ Xinyin – observed as a Trojan-Clicker that performs Click Fraud on Chinese ad sites.
3. ↑Leech – malware designed to send text messages from infected mobile devices to premium rate numbers hard-coded within the file.
“The increase in DDoS attacks against public websites has been well publicised in the past couple of months, and the fact that the Dorkbot family is becoming more prevalent underlines the fact that businesses need to be taking steps to protect themselves against such attacks. The range and volume of attacks that organisations face has continued to grow in the early stages of 2016, highlighting the challenges they face in securing their networks. As such it is critical that organisations deploy protection to prevent them being exploited and ensure that their data is secure,” says Hadjizenonos.
The ThreatCloud Map is powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence, the largest collaborative network to fight cybercrime, which delivers threat data and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors. The ThreatCloud database holds over 250 million addresses analysed for bot discovery, over 11 million malware signatures and over 5.5 million infected websites, and identifies millions of malware types daily.
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.