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Security myths debunked

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Think your enterprise mobile devices are secure? Think again. The devices your employees use for work purposes are treasure troves of sensitive information, writes DOROS HADJIZENONOS, Country Manager of Check Point South Africa.

Think your enterprise mobile devices are secure? Think again. The iOS and Android devices your employees use for work purposes are treasure troves of sensitive information, and it only takes one compromised device to put your business in a perilous predicament.

A 2016 survey of IT security professionals showed that 40% of organisations make BYOD available to all employees while 32% make it available to select employees. Workers use these same devices to download personal apps and emails – exposing your network to phishing scams and malware infections.

More than one billion Android mobile devices are not safe – and may never be. iPhones and iPads aren’t immune to risk either. In fact, there is a 50% chance that an organisation with more than 2,000 mobile devices has at least six infected devices.

Here are the five most common misconceptions about mobile security and how you can secure your mobile workforce.

1.       Mobile isn’t a big problem

Firewalls and security infrastructures that protect PC desktops and laptops do not provide enough protection from mobile attacks.

Mobile attacks come from three primary sources: network attacks, infected apps and system exploits. While testing mobile security for prospective customers, Check Point regularly finds 5% to 20% of enterprise devices are already compromised. It takes only one compromised device to penetrate your security perimeter.

Discovering a breach takes an average of about six months, and a response to fix the breach another three months. This means that once a breach is detected, the damage is already done. Remediation can be costly, as is containing the damage to brand reputation. Even if the damage is under control, your company may not know vital trade secrets were compromised until your competitive advantage is suddenly lost.

2.       MDM is enough

Many companies rely on basic mobile hygiene policies using mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions. Some augment these solutions with a hodgepodge of point solutions that offer incremental and often rudimentary enhancements.

These solutions help control damage inflicted by compromised devices and address many known threats, but are unable to detect recently created malware or new vulnerabilities in networks, operating systems and apps.

For example, gaining root access to a mobile device (also called “rooting” on Android or “jailbreaking” on iOS) enables cybercriminals to make a broad range of customisations and configurations to serve their objectives. MDM and EMM systems detect the existence of certain files in a system directory that enable root access by employing several methods, including static root indicators. However, free tools for Android and iOS devices are available for avoiding this type of detection. By changing root access indicators continually, cybercriminals can evade detection, and even deny root check requests from the EMM or MDM system, disabling detection entirely.

3.       Secure containers are safe

Secure containers for data management platforms provide security inside the enterprise perimeter. However, mobile devices often access systems and apps like Salesforce, Oracle or SAP outside the perimeter. While these systems and apps have their own protections, network spoofs or man-in-the-middle attacks eavesdrop, intercept and alter traffic. Everything a user does, including entering passwords, could be intercepted by criminals, and used to breach the perimeter and to steal financial and personnel information.

Attackers often trick employees into logging into malicious sites. While users believe they’re interacting with a known and trusted entity in the cloud, the attacker takes over their device, copying credentials, snooping on instant messages, or stealing their sensitive information.

Corporate executives and employees sometimes save critical documents and sensitive information outside the secure container – using a cloud storage service to easily access while travelling or share with partners. Once compromised, attackers intercept these communications and access these important and sometimes confidential documents.

4.       iOS is immune

Apple’s iOS is not immune to threats. Some organisations using MDMs unwittingly distribute infected apps to iPhones and iPads. Apps from unauthorised, unreliable app stores may also harbour viruses, and hackers even compromised Apple’s development tools, sneaking malware into new apps without the developers’ knowledge.

Check Point recently discovered a vulnerability found in iOS that exploits a loophole in the Apple Developer Enterprise program. The program lets organisations develop and distribute apps for internal enterprise use without publishing them on Apple’s App Store. These apps typically distribute quickly and directly to devices.

However, malicious apps can use this same method and enable criminals to stage man-in-the-middle attacks and hijack communications between managed iOS devices and MDM solutions. This type of exploit gives criminals control of the devices, the data that resides on them, and even enterprise MDM services.

Flaws in Apple’s enterprise app installation process allow the introduction of unverified code into the iOS ecosystem. MDM systems could end up being the distribution systems for the very malicious apps they are defending against. Without an advanced mobile threat detection and mitigation solution on your iPhone, you may never suspect that any malicious behaviour ever took place.

5.       Mobile antivirus is all I need

Mobile antivirus solutions are limited compared to their PC cousins. They can uncover malicious code in apps by looking for unique binary signatures that identify known malware. However, criminals have found new ways to obfuscate those signatures, making them useless in the detection of mobile malware. Even a slight change in the code, such as adding a simple line that does nothing, changes the app’s signature and the new version of the malicious app will slip by undetected by the antivirus program.

Signatures are not available for “zero-day” (newly created) malware. To catch and block a virus, your antivirus program first must know that it exists. Even if updated daily, antivirus programs still couldn’t keep up with the onslaught of these attacks.

Secure your mobile workforce

Mobile devices require a new, intelligent approach to threat prevention. MDM and EMM protection and secure containers are not enough, and antivirus products cannot cope with new malware found every day. Even iPhones are not secure. The continuous, rising wave of attacks puts your company at serious risk.

You need a solution that continuously analyses devices, uncovering known and unknown vulnerabilities and criminal behaviour, by applying threat emulation, advanced static code analysis, app reputation, and machine learning.

Stop malware before it communicates with criminal servers, and detect threats at the device, app, and network levels. Always have an accurate picture of the threats and devices on your network and detailed information about risk mitigation.

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Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon

On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

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Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.

“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.

Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion.   In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

David Noton advises:

  1. Download the right apps to be in-the-know

The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky.  Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.

 

  1. Invest in a lens with optimal zoom  

On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.

  1. Use a tripod to capture the intimate details

As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.

  1. Integrate the moon into your landscape

Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.

  1. Master the shutter speed for your subject 

The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability.  By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.

 

On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!

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How Africa can embrace AI

Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.

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To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.

These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.

Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed

AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.

According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.

It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.

Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.

It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.

Combining STEM with the arts

Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.

As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.

“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.

Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.

Revisiting laws and regulation

For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.

Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.

Preparing for the future

With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.

To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.

It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.

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