Sherpa, a virtual personal assistant for the Spanish speaking world, is now available in beta for the South African market.
Android smartphone users will be able to use the platform’s many features including searching for information, completing transactions, managing schedules and operating the device itself.
Sherpa is free and arrives to the South African market with a broader knowledge base and more proactive and predictive capabilities than current market offerings and includes transactional capabilities that are unique in the virtual personal assistant category.
‚”Sherpa has been designed to be the interface to our digital lives,‚” commented Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria, founder and CEO of Sherpa. ‚”The personal assistant has vast knowledge, can predict your needs and learns about you over time.‚”
Sherpa is the result of 10 years of research and development by Uribe-Etxebarria in advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) and semantics technologies. Sherpa users can interact with the application through instructions given via voice, type or touch for a richer user experience
Sherpa’s capabilities were recently analysed in a Gartner research note titled ‚”Sherpa: The End of Search as You Know It for CRM,‚” by Johan Jacobs, research director.
Sherpa is able to deliver highly accurate results in response to consumer queries and requests due to its Natural Language Processing and advanced semantic technology. Sherpa relies on five levels of linguistic analysis, which include morphological, syntactic semantic, pragmatic and functional analysis. Building on Sherpa’s strong linguistic foundation, the platform algorithms further enhance the user experience, interactivity and capabilities.
Today, the beta version of Sherpa incorporates the following technology capabilities to deliver a highly functional personal assistant platform:
¬∑ MultiKnowledge System: Draws information from several sources to deliver relevant and targeted content, minimising dependency on search engines. Instead of simply providing search results, Sherpa takes users directly to the information requested, removing a step in the information-gathering process. Sherpa searches across many sources and finds relevant results that are displayed to the user. The MultiKnowledge system can also retrieve information such as sports results, Yelp-based searches, LinkedIn profiles, translations and dictionary definitions.
¬∑ Interactive Information Card: The platform delivers the right information based on Sherpa’s ability to contextualise the topic at hand, delivering a rich, natural user experience. For example if the user asks, ‚”Who is Jacob Zuma?‚” Sherpa will know that this is a person and will provide relevant, deep information gathered from LinkedIn profiles, photos, informational pages and websites.
¬∑ Transactional: Sherpa’s sophisticated transactional capabilities enable users to conduct searches and complete related transactions. Users can search for airline tickets and. For example, the user can ask Sherpa, ‚”I want a flight from Johannesburg to London tomorrow‚” After getting the results, Sherpa helps navigate the user to purchase tickets for the selected option. Users can also complete full PayPal transactions. These functions are completely unique to Sherpa and not available through any other personal assistant application on the market today.
¬∑ Proactive: Sherpa learns from user habits and provides timely alerts. Sherpa’s proactive knowledge is not based on what the user tells it to do, it is based on the history of what the user does. Sherpa’s proactive capabilities will continue to expand to anticipate additional user needs with future releases.
¬∑ Operations and Device Interaction: Sherpa allows users to perform simple tasks and interact with the mobile device itself. Users can turn the ringer volume up or down, set alarms, make calendar appointments, update their Facebook or Twitter status or retrieve Twitter mentions all from the Sherpa app by voice command.
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Scammers cleaning up with gullible computer users
Kaspersky experts have detected a two-fold rise in the number of users being attacked with fake system cleaners – fraudulent programmes designed to trick users into paying for alleged serious computer issues to be fixed. The number of users hit reached 1,456,219 in the first half of 2019, compared to just 747,322 for the same period in 2018. During this time, some of the attacks have become more sophisticated and dangerous.
A slow-working or poorly performing computer is a common complaint among PC users, and there are many legitimate tools available to solve such issues. However, alongside genuine system cleaners, there are fake ones developed by fraudsters that are designed to trick users into believing their computer is in critical danger, for example through memory overload, and needs immediate cleaning. The attackers then offer to provide such a service in return for payment. Kaspersky defines and detects such programmes as ‘hoax system cleaners’.
Upon receiving user permission and payment, the fraudsters install the hoax programmes that claim to clean the PC, but which often either do nothing or install adware – an annoying, but not critical, storm of unsolicited advertising – on the computer. Increasingly, however, the cybercriminals are using the installation of hoax cleaners to download or disguise malware such as Trojans or ransomware.
The countries most affected by attacks with hoax cleaners in the first half of 2019 show how geographically widespread the threat is; leading the list is Japan with 12% of affectedusers, followed by Germany (10%), Belarus (10%), Italy (10%) and Brazil (9%).
“We’ve been watching how the phenomenon of hoax cleaners has been growing for the last couple of years, and it is a curious threat. On the one hand, many samples that we have seen are spreading more widely and becoming more dangerous, evolving from a simple ‘fraudulent’ scheme into fully functioning and dangerous malware. On the other hand, they are so widespread and seemingly innocent, that it is much easier for them to trick users into paying for a service, rather than frightening them with screen blockers and other unpleasant malware. However, these two ways end up with the same results with users losing their money,” says Artemiy Ovchinnikov, security researcher at Kaspersky.
Kaspersky detects hoax system cleaners as:
To avoid falling victim to hoax threats, Kaspersky researchers advise users to:
- Always check that the PC services that you are about to adopt are legitimate and easy to understand. If it sounds confusing, use a search engine to find out more about the service as there may be a more detailed explanation available
- Use a reliable security solution for comprehensive protection with a clean-up function for a wide range of threats and PC cleansing, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud.
- If you are purposely looking for a PC cleaner, use reliable, IT-targeted sources of information for recommendations, with a long-built reputation and software reviews.
Read the full report on Kaspersky Daily.
Trend Micro unveils security suite for Azure in Africa
Cybersecurity leader Trend Micro Incorporated has announced highly optimised security solutions for Microsoft Azure workloads for customers in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Trend Micro Deep Security suite takes into consideration that a customer needs to approach cloud security differently than one would traditional security. As a result, it is fully optimised for Microsoft Azure. The suite ensures that a customer can tap into a solution that provides flexible, scalable protection of operating systems, applications, and data without slowing you down.
“Microsoft is an important partner to Trend Micro and as a result we have built a series of technologies that support their position in the cloud,” says Indi Siriniwasa, vice president at Trend Micro Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our security solutions are uniquely optimised for Microsoft Azure and complement Microsoft Azure Security Centre so customers across the world continue to turn to Trend Micro to help better secure their Azure real estate. With Microsoft Azure now available from new cloud regions in South Africa, customers can rest assured that we support the use of Microsoft to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads.
“This will help customers to ensure that their security follows them from their physical environment to the cloud and back again, customers can automate security with Microsoft PowerShell scripting to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads plus many other orchestration tools for Azure, including Chef, Puppet, and RightScale, we can also help clients to better automate security control deployments.”
With Deep Security for Azure, businesses can detect and protect against intrusions as well as protect their business against serious vulnerabilities with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS). The solution will also help uncover suspicious changes to a system and immediately highlight and alert the business to these activities – without security admins having to manually sort through logs.
It also has the ability to keep malware off of workloads by using predictive machine learning mechanisms to detect unknown threats and prevalent attacks, so that a user can identify and then remove malware and blacklist domains known to be command-and-control (C&C) servers. Customers can also stop applications attached with IPS rules that block XSS or SQL attacks and other serious vulnerabilities until systems can be patched, as well as increase application visibility and control.
A particularly relevant feature within the South African context is that Deep Security is able to speed up a client’s route to PCI DSS compliance. The Deep Security solution allows a client to meet multiple PCI requirements with a single product, including intrusion detection and prevention, file integrity monitoring, and log inspection.
“Trend Micro’s integration with Microsoft Azure reduces the dependence on multiple point security tools, helping you to identify and address security and configuration issues quickly,” says Adwait Joshi, director, Azure Product Marketing at Microsoft Corp.
Trend Micro provided the following information:
Trend Micro’s Deep Security currently secures more servers globally than any other solution and specialises in protection for cloud and virtualised workload. It acts as part of the Trend Micro Hybrid Cloud Security solution, powered by XGen and provides comprehensive, flexible security for Azure workloads in a single product, so you can build new applications or move existing resources to the cloud with confidence.
Deep Security protects workloads by:
- Defending against network threats with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS)
- Immediately protecting against vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed
- Keeping malware off Windows and Linux workloads
- Alerting when unplanned or suspicious changes are made to systems
- Stopping SQL injection and XSS attacks on applications
- Gaining visibility and control of elastic workloads with application control that fits DevOps
Local Trend Micro customers can also turn to the company’s Trend Micro Cloud App Security which is directly integrated into Office 365 via APIs. This includes advanced email protection, as well as compliance on third-party cloud file sharing services such as: Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.