The MEA tablet market continues to decline in the face of cannibalization from larger-screen-size smartphones. According to the latest Middle East and Africa Quarterly Tablet Tracker from IDC, tablet shipments in MEA dropped 10.1% in the third quarter of the year (Q3 2016) when compared with the same period in 2015. While shipments were down year on year to 3.85 million units, this still marked an improvement on the 3.52 million units shipped in Q2 2016.
“Smartphones with large screen sizes meet most needs of today’s consumers, who are slowly moving their tasks to these devices,” says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, senior research manager for client devices at IDC MEA. “The continuation of low crude oil prices in the Middle East and currency shortages in several African countries are compounding the problem, eventually leading to weaker consumer sentiment.”
Samsung continued to lead the MEA tablet market in Q3 2016 with 17.6% share, despite the vendor’s reduced focus on the category leading to a 34.3% year-on-year decline in its shipments. Lenovo maintained second position with 13.5% share, up from 12.9% in the previous quarter but down 6.8% on Q3 2015. Huawei followed just behind in third place after increasing its focus on tablets in the region. This resulted in year-on-year growth of 102.8% for 13.5% share. Apple finished fourth with 7.9% share, reflecting a year-on-year decline of 34.6% in shipments, while local vendor i-Life took fifth position with 5.5% share, its success stemming from the popularity of its low-priced consumer products.
“Demand for tablets in MEA is primarily being driven by entry-level slate models,” says Nakul Dogra, senior research analyst for client devices at IDC MEA. “This category offers quite low margins, so the focus on tablets from the supply side is also declining. Many vendors have cut their tablet lineups accordingly, and there don’t appear to be any exciting or innovative developments on the immediate horizon to spur purchases in the tablet space.”
“It’s worth nothing that with little difference between older and newer generation tablets, consumers are typically content with their existing hardware and subsequently holding onto it for a longer period of time,” continues Dogra. “Free operating system updates ensure that these tablets remain essentially as good as new, so there is little or no motivation for consumers to replace their current devices.”
IDC has revised its overall forecast for 2016 downwards, with 14.49 million units now expected to be shipped for the year. This is down from the previous forecast of 15.07 million units and represents a year-on-year decline of 7.5%. The main factor behind this revision is the significant reduction in the quantity of tablets expected to be shipped as part of the Digital Literacy School Program in Kenya.
Detachable tablets are gaining traction in the market, and shipments are expected to grow by 147.9% year on year in 2016, driven by increasing demand from consumers and the education sector. “Detachable tablets are typically better suited for education purposes than traditional tablets, as these devices are primarily based on the Windows operating system,” says Charakla. “As such, they can smoothly run the Microsoft Office applications typically required by the education sector. There are also numerous low-cost options with this form factor, which is ideal for large education deals where budgets are tight.”
IDC’s Middle East and Africa Quarterly Tablet Tracker provides insightful analysis of key market developments, covering vendors, operating systems, screen sizes, user segments and distribution channels, quarterly market share data, and a comprehensive 5–8 quarter and five-year forecast.
Cons exploit Telegram ICO
Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.
In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.
Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.
The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.
Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.
“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:
- Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
- Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
- Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.
Crouching Yeti strikes
Kaspersky Lab has uncovered infrastructure used by the Russian-speaking APT group Crouching Yeti, also known as Energetic Bear, which includes compromised servers across the world.
According to the research, numerous servers in different countries were hit since 2016, sometimes in order to gain access to other resources. Others, including those hosting Russian websites, were used as watering holes.
Crouching Yeti is a Russian-speaking advanced persistent threat (APT) group that Kaspersky Lab has been tracking since 2010. It is best known for targeting industrial sectors around the world, with a primary focus on energy facilities, for the main purpose of stealing valuable data from victim systems. One of the techniques the group has been widely using is through watering hole attacks: the attackers injected websites with a link redirecting visitors to a malicious server.
Recently Kaspersky Lab has discovered a number of servers, compromised by the group, belonging to different organisations based in Russia, the U.S., Turkey and European countries, and not limited to industrial companies. According to researchers, they were hit in 2016 and 2017 with different purposes. Thus, besides watering hole, in some cases they were used as intermediaries to conduct attacks on other resources.
In the process of analysing infected servers, researchers identified numerous websites and servers used by organisations in Russia, U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America that the attackers had scanned with various tools, possibly to find a server that could be used to establish a foothold for hosting the attackers’ tools and to subsequently develop an attack. Some of the sites scanned may have been of interest to the attackers as candidates for waterhole. The range of websites and servers that captured the attention of the intruders is extensive. Kaspersky Lab researchers found that the attackers had scanned numerous websites of different types, including online stores and services, public organisations, NGOs, manufacturing, etc.
Also, experts found that the group used publicly available malicious tools, designed for analyzing servers, and for seeking out and collecting information. In addition, a modified sshd file with a preinstalled backdoor was discovered. This was used to replace the original file and could be authorised with a ‘master password’.
“Crouching Yeti is a notorious Russian-speaking group that has been active for many years and is still successfully targeting industrial organisations through watering hole attacks, among other techniques. Our findings show that the group compromised servers not only for establishing watering holes, but also for further scanning, and they actively used open-sourced tools that made it much harder to identify them afterwards,” said Vladimir Dashchenko, Head of Vulnerability Research Group at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT.
“The group’s activities, such as initial data collection, the theft of authentication data, and the scanning of resources, are used to launch further attacks. The diversity of infected servers and scanned resources suggests the group may operate in the interests of the third parties,” he added.
Kaspersky Lab recommends that organisations implement a comprehensive framework against advanced threats comprising of dedicated security solutions for targeted attack detection and incident response, along with expert services and threat intelligence. As a part of Kaspersky Threat Management and Defense, our anti-targeted attack platform detects an attack at early stages by analysing suspicious network activity, while Kaspersky EDR brings improved endpoint visibility, investigation capabilities and response automation. These are enhanced with global threat intelligence and Kaspersky Lab’s expert services with specialisation in threat hunting and incident response.
More details on this recent Crouching Yeti activity can be found on the Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT website.