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VAT meets cyber crooks

We’re heading into the season where government organisations request details on VAT related issues. Unfortunately, cybercriminals know this and are ready to pounce on an obvious weak link – our distracted, emotive human nature, writes MARTIN WALSHAW, Senior Systems Engineer, F5 Networks.

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It is often hard to keep pace with evolving cybercriminal sophistication and sheer volumetric persistence. High net-worth individuals are a particularly attractive target, and their details can command more than credit card details. It only takes a few instances of success for cybercriminals to hit the Dark Web jackpot.

Consider the context surrounding communications

To stay safe and avoid the VAT season becoming a data feeding frenzy, it is vital to rigorously scrutinise inbound communications whether you are a business or an individual.

Organisations typically state that they never use text or email to communicate information on rebates or penalties, nor request personal or payment information. Alarm bells need to go off at any such request, and the relevant experts and authorities must be informed to determine the source of an attempted attack, as well as initiate relevant mitigation actions.

Get protected

You can have best processes, systems, and intentions in place but there is still no legislating for impulsiveness. Critical thinking often disappears if there is vulnerable big data, which can be sold for big dollars.

In recent years, there’s been an explosion of attractively designed fake apps offering free services, which conceal all manner of maliciousness behind the scenes. It is also relatively quick to replicate an authentic tax-related app and weaponise it for credentials theft. At a glance, it can be impossible to determine fakery from a genuine tax imperative. We are all busy and highly connected. We naturally gravitate towards convenience, and the bad actors have scrutinised our psychological profiles and mastered replicating our identities.

Education and awareness programmes are essential in a business environment to protect employees both in the office and at home. These need to be specific and tailored to the actual problems, including explicit procedural antidotes to basic human fickleness.

A culture needs to be created for staff to practice secure thinking every day, including continually updating security settings (using automation tools to ensure no employee is left behind), regularly changing passwords, and ensuring attachments or links are treated with caution.

The latter is particularly important. According to F5 Labs research, phishing is still the top method to illegally obtain data. Free tools like VirusTotal can help in this instance, allowing users to upload files for scanning via hundreds of anti-virus solutions to check if it contains harmful content.

To stay ahead of the hacker, it is also important for businesses to run regular penetration tests to gauge staff responses to potential cybersecurity pitfalls and identify specific areas for improvement.

All awareness-raising actions need to be supported by advanced and integrated security solutions, including robust web application firewalls (WAF), analytical tools to understand threat behaviour, and encryption tools. The challenge of responsible data management is already intensifying across EMEA, particularly with the emergence of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). There is no margin for error.

Filing returns and dealing with the relevant bodies can be complex enough without having to deal with identity theft and fraud concerns. Don’t make it easy for the cybercriminals.

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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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