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Virtual crooks target gamers

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In a recent survey, Kaspersky Lab experts recorded over 7 000 attempts to infect gamers around the world every day in 2012.

These attacks are launched in an attempt to gain access to personal user data, such as passwords to online games and online banking systems. Where games are concerned, malicious users attempt to steal avatars and in-game items to subsequently sell these virtual goods for real money. In the case of online banking, cybercriminals aim to steal money directly from real bank accounts.

As Kaspersky Lab experts discovered, in order to do this, malicious users send an average of 10 emails with malicious links and attachments to gamers every day, in addition to making roughly 500 attempts to infect gamers via browser-based attacks. What’s more, the company’s ‚”collection‚” of malicious programmes targeting online games is increasing at a rate of 5,000 new programmes a day.

One of a malicious users’ most favoured tactics in the world of online games is, of course, social engineering ‚Äî phishing in particular. For example, cybercriminals invoke the names of well-known gaming worlds and desperately try to lure gamers to their fake websites in order to harvest passwords from registered gaming accounts. In 2012, Kaspersky Lab experts recorded 15 million attempted visits to phishing websites designed to look like the pages of one of the largest developers of online games. As it turns out, there were up to 50,000 attempted redirects to phishing sites each day. Fortunately, all of these trusting users were saved by the professional anti-phishing system built into Kaspersky Internet Security, which promptly detected the threat.

Threats targeting gamers are found all over the world but are, of course, not found in equal concentrations everywhere as their numbers are in direct correlation to the number of active players found in different countries. In 2012, the top 3 unlucky targeted countries turned out to be Russia, China, and India. These are the countries were gamers face the highest risk of infection and subsequent theft of avatars and in-game valuables. We also hasten to note that this list of ‚”leaders‚” has remained more or less unchanged over several years, and there is, unfortunately, no reason to expect malicious users to lessen their interest in this area.

Nevertheless, it is entirely possible to protect oneself and one’s in-game alter-ego against attacks from cybercriminals. At first glance, expert recommendations appear to be obvious, although in practice they have proven to be effective time and again. Kaspersky Lab’s malware expert Sergey Golovanov suggests that gamers adhere to the following simple code of Internet conduct:

‚”First and foremost, one needs to be alert when receiving emails featuring, for example, a request from an online game’s admin server for personal information about your account or an authorisation offer under some pretext. Don’t just click on the link right away – it could be a phishing site.

‚”Next, don’t download unofficial patches from dubious sources ‚Äî you could easily end up downloading a ‚’bonus’ in the form of a Trojan that would then infiltrate your system and start stealing all of your passwords. And I don’t mean just for online games, but also for bank cards, if your bank offers online services. With this in mind, gamers might consider keeping an up-to-date virtual debit card that lets them limit their spending to an amount they choose with no risk of someone else cleaning out their account.‚”

All the same, malicious users are just that, and some of them can outsmart even the most cautious user. That is why experts strongly recommend using professional security solutions. For example, Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 contains the most up-to-date technologies available today for detecting and blocking malicious programmes — particularly anti-phishing, automatic security against exploits, a virtual keyboard for entering usernames and passwords, and many other functions. Furthermore, it includes a special gaming mode that will run with minimal interference or burden on your system resources and will turn off notifications as soon as the game is launched.

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Telcos want one face

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The investments that telecommunications service providers are making in reshaping their online properties into customer-centric portals reflects the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry, says KEVIN MELTZER of Consology.

Many telcos around the world are overhauling their websites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

They are doing so because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. They have also realised that they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels.

In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and subdomains. These web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way that they design their web and mobile sites.

This coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas. For example, many operators split customers into prepaid and postpaid segments or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos.

These changes are starting to percolate through to operators’ customer service and sales strategies. Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

These sites put a wide range of information at the subscriber’s fingertips, he adds. Increasingly, for example, subscribers can log directly into their accounts from the operator’s homepage and then access a wealth of services and information. This marks an evolution from the fractured and inconsistent customer experience of the past.

Leading operators are even thinking about how their Self-Service platforms should be integrated with social media strategies to allow customers to pay their electronic bills or top up airtime with a single click from within a social network.

Whereas Self-Service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce.

Operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense. Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions.

Integrated and easy to use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators who want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.

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Talk for less with MWEB Talk

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Today, MWEB announced its consumer VoIP package called MWEB Talk, which allows users to make free network calls and get discounted rates made to landlines and mobile phones.

MWEB, today launched its new Voice over IP (VoIP) offering to South African consumers. The service, MWEB Talk, will offer users’ free on network calls to fellow MWEB Talk users’ and cheap calls to landline and mobile phone numbers. This follows the success and demand of the ISP’s existing VoIP products in recent months.

‚”We have seen a noticeable transformation in users’ Internet behaviour with consumers wanting services that complement their ADSL connectivity solution. We have seen phenomenal growth and by the end of the year will deliver over 100 million minutes on our VoIP platform,‚” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect, the ISP’s Consumer and Small Office/ Home Office Division.

MWEB has made significant investments in its infrastructure and VoIP has been prioritised on its network to ensure performance and stability of the MWEB Talk service for both businesses and consumers.

‚”In addition to the high quality of the service, MWEB Talk is also simple to set-up and users’ should experience a significant reduction in their telephone bills. By implementing a VoIP service consumers and small businesses can cut their monthly telecommunication bills by up to 55% to landline and mobile numbers,‚” says Holgate.

With no subscription fee, existing MWEB customers can log into their MWEB account, register for the service and download the application for PC and Mac as well as mobile applications that turn an iPhone, Android, and Nokia smartphone into a VoIP phone. Customers will also be able to purchase a Desktop VoIP Handset for R99 which will be HD voice ready and will support multi-extensions.

‚”We believe that VoIP is the future of telephony in South Africa and we are extremely excited to see the consumer market shift into the VoIP space,‚” concludes Holgate.

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