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Wannacry hits 83 SA sites

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Check Point Software Technologies has revealed the extent of the widespread outbreak of the “WannaCry” ransomware, with a new Check Point WannaCry Ransomware Infection Map showing at least 83 infections in South Africa.

Check Point researchers have been investigating the ransomware campaign in detail since it was first reported. The researchers were able to track 34 300 attack attempts in 97 countries. The average pace by Wednesday wa one attempt in every three second – indicating a slight decline since the original pace registered on Monday, of one attempt per second. The top country from where attack attempts were registered is India, followed by the USA and Russia.

“Although we see it slightly slowing down, WannaCry still spreads fast, targeting organisations across the world,” says Doros Hadjizenonos, Country Manager of Check Point South Africa. “WannaCry is a wakeup call, showcasing how damaging ransomware can be and how quickly it can cause disruption to vital services.”

The Check Point Threat Intelligence and Research team recently announced the registration of a new kill-switch domain used by a fresh sample of WannaCry. Check Point’s live WannaCry Ransomware Infection Map shows key threat statistics and country-specific data in real time. Registration of the domain activated the kill-switch, safeguarding tens of thousands of would-be victims against the ransomware’s damage.

Check Point researchers found that those affected by WannaCry are unlikely to retrieve their files, even if they do pay the ransom. A problematic payment and decryption system and false demo of the decryption operation puts into question the capability of WannaCry’s developers to deliver on their promises to decrypt files. So far, the three bitcoin accounts associated with the WannaCry campaign have accumulated approximately $77,000. Despite this, and unlike many other ransomware types, not a single case has been reported of anyone receiving their files back.

In February, Check Point’s released its Anti-Ransomware solution, complementing its SandBlast zero-day protection suite for advanced threat prevention. Built on top of the Check Point Infinity architecture, Check Point offers enhanced threat prevention capabilities against attacks such as WannaCry. The Threat Extraction component strips malware that is embedded in infected documents, the Threat Emulation component ensures only safe content is allowed onto endpoints, while the anti-ransomware solution identifies and blocks ransomware from damaging devices and encrypting files.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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