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Word Cup ticket scam doubles the trouble

Kaspersky Lab experts have identified phishing emails from fraudsters offering users the chance to snap up much sought after ‘guest’ tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup – but at a higher price than fans bargained for.

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Some tickets are on offer at ten times their original price, and while the tickets are likely to be unusable – due to a strict registration and transfer procedure – fraudsters are taking the money and collecting users’ private data, including payment information, to steal more funds in a twofold monetisation scam.

Major events attract fraudsters’ attention, with the noise and excitement around them making it easier for attackers to prey on their potential victims’ lack of vigilance. Recipients are drawn to the seemingly legitimate emails, which focus on global sporting championships watched by big audiences across the world. The upcoming World Cup is no exception.

This event is particularly interesting because there are a number of obstacles complicating the process of buying tickets. For instance, tickets can only be purchased on the official FIFA website and the procedure is multilayered and sophisticated for security reasons. Ordering a ticket takes place in three stages and only 1 ticket per person is allowed. The exception to this is guest tickets, which allows the purchaser to buy up to 3 additional tickets. However, these are registered to specific names and can only be changed if the holder applies to transfer the intended recipient to another. Despite this complicated process, fraudsters have used this to their advantage.

When the window to purchase tickets opened, the official website experienced a massive surge in users attempting to order their tickets, which led to connection problems. During the process, fraudsters bought up as many tickets as they could with the aim of selling them on to a desperate fan base. With tickets now sold out, many people have been left with no alternative but to go to touts or third parties in order to be at a game.

Fraudsters have set up hundreds of domains with wording related to the World Cup, to sell their guest tickets. Many have increased the price to more than double face value, with some tickets available at up to 10 times the original cost, according to Kaspersky Lab experts. With full advance payment required, there is no guarantee that fraudsters will forward the tickets, that guest tickets reserved for other people will work at a stadium, or that they will be genuine. What is guaranteed, however, is that the payment information used to buy the tickets will give scammers all they need to collect additional funds from the user in the future.

“According to our research, there is a real risk that users will pay a lot of money and get nothing in return. This type of cyber fraud can also lead to further money stealing. We urge sport fans to be extra vigilant and savvy when buying tickets. No matter how attractive the offer is, the only way to ensure you won’t get duped is to use authorised sellers,” warns Andrey Kostin, Senior Web-Content Analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

To make sure users don’t become victims of this type of scam, Kaspersky Lab’s anti-phishing system detects and blocks fraudulent emails and websites.

There are also a number of simple steps that football fans can follow to keep themselves and their money safe, both during the World Cup and beyond:

– Be vigilant. Only buy tickets from the official sources and always double check the site address and the links you want to follow

– Do not click on links in emails, texts, instant messaging or social media posts if they come from people or organisations you don’t know, or have suspicious or unusual addresses

– Have a separate bank card and account with a limited amount of money, specifically for online purchases. This will help to avoid serious financial losses if your bank details are stolen

– De-risk the data. It is better to install a reliable security solution with up-to-date databases of malicious and phishing sites

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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