Month: Sep 2017

Humans the weakest link as cyber warfare intensifies.

Staff opening suspicious emails represent one of the weakest links amid a rise in global malware attacks, according to a software security expert.  

Speaking exclusively to Fin24 at the Gartner Symposium in Cape Town this week, Michael White, product manager at information technology company Veeam, said educating staff would help curb the spread of malware.



“Very small companies that simply cannot afford security can rely on educating their staff not to open suspicious emails that could contain malware,” said White.

"The real way to avoid malware is educating your users. The idea is to make them understand that banks and credit unions, or the police department – (none of these) is ever going to  send them an email with a link in it that is connected in any way to money, or credit or their financial history," he said.

South African banks warn users to be suspicious if the process to conduct a transaction differs from the norm.

Absa, for example states: "We will never ask you to enter your entire password on our secure website; you will be asked to enter 3 random characters of your password," while FNB states: "FNB will never send you an email with a link to verify any banking transaction or details."

He added that by patching software with updates to fix or improve security, and keeping antivirus programs up to date, computers would be better protected. 

Small companies should also plan for the worst, said White. 

“Companies and individuals should plan on everything going wrong by thinking about what plans to put in place, even if it means backing up data on external hard drives,” White told Fin24. 

Due to its magnitude, severity and complexity, the WannaCry malware virus which hit between 400 000 and 1 million devices globally was the biggest of 2017, according to cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab.

In June, Fin24 reported that hackers made less than R26 000 off the massive Petya malware attack which also affected computers globally – including thousands in South Africa.

Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET Southern Africa, told Fin24 that the financial gain was significantly lower during the Petya Attack, compared to the recent WannaCry virus. However, the virus did substantial damage to numerous machines. 

Michael White on Cyber Warfare  

iPhone 8 build costs rise on faster chip, cameras.

Apple’s latest smartphones, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, have more expensive parts, but the company will still make significant profits because it raised prices for the devices, according to research firm IHS Markit.

A base model iPhone 8 with a 4.7-inch screen and 64 gigabytes of storage includes material costs of $247.51, up from $237.94 for the 32 gigabyte base model iPhone 7 from last year, an analysis by IHS found.

However, the new device costs $699, while the previous year’s iPhone started at $649 for the 32 gigabyte version. That means the iPhone 8 bill of materials equals about 35% of the sales price – about the same as last year. That excludes other costs, including manufacturing, software and research and development.

"The added value went to memory, camera, and processing. That’s where we can materially identify where they’ve improved the overall product, and hence why they can command a higher price for it," according to Wayne Lam, an analyst at IHS.

"The iPhone 8 represents an evolutionary upgrade to the tried-and-true iPhone business formula," he added. "We anticipated very little changes inside the devices, so the bulk of changes will come with the iPhone X."

The iPhone X, Apple’s tenth anniversary phone, is a more-advanced device that’s expected to be in strong demand when it hits stores in November. The iPhone business represents about two-thirds of Apple’s revenue, and the product’s unit sales, margins, and average sales price are critical to the company’s results.

Analysts estimate Apple’s gross margin across all its businesses will be about 38% in coming quarters, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The story is similar with the iPhone 8 Plus. Its components cost $288.08, including a new camera system that costs $32.50. That’s up from $270.88 in the iPhone 7 Plus, IHS estimated. The new version starts at $799, compared with $769 for last year’s model.

The most expensive components in the iPhone 8 models are the screens and mechanical enclosures, which were both upgraded from the iPhone 7 line. The glass backs on the new devices allow for inductive charging that requires a new controller inside that’s supplied by Broadcom. That part increases power-management costs by about $2, according to IHS.

Both models cost more to build than the last generations because of their improved cameras, larger starting storage capacities, and more advanced chips. The larger base storage capacity costs Apple $6 more per unit, while the new A11 Bionic processor costs about $5 more per unit, IHS said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook commented on component breakdowns on the Cupertino-based company’s fiscal second-quarter earnings call in 2015 by stating he has “never seen one that is anywhere close to being accurate.”


REVIEW: The Nokia 8 is made for video blogging

Mobile device manufacturer Nokia has burst onto the scene in an effort to regain its former glory. 

After its licensing rights were handed over to HMD Global, it has seen a solid comeback.

Earlier this year it released the Nokia 3310, and now it has launched the Nokia 8. 

The Nokia 8 may come to be known as the vlogger’s best friend, as the device offers its users the ability to record video using the front and rear cameras simultaneously. 

This can be streamed live and directly to Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms. 

The device features a 13 megapixel selfie camera on its front and a 13 megapixel camera on its rear, which makes the pic quality on both ends good. 

A look inside 

The Nokia 8 has become the first Android device to collaborate with ZEISS optics to produce 4K content. The phone offers a great size display of 5.3 inches, and a resolution of 1440×2560 pixels.

The device features Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection, and runs Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) as its operating system, with planned upgrade to Android 8.0 (Oreo).

It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, which optimises the performance of its 3090mAh battery. It is encased in a solid shell, and has a premium look and feel.

For security when unlocking, it features a fingerprint scanner embedded in its home button. 

Worth it?

While the device may not seem like a flagship phone that will easily compete with the likes of the LG G6, the Samsung S8 and the Huawei P10, the Nokia 8 removes unnecessary bells and whistles to offer its users power for the essentials of a smartphone, making it a pure workhorse.

Its ability to create new content, meanwhile, may end up changing the dynamic of how video blogs are created. 

When the recommended price of the Nokia 8 was announced by HMD Global southern Africa general manager Shaun Durandt at R9 499, many phone aficionados raised an eyebrow. 

However, with its specifications and video blogging features, the Nokia 8 is comfortably one of the cheapest high-end devices in South Africa.

It is available exclusively from Vodacom on contract from R449 per month.


8 ways you’re hurting your smartphone

There are numerous ways that we might be unintentionally damaging our smartphones through bad habits and negligent use. Asharaf Rogers, Technical Manager at weFix suggests these steps to help ensure you don’t cause undue damage to your mobile device:


• Too hot to trot: Never leave your device in direct sunlight, in your car or exposed to heat. This is literally a possible explosion waiting to happen. 

• Fire alert: If your device has come into contact with liquid and you suspect liquid damage, the battery must be disconnected if possible or the device must be switched off. Failure to do this and any excessive movement during logistics could cause overheating and result in an exploding battery or a battery catching alight.

• Crack me up: A cracked screen usually ends up with shattered glass fragments and this can be dangerous not just for your hands, but also for your eyes as these pieces of glass can break into tinier pieces invisible to the eye. So if you’re unlucky enough to crack your screen, don’t wait until it’s a health hazard before taking it in for repair. A very short-term tip is to cover cracked screens with sellotape!

• Malware: While you might be up-to-date with your PC security software, don’t forget about your phone. Be extra careful when installing apps on your smartphone and ensure you do your system updates regularly.

• Give it a rest: Our smartphones are literally on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but the reality is that they also need a rest. At least once a week, reboot your device or shut it down for 30 minutes or so. Doing this will ensure that caches are cleared and subsystems are properly restarted. You’ll also be helping ensure the longevity of the RAM on the device and enabling certain diagnostics to be run.

• Unplugged: Don’t leave your smartphone plugged in and charging all night as this can generate excess heat and damage your phone.

• Drop it: Even if you don’t immediately see a shattered screen or a dented corner on your device once you’ve dropped it, don’t assume there is no damage done. It’s still possible that a fall has weakened your phone’s casing or damaged something inside the device. Repeated impacts that may be doing more damage than you think.

• Cover up: Screen protectors and phone covers go a long way in protecting the device from drop damage. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

While these are extremely isolated incidences, devices have been known to shatter in people’s hands due to heat or pressure and batteries have been known to explode in pockets and handbags, seriously injuring the device owner or close passers by.

So whether you’re going all out on the latest smartphone or you’re opting for a budget-friendly device instead, be sure to take care of your smartphone and it will no doubt take care of you!


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