Anglo African weekly news wrap on trending cyber-attacks, to keep you alert.

June 1, 2017

Kmart, confirmed that the popular retailer experienced a recent data breach, exposing customer credit card data to criminal hackers. While the company did not say which Kmart locations were affected by the breach, it said that online purchases at were not targeted in the hack.

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With so much of life lived online, it can be hard to remember passwords for every app and platform you are on, but re-using them is putting people at an ever-increasing risk of being hacked. The recent data breach of food and restaurant search engine Zomato saw hackers steal 17 million users’ data. The company had to strike a deal with the hacker, who agreed to destroy all data and not sell it to someone over the dark web.

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A large digital billboard outside a Liverpool shopping centre was apparently defaced by hackers on 29 May. “We suggest you improve your security. Sincerely, your friendly neighbourhood hackers,” a message on the screen read. It was posted on a large outdoor display at the Liverpool One shopping centre in the city.

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A self-proclaimed member of the Anonymous hacker collective is behind a campaign to spread the Houdini RAT and is currently looking into deploying the MoWare H.F.D ransomware.

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The “blue screen of death” lives on thanks to a simple Windows file system bug. In a blast from the past, a Russian researcher has uncovered a simple bug in the NTFS file system that consistently crashed Windows Vista to 8.1 PCs. Like the infamous Windows 95/98 /con/con bug, by simply entering a file name with “$MFT” the file-system bug locks up Windows at best, or dumps it into a “blue screen of death” at worse.

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Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe when you are online:

  •  Use a firewall

A firewall is a barrier between something that is potentially dangerous and something you want to keep safe.  A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that sits between your computer and the internet and only allows certain types of data to cross. For example, a firewall may allow checking email and browsing the web, but disallow things like Windows file sharing.

  • Scan for malware

Malware is short for malicious software. Sometimes, most commonly via email attachments, malware is able to cross the firewall and end up on your computer anyway. Because new malware is being created every day, it is critical to keep your anti-malware definitions up-to-date. Be sure to enable the scanning software’s automatic-update feature and have it do so every day.

  • Stay up-to-date

A vulnerability is a bug or design flaw in software that allows that software to be used in some malicious and unintended way. The problem? The user simply failed to install the latest updates that would have prevented the infection in the first place. The solution is simple: enable automatic updates in both Windows and applications.

  • Educate yourself

Phishing is the attempt to represent one’s self – typically via email – as someone or some organization that you are not, for the purpose of maliciously acquiring sensitive information. To be blunt, all of the protection in the world will not save you from yourself. Of course, choose secure passwords and do not share them with anyone.

  • Secure your home network and your mobile connection

Open WiFi is any WiFi connection that has not been configured with a password. Anyone with a WiFi-capable device can connect to an open WiFi hotspot.  If you’re you are traveling and using internet hotspots, free WiFi, hotel-provided internet, or internet cafes, you must take extra precautions.

  • Do not forget the physical

Encryption is the process of mathematically processing data using an encryption “key” – such as a password or passphrase. An old computer adage is that “if it’s not physically secure, it’s not secure.” All of the precautions I’ve listed above are pointless if other people can get at your computer. A thief can easily get at all the unencrypted data on your computer if they can physically get to it. Even log-in passwords can be easily bypassed if someone has access to your computer.

  • Back up

An image backup is a complete copy of a hard disk or other media being backed up. The copy is complete in that it can be restored to a completely empty hard drive – as in a replacement hard drive after a failure.  I know that backing up doesn’tdoes not feel like a “security” measure, but ultimately, it can be one of the most powerful ways to recover data if you ever encounter a security-related issue.

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