Elon Musk shows off SpaceX’s 60 internet-beaming satellites packed together for launch

On Saturday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed the 60 satellites his company will be launching this week — the first batch of thousands of satellites that SpaceX hopes to deploy in the years ahead to provide global internet coverage from space. Musk tweeted a picture of the satellites packed tight together inside the nosecone of the Falcon 9 rocket that will take the spacecraft to orbit.

The satellites are the first operational units of SpaceX’s Starlink initiative, a planned mega-constellation of nearly 12,000 spacecraft that will sit in a low orbit above Earth and beam internet connectivity to the surface below. The Federal Communications Commission has granted SpaceX permission to launch two groups of satellites for the Starlink project: one constellation of 4,409 satellites, followed by a second constellation of 7,518 that will operate at a slightly lower altitude than the first. Together, the satellites are meant to fly in a synchronized dance over the Earth, providing internet to every region of the planet.

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Ransomware 101: Understanding cyber security’s biggest threat

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats in today’s security landscape; it has been on the scene for more than a decade and, as it continues to prove successful for cyber criminals, more high-profile business targets fall victim on an almost daily basis.

Ransomware is always evolving. Attackers are getting more sophisticated in how they infect systems, avoid detection and foil decryption efforts. Nobody is safe, says Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET South Africa.

Do you know what ransomware is? Do you know a filecoder from a lockscreen?

How does ransomware attack?

Ransomware is one of the worst forms of malware. Once your machine is compromised, two significant things happen.

1. The malware will start to encrypt as many files as possible. In its simplest form, this will convert the files from a readable to an unreadable format.

2. Then you will be sent a notification that the encryption has happened, and you will need to pay a ransom to get your files back.

The usual process is that you are required to pay a ransom in bitcoins (digital currency) to gain a code, the you will enter the code to prove you have paid the ransom, then the software will, if you’re lucky, decrypt your files.

What happens when this attack takes place?

All or most of your files are encrypted; this essentially means they are wrapped in a protective program to stop you or anyone else accessing them. It’s like a lock box. The files are still inside, but unless you have the key to unlock them, you cannot access them at all.

Ransomware can be a truly devastating piece of malware to hit your business; it has no morals and it doesn’t care if you provide a product, service or just information. What it does is cause mayhem, worry and concern.

Usually, the only fail-proof way of getting your data back is through backup and disaster recovery, but it’s not just whether you pay up or not, it’s the inconvenience your users suffer as a result. Restoring data can take hours, if not days, depending on the systems, and the actual malware must be completely eradicated from your network or it’s just going to start all over again.

What is the best way to prepare for potential attacks like this?

Safeguard yourself from ransomware attacks by implementing a multi-layered approach when dealing with cyber security safety, starting with the right security software; this will allow you to detect and react to cyber threats fast and effectively.

Make sure that you have a good point-in-time backup at regular intervals stored offline and off-premises. That way, if you get compromised, it’s just a case of restoring from backup once you have dealt with the initial malware infection.

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Global Ransomware Attack: Outbreak disrupts IT Systems Worldwide

Global Ransomware Attack: Outbreak disrupts IT Systems Worldwide

A new wave of ransomware known as “WannaCry” has spread across the globe and infected tens of thousands of computers.  This ransomware propagates by exploiting a Microsoft Windows vulnerability in unpatched computers. According to Europol, more than 200,000 victims had been hit in more than 150 countries – the largest ransomware attack observed in history.

The malware encrypts data on a computer within seconds and then displays a message asking the user to pay a ransom of about R4,000, which is lower than other ransomware we have seen – but the true cost will be all the time, lost files, and other collateral damage caused by this attack.

The files touched by the attack are encrypted and the attacker is the only source for the key to reverse that – this can have dire consequences, especially in the healthcare sector.  Encrypted patient records, doctor’s files and other items may not be able to be usable or accessible unless there is a good backup to restore from. So far the culprits are unknown – but it is unlikely that it was one person.

Fortunately, to protect yourself against this threat, there is much that you can do, and you should probably get started sooner rather than later:

  • Install anti-malware software – this will give you a fighting chance at stopping this before you are affected
  • Update your windows machine – don’t ignore the security update they exist for a reason.   For businesses patches can be very very difficult to get deployed across the entire network – this one you will want to install. It has been available since mid-April and actually  stops the exploit from gaining a foothold in your environment.

ESET detects and blocks the WannaCryptor.D threat and its variants. With ESET’s network protection module, we are blocking the leaked version of the exploit on the network level.  We have issued an alert on our Knowledge Base site providing step-by-step instructions for our customers to ensure they are protected.

Microsoft phone scam

If you receive a phone call from a security ‘expert’ offering to fix your PC – it’s a scam. Here’s how to avoid the ‘Microsoft phone scam’, and what to do if you fear you have fallen victim to it.

Despite having gone on for years – since 2009 in fact – the “I’m from Microsoft and you’ve got a problem with your PC” scam phone calls haven’t gone away

Microsoft phone scam: how it works

The scammer calls you, and asks for you by name. They say they are a computer security expert from Microsoft (or another legitimate tech company or a Microsoft ‘partner’). The ‘security expert’ is plausible and polite, but officious. They say that your PC or laptop has been infected with malware, and that they can help you solve the problem. What happens now depends on the particular strain of scam with which you have been targeted.

Some crooks will ask you to give them remote access to your PC or laptop, and then use that access to get hold of your personal data. Others get you to download a tool which they say is the “fix” for your problem, but is actually malware. A more straightforward scam is to simply ask for money in return for a lifetime of ‘protection’ from the malware they pretend is on your machine.

Here’s the important bit: no legitimate IT security company – certainly not Microsoft – is ever going to call you in this way. For one thing, they can’t even tell that your PC is infected. They’ve got your name from the phone book, or any one of the thousands of marketing lists on which your details probably reside. They know nothing about your home computing set up – they’re just chancres.

Basically, somebody is sitting in a room calling number after number hoping to find a victim. It’s not personal, but it is ultimately dangerous to your financial and technological health.

Microsoft phone scam: what to do if you are called

1. Put the phone down. Get rid of the caller and move on with your life. It is not a legitimate call.

2. During your conversation, don’t provide any personal information. This is a good rule for any unsolicited call. And certainly never hand over your credit card or bank details. Just don’t do it.

3. If you’ve got this far, we can only reiterate point number 1: get off the phone. But whatever you do don’t allow a stranger to guide you to a certain web page, or instruct you to change a setting on your PC or download software.

4. If possible get the caller’s details. You should certainly report any instance of this scam to Action Fraud.

5. Finally, change any passwords and usernames that could plausibly have been compromised, and run a scan with up-to-date security software. Then ensure that your firewall and antivirus are up to date and protecting your PC.

Oh, and there is a number 6: tell everyone about it. This scam preys on people’s insecurity about lack of tech knowledge. It is very easy to be a victim, and the best defense is sharing knowledge. It is much easier to put the phone down if you are forewarned.


Microsoft phone scam: what to do if you have been a victim

First of all don’t beat yourself up. This could happen to anyone (and does). You need to change all the personal data that you can change. As much as you might like to you can’t change your date of birth, and changing your name and address seems extreme. But you can change all your passwords and usernames, starting with your main email account and any bank- and credit card logins. Also, contact your bank to ask them to be on the lookout for anything dodgy.

Again, use up-to-date security software to scan and cleanse your PC, and if the scammer did get you to do something to your PC using System Restore to roll back the settings is always a good idea. And tell the police. If you have lost money, it’s possible your credit card company or contents insurance will cover the loss.


Lottery scams

Most of us dream of hitting it big, quitting our jobs and retiring while still young enough to enjoy the fine things in life. Chances are you will receive at least one intriguing email from someone saying that you did indeed win a huge amount of money. The visions of a dream home, fabulous vacation, or other expensive goodies you could now afford with ease, could make you forget that you have never ever entered this lottery in the first place.

This scam will usually come in the form of a conventional email message. It will inform you that you won millions of dollars and congratulate you repeatedly. The catch: before you can collect your “winnings”, you must pay the “processing” fee of several thousands of dollars.

Stop! The moment the bad guy cashes your money order, you lose. Once you realize you have been suckered into paying $3000 to a con man, they are long gone with your money. Do not fall for this lottery scam.