The Malware Hunter

Avoiding malware, which can invade your computer via phishing emails or malicious sites, is a common preoccupation. You only have to click on the wrong thing and you’ve caught a ‘botnet’ that may attack your business website or spread a virus.

But, now it looks like help is on the way, albeit in a rather unusual, roundabout way. Netlab 360 has identified a type of botnet that can search for specific malware infections without harming your computer. What is more, once it has hunted down and eliminated the ‘bad botnet’, it deletes itself from your computer.

Netlab 360 engineer, Hui Wang, has called it ‘Fbot’, although nobody knows who created it, which is one of the interesting parts of this story. But, whoever is responsible for it, has basically designed a bot that does a much-needed job.

The way it works is like this, according to Jon Christian writing in futurism.com: “Fbot first infects computers that leave a specific port vulnerable to attack. Then it searches its new hosts for a piece of malware called com.ufo.miner, which uses infected computers to mine the cryptocurrency Monero — and eradicates it.”

Wang says, “So far, the only purpose of this botnet looks to be just going after and removing another botnet.” Other unusual aspects of the bot are:

· The bot does not use traditional DNS to communicate with the C2, instead, it utilises blockchain DNS to resolve the non-stand C2 name musl.lib.

· It appears to have strong links to the original satori botnet.

Coindesk has also commented on the new discovery, saying “Unusually, the botnet code is linked to a domain name accessible, not through a standard domain name system (DNS), but a decentralized alternative called EmerDNS that makes addresses harder to trace and shut down.”

And researchers also pointed out: “The choice of Fbot using EmerDNS other than traditional DNS is pretty interesting, it raised the bar for security researcher to find and track the botnet (security systems will fail if they only look for traditional DNS names).”

Either way, everyone is extremely curious about who is behind the botnet — is it somebody working with good intentions, or is it a hacker trying to remove the competition. Perhaps we will never know.

Every search you make…is being watched

That moment when we all went out and bought smartphones was a game changer for our personal privacy as Tyler Elliott Bettilyon discusses on Medium.

We never imagined at the time how these expensive gadgets would impact on our lives; all we could see that they made our lives easier, but at what cost?

In China, surveillance apparatus is increasingly sophisticated. There is facial recognition technology connected to CCTV cameras and police officers will soon have cameras inside their sunglasses. There may also be drones disguised as birds. Worse still, Chinese citizens are being asked (demanded) to install software in their phones that tracks their downloads and if you’re Chinese and visit a site banned by the government, you lose points from your “social credit score.”

But that’s China, you’re probably thinking. This is a Communist regime that has always controlled how people act and think. It isn’t like that in more democratic countries. Unfortunately the response to that is, “Don’t be so sure.”

Take a look at the surveillance tools the USA has. The NSA’s PRISMprogramme collects masses of data about internet traffic — including yours! That’s why Edward Snowdon blew the whistle on it and revealed how the NSA might be breaking the rules of privacy.

And Europe is no more private. It also has an array of online surveillance tools that it uses in the name of ‘security’. And if you keep sending out the message that we are all in danger, then the citizens of Europe give governments a free pass to collect whatever data they want. They don’t consciously allow it; they passively accept it.

And, online censorship is on the rise as the world becomes more authoritarian. A 2017 report Freedom on the Net details how our freedoms are being curbed year after year. It says: “Nearly half of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net 2017 experienced declines during the coverage period, while just 13 made gains, most of them minor. Less than one-quarter of users reside in countries where the internet is designated Free, meaning there are no major obstacles to access, onerous restrictions on content, or serious violations of user rights in the form of unchecked surveillance or unjust repercussions for legitimate speech.”

But it isn’t just governments that are watching you; it’s Facebook, Google and the like who are analysing your every move in order to push adverts at you. The Cambridge Analytica scandal showed us how the data they collect can be ‘weaponised’ for political ends.

Perhaps you are very security conscious about your personal data and take all the recommended steps (and more) to protect yourself. But, the web has many vulnerable points you may pass through without your knowledge and that leaves you exposed. These include your friends keeping texts from you, photos of you taken by friends stored on Facebook and Google keeping track of your search history. Yes, you can turn Google tracking off — if you can actually find where to do that. However, ultimately the only way to stay secure is never to send your data via the internet. Or, get yourself a Tor browser. This is a system that attempts to hide source and destination IP addresses by using several proxies. And even then there are still vulnerabilities.

Finally, personal actions to protect our personal data will never be enough: it will require collective action to overcome the Big Brother machinations of the large agencies like the NSA. Bringing the issues to the attention of more internet users is vital to achieve this, then perhaps we can start to solve the problem and pack up our paranoia.

The Tech Giants Growing Behind China’s Great Firewall

The Tech Giants Growing Behind China’s Great Firewall

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Every day, your feeds are likely dominated by the latest news about Silicon Valley’s biggest tech giants.

Whether it’s Facebook’s newest algorithm changes, Amazon’s announcement to enter the healthcare market, a new acquisition by Alphabet, or the buzz about the latest iPhone – the big four tech giants in the U.S. are covered extensively by the media, and we’re all very familiar with what they do.

However, what is less commonly talked about is the alternate universe that exists on the other side of China’s Great Firewall. It’s there that four Chinese tech giants are taking advantage of a lack of foreign competition to post explosive growth numbers – some which compare favorably even to their American peers.

BIZARRO WORLD

Like the “Bizarro Jerry” episode of Seinfeld, the Chinese-based tech giants look recognizably familiar – but markedly different – to the ones we know so well.

ALIBABA

Likely the best known of China’s tech giants, Alibaba is the dominant online retailer in the country. The company had revenues of $25.1 billion in 2017 and is seeing that revenue grow at impressive speeds. In its most recent quarterly results (Q3, 2017), the company noted a 56% jump in revenue.

Amazon’s tough sell: Amazon does exist in the Chinese market, but it just has trouble competing with Jack Ma’s creation. Amazon has less than a 1% share of the e-commerce space in China, after a decade of trying to get a foothold. Further, Alibaba also runs AliCloud, which provides direct competition to Amazon’s AWS.

BAIDU

Baidu is the largest search engine in China and also a leading player in AI. It’s the most visited website in China, and ranks #4 globally. The company will announce 2017 annual results in the coming weeks, after reporting a 29% jump in revenue in Q3 2017.

Google’s searching for a way in: Google was blocked in China in 2010 after refusing to filter search requests. However, since then, the giant has been able to take very small steps in entering the Chinese market – even though its signature search engine is still blocked, Google now has at least three offices in the country.

TENCENT

Tencent has recently been in the news for its rapidly surging stock. The company, which owns the dominant social platform in China (WeChat), is now valued at over $500 billion. For those keeping tabs, Facebook is currently worth $550 billion.

It’s complicated: Facebook remains blocked by China, meaning that Zuckerberg and company can’t take advantage of a 1 billion plus market of people with growing buying power. Even if it found its way in, there are multiple social platforms in China and competition would be stiff.

XIAOMI

Dubbed as “China’s Apple”, Xiaomi is one of the world’s most valuable private companies. Things have been hot and cold for the ambitious smartphone manufacturer, but recently reports have surfaced that Xiaomi will IPO in the second half of 2018 for upwards of $50 billion.

The State Of Digital Business Transformation, 2018

These and many fascinating insights are from the IDG’s 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation (12 pp., PDF, no opt-in). The study’s goals are to gain a better understanding of how organizations are evolving to a digital business model in regards to how they are revising technology strategies, changing organizational structures and processes, and innovating to provide a unique customer experience. Respondents were selected from CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World tech buyer audiences. The majority of respondents are IT executives and professionals. Please see page 10 of the study for additional details regarding the methodology. “Technology has been a driving force in business transformation for years, but the pace at which new technologies are launching has reached its fastest speed. Now is the time to create efficiencies and differentiate through the customer experience,” said Brian Glynn, chief revenue officer, IDG Communications, Inc.

Key takeaways from the study include the following:

  • 89% of enterprises have plans to adopt or have already adopted a digital-first business strategy with Services (95%), Financial Services (93%) and Healthcare (92%) leading all industries. Education, high-tech, manufacturing, retail, and government are also quickly adopting digital-first strategies to improve process efficiencies and meet and exceed customer expectations.

Digital-First-By-Industry

  • Big Data/Analytics (58%), mobile technologies (59%), private cloud (53%), public cloud (45%) and APIs and embeddable technologies (40%) are the top five technologies already implemented. Additional technologies currently in production include Application Performance Monitoring (APM) (18%), microservices and containers (15%), Software-defined storage (SDS) (14%) and Software-defined networking (SDN) (14%). Artificial Intelligence (39%), machine learning (34%), and the Internet of Things (31%) are the top three technologies enterprises are researching today.

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  • Big Data/Analytics, mobile technologies, and private cloud contribute most to an organization’s revenue growth. IDG analyzed which technologies are contributing most and least or revenue growth. With 49% of enterprises saying excelling at managing business performance through data availability and visibility is what defines their digital business, it’s understandable why Big Data/Analytics is perceived by 70% of IT executives as contributing to revenue growth.

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  • 61% of enterprises say IoT plays a role in their digital business strategies with manufacturing and high-tech leading all other industries. Just 39% of small & medium businesses (SMBs) say IoT plays a role in their digital business strategies today. Finance and government industries are the least likely to adopt IoT as part of their digital business strategies due to legacy systems being very difficult to change or integrate with and security concerns.

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  • 73% of manufacturing executives or IT decision makers (ITDM) says IoT plays a role in their digital business strategy, with 69% saying IoT is used to monitor equipment and machinery today. 24% of manufacturing IT executives interviewed say IoT is in production in a business unit or division. Creating a business case in manufacturing for IoT begins by looking at how quality, time-to-market and production performance can be improved. The manufacturing metric Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is one of the primary catalysts driving real-time monitoring including IoT adoption across manufacturing today.

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  • Start-ups can increase revenue by 34% relying on digital-first strategies, with all enterprises increasing revenue by 23% with new product and service offerings being the largest contributor to revenue growth across all companies. 30% of all enterprises interviewed by IDG say that new product and service offerings are the primary sources of revenue growth for their companies, followed by adding new capabilities inside the company and improving sales capacity to cross-sell and upsell. 22% say that their improved ability to integrate and analyze company, customer and external data is contributing to increased revenue. 22% also credit digital business strategies with the ability to increase product and service delivery speeds. New partnerships, global or regional expansion and M&A (merger & acquisition) activity are the remaining factors driving revenue growth. Multiple responses were allowed to the original survey.

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  • Enterprises’ definition of a digital business varies from enabling worker productivity to meeting customer experiences. 52% of enterprises say enabling worker productivity through tools such as mobile, data access, and AI-assisted processes are the essence of their digital business strategy. 49% say better managing business performance through data availability, and visibility is what defines their digital business, and 46% say meeting customer experience expectations using digital technologies is the center of their digital business.

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  • 62% say delivering an excellent customer experience as measured by customer satisfaction scores defines success as a digital-first business. The intensity to gain high customer satisfaction scores in retail is high, with 79% saying this is by far their most important benchmark of a successful digital-first business. 70% of manufacturers define the digital-first business strategies as successful when they improve process efficiency through automation. 53% of services companies and 51% of finance companies define digital-first business success by their ability to accelerate time-to-market.

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Contributor: Louis Columbus – Source