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IBM, Nokia, Others Launch IoT Cybersecurity Alliance

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IBM, Nokia, AT&T, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec and Trustonic have announced that they are collaborating to help address IoT security challenges.

The “IoT Cybersecurity Alliance” said the combination of industry-leading security providers and IoT experts will research and raise awareness of ways to better secure the IoT ecosystem.

“The explosive growth in the number of IoT devices is only expected to continue; therefore, so must the associated cybersecurity protections,” said Mo Katibeh, SVP of Advanced Solutions at AT&T. “Today’s businesses are connecting devices ranging from robots on factory floors to pacemakers and refrigerators. Helping these organisations stay protected requires innovation across the whole IoT ecosystem to enable sustainable growth.”

In the past three years, AT&T said it has seen a 3,198 per cent increase in attackers scanning for vulnerabilities in IoT devices.

When AT&T surveyed companies in 2016, 58 per cent of respondents said they were not confident in the security of their IoT devices.

The Alliance members believe the key to IoT security lies in protecting all devices at the endpoint, network, cloud and application layer, and using overarching threat analytics to study the overall ecosystem and designing products with a built- in, always-on security approach.

The members want to advise customers and educate the industry on the cybersecurity measures needed to create a safer IoT ecosystem, foster collaboration and advance innovation with top cybersecurity and IoT thought leaders.

Specifically, goals of the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance are to:

Collaborate and research security challenges of IoT across verticals and use cases such as automotive, industrial, smart cities and healthcare. The Alliance will take use cases or business challenges in IoT cybersecurity to dissect and advance security concerns and identify ways to implement security across the value chain.

Dissect and solve for IoT security problems at every critical layer of security. These include the endpoint, connectivity, cloud, and data/application layers, and the Alliance says it includes experts at each of these layers to help educate businesses and consumers on how to protect their connections.

Make security easy to access across the ecosystem. Security needs to exist across the value chain, and the Alliance says users will benefit from innovative IoT services and infrastructures that can withstand the ever-evolving threat landscape.

Influence security standards and policies. Using each group member’s leadership and expertise will raise awareness of cybersecurity, with the Alliance engaging regularly with policymakers and other organisations.

“Be it a connected car, pacemaker or coffee maker, every connected device is a potential new entry point for cyberattacks,” said Bill O’Hern, Chief Security Officer at AT&T. “Yet, each device requires very different security considerations. It’s become essential for industry leaders and innovators like those in the founding members of this Alliance, to work together to help the industry find more holistic security approaches for IoT.”

The IoT Cybersecurity Alliance intends to bring together market leaders in device security, connectivity, data, cloud, and applications, creating the opportunity for end-to-end IoT security to help businesses continue to grow and compete in the ever-changing market. Its members say they will help the industry maximize the advantages of IoT while educating about how to keep companies and consumers more secure.

 

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E-Business

ESET, Airtel Unveil New Security app for Smartphone Users

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ESET, a security solution company on Thursday launched a new mobile security app specially designed for Airtel Nigeria subscribers.

 

Olufemi Ake, country manager of ESET, said that the mobile security application would provide smartphone users with features for prevention and management of cyber risks associated to android mobile devices.

 

Ake made this known during the ESET Mobile Security Airtel Edition Launch held in Lagos.

 

He said that there was need for average smartphone users in Nigeria to install mobile security apps on their phones, “especially in this age where cyber criminals steal personal data online”.

 

The country manager added that the first telecom-focused security product was optimised for Android and also for bringing both unmatched performance coupled with proactive protection.

 

He said: “The new ESET mobile security for Airtel also welcomes the brand-new premium features such as Anti-Phishing, which protects against malicious websites attempting to acquire sensitive information – usernames, passwords, banking information or credit card details.

 

“It also features Anti-Theft, which locks a device upon detection of suspicious behaviour or when unauthorised SIM is inserted.

 

“The security app also has the Remote Lock feature, allowing a device owner to lock his or her phone remotely, thereby preventing unauthorised access to all stored information, including photos and emails.

 

“It also has the SMS and Call Filter feature, which enables smartphone owners to solely receive the calls and messages that they want and also empower them to define the sender and the time to receive SMS or calls with time-based call management.”

 

Ake noted that the ESET Mobile Security product already exists globally on Google Play Store with over ten million downloads.

He explained that the app also offered precise detection of known and unknown mobile threats with complement of advanced features such as Anti-Theft, Security Audit, App Lock, SMS and Call Filter and Password Protection, amongst others.

 

Dinesh Balsingh, chief commercial officer, Airtel Nigeria, said that the partnership with ESET affirms their strong commitment to protecting customers from cyber criminals.

 

He said that by introducing such apps to subscribers, they would be protected from cyber criminals hacking into their personal data.

 

Balsingh said that Airtel subscribers who wish to benefit from the new security app could subscribe via Google Play store at subsidized and flexible cost of N150 monthly.

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MainOne Takes Blame for Google Glitch

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Main One Cable has took responsibility for a glitch that temporarily caused some Google global traffic to be misrouted through China, saying it accidentally caused the problem during a network upgrade.

The issue surfaced on Monday afternoon as Internet monitoring firms ThousandEyes and BGPmon said some traffic to Alphabet’s Google had been routed through China and Russia, raising concerns that the communications had been intentionally hijacked.

Main One said in an e-mail that it had caused a 74-minute glitch by misconfiguring a border gateway protocol filter used to route traffic across the Internet. That resulted in some Google traffic being sent through Main One partner China Telecom, said the West African firm.

Google has said little about the matter. It acknowledged the problem on Monday in a post on its Web site that said it was investigating the glitch and said it believed the problem originated outside the company. It did not say how many users were affected or identify specific customers.

Google representatives could not be reached on Tuesday to comment on Main One’s statement.

Even though MainOne said it was to blame, some security experts said the incident highlighted concerns about the potential for hackers to conduct espionage or disrupt communications by exploiting known vulnerabilities in the way traffic is routed over the Internet.

The US China Economic and Security Review Commission, a Washington-based group that advises the US Congress on security issues, plans to look into the issue, said commissioner Michael Wessel.

“We will work to gain more facts about what has happened recently and look at what legal tools or legislation or law enforcement activities can help address this problem,” Wessel said.

Glitches in border gateway protocol filters have caused multiple outages to date, including cases where traffic from US Internet and financial services firms was routed through Russia, China and Belarus.

Yuval Shavitt, a network security researcher at Tel Aviv University, said it was possible Monday’s issue was not an accident.

“You can always claim that this is some kind of configuration error,” said Shavitt, who last month co-authored a paper alleging the Chinese government had conducted a series of Internet hijacks.

Main One, which describes itself as a leading provider of telecom and network services for businesses in West Africa, said it had investigated the matter and implemented new processes to prevent it from happening again.

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Nigerian Study Wins WhatsApp Misinformation Award Grant

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WhatsApp has announced the recipients of its $1 million research grants to academics from around the world for the purpose of studying misinformation and its impact on society. Fake news, calls for violence, election-related propaganda and other topics come under the different proposals for which the grants were given.

 

The goal of the research award is to facilitate high quality, external research on a wide range of topics by academics and experts who are in the countries where WhatsApp is frequently used and where there is limited research on the topic.

 

Tagged ‘WhatsApp Misinformation and Social Science Research Awards’, approximately 600 proposals were submitted and reviewed with the awardees representing the highest quality projects across several relevant research areas.  WhatsApp awarded 20 grants up to $50,000 each to researchers in several countries including Nigeria, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.

 

Among the winning projects is the research topic; ‘The use and abuse of WhatsApp in an African election: Nigeria 2019’, an international collaboration put together by Jonathan Fisher (University of Birmingham), Idayat Hassan (Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja), Jamie Hitchen (AREA Consulting) as well as Nic Cheeseman (University of Birmingham).

 

The study employs multi-method social science research instruments including in-country interviews, focus groups and surveys to explore how WhatsApp is used by political candidates, and their campaigns and supporters to tailor messages to key audiences during elections.

 

The research will focus on two gubernatorial elections in the upcoming 2019 Nigerian polls – those of Kano (northern Nigeria) and Oyo (southern Nigeria).

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