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Why a well-designed HCI is critical to your AI driven cybersecurity solution

November 24, 2017

Author: Nithen Naidoo, Founder and CEO   Most readers of this post will know Deep Blue, the computer that beat chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1996. Since then, and more so recently, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been an industry buzzword and “the Tao” of the future. I love everything about AI, but I believe in Intelligence Amplification (IA). IA is the synergy of human and machine (as opposed to the substitution), augmenting our capabilities (not replacing them). So, why do I think IA is better? Let’s begin with a lesser known story, about a lesser known chess competition. Eight years after Deep Blue, Kasparov competed in another chess competition which allowed humans to pair up with computers. Naturally, you would expect the best human-computer duo to dominate. Actually, amateur chess players with suboptimal computing platforms won. The upset was credited to a well-designed interface between a well-trained human and a data-rich computing platform. So, having a data-rich platform with effective AI capability is important – but meaningless, if you (the analyst) can’t rapidly navigate, correlate, contextualise and gain insight from your data. Hence, we developed Snode’s cybersecurity solution with - data fusion at scale and machine-assisted analytics. However, more importantly, we designed a frictionless Human-Computer-Interface (HCI) - prioritising, maximising and galvanising the synergy between human and machine.

How Cyber Intelligence Works When All Else Fails

November 16, 2017

Author: Nithen Naidoo, Founder and CEO   At Snode, we like to see things differently and naturally gravitate towards alternative analysis. We are often asked why we use the phrase “Cyber Intelligence” as opposed to “Cybersecurity” to describe our real-time analytics platform. Our view is a paradigm shift (by design) and therefore not strictly aligned to standard definition. That said, it’s an excellent way to describe Snode’s unique value proposition. We see Cybersecurity as a technology layer, consisting of automated, signature based systems (e.g. Intrusion Prevention Systems); searching for known, commonly indiscriminate and unsophisticated attacks. We believe these traditional security controls are essential to a good security posture and complement the Snode Cyber Intelligence solution. Cyber Intelligence, in a Snode (design) context, is viewed as an autonomous layer that lies above the traditional cybersecurity stack; assessing network behaviours, threat intelligence and leveraging machine assisted analytics. Such technologies are designed to protect against more sophisticated and targeted attacks that have never been seen before and therefore circumvent signature based controls. As an example, consider the following: an authenticated, authorised finance staff member accesses a financial system database. Such activity would not be considered malicious by a signature based control and generally goes unnoticed as this is role-based acceptable behaviour. However, a Cyber Intelligence platform may report this behaviour as anomalous since it deviates from the user’s normal pattern of behaviour. Therefore, such activity may be indicative of, and reported as, a potential disclosure of sensitive data. This scenario was an actual finding at a Snode mining client. A subsequent investigation found that the employee was colluding with an organised labour (union) member to supply sensitive financial information ahead of an upcoming wage negotiation. Hence, we describe Cyber Intelligence as the technology layer that goes to work; when all else fails.

#SS17HACK extends to Northern Cape

July 12, 2017

Source: ITWeb   The hackathon to be held at ITWeb Security Summit 2017 is extending to the Northern Cape. Spearheaded by Geekulcha, and run in conjunction with ITWeb Events and Snode, it is the first hackathon to take place at ITWeb Security Summit, and is aimed at stimulating and growing skills capacity in information security. Various organisations are collaborating on the hackathon, where participants will interact and get a chance to be guided by over 500 cyber security minds at the summit. As a first edition, the hackathon will only accommodate 30 people at Vodacom World in Midrand. The Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism has commissioned a parallel Security Hackathon in Kimberley, on 16 and 17 May, in collaboration with Sol Plaatje University, Geekulcha Student Society (GKSS). The Kimberley edition of the hackathon will be managed by the GKSS and local entrepreneurs from the Diamond Creative Vision Hub. A team of 11 people from the department and GKSS attended the training Ideathon in Pretoria, to get a sense of how to run things. A team from Snode will help the Kimberley edition of the hackathon by providing mentorship to ensure the participants build the most secure solutions possible. #SS17Hack Midrand and Kimberley will be broadcast live to each other, giving a sense of concurrency, although each hackathon will have its own judging process.

Maths deployed as cybercrime ‘street fighter’

May 17, 2017

Source: ITWeb   By deploying mathematical algorithms in the fight against cybercrime, organisations stand to gain the 'street fighters' of cyber defence in their arsenal. This is according to Snode chief technology officer and founder Nithen Naidoo, who told delegates at the ITWeb Security Summit 2017 that algorithms already in use in other sectors stood to significantly improve cyber defence. "Maths is fast, doesn't lie and makes no assumptions. By using advanced algorithms, we are able to introduce intelligence amplification - rather than artificial intelligence - to the fight against cyber crime." He says these algorithms will help organisations catch over 80% of attack attempts, whereas artificial intelligence (AI) catches only around 30 - 40%. "We took statistical analytics from other spheres and applied it to cyber security. I don't know why we haven't used it before, but now it's here."   "Maths is fast, doesn't lie and makes no assumptions."   Naidoo said machine learning and mathematical algorithms combined could be harnessed to constantly monitor user behaviour and seek anomalies across any data, as well as patterns that are precursors to events.

Popular

Snode wins big at the MEST Africa Challenge 2019

June 12, 2019

This is MEST Africa’s second annual MEST Africa Challenge, a Pan-African pitch competition for scale-ups based in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa or Cote d’Ivoire who are ready to expand into new markets.  Out of nearly 1 000 applicants from across the continent, 50 finalists (10 in each region) were chosen to pitch at the regional finals in Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, Cape Town and Abidjan, held on 27 and 28 February. Finalists from each regional pitch included: Cote d'Ivoire: Seekewa, a financing platform that allows Internet users and companies from all over the world to support small agricultural projects in Africa through a voucher system.Ghana: Ozé, a data insights company that helps businesses make data-driven financial decisions and achieve growth to improve performance. Kenya: WayaWaya, a fintech company that provides seamless transactions into and within Africa for individuals and businesses.Nigeria: AMPZ.TV, the 'LinkedIn for Sports' that is developing the next generation of Etos, Drogbas and Aubameyangs through technology.South Africa: Snode Technologies, a platform that provides real-time cybersecurity for businesses both locally and internationally. These finalists attended the MEST Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, 10-12 June 2019, where they once again competed head-to-head, this time on a global stage for $50k in equity investment and the opportunity to join the Pan-African MEST incubator community. Each finalist was allowed just 5 minutes to pitch their company’s profile to the judges and to convince them that they have what it takes to rapidly expand and grow with the African market as well as abroad.  This year, the competition was fierce, with each scale-up having its own unique strengths and bringing something unique to the table. The judges had a hard-task of deciding which of these finalists were worthy of top spot.  In the evening of 11 June 2019, the judges had reached a conclusion. Unable to agree on which of the MEST African Challenge finalists had the potential to make the largest impact on the continent, the judges decided to award Ozé from Ghana, Snode Technologies from South Africa, and WayaWaya from Kenya, each with $50k investment and support from Microsoft!  “We are excited to partner with MEST,” said Microsoft Senior Director, Chris Lwanga. “At Microsoft our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” The winner of this year’s challenge will join MEST Africa's portfolio along with last year's winner, Nigeria's smart accounting platform, Accounteer, which has since gone on to expand into Kenya and raise additional funding. Niyi Adegboye, Senior Business Developer at Accounteer who presented the winning pitch in 2018, has said: “It was an amazing experience participating in the MEST Africa Challenge 2018. Accounteer is proud to be a part of the MEST portfolio today.” Since winning the Challenge, Accounteer has expanded from Nigeria into Kenya, and has received follow-on funding from Microtraction. About Snode Technologies Eight years ago, it decided that the way we approach defence is flawed because of how easy it is becoming to bypass security controls. The World Economic Forum lists cybercrime as one of the top ten risks facing mankind. By 2021, the global cybersecurity spend will be over $1 Trillion, and we would have lost $6 Trillion to cybercriminals. It was clear that an innovative solution was required to address the risks associated with cybersecurity globally. With this in mind, the Guardian cybersecurity platform was developed with the sole purpose to gain insight into prevailing patterns, which are not visible to the human eye, allowing users to identify attacks before they happen. Snode, and the Guardian platform’s, unique approach to cybersecurity leverages advanced mathematical algorithms and the power of machine learning to process dynamic data, regardless of format, at scale, and in real-time.  The Guardian platform passively monitors all activity on the network and provides organisations with a “single source of truth” by seamlessly integrating into their network and providing them with a consolidated, interactive dashboard coupled with contextual alerting that enables analysts to proactively respond to all threats. Its target audience is varied, but its ability to passively defend infrastructure, without affecting critical business operations, has made it attractive to mining, logistics and telecommunication businesses. Over the next 2–3 years, Snode hopes to scale to the rest of Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East, and says winning the MEST Africa Challenge finals “gives us the platform to access new African markets, build brand awareness and trust across the continent.”

#SS19Hack underway at Security Summit 2019

May 28, 2019

Author: ITWeb With the first day of ITWeb’s 2019 Security Summit underway at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, 50 young tech enthusiasts are participating in this years’ Hackathon event sponsored by PwC. The hackathon, held by ITWeb in conjunction with ICT skills development company Geekulcha and Snode Technologies, aims to nurture individuals who are keen to develop their skills through learning and innovation, and who have a passion for cyber security.  Running for the third time alongside the summit, this year’s hackathon is themed ‘Protecting connected citizens in the 4IR’.  Aptly called #SS19hack, the hackathon has participants as young as 13 participating and engaging with industry leaders. Lerouro Mogeora, aged 13, is the youngest participant this year, while for 14-year old Sifiso Nkabinde this is the second year at the event. Those participating range from high school pupils to students from the Vaal University, the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of the Witwatersrand.  There are 13 teams hacking it out, creating secure IoT applications. As they code, they need to identify at least three vulnerabilities within their applications utilising OWASP, an open source cyber security platform for checking common vulnerabilities. OWASP also has tools to assist the coders in improving the security of their software. A week ago, at a similar hackathon event in Kimberly, eight teams were competing, with the winning team there creating a solution that provides encrypted file share and messaging applications for government ministries. The top three teams from the event will also have their projects judged alongside those in Johannesburg. The overall winning team from the two Hackathons will win R20 000 sponsored by Micro Focus, with the second and third placed teams winning R10 000 and R5 000 respectively, courtesy of MTN.  An added bonus for the top team in Johannesburg is that they will be awarded the Tshimologong Precinct Security Summit Hackathon trophy.  The #SS19hack continues during the second day of the ITWeb Security Summit 2019. Mentors Ivan Regasek, CEO, ITWebRidewaan Hanslo, CSIR Steve Jump, TelkomSolomon Bhala, PwCBernard Mashala, Transet Nithen Naidoo, SnodeFrancois Mouton, CyanreIcconies Ramatsakane, PwCGift Nyembe, PwCMarco Loots, PwCMichael van Rensburg, SnodeTsholofelo Rantao, PwCThulisile Dlamini, Ikusasa Tech Solutions  Panel of judges Doreen Mokoena, ZADNALucy Motsieloa, PwCSeth Robbertse, Micro FocusKendal Makgamathe, TshimologongSorene Assefa, Cyber Czar       

Freshworks Networking Meet – Consumerisation of IT

May 23, 2019

On Thursday 23 May 2019, we attended the Freshworks Networking Meet talking about the impact of an increasingly connected world. In 2019, the influence of IoT, cloud, and BYOD have a dramatic impact, not only in our personal lives, but also in the world of business. It is crucial that organisations shift their thinking from a historic view of cybersecurity as a “grudge purchase” to something that is vital to the running of your organisation, is crucial for success and can often win battles in the boardroom. Our Founder and CEO, Nithen Naidoo, spoke about the changes we have seen in our client environments, especially with the workforce becoming increasingly dominated by millennials who expect to be connected at all times. Unlike traditional antivirus software, DLPs and firewalls, the Guardian platform is able to detect even the smallest changes in your networked environment and provides organisations with an unprecedented level of visibility and control of their network. It allows businesses across the globe to identify and prevent potential data exfiltration, malware infections and avoid catastrophic ransomware attacks such as the well-known Wannacry malware. Once the floor was opened for questions, the audience raised concerns around how secure (1) Mac vs Windows Operating Systems are and (2) mobile vs desktop platforms, with a mention of the recent Huawei-Google ban. The long and short of it is that there is no one platform that is more or less secure than another, every system contains some form of vulnerability and can be exploited just as easily, the question comes in around what is most lucrative for the attacker. The myth of a Mac being more secure than a Windows PC is largely due to the fact that there are simply more Windows PCs out there and most organisations across the globe make use of Windows Operating Systems as the norm. Attackers, like businesses, often focus on ROI and will always focus their attention on where they believe they can have the greatest impact. When it comes to the mobile industry, mobile malware is growing at a rapid rate and often mobile devices are a greater concern than laptop or desktop devices as many users often blindly accept permissions on all their applications and are generally more trusting when it comes to a potentially “life-changing” application that appears on the app store. This poses a particular risk to organisations as these devices are often brought into the office and are connecting to the corporate network, allowing the malware to spread though the network and impact the business productivity and reputation. Following Naidoo’s keynote, we joined a panel discussion chatting about creating a balance between organisational productivity and enterprise security in the age of consumerisation. Naidoo was joined by Darren Bilse (Systems and Technology Manager at Spark Schools), Andre Fredericks (CIO at Indie Sanlam) and Greg Lock (Senior Solution Architect at ITEC South Africa); moderating the panel was Saurabh Prabhuzantye (Business Head – MEA at Freshworks). Topics covered in the panel covered everything from how consumerisation of IT has impacted the organisations for which the panellists’ work, to how migration to the cloud has brought both benefits and challenges to IT heads and CIOs around the world, to understanding what you are buying and whether or not it suits your organisation and the needs of your team on the ground; real world problems facing real world organisations. The meet was a great information and knowledge sharing platform, allowing vendors and customers alike to openly share their opinions and experiences and to leverage off of the combined knowledge of South African and global IT professionals.  We would like to thank the Freshworks team for inviting us to participate in this event and look forward to working with them in the future!

“Electricfish” – The latest malware from North Korea’s Hidden Cobra government hacking crew.

May 10, 2019

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have issued a joint Malware Analysis Report (AR19-129A) on a new malware variant used by the North Korean government. This malware was detected while tracking the malicious activities of the North Korean-backed hacking group Hidden Cobra (also known as Lazarus) and has been identified as Electricfish. Lazarus Group is a cybercrime group made up of an unknown number of individuals. While not much is known about the Lazarus Group, researchers have attributed many cyberattacks to them over the last decade. A notable attack by the group is the attack on Sony Pictures in 2014, which was the start to one of the largest corporate breaches in recent history. The hackers were able to cripple the Sony network for several days and gain access to valuable insider information including previously unreleased films and the personal information of approximately 4,000 past and present employees. The group was also able to access internal emails and reveal some very speculative practices going on at Sony.  This latest report on Electricfish, published on the US-CERT website, comes with a detailed analysis of one malicious 32-bit executable file found to be infected with Lazarus' Electricfish malware. In this file, the malware appears to implement a custom protocol that creates a connection between the infected host and an external, malicious, destination host, bypassing authentication controls to reach outside of the network. Once a connection has been established, the Electricfish malware is able to funnel internet traffic between the two machines allowing the malicious actors to funnel information collected from compromised computers to servers that they control. The full, detailed report and analysis for the Electricfish malware sample as well as a full list of Indicators of Compromise (IoC’s) are available within the AR19-129A advisory.

Videos

Nithen Naidoo on South African start-up Snode’s use of Big Data analytics for Cybersecurity

February 26, 2018

Nithen Naidoo, Founder and CIO, Snode talks about: what the company does and how; how Snode Guardian can identify cyber-attacks; how the company has been funded; and future plans.

PHP Meetup (16 Jan 2018) – Part 2

February 15, 2018

The second in a series of videos from the PHP Meetup event hosted at the Hello Group on 16 January 2018.

PHP Meetup (16 Jan 2018) – Part 1

January 25, 2018

The first in a series of videos from the PHP Meetup event hosted at the Hello Group on 16 January 2018.

Snode | Who We Are

September 8, 2017

Snode is a data analytics platform that is designed to make the lives of whomever uses it easier, to assist in solving problems that were previously thought impossible, and to ultimately make a fundamental difference in the world as we know it.