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Security Summit 2017 announces its first Hackathon

February 23, 2017

Source: ITWeb   ITWeb Events, ICT skills development company Geekulcha and cyber security start-up Snode are bringing the first ever hackathon to the ITWeb Security Summit 2017. #SS17HACK is now open for registration and is looking for young, talented individuals who want to develop their skills through learning and innovation, and who have a passion for information security. According to Allyson Towle, conference director from ITWeb, the hackathon is challenging disruptive innovators to build the most secure systems possible, and will also be used to explore new innovative mechanisms for the security sector.   Skills development Tiyani Nghonyama, COO of Geekulcha, says: "As far as Security Summit 2017 is concerned, Geekulcha is highly anticipating a skills development drive through the hackathon especially for intermediate developers. We want to instill a culture of consciousness in information security from both the developers and consumers/users of digital solutions." According to him, the hackathon presents the perfect opportunity to discover new talent and valuable skills capacity for various organisations. "We want to send a strong message that there is a need to invest in the collaborative economy and peer-learning platforms such as hackathons." With this in mind, various organisations have been invited to scout talent for work and collaborative opportunities at this event. Nghonyama says the hackathon is hosted against the backdrop of a need to grow skills capacity in cyber security in the country. "We believe building the momentum and equipping fresh talent with critical knowledge, and being exposed to over 500 experts in the ITWeb Security Summit, is a first step towards winning the war as intended." He says it is a collective responsibility to insure innovation capacity continues to grow but grow safely and securely. "We have outlined three key sectors, namely finance, retail and public sector, that need critical defence, and we aim to build 'digital troops' through the hackathon." There will only be 30 spots available, and those wishing to apply need to choose from a number of themes, or suggest their own idea during the registration process. As part of the event, an 'ideathon' will be held on 22 April 2017 where the various stakeholders will make their final selection.   'Must be solved' ideas The mentors and judges have selected a few 'must be solved' ideas: Financial Sector An Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive fraud detection system. Propose a model and system architecture for cheaply but safely distributing pension pay-outs to people in rural areas. Design and develop an OTP system for Internet Banking that doesn't require the use of a mobile phone. Public Sector Twitter intelligence solution. Blockchain voting system. Retail IOT cashless no-point of sale solution. Other Design and develop a system that will note whether your mobile phone is in the vicinity when you log onto your computer and deny access if it isn't.   Judging and prizes Judging for the hackathon will take place around 3pm on 17 May 2017, and the winners will be announced to the audience at around 5pm. The judges and mentors for the event include Dino Covotsos from Telspace Systems, Dr Jabu Mtsweni from the CSIR, Marc Silver from Discovery Health, Grant Thompson from MTN, Ivan Regasek from ITWeb, and Yugan Reddy from InfoGuardian. There will be a first prize of R20k, a second price of R10k and third prize of R5k. In addition, entrants stand a chance of being a recipient of one of a number of internships on offer by reputable organisations.

Analysis of #FeesMustFall tweets reveals startling trends

December 15, 2016

Source: htxt.africa   Cyber security firm Snode has taken a look at tweets sorrounding recent #FeesMustFall protests and found some incredibly interesting data. Earlier this year Snode launched a cyber security solution which uses machine learning and algorithms to detect patterns and anomalies in a network. We’ve learned that Snode is quite good at detecting patterns so the team decided to see what sort of patterns they could find while analysing tweets related to #FeesMustFall. This was done by looking at a few things namely; location of tweets and tweets using the #FeesMustFall hashtag.   So what did they find? Looking at the locations of tweets Snode found that many tweets about Wits University originated from Pretoria. This Snode says contrasted against the subject of the tweets analysed. Snode also found that users in Pretoria referenced Wits University 14 times more than the University of Pretoria. Another interesting revelation was that of those users in the capital only 3% of #FeesMustFall tweets came from users linked to the Wits University account. The vast majority of tweets referencing the institution – 94% to be precise – were sent from accounts that have political ties. This, says Snode reveals that the #FeesMustFall protests may have been adopted by social media users to draw attention away from the goals of students.   Data in pictures Snode says that by further analysing the meta-data in photos shared on Twitter there exists the potential to glean even more data such as the location the photo was taken (using GPS co-ordinates), the type of device the person was using and even a user’s real name. But it doesn’t end there according to Snode co-founder Nithen Naidoo. “There are a host of AI applications available, such as Russia’s FindFace, which allows users to scan a digital image of someone and then discover their online profile. There are therefore a number of tools on hand to benefit law enforcement as much as they do criminals,” said Naidoo. This analysis shows us that you can’t inherently trust everything you read on social media, and perhaps we should be more questioning of what we see rather than sharing something because we think it’s topical. Deep analysis of social media can also help those in positions of power make more informed decisions about what the public sentiment really is. “With regard to socially relevant topics such as the student protests, having cyber intelligence at work can assist in gleaning vital insight,” says the co-founder. “At Snode, we believe having such knowledge can not only help us understand the climate better, but also assist law enforcement and government services to predict and respond to critical events more efficiently,” Naidoo concluded.

Cyber intelligence reveals #FeesMustFall agenda

December 13, 2016

Source: gadget.co.za   Cyber intelligence and analytics specialist, Snode, recently used its tools to analyse the #FeesMustFall protest and delve deeper within Twitter, offering enriched insight beyond 140 characters. Social media platforms such as Twitter may be divisive, but its significance cannot be overlooked. Cyber intelligence and analytics specialist, Snode, believes the potential applications for social media are yet to be fully realised. “As a source of intelligence, Twitter is a valuable source of intelligence and it should be utilised by business and law enforcement. It is an open-source data-rich platform and needs to be leveraged in the best way possible,” notes CIO and co-founder of Snode, Nithen Naidoo. Using the recent #FeesMustFall protests as a case study to showcase the enriched capabilities of cyber intelligence, Snode was able to apply its analytical tools to delve deeper into the anatomy of the Tweets, and even discover that outside influencers were making an impact. The university fee protests are a hot topic of conversation in South Africa. The dialogue is been most prevalent on Twitter, where numerous messages have been exchanged under the guise of creating a discourse around the cost of tertiary education. Interestingly though, Snode’s analysts have unearthed some other key insights not obvious to most people.   Delving deeper To gain a deeper understanding of the underlying forces driving the #FeesMustFall protests, Snode analysts have fused various social media conversations to identify emerging trends associated with, and patterns of behaviour fuelling, this massive campaign. The most telling finding is that many of the tweets did not originate from the same location that the message was referencing. In particular, the majority of tweets mentioning the University of Witwatersrand were found to have been sent from Pretoria, nearly 65 kilometres away. In fact, Snode detected an anomaly in which tweets from South Africa’s capital with the #FeesMustFall hashtag referenced Wits 14 times more than they did in their own city’s university protest. Accompanying this anomaly was the fact that only 3% of #FeesMustFall tweets came from users linked to the @WitsUniversity handle, as opposed to a staggering total of 94% from politically affiliated Twitter accounts. According to Naidoo, it can be inferred that there was another agenda being played out, and the #FeesMustFall protests are being abused by some social media users to draw attention to other topics, ultimately misrepresenting the true aim of students.   True potential While the potential for social media to be misused by a small percentage of users, Snode says that victims of crime and law enforcement have the ability to fight back. The company’s real time processing for example, can dissect a myriad of information contained within a Tweet, including a Twitter user’s (real) name, origin of the Tweet (longitude and latitude), device type (iPhone or Android), and place of residence (e.g. city or hometown). “If users share an image on Twitter for example, the metadata contained within that photo can offer us a wide ranging array of insights,” says Naidoo. “There are a host of AI applications available, such as Russia’s FindFace, which allows users to scan a digital image of someone and then discover their online profile. There are therefore a number of tools on hand to benefit law enforcement as much as they do criminals,” he continued. In the right hands, this kind of machine assisted analytics can empower social media platforms such as Twitter to help make data-driven decisions, notes Naidoo. In the US, a number of American agencies are already using deep analysis within Twitter to track down dissidents, according to Saudi scientist Hala Al-Dosari in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “South Africa needs to use available technology correctly, especially when it comes to tackling issues like crime within the country. With regard to socially relevant topics such as the student protests, having cyber intelligence at work can assist in gleaning vital insight. At Snode, we believe having such knowledge can not only help us understand the climate better, but also assist law enforcement and government services to predict and respond to critical events more efficiently,” says Naidoo.

SA start-up Snode steps up war on cyber crooks

November 23, 2016

Source: TechCentral   One of the biggest problems with identifying cybersecurity breaches is knowing that they happened at all. Too often, attackers breach companies’ defences and remain undetected — until it’s too late. A new South African start-up, Snode, incubated by fast-growing South African fintech company Hello Group but now spun off as its own business, has developed a solution that it believes will help IT departments identify suspicious behaviour as it’s happening, even when traditional security measures like firewalls fail to stop intruders. Snode, which was founded by cybersecurity expert Nithen Naidoo, has developed technology that alerts companies to the tell-tale signs that a cyberattack might be about to take place. “If you are looking for fraud only at the point where it occurred, you will always be reactive,” Naidoo said. “But if you can predict the fraud by looking at precursor patterns, you can prevent it and become proactive in your response.” Hello Group CEO Nadir Khamissa said Naidoo became involved with the company about 10 years ago to help it root out cybersecurity breaches and shore up its cyber defences. He became even more involved as the company moved into mobile money transfer with Hello Paisa. Hello Group, which has provided venture capital funding to Snode, needed something beyond basic firewall and signature (username and password) security mechanisms. “We needed something to understand patterns of behaviour, which is something we could not buy.” Naidoo built technologies that passively “sniff” all of a company’s network data, differentiating between different types of traffic going through the network in real time using “deep-packet inspection”. "The technology is “aware” of the start and end point of every packet of data, both internal and external," Khamissa said. “This is imperative to be able to understand patterns of behaviour. This enormous volume of data gets put into machine-learning algorithms that understand the patterns and is then overlaid with the expected or traditional behaviour of a user to identify anomalies.” The problem with most security solutions is the analyst interface “turns into a Christmas tree” of alerts — most of them false alarms — defeating the purpose, he said. “We have invested in pattern-recognition technologies to avoid these false positives. Snode understands patterns of behaviour and eliminates those.” Snode, Khamissa said, doesn’t replace firewalls and username-and-password-based security mechanisms. Rather, it is a layer on top of those solutions to help companies understand and identify behaviour and vulnerabilities. “Snode at its core uses mathematics to detect anomalies and patterns in any type of data from any source and understand the behavioural patterns of normal behaviour from abnormal behaviour,” explained Naidoo. “Just your presence on the network leaves a trace and affects the network in a certain way. Snode understands your systems environment and it has a signature for it. It identifies any stray from what it deems normal behaviour.At some point in the early stage of a cyberattack, there would have to be some form of reconnaissance. Snode actively looks for this, whether it’s a hacker doing a port scan, or an employee accessing a system they don’t normally access,” he said. “It does this in real time, with in-flight analytics.” Although Snode can’t analyse encrypted network traffic, it can still pick up anomalies. “If my encrypted channel suddenly does 2GB of traffic at 2am, that’s an anomaly. Sure, you can mask your identity in various ways, but no matter you do, you are going to influence the system.” Khamissa said Snode uses machine-learning algorithms to augment human efforts to defend digital networks. “The good guys are completely outgunned in the cyberwar. Attackers are highly motivated and mechanised. In the defence, you typically have a junior guy in IT patching servers, looking at endless alerts. To notch up your defence capabilities, you need something like Snode to augment the defenders of your networks.” After developing the solution inside Hello Group for many years, it has now been “productised” to be sold to other companies. Snode has run the solution in various iterations with PricewaterhouseCoopers over the past three years. PwC will now take the product to market as the company’s first reseller partner. It also has customers in South Africa, Nigeria, the UK and Australia. “Our focus is really on South Africa for now, but we have been getting a lot of requests from abroad,” said Khamissa. The key industry it intends focusing on is financial services, he said.

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#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.

#SS19Hack Ideathon young developers aim to protect connected citizens

April 11, 2019

Author: ITWeb Africa "Intriguingly challenging," is how one student described ITWeb's 2019 #SS19Hack Ideathon, held at the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein this past weekend. The ideathon is a build-up to the third annual cyber security-focused hackathon that will run alongside ITWeb Security Summit 2019 from 27 to 31 May. Organised by ITWeb in partnership with Snode Technologies and Geekulcha, the full-day software development training and brainstorming event hosted a bunch of young tech enthusiasts eager to learn new skills and solve problems. Mixo Ngoveni, founder of Geekulcha, told ITWeb the aim of the #SS19Hack Ideathon, and ultimately the hackathon in May, is to improve cyber security skills, tools and capabilities in the country. "With this one in particular, it is all about protecting the connected citizen." Those in attendance (students, tech entrepreneurs, software and hardware developers, designers and analysts) were welcomed by Kendal Makgamathe, community manager at Tshimologong, and Ivan Regasek, ITWeb CEO. The participants were separated into two teams: the red team (the attackers) and the blue team (the defence). Nithen Naidoo, founder and CEO of Snode Technologies, said the idea behind breaking the teams into two was about the "gamification" concepts, and making it more exciting for both the players and supporters. Ridewaan Hanslo, software engineer, advisor and researcher at CSIR, told the blue team: "You are the people that must find solutions. They [hackers] get glorified by finding problems; that's typically how it works." Steve Jump, head of corporate information security governance at Telkom, was one of the mentors and spoke to students about the importance of "securing by design" when writing software. Solomon Bhala, senior manager of cyber threat detection and response at PwC, gave a detailed credit card fraud presentation that had teams actively participating and asking questions around cyber attacks and credit card fraud. Naidoo noted Snode is working with PwC and a few large security companies to offer all the participants three-month internships so they can take the skills they have learned at the #SS19Hack Ideathon and implement them. They would get to work with knowledgeable cyber security teams, get paid, and potentially become full-time employees of those companies. "So it is a great opportunity not just for us to nurture talent but to source it for other cyber security companies."

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.