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Snode launches in SA

October 27, 2016

Source: ITWeb Africa   UK-based cyber-intelligence company Snode has launched in South Africa, aiming to use its advanced technology to secure businesses, especially in the banking sector. Snode uses advanced mathematical algorithms, the processing power of learning machines, and predictive analytics to provide businesses with real-time intelligence and insights into behavioural patterns that help identify and combat cyber-threats before they occur. The company's cyber-intelligence solution looks to help clients proactively manage their cybersecurity posture, with Snode saying this empowers businesses to be driven forward through embracing emerging technologies. A team of 12 consultants with extensive cybersecurity expertise and experience is spread across Snode's offices in Johannesburg and London, with the company advising on cybersecurity matters across various sectors, particularly financial services but also mining, professional services and aerospace. "Snode's application in cybersecurity leverages years of expertise in cyber-intelligence and mathematics," said Nithen Naidoo, CIO at Snode. "The company believes it provides a much needed service in South Africa; cybercriminals are now, more than ever, turning their attention to emerging markets which they perceive to be easy, yet lucrative, targets." Snode uses Intelligence Amplification (IA), combining machine learning with human experience and insight. This differs from Artificial Intelligence AI), which aspires to replace human involvement altogether. The company's focus in South Africa will be the banking sector, which it says is particularly vulnerable in emerging markets, as evidenced by the recent increase in SWIFT attacks. Cyberattacks frequently come from advanced and highly motivated crime syndicates which are dispersed globally, with the company saying equally sophisticated methods are needed to combat it. "Snode believes that a more proactive and innovative approach to cybersecurity is needed. South Africa is already in the midst of a cybersecurity storm," Naidoo said. "Snode brings existing security controls into a next-generation cyber-defence, capable of defeating today's sophisticated and dynamic attackers." He said data is the core of any business, and therefore it is of the utmost importance to effectively secure information and protect it against cyber-threats. "Snode tips the balance in cyber-warfare, to favour the defenders and root-out the attackers. Passively monitoring massive amounts of data traversing client networks, giving Snode a comprehensive view of all activities. It detects and reports suspicious behavioural patterns, as well as various anomalies, in real-time. No conventional solution does this," said Naidoo.

SA made software Snode is always learning how to protect your network

October 26, 2016

Source: htxt.africa   A new firm offering a cyber security solution unlike anything we’ve seen before launched in South Africa today. The firm’s name is Snode and its claim to fame is a piece of software that monitors a network looking for malicious traffic, intrusions and other cyber threats and. On the surface, Snode – the name of the firm and its software – appears to be another firewall product but after attending a fairly length launch earlier this morning we can confirm that Snode is not a firewall, but rather something more advanced. The software uses machine learning and mathematical algorithms to alert businesses to possible threats on its network. What sets Snode apart from a standard firewall is that it is constantly looking for patterns in behaviour. For instance: if an employee starts accessing a folder on a file server that they’ve never accessed before, and they begin to pull down large amounts of data, a regular firewall might not flag that as a potential risk. But Snode would. This is because software such as a firewall looks at potential risks in a vacuum, but Snode is constantly looking for patterns in the data it receives whether it be from a user or an attacker attempting to kick down the door. As the firm points out, companies aren’t exactly plastering news of their latest hack on the front page of a newspaper. Instead, they try and keep cyber attacks secretive. This makes finding solutions particularly difficult because vital information that could prevent a similar attack on another company isn’t shared. “Cyber criminals are constantly sharing the tools and weapons they use and defenders are hesitant to talk about hacks,” Snode chief executive officer, Nadir Khamissa says. “Defenders have to juggle so many plates and constantly make sure they’re using the right techniques to fend off attacks. Attackers only need to succeed once, defenders have to successfully defend constantly.” Snode addresses this problem by sharing the information it gleens from other attacks and using what it has learned to warn the right people before its too late. As Snode founder, Nithen Naidoo explains “Traditional signature based protocols look at data in isolation. Threat intelligence helps but is retroactive, signature based protocols are reactive, Snode is proactive.” During today’s launch Naidoo showed us the difference between a firewall and their software. Naidoo started off by triggering a scan of a network using Nessus. The Nessus software, as Naidoo explains it, is designed to look for all the weak points on a network that an attacker might exploit. Snode immediately picked up that an IP address was scanning ports, the firewall sent out no alerts. Once the scan was complete Naidoo began a brute-force attack on the network. As you may know a brute-force attack constantly tries to “guess” a username and password combination until it gets it right. Snode immediately picked up Naidoo’s attack and even provided the number of guesses the brute-force programme had made. The firewall , again, detected nothing wrong on the network. “We are not saying you don’t need a firewall,” explains Naidoo. “A firewall is often unable to differentiate between a malicious login attempt and a real one, Snode provides that context.” All of this information is delivered to users in a very clean and easy to use dashboard. Where reports are often comprised of jargon entwined in more jargon, Snode presents its findings in plain English so that anybody can understand where the problems are. Snode admits that no service is hack-proof but Naidoo assures us that the data it shares within its ecosystem is encrypted. Naidoo also tells us that this software has been developed and battle tested for the last seven years and the firm seems confident in its product. Time, however, will be the great decider on whether it will be effective. But, truth be told, its an interesting approach to cyber security that we have not yet seen. And who knows, in the coming years we might be singing the praises of a small firm from South Africa that helped hundred’s of blue-chip firms prevent intrusions on their networks.

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Data Wizards’ Magic Proved Too Strong at #SS18Hack

May 25, 2018

Author: Alastair Waldeck, Head of Marketing (Snode)   One month after the successful Ideathon was held in Johannesburg CBD, the Hackathon participants gathered once again for the main event at Vodacom World in Midrand, the #SS18Hack! In total, 42 infosec aspirants from all around the country arrived for a two-day event that would test their stamina, concentration, teamwork and coding abilities to the limit! The theme of these year’s Hackathon was ‘Man vs Machine – Securing the future of business against an ever-changing threat landscape’; focusing, as the title suggests, on machine learning and creating a solution that could solve real-world security problems that continue to plague many organisations today. The 11 teams arrived early on the morning off 22 May, full of energy and motivation, and immediately started getting to work on their ideas with the guidance from their respective mentors. By the evening of the 22nd, the participants had made themselves comfortable and settled down for a long night of hard work and coding. When delegates from the Security Summit walked in the next day, the room was virtually unrecognisable; bean bags, energy drinks and snacks were scattered everywhere! The long-haul proved too much for some as they caught a quick power nap to give themselves the ability to push through the last few hours before the final presentations and judging. The participants truly had pulled out all the stops to ensure that they can keep going, keep coding, with their eyes constantly focused on the top spot! At half-past two on day two, time was up! The teams now had to pitch their ideas to the judges in the hopes that what they had manage to create was good enough to earn them a place in the winner’s circle. Each team had 6 minutes to present followed by Q&A from the judges. After all the pitches were complete, the judges went away to deliberate as the teams anxiously waited for the results. A few minutes later, it was done, the scores were tallied and the winners were known. Doreen Mokoena, Internet Governance Coordinator at .ZA Doman Name Authority had the honours of announcing the top teams. In third place was team Knowzee who presented a solution that allowed individuals to determine whether or not they were sharing too much information on their social media accounts. First and second place were neck-in-neck with the judges having to discuss long and hard in order to reach a consensus as to whom they believed should be the winner. Moringa IT, a team from Kimberley, ultimately claimed second place. Their idea was a platform that utilised the power of IoT in order to assist farmers with the irrigation of their crops by sensing the moisture levels in the soil and allowing the irrigation systems to automatically determine when and for how long the crops should get irrigated. The magic of team Data Wizards, however, proved to be too much as they claimed top spot at this year’s hackathon! Their solution was to prevent fraudulent activity in real-time at a transactional level. As a transaction occurs, each transaction would be assigned a risk score based on a several factors, this score would then determine whether or not the transaction should be accepted or declined. The winning team walked away with R20 000, followed by the second and third teams receiving R10 000 and R5 000 respectively. We would like to thank everyone who participated in the Hackathon for their hard work and dedication and for assisting in pulling off yet another successful event! Here’s to many more! The #SS18Hack was sponsored by the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Geekulcha, Snode, The Business Clinic, MTN and CISO Alliances.

Proof: SA Is First In Line For Emerging Advanced Attacks

May 21, 2018

Author: Alastair Waldeck, Head of Marketing (Snode)   In an article published by ITWeb last week, Nithen Naidoo (Snode Founder and CEO) stated that South Africa is often first in line for newly emerging, advanced attacks. Developing economies such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and South Africa are viewed as soft, and lucrative, targets by organised crime syndicates with highly advanced cyber capabilities due to the fact that they have not made the same kind of security investments as their developed nation counterparts. One of the interesting findings mentioned in the article was the increasing trend of Snode clients being affected by an old "commercial-grade" Trojan called FinSpy, which was widely reported in 2013. "The malware is not necessarily new but the attack vectors to deliver the malware are new and quite advanced. This is similar to the Terdot malware, which delivered the old Zeus Trojan.", stated Naidoo. At the same time we were detecting this type of activity within our SA client base, AlienVault’s Open Threat Exchange (OTX) reported the discovery of a new version of FinFisher, a malware that is currently evading notice and leveraging social media to threaten critics in Turkey and beyond. It is specifically coded in order to appear as simple criminal malware, however there are several forensic artefacts which provide a clear indication that the agent identified is in fact FinSpy. The most substantial change in this latest version when compared to the original FinSpy malware is the steps it has taken to address the failures that led to the original software’s discovery and acknowledgement by security researchers. FinSpy infects its targets by redirecting the user, when downloading an application, to a version of an application that is infected with the FinFisher malware. This then allows the attacker to perform several activities such as live surveillance through webcams and microphones, keylogging, and exfiltration of files. The fact that this trend of the new, emerging FinFisher malware was detected by the Snode Guardian Cybersecurity Platform at the same time as organisations abroad is proof that South Africa is indeed a prime target for new and advanced cyberattacks. The need for South African organisations to not only ensure that they have adequate security measures in place to detect, prevent and respond against these attacks but also to share their threat intelligence and disclose when and how they are being attacked, is now more crucial than ever. In this ever-changing technological landscape, organisations are forced to find new ways to increase their security posture and minimise their risk. The Snode Guardian cybersecurity platform utilises learning machines, mathematics, and a synergy between both human and artificial intelligence (Intelligence Amplification) to monitor, detect and proactively respond to all threats on every device within your network, from traditional network devices through to BYOD, cloud and IoT devices. Naidoo will be presenting at the upcoming ITWeb Security Summit, and delegates attending his talk will learn about the emerging threats we see in Snode's South African client environments, as well as the key issues affecting the majority of its South African clients. He will also discuss the defence strategies clients have used that best address these issues. The ITWeb Security Summit is southern Africa’s definitive conference and expo for information security, IT and business professionals. This year, over 70 expert speakers will deliver key insights across 7 tracks, including workshops and training courses during the expanded 5-day event. The ITWeb Security Summit will be staged at Vodacom World, Midrand, from 22 – 23 May 2018; and CTICC Cape Town on 29 May 2018. Focused and interactive workshops as well as in-depth training courses will be run in the days around the main conference and exhibition. For more information, go to www.securitysummit.co.za. For information on Security Summit Cape Town, click here.

Young Minds Prepare For #SS18 Hack

April 21, 2018

Author: Alastair Waldeck, Head of Marketing (Snode)   A group of motivated young men and women gathered in the offices of The Business Clinic in Johannesburg CBD early on Saturday morning for the 2nd Annual #SS18Hack Ideathon. The Ideathon provided these aspiring cybersecurity and IT professionals with an opportunity to meet and greet with some of the top minds in the industry as well as to learn a thing or two from the four main workshops presented on the day. The Ideathon serves as pre-selection event for the larger, main event; the #SS18 Hackathon which will be held at Vodaworld in Midrand on the 22-23 May. The day began with an introduction from Mr Lucky Litelu (Executive Chairman and CEO of ICRD GROUP) and the sponsorship team of Tiyani Ngonyama (COO, Geekulcha), Allyson Towle (Senior Conference Director, ITWeb Events) and Alastair Waldeck (Head of Marketing, Snode). Our first speaker of the day was Ridewaan Hanslo from the CSIR who gave the attendees a comprehensive overview of Web App Security by providing several examples of different types of attacks, attackers, interactive examples how to practically identify and prevent these attacks as well as how to ensure that your next application is created with security as a priority. Second up was our very own Founder and CEO, Nithen Naidoo. He provided an introduction to the AI and Infosec industry by discussing the latest tools and methods within the cybersecurity and data analytics industry as well as how to analyse vast quantities of data in real-time in order to pull various insights, detect anomalies and trends and to be able to predict and defend against ever-evolving cyberattacks. After a quick break where the guys were able to refuel, get to know one another, ask questions and discuss ideas with the presenters, sponsors and other attendees, we returned to our seats for the 3rd workshop of the day. Francois Mouton from the CSIR was up next. Francois gave us a presentation on Ethical Hacking with a focus on his speciality, social engineering. By providing us with some simple, everyday examples of how human’s inherent trust can be our own downfall, he made us realise how simple a cyberattack can really be and how our perception of a cybercriminal being a person in a hoodie hiding behind a laptop is far from the truth. Last, but certainly not least, Kimoon Kim from Siatik spoke us through the concepts of Big Data and Machine Learning. By focusing on powerful platforms that are readily available for us to use such as Google Cloud and BigQuery, the attendees discovered how to easily analyse all their data, regardless of size, in real-time. The rest of the day was spent brainstorming ideas, absorbing even more information and inspiration from the mentors and speakers, and coming up with ideas that will not only take them through to the next round in Midrand, but also to potentially win them top spot at the #SS18 Hackathon later next month! The top three teams with the ideas that showed most potential were: - Bro-Coders - CleverKleva - TechnoGeeks - A special mention went to team Nosey. We look forward to seeing everyone again in a month’s time and would like to thank all the sponsors and speakers for their involvement in making this event successful!   Sponsors for the event: Snode, ITWeb, Geekulcha, The Business Clinic, Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Re-invented Zeus malware Terdot, defied explanation, but cannot defeat detection

December 6, 2017

Author: Nithen Naidoo, Founder and CEO (Snode)   During October 2017, Snode's cybersecurity platform (Guardian) found an increasing trend in SA networks being infected by the well-known Zeus malware. Although the Zeus Trojan (discovered back in July 2007) is still considered one of the most prolific malware variants affecting the Internet today; the retro plague perplexed our analysts. The finding’s fallacy is that most (if not all) traditional anti-malware controls today can reliably defend against the Zeus malware threat. At the time, we could not explain how a 10-year-old Trojan was (as reported by our learning machine) effortlessly propagating through large SA corporate networks; unhindered and undetected. A fitting explanation was later provided courtesy of the global security technology firm, Bitdefender. Bitdefender’s researchers released a paper (mid November 2017) on the discovery of a new “Zeus inspired” Trojan, called Terdot. A surprising insight from their research is that they first discovered the Trojan in October 2016; which highlights a challenge in our machine-assisted analytics. You see, the machine-learnt Zeus malware's "pattern of behaviour" was now mimicked by Terdot. As a matter of fact, Snode's learning machine could only learn to accurately identify Terdot, by unlearning everything it knew about the Zeus malware. Hence why our learning machine is augmented by our (human) analysts as it allowed us to reliably distinguish between these two malware variants. Now, it is not often that a cybersecurity vendor will openly discuss the flaws in their machine learning and pattern recognition software. However, at Snode we do not build software, we deliver solutions (and we value transparency). This is why our machine-assisted analytics is backed by (and never delivered without) our human intelligence. Something to keep in mind, if you believe that AI-supported threat detection (neural network based pattern recognition) software will transcend your security posture to a cybersecurity nirvana, it won't, at least not yet. However, by enhancing your posture with such technology (defence in depth), you wont get trapped in a false sense of security, solely relying on the latest antivirus signatures to save you. Keep in mind that Terdot, was circulating in the wild for an entire year without signature-based detection. I would like to thank and give credit to the Bitdefender Research Labs for making the Terdot discovery. For more information, you can find the full research paper here.

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.