No need for trenches in cyber-warfare, when all you need is a computer

Cyber warfare doesn't need anything more complex than a laptop and a power source. (Shutterstock/File)
Updated 12 February 2019
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No need for trenches in cyber-warfare, when all you need is a computer

  • Estimates put the cost of cyber attacks at $575 bln
  • Conference told cyber warfare impacts the very fabric of society

DUBAI: Cyber-warfare allows anyone to hack and take over billboards, television stations and even speeches far from where the conflict is and from the comfort of their own homes, warned information security researcher and analyst Rodrigo Bijou on Tuesday.

“Cyberfare goes beyond just hacking a few computers and systems, it is the manipulation of the very fabric of society, online and offline,” Bijou told audience members at a packed hall Dubai’s World Government Summit.

“Maintaining cybersecurity is a necessity because it goes beyond simple piracy to manipulation of the fabric of society.”

Organizations operating in the Middle East – including media – have been targeted in cyberattacks so sophisticated and so big that they could only have been by governments or agencies operating on their behalf.

In 2018 the British government estimated the global cost of cyber attacks ranged from a “conservative” $375 bln to a top end of $575 bln.

Costs come as a result of a multitude of reasons: media company websites are taken over, bank accounts emptied, sensitive information stolen and leaked, or websites are simply disabled in malicious attacks.

None of these examples are good for any organization or government, but for smaller companies without the back up of highly experienced technical teams it can be crippling.    

Bijou spoke of the need for governments worldwide to be wary of “digital vulnerabilities” in order to stay ahead of hackers.

“We can change the dynamics of cyber-warfare through a global collaborative approach, turning hacking into a force for the betterment of humanity,” he said, adding that “Government must design cybersecurity strategies and ensure cyber resilience and work on unified cyber strategies operating in a single system to take care of any digital imbalance in order to confront piracy.”

Also speaking on the third and last day of the World Government Summit in Dubai was Facebook’s policy manager for Europe and MENA on counterterrorism and countering violent extremism, Erin Marie Saltman.

“We must fight the rhetoric of extremism and hatred that is spread through extremist content and calculations,” she said, adding that governments and companies “must constantly conduct objective analysis in the cyber world to challenge the threat of terrorism and extremism.”

“There are penetrating accounts and hate speech, so we must urge governments to do more to address this phenomenon that is spreading in the cyber world,” she said.

Saltman urged both governments and powerful companies to work together to counter these rhetorics.

“We must work together to create a digital fingerprint that contributes to creating a digital society to counter extremism,” she said.


Samsung announces folding phone with 5G — at nearly $2,000

Updated 37 min 25 sec ago
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Samsung announces folding phone with 5G — at nearly $2,000

  • The device looks similar to a conventional smartphone, but then opens like a book to reveal a display the size of a small tablet
  • Samsung is also making improvements to its flagship Galaxy S devices and plans to offer a 4G version of its folding phone
SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. on Wednesday unveiled a nearly $2,000 folding smartphone in a bid to top the technology of Apple Inc. and Chinese rivals and reignite consumer interest amid slumping sales.
The Galaxy Fold will go on sale on April 26 and take advantage of new and faster 5G mobile networks. The device looks similar to a conventional smartphone, but then opens like a book to reveal a display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).
The device “answers skeptics who said that everything that could be done has been done,” DJ Koh, chief executive of Samsung Electronics, said at an event in San Francisco. “We are here to prove them wrong.”
Samsung remains the world’s largest smartphone maker with nearly a fifth of global unit sales but underperformed a slumping market last year. Chinese rival Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. — whose Mate series of phones also command premium prices — gained market share. Other Chinese makers like Xiaomi Corp. have also been increasing prices, leaving Samsung to defend its turf against upstart rivals in addition to its longtime foe Apple.
With the foldable phone, Samsung is going on the offense on two fronts in the smartphone race: It is offering an eye-catching new feature with the big, bending screen and the first 5G connection in a premium phone, a feature analysts do not expect Apple to match until 2020.
Samsung is also making improvements to its flagship Galaxy S devices and plans to offer a 4G version of its folding phone.
It also challenges the notion of what a phone can cost, debuting at nearly twice the price of current top-of-the-line models from Apple and Samsung itself.
Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the new folding device could help Samsung stay at the top and lure consumers to upgrade devices that have looked largely the same over the past five years.
“Samsung and Apple go back and forth” to lead the premium smartphone market, Moorhead said. “I think this is Samsung’s chance to take back the innovation crown.”
And even though the $1,980 starting price is steep, some dedicated Samsung fans said they would pay it. Navneet Kumar Singh, a Samsung enthusiast from India who traveled to San Francisco to watch the launch, is ready to place his order.
“The prices of the flagship models have been a little aggressive in India,” he said, “But in the end, if you invest the money you’re getting a different experience.”
Samsung also introduced several accessories to compete against Apple, including a pair of wireless headphones called Galaxy Buds. The headphones include wireless charging, a feature that Apple has promised to put into is competing AirPods but has not yet released.
Samsung also said that its new Galaxy phones will be able to wirelessly charge its headphones and new smartwatches by setting the accessories on the back of the phone.

10 times faster
Along with the folding phone, Samsung also added new cameras and a 5G version to its Galaxy series of phones.
Verizon Communications Inc. will be the first carrier to offer service for Samsung’s 5G phones. The networks are expected to be 10 times faster than current ones, improving viewing of live news and sports events.
With the 5G versions of its flagships, the Korean electronics maker looks to have beaten Chinese rivals in the 5G race, although the device will operate only on the small number of networks launching later this year. Apple is not expected to release a 5G smartphone until late 2020.
The new networks are not available in many places yet but will roll out this year and next. Consumers who want to hold on to their phones for several years before upgrading may be tempted to buy a 5G phone now so that it will be able to take advantage of those networks later, said Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research. That could sway some Apple buyers over to Samsung and other Android makers with 5G devices.
“People are going to be thinking about, am going to be able to use this a year from now? Two years from now? Three years?” he said.
Rival smartphone makers are expected to announce 5G models at next week’s Mobile World Congress, the industry’s top annual event, in Spain. Samsung said its 5G handset would be available in the early summer.
The Galaxy 10 series needs to appeal to consumers who are reluctant to upgrade for only incremental technological improvements in performance.
All of the Galaxy series of rigid phones except the 5G will be available from March 8, with the S10+ priced from $1,000, the S10 priced from $900 and the smaller S10e from $750.
The mainline S10 compares with $999 for Apple’s iPhone XS and $858 for Huawei’s premium Mate 20 Pro.