Bits + Bytes: A Miscellany of Technology

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on July 25, 2022 - July 31, 2022.
Bits + Bytes: A Miscellany of Technology
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NEWS

Cybercriminals scam Stranger Things series fans

Taking advantage of the newly-released fourth season of the highly-anticipated Netflix series, Stranger Things, some cybercriminals have scammed users by enticing them with an offer to watch the new episodes ahead of time at just US$1 (RM4.45).

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky detected scams that were leveraging the thriller drama series.

To access the offer, users were asked to register a new account and enter their personal information, including address and bank details. Using that information, fraudsters then drained victims’ ewallets without granting them access to their favourite series as promised.

Kaspersky also detected spam emails used to sell products of dubious quality that were spread through promotional emails without the recipient’s consent.

For example, in one of the spam emails, users were given the opportunity to buy limited-edition graphic T-shirts related to the new season of Stranger Things. The site supported all languages and currencies for payment. It may not necessarily be a phishing page, but the fact that the ads for these products were promoted through spam and the domain itself was only recently created raises suspicions about the safety of buying from the page.

To avoid falling victim to such scams, Kaspersky recommends that users check the authenticity of links and websites before sharing personal data, and to be wary of odd file extension formats such as .exe and .msi.

The company also recommends installing a reliable security solution such as the Kaspersky Security Cloud that identifies malicious attachments and block phishing sites.

Touch ’n Go eWallet and PayNet kick off ‘Mai Kita Cashless’ campaign

Touch ’n Go Group via Touch ’n Go eWallet, together with Payment Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PayNet), have launched the “Mai Kita Cashless” campaign for the benefit of merchants at Pasar Tani Kekal in Changlun, Kedah. Changlun is located approximately 42km from Alor Setar in the Kubang Pasu district. The campaign focuses on the communities in three villages within the area of Changlun: Kampung Baru Changloon, Kampung Paya Nongmi and Kampung Tradisi Lembah Keriang. The objective is to educate and enhance the villagers’ understanding of cashless transactions as a mode of payment.

There are more than 300 merchants at Pasar Tani Kekal and the surrounding areas. The “Mai Kita Cashless” campaign aims to encourage these traders to switch their business operations strategy to Touch ’n Go eWallet and DuitNow QR as the primary mode of payment for convenience.

From now till Aug 31, shoppers who use their Touch ’n Go eWallet for purchases at Pasar Tani Kekal will enjoy a RM5 cashback for a minimum transaction of RM10. Merchants who sign up within this period will get a RM20 reward upon completion of 10 transactions.

The “Mai Kita Cashless” campaign ends on Dec 31.

Vleppo and Tokel launch blockchain contract management system

Denmark-based blockchain business company, Vleppo, has developed a blockchain contract management system (CMS) that enables non-fungible token (NFT) owners to create a digital contract by embedding their NFTs on-chain directly into the blockchain record of the same digital contract.

On-chain refers to a blockchain-based identity system that identifies individuals and organisations, allowing them to enforce compliance and access digital assets.

Smart contracts are tied to a NFT to prove ownership and agreement, but they are often dismissed by traditional regulations.

In order for a contract to be legally enforceable by law, it needs to fully satisfy five elements: offer; acceptance; consideration; capacity of the parties to contract; and, an intention between parties to create and be bound by legal relations.

However, smart contracts are not able to definitively prove that all the abovementioned elements have been met. Therefore, most smart contracts are often accompanied by a separate traditional contract in the real world to authenticate agreements and ownerships.

To solve that, the Vleppo CMS provides users with easy and affordable access to payments, escrow and blockchain-governed dispute resolution — essentially everything needed to execute and resolve contracts.

Additionally, as it is built based on the Komodo Protocol blockchain’s superior design and lack of reliance on “gas-style” transaction fees, the Vleppo CMS can also accommodate even the highly complex contractual agreements in an affordable and efficient way.

The Vleppo CMS system is able to deliver legal enforceability enhancement to NFT owners across all blockchain systems including Ethereum, Polygon, Solana or any other blockchain.

New banking malware, MaliBot, poses danger for users of mobile banking

Cyber threat intelligence company Check Point reported that a new Android banking malware, MaliBot, has taken third place among the most prevalent mobile malwares in June after it emerged following the takedown of FluBot at the end of May.

MaliBot disguises itself as cryptocurrency mining apps under different names and targets users of mobile banking to steal financial information. Similar to FluBot, MaliBot uses phishing SMS messages (smishing) to lure victims into clicking on a malicious link that redirects them to the download of a fake app containing the malware.

Check Point Research added that for July, Emotet, another notorious malware, is still the most prevalent malware overall. Snake Keylogger comes in third after an increase in activity since appearing in eighth place in May.

Snake Keylogger’s main functionality is to record users’ keystrokes and transmit collected data to threat actors. In May, Check Point found that Snake Keylogger was being delivered via PDF files but now it has been spread through emails containing Word attachments tagged as requests for quotations.

Its researchers also reported a new variant of Emotet in June that has credit card stealing capabilities and targets Chrome browser users.

Mobiles are not excluded from threats too. AlienBot is the most prevalent mobile malware, followed by Anubis and MaliBot. The AlienBot malware family is a malware-as-a-service (Maas) software for Android devices that allows a remote attacker to inject malicious code into legitimate financial applications. The attacker then obtains access to victims’ accounts, and eventually completely controls the device.

Furthermore, the report stated that the education and research field is the top attacked industry globally, followed by government or military and healthcare.

The report also revealed that the “Apache Log4j Remote Code Execution” is the most commonly exploited vulnerability, affecting 43% of organisations worldwide, closely followed by “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” which has a global impact of 42.3%, and “Web Servers Malicious URL Directory Traversal” with a global impact of 42.1%.

 

COMPETITIONS & GRANTS

ScaleUp Malaysia kickstarts Cohort 2022

After wrapping up the third cohort in March, local start-up accelerator ScaleUp Malaysia has announced the registration opening for its Cohort 2022 that is scheduled to commence in the last quarter of the year.

It has also increased its investments in successful start-ups to US$100,000 (RM440,000), making ScaleUp Malaysia the largest benefactor of Southeast Asian accelerator programmes. Ten start-ups will be chosen to receive the grant at the end of the programme.

Combining accelerator and post-investment programmes under one cohort, ScaleUp Malaysia prepares start-ups for fundraising through a one-month bootcamp and 24 months’ access to an external management team of C-suite positions, among other benefits from its extensive network.

Registration for ScaleUp Malaysia’s Cohort 2022 ends Aug 31. For more information, visit www.scaleup.my/cohort-2022

 

PEOPLE MOVES

Gaurav Kapoor and Prasad Sabbineni are MetricStream’s new co-CEOs

MetricStream, an integrated risk management (IRM) and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) firm, has appointed Gaurav Kapoor and Prasad Sabbineni as co-CEOs.

Kapoor, the co-founder of MetricStream, previously served as chief operating officer and oversaw the overall strategy, marketing, sales, partners, customer success and support of the company. Before that, he was its chief financial officer until 2010. He also brings nearly a decade of international operating experience from Citi and other organisations, apart from serving as an adviser for other Silicon Valley tech companies.

Sabbineni recently served as the chief technology officer before assuming the role as co-CEO. Prior to joining MetricStream, he was a senior technology executive for 13 years at Citigroup. He brings over 25 years of experience from the financial services industry.

Palo Alto Networks appoints Steven Scheurmann as regional vice president

Steven Scheurmann joins Palo Alto Networks, a global cybersecurity platform, as its regional vice president for Asean. He will spearhead the business in the region including driving revenue growth, market momentum and building overall strategy.

With his expertise in technology, digital transformation and cloud adoption, Schuermann has assisted public and private sectors with their investments. He previously served in senior positions with several multinational corporations and also taught at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School.

Matt Hicks is Red Hat’s new president and CEO

Red Hat has appointed Matt Hicks, who previously served as its executive vice president of product and technologies, as its president and CEO. Since starting at the company in 2006, Hicks has helped Red Hat cement itself as the open hybrid cloud technology leader. He was also a vital member of the engineering team that developed Red Hat OpenShift, and has remained at the vanguard of hybrid cloud computing and product strategy since then.

Hicks brings 25 years of experience in computer engineering, industry vision and business acumen. He is well acknowledged for his work with clients and partners in solving IT challenges through open source innovation.

 

EVENTS

Celebrating life at 50 with Amazing Seniors platform

At the age of 50, many are bombarded with questions about life after retirement. With the Amazing Seniors interactive mobile platform, senior citizens will be able to connect and enjoy curated information, deals and be part of community events around them.

Set to be launched this October in conjunction with the International Day of Older Persons (which is observed on Oct 1 yearly), the mobile app is envisioned to encourage social productivity and promote the well-being of those above 50 years.

Currently, seniors can access similar content via the Amazing Seniors website (www.amazingseniors.my) launched last November. The website’s content ranges from lifestyle and financial literacy to travelling to help seniors keep their minds active.

The app will be launched at the “Life Begins At 50: Celebration 2022” event scheduled for Sept 30 to Oct 2 at the Atria Shopping Gallery in Petaling Jaya.

The three-day event will celebrate, acknowledge and appreciate the value of older adults and their contributions to society.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Revamping physiotherapy with robotics

Physiotherapy is becoming increasingly prevalent not only to treat illnesses, disability or injuries, but also to address issues that affect our mobility due to sedentary lifestyles.

Keeogo Robotic Training Centre (RTC) is reimagining physiotherapy and rehabilitation through the use of robotics. Established together with B-Temia Asia, Wistron Medical and Rehabotics Medtech, Keeogo RTC mainly uses rehabilitative technology to reach stroke and neurologically injured patients.

These technologies include two assistive devices mainly for lower limbs and hands, which therapists use to trigger the patient’s motor skills, enhance the brain’s neuroplasticity and improve the recovery rate.

The lower limb Keeogo device was designed using Dermoskeleton technology, which is the application of motorised assistance and the study between the human body and its environment. It comes in the form of a wearable exoskeletal frame that weighs 6.8kg and works on improving lower limb mobility. The device is connected to a tablet or an iPad and will be monitored by the therapist for each session. Patients’ activities and sessions can be tailored according to the severity of their condition.

Another signature device is the Mirror Hand, a wearable exoskeleton hand developed for those with neuromuscular disorders and diseases that cause permanent loss of hand functions.

The wearable device comes with three main components: the exoskeletal hand, sensor glove and a control box. Both the hand and sensor glove will be connected to the control box and a therapist will operate the box while guiding the patient during the session.

Robotic Therapy at the RTC starts from RM280 per session.

 

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Eclimo launches micro-mobility foodtruck 

Green technology start-up Eclimo Sdn Bhd has launched the EclimoES11, an electric motorbike mobile food “truck”.

Unlike the normal e-motorbike, the EclimoES11 is scaled up to include a customised carrier bag that is powered by the bike’s nano-structured battery monitoring system (BMS) to heat up a grill or stove. Additionally, it doubles as a power source for a generator if the owner opts to open a roadside stall or serve food at events.

The BMS is designed to send out alerts when the battery voltage drops, and also comes with a tracking and geo-fencing system that can be controlled via a mobile app. One full charge lets owners travel up to 100km and save up to 7kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

According to Eclimo’s executive director Datuk Dennis Chuah, the company currently has 25 customised motorbikes that are rented out at between RM20 and RM30 per day. Eclimo expects to increase the fleet to 100 motorbikes before year end.

 

TECH BOOKS

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell

In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring field guide to dropping out of the attention economy, artist and critic Jenny Odell shows us how we can still win back our lives.

Odell sees our attention as the most precious — and overdrawn — resource we have. And, we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important, but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.

Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely and utterly persuasive, this book will change how you see your place in our world. — Amazon

 

TAKE FIVE

Art game for art fans to get in on Wordle hype

Art aficionados can rejoice in the knowledge that the National Gallery of Art has launched a similar version of the popular web-based game, Wordle, where art fans can put their knowledge to the test by identifying any of the 150,000 pieces housed by the gallery.

Players of the game, Artle, are shown a piece of art — which could be a painting, photograph or sculpture — where they have four chances to guess the artist. However, unlike Wordle, players receive no hints, although the subject does become increasingly easier as they strike out every one of their four chances. Winners can brag about their conquest on social media or share their results with friends through text messages.

Steve Garbarino, a product manager at the gallery, created the game after noticing people were searching for “Art Wordle” online. Taking a little more than a month to build the game, Garbarino’s Artle has built a fanbase, with players from all over the world.

The game has increased traffic to the gallery’s website by 125%, reflecting its vision of quickly reaching new and more diverse audiences. Currently, the product management team has doubled in size while adding more software engineers and digital consultants.