The cyber security research company reported on Tuesday that there has been a significant increase in ransomware and distributed denial-of-service attacks from October to November this year.

NCC Group reported a 41% jump in ransomware attacks in November, from 188 in October to 265, making November the most active month for the malware since April.

During the same period in 2021, the report continued, the increase was lower (4%), but the totals were higher – 314 for October and 328 for November.

The report states that the Conti and Payasa gangs probably contributed heavily to the ransomware threat landscape at that time. Both the gangs have either disbanded or are now separate.

Seasonal changes in ransomware attacks are common, noted Marcus Smiley, CEO of Epoch Concepts, an IT solutions provider based in Littleton, Colo.

“Ransomware attacks have increased during the holiday season since at least 2018,” Smiley told TechNewsWorld.

“The simplest explanation is that companies cease operations at the end of the year, making them less vulnerable to cyberattacks than usual,” he said. “This is a logical time to launch new ransomware campaigns.”

“There’s definitely an increased risk of attacks during the holiday season,” said Morgan Demboski, a threat intelligence analyst with IronNet, a network security company in McLean, VA.

“Threat actors attempt to take advantage of a potentially low cyber security posture and response as employees are out for the holidays,” Demboski told TechNewsWorld.

In 2021, there was a decline in ransomware attacks in the fourth quarter as threat actors focused on quality, not quantity, James McQuigan said. A security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, a security awareness training provider in Clearwater, Fla.

“However, this year, there has been an increase in attacks targeting the health care, education and retail sectors,” McQuigan told TechNewsWorld.

A malware for all seasons

In general, attacks can often be tracked back to specific time periods, which makes it difficult to mix them with expected, legitimate communications or maximize the chances of a large payout, explained Mark Guntrip, Senior Director of Cyber ​​Security Strategy at Menlo Security. make capable. , a cyber security company in Mountain View, California.

“Attacks against agricultural companies at harvest time have drawn warnings from the FBI,” Guntrip told TechNewsworld. “There have also been attacks against game makers close to a big launch and candy makers before Halloween and the holidays.”

While there can be seasonal spikes in ransomware attacks, experts say the practice will continue to increase no matter the time of year.

Ransomware Regional Analysis – November 2022

Chart of ransomware attacks by region in November 2022

As seen throughout the year, the top two regions globally targeted by ransomware in November were North America, followed by Europe. (Source: NCC Group Monthly Threat Pulse)

“Ransomware attacks have increased and will continue to increase in 2023,” Guntrip said.

“From attacks on critical infrastructure to individual businesses, it is clear that in today’s threat landscape, no one’s system is secure, and cybercriminals show no signs of slowing their efforts,” he said.

“The level of success and subsequent money paid out following an attack is a clear attraction for threat actors to increase their focus on ransomware,” he added.

extortion is gaining popularity

The increased opportunities are contributing to the rise in ransomware attacks, maintained Smiley. “Today’s organizations have more connected surfaces than ever before, thanks to IoT and remote employment,” he added.

Another factor is motive. “With increasing geopolitical conflict around the world, there is more activity on the part of nation-states and politically driven actors,” he observed.

“Yet another factor,” he said, “is the growing number of ransomware-as-a-service groups that offer their services to less sophisticated cybercriminals for a fee.”

Demboski explained that the “as a service” offering makes ransomware a low-effort, low-risk alternative to generating criminal profit.

“The availability of various ransomware families through Ransomware-as-a-Service, combined with other readily available services such as Phishing-as-a-Service and Initial Access Brokers, has created a great opportunity for cyber criminals to acquire credentials and ready-made Buying access has become much easier for organizations, in essence giving them all the necessary ingredients to launch an effective and damaging ransomware attack,” he said.

A troubling trend that will further fuel ransomware attacks is the use of ransomware for extortion.

“With the opening of ransomware in recent months, there have been several cases of ransoms not being collected after payment and data being held hostage for future extortion,” said Timothy Morris, chief security advisor at Tanium. An endpoint management and security platform in Kirkland, Wash.

“It takes into account the extortion trend,” Morris told TechNewsWorld. “This is easier to deal with than the logistics of ransomware keys and the management of encryption/decryption, which can create technical support issues that damage the criminal syndicate’s ‘reputation’ if they go down.”

DDoS attacks are on the rise

As noted in the NCC report, in October, distributed denial-of-service attacks continued to rise, with November seeing 3,648. A major target among them was the United States with 1,543 attacks.

The reasons for the US being the most targeted include the large attack surface and the current geopolitical tensions in the country, which show no signs of easing, the report pointed out.

It added that given the timing, the US strikes could be aimed at disrupting the midterm elections.

NCC’s Global Head of Threat Intelligence, Matt Hull, predicted that DDoS attacks would continue to increase.

“However, as more organizations become aware of the growing threat, it will be interesting to see how malicious actors who execute DDoS attacks are combated,” he said in a statement. “DDoS is not a new attack type, and preventive and defensive measures are more widely available and affordable than ever.”

DDoS Ransomware Isn’t for the Crowd

While denial-of-service attacks were common with some cybercriminal groups, DDoS attacks related to ransomware have decreased, McQuigan said.

“This action may result in the victim organization being blocked from using the Internet to access the Tor network, making it very difficult to make payments,” he explained.

“If they start denying service,” he continued, “that’s to tell the organization that they are still susceptible to other attacks to continue to pose a threat.”

Data breaches seem to be less of a concern than DDoS attacks compared to malware and phishing because DDoS attacks typically do not result in the theft or loss of sensitive data, observed Casey Ellis, CTO and founder of Bugcrowd, an operator of the Internet. Crowdsourced bug bounty platform.

“While DDoS attacks can cause significant disruption to company operations, they do not pose the same risk to the privacy, integrity, or availability of critical data as other types of cyber attacks,” Ellis told TechNewsworld. “DDoS attacks are less sophisticated and easier to defend against than data breaches, malware and phishing attacks.”

One of the pleasures of my job is to be exposed to many new and disruptive products. The Thanksgiving and December holidays are quickly approaching, so it’s that time of year when I’m fortunate enough to evaluate new tech products that deserve attention. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Keep in mind that my comments are not intended as an in-depth review, but as preliminary impressions to prompt you to investigate and research further.

let’s get started.

HP Envy 34 All-in-One Desktop (2022)

Even though the all-in-one (AIO) PC market has simulated the overall contraction in the desktop PC market over the past few years, the pandemic-induced work-from-home phenomenon has proven to be a repeat for these convenient, mostly cable-free PC. Note, however, that AIOs typically offer minimal internal upgrade capability, which can be a problem for some power users who don’t want those restrictions.

HP is one of the few PC makers that continuously launches new AIO designs every year. The latest update to the HP Envy 34, currently with a starting price of $1,700, is one of the most beautifully designed models by the Palo Alto-based manufacturer.

HP Envy 34 All-in-One Desktop

HP Envy 34 All-in-One Desktop | image credit: HP

Squarely positioned to appeal to creative professionals, it also has broad utility for consumers and mainstream SMB users. The HP Envy 34 has an excellent non-glare 5K 34″ display, a mobile HD webcam with an integrated shutter for privacy protection, and great performance.

Of course, comparably priced legacy desktops can deliver more power, especially in the discrete GPU area. But given its extensive feature set, the HP Envy 34 offers excellent value for my money.

It’s the perfect PC for executive offices, home offices, and dorm rooms because of its cable-free nature – it only requires a power cord as the keyboard and mouse connect via Bluetooth.

On the back of the unit are the typical classifications of Unified Interfaces:

  • 4 USB-A Ports
  • 2 thunderbolt 4 port
  • Audio – Headphone/Microphone Combo
  • hdmi out
  • Gigabit Ethernet

Cable management is enhanced with a magnetic clip that helps keep cords organized and within reach, a great touch.

Creative professionals will be drawn to the massive 34″ display that’s paired with 5K resolution in a 21:9 aspect ratio, which puts the Envy 34 Display on par with Apple’s vaunted 27″ iMac. I found the 500 nits to be exceptionally bright on this display.

5K resolution (5120 x 2160) is common to all models of the HP Envy 34, though more expensive configurations include higher-end, game-friendly Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 discrete graphics.

Another important feature that users should love is that the stand easily accommodates two more USB-A ports, a media memory card reader, and a third USB-C port.

HP ENVY All-in-One 34-c0340t Ports Rear View

External I/O Ports on the HP Envy 34-c0340t All-in-One Desktop | image credit: HP

When configured with a high-end Intel i9-1100 processor, Nvidia RTX 3080 discrete graphics, 32GB of memory, and a 1TB SSD, the price can quickly climb to $3,430. But properly configured models are available for less than $2,000, and it’s the ideal PC for users working from home, design-sensitive corporate execs, and professional content creators.

If you’re considering an AIO PC, you can’t go wrong with the HP Envy 34.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Notebook

Thin and light laptops have dominated the PC landscape ever since Steve Jobs dramatically pulled the original MacBook Air out of an envelope at an Apple launch event in January 2008. With its release, Apple effectively declared to the rest of the industry, “This is how a laptop should be designed.”

However, more than 14 years have passed, and the PC industry has not stood still. There are several excellent alternatives to the MacBook Air, most notably the recently announced Dell XPS 13 Plus, which allows the entire palm rest to be used as a touchpad.

While no product in this category has achieved perfection status, the new HP Elite Dragonfly G3 comes close. It’s an absolute pleasure to use with its lightweight, surprisingly thin, and elegant form factor design, featuring great performance, excellent battery life, and a superior 3:2 display that boosts productivity.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Notebook

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Notebook | image credit: HP

Perhaps most importantly, the Elite Dragonfly G3 offers the best typing experience of any thin and light laptop I’ve come across.

Like previous Dragonfly models, this new one is made of magnesium and has been refreshed with a mix of magnesium and aluminum, which contributes to the curved “pillow corners” design on the display lid and outer base images.

Weighing in at just 2.2 pounds, this laptop has a highly polished executive look with a display that can be opened with one hand. It is available in 2 non-controversial colors: Slate Blue and Natural Silver.

Of course, HP offers the Elite Dragonfly G3 with a range of panel options, ranging from a multi-touch Full HD+ (1920 x 1280) WLED panel to a single 32K (3000 x 2000) OLED panel that delivers better crispness .

Internally, HP chose to use Intel’s more efficient 15-watt Core i5 1245U, Core i7 1255U, or Core i7 1256U, instead of Intel’s new 12th Gen Intel Core P Series, which uses more watts. It’s a wise choice as it extends the Elite Dragonfly’s battery life, which is impressively north of 14 hours.

hp elite dragonfly g3 port

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Right-Side Ports | image credit: HP

In terms of security, the Elite Dragonfly also supports Windows Hello facial and fingerprint recognition. I find the latter more convenient.

The icing on the cake is the Elite Dragonfly G3’s story of sustainability: The laptop’s outer carcass uses at least 90% recycled magnesium, which will warm the hearts of individuals with environmental concerns.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Notebook Front View

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Front View | image credit: HP

The HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is one of the most impressive laptops ever to cross my radar screen. Its “elite” design, strong battery life, rich feature set, and excellent connectivity features (Wi-Fi 6E and optional 4G LTE or 5G cellular support) will cost you dearly. A fully configured model will run over $3,000. Price aside, you’ll undoubtedly fall in love with the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 – if you can afford it.

Motorola Q14 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi System (AXE5400)

Many readers of my technology column know that I’m a big fan of the overall Wi-Fi router trend, which has embraced mesh technology over the past several years.

These routers alone can solve one of home users’ biggest connectivity problems: reliably getting strong Wi-Fi coverage throughout the living space.

Mesh routers are game-changing in a typical home with many active uses, e.g., gaming, streaming, videoconferencing, productivity, etc.

While most consumers still use older Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) routers, several companies are offering faster mesh routing iterations based on Wi-Fi 6 or (more recently) Wi-Fi 6e.

Motorola has joined the mesh router party with its offering Q14 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi System.

Motorola is catching up with more established players like Linksys, Netgear, and Asus. Despite its late arrival to market, there’s a lot to like about the new Q14.

Motorola Q14 front and rear

Motorola Q14-Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router | image credit: motorola

The Q14 enables 6 GHz wireless bands for dramatically increased speeds and up to 160 wireless channels that can be used simultaneously. This feature translates to a recognizable increase in the number of Wi-Fi devices used simultaneously in your home without compromising on overall performance.

Mesh routers usually consist of the router itself and one or two “satellite” nodes that can extend coverage to 5,000 square feet, which is especially helpful for those with larger properties and Wi-Fi for devices outside the home. – Requires Fi connectivity, such as security cameras and sensor based alarms.

Priced at $649 (though you can currently buy it on Amazon for $500), the Q14 offering sent to me included a router and two nodes, so it provided maximum Wi-Fi connectivity in my home.

Wrapped in a premium mesh fabric, routers and satellites feature a cutting-edge modern design to complement any room. You won’t be embarrassed to have them sit on a bookshelf, desk or cabinet.

Motorola Q14-Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router

The Motorola Q14 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System can be proudly displayed as a design element. , image credit: motorola

What sets the Q14 apart from other mesh routers I’ve used isn’t just its overall excellent performance. Router setup is enabled by one of the most intuitive smartphone apps I’ve used, and it offers the convenience of parental controls and cybersecurity at no extra cost. The app designed by Minim allowed me to set up the Q14 in less than 20 minutes without any hiccups.

Unlike many other companies that have taken a similar app-based approach to product setup, the Moto Sync app is highly visual and intuitive. It should be noted that Minim holds an exclusive global license to design and manufacture consumer networking products under the Motorola brand. Plus, the Q14 is an independent Wi-Fi network and can only mesh with other Q14 routers. It is not a universal expander.

Moto Sync App for Motorola Q14 Mesh Wi-Fi 6E Router

The Moto Sync app that powers the Motorola Q14 Mesh Wi-Fi 6E router. image credit: motorola

There are many appreciable mesh routers on the market, but the Q14 stands apart from a price standpoint. At less than $500 for the Q14-02, which covers 3,500 square feet, it’s a bargain compared to Netgear’s $1,499 Orbi quad-band Wi-Fi 6E mesh system, though the Q14’s technical feature set is more modest. Is.

Regardless, the performance differences will vary for most mainstream home users, and I’d recommend saving $1,000.

Dell Pro Webcam – WB5023

Last year, Dell impressed many in the tech industry with its stylish 4K Dell Ultrasharp Webcam. Initially priced at $200, it was positioned to appeal to users working from home who needed better videoconferencing capability and had other options than Logitech’s 4K Brio webcam.

Acknowledging the market demand for low-resolution webcams at a more value-oriented price, Dell recently unveiled its $110 Dell Pro Webcam – the WB5023 that delivers “good enough” 2K QHD video resolution (1440p/s). 30 fps or 1080p/60 fps). Which is more than enough for standard videoconferencing.

Dell Pro Webcam (WB5023)

Dell Pro Webcam WB5023 | image credit: Dell

With a built-in monitor clip with 78-degree field of view (FOV), 4X digital zoom, and tripod attachment capability, this webcam, like its 4K predecessor, looks and feels high-quality (Logitech 4K Brio) even more) ) in terms of hardware.

It’s probably not the right webcam if you’re creating high-quality video content or need 4K resolution for professionally produced podcasts, but its overall image quality is excellent.

What’s more, unlike 4K UltraSharp webcams, it includes more sophisticated features like a built-in microphone and AI auto-framing that tracks your face and keeps it focused on-screen.

Another important point: Dell’s webcams, including these models, are optimized for use with Windows PCs. They’ll work with Macs, but Dell doesn’t provide macOS drivers for tweaking webcam settings.

The bottom line is that it’s the ideal budget-friendly webcam that works well, underscoring Dell’s brand reputation for solid value.

closing thoughts

Remember that the tech product prices above are always a moving target as we are in the holiday season when online retailers have promotions that will offer substantial discounts off MSRP.

This point is especially true for Amazon, and the price of an item can vary greatly from day to day, so keep that in mind when you’re about to pull the trigger and order these or any other high-tech products. Do it.

Happy Holiday Shopping, everyone!