Archive for Marzec, 2013

Take off and expand your Need for Speed Most wanted experience

By admin, 1 marca, 2013, No Comment

Fairhaven City will never be the same again. Today, Need for Speed™ Most Wanted, winner of more than 30 industry awards, released three unique downloadable content (DLC) packs that introduces a brand new Airport world expansion, legendary classics from favorite action movies, and heroic rides from Need for Speed franchise history. Watch more friends become foes as players out-drift each other around planes, smash through each other’s faces on billboards like a Hollywood hero, or beat each other to the finish line with the speed and power of classic Need for Speed vehicles.

The following DLC packs launched on Xbox LIVE® Marketplace and PlayStation®Network today and will be available on Origin March 13:

Need for Speed Most Wanted Terminal VelocityNeed for Speed Most Wanted Terminal Velocity introduces players to Hughes International Airport, an expansive new location in Fairhaven City that gives players more opportunities to race, jump and drift their way to becoming the Most Wanted racer. Take on new single player modes with heightened levels of maneuverability in some of the world’s most coveted new rides including the Porsche 918 Spyder 2013, BMW 1 Series M Coupe 2012, Audi RS3 2012, Ford Fiesta ST 2012 and Alfa Romeo Mito QV 2012.

The cars have been hand-picked for their tight controls, enabling them to bust through airport gates, while also being quick and light enough with the new Jump Nitrous mod to jump through and over everything else. Need for Speed Most Wanted Terminal Velocity is also packed with 136 new multiplayer milestones, 10 new multiplayer speedlists, 40 new billboards, 8 new achievements and more. Need for Speed Terminal Velocity will be available for 1200 MS points or R132.99.

Need for Speed Movie Legends – Always wanted to drive like your favorite action movie star? Now you can! Need for Speed Movie Legends features five of the world’s most iconic cars to have graced the silver screen. Gamers can take out rivals with debonair style in the luxurious Aston Martin DBS 2008 and Aston Martin DB5. Those who want to make like bandits and elude the police can get behind the wheel of the Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am Special Edition 1977. Players can also harness the power and aggression of a Dodge Charger R/T 1970 for fast races and furious chases. Finally, for racers who want to know what it feels like to disappear in the blink of an eye, comes an all new Need for Speed Most Wanted car: the Shelby GT500 1967. Need for Speed Movie Legends also comes with 8 new single player sprint events, 136 new multiplayer milestones, 50 new license plates and more. Need for Speed Movie Legends will be available for 800 MS Points or R87.99.

Need For Speed Heroes – Take a trip down memory lane in five famous cars from Need for Speed history: the raucous Lamborghini Diablo SV from Need for Speed III Hot Pursuit, the terrifyingly powerful Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34) from Need for Speed Underground, the ‘drift-a-licious’ Nissan 350Z from Need for Speed Underground 2, the ferocious Porsche 911 GT2 from Need for Speed Undercover and the ultimate Most Wanted car, the BMW M3 GTR from the 2005 Need for Speed Most Wanted. Players can test the limits of these Need for Speed throwbacks in 8 new high intensity Races and Speed Runs. Need for Speed Heroes also comes with 25 new liveries, 136 new multiplayer milestones and more. Need for Speed Heroes will be available for 800 MS Points or R87.99.

Deluxe DLC Bundle – Get all three packs in one! Players will have full access to all the content from Need for Speed Terminal Velocity, Need for Speed Movie Legends and Need for Speed Heroes with this DLC. Need for Speed Deluxe DLC Bundle will be available for 2000 MS Points or R220.90

For more information on Need for Speed Most Wanted, visit http://www.needforspeed.com/most-wanted. Need for Speed Most Wanted is rated 13V by the FPB (Film and Publications Board) in South Africa. For more information on Need for Speed, visit http://www.needforspeed.com or become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/needforspeed and follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/needforspeed.

YahClick Go provides fast, transportable connectivity

By admin, 1 marca, 2013, No Comment

YahClick Go, from Vox Telecom, provides fast, transportable connectivity to organisations and businesses that may require access to the internet whilst on the move, such as broadcasters, event companies, mobile marketing vehicles, news stations, mobile offices or disaster management services. It can be used by anyone who needs to access the internet “on the go”, says Jacques Visser, Project Manager for YahClick

According to Visser, YahClick Go, which is part of Vox Telecom’s suite of pioneering satellite services, can be mounted on any SUV or trailer and is lightweight enough to transport anywhere. “The system can be operated by a single user and does not require any technical skills,” Visser explains. “The user simply presses a single button and the unit will automatically search for a connection via an auto-pointing antenna. This is particularly beneficial when broadcasting information using live streaming, as the Ka-band allows for uplink speeds of up to 3 Mbps per second. A vehicle or trailer is all that is needed.”

Visser says that the service can also be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot at events such as outdoor festivals or auctions. “It is also extremely beneficial to mobile government units that travel between remote towns for administrative or broadcasting reasons, or in the event of a disaster where media, emergency care workers and law enforcement would all be present and require connectivity.”

“While there are existing mobile systems on the market in South Africa, they generally make use of Ku-band satellite broadband. This will be the first system to make use of a Ka-band connection,” says Visser. Ka-band satellites transmit many highly focused, overlapping ‘spot beams’, each covering a relatively small area, which allows for high speeds to uplink and downlink increasingly large files and video content. “This means that YahClick Go provides faster internet at a much lower cost – even in remote areas.”

“We want to make our YahClick satellite services as affordable and accessible as possible,” Visser says. “We believe that YahClick signifies a considerable, transformative shift in terms of connectivity around the country, particularly for schools, hospitals, small businesses, farms and mining companies who have not had access to reliable broadband before.”

Gordhan delivers a safe no surprises budget with some relief for taxpayers

By admin, 1 marca, 2013, No Comment

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivered a safe, no real surprises budget today (Wednesday 27 February) with R7 billion personal tax relief, being 2.5 billion less than in the previous tax year 2012/13.

Personal income tax brackets and rebates have been slightly adjusted to reduce the effect of inflation on tax payable. The amount an individual can earn before being required to pay income tax has been increased for the 2013/14 tax year to R67 111 for individuals below the age of 65, R104 611 for individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 and R117 111 for individuals over 75 years.

The annual tax rebates for individuals have been increased. The primary annual tax rebate for individuals under the age of 65 to R12 080, for individuals aged between 65 and 75 to R6 750 and those aged 75 and older to R2 250.

The lowest tax bracket remains at a tax rate of 18% (annual taxable income up to R165 600) and the highest tax bracket remains taxable at 40% (annual taxable income of more than R638 600).

Effective from 1 March 2012 the medical aid capping system was replaced with a tax credit, bringing in equality for all taxpayers under the age of 65 and improved benefits for lower earners, a move in line with international best practice. The medical aid tax credit system is also used in the new tax year, commencing 01 March 2013.

Monthly tax credits for medical scheme contributions (reduction of tax payable) will be increased from R230 to R242 for each of the first two beneficiaries on a medical scheme and from R154 to R162 for each additional beneficiary on the medical scheme for the 2013/14 tax year.

“The medical aid tax credit system will likely result in lower earners receiving greater benefits, which is a good thing,” comments Philip Meyer, technology director of payroll and HR software specialist Sage Pastel Payroll & HR.

One of the biggest changes were for individuals whose taxable income is from one employer and is below R250 000 a year. They are not required to submit income tax returns, however they will still be liable to pay income tax. Previously, this annual earnings limit was R120 000. For example, if an individual earns a gross salary of R20 000 per month (no entitlement to commissions or bonuses), they no longer have to file their tax returns.

This means that there will be more pressure on employers to ensure that tax deductions and calculations on payslips are accurate.

Another big proposed change in the Budget Speech effective from March 2014 is that an employer’s contribution to retirement funds on behalf of an employee will be treated as a taxable fringe benefit in the hands of the employee. Individuals will from that date be allowed to deduct up to 27.5 per cent of the higher of taxable income or employment income for contributions to pension, provident and retirement annuity funds with a maximum annual deduction of R350 000.

Contributions above the cap are carried forward to future tax years. Therefore, all company contributions towards pension, provident and retirement annuity funds will become a fringe benefit and it will increase the total tax deduction. If the company contribution is low, it will only have a small impact on the individual. However, if the company contribution towards pension, provident and retirement annuity funds is substantial, it will have a bigger effect on the individual’s net pay and because the taxable earnings are greater, the individual will have to pay more tax.

Environmental taxes go up and will affect a large portion of the RSA population.

From 3 April 2013, the general fuel levy will rise by 15 cents per litre to R2.13 while the Road Accident Fund levy will increase by 8 cents per litre to 96 cents per litre of petrol.

Plastic bag levy – The levy on plastic shopping bags has encouraged consumers to reduce their use. The levy will rise from 4 cents to 6 cents per bag from 1 April 2013.

Incandescent light bulb levy – To promote energy efficiency a levy on incandescent light bulbs was introduced in 2009. The levy is to be increased from R3 to R4 per bulb from 1 April 2013.

Motor vehicle carbon dioxide emissions tax – The tax on motor vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, which is intended to encourage consumers to buy vehicles with lower carbon emissions, will increase from 1 April 2013. For passenger cars, the tax will rise from R75 to R90 for every gram of emissions per kilometre above 120 gCO2/km. In the case of double cabs it will increase from R100 to R125 for every gram of emissions per kilometre above 175 gCO2/km.

Following overseas trends, a policy paper on carbon emissions tax is to be published in 2013 with the view of introducing a carbon tax from 2015.

Subsistence allowances paid to employees who travel for business within South Africa, will be tax-free provided the amount paid for meals and incidental costs does not exceed R319 per day. An amount not exceeding R98 per day for incidental costs only will also be exempt.

To assist SME businesses with the changes outlined in the new Budget, Sage Pastel Payroll & HR is incorporating all of the Budget changes to tax bracket values, medical aid benefits, and tax relief rebates.

“Automated Payroll and HR software ensures that payrolls are accurate and legally compliant the moment the new Budget stipulations take effect in the new tax year. Currently there are 75 tax certificate totals that need to be considered when producing payslips, therefore manually doing the calculations is a daunting task and errors can creep in easily,” says Meyer.

To find out how the Budget Speech affects your pocket, go to www.pastelpayroll.co.za and enter your current monthly salary and allowances in the free online Sage Pastel Payroll & HR Salary Tax Calculator.

SARS has recently changed the reference number for third party agent appointments from ITA88 to AA88. This change is already available in the latest e@syFile Version 6.2.2. SARS has also updated the guidelines for agent appointments. Go to www.sars.gov.za to view the new Agent Appointment Process and Employer Guide. 

Example

John Doe who is 37 years old is employed on a full-time basis. During the 2012/2013 tax year of assessment, John earned a salary of R18,000 per month and a travel allowance of R3,000 per month. During December 2012 John also received a bonus of R15,000 and a taxable bursary of R3,000. John contributes monthly to a Pension fund to the value of R500, a medical aid of R2,300 and he has a deduction towards an income replacement policy of R100 each month. John is the main member on his medical aid, and has two other beneficiaries loaded on the medical aid. Below, please find the tax comparison for John for 2012/2013 vs. 2013/2014 tax year.

John will enjoy a tax saving of R1,696.

  Calculation 2012/2013 Tax Year 2013/2014 Tax Year
A Salary R18,000 R18,000
B Add Travel Allowance Taxable Portion R3,000 * 80% = R2,400 R3,000 * 80% = R2,400
C Subtract Pension Fund R500 R500
D Subtract Income Replacement Policy R100 R100
E Annual Regular Income [A+(B*80%)-C-D] *12 R237,600 R237,600
F Add to Annual Earnings Bonus R15,000 R15,000
G Add to Annual Earnings Bursary R3,000 R3,000
H Total Annual Earnings [A+(B*80%)-C-D] * 12 + [F + G] R255,600 R255,600
I Tax per table R52,980 [((I-R250,000)*30%)+R51,300] R52,308 [((I-R165,600)*25%)+R29,808]
J Less rebate R11,440 R12,080
K Less Medical Aid Tax Credits Per Beneficiaries R7,368 [(R230+R230+R154)*12] R7,752 [(R242+R242+R162)*12]
L Tax Payable By Employee Per Year [I-J-K] R34,172 R32,476
M Example of Tax Payable Per Month [L/12] R2,847.67 R2,706.33

Nifty Budget Speech Quick Links:

  • Budget Speech Support Tools, view the tools.
  • Full Budget Speech Transcript, view here.
  • View the new 2013/14 Tax Rates (tax tables), click here.
  • Book your seat for the Budget Speech changes Seminar, book now.
  • Free online Salary Tax Calculator, use now.
  • Try the Free Salary Tax Calculator on your smartphone. Go to m.taxcalc.pastelpayroll.co.za
  • Free Online Logbook, click here.

Kaspersky Lab Identifies ‘MiniDuke’

By admin, 1 marca, 2013, No Comment

New Threat Actors Combine Sophisticated “Old School” Malware Writing Skills with Newly Advanced Exploits in Adobe Reader to Collect Geopolitical Intelligence from High Profile Targets

Today, Kaspersky Lab’s team of experts published a new research report that analysed a series of security incidents involving the use of the recently discovered PDF exploit in Adobe Reader (CVE-2013-6040) and a new, highly customised malicious programme known as MiniDuke. The MiniDuke backdoor was used to attack multiple government entities and institutions worldwide during the past week. Kaspersky Lab’s experts, in partnership with CrySys Lab, analysed the attacks in detail and published their findings.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s analysis, a number of high profile targets have already been compromised by the MiniDuke attacks, including government entities in Ukraine, Belgium, Portugal, Romania, the Czech Republic and Ireland. In addition, a research institute, two think tanks, and a healthcare provider in the United States were also compromised, as was a prominent research foundation in Hungary.

“This is a very unusual cyberattack,” said Eugene Kaspersky, Founder and CEO of Kaspersky Lab. “I remember this style of malicious programming from the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. I wonder if these types of malware writers, who have been in hibernation for more than a decade, have suddenly awoken and joined the sophisticated group of threat actors active in the cyberworld. These elite, “old school” malware writers were extremely effective in the past at creating highly complex viruses, and are now combining these skills with the newly advanced sandbox-evading exploits to target government entities or research institutions in several countries.”

“MiniDuke’s highly customised backdoor was written in Assembler and is very small in size, being only 20kb,” added Kaspersky. “The combination of experienced old school malware writers using newly discovered exploits and clever social engineering to compromise high profile targets is extremely dangerous.”

Kaspersky Lab’s Primary Research Findings:

  • The MiniDuke attackers are still active at this time and have created malware as recently as February 20, 2013. To compromise victims, the attackers used extremely effective social engineering techniques, which involved sending malicious PDF documents to their targets. The PDFs were highly relevant – with well-crafted content that fabricated human rights seminar information (ASEM) and Ukraine’s foreign policy and NATO membership plans. These malicious PDF files were rigged with exploits attacking Adobe Reader versions 9, 10, and 11, bypassing its sandbox. A toolkit was used to create these exploits and it appears to be the same toolkit that was used in the recent attack reported by FireEye. However, the exploits used in the MiniDuke attacks were for different purposes and had their own customised malware.
  • Once the system is exploited, a very small downloader is dropped onto the victim’s disc that’s only 20kb in size. This downloader is unique per system and contains a customised backdoor written in Assembler. When loaded at system boot, the downloader uses a set of mathematical calculations to determine the computer’s unique fingerprint, and in turn uses this data to uniquely encrypt its communications later. It is also programmed to avoid analysis by a hardcoded set of tools in certain environments like VMware. If it finds any of these indicators it will run idle in the environment instead of moving to another stage and exposing more of its functionality by decrypting itself further; this indicates the malware writers know exactly what antivirus and IT security professionals are doing in order to analyse and identify malware.
  • If the target’s system meets the pre-defined requirements, the malware will use Twitter (unbeknownst to the user) and start looking for specific tweets from pre-made accounts. These accounts were created by MiniDuke’s Command and Control (C2) operators, and the tweets maintain specific tags labeling encrypted URLs for the backdoors. These URLs provide access to the C2s, which then provide potential commands and encrypted transfers of additional backdoors onto the system via GIF files.
  • Based on the analysis, it appears that MiniDuke’s creators provide a dynamic backup system that also can fly under the radar. If Twitter isn’t working or the accounts are down the malware can use Google Search to find the encrypted strings to the next C2. This model is flexible and enables the operators to constantly change how their backdoors retrieve further commands or malcode as needed.
  • Once the infected system locates the C2, it receives encrypted backdoors that are obfuscated within GIF files and disguised as pictures that appear on a victim’s machine. Once they are downloaded to the machine they can download a larger backdoor that carries out several basic actions, such as copy file, move file, remove file, make directory, kill process, and, of course, download and execute new malware.
  • The malware backdoor connects to two servers, one in Panama and one in Turkey, to receive instructions from the attackers.

To read the full research report by Kaspersky Lab and the recommendations for protecting against MiniDuke attacks, please visit Securelist.

To read CrySys Lab’s report, please visit the following page.

Kaspersky Lab’s system detects and neutralises the MiniDuke malware, classified as HEUR:Backdoor.Win32.MiniDuke.gen and Backdoor.Win32.Miniduke. Kaspersky Lab also detects the exploits used in the PDF documents, classified as Exploit.JS.Pdfka.giy.

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