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ICT skills survey raises key concerns for SA

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The 2017 JCSE ICT Skills Survey has revealed that economic pressure, a delay in policy implementation and lack of improvement in South Africa’s basic education are key concerns for skills development in the ICT sector. 

In its eight consecutive year, the 2017 JCSE ICT Skills Survey by Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) says economic pressure, a delay in policy implementation and lack of improvement in South Africa’s basic education are key concerns. The report says the situation is further plagued by a lack of current, coordinated data about the ICT sector in South Africa, which is leading to fragmented policy initiatives, that cannot be properly measured.

With an objective to identify the most pressing skills needs from the corporate perspective, balanced with the view of current skills capacity of practitioners and future skills development, Adrian Schofield, JCSE’s manager of Applied Research and author of the report, says that the 2017 JCSE ICT Skills Survey report highlights the increased demand for cybersecurity practitioners as well as the growth in software development: “In some respects, it is more of the same, but there is an undeniable urgency to make progress if South Africa is to benefit from the impending global upswing in the ICT market, which is estimated to reach US$4 trillion in 2018. In this scenario, demand for relevant skills will continue to outstrip supply, giving South Africa an opportunity to empower its Black youth to fill the gap, boost the economy and extend these benefits into the broader continent.”

The Survey further outlines that while the stagnant South African economy continues to restrict growth in the demand for ICT skills due to limited budgets, the global recession of recent years seems to be abating: “Demand in Europe and the United States for ICT skills is generally strong, yet despite this upswing, South Africa is lagging its peers in Africa (notably Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt) who continue to seek the value that technology adds to economic growth and social development,” says Schofield.

According to MICT SETA 2017, the ICT sector is estimated to contribute more than R250 billion (approximately 6%) to the country’s R4 trillion GDP. Schofield says that South Africa, and all its stakeholders, need to recognise their dependence on ICT and what needs to be done with a greater sense of urgency: “We as a collective body need to actively address and acknowledge the need for investment in teaching and training; the potential contribution to society that filling the ICT skills gap will make; the benefits that can come from better coordination and planning; and also the urgent need to move plans from discussion to execution.”

Another concern according to Schofield is the delays in implementing policies, such as the migration from analogue television signals and the rollout of broadband networks. This, he says, continues to frustrate the potential contribution of the ICT sector to the overall economy.

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE, says that the report yet again emphasises the concern at the lack of improvement in South Africa’s basic education for the majority of pupils: “Exposure to and familiarity with ICT for all learners is essential, in order to equip them to adapt the modern tools to their daily lives. Some laudable initiatives have appeared, such as the use of tablets in Gauteng schools, but they have yet to reach a sustained, critical mass for all grades of learners.”

He says that there are some successful initiatives and interventions noted in the skills development pipeline. Children are benefitting from technology in the classroom, such as VastraTech’s ‘Wired for Life’ project, and training programmes from companies like Google and SAP: “Young people can engage with activities in technology hubs, such as the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, where they can acquire not only technical skills, but also get exposure to entrepreneur development and business incubation.”

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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