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New tool scores personal safety

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Momentum has introduced the Momentum Safety Score, a free online tool that assesses the personal, home and environmental, and vehicle risk profile of individual South Africans.

According to Crime Stats SA, 5 900 crimes are reported by the South African Police Services every day.  Many of these can be attributed to South Africans failing to adhere to simple steps to protect their personal safety.

Momentum Short-term Insurance and Multiply, the wellness and rewards programme offered by Momentum, recently introduced the Momentum Safety Score, a free online tool that assesses the personal, home and environmental, and vehicle risk profile of individual South Africans.

The Safety Score assesses how effectively South Africans protect themselves at home, in the car, and on the street, and offers helpful advice on how to safeguard themselves in these environments.

The Momentum Safety Score offers a few smart ways to improve South

Africans’ personal safety:

·         Keep your mobile phone charged at all times, and make sure that you’ve saved all relevant emergency numbers.  Even better – learn them so in an emergency you can call for help on somebody else’s phone if you need to.

·         When you leave for your destination, tell someone where you’re going, and what time you expect to get there. That way, if you don’t arrive as planned, someone will raise the alarm and call for help for you.

·         Don’t flash cash or flaunt jewellery if you’re walking on the street.  This makes you a prime target for mugging or theft.

·         Avoid talking on your phone while you’re walking in public. Not only do you display your phone to potential thieves, your conversation is likely to distract you from being fully aware of your surroundings.

·         If you use public transport, familiarise yourself with available timetables to make sure that you don’t spend time alone waiting in taxi, train or bus stations.

·         If you’re going to be walking anywhere, particularly at night, plan your route beforehand, and try to include well-lit busy streets on your journey.

·         If you are returning to your car in a parking lot, be aware of what is going on around you, looking out for loiterers, people following you or situations that could be a threat.

·         While everyone gets frustrated in traffic, don’t succumb to road rage in your frustration at other drivers.  Road rage has caused fatalities in South Africa.

·         Sit with your family and devise an action plan if your home is invaded while you’re there. This could include identifying a safe room, or making sure that everyone knows where panic buttons are located.  Ensure you never let strangers onto your property.

·         Remind your family about the importance of online safety. This includes never revealing your home address or telephone number online, and never highlighting the fact that you’re on holiday – no matter how much you want to show off those amazing holiday photographs on social media!

For more safety tips, and to see what specific actions you can take to reduce risks and improve safety in your own environment, complete the Momentum Safety Score online.  The assessment tool is freely available to all South Africans.  Members of Multiply earn rewards points for completing the Safety Score tool, and can qualify for a cash back bonus on their Momentum Short-term Insurance premiums, based on their score.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals

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Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.

MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down. 

“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.

However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding have meant batteries were unable to fully recharge. They generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.”

An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries. 

“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.

Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.

“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”

Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.

Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.

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