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Olympics face massive cyber threats

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The Olympics Games have almost always been used to introduce innovative technologies intended to make the sporting events more efficient. And given the role that IT plays in the events, cybercriminals are likely to see them as a massive opportunity.

Research shows that there is much at stake, from critical infrastructure to healthcare or environmental issues. All of these should be properly managed in the pursuit of a bright future. Figures support this concern. At the 2008 Beijing Games, around 190 million cyber-attacks were reported (12 million per day). At the 2012 London Games, cybercriminals made over 200 million failed attacks on the event’s official website. At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, 322 million attacks were reported, followed by 570 million at the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the 2020 Olympics, Japan is also planning drastic measures to safeguard its IT infrastructure from cyberattacks – given that they are considering a 57% projected increase in cyberattacks based on the average increase from the last three Olympics.

“Because of the importance of information technology to the success of the event, one area of pivotal concern is cyber security. In fact, the Olympics are comparable to a business of 200 000 employees, addressing 4 billion customers, operating 24/7, in a new territory, every 2 years – certainly a lucrative opportunity for any cybercriminal,” says Mohamad Amin Hasbini, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab. “Cybercriminals are likely to try to use forged webpages that pose as legitimate Games web-resources to try to sell fake tickets or collect private data from those willing to attend the sports events. What’s more, we always see a spike in spam during these events where spam recipients are being lured into embezzlement schemes, for example, offering to help book hotels and/or make other travel arrangements.”

Extra caution is also required while using public Wi-Fi networks. Attendees should avoid using any unprotected network, as Internet traffic can be relatively easy for criminals, who are connected to the same hotspot, to intercept it.

What’s more, given that technology is applied to every facet of the event from smart transportation systems to waste recycling, guest services and even ‘village robots’, the use of technologies such as IoT and AI as part of the broader Smart City, must be kept secure as malicious hackers are likely to use this opportunity to carry out attacks using social engineering techniques to manipulate and increase the risk of personnel divulging sensitive information. Attacks on physical operational technologies as well as data analytics systems and infrastructure is a real possibility. Couple this with the spreading of rumors on social media can also significantly impact the Olympics as fake profiles that post fake messages can start crowd panics or similar troubles.

Additionally, basic security such as strong cryptography and authentication is critical, along with automatic and secure software and firmware that allow for auditing, alerting and logging capabilities. What’s more, the importance of penetration testing and vulnerability assessments for all systems, devices and people used in the Games cannot be underestimated.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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