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SA needs national cyber crime campaign

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Cyber criminology for financial gain continues to be an escalating global trend but education and being proactive will go a long way to beating the cyber criminals, says GRAHAM CROOCK, Director, IT Audit, Risk and Cyber Lab BDO.

Cyber crime for financial gain continues to be an escalating global trend but education, being prepared and proactive will go a long way to beating the cyber criminals. In the context of the African continent, South Africa has emerged as the preferred destination for cybercrime, worldwide, due to two reasons.

The past 20 years has seen rapid growth in information-based technology infrastructure. We use a lot of optic fibre and we have big data warehouses and storage facilities. Our banks are on par with or ahead of the European and American banks in this regard.

The advanced infrastructure makes South Africa a hotspot for cybercrime activities. What further aids the criminal activity is that as a country, we are capable of formulating and promulgating laws, however we are weak at policing them.

The scourge of cybercrime in our country is escalating at an alarming rate. One of the few solutions to combatting this lies formulating crowd-sourced solutions, which can form the basis of preventing future attacks and shutting the door on cyber criminology.

South Africans are less informed about cybercrime than we should be, however, research also indicates a steady surge towards a more proactive attitude towards prevention.

Education and preparedness play pivotal roles in this proactive approach. A key focus in educating users is overcoming the misconception that cybercriminals are merely felons who perpetuate their attacks from dark, isolated locations. The fact is that cyberattacks can be carried out from the very same office location that is being targeted. All cybercriminals require is a computer and an internet connection.

Education means teaching users how to respond to cyberattacks. Users must know who to call, what to shut down and when to switch off their hardware in the event of an attack. These actions must be the critical focus of every training and this should be integrated with response teams.

Training is now also become available online, making it more accessible, so, companies need to budget and invest in these training platforms.

Over and above education and training, legislation is integral in combatting cybercrime and protecting companies from its consequences. Unfortunately, in the current context, the legislation that exists has proven inadequate in protecting companies from the consequences of cybercrime.

There are currently four pieces of legislation that are earmarked to protect us from cybercrime:

·         National Cybersecurity Policy Framework

·         Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill

·         The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (25 of 2002)

o    Cyber Inspectors

o    Cyber Crime

·         Protection of Personal Information Act (4 of 2013)

POPI (Protection of Personal Information), which has not yet been passed by parliament, however, is imminent and will be key in providing defensive merits over personal information.

However, a key facet of legislation is ensuring that legislation stays abreast of the technology development that continues rapidly — a challenge for every government in the world.

The complexities which arise encompass the strategic alignment of how legislation is modified and reformed to better protect users. Key to this approach is also the rate of legislation being passed into law, something which continues to stifle the progression of effectively combatting cybercrime.

If we are going to efficiently fight cybercrime, we cannot have a one-dimensional perspective. We need to observe the general persuasive crime and corruption that is prevalent in the market, because before a criminal can become an effective cybercriminal they need to be good social engineers capable of manipulating people and extracting information from them. This is inevitably where cybercrime links to bribery and corruption.

The very essence of how these attacks are often launched and perpetuated emphasises the need for stringent methods of regulation, monitoring and recovery processes, to learn from these cyberattacks and close the loop, ensuring that we do not become susceptible to them again. Therefore, as complex as it is to regulate cybercriminal activity, common law principles also have a role in how we deal with cybercrimes.

South Africa also plays an integral part in the economic growth of the continent, thus making it a lucrative economic hotspot for cybercriminal activity. This inevitably means that out of all the African countries, we have the most malicious IP activity.

The infrastructure and our economy means that South Africa is also a prime location to tunnel and launch attacks to other parts of the world as well — an activity which further delves into the complexities of cyberattacks.

Effective education and training platforms, coupled with the proactive attitude towards ensuring necessary precautions and positive attitudes towards cybercrime will be the impetus for us to overcome this scourge.

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Samsung S10 in lock-step with its rivals?

Tonight Samsung will kick off the next round in the smartphone wars with the S10 range, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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When Samsung unveils the new S10 smartphone at an event in San Francisco today, it will mark the beginning of the 2019 round of World War S. That stands for smartphone wars, although Samsung would like it to be all about the S.

Ever since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in 2013, Samsung has held both technology and thought leadership in the handset world. Back then, Apple’s iPhone 5 was the last device from the American manufacturer that could lay claim to being the best smartphone in the world. With the 2013 launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple entered an era of incremental improvement, playing catch-up, and succumbing to market trends driven by its competitors.

Six years later, Samsung is fighting off the same threat. Its Chinese rival, Huawei, suddenly wrested away leadership in the past year, with the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro regarded as at last equal to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 – if not superior. Certainly, from a cost perspective, Huawei took the lead with its more competitive prices, and therefore more value for money.

Huawei also succeeded where Apple failed: introducing more economical versions of its flagship phones. The iPhone 5c, SE and XR have all been disappointments in the sales department, mainly because the price difference was not massive enough to attract lower-income users. In contrast, the Lite editions of the Huawei P9, P10 and P20 have been huge successes, especially in South Africa.

Today, for the first time in half a decade, Samsung goes into battle on a field laid out by its competitors. It is expected to launch the Galaxy S10 Plus, S10 and S10 e, with the latter being the Samsung answer to the strategy of the iPhone XR and Huawei P20 Lite.

Does this mean Samsung is now in lock-step with its rivals, focused on matching their strategies rather than running ahead of them?

It may seem that way, but Samsung has a few tricks up its electronic sleeve. For example, it is possible it will use the S10 launch to announce its coming range of foldable phones, expected to be called the Galaxy X, Galaxy F, Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Flex. It previewed the technology at a developer conference in San Francisco last November, and this will be the ideal moment to reclaim technology leadership by going into production with foldables – even if the S10 range itself does not shoot out the lights.

However, the S10 handsets will look very different to their predecessors. First, before switching on the phone, they will be notable by the introduction of what is being called the punch-hole display, which breaks away from the current trend of having a notch at the top of the phone to house front-facing cameras and speakers. Instead, the punch-hole is a single round cut-out that will contain the front camera. It is the key element of Samsung’s “Infinity O” display – the O represents the punchhole – which will be the first truly edge-to-edge display, on the sides and top.

The S10 range will use the new Samsung user interface, One UI, also unveiled at the developer conference. It replaces the previous “skin”, unimaginatively called the Samsung Experience, to introduce a strong new interface brand.

One UI went live on the Note 8 last month, giving us a foretaste, and giving Samsung a chance to iron out the bugs in the field. It is a less cluttered interface, addressing one of the biggest complaints about most manufacturer skins. Only Nokia and Google Pixel handsets offer pure Android in the local market, but One UI is Samsung’s best compromise yet.

It introduces a new interaction area, in the bottom half, reachable with the thumb, with a viewing area at the top, allowing the user to work one-handed on the bottom area while still having apps or related content visible above. One UI also improves gesture navigation – the phone picks up hand movements without being touched – and notification management.

The S10 range will be the first phones to feature the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, at least for the South African and American markets. That makes it 5G compatible, for when this next generation of mobile broadband becomes available in these markets.

They will also be the first phones to feature Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of the Wi-Fi mobile wireless standard. It will perform better in congested areas, and data transfer will be up to 40% faster than the previous generation.

The phones will be the first to use ultrasound for fingerprint detection. If Samsung gets it right, this will make it the fastest in-screen fingerprint sensor on the market, and allows for a little leeway if one pushes the finger down slightly outside the fingerprint reader surface. It does mean, however, that screen protectors will have to be redesigned to avoid blocking the detection.

Not enough firsts? There are a few more.

Most notably, it will be the first phone range to feature 1 Terabyte (TB) storage – that’s a thousand Gigabytes (GB) – at least for the top-of-the-range devices. Samsung last month announced that it would be the first manufacturer to make 1TB built-in onboard flash storage. Today, it will deploy this massive advantage as it once again weaponises its technology in the fight for smartphone domination.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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IoT set to improve authentication

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By Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President, Internet of Things Solutions for CISMEA region at Gemalto

As it rapidly approaches maturity, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to continue a transformational trajectory, introducing new efficiencies in multiple fields by allowing measurement and analysis on a scale that has never been possible before. From agriculture to logistics, from retail to hospitality, from traffic to health, from the home to the office, the applications for monitoring ”things” are limited only by the imagination.

And South African (and African) businesses are showing abundant imagination in their practical deployments of IoT solutions in multiple settings, creating a better tomorrow through almost universal measurement and the introduction of new levels of convenience – including how to access locations, devices and services securely.

Any company, whether South African or international, should bear in mind that understanding consumer expectations can be the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT devices and related smart services.

According to Gemalto’s latest Connected Living study, improving the way consumers authenticate themselves to services is one of the most anticipated benefits of IoT, highlighting a desire for a more seamless and secure IoT experience.

Consumers are interested in advanced ways of authenticating themselves through automatic (based on behavioral patterns) or biometric techniques, lessening the need to have to intervene manually, all in the name of a much more streamlined authentication process. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have already placed fingerprint and facial recognition high on the agenda. There is also a widespread positive sentiment towards IoT’s potential for improving the quality of home life through connected, smart appliances.

Personalised services is something else that wins consumers over. In fact, a fluid, personalised and unified experience with continuity of services, together with security and privacy, is critical for the successful implementation of any technology.

And those types of services are today quite possible. With everything being connected – from small gadgets to digital solutions for large enterprises – IoT is no longer just a buzzword. That much is clear in a piece from Vodacom IoT managing executive Deon Liebenberg. Writing for IOL Online, Liebenberg provides insight into the sheer range of applications for IoT: the 20 use cases he cites range from the obvious, like transport and logistics, to the connected home and wearables; he even suggests tagging pets with IoT transmitters, for those who always need to know the whereabouts of the family cat.

Low-cost tags fitted to cats, dogs, lamp posts, shipping containers or other items are just one part of the puzzle, however. There are other two pieces; arguably the most complex part is the availability of communication networks in areas where there aren’t any WiFi networks, or indeed, anything else.

And that’s where the bigger takeaway from Liebenberg’s piece and other IoT trends articles becomes apparent. The communication networks are there, as are those tags: dedicated IoT networks (like LoraWAN, SigFox and narrowband IoT) are all available in South Africa.

So, too, is the third and final essential component. Software which is able to process the data generated by the tag and transmitted over the IoT network and into the internet. In this regard, there’s no shortage of solutions available from cloud providers like AWS and Azure; electronics giant Siemens, too, is in on the action, having recently launched a new cloud-based IoT operating system to develop applications and services for process industries, including oil and gas and water management.

This combination means it is quite possible right now to enable just about any use case. Business owners, who will know best how IoT can add value in their organisation, can now see their ideas becoming reality. Most crucial of all, IoT solutions delivering new levels of efficiency and convenience are not only possible, they are able to be offered with the simple and effective security that will drive consumer acceptance.

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