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Senegal in semi-finals with app for handicapped

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Team Handi’Educ from Senegal are representing sub-Saharan Africa in the Ericsson Innovation Awards for an app they designed to support handicapped children in a learning environment.

Team Handi’Educ from Senegal has emerged a semi-finalist in the Ericsson Innovation Awards representing sub-Saharan Africa. The innovative team, comprising three engineering students, developed an educative web/mobile application to support handicapped children in a learning environment.

HANDI’EDUC is an educative web/mobile application for handicapped children. The application addresses challenges faced by children who have vision, speech, hearing and mobility disabilities. Some of the features of the innovation include converting text to audio for the visually impaired and converting speech by educators to text for learners who may be hearing and speech impaired.

It will be developed in a multi-platform environment and it will run on all devices. According to the type of handicap it will offer different functionalities to support the handicapped.

Fatou Diop, Team Lead, Handi’Educ says: “We are thankful that we made it to the semi-finals of this competition. Our team is committed to helping children from all over the world, irrespective of economic background, gain access to quality education and we appreciate the platform to achieve this”.

Started in 2009, the competition began as the Ericsson Application Awards, a research and development initiative to spark app development and boost innovation.

In 2015, the competition’s name was changed to the Ericsson Innovation Awards, and the scope was broadened to target university talent globally. It has moved from being a competition based on app development to one focusing on innovation.

Tumi Sekhukhune, Vice President and Head of Strategy, Marketing and Communications, Ericsson, says: “The Ericsson Innovation Awards creates a platform for inspired undergraduates with a vision of the future to share their insights. This year, several exciting ideas were received on the future of learning from sub-Saharan Africa and around the world. We are proud that one of the ideas that emerged from our region is in the running to showcase their ideas to a global audience.”

With education playing a key part in the move toward Ericsson’s vision of the Networked Society – where everything that can be connected will be connected – the 2015 theme is The Future of Learning.

The competition has been open to students from any academic institution, and in 2015, 270 teams from 43 countries have entered.

The finalists will be announced on March 16.

The finalists will then gather at Ericsson’s headquarters in Sweden, where the winners will be revealed on April 15.

ABOUT THE COMPETITION:

Each team was required to provide a product description document, a business case and a description of why their idea should be chosen, along with contact information.

Ten semifinalists have been chosen by a mix of an Ericsson jury and an open voting process. The Ericsson jury will now whittle down this group to the four teams that will make it to the finals.

A specially composed finalist jury will then decide who gets first, second and third place.

The prizes are EUR 25,000 for first place, EUR 10,000 for second place and EUR 5,000 for third. All 10 semifinalists will be invited to an interview with Ericsson, with the possibility of landing either a job or an internship with the competition after their studies.

The evaluation criteria for 2015 are:

•             CSR positive impact – Technology For Good

•             Global versus local (multimarket potential)

•             Value argumentation – potential revenue or cost reduction

•             Can the idea be easily developed?

•             User benefit – can the idea be easily deployed?

•             Innovative solution.

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Wannacry still alive

One and a half years after its epidemic, WannaCry ransomware tops the list of the most widespread cryptor families and the ransomware has attacked 74,621 unique users worldwide.

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These attacks accounted for 28.72% of all users targeted by cryptors in Q3 2018. The percentage has risen over the last year, demonstrating more than two thirds growth against Q3 2017, when its share in cryptor attacks was 16.78%. This is just one of the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q3 IT threat evolution report. 

A series of cyberattacks with WannaCry cryptor occurred in May 2017 and is still considered to be one of the biggest ransomware epidemics in history. Even though Windows released a patch for its operating system to close the vulnerability exploited by EternalBlue 2 months prior to the start of the attacks, WannaCry still affected hundreds of thousands devices around the globe. As cryptors do, WannaCry turned files on victims’ computers into encrypted data and demanded ransom for decryption keys (created by threat actors to decipher the files and transform them back into the original data) making it impossible to operate the infected device.

The consequences of the WannaCry epidemic were devastating: as the victims were mainly organisations with networked systems – the work of businesses, factories and hospitals was paralysed. Even though this case demonstrated the dangers cryptors pose, and most of PCs around the world have been updated to resist the EternalBlue exploit, the statistics show that criminals still try to exploit those computers that weren’t patched and there are still plenty of them around the globe.

Overall, Kaspersky Lab security solution protected 259,867 unique users from cryptors attacks, showing a substantial rise of 39% since Q2 2018, when the figure was 158,921. The growth was rapid yet steady, with a monthly observed increase in the number of users.

The rising share of WannaCry attacks is another reminder that epidemics don’t end as fast as they start – there are always long-running consequences. In the case of cryptors, attacks can be so severe that it is necessary to take preventive measures and patch the device, rather than deal with encrypted files later,” said Fedor Sinitsyn, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

 To reduce the risk of infection by WannaCry and other cryptors, users are advised to:

  • Always update your operating system to eliminate recent vulnerabilities and use a robust security solution with updated databases. It is also important to use the security solution that has specialised technologies to protect your data from ransomware, as Kaspersky Lab’s solutions do. Even if the newest yet unknown malware does manage to sneak through, Kaspersky Lab’s System Watcher technology is able to block and roll back all malicious changes made on a device, including the encryption of files.
  • If you have bad luck and all your files are encrypted with cryptomalware, it is not recommended to pay cybercriminals, as it encourages them to continue their dirty business and infect more people’s devices. It is better to find a decryptor on the Internet – some of them are available for free here: https://noransom.kaspersky.com/

·         It is also important to always have fresh backup copies of your files to be able to replace them in case they are lost (e.g. due to malware or a broken device), and store them not only on the physical object but also in cloud storage for greater reliability (don’t forget to protect your cloud storage with strong hack-proof password!)

·         If you’re a business, enhance your preferred third-party security solution with the newest version of the free Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool.

·         To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees and IT teams, keep sensitive data separate, restrict access, and always back up everything.

·         Use a dedicated security solution, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business that is powered by behaviour detection and able to roll back malicious actions. It should also include Vulnerability and Patch management features that automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and installs updates. This reduces the risk of vulnerabilities in popular software being used by cybercriminals.

·         Last, but not least, remember that ransomware is a criminal offence. You shouldn’t pay. If you become a victim, report it to your local law enforcement agency.

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Bots to mind your business

From Public Service to the Private Sector, everyone stands to benefit from bots, says RIAAN BEKKER, Force Solutions Manager at thryve.

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Every day billions of us talk to each other on IM channels such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. We have an expectation for immediate answers and easy access to information, be it business operating times or where our couriered package is right now. Bots are perfectly aligned for that, as they can interact with popular chat services and provide human-friendly conversations to resolve queries both inside and outside the business.

“Software bots can do a lot,” said Riaan Bekker, Force Solutions Manager at thryve. “You can integrate them with your CRM to handle customer enquiries, such as finding an order status or applying for an ID book. They are also being used inside organisations for repetitive but necessary roles, such as managing meeting room requests or finding contact information from the internal address book. There’s a new use for them every day because they can take care of basic tasks that normally would require a human. That frees up people to focus on more complex problems and demanding customer needs.”

But bots sound like science fiction. How are they suddenly a reality in our world? The answer lies with modern software platforms.

In the past companies had to invest in expensive and elaborate IT projects that took years to implement with meagre results. Today any business can access a cloud platform at low cost, start training bots using the platform’s built-in AI and bot services, and expand as they manage demand. One of the most remarkable modern advances is the improvement of artificial intelligence, which benefits from the tremendous amount of information contained in Big Data and the convenient scaling power of cloud systems.

“Something many people don’t release is that the hard part – getting the software and infrastructure – is now quick and very affordable. You can start very small and adapt as demand grows. The new challenge is actually training the bot: like a new employee, you have to get the bot’s skills to match your business’ needs. But that’s a great problem to have, because all the barriers to get there, like costs, are no longer an issue.”

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