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Shyft named App of the Year

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Shyft has been named overall winner of this year’s MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

Shyft was created for Standard Bank to allow customers to handle all their forex needs from their phone, with no need to visit the bank. Customers are able to purchase and store forex (USD, GBP, EUR, AUSD), transfer funds overseas, order multi-currency physical travel cards, and create virtual cards that can be used for international online shopping, all from a mobile device.

The MTN Business App of the Year Awards sees both small businesses and large corporates converging, and working together for the greater good of society.  It also sees revolutionary solutions being developed and presented by people from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds.  It’s all about connecting people who can provide real solutions to the real-life challenges cutting across society.

Category winners were:

  • Best Enterprise Solution: TransUnion 1Check

For years, TransUnion’s printed Autodealer Guide has been a trusted source of vehicle and driver information for vehicle dealers, equipping them with invaluable data for making vehicle trading and risk decisions. However, given the move towards mobile, escalating printing costs and the changing business environment, TransUnion identified a need in the market for a low cost, real-time, easy-to-use mobile management tool which not only reduced high printing costs, but closed the gap between fluctuating market values and monthly publishing lead time of their book. In addition, the software provides the financial industry and insurance providers with real time, up-to-date data for vehicle and insurance decisions via web services or via the app.

  • Best Consumer Solution: OrderIN

OrderIn is a food delivery app. Users are able to order meals via the app, and have their meals delivered in minutes. They can also order ahead and collect or pay in person.

  • Best Incubated Solution: EcoSlips

EcoSlips converts ordinary paper slips into digital advertisements that pop up on consumer cell phones. Retailers are able to link their point-of-sale systems to EcoSlips and send transaction slips digitally from any pay point to consumer cell phones. Paper slip waste is reduced and a new advertising platform provides opportunities to grow any business in the retail sector.

  • Most Innovative Solution: InterGreatMe

InterGreatMe is an identity management platform, providing users with control of their identities across financial services, telecomunications, insurance and credit providing companies. The platform also allows businesses to comply with FICA, RICA, NCA and POPI laws.

  • Best Breakthrough Developer: Zulzi

An on-demand delivery platform for anything around the consumer’s area. Zulzi is an online digital mall which links the consumer up with a personal shopper who will deliver to the customer within an hour. Lunch, dinner, groceries, pharmaceuticals or anything else can be ordered.

  • Best South African App: Hey Jude

Hey Jude is a real human assistant that lives on your smartphone. Whatever you need, Jude is there to assist you, be it booking restaurants, organising tradesmen or finding information – you name it, Hey Jude does it.

“As a leading telecommunications company, we are always mindful of how technology can foster entrepreneurship, drive economic growth and be leveraged as an enabler for myriad industries,” said Mandisa Ntloko, general manager of Enterprise Marketing at MTN Business SA.

“We are proud of the strides the initiative has made in profiling the winning apps and transforming them into thriving and sustainable businesses.”

This year, new categories were introduced in line with the evolving technology landscape. The inaugural winners and those recognised in these categories were:

‘Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)’ Solution

Two apps and the women responsible for developing them were recognised in this category.

The ORU Social solution is a multi-purpose social network platform tailored for SMEs with great professional appeal. It allows users to make new connections, share videos and updates, advertise on the platform, and includes a feature to create groups.  There is also and on-line conferencing facility, and it allows a group to access the same presentations and videos, and more.

TouchSA is all about connecting SMEs with opportunities locally and internationally. With Trade and Industry alliances in international countries, the app is a great platform for South Africa’s small unknown businesses.

  • Best Gaming Solution: Pick ‘n Pay’s Super Animals 2

This solution allows users to meet the all new South African Super Animals, brought to you by Pick n Pay! Gamers can keep track of their South African Super Animals cards, unlock new badges and earn new rewards as their collections grow. Users can also watch the animals come to life with movement and sound. Fun for animal-lovers of any age.

  • Best Agriculture Solution: The TreeApp South Africa

Trees are a central component of virtually every ecological niche in our country, as well as being a life force in our cities and in our own gardens. But sadly, trees are not as easy to get to know as other natural species like birds and mammals. Botany is complicated, but TheTreeApp has found ways of utilising simple English and straight forward visible attributes that anyone can use as search criteria.

  • Best Health Solution: WatIf Health Portal

This portal is a new and inventive way of delivering healthcare to the man on the street. A disease management solution designed for ordinary people, it requires input of basic clinical data from patients, and then processes it through an interactive medical knowledge system that is a part of WatIf artificial intelligence.

  • Best Education Solution: Awethu Project

The Awethu Project App is a mobile business tool aimed at educating one million people in developing economies on how to start and grow a business.  The primary objective is to stimulate job creation through entrepreneurship.

  • Best Financial Solution: Shyft for Standard Bank

Named as the overall winner of the MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

This year more than 48 000 votes were cast in the People’s Choice category.  South Africa’s favourite app was named as Zulzi.

Since its inception, the MTN Business App of the Year Awards has profiled a number of apps that are commonly used today. These include SnapScan, the payment app that emerged as the overall winner in 2013; WumDrop, an on-demand delivery start-up that scooped the Best Enterprise App and was the Best Overall App in 2015; LIVE Inspect, the app that allows the insurance industry to digitally scan a vehicle’s disc to trace its full history, accident history, and overall condition before it is on-boarded by an insurance company; and last year’s winner, Domestly, an app that makes it easier to browse, book and pay a cleaner, in addition to enabling the cleaner to manage bookings, money and directions to bookings. Domestly created 600 sustainable jobs in the first six months of going live.

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Which IoT horse should you back?

The emerging IoT is evolving at a rapid pace with more companies entering the market. The development of new product and communication systems is likely to continue to grow over the next few years, after which we could begin to see a few dominant players emerge, says DARREN OXLEE, CTOf of Utility Systems.

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But in the interim, many companies face a dilemma because, in such a new industry, there are so many unknowns about its trajectory. With the variety of options available (particularly regarding the medium of communication), there’s the a question of which horse to back.

Many players also haven’t fully come to grips with the commercial models in IoT (specifically, how much it costs to run these systems).

Which communication protocol should you consider for your IoT application? Depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s a summary of the main low-power, wide area network (LPWAN) communications options that are currently available, along with their applicability:

SIGFOX 

SigFox has what is arguably the most traction in the LPWAN space, thanks to its successful marketing campaigns in Europe. It also has strong support from vendors including Texas Instruments, Silicon Labs, and Axom.

It’s a relatively simple technology, ultra-narrowband (100 Hz), and sends very small data (12 bytes) very slowly (300 bps). So it’s perfect for applications where systems need to send small, infrequent bursts of data. Its lack of downlink capabilities, however, could make it unsuitable for applications that require two-way communication.

LORA 

LoRaWAN is a standard governed by the LoRa Alliance. It’s not open because the underlying chipset is only available through Semtech – though this should change in future.

Its functionality is like SigFox: it’s primarily intended for uplink-only applications with multiple nodes, although downlink messages are possible. But unlike SigFox, LoRa uses multiple frequency channels and data rates with coded messages. These are less likely to interfere with one another, increasing the concentrator capacity.

RPMA 

Ingenu Technology Solutions has developed a proprietary technology called Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) in the 2.4 GHz band. Due to its architecture, it’s said to have a superior uplink and downlink capacity compared to other models.

It also claims to have better doppler, scheduling, and interference characteristics, as well as a better link budget of 177 dB compared to LoRa’s 157 dB and SigFox’s 149 dB. Plus, it operates in the 2.4 GHz spectrum, which is globally available for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so there are no regional architecture changes needed – unlike SigFox and LoRa.

LTE-M 

LTE-M (LTE Cat-M1) is a cellular technology that has gained traction in the United States and is specifically designed for IoT or machine‑to‑machine (M2M) communications.

It’s a low‑power wide‑area (LPWA) interface that connects IoT and M2M devices with medium data rate requirements (375 kb/s upload and download speeds in half duplex mode). It also enables longer battery lifecycles and greater in‑building range compared to standard cellular technologies like 2G, 3G, or LTE Cat 1.

Key features include:

·       Voice functionality via VoLTE

·       Full mobility and in‑vehicle hand‑over

·       Low power consumption

·       Extended in‑building range

NB-IOT 

Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT or LTE Cat NB1) is part of the same 3GPP Release 13 standard3 that defined LTE Cat M1 – both are licensed as LPWAN technologies that work virtually anywhere. NB-IoT connects devices simply and efficiently on already established mobile networks and handles small amounts of infrequent two‑way data securely and reliably.

NB‑IoT is well suited for applications like gas and water meters through regular and small data transmissions, as network coverage is a key issue in smart metering rollouts. Meters also tend to be in difficult locations like cellars, deep underground, or in remote areas. NB‑IoT has excellent coverage and penetration to address this.

MY FORECAST

The LPWAN technology stack is fluid, so I foresee it evolving more over the coming years. During this time, I suspect that we’ll see:

1.     Different markets adopting different technologies based on factors like dominant technology players and local regulations

2.     The technologies diverging for a period and then converging with a few key players, which I think will be SigFox, LoRa, and the two LTE-based technologies

3.     A significant technological shift in 3-5 years, which will disrupt this space again

So, which horse should you back?

I don’t believe it’s prudent to pick a single technology now; lock-in could cause serious restrictions in the long-term. A modular, agile approach to implementing the correct communications mechanism for your requirements carries less risk.

The commercial model is also hugely important. The cellular and telecommunications companies will understandably want to maximise their returns and you’ll want to position yourself to share an equitable part of the revenue.

So: do your homework. And good luck!

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Ms Office hack attacks up 4X

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Exploits, software that takes advantage of a bug or vulnerability, for Microsoft Office in-the-wild hit the list of cyber headaches in Q1 2018. Overall, the number of users attacked with malicious Office documents rose more than four times compared with Q1 2017. In just three months, its share of exploits used in attacks grew to almost 50% – this is double the average share of exploits for Microsoft Office across 2017. These are the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q1 IT threat evolution report.

Attacks based on exploits are considered to be very powerful, as they do not require any additional interactions with the user and can deliver their dangerous code discreetly. They are therefore widely used; both by cybercriminals looking for profit and by more sophisticated nation-backed state actors for their malicious purposes.

The first quarter of 2018 experienced a massive inflow of these exploits, targeting popular Microsoft Office software. According to Kaspersky Lab experts, this is likely to be the peak of a longer trend, as at least ten in-the-wild exploits for Microsoft Office software were identified in 2017-2018 – compared to two zero-day exploits for Adobe Flash player used in-the-wild during the same time period.

The share of the latter in the distribution of exploits used in attacks is decreasing as expected (accounting for slightly less than 3% in the first quarter) – Adobe and Microsoft have put a lot of effort into making it difficult to exploit Flash Player.

After cybercriminals find out about a vulnerability, they prepare a ready-to-go exploit. They then frequently use spear-phishing as the infection vector, compromising users and companies through emails with malicious attachments. Worse still, such spear-phishing attack vectors are usually discreet and very actively used in sophisticated targeted attacks – there were many examples of this in the last six months alone.

For instance, in late 2017, Kaspersky Lab’s advanced exploit prevention systems identified a new Adobe Flash zero-day exploit used in-the-wild against our customers. The exploit was delivered through a Microsoft Office document and the final payload was the latest version of FinSpy malware. Analysis of the payload enabled researchers to confidently link this attack to a sophisticated actor known as ‘BlackOasis’. The same month, Kaspersky Lab’s experts published a detailed analysis of СVE-2017-11826, a critical zero-day vulnerability used to launch targeted attacks in all versions of Microsoft Office. The exploit for this vulnerability is an RTF document containing a DOCX document that exploits СVE-2017-11826 in the Office Open XML parser. Finally, just a couple of days ago, information on Internet Explorer zero day CVE-2018-8174 was published. This vulnerability was also used in targeted attacks.

“The threat landscape in the first quarter again shows us that a lack of attention to patch management is one of the most significant cyber-dangers. While vendors usually issue patches for the vulnerabilities, users often can’t update their products in time, which results in waves of discreet and highly effective attacks once the vulnerabilities have been exposed to the broad cybercriminal community,” notes Alexander Liskin, security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

Other online threat statistics from the Q1, 2018 report include:

  • Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 796,806,112 malicious attacks from online resources located in 194 countries around the world.
  • 282,807,433 unique URLs were recognised as malicious by web antivirus components.
  • Attempted infections by malware that aims to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered on 204,448 user computers.
  • Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected a total of 187,597,494 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.
  • Kaspersky Lab mobile security products also detected:
    • 1,322,578 malicious installation packages.
    • 18,912 mobile banking Trojans (installation packages).

To reduce the risk of infection, users are advised to:

  • Keep the software installed on your PC up to date, and enable the auto-update feature if it is available.
  • Wherever possible, choose a software vendor that demonstrates a responsible approach to a vulnerability problem. Check if the software vendor has its own bug bounty program.

·         Use robust security solutions , which have special features to protect against exploits, such as Automatic Exploit Prevention.

·         Regularly run a system scan to check for possible infections and make sure you keep all software up to date.

  • Businesses should use a security solution that provides vulnerability, patch management and exploit prevention components, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business. The patch management feature automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and proactively patches them. The exploit prevention component monitors suspicious actions of applications and blocks malicious files executions.
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