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Vodacom opens NB-IoT lab

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Vodacom has opened a Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) laboratory at its Vodaworld campus to incubate and commercialise machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) systems using narrowband networking.

Vodacom announced late last year that it has commenced its NB-IoT network build, which it will launch commercially in major metropolitan areas across South Africa later this year.

NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network technology which enables new use cases for IoT solutions. LPWA networks can communicate with devices where radio penetration has not previously been possible. LPWA devices are also power efficient, resulting in devices being deployed in-field with multi-year batteries.

Deon Liebenberg, Managing Executive for Vodacom IoT, says: “Vodacom’s NB-IoT lab provides a controlled test environment and framework for customers and developers to develop hardware and applications as well as test their end point devices on the NB-IoT network.

“Vodacom is investing heavily in South Africa’s NB-IoT ecosystem and we look forward to collaborating with developers and customers to realise its potential. Our ultimate goal is to nurture an ecosystem of developers, engineers and entrepreneurs for NB-IoT applications on the continent.”

The opening of the lab follows Vodacom’s announcement last month that it has successfully completed the launch of Africa’s first live NB-IoT site, in partnership with Huawei. The live site, which is on the roof of Vodacom’s data centre in Johannesburg, is the first step towards the development of a smart campus which will monitor and meter utilities on the network. Collection of this data will reduce the risks of water losses, mitigating both environmental sustainability and cost risks.

NB-IoT will enable the rollout of new services, including the next wave of connected Things.  Vodacom’s NB-IoT network will leverage off its existing established network infrastructure, ensuring excellent coverage and reliable connectivity. A large portion of the network requires a software upgrade to support the technology, which means that deploying NB-IoT across Vodacom’s existing base stations is a relatively fast roll-out, driven by geographic deployment and based on demand.

In 2016, Huawei and Vodafone announced the opening of the world’s first Narrowband IoT open lab, to provide a pre-integration testing environment for application developers and device, module and chip manufacturers.

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Samsung unfolds the future

At the #Unpacked launch, Samsung delivered the world’s first foldable phone from a major brand. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tried it out.

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Everything that could be known about the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range, launched on Wednesday in San Francisco, seems to have been known before the event.

Most predictions were spot-on, including those in Gadget (see our preview here), thanks to a series of leaks so large, they competed with the hole an iceberg made in the Titanic.

The big surprise was that there was a big surprise. While it was widely expected that Samsung would announce a foldable phone, few predicted what would emerge from that announcement. About the only thing that was guessed right was the name: Galaxy Fold.

The real surprise was the versatility of the foldable phone, and the fact that units were available at the launch. During the Johannesburg event, at which the San Francisco launch was streamed live, small groups of media took turns to enter a private Fold viewing area where photos were banned, personal phones had to be handed in, and the Fold could be tried out under close supervision.

The first impression is of a compact smartphone with a relatively small screen on the front – it measures 4.6-inches – and a second layer of phone at the back. With a click of a button, the phone folds out to reveal a 7.3-inch inside screen – the equivalent of a mini tablet.

The fold itself is based on a sophisticated hinge design that probably took more engineering than the foldable display. The result is a large screen with no visible seam.

The device introduces the concept of “app continuity”, which means an app can be opened on the front and, in mid-use, if the handset is folded open, continue on the inside from where the user left off on the front. The difference is that the app will the have far more space for viewing or other activity.

Click here to read about the app experience on the inside of the Fold.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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