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Now for the connected body

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As the Internet of Things evolves and becomes the Internet of Us, Kaspersky Lab has teamed up with Swedish bio-hacking community BioNyfiken to uncover the realities of connecting our bodies to the Internet.

Once confined to Hollywood blockbusters and sci-fi novels, in 2015, the number of humans upgraded by technological devices is increasing in number. Thanks to the invention and wide-spread adoption of implantable aids such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, hearing aids and deep brain stimulation systems, the world is filling with humans who could be considered part machine.

However, recent media reports describe another breed of upgraded human, people who implant technology in their bodies not for medical reasons, but simply because of greater convenience in everyday life; people with smart implants that allow them to control door locks, make purchases and gain access to computer systems with the wave of a hand. The question then arises, when we allow our bodies to contain increasing amounts of personal, hackable data, is there cause for concern?

BioNyfiken, a Sweden based bio-hacking community, is leading the charge in normalising the chipping phenomenon and bringing it to the masses. Their view is that having a smart sub-dermal implant is not so different from wearing an earring or having a tattoo, and that an increasing number of people will choose to have NFC-compatible implants containing an array of information.

Patrick Mylund Nielsen, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab said “The trend within the Internet of Things has been to create products and get them to market fast. Security is often an afterthought, if it’s even a thought at all. And although bio-augmentation has been the topic of science fiction for as long as we can remember, not many stories dealt with its everyday implications: What happens when our private keys are under our skin? Can somebody become a virtual copy of me by shaking my hand? Who might be following me everywhere I go? “Nyfiken” means curious in Swedish, and when it comes to answering these questions, indeed we are.”

“The technology is already happening,” says Hannes Sjoblad, one of the founders of BioNyfiken. “We are seeing a fast-growing community of people experimenting with chip implants, which allow users to quickly and easily perform a variety of everyday tasks, such as allowing access to buildings, unlocking personal devices without PIN codes and enabling read access to various types of stored data.”

“I consider the take-off of this technology as another important interface-moment in the history of human-computer interaction, similar to the launches of the first windows desktop or the first touch screen. Identification by touch is innately natural for humans. PIN codes and passwords are not natural. And every additional device that we have to carry around to identify ourselves be it a key fob or a swipe card, is just another item that clutters our lives.”

“That’s why we felt it was crucial to work alongside a leading security expert that really understands the technology to help us analyse the risks. Kaspersky Lab is the ideal research partner for BioNyfiken. They are not only highly regarded security experts and thought leaders, but have been at the forefront of emerging technologies and cutting edge research from their inception.”

“We look forward to working alongside Kaspersky Lab experts in an open research project to explore the vulnerabilities of these chips in everyday, human-user situations and if vulnerabilities are found, it will of course be necessary to identify ways to tackle them.”

Further to its research with BioNyfiken, Kaspersky Lab will be co-hosting events with the broader bio-hacking community in Sweden and across Europe, aiming to put security and privacy aspects on the agenda. There are already a number of hi-tech buildings in Sweden, such as Epicenter, catering to forward thinking business where NFC implants are regularly used for a range of activities, replacing additional devices.

Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, remarked: “Personally, I’d rather not be chipped. I do however understand that technological progress cannot be hindered and there will be innovators who are ready to accept the risk and test the limits of technology by experimenting on their own bodies. I’d just rather they did this with their eyes open and with security at the forefront of their minds, instead of as a retrofit after-thought, as so often occurs.”

“That’s why I’m pleased that BioNyfiken has chosen us to work with on investigating the security implications of connecting our bodies to the web. It might be that our researchers find no concerns, but if people are going to have NFC chips inside them, I’d want to be sure that the experts had thoroughly investigated all the ramifications”.

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AppDate: uKheshe bring banking to the masses

In his apps roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights uKheshe, FNB’s banking app with its will feature, Split Payments, Momentum Safety Alert and Fleetonomy.

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uKheshe micro transaction platform

Financial inclusion took another step forward as local start-up, uKheshe, South Africa’s cheapest and most convenient QR cash card and micro transaction platform, won the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa competition. 

“The issue of financial inclusion is a global one and the more we can do to uplift the unbanked and under banked, the healthier their respective economies will become,” says Clayton Hayward, co-founder, uKheshe.

While 1.2 billion people have opened a financial account since 2011, there is still an estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide (or 31% of adults) who don’t have a basic transaction account.  Globally, two-thirds of adults without an account cite a lack of money as a key reason, which implies that financial services aren’t yet affordable or designed to fit low-income users.

To find out more about uKheshe click here

FNB’s banking app with will feature

First National Bank now lets its customers draw up their own wills via the FNB Online Banking platform at no cost. To date, the bank has seen a significant increase in the number of clients who drafted their own wills online, with over 52 000 clients already accessing the functionality.

Approximately 80% of South Africans don’t have a valid will in place; and many people believe that it’s a need only when they get older, or later in life. 

“Whilst the digital process is simple and easy to use, the solution also helps with a dedicated client support centre should clients need further assistance or advice regarding the drafting of their wills,” says Johan Strydom, Growth Head, FNB Wealth and Investments. “The solution aims to simplify the process and allows customers to easily draft a will online anytime and at any place, at no cost. In addition, FNB will keep your original will in safe custody at no extra cost.”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Available the FNB app which can be be downloaded here.

Split Payments

PayFast has launched Split Payments, a South African-first that instantly splits a portion of an online payment with a third party. The service is designed to facilitate fast, safe payments for platform-based businesses, including online marketplaces.

For those who run a marketplace that brings together multiple sellers or merchants looking for new sales channels, Split Payments addresses payment headaches with a simple API integration.

Consumers are used to engaging with large global transactional platforms such as AirBnB, Uber, and Amazon. The benefits and extended reach of these types of platforms are catching on locally, and organisations like estate agency groups and even community marketplaces are setting up digital trading platforms.

The app allows businesses to instantly split out commission, membership or listing fees, when a payment is made via one of its supported payment methods.

For each online payment received  the business can determine what the split is, either a fixed amount, a percentage, or a combination of both. Custom recurring payment integration, such as subscriptions payments, can also be split automatically.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download Split Payments here

Read more about Momentum’s new Safety Alert app and Fleetonomy.

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Why 4G is still a thing

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Even with the 5G era already upon us, investment in 4G/LTE networks is still vitally important for operators in sub-Saharan Africa and must remain a core focus of network construction for the immediate future. This is according to David Chen, Vice-President, Huawei Southern Africa. 

“Currently, the mobile broadband penetration rate in Africa is only 47%, while 4G penetration rate is merely 10%,” Chen said.

“Insufficient coverage causes LTE users to fall back to the 2G or 3G networks, resulting in significant decline in user experience. It also leads to congestion on the 2G and 3G networks and makes it difficult to release spectrum used by 2G and 3G.”

Chen said that LTE and 5G complement each other and are evolving in parallel. In the next few years, 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.

LTE will remain the primary choice for global mobile communications through 2025. It will form the basic layer of national networks, especially when it comes to the mobile broadband access.

“It will take a long time for 5G to provide nationwide continuous coverage. Before that, enhanced LTE networks can guarantee optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as VR, AR, and cloud gaming,” said Chen.

He said that it is important for operators to invest in 4G to secure future growth, as it is estimated that there will be an additional 80 million LTE users in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.

Driven by this growth, LTE traffic in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a factor of 8.8. By 2025, about 80% of all data traffic in the region will be over an LTE network.

LTE will also be the main source of future revenue for operators.

“According to GSMA Intelligence, 2G and 3G users in sub-Saharan Africa will gradually migrate to 4G,” said Chen. “By 2025, the proportion of 2G users will drop from 46% to 12%.”

Part of the reason for the migration to 4G is because the ecosystem is mature.

“The price of feature phones supporting VoLTE in the sub-Saharan Africa market has been as low as $25,” Chen said.

Since 5G equipment is already available, there is an opportunity for operators to build out their 4G networks while ensuring that they can evolve to 5G in future.

Chen offered the following tips to operators to ensure they are ready for 5G:

  • All future equipment installations should be 5G ready, allowing easy upgrades to 5G through software updates.
  • Software should support multi-standard spectrum sharing to improve spectrum efficiency, and to allow the smooth migration of 2G and 3G users.
  • Networks must support 4G and 5G coordination, in terms of spectrum, operation and maintenance. This will ensure that users have a consistent experience as we enter the 5G era.
  • The value of existing ICT infrastructure, such as base station sites, must be maximised to avoid overlapping services and wasted resources. This would mean boosting the capacity and coverage of every station for optimum efficiency.
  • Carriers should explore the business case for all possible 5G innovations when building 4G networks, and not just embrace 5G for its own sake. This will mean building business models around IoT, video, live broadcast, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
  • It is important that operators build partnerships with providers that can support the ongoing spectrum evolution with fast site upgrades and large-capacity solutions. The idea is to maximise the value of 4G networks, and smoothly evolve to 5G without unnecessary infrastructure investment.

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